Glasgow City Council let down the homeless 3,786 times in just one year

A local authority failed in its legal duties to homeless people before the coronavirus pandemic, according to an inquiry.

Meeting the needs of the homeless has been a huge problem for Glasgow City Council.
Meeting the needs of the homeless has been a huge problem for Glasgow City Council.

The Scottish Housing Regulator said in its report on the investigation that Glasgow City Council "failed to comply with its statutory duty to offer temporary accommodation in nearly one in three occasions" in 2019-20.

It also found the council did not ensure it had enough suitable temporary accommodation even before Covid-19.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The report highlights "alarming evidence" of families with children being turned away without accommodation.

It says: "During 2019-20, the council told us that it failed to offer temporary accommodation on 3,786 instances when households required it, which was lower than the 3,835 it reported to the Scottish Government and which was an increase of 445 on the previous year.

"This means the council failed to comply with its statutory duty to offer temporary accommodation in nearly one in three occasions.

"The council told us this related to 1,471 households."

The report adds: "From our review of a sample of cases we found single people were disproportionately affected - they accounted for 66% of homeless applications but for 83% of those not offered temporary accommodation.

"Many of those not accommodated were vulnerable and approached the council for help on multiple occasions."

The inquiry was announced last year after Shelter Scotland started legal action against Glasgow City Council over the practice of "gatekeeping" - when a homeless person is denied access to services - and other "failings in the homelessness services”.

Alison Watson, the charity's director, said: "This report confirms the systemic failure of Glasgow City Council's homelessness services, which has led to thousands of people being denied their legal rights.

"We took legal action because we'd had enough of the council routinely breaking the law and forcing people on to the streets.

"We'll now take the time to carefully reflect on the report and assess what needs to happen next."

The report also recognises that 17 new staff have been hired by Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership in recent months, with an increase also reported in the number of lets from housing associations during the pandemic

Ms Watson added: "We welcome the regulator's findings and recommendations.

"The test will be how Glasgow City Council responds positively to this unprecedented intervention.

"Our shared goal must be to ensure that everyone who presents to the council as homeless is provided with the safe and suitable accommodation they're legally entitled to."

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: "We welcome this report from the regulator and their recognition that improvements have been made to our homelessness service in spite of the challenges we face.

"The service has improved in several areas, including preventing the cycle of repeat homelessness, however, our biggest challenge remains our access to temporary accommodation."

She added: "This cannot be solved overnight.

"The council does not have its own housing stock so we will continue to work with the city's 68 registered social landlords (RSLs) and City Building to bring quality temporary accommodation back into use as quickly as possible.

"We remain committed to working in partnership with the third sector and RSLs on a range of improvements we are making through our Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan, our new Alliancing model and Housing First.”