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Homeless people's rights in Scotland denied on an industrial scale

Published: 28 January 2020

Homeless people's rights in Scotland denied on an industrial scale

Local authorities are failing to deliver their legal obligations to homeless people on an industrial scale according to new official statistics published today.

We care currently seeking urgent meetings at the highest level after the latest homelessness statistics showed that the number of children in temporary accommodation is at 7, 252 - the highest number since 2002 when current records began. The figures also showed that Scottish councils failed to offer temporary accommodation to homeless people 10,840 times since January 2017.

The figures include 1,405 failures to accommodate in Edinburgh where the city council has never previously admitted it was not meeting its statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation to homeless people. The Scottish Government statistics cite technical issues for the failure to report the figures previously, calling into question whether anyone has a grip on the true scale of this issue.

The most recent figures for Glasgow show 1,540 failures to accommodate between April to September last year. In the same period Edinburgh failed to offer accommodation 175 times, although that figure may change as the authority irons out its data collection problems.

Since January 2017 Glasgow has failed to accommodate 8,820 times which means it still has by the far the biggest issue meeting this legal duty – a fact now the subject of an inquiry by the Scottish Housing Regulator.

Shelter Scotland Director, Graeme Brown, said:

“These statistics lay bare the reality of our housing emergency. More children in temporary accommodation than we’ve seen in the last 17 years and many households turned away altogether.

“While it’s good that Edinburgh is now being transparent these figures show the council has not been meeting its statutory duties, a situation which we have already highlighted in Glasgow.

“The sheer numbers of occasions when people are being turned away to fend for themselves is scandalous. Who knows what happens to these people when they leave the council offices? Councils can’t pick and choose which laws they adhere to.”

Graeme Brown added:

“We will now be writing to the Scottish Housing Regulator, the Housing Minister and Council leaders to seek urgent meetings to rebuild confidence in the official record of homelessness in this country. If we don’t know the size of the problem how can we plan to meet demand from those who need help?

“These statistics lay bare that despite the success of the Scottish Government’s affordable housing building programme there is still a chronic shortage of social housing in Scotland to ensure everyone has a safe, affordable home. Derek MacKay must make next week’s budget a budget to build and radically increase the supply of both good quality temporary accommodation and the permanent social homes that people need.”

Elsewhere the latest statistics show no change in the number of applications, but the number of households in temporary accommodation has risen 4% in a year to 11,432 which is also the highest figure since 2002. 

Edinburgh continues to fail to move families with children out of Bed and Breakfasts after seven days, as it has a legal duty to do. There were 295 breaches of the ban on prolonged stays in B&B in the year to September. This is a 31% decrease on the previous year.

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