Council hits back over charity’s threat of legal action

Istock-1150260554 (1)

Glasgow City Council has strongly denied Shelter Scotland's accusations that it denies homeless people vital support.

20th August 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Glasgow City Council has hit out at a charity after it was threatened with legal action over its homelessness services.

Shelter Scotland is preparing to take the local authority to court over claims it is unlawfully denying homeless people access to temporary accommodation.

The threat follows repeated engagement by Shelter Scotland with councillors and officials to raise concerns about gatekeeping, the practice by which local authorities illegally block access to homeless services.

Glasgow City Council strongly denied the claims and accused the charity of creating an “unhelpful distraction”.

It said any allegations of gatekeeping are caused by incidents being over reported, for example when an individual makes contact on multiple occasions which each being recorded as a separate case.

However, Shelter refutes this, saying its advisors regularly deal with people who have been turned away by the council despite being legally entitled to temporary accommodation.

The council also criticised Shelter over claims that 47 people had died on the streets of Glasgow in the past 12 months.

In a statement, the authority said: “It is untrue to state that 47 people died on the streets of Glasgow last year, and Shelter know it. Their own letter also accepts that there may have been over reporting in Glasgow which demonstrates they know their accusation of gatekeeping is also untrue.

“As they are well aware, there are significant pressures on our homelessness accommodation service and we are working with the Scottish Housing Regulator and partners in the third and housing sectors to tackle these challenges.

“Rather than raising money for court action, it would be helpful if Shelter worked constructively with us to tackle the pressing issue of homelessness. We share a common aim and threats of legal action are an unhelpful distraction to this crucial work.”

Shelter Scotland accused the council of failing to address the real issue in its response.

Graeme Brown, the charity’s director, said: “Our plan for legal action is based on the homeless people who have been turned away who we see in our own offices and on the council’s own figures which show it did not offer temporary accommodation on 3,365 occasions between April 2018 and March this year.

“We have tried to work with the Glasgow City Council but they consistently underplay the significance of what they are doing and the impact it is having on the lives of homeless people. There is no point in Scotland having world beating homelessness legislation if the country’s largest council can act unlawfully without any sanction.

“It is telling that Glasgow City Council would like you to focus on where 47 people were sleeping when they lost their lives than engage with their systemic failure to offer temporary accommodation to everyone who is entitled to it.”

A GoFundMe site set up to raise money for charity's legal action has so far reached £7300, almost half the final target of £15,000.