Protest planned after Glasgow City Council broke homeless law more than 3,000 times last year

Shelter Scotland will today lead a protest against the “shocking scale of unlawful activity” from Glasgow City Council in denying homeless people their rights.

Dozens of homelessness campaigners will stage a peaceful, public protest at the City Chambers at 11am aimed at raising awareness of the council’s failings and compelling them to improve its practice.

The housing and homelessness charity said that the latest official statistics showed the council broke the law 3,025 times last year by not fulfilling their legal duty to provide homeless people that came to them for help with temporary accommodation.

Shelter Scotland said this unlawful practice of denying homeless people their right to temporary accommodation is known as ‘gatekeeping’ and the charity has been keeping a log of this activity where homeless people are turned away from Glasgow City Council and come to the charity for help. Between July 2016 and November 2017 Shelter Scotland recorded over 100 cases of gatekeeping from Glasgow City Council.

The statistics build on the recent report from the Scottish Housing Regulator which noted that the council “secured homes for only around half of those that it had a duty to house in the city”.

Shelter Scotland said its protest follows repeated engagement with elected members and senior officials within Glasgow City Council to raise concerns about gatekeeping activity and systemic failures within the city’s homelessness services.

Graeme Brown

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Quite simply, enough is enough. Glasgow City Council should hang its head in shame. It is shocking and completely unacceptable that on more than 3,000 occasions last year the city denied homeless applicants their rights by breaking the law.

“It cannot be right that one of the UK’s largest councils can act unlawfully in this way and treat some of the most vulnerable people in our society with such disregard. Shelter Scotland believes that everyone has the right to a home.

“As a result of Glasgow Council’s systemic failures on homelessness, our services and legal teams in the city have been inundated by people saying they had nowhere to go and that the Council had turned them away, denying them their right to a home and support.

“There is no excuse for this. This unlawful practice of ‘gatekeeping’ must stop now.  Glasgow City Council must ensure that everyone who has a right to housing support is granted that right and Scotland’s progressive homelessness law is upheld.

“One year on from the new city administration’s landmark Housing and Homelessness Summit in 2017, it is deeply disappointing to see that little or no progress has been made on this vital issue.

“Glasgow City Council must immediately commit to ending the practice of gatekeeping homelessness services in the city. No caveats and no qualifications. No more internal reviews, it is time for action and meaningful change and improvement in the city’s homelessness services.”

Shelter Scotland first publicly raised its concerns about problems with the city’s homelessness services in December 2013 and highlighting our fears about a culture of complacency among homeless services leadership. The Scottish Housing Regulator has been engaging with the council on the delivery of its homelessness services for a number of years.

In January 2018, Shelter Scotland wrote to the leader and chief executive of Glasgow City Council highlighting its detailed evidence and concerns about the practice of gatekeeping in the city and requesting another meeting on this issue. To date, no formal response has been received on this.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman told Scottish Housing News: “GCC strongly refutes Shelter’s accusations of ‘gatekeeping’. Senior council officers have been seeking to meet with them over a number of months to discuss the issues they raised earlier in the year. Shelter has not responded to those requests for a meeting.

“Dialogue with senior officers would be a more constructive approach to addressing any concerns they have.”

Councillor Mhairi Hunter, chair of Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership, added: “I have personally offered twice in meetings with Shelter to be a direct point of contact for them if they have issues they want to raise. But they have not taken me up on the offer.

“I reiterate that offer today, so that we can have meaningful discussions about how to move forward together on this issue.”