Shelter Scotland begins court action against Glasgow City Council
Shelter Scotland’s bid for a judicial review into Glasgow City Council’s “unlawful practice of denying homeless people temporary accommodation” will begin today.
The legal pursuit, the first time the housing and homelessness charity has taken such action against an entire local authority, follows concerns about the practice of denying homeless people their right to temporary accommodation, known as ‘gatekeeping’ and systemic failures within the city’s homelessness services.
Shelter Scotland said it is pursuing legal action as the council has failed to respond to its pre-action letter (sent on August 19) warning of legal action unless it responded appropriately by September 30.
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Time’s up Glasgow City Council. We are taking you to court! We are not taking this action lightly. We exist to fight for people’s rights to a decent home and to stop homelessness happening. By taking legal action we are trying to stop Glasgow City Council denying hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people their right to a roof over their head.
“Rights are not a privilege - they are a legal entitlement enforceable by law and the Council should not be allowed to disregard the law with impunity. We believe that if action isn’t taken now to stop this practice - and public bodies are left to pick and choose which laws they wish to follow - then it will undermine citizens’ rights across the board.
“The facts are clear; Glasgow City Council is breaking the law; homeless people are being forced onto the streets; officials are unable or unwilling to tackle the problem; and the numbers are getting worse not better. So, we are taking them to court to put a stop to this unlawful practice once and for all!”
Since threatening legal action, the charity said it has been contacted by dozens more homeless people denied their rights to temporary accommodation by the council.
Shelter Scotland also launched a crowdfunding campaign to help meet the legal costs has so far raised more than £15,000.
The charity hopes the action will force the council to submit to Scottish Ministers a revised homelessness strategy that puts a plan in place to guarantee temporary accommodation for every homeless person that needs it.
A Glasgow City Council spokesman told Scottish Housing News: “Glasgow faces significant – and in a Scottish context, perhaps unique – pressures on our homelessness accommodation, and we continue to work with the Scottish Housing Regulator and partners in the housing and third sectors to help those facing homelessness and the threat of homelessness.
“We share a common aim with Shelter and, rather than focusing on court action, we would hope it could work together with the council and its partners to ensure that these challenges are met.”