Glasgow City Council unveils action plan to improve its homeless service

Glasgow City Council has responded to criticism of the long waiting times taken to find homes for people who are homeless in the city with a new action plan to streamline processes.

Homelessness officers have been working closely with the Scottish Housing Regulator and partners to speed up case assessments to ensure that those affected by homelessness in the city move into housing as rapidly as possible.

The move is also designed to ease pressures on the council’s homelessness services and ensure the council can meet its statutory obligations.

A report by the Scottish Housing Regulator from April concluded that people who are homeless in Glasgow are waiting too long to be given a home with many spending too much time in temporary accommodation.

The watchdog found that the local authority secured homes for nearly 2,000 families in 2016/17, around half of those it had a duty to house, while people spent on average 238 days in temporary accommodation.

Shelter Scotland led a protest last month against the “shocking scale of unlawful activity” from the council in denying homeless people their rights.

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.

The council said its homelessness service made more than 7000 offers of temporary and emergency accommodation in 2017/18. However, sometimes it was unable to immediately provide accommodation for people, as no emergency accommodation was available at that point.

If this happens, staff will help people get to a safe place such as a friends’ or relatives’ house and keep in touch with the homeless person to find them temporary accommodation as quickly as possible.

The plan outlines measures to find permanent homes more quickly for people. This will free up temporary accommodation and enable the city to provide more people with help in emergencies. A target has been set of providing 4000 settled homes for people who are homeless a year.

Glasgow City Council works with third sector partners to provide emergency accommodation in a mixture of temporary furnished flats, accommodation projects and bed and breakfasts.

Staff intervention also prevents many people becoming homeless in the first place – via help and advice on their legal rights and benefits and mediation with landlords and mortgage providers.

Glasgow City Council has no council houses, so homelessness teams liaise closely with the city’s Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) to source tenancies for homeless people. As part of the plan, the council and individual housing associations will review their current working arrangements, including information sharing, and how best practice can be applied citywide to ensure a consistent approach by all partners.

Councillor Mhairi Hunter, chair of Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership, said: “The council has been working intensively with the Scottish Housing Regulator to tackle the pressures on this vital service and meet the city’s statutory obligations.

“Homelessness is a very complex and emotive issue. Every case is different and the council’s homelessness team is committed to doing all they can to help people who face this distressing prospect.

“We accept that sometimes we have not been able to help people quickly enough and we are working hard to improve that. This action plan contains some very constructive measures aimed at streamlining processes, speeding up assessment of needs and ensuring there is a consistent citywide approach with all partners.

“This should help ensure people move from emergency accommodation to settled homes quickly – freeing up emergency accommodation for those who need it.”

The Scottish Housing Regulator will also work with the city’s housing associations to help ensure homeless people are rehoused as quickly as possible.

Intensive support will also be provided through an expanded Housing First programme to help people with complex needs who can become repeatedly homeless and trapped in patterns of rough sleeping because they have trouble keeping a home as they struggle with tasks like managing household bills and paperwork or liaising with utility companies and workmen difficult.

Shelter Scotland will today host a public meeting from 12-2pm to talk to people with lived experience of being denied homelessness services by the council.

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