Govan Law Centre gives evidence to UN on Scots rights for adequate housing

Dee Flanigan
Dee Flanigan

Govan Law Centre (GLC) has given evidence to the United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic and Social Rights on housing and human rights in Scotland.

GLC said it was concerned that living standards in Glasgow and Scotland have been decreasing in recent years as a result of austerity and cuts to services.

The law centre said: “What many people perhaps don’t realise is that this decline is a human rights issue and the UK has an obligation under international human rights law to always be progressively realising economic and social rights.

“The UK and Scottish Governments must always be raising living standards and not violating the human right to an adequate standard of living by rolling housing standards back.”

The UN Committee on Economic and Social Rights reviews this progress every six years and in June 2016 they reviewed the UK’s record since 2008 and found it to be severely lacking.

GLC contributed to this review by submitting a parallel report to let the UN know about the housing issues affecting its clients and the communities it serves. This project was supported by the Legal Education Foundation through its Justice First Fellowship scheme.

The report told the Committee about homelessness and rough sleeping in Glasgow; experiences of tenants in the private rented sector; people with disabilities who are threat of losing their home and asylum seekers housing rights.

It recommended a list of 11 questions for the UN Committee to ask the UK at the review in Geneva and many of these issues were reflected in the Committee’s own recommendations.

Report author, GLC’s Dee Flanigan, said: “Some of this information was directly from test cases being pursued by our Public Interest Litigation Unit (PILU). This Unit plans on using the UN Committee’s recommendations to set priorities for future cases. Two of our clients, Scott and Wadzanayi, also contributed by telling their own stories.

“The UN Committee shares our concerns about the private rented sector and urges the UK to address its social housing deficit and to more effectively regulate the private rented sector. They also are very concerned about the treatment of asylum seekers and urge the UK to allow them to work so they are not reliant on the state for food and housing. We pointed this out in our report.

“In general the UN Committee criticised austerity measures saying that they were: ‘seriously concerned about the disproportionate adverse impact that austerity measures, introduced since 2010, are having on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups’.

“We are meeting with the Scottish Government next month to discuss the recommendations. Meanwhile our PILU continues to pursue test cases to improve human rights especially the right to an adequate standard of living. The UN reviews many areas of human rights compliance and we will intend to report to them to let them know the real story of what is happening in our community.”

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