Record numbers of children in temporary Glasgow housing for homeless

Posted: 4th January 2023

RECORD numbers of children were living in temporary accommodation for the homeless in Scotland’s biggest city last month, new figures show.

Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership data reveals that 2,708 children were in temporary accommodation on December 1 – almost double the 1,365 of 10 years ago.

The numbers are now approaching the same numbers as for the whole of the Irish Republic, it can be revealed.

The average length of stay for families with children in temporary accommodation is 423 days.

In August, the number of children in accommodation for people who are homeless in the Republic of Ireland, with a population around eight times that of Glasgow, was at 3,137.

The number of homeless people living in temporary homeless accommodation has increased to 6465 – 113 more than during the summer.

In 2020 the number was 5735 – an increase of 10% in under two years.

And of those some 618 homeless people were living in hotel or bed and breakfast accommodation.

The Scottish Tenants’ Organisation said the numbers were a scandal and called for the city council leader Susan Aitken to resign.

They said the Scottish Government should reverse cuts in housing spending and invest in high quality temporary accommodation for the homeless and also increase investment in the building of new social rented homes.

They said: “Anything less will be a betrayal of vulnerable people.”

It comes as some 23 homeless people were registered to have died at three hotels used in Glasgow after being sent there to safeguard their wellbeing.

The death toll in Glasgow has been blamed on the “dumping” of vulnerable people in unsuitable accommodation, with inadequate provision for or mental health or drugs support.

Police Scotland have confirmed that nine people died at the Alexander Thomson Hotel, with seven passing away at the Rennie Mackintosh Station Hotel and another seven at the city’s Queens Park Hotel.

The 23 deaths happened after March 2020, with most believed to be during the pandemic and related to drug overdoses.

It comes as it emerged that some 250 homeless people died in Scotland in 2021 – up 52% in just four years.

Half of deaths (127) were due to drug-misuse, while suicide accounted for nine per cent of deaths and seven percent were related to alcohol.

Temporary accommodation is an address where individuals and families can go if they become homeless and is meant to be a safe place while councils decide what to do next.

But campaigners have raised concerns that temporary accommodation such as B&B and hotels were not fit to deal with people in crisis, and that consequently homeless people were losing out on access to drug and alcohol addiction services and mental health care.

Sean Clerkin, campaign co-ordinator of the STO said: “The revelation that 2,708 children in Scotland’s largest local authority Glasgow are homeless living in often squalid and substandard temporary accommodation for 423 days on average is a scandal that requires the resignation of the Leader of Glasgow City Council Leader Susan Aitken.

“As well as resignations at Glasgow City Council the Scottish Government has to reverse the proposed £215 million cuts in spending on housing so that there is an increase of social rented homes being built in Glasgow and the rest of Scotland.

“Otherwise vulnerable homeless families will never have the opportunity to live a better quality of life.”

Data from the National Records of Scotland from earlier this year revealed that there were 8,635 under 18s in temporary homes in Scotland in March 2022, up from 7,385 in March 2021 and 7,280 at 31 March 2020.

Alarmingly, households with children spend longer in temporary accommodation than those without.

Some 47% of households with children spent seven months or more in temporary accommodation compared to 38% of households without children.

Of the 46,964 people in the 28,882 homeless households recorded in 2021/22, 14,372 were children.

The number of adults increased by 6%, while the number of children increased by 17% compared to 2020/21.

A spokesman for the council said: “The vast majority of Glasgow’s homeless households will live in one of the city’s 2500 temporary furnished flats.

“Anyone living in our temporary furnished flats will have accommodation that’s predominantly within the social rented sector alongside regular, mainstream housing, meets national standards and be checked regularly by our staff.

“We reject the claim this accommodation is squalid or substandard.

“The use of hotel accommodation is sometimes necessary but we comply fully with the national standard that no child is accommodated in a hotel for more than seven days.

“We work closely with registered social landlords to ensure all households to find permanent accommodation as quickly as possible.

“Identifying accommodation of the correct size and in a suitable location can be challenging when working with larger families.

“Staff across the council are working together to improve the range of housing options for those affected by homelessness, including larger families.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We do not want to see anyone face homelessness, especially families with children. The number of households in temporary accommodation is too high and the Scottish Government is firmly committed to reducing it.

“Local authorities are making encouraging progress with the implementation of their Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans in spite of the current difficult circumstances. It is encouraging to see that that 20 local authorities have reduced the number of households living in temporary accommodation when compared to 31 March 2021. Additionally, 10 of those councils have reduced the number of children in temporary accommodation.

“The Housing Secretary has asked an expert group for an action plan to reduce the numbers of people in temporary accommodation and the length of time spent there, with a strong focus on households with children.”

Source: The Herald

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