More hotels needed to deal with rising homelessness in Glasgow

More hotels, empty commercial buildings and old residential homes could all be used to deal with rising homelessness.
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The council has previously warned that Home Office plans to clear a backlog of asylum claims could lead to over 1,000 more homeless applications in Glasgow by the end of the year — and cost the city over £53m.

Cllr Allan Casey, city convener for homelessness, will present an update to councillors on Thursday, which sets out work undertaken so far to address the issue.

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While a report from Susanne Millar, chief officer of Glasgow’s health and social partnership (HSCP), states there is risk of “social unrest” as “the needs of the asylum seeking population is balanced with an already overheating homelessness system”.

Council and HSCP officials have been working to identify “additional” emergency accommodation, including extending the number of commercial hotels for use.

Unused residential homes and empty commercial properties could also be used, while “modular construction” to provide “emergency, temporary and permanent” accommodation is also being considered.

Additional staff are being recruited to the asylum and refugee team to deal with the increased demand.

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When a person receives a positive asylum decision, they are given 28 days to leave Home Office accommodation provided by Mears. Since the start of the year, there have been 1,000 referrals from Mears for asylum households in Glasgow with leave to remain.

In January, there were 45 households but by August that had increased to 111, with 156 in September and 176 in October.

Cllr Casey’s report stated this has “translated to increased homelessness applications resulting in an increase in the use of hotel and B&B placements, particularly for single males”.

It adds there is a “growing cohort of asylum seekers with negative decisions” which is likely to lead to an increase in rough sleeping.

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The combination of “increased demand, both within the domestic and asylum populations, has led to significant increases in the number of households in B&B accommodation”. On November 23, there were 855 statutory homeless households in B&B accommodation.

Ms Millar’s report, which will be presented at an Integration Joint Board meeting tomorrow [Wednesday], stated it is “highly likely” the Home Office’s decision will increase “demand and unmet need” and have “a disproportionate impact on vulnerable citizens”.

It added the UK Government has confirmed it will “not provide any financial support”. The IJB was already facing a total overspend of £21.4m and an overspend of £10.1m in homelessness services, according to a September report. 

The projected costs “cannot be managed by the IJB and assistance would be required to fund this gap and discussions with Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government will take place”.

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Risks listed in the chief officer’s report include “social unrest connected to the acceleration of asylum seekers leaving Mears properties” and to the “health and wellbeing” of the asylum population “affected by positive asylum decisions who will be required to reside in temporary emergency accommodation for extended periods”.

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