Glasgow City Council has been placed under government review, as homelessness increased in Scotland for the second year in a row.
According to figures released by the Scottish government last week, 36,465 people made homelessness applications in Scotland in 2018/19.
This was an increase of 892 people (3%) on 2017/18 and was the second year running that the number of applications had risen, following nine years of reductions.
The biggest increase by number over the year was in Glasgow, where the number of applications rose by 428. However, this was an 8% increase, which was lower than in Fife (10%), North Lanarkshire (11%) and East Ayrshire (29%).
During 2018/19, 3,535 people who applied as homeless were not offered temporary accommodation and the Scottish government says the councils that refused them were “acting unlawfully”.
Of those refused accommodation, 95% were in Glasgow, despite the city having just 16% of Scotland’s homeless population. Glasgow also made up 95% of the 3,200 refusals in 2017/18.
Housing minister Kevin Stewart blamed the overall rise in homelessness on welfare cuts by the UK government, saying the Scottish government is spending more than £125m this year to mitigate the worst effects.
He added: “Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation. We are concerned to understand why the data suggests that this is not always happening.
“The data highlights a particular issue in Glasgow and I have agreed with Glasgow City Council that a voluntary review would be led by the Scottish Government in partnership with the council to tackle this issue.”
Mhairi Hunter, city convenor for health and social care at Glasgow City Council, said: “Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership officials have volunteered to work with the Scottish government to review the data and methods of recording it, to ensure there is consistency across the country.
“It appears that Glasgow is currently taking a significantly broader and more comprehensive approach to data collection than other local authorities.”
Commenting on the homelessness figures in general, Scottish Labour’s housing spokesperson Pauline McNeill said: “It took the SNP more than 10 years to focus on homelessness and as yet, their plans are having little impact on people at the sharp end of poverty.
“We need to see more investment in social housing, frontline services and prevention made a top priority as a matter of urgency but we also need investment in housing more widely.”