Petition launched to ‘cancel debt on temporary housing for the homeless’


A PETITION has been tabled with the Scottish Parliament asking the Scottish Government to pay fees for temporary accommodation for the homeless.

In Glasgow, City Council owes around £4million in arrears for temporary housing for those responsible for the charge.

Most people are eligible for housing benefit, but not everyone is eligible for the support.

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The Glasgow Times revealed earlier this year that while around £20million, mostly housing benefit, had been received, £4million was outstanding, down from £5million in 2020.

Glasgow City Council and other local authorities are sourcing apartments for temporary accommodation from housing associations and landlords.

As of May this year, 6,352 people were in temporary accommodation in Glasgow, up 10% from 5,735 in 2020.

Housing campaigner Sean Clerkin has brought the petition to the Scottish Parliament for consideration, urging the government to intervene.

The petition is calling for general taxation to pay for all temporary accommodation fees for homeless people, including writing off debt homeless people owe to local authorities, which it says totals £33million across Scotland.

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Mr Clerkin said: “The problem of the plight of homeless vulnerable people who pay high fees for temporary accommodation from local authorities was first highlighted by a recent report from the Legal Services Agency in Glasgow, which concluded that the Scottish Government should use the general taxes to pay all fees for the temporary accommodation of homeless people.

“Recently, Homeless Action Scotland have highlighted in a report that homeless working people are being forced into serious debt. Because they’re above the housing allowance threshold, the report suggests municipalities with collection agencies are after them.”

Glasgow City Council said earlier this year: “Debts accrued in temporary accommodation will be pursued and only written off where it is uneconomical to pursue.”
Mr Clerkin said the number of homeless people was likely to rise and debt to increase.

He added: “The cost of living crisis will continue to impoverish many people in Scotland and there is a strong likelihood that there will be an increase in homeless claims and homeless assessments, so the State must protect our most vulnerable.”

The petition will be examined by the Citizens Involvement and Public Petitions Committee, which will decide whether to take it further with the Scottish Government.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government expects local authorities to follow the Code of Guidance on Homelessness and consider individual circumstances before making a decision on charging for the use of temporary accommodation.

“Sustainable and adequate housing support should be provided through housing benefit and the housing element of universal credit, both of which are the responsibility of the UK government.

“Despite cuts in Scotland’s overall budget by the UK Government, we are providing local authorities with an annual share of £23.5m in 2022-23.


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