Edinburgh housing chiefs under fire for repeatedly failing to house the homeless

Housing chiefs in Edinburgh have failed to accommodate homeless people more than 1,000 times despite being legally obliged to do so.

New statistics revealed by the Scottish Government show that Edinburgh City Council breached its legal duty to house 1,405 homeless households from 2017 to September 2019, but the statistics handed over by the authority to Holyrood are flawed due to “technical issues” within the council, it has been claimed.

The authority also says that in around 80 per cent of cases, homeless households have previously been accommodated, which they have lost through their own actions such as drug taking or committing assaults.

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In August last year, Shelter Scotland started legal action against Glasgow City Council after statistics showed the number of occasions the authority had breached its legal duty to provide accommodation was continuing to rise, year on year.

Edinburgh housing chiefs under fire for repeatedly failing to house the homeless
Edinburgh housing chiefs under fire for repeatedly failing to house the homeless

Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said: “These statistics lay bare the reality of our housing emergency. While it’s good that Edinburgh is now being transparent, these figures show the council has not been meeting its statutory duties, a situation which we have already highlighted in Glasgow.

“The sheer numbers of occasions when people are being turned away to fend for themselves is scandalous. Who knows what happens to these people when they leave the council offices? Councils can’t pick and choose which laws they adhere to.”

The statistics show Edinburgh continues to fail to move families with children out of B&B accommodation after seven days, as it has a legal duty to do.

There were 295 breaches of the ban on prolonged stays in B&B in the 18/19 year to September.

The city council’s housing, homelessness and fair work convener, Cllr Kate Campbell, said: “While these figures have been reported to the Scottish Housing Regulator, a technical error meant they weren’t reported to the Scottish Government as they should have been. We’ve reviewed processes around this and put in place robust procedures to make sure they’re properly reported in future.

“Edinburgh absolutely recognises our duty to house people experiencing homelessness up until they have a permanent home. We make repeated offers, working one-on-one to with someone to consider alternative places to stay. These repeated offers of help are reflected in the figures.”