Publication - FOI/EIR release

City of Glasgow homelessness: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
6 Apr 2020
City of Glasgow homelessness: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000020177
Date received: 10 Mar 2020
Date responded: 6 Apr 2020
Information requested

(i) The number of people who reside in the city of Glasgow who are currently found homeless in law and the number who have no accommodation. Of those who have no accommodation how many are sleeping on the street day and night of the City of Glasgow.

(ii) At what number are you going to call on the assistance of the British Army to assist in clearing the backlog and having people rehabilitated over 3 days at a minimum in terms of eating, drinking and sanitation and over how long do you think the British Army will take to clear the backlog when you consider their hypothermia, state of health etc and where do you conceive the British Army will find temporary accommodation that Glasgow City Council cannot do?

(iii) As a State party to the OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS General Comment No. 15: The Right to Water (Arts. 11 and 12 of the Covenant) pursuant to part 3. "the Covenant specifies a number of rights emanating from, and indespensable for, the realization of the right to an adequate standard of living "including adequate food, clothing and housing". Have you personally written to petitions@ohchr.org.

Response

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. The reasons why we don't have the information are explained below.

(i) The Scottish Government is able to provide information in regards to the number of homelessness applications from households assessed in a single collection year.
Note: These figures relate only to applications received from household units (inclusive of but) rather than solely individuals.
These figures relate a) only to one specific year of collection and b) does not include those who are still homeless from a previous collection period and c) does not include figures relating to those assessed but who are no longer homeless.
Figures for collection period 2018-19:
Total number of households assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness – Scotland = 29,894
Total number of households assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness – Glasgow = 4,660 (rounded to nearest 5)
Glasgow as a percentage of total households assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness = 16%

(ii) The Scottish Government has allocated £32.5 million from the £50 million Ending Homelessness Together Fund and from the health portfolio for rapid rehousing and Housing First for 2019-2024 so that local authorities and partners can support people into settled accommodation first and then help them with their longer term needs.
All local authorities have developed a Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan that sets out how they will redress the local balance of temporary and settled housing options to align with this new vision, initially over a 5-year planning cycle.

Housing First is an approach focussing on people experiencing homelessness who have multiple and complex needs (across addictions, mental health and interaction with the justice system) and who may have a history of rough sleeping and repeat homelessness. The Housing First approach ensures those with multiple and complex needs are allocated settled accommodation with the intensive support they may need, individually tailored and provided to them in mainstream tenancies.

Since the Covid-19 health emergency started, across Scotland local authorities and Health and Social Care Partnerships have been working closely with frontline partners to ensure that homeless people, and in particular those with multiple, complex needs are catered for. Extra accommodation has been made available across Scotland to help rough sleepers to self-isolate.

It is the Local Authority (LA) and not the Scottish Government to determine the need for military assistance by making an application to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for this assistance.  You may therefore wish to contact Glasgow City Council at www.glasgow.gov.uk/ContactUs.

The policy for military aid to the civil authorities (known as MACA) is set out in the MoD Joint Doctrine Publication 02. UK Operations: the Defence Contribution to Resilience and Security.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/591639/20170207_JDP02_Resilience_web.pdf
The provision of military assistance is governed by four principles. MACA may be authorised by the MOD when

  • There is a definite need to act and the tasks our Armed Forces are being asked to perform are clear
  • Other options, including mutual aid and commercial alternatives, have been discounted, and either
  • The civil authority lacks the necessary capability to fulfil the task and it is unreasonable or prohibitively expensive to expect it to develop one; or
  • The civil authority has all or some capability, but it may not be available immediately, or to the required scale, and the urgency of the task requires rapid external support from the MOD

It would be up to the MOD solely to make this determination for provision of support to the LA.

(iii) The United Kingdom has been a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) since 1976. Whilst the rights set out in ICESCR are not currently enforceable in the UK as a matter of domestic law, there is an established general expectation that the actions of government and other public authorities will comply with international law and treaty obligations. You may be interested to note that the UK is also a party to 6 other core UN human rights treaties, as well as a further 7 treaties developed by the Council of Europe.
The specific requirements set out in ICESCR and other UN treaties have been further interpreted by expert UN committees and these interpretations and guidance are published in the form of General Comments. These General Comments are not themselves legally-binding instruments and do not have equivalent status to ICESCR and other treaties. They are nonetheless a source of important expert commentary and opinion, which sheds further light on how treaty obligations, such as those in ICESCR, should be given effect. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) provides support to expert committees, for example by publishing the General Comments they produce.

More generally, you may wish to note that the UK is a member state of the UN and a state party to relevant treaties, rather than being a party to the OHCHR. It is also worth being aware that international relations, including formal engagement with international organisations such as the United Nations (UN), are reserved by the Scotland Act 1998. As a result, it is the UK Government which represents the UK as a state party at the UN. The Scottish Government does however contribute to formal UK reports submitted to the UN, as well as publishing its own independent position statements describing devolved action taken to implement treaty obligations. Further information canbe found at: https://www.gov.scot/policies/human-rights/our-international-obligations/

In relation to your particular query about correspondence with petitions@ohchr.org I can confirm that the Scottish Government has not written to this email address.
The OHCHR petitions mailbox exists to enable the submission of individual complaints (“communications”) where a state has acceded to the relevant optional protocol to the original treaty.
In the case of ICESCR the UK has not acceded to the optional protocol covering communications procedures and the UN committee is not, in consequence, able to consider a complaint relating to the UK.

I can however assure you that the Scottish Government is firmly committed to respecting, protecting and fulfilling all of the rights identified in the core UN human rights treaties. This commitment is, in turn, now formally recognised as a National Outcome within Scotland’s National Performance Framework (https://nationalperformance.gov.scot/national-outcomes). Ministers very much agree that all aspects of the right to an adequate standard of living are of fundamental importance for every member of Scottish society.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG