Glasgow’s homeless have been billed £ 5million for temporary accommodation
The homeless in Glasgow owe the council Â£ 5million for the cost of the rehousing, it has been claimed.
A report by the city-based Legal Services Agency (LSA) shows Â£ 33million outstanding across Scotland.
The bill covers the costs of hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts and apartments incurred after families and individuals become homeless, reports the Sunday Mail.
And it sparked calls for the removal of charges and the cancellation of unpaid debts.
The LSA says fees are often excessive for low-quality emergency housing, with some unlucky tenants also being charged for food, electricity, gas and administration costs.
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National Debt includes unpaid bills through December 2020 for 29 Scottish local authorities.
It was leveled against 29,641 households, many of which became homeless during the pandemic.
The Sunday Mail has spoken to some of Scotland’s top councils, including Glasgow, and only Fife has ruled out debt prosecution.
This prompted calls from activists for the charges to be dropped and the massive eight-figure arrears written off.
The highest homeless debt is Â£ 12.7million in Edinburgh, followed by Â£ 5.1million in Glasgow, with Â£ 4.8million owed in North Lanarkshire and 4.4million million pounds sterling by the Highland Council.
The Fife Council owes Â£ 1.3 million, Â£ 744,000 to Aberdeen and Â£ 93,000 to Dundee.
None of the councils they spoke to would say if they were willing to sue people for the money except Fife.
Aberdeen council said it is looking for all funds owed but is looking at unpaid temporary accommodation. LSA urges that the law be changed so that councils can no longer charge homeless people.
LSA says a customer has been asked to pay Â£ 500 per week for a room in a Glasgow youth hostel.
Report author Ben Christman is concerned that city councils are suing homeless people for money. He said: “I can’t imagine the advice will let go of more than Â£ 30million. The debt should be canceled. It is deeply doubtful that these charges are legal.”
Homeless people should be provided with temporary accommodation. The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 allows councils to charge for them.
Sean Clerkin, of the Scottish Tenants Organization, said: âThe Scottish government must allow councils to write off this debt and change the Housing Scotland Act so that homeless people are not charged for temporary accommodation. “
Alison Watson of Shelter Scotland added: “These numbers show the grim reality that people are going through as they are failing in our housing system.”
Glasgow City Council said help with the cost of temporary housing might be available and North Lanarkshire said: “All charges are aligned with individual circumstances.”
Edinburgh City Council explained that homeless families in temporary accommodation are offered financial assistance to avoid going into debt.
Fife Council helps people having difficulty paying their rent while Aberdeen says its charges have been reduced by 39%. Highland Council urges troubled tenants to contact them for assistance.
The Scottish Government has said boards should take “the circumstances into account before making a decision on billing”.