MANY would contend that Glasgow has had a housing and homeless crisis for some time now.

Whatever your opinion, the strain on our homelessness services is being stretched beyond breaking point by the UK Home Office’s streamlined asylum process.

Since June this year, a new process has applied to households from countries more likely to receive a positive refugee status decision – Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Syria and Yemen. It’s designed to reduce the backlog of historic UK asylum decisions in a very short time.

Glasgow City Council’s concern is this will result in 2500 Home Office decisions being made in relation to asylum seekers in Glasgow over the next six months. The council estimates 1800 decisions could be positive which might mean around 1400 new homeless applications in the city over the next few months.

Glasgow has been a UK asylum dispersal area since April 2000 and receives Home Office funding of £3500 per person involved in the scheme.

The 1999 Asylum and Immigration Act created the first nationwide system for the resettlement of asylum seekers. Dispersal is on a “no-choice” basis and many thousands of asylum seekers have resettled as refugees in Glasgow.

In September, a House of Commons report showed that Glasgow was the local authority with the most dispersed asylum seekers in the UK – 4694 persons or 74 per 10,000 residents as of June 2023.

This was followed by Birmingham City Council with 2986 persons or 26 per 10,000 residents. Belfast had the second highest number of asylum seekers relative to its population – 78 per 10,000 people.

Last Thursday, Glasgow City Council’s Emergency Committee met and set out a worst-case scenario of additional financial pressure of £53.4 million for homelessness service in 2024/25. It predicted an extra 1026 homeless households to accommodate – in addition to its current underlying budget pressure of £16.7m.

Why so expensive? The council’s report gives the answer: a massive reliance on bed and breakfast (B&B) private accommodation in the city at £120 per night net of housing benefit. A quick calculation tells you that putting around 1000 households in B&Bs for six months will cost around £22m.

Lest we forget it was only back in June that the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) cut our budget for emergency accommodation by £5m and removed 78 beds from the Charles Rennie Mackintosh homeless hotel.

Indeed, back in May 2019, Glasgow HSCP cuts of £2.6m removed 100 temporary homeless beds from the city.

There can be little doubt there’s a strong case to be made that the UK Government should provide additional funding to Glasgow to support the consequences of its expedited decision-making process. Likewise, the Scottish Government should step in too, given Glasgow’s strategic role with respect to UK refugees.

Truth be told this has been 20 years in the making. Ever since Glasgow’s council housing was transferred in 2003, we’ve failed to accept the council should be building and acquiring social and emergency housing to meet its statutory duties.

We’ve had no strategic housing planning other than an expensive reliance on B&Bs and hotels which is the equivalent of a sticky plaster on a gaping wound.

Hundreds of people will be sleeping rough this winter in Glasgow unless we fix this problem. It’s already beginning to happen now.