LABOUR has accused Glasgow City Council off presiding over a homelessness “scandal” after the Shelter charity launched a legal action against the SNP-run authority.

It followed Shelter taking out a four-page advert in the Herald yesterday to appeal for funds to help it fight its case against the city.

The advert said 47 homeless people had died in Glasgow last year, and linked it to Glasgow accounting for 95 per cent of Scotland’s refusals for temporary accommodation, despite a legal duty on councils to provide it.

However it is understood there were 45 deaths, not 47, and that of these 43 involved people who were being accommodated by the city.

The main cause of death is also understood to be drug and alcohol abuse, not exposure to the elements.

At First Minister’s Questions, Glasgow Labour MSP James Kelly said the deaths were “a scandal that shames Scotland and shames Scotland’s largest city”.

He said: “Shelter Scotland is taking court action against Glasgow City Council because it is ignoring its legal requirement to find accommodation for homeless people.

“As a Glasgow MSP, does the First Minister support Shelter Scotland in its action to ensure that Glasgow City Council does not ignore homeless people and leave them to sleep on the streets of Glasgow, which is a scandal?”

Ms Sturgeon said: “I will not comment on on-going legal action, but I will say that I expect all local authorities, including Glasgow City Council, to meet their legal requirements.”

She went on: “The Scottish Government is absolutely determined to ensure, working with local authorities, that no person has to sleep rough on the streets.”

She also said she understood a man found dead at the weekend in a Glasgow car park was not homeless.

“However, a police investigation is under way that will require to establish the circumstances fully.

“Since that incident, my officials have been in touch with stakeholders locally to look at what more we can do. We have offered to increase Glasgow City Mission’s funding so that the winter night shelter can be opened earlier. Those discussions are on-going. We have also provided funding for more outreach services.”

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “We strongly refute Shelter’s untrue allegations that 47 homeless people died in Glasgow in 2018 and the implication that these people died without accommodation on the streets. We also flatly deny their claims of alleged ‘gatekeeping’.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of deaths among the city’s homeless population are related to drug and alcohol addiction and/or mental health issues.

“Extensive ongoing work is underway to tackle these issues working across our homelessness, mental health, addiction and criminal justice services. Our staff in partnership with colleagues in the third sector and with people with lived experience are working tirelessly to tackle these complex and challenging social problems which are further compounded by poverty.

“The tragic reality is that in 2018, 45 people recorded as homeless died. This is devastating for family and friends and our thoughts are with every single person who lost a loved one.

“However, it is inaccurate and misleading to imply that these people died without accommodation. 95% of the homeless people who died were in temporary accommodation at the time of their death, and we ensure that each death is reviewed to establish if services could have worked or responded differently to prevent these deaths. Many of those who tragically lost their lives had existing or previous addiction issues which bring with them multiple health problems. Some people also with significant mental health problems. It is the complexity of these needs which contributed to their deaths, rather than issues relating to their housing status.

“We work effectively with a range of third sector partners in Glasgow, who are focused on finding and implementing solutions to the complex issues which go beyond accommodation. We are also working with the Scottish Housing Regulator.

“We genuinely welcome challenge from our partners but would call on Shelter to work alongside us and our partners to focus on solutions, rather than continuing to misrepresent or ignore the root causes of homelessness in our city.

“If Shelter is serious about helping people who are homeless in Glasgow, they should work with us constructively.”