CALLS have been made for a public inquiry as over 60 homeless people have died in Glasgow after being put in emergency accommodation over the past three-and-a-half years.

Housing campaigners are demanding urgent action over the "scandal" with nine deaths of homeless housed in 'last resort' hotels and bed and breakfasts recorded by the city council in May and June alone - a rate of one a week.

It comes as hotel owners in the city are due to be paid an extra £3m in the next year to house the homeless temporarily while the cost to the council will double.

The amounts paid to owners of hotels used by the council to provide the emergency accommodation is set to rise from £20.3m to £23.5m.

But the cost to the council is due to rise from £5.5m to £10.5m from housing benefit payments.

Some 51 deaths in hotels and bed and breakfasts have occurred between March, 2020, when the Covid pandemic broke and March, this year.

The city council said that "any death in emergency accommodation is hugely regrettable".

Campaigners have raised concerns that B&B's and hotels, which are used as a last temporary accommodation resort are not available are not fit to deal with people in crisis and that consequently, homeless people were losing out on access to drug and alcohol addiction services and mental health care.

The Scottish Tenants' Organisation, said it was seeking a public inquiry into what it described as the "scandal" of the deaths.

They say that £26m should be spent on improving conditions in the hotels including giving the homeless one hot meal a day and having wrap around services for addiction and mental health care.

READ MORE: Ministers refuse to act over 'scandalous' £33m Scots homeless debt

They are also calling on Police Scotland to tackle drug dealing in and around these hotels they believe is playing part in what it called "unnecessary deaths".

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Sean Clerkin, the STO's campaign co-ordinator said: "These Dickensian conditions cannot be tolerated any longer and what we need need is the political will and monies to improve conditions for homeless men and women."

Living Rent said that Glasgow City Council needed to end their reliance on hotels and bed and breakfasts as a "sticking plaster" over the homelessness and housing crisis.

Aditi Jehangir, secretary of Living Rent said: "These deaths should shame our politicians into action. 

"We have the resources to stop this: no one should be dying due to their lack of permanent housing, not least when they are under Glasgow City Council’s care.

"Alongside many other failures, there is a serious failure to provide long term housing for those in need. We need secure long term social housing, stronger protections against eviction and greater support to stay put.

"The government needs to take immediate steps to alleviate the housing crisis, not cut the social housing budget. Housing should be a right not a luxury. But with cuts to social housing funding the government is turning the crisis into a disaster."

The council has said that it wants to reduce the use of B&B and hotels but said due to the significant demand for emergency accommodation they need to use a range of establishments in the city.

In 2022/23 hotels and B&B were paid just over £20.3m with £11.8m coming from housing benefit payments and another £3,248,066 from covid income for the Scottish Government.

This year 2023/24 it is budgeted that hotels and B&B owners will be paid just over £23.5m an increase of more than £3m.

Housing benefit will pay for nearly £13m but with no income from Covid from the Scottish Government, the Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership will have to meet some £10.5m of the bill.

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The hotels that have been used by the council include the Alexander Thomson Hotel, St Enoch Hotel and the Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the city centre, Chez Nous in the city's west end and the Queen’s Park Hotel in the southside.

It was confirmed by Police Scotland that as of February, eight people died at St Enoch Hotel, with four at the Chez Nous Guest House and one at Hillhead Hotel.

Nine have died Alexander Thomson Hotel, with seven passing away at the city’s Queens Park Hotel while there another seven at the Rennie Mackintosh Station Hotel.

The deaths have happened after March 2020, with most believed to be during the pandemic and related to drug overdoses.

When lockdown began in March, hundreds of rough sleepers were brought in off the streets to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Homeless people are also put up temporarily such as furnished flats and council halfway houses.

When the temporary accommodation is full in as a last resort they were  placed in hotels and bed and breakfasts. But campaigners raised concerns that B&B's and hotels were not fit to deal with people in crisis.

Health chiefs in Glasgow last month sent out an appeal to landlords for homes to rent for the homeless while acknowledging that there is a risk of a breach of its legal duties to provide temporary accommodation.

According to a June analysis the Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) was 1600 lets short of the 4500 it needs annually.

HSCP officers wrote to all registered social landlords (RSLs) requesting 60% of all social housing lets for the resettlement of homeless households.

Research by Solace, which represents council chief executives and senior managers, revealed last month that there were 243,603 people on the waiting list for social housing in Scotland but the number of annual allocations across the entire country is just 26,102.

Data from the quarterly statistics on housebuilding and affordable housing supply has revealed that the number of affordable houses starting construction in the 2022/2023 financial year had fallen to 6,987, down from 8,227 in 2021/2022 and 12,039 in 2019/2020.

A city council spokesman said:  “The council is duty bound to find and provide emergency accommodation for those who present as homeless however. Hotel and B n B accommodation accounts for around 15% of our total homelessness population with the remaining 85% residing in more settled temporary furnished flat accommodation and supporting living environments. Glasgow Homelessness Services is working hard to ensure smooth transition out of hotels as quickly as possible however there remain considerable housing supply pressures.

“In the last three years we have dealt with more than 36,000 referrals seeking emergency accommodation and sadly 51 people residing in emergency accommodation have died in the same period. The causes of deaths are not due to a lack of permanent housing and are due to multiple factors including poor health, lifestyle and natural causes.

“All homeless people placed in hotel or B&B receive support from their allocated caseworkers including homelessness casework teams and alcohol drug recovery services.

“Additionally, many hotels have enhanced care arrangements where support staff including our directly commissioned third sector partners are on hand.

“Our staff also engage directly with accommodation operators on a routine basis. All hotel staff, including security, have received harm reduction advice, Naloxone training and mental health First Aid training.

“Homelessness services recently completed a major safeguarding exercise with all hotel and B&B residents ensuring face-to-face engagement and an update on both their move-on plans, treatment and care.

“Glasgow Homelessness Services will continue to work closely with Registered Social Landlords across the city to ensure we transition people out of hotels as quickly as possible.”

Housing minister Paul McLennan said: “Every homeless death is a tragedy and my condolences go to the friends and families affected in this way.

“We are committed to doing all we can to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place and to reducing the use of temporary accommodation. We recognise the varying challenges existing across Scotland and that these cannot be addressed by one single solution. We recently committed at least £60 million to support a national acquisition plan to increase the supply of social and affordable housing. Other measures recently announced include working with social landlords to increase allocations to homeless households.

“One focus of the national mission on drug deaths is to strengthen partnerships between health and homelessness services to improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness and multiple complex needs, including substance use.”