A union has warned cuts to health and social care has led to a homelessness 'crisis' in Glasgow as staff struggle to cope with the workload.

In March it was announced that £21million of cuts would be made to health and social care services to plug a funding gap, with £2m slashed from the Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness and a hotel used to house homeless people "decomissioned".

Now members of UNISON have submitted a collective workload grievance as they say the numbers of rough sleepers has increased and staff are unable to cope with the extra demand.

The union said its members were suffering "high levels of work-related stress" and that the Scottish Government had withdrawn COVID funding this year which had been allocated to alleviate pressures on temporary accommodation costs.

Chris Sermanni, UNISON’s social work convenor said: “The devastating impact of the cuts made to the HSCP budget has led to a homelessness crisis in the city. Demand for services has increased exponentially, and rather than funding increasing with demand, money has been taken away.

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"This has led to a visible increase in rough sleepers across the city. Glasgow needs a significant increase in funding to address these issues.

“The increase in demand for services has not been matched with an increase in staff. Our members were already struggling with excessive levels of work, and are unable to cope with the sheer volume of numbers presenting for assistance.

"Consequently, we have lodged a collective workload grievance with senior management to address this. Our members cannot be expected to keep taking more and more work.”

The Herald: Homeless children

The number of open homelessness applications in Scotland were at an all-time high in September 2022 at close to 30,000, an 11% rise on the previous year.

Most of the 28,944 lived in "temporary accommodation" facilities provided by councils, 1,644 reporting rough sleeping in 2022.

UNISON said social landlords in Glasgow are unable to provide the tenancies required to meet demand, resulting in greater numbers of people remaining in homeless accommodation for longer.

Stuart Graham, UNISON’s social work vice convenor added:“It is somewhat disingenuous on the part of the HSCP to acknowledge that along with the average 25% increase in homelessness presentations in the past year that the additional work this generates can be managed within the existing staffing resource.

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"Where does Homelessness management think this work goes? Average caseloads of over 80, with many over 100, means it is not possible nor safe to provide the level of service that households expect when workloads are this high."

A spokeswoman for Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership said: “The cumulative impact of the lack of housing supply, cost-of-living crisis, inflation, changes to the asylum system, and increased numbers of people coming to Glasgow in search of accommodation is creating significant pressures.

"We remain in continual dialogue with all of our key partners including Registered Social Landlords, third sector, Home Office and Scottish Government about the impact of these pressures and will continue to seek solutions wherever possible.

“We have recently invested in additional staffing through our health and social connect service which is reducing demand on those operating on the front line of social work and social care including homelessness services .

"This investment has addressed a considerable proportion of the demand we are experiencing however we remain committed to addressing any further impact of demand on our workforce and will continue to review caseload numbers and ensure the correct support remains available.

"We receive weekly updates on all matters regarding rough sleeping from Simon Community who are commissioned on our behalf to provide this service. We know of six people rough sleeping who have full entitlement to homelessness assistance which is a slight increase from a static number of four rough sleepers within Glasgow City. Most of them are declining the offer of support but we continue to engage with them ensuring offers of accommodation and support are made available wherever possible."

Glasgow City Council later added that this week the number of rough sleepers had returned to four.