Slum Housing for the homeless.

Waiting for an internal review by Dumfries and Galloway Council of their handling of this request.

Dear Dumfries and Galloway Council,

Please provide information as follows:

1) What are the standards that the council sets out for the provision of temporary accommodation for people applying as homeless?

2) Supply copies of documents which set out the council's requirements.

3) Does the council rent proerties from other concerns, or is it restricted to the 174 units of accommodation it states it has? Source of the figure of 174 units is from a reply to a previous FOI request.

4) Are other concerns required to adhere to a required level of standards?

5) There are reports of some of these properties being damp with black mould on walls, heating which is "antique", plus other features which render them substandard. They do not meet the Repairing Standard laid down for private rentals. What steps does the council take to address defects, or are people expected to suffer these?

6) Who has overall responsibility for the temporary accommodation used by the council?

Yours faithfully,

Richard Page

Dumfries and Galloway Council

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (SCOTLAND) ACT 2002

Thank you for your request for information which was received on 15/01/2019 which we are dealing with in terms of the above legislation. We have given your request the unique reference 383339 and we would appreciate it if you could quote this on all correspondence to us.

Under the terms of the legislation, we have an obligation to respond to your request within 20 working days from the day after your request was received. We will therefore aim to respond to your request by 12/02/2019.

Please be aware that, in some circumstances, a fee may be payable for the retrieval, collation and provision of the information you have requested. If this is the case, a fees notice will be issued, which would need to be paid in order to progress your request.

If your request for information is considered and deemed as a 'business as usual' request, it will be responded to by the appropriate Service within the Council.

If you have any queries in the meantime, please contact [email address].

Kind Regards

FOI Unit
Dumfries and Galloway Council

Any email message sent or received by the Council may require to be disclosed by the Council under the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI Responses, Dumfries and Galloway Council

2 Attachments

Please find below the Council's response to your request 383339 which was received on 15/01/2019.

Details of request: Dear Dumfries and Galloway Council,

Please provide information as follows:

1) What are the standards that the council sets out for the provision of temporary accommodation for people applying as homeless?

2) Supply copies of documents which set out the council's requirements.

3) Does the council rent proerties from other concerns, or is it restricted to the 174 units of accommodation it states it has? Source of the figure of 174 units is from a reply to a previous FOI request.

4) Are other concerns required to adhere to a required level of standards?

5) There are reports of some of these properties being damp with black mould on walls, heating which is "antique", plus other features which render them substandard. They do not meet the Repairing Standard laid down for private rentals. What steps does the council take to address defects, or are people expected to suffer these?

6) Who has overall responsibility for the temporary accommodation used by the council?

Response:

Q1) A copy of our Standards for Temporary Accommodation is attached for your information. These standards were agreed at the Communities Committee in September 2018. We are currently reviewing our temporary accommodation portfolio and work is underway to implement the newly agreed standards across all properties.

Q2) A copy of our Temporary Accommodation Policy is also attached for your information.

Q3) Dumfries and Galloway Council is a stock transfer authority, which means the Council has no housing stock of its own. Accordingly, we source temporary homeless accommodation from a variety of partners. There are currently 143 furnished properties leased from Private Sector Landlords and Registered Social Landlords (RSLs). These properties are managed by us. There are an additional 20 spot purchase accommodation units utilised on a nightly basis by the Service.

Q4) The Standards for Temporary Accommodation apply across all temporary accommodation stock managed by us.

Q5) Tenants are provided with written information detailing the repairs reporting process when booked in to temporary accommodation. This information is explained in full by the Officer during the booking in stage.

Repair reporting can be made directly to DG Enterprise by phoning a local number. An answering machine is available during business hours; DG Enterprise will return any calls where contact details have been provided and a message left. Reporting can also be done by letter or e-mail to the Temporary Accommodation and Community Wellbeing Team, or the tenant can come into any of the local Homeless offices to report any repairs. There is also an out of hours local call number for emergencies.

Repair Timescales:

Emergency Repair Same Day (Within 8 hrs)
Urgent Repair Within 5 Days
Routine Repair Within 20 Days
Any major works would have to be agreed with the Temporary Accommodation Manager

Checks are carried out at each void period to ensure heating systems are fully functional and in safe working order. Gas servicing is carried out on a yearly basis.

Q6) The Housing Options and Homeless Service.

Please be aware that the Council holds the copyright, where applicable, for the information provided and it may be reproduced free of charge in any format or media without requiring specific permission. This is subject to the material not being used in a misleading context. The source of the material must be acknowledged as Dumfries and Galloway Council and the title of the document must be included when being reproduced as part of another publication or service.

If you require any further clarification, please contact us. However, if you are not satisfied with the way in which your request has been dealt with, you can request us to carry out an internal review of the decision by emailing [email address] or writing to us within 40 working days of receiving this response.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the review, you have the right to apply to the Scottish Information Commissioner for a decision. Appeals to the Commissioner can be made online at https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outl... or in writing to: The Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner, Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9DS.

Kind Regards

FOI Unit
Dumfries and Galloway Council

Any email message sent or received by the Council may require to be disclosed by the Council under the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Dear Dumfries and Galloway Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Dumfries and Galloway Council's handling of my FOI request 'Slum Housing for the homeless.'.

The information provided is at odds with the facts surrounding provision of tempoary housing. Please indicate why there is such a disparity with the reality of the situation. The facts are available to you and it is apparent that the procedures etc in the documents you have supplied, are not being adhered to by the Homeless and Housing Options Team. There is a case in progress at present where legal action is being taken as the Homeless and Housing Options Team have conducted matters unlawfully. This involves the appalling treatment of a sixty five year old woman with severe, chronic, health problems which are in the nature of a disability. The manner in which she has been dealt with by Joanne Weir, Homeless and Housing Options Team Leader, can only be described as disgraceful and breaches many laws as Disability Hate Crime, Elder abuse, Misconduct in Public Office and Malfeasance.

This person was accepted as Homeless and Unintentionally homeless by Homeless and Housing Options.

The areas which are of concern and at odds with the facts are as follows:

1) Document states there is a right of appeal to an offer of temporary accommodation. This was never advised to the person concerned at any time. They were not told that a refusal had to be put in writing either. Please explain how this requirement was breached repeatedly.

2) The person advised the housing officer, plus Joanne Weir, she needed to be within reach of services, health care practitioners, shops and public transport. She had mobility problems and was unable to walk far to access her needs. She was told that the council has a very limited supply of temporary housing and that she would have to take whatever they had available at the time. The accommodation offered was unsuitable for her and despite advising the people in question, she was told she had no choice than to put up with what had been offered, although she couldn't manage to live in these places. Although she had been told by a consultant she wasn't to use stairs, or walk up inclines, she was offered a properties with stairs and up hills. One property had damp in the bedroom with black mould on the walls. The person has anaphylaxis from exposure to mould and mould spores. None of the properties offered complied with the statement, "A reasonable offer of accommodation is considered to be accommodation that meets the household's needs and any identified health and safety or risk issues based on information held in relation to the applicant's homeless application at the time of allocation".

Please explain how the statements in the document are not adhered to in practice. How is it Homeless and Hosuing Options carry out their own agenda in this? What records exist which cover the regime that operates in reality?

3) The document states that "The aim of the service is to ensure: accommodation is located so that the main services used by a household can be reached by foot or public transport. Services include supermarket, or convenience store, doctors, dentists, or other health care providers and advice agencies". None of the accommodation offered complied with this stipulation. It also states, "The location of the premises will take in to account the need of all household members in terms of reasonable access to place of employment and formal, or informal, support networks. So how can someone elderly with severe, chronic health problems, a disability, be expected to live at the back of Eastriggs, where there is precisely nothing at all?

What is the reason for the people in the council to decide that they won't apply these requirements?

4) Area of choice. It states that there will be very effort to place someone in their area of choice. The person was told she would have to put up with whatever she was offered. Why is this the case in view of the requirements lsited in the document?

5) Standards for Temporary accommodation . The document appears to be a work of fiction in that very few of these requirements are met in reality. It is a sick joke to read, "When we arrange temporary accomodation we treat homeless people fairly and appropriately in terms of tenancy provisions, quality of housing and location". How is it that someone as described above, is offered accommodation that is damp, has stairs, is up a hill, miles out of everywhere and told she has to put up with it? None of the accommodation offered met with her disability requirements at all. Is this a deliberate act of Disability Hate Crime, Elder Abuse, racism, on the part of council officers?

Energy Performance Certificates were never provided whatsoever, despite this being a legal requirement for rented property.

A gas boiler broke down within 24 hours of the property being offered and an inspection indictaed it was a very old boiler with numerous defects. No Gas Safety Certificate was supplied at any time. Neither was there an Electrical Safety Certificate (another legal requirement)for any of the properties that were offered. A chair in the property had a blood stain which was a potential health hazard. No Tenant Handbook was provided at any time. Please explain the reasons for this failures.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Yours faithfully,

Richard Page

Dumfries and Galloway Council

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (SCOTLAND) ACT 2002

Thank you for your request for a formal review which was received on 11/02/2019 and is being dealt with. We will respond within 20 working days from the day after the request was received. A response to your request will be sent promptly, and in any event not later than 11/03/2019.

If you have any queries in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact [email address].

Any email message sent or received by the Council may require to be disclosed by the Council under the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI, Dumfries and Galloway Council

Dear Mr Page

Thank you for your email dated 11 February, attached, requesting an internal review, the response to which is stated below.

Response:

Our aim is to provide information wherever possible, however, this review request relates specifically to an individual and, as such, the Council is applying Section 38(1)(b) read in conjunction with 38(2)(a)(i) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 - to disclose this information would be to disclose personal information and essentially breach Data Protection legislation, there being no condition to allow for disclosure.

Should an individual feel that they have not been provided with the service that they would expect, then they should approach the Service directly.

However, in general terms, the following responses are offered:

Under Section 35A of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 a person has the right to request the authority to review their decision.

The Council's duty under the Homeless legislation is to offer temporary accommodation until permanent accommodation can be found. As a stock transfer authority Dumfries and Galloway has limited stock available for temporary accommodation. However, the Council has endeavoured to source accommodation across the region of varying sizes to meet the demand of homelessness. While every effort is made to meet the needs of everyone who requires temporary accommodation due to the limitation of what is available it may not always be possible to satisfy every specific area of a client's preference.

If you require any further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me, however if you are not satisfied with the way in which your request has been dealt with you may contact The Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner at Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9DS, Telephone: 01334 464 610.

If you are unhappy with a decision by the Scottish Information Commissioner, you may be able to take the matter to the courts or complain to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

Kind Regards

FOI Unit
Dumfries and Galloway Council

show quoted sections

Dear FOI,

Thank you for your response dated 12 March 2019.

The person concerned has approached the Homeless Service only to be met with false statements, elder abuse, Disability Hate Crime, Misconduct in public Office and Malfeasance. This was from the Team Leader, so you can see the attitude and conduct that prevails.

The reality of the situation is that Dumfries and Galloway Council has a very limited stock of housing for temporary occupation. It has an extreme dearth of stock for people with disabilities, mobility problems and the elderly. This is unacceptable.

I dispute your contention that you cannot provide the information without disclosing personal information. Most of the FOI request can be answered without this being the case. For example, questions (1), (2) paragraph 2, (3), (4) and (5) can be dealt with easily with no need for any personal information to be disclosed. I consider you have not complied with the Internal Review and request this is remedied.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Page

Dear FOI,

Will you please provide a full response to my communication dated 12 March 2019. In the event this has not been received within 10 working days it will be submitted to the Scottish ICO for further action.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Page

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