Glasgow City Council criticised over refugee family's home plan – BBC


A judge has criticised a council for saying it would ignore a ruling to find larger accommodation for a refugee family with an autistic son.
The case at the Court of Session was brought by a woman, known as X, who was granted refugee status in 2020.
Glasgow City Council had argued it had fulfilled its obligations by providing a three-bedroom home when no larger properties were available.
Lord Ericht said the local authority had "no choice" in the matter.
The judge's observation was issued at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland's highest civil court, in his findings that it was "fundamental for the rule of law" that Glasgow City Council follow its obligation to secure housing for the household.
The family of six – comprised of X, her husband, three daughters aged 14, 12 and 10, and the 12-year-old son who was diagnosed with a learning disability.
The court heard an occupational therapist had recommended that the family be given a five-apartment home – with four bedrooms and a living room – in the Glasgow City Council area to accommodate the son's needs.
However, the local authority told the family that it could not supply a house of that size as it was dependent on housing associations to supply homes and nothing of that size was available.
Glasgow City Council believed that it had fulfilled its legal obligations and that X's family could continue to live at a four-roomed house in the city.
Solicitor advocate Mike Dailly, from Govan Law Centre, took the case to to the Court of Session, arguing the council had a legal obligation to provide a five-roomed apartment.
Lord Ericht ruled in X's favour.
Lawyers for Glasgow City Council had told Lord Ericht that it planned to ignore the order as it could not provide the kind of property required by the family.
This submission prompted Lord Ericht to criticise the council.
He wrote: "In this case however the respondent adopted the wholly extraordinary position that an order for specific performance should not be granted because it proposed not to comply with the court's decision and instead continue to act unlawfully.
"It is fundamental to the rule of law that public authorities obey the law and obey the courts."
He added: "The duty must be discharged: the authority has no choice."
However, the judge pointed out that the court could not decide how the council complied with the law, saying "the authority must find a way and must allocate appropriate resources to do so".
The family was provided with a four-room house by Glasgow City Council after refugee status was granted in February 2020. Before then they had lived in housing supplied by the Home Office.
In August 2021, lawyers wrote to the council saying that it should find them a more suitable house.
A caseworker assigned to the family then told them the local authority had transferred all its homes to housing associations and that no larger houses were available.
Lawyers for the Glasgow City Council told Lord Ericht that they may have had to use compulsory purchase powers to acquire properties, demolish them and re-build them as five-apartment properties.
They also pointed out that the boy could have had his own room in the family's current home if his sisters shared a room.
The judge rejected the submissions made by the council and fixed another hearing into the progress that the local authority had made in finding suitable accommodation.
Lord Ericht said: "Having said all that, I appreciate that there may be practical issues for the respondent in complying with an order for specific performance immediately upon the issue of this opinion."
He added: "It will not be acceptable for the local authority to say that it does not intend to comply."
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