Statistical News


Operation of the homelessness persons legislation in Scotland: 2011-12


Scotland’s Chief Statistician today released statistics on the operation of the homeless persons legislation in Scotland: 2011-12.

The publication provides detailed information about applications to local authorities for assistance under homelessness legislation covering the period April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012, including the main reasons for homelessness, characteristics of applicant households and the assessments and outcomes of applications. 

The release also includes information on households placed in temporary accommodation as a result of a homelessness application and notifications of households at risk of homelessness due to eviction.


  • In 2011-12, there were 45,322 applications, 19 per cent lower than the number of applications received in the same period in 2010-11. 
  • The number of applications has fallen in 30 out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.  Applications increased in South Ayrshire Council and Midlothian Council.
  • The fall in applications is mainly due to the impact of housing options/ homelessness prevention strategies adopted by most councils over the past few years rather than to changes in the underlying drivers of homelessness.


  • There were 35,515 homeless or threatened with homelessness assessments and this was 15 per cent lower than in 2010-11.
  • 91 per cent of applicants assessed as homeless were accorded priority in 2011-12, an increase of three percentage points over the same period in 2010-11
  • The increase in the percentage assessed as priority reflects the impact of policies set by councils as they have implemented plans to achieve the 2012 homelessness commitment.  Section 4 provides more background.
  • Between January 1 and March 31 2012:
  • In fourteen council areas 100 per cent of homeless assessments were assessed as having a priority need.  In a further nine council areas, over 90 per cent of homeless assessments were assessed as having a priority need.
  • Two local authorities – East Lothian and Eilean Siar - assessed fewer than 70 per cent of homeless assessments as having a priority need.


  • A total of 47,748 cases were closed during 2011-12. This is 14 per cent lower than in 2010-11.  The number of cases closed has fallen as a result of there being fewer applications overall.  This reduction is less than the 19 per cent reduction seen for applications as there is a time lag between cases being opened and cases being closed.
  • 73 per cent of priority homeless households secured a local authority, housing association or private let as an outcome. This is unchanged from 2010-11.

Households in temporary accommodation

At 31 March 2012:

  • there were 10,743 households in temporary accommodation - a decrease of 571 households (-5 per cent) compared to one year earlier.
  • there were 3,484 households with children in temporary accommodation – a decrease of 349 households (-9 per cent) compared with one year earlier.  These households contained a total of 5,588 children, a decrease of 476 children (-8 per cent) compared to one year ago.
  • The number of households with children in bed & breakfast accommodation in March has fallen in each year since March 2008 and, at 21 households, is now less than a fifth of the March 2008 level (82 per cent below March 2008).
  • A total of 8 breaches of the Unsuitable Temporary Accommodation Order were reported.  These breaches occurred in Midlothian (2) and  Fife (6).  

Notifications of households at risk of homelessness due to eviction or repossession

For the period January 1 to March 31 2012:

  • Notifications from creditors intending to start repossession proceedings against homeowners which had been at around 2,000 per quarter in 2009 and 2010 increased to over 4,000 in Jan-March 2011 and have remained at around 4,000 since then.
  • Notifications from housing associations have increased by 104 (+9 per cent) and from private landlords by 49 (+55 per cent).  However, there has been no corresponding increase in homelessness from housing associations or from private landlords – indeed we have seen a reduction in applications from both sectors. 
  • The high level of notifications from creditors might be expected to lead to an increase in homelessness because of repossession of owner occupiers’ properties. However during 2011-12 applications from owner occupiers citing mortgage default as the reason for their homelessness was 39 per cent lower than in the same period in 2010-11. 

Related information