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Operation of the Homeless Persons Legislation in Scotland: 2014-15

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Notes on Tables

General notes and missing data

We are extremely grateful to all 32 Scottish local authorities who submitted their HL1 and HL2 returns on time. The statistics presented in this release relate to applications made under the legislation. Given the continuous nature of the recording system, figures are updated on an on-going basis and may differ from those previously published.

Reporting of the Number of Applications

Publication Date 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
30-Jun-15 57,393 60,662 59,554 57,253 57,682 57,220 55,646 45,552 40,051 37,234 35,764
24-Jun-14 57,394 60,662 59,555 57,255 57,688 57,228 55,651 45,550 40,050 36,457  
16-Jul-13 57,396 60,684 59,609 57,208 57,676 57,211 55,644 45,547 39,827    
26-Jun-12 57,395 60,698 59,608 57,211 57,681 57,214 55,663 45,322      
30-Aug-11 57,444 60,820 59,654 57,239 57,668 57,122 55,227        
31-Aug-10 57,437 60,742 59,544 57,260 57,595 56,428          

Difference in applications between publication shown and most recent publication

30-Jun-15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
24-Jun-14 -1 0 -1 -2 -6 -8 -5 2 1 777  
16-Jul-13 -3 -22 -55 45 6 9 2 5 224    
26-Jun-12 -2 -36 -54 42 1 6 -17 230      
30-Aug-11 -51 -158 -100 14 14 98 419        
31-Aug-10 -44 -80 10 -7 87 792          

Percentage difference in applications between publication shown and most recent publication

30-Jun-15                    
24-Jun-14 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 2%
16-Jul-13 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1%  
26-Jun-12 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1%    
30-Aug-11 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1%      
31-Aug-10 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1%        

Policy Context

In interpreting the statistics and analyses in this release, it is important to bear in mind that the information is derived from councils' administration of homelessness legislation. Trends can be affected by legislative changes, changes in interpretation of legislation or guidance and by changes in local authority recording practice. Where these have been identified, these are highlighted in the description of the main trends.

In 2001, the Scottish Parliament passed legislation which placed additional duties on councils to provide a minimum of temporary accommodation, advice and assistance to all applicants assessed as homeless. From September 2002, this took effect and councils have been required to provide temporary accommodation, advice and assistance to non-priority applicants who in the past would have received advice and assistance only. This has had a noticeable impact on applications, which has been reflected in changing assessments and outcomes for homeless people. Some tables in this release therefore present time series data so that this impact can be tracked.

Data sources used

The data presented in these tables are based on the time period relevant to the analysis. In some cases, this might be when the application was made while, in others, this might be when the assessment was made or when the application was completed. All years refer to financial years.

To facilitate comparisons between authorities, some of the local authority tables are presented in the form of percentages. However, where the number of applications is small, the percentage figures should be treated with caution.

Unless otherwise stated, the assessment category of 'homeless' includes both homeless and potentially homeless, as well as unintentional and intentional homeless. Although the focus of the current legislative changes is on providing settled accommodation to those assessed as unintentionally homeless, the proportion of applications assessed as intentionally homeless and in priority need is relatively small. This category has therefore been combined with that of unintentionally homeless and in priority need for the more complex analyses.

In December 2001, the Scottish Executive changed its homelessness data collection system to an electronic case-based HL1 return to provide more detailed information on applications by individual households and to allow more timely reporting. The electronic data capture system allows cases to be registered and updated on a continuous basis, as well as enabling applications made by the same household to be linked.

The data collection system introduced in December 2001 allows analysis by individual households and the identification of repeat applications. However, this is not the case for earlier data and so analyses comparing data over time will tend to refer to applications rather than individual households. This is also the case for analyses of flow through the assessment process where repeat applications by the same individual household might be assessed differently and have different outcomes. For other analyses, it is useful to distinguish individual households and so the unit of analysis (applications or individual households) is specified in the footnotes for each table/chart.

The data collection was further revised in April 2007 in the light of the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003, with some additional information included to reflect current best practice. Further information on the HL1 can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/15257/HL1revisions.

The estimated share of social lets by homeless applicants in Chart 24 was derived by expressing the number of homeless applicants securing a social let in 2014-15 as the outcome of their application as a percentage of the estimated number of local authority and housing association lets available to new tenants in 2014-15. For 2014-15, we have used the turnover rates calculated in previous years to estimate the number of relets for housing association and local authority dwellings. We have then added to this the number of social sector new build completions for 2014-15[18].

Interpretation of statistics on temporary accommodation

The figures on households in temporary accommodation relate to households which have been placed in temporary accommodation by a local authority under the Homeless Persons legislation. This will include households for whom the local authority's decision and final action is still pending, as well as intentionally homeless households which were secured such accommodation and advice and assistance as a final action by the authority under the legislation. The data provide a snapshot picture of the numbers in temporary accommodation as at the last day of each quarter and are collected in the summary HL2 return.

Hostels, as temporary accommodation under the homeless persons legislation, were used mainly by Glasgow. In fact, almost all households in hostels in Glasgow were placed there by the authority under the Homeless Persons legislation. In other authorities, particularly in the cities, there may be households in hostels that have not been placed there by the local authority under the Homeless Persons legislation. Consequently, they are not recorded in the statistics.

In June 2005, the HL2 return was revised in order to monitor the implementation of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2004. The revised return records the number of households with children or pregnant women in temporary accommodation as at the end of the quarter, the number of those in unsuitable accommodation as defined by the Order, and the number of those in accommodation which breaches the Order. Not all use of unsuitable accommodation is in breach of the Order as such use may be allowed under exceptional circumstances as defined in the Order (see summary of legislation), and therefore the focus of this release is on actual breaches rather than all instances of use of unsuitable accommodation where exceptions may apply. To put the figures into the context, as at 31st March 2015, there were 14 uses of unsuitable accommodation, compared to no breaches of the Order.

From 31 March 2008, there is a break in comparability in the information on numbers of homeless applicants in temporary accommodation in Glasgow. The number of homeless households in temporary accommodation in Glasgow includes asylum seekers given indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom and who are in temporary accommodation. From 31 March 2008, there was a significant increase in such households as a consequence of the "Legacy" Case reviews undertaken by the Home Office. This introduced a discontinuity in the statistics for both Glasgow and for Scotland in the totals for all households and households with children. To bridge the discontinuity, Glasgow have provided figures on the numbers of such households included at the end of each quarter from 31 March 2008. The additional numbers included are:-

Date Households Households with children or household member pregnant Children
31 March 2008 542 522 1,092
30 June 2008 557 521 1,110
30 September 2008 460 423 891
31 December 2008 341 294 631
31 March 2009 271 230 501
30 June 2009 219 190 409
30 September 2009 255 215 454
31 December 2009 297 239 492
31 March 2010 330 227 481
30 June 2010 349 196 414
30 September 2010 300 159 347
31 December 2010 291 149 330
31 March 2011 249 131 291
30 June 2011 233 119 261
30 September 2011 181 90 203
31 December 2011 132 64 160
31 March 2012 93 46 111
30 June 2012 77 37 93
30 September 2012 71 37 91
31 December 2012 63 34 88

To reduce burden on Glasgow City Council, the data in the above table is no longer collected.

Rounding

In some tables, where figures have been rounded, the total shown may not equal the sum of its constituent parts. The live nature of the current electronic system used for the case-based HL1 returns will result in figures being revised as data are updated, and current figures may differ from those previously published.

How we maintain quality

The quality of this publication depends critically on the quality and consistency of the information supplied to us by councils on the HL1 and HL2 returns. The quality statement on the Scottish homelessness statistics website at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/15257/quality sets out the ways in which we do this. The main focus of our systems is to ensure consistency between the HL1 and HL2 returns and consistency of the case level information within each HL1 return.

How we deal with revisions and corrections

Our approach to revisions and corrections is set in detail on the Scottish homelessness statistics website at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/15257/revisionpolicy. In summary, published statistics and supporting reference tables are generally revised when the figures next appear in any publication. However, if a revision is significant resulting in a major change to the published figures a note showing the revisions will be published as soon as possible on the homelessness statistics website. It will also be distributed to all known recipients of the originally published data via email and the ScotStat mailing list.

How we consult with users and providers of statistics

Local authorities in Scotland provide homelessness statistics as a by-product of their administration of Scottish homelessness legislation. The main users of homelessness statistics are local authorities, housing associations, The Scottish Government and voluntary bodies such as Shelter and the Homeless Action Scotland. In November 2011 we re-established the Scottish homelessness statistics user provider group with representatives of providers and users of the statistics. We aim for the group to meet twice a year. The minutes and papers from meetings of the group can be found on the Scottish homelessness statistics website at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/15257/22540

Obtaining additional analyses

A set of reference tables providing a wider and more detailed suite of analyses for Scotland and Scottish local authorities is available at http://www.gov.scot/homelessstats. The HL1 returns provide a very rich dataset capable of supporting a great deal more analysis than we provide in our regular publications and reference tables. If you can't find the analysis you need contact us at mailto:homelessnessstatisticsinbox@scotland.gsi.gov.uk. We can also supply case level extracts from the HL1 database suitably anonymised to prevent disclosure.