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

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Temporary Accommodation

(Table 12 to Table 16b and Chart 25 to Chart 26)

Statistics on numbers of households in temporary accommodation are taken from the HL2 quarterly statistical return by councils[14]. The return provides summary information on households in temporary accommodation at the end of the quarter who have been placed there as a consequence of their homelessness application. Homeless applicants may be placed in temporary accommodation while the council assesses their application or while awaiting the offer of a permanent let. Also, non-priority applicants and those assessed as intentionally homeless may be placed in temporary accommodation and receive advice and assistance as the outcome of their application.

Latest position

At 31 March 2015:-

  • There were 10,488 households in temporary accommodation - an increase of 207 households (2% increase) compared to one year earlier. (Table 12 and Chart 25).
  • There were 2,662 households with children in temporary accommodation - an increase of 183 households (7% increase) compared with one year earlier.

Chart 25: Scotland: Households in temporary accommodation at 31 March each year

Chart 25: Scotland: Households in temporary accommodation at 31 March each year

Key trends

The total number of households in temporary accommodation reduced in each of 2012, 2013 and 2014 but it has seen its first increase in four years. It is now at just under 10,500 in 2015. Similarly, the number of households with children in temporary accommodation has increased for the first time in four years, but it is still 67% of the peak value recorded at the end of March 2008. The number of households with children in temporary accommodation was just under 2,700 at the end of March 2015.

Chart 25a and Chart 25b shows the percentage increase in households in temporary accommodation between March 2014 and March 2015. In line with the previous year there was an increase in numbers in temporary accommodation in East Lothian. There were even larger percentage increases in Aberdeen City, East Renfrewshire and Highland. However, this is set against large decreases in East Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Orkney. Overall, 12 local authorities have seen an increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation and 20 have seen a decrease.

Chart 25a: Percentage Change in Temporary Accommodation

Chart 25a: Percentage Change in Temporary Accommodation

Chart 25b: Percentage Change in Temporary Accommodation

Chart 25b: Percentage Change in Temporary Accommodation

The trends in numbers in temporary accommodation are likely to be due to a combination of the impacts of homelessness legislation and, more recently, the impacts of housing options (Chart 26)

Chart 26: Temporary Accommodation by Local Authority: 30th June 2002 to 31st March 2015

Chart 26: Temporary Accommodation by Local Authority: 30th June 2002 to 31st March 2015

Note: The green markers show the lowest recorded number of households in temporary accommodation over the period 30th June 2002 to 31st March 2015. The red markers show the highest recorded number of households in temporary accommodation.

While it is not possible to precisely quantify separate effects, the broad picture over the last ten years looks to be:-

  • The increase in the overall number of households without children in temporary accommodation from 2002 was initially driven by homelessness legislation which placed new duties on councils to provide temporary accommodation, advice and assistance for non-priority homeless households. In 2002 the majority of priority homeless were households with children. Following this new duty there was a notable increase in the number of single people applying for homelessness assistance and hence the number in temporary accommodation.
  • From 2002 the proportion of homeless applicants assessed as priority increased year on year. This was a direct consequence of homelessness legislation which, among other things, included a target that by 31 December 2012 all unintentionally homeless households would be assessed as being in priority need. Priority homeless households placed in temporary accommodation by councils generally spend significantly longer in temporary accommodation than non-priority homeless. This led to overall increases in numbers in temporary accommodation with the greatest increases for homeless households without children who are mainly single people.
  • From 2010 the number of homeless applications has been falling mainly as a consequence of the development of homelessness prevention activities by councils through adopting a 'housing options' approach to meeting acute housing need. This change in practice looks to have contributed to the overall drop in numbers in temporary accommodation between 2011 and 2014.
  • During 2013-14, there were further changes which may have impacted upon the number of households in temporary accommodation. The availability of the supply of settled accommodation in the locations needed, particularly in the social rented sector, together with the size of available properties required. Restrictions were applied which imposed a housing benefit penalty[15] on those households which live in a property which was too large for their needs. This is formally known as the removal of the spare room subsidy (RSRS). Homeless households which are single or childless couples typically require a one bedroom property, yet demand for one-bedroom properties is likely to outstrip supply[16]. However the impact of the RSRS in Scotland is likely to be offset by the Scottish Government's commiment to fully mitigate the impact of the RSRS in 2014/15 and 2015/16. This mitigation activity is via increased funding for Discretionary Housing Payments[17].

Types of temporary accommodation used

The majority of households in temporary accommodation were in local authority or housing association accommodation (62%), with a further 17% in hostels and 10% in bed and breakfast. (Table 12 and Table 13). Households with children or pregnant women are mainly provided with local authority or housing association accommodation (88%), with a small proportion (1%) being placed in bed and breakfast accommodation. (Table 13)

On 31 March 2015, there were 14 households with children or pregnant women in bed and breakfast accommodation. The number of households with children in bed & breakfast accommodation is now at around 12% of the March 2008 level (an 88% fall). (Table 13).

Use of bed and breakfast accommodation for households with children varies by local authority. On 31 March 2015, 26 local authorities had no households with children in bed & breakfast accommodation, three councils had one household with children in bed and breakfast (Aberdeenshire, Glasgow and South Lanarkshire), one council had three households with children in bed and breakfast (Fife), and two local authorities had four households with children in bed & breakfast accommodation (Edinburgh and West Lothian). (Table 15).

Implementation of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2014

For each quarter from June 2005, councils have reported on the number of households at the end of the quarter who were in unsuitable temporary accommodation and the number where the accommodation provided to the household was in breach of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order. The snapshot figures show that in the quarter ending 31 March 2015:

  • 14 households were in unsuitable accommodation. (Table 16a)
  • Of these, none of the households were in unsuitable accommodation that was in breach of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order. (Table 16b)

Future Monitoring of Temporary Accommodation

From 1 April 2016, local authorities will begin submitting data on temporary accommodation via the HL3 return. This gives placement level information on temporary accommodation and will also enable analysis of the time spent in each placement. Once data quality has been assured, the successful implementation of the HL3 will result in the reduction of reporting requirements elsewhere - the HL2 return will cease and question 24 in the HL1 return will no longer be required. Futher information on the HL3 Return and a stand-alone data collection system is available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/15257/1529/HL3