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Important Topics

Government Activity

What we're doing to alleviate homelessness.

Information for Local Authorities

Duties of local authorities, prevention guidance and links to statistics and publications.

Housing Options Hubs

All about Housing Options Hubs.

Duties under s11

Causes of Homelessness

Relationship breakdown is the major cause of homelessness in Scotland, but homelessness can occur for reasons including:

  • family or friends unable to accommodate;
  • eviction due to mortgage or rent arrears;
  • fleeing domestic violence or abuse;
  • emergency such as flooding or fire;
  • discharge from the armed forces or from hospital;
  • mental health issues; or
  • addiction problems.

Homelessness Statistics

Read more about homelessness statistics and publications, including the operation of the Homeless Persons Legislation in Scotland, and notifications under s11 of the Homelessness etc (Scotland) Act 2003 of households at risk of homelessness due to eviction

Housing Policy

Scotland has among the strongest rights in Europe for people facing homelessness. Reducing homelessness is a vital part of tackling poverty.

We are developing support services for those who are already homeless or at risk of becoming so. We are also taking steps to increase housing supply. As a result, the number of people reaching the point of homelessness has fallen in recent years.


We are reducing and addressing homelessness by:

  • helping councils develop and improve homeless prevention activities through Housing Options Hubs
  • providing guidance for councils and other organisations to ensure consistency in services
  • collecting mandatory data on the use of temporary accommodation to improve the quality of information we hold on length of stay, and help shape future policy
  • monitoring progress on prevention activity and examining the barriers faced by those with the most complex needs, including rough sleepers, through the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group (this will link to a group page)
  • working with social and health care services to understand the wider context that leads to homelessness through the Health and Homelessness cross sector group (this will link to a group page)
  • supporting homeowners with mortgage difficulties through the Home Owners' Support Fund and providing financial support to organisations helping homeless and vulnerable people find homes through the Housing Voluntary Grant Scheme
  • working to mitigate the UK Government's changes to housing benefit through the Temporary Accommodation and Supported Accommodation sub-group (this will link to a group page)

We are also:

  • investing over £1.7 billion over five years to deliver 30,000 affordable homes by March 2016, working with local authorities to build record numbers of council houses, and have abolished the Right to Buy to protect up to 15,500 social homes from sale


Under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 a person should be treated as homeless, even if they have accommodation, if it would not be reasonable for them to continue to stay in it.

Councils have a legal duty to help people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. They do this by:

  • providing information and advice
  • offering temporary or permanent accommodation if circumstances warrant it

Homeless applications have fallen by 36 per cent since 2008. Statistics for 2014 to 2015 show that homelessness has been falling in Scotland with applications down four per cent, and assessments down two per cent, compared to the previous year.

Bills and legislation

  • the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 introduced changes to existing homelessness legislation. It established the right to review a homelessness decision, and introduced a duty on Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) to assist local authorities in rehousing homeless people
  • the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 outlined the provision that by 2012 anyone finding themselves homeless through no fault of their own must be entitled to settled accommodation (a council or housing association tenancy or private rental).

This amended the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 which defines the rights of homeless people and was enshrined in law in 2012 with the Homeless (Abolition of Priority Need Test) (Scotland) Order 2012. In 2012 the Scottish Parliament also passed secondary legislation on housing support regulations, requiring local authorities to assess the housing support needs of homeless applicants.


Email: homelessness@gov.scot

Telephone: 0300 244 4000

Post: Housing, Regeneration and Welfare Directorate Victoria Quay Edinburgh EH6 6QQ