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Analytical Services Division
28 March 2006
Operation of the Homeless Persons Legislation in Scotland: Quarters Ending 30 June and 30 September 2005 (Including Households in Temporary Accommodation at 31 December 2005)
This Statistics Release presents information on applications made to local authorities under the Homeless Persons legislation during the period April to September 2005. It includes information on the characteristics of applicant households, local authority assessments and the action taken in respect of cases that were concluded. Snapshot data on households in temporary accommodation as at 30 June, 30 September and 31 December 2005 are also presented in this release, including the first reported data on the implementation of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2004.
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. In particular, from September 2002, 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.
The Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order came into force in December 2004. This Order requires councils to ensure that households with children or pregnant women are not placed in unsuitable temporary accommodation, unless exceptional circumstances apply. The definition of unsuitable accommodation, as well as a more detailed summary of current legislation, can be found at the end of this release. Changes in the data collection to monitor the implementation of the Order are described in the notes section before the tables.
In the ten years from 1989-90 to 1999-00, the number of applications under the Homeless Persons legislation has risen by approximately 60%, from 29,000 to 46,000, with a further increase since 2001. However, the most recent data indicate that the level of increase may be easing off (Chart 1).
In recent years the observed increases in levels of applications have primarily been due to the increase in the numbers of single-person households applying, with no or very little variation in applications from other household types (Chart 2). Evidence from previously published data on applications shows that there has been a consistent increase since the mid-90s in the proportions of applications being assessed as being in priority need. This increase has been more marked for applications from single-person households (Statistical Bulletin Operation of the Homeless Persons legislation in Scotland: national and local authority analyses 2004-05).
On the whole, recorded numbers of households in temporary accommodation have risen gradually since the early 90s, with a marked and consistent increase since 2002 (Chart 3) as councils began implementing their new duties. More recently, there has been some indication that this increase may be tapering off to some extent.
From March 2001, the statistics on temporary accommodation have included a separate breakdown for households with dependent children, including households with pregnant women as of June 2005 (figures from this point onward are therefore not strictly comparable with previous ones: details can be found in the notes section). The number of households with children in temporary accommodation also shows a rise since 2002, and these households represent about one third of all households placed in temporary accommodation..
Note: Figures for households with children or pregnant women are not strictly comparable prior to June 2005 as previous figures did not include households with pregnant women and no children.
The statistics presented in this release relate to applications made under the legislation as well as individual households. Given the continuous nature of the recording system set up in December 2001, the analyses reported in this bulletin refer to data from the time period relevant to the analysis, and figures may differ from those previously published. Detailed statistical notes on the collection and presentation of this information are provided in the notes section.
Applications and applicant households
- During the period April-September 2005, there were 30,210 applications to local authorities under the Homeless Persons legislation. This represents an increase of 2% compared to previous applications during April-September 2004 (Table 1). Previous increases have been higher (9% between 2002-03 and 2003-04, dropping to 2% between 2003-04 and 2004-05), and the most recent data give further indication that the level of increase in applications seems to be slowing down since 2003-04.
- The majority of households applying were single-person households (63%), mainly men. Single parents, predominantly women, accounted for the next largest group (24%) (Table B).
Local authority assessment
- Of the 28,575 applications assessed during April-September 2005, 72% were assessed as homeless. Of those assessed as homeless, 74% (15,377) were assessed as in priority need (Table 3).
Action taken by local authorities
- There were 28,209 applications actioned by local authorities during April-September 2005: out of the 15,251 assessed as in priority need, 57% were offered permanent accommodation and 8% were offered temporary accommodation (Table 4).
Households in temporary accommodation
- The latest snapshot figure for households placed in temporary accommodation by local authorities under the Homeless Persons legislation was 7,596 as at 31 December 2005. This represents an increase of 6% compared to the situation as at 31 December 2004. However, previous increases have been higher (14% between 31 December 2003 and 31 December 2004) and the longer term data give some indication that the level of increase may be tapering off (see Chart 3 above).
- The most recent figure for households with children or pregnant women was 2,661 as at 31 December 2005 (Table 5). The category of households with children or pregnant women was introduced for June 2005 to monitor the implementation of the Unisuitable Accommodation Order. Therefore figures from this point onwards are not strictly comparable with previous ones as households with pregnant women and no children will not have been included.
- As at 31 December 2005, 59% of households in temporary accommodation were in local authority or housing association accommodation, with a further 18% in hostels and 18% in bed and breakfast accommodation (Table 6).
- Households with children tend on the whole to be provided with local authority or housing association accommodation (87%), with a minority (3%) being placed in bed and breakfast accommodation. As at 31 December 2005, there were 78 households with children or pregnant women in bed and breakfast accommodation. This varied by local authority, with 20 local authorities having none or only one household with children in bed and breakfast, and only one local authority having more than ten (Tables 6 and 7).
Implementation of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order
- The first three snapshot figures for 30 June, 30 September and 31 December 2005 (Table 9) show that
- the most recent figure for reported breaches was 33 cases as at 31 December 2005. This represents 1% of households with children or pregnant women in temporary accommodation at that point
- the highest number of breaches occurred on 30 September when 59 households with children or pregnant women were in unsuitable accommodation in breach of the Order
- half of all local authorities had no breaches of the Order for all three time points
- around two-thirds of local authorities did not have any breaches of the Order at the end of any single quarter
- seven local authorities had five or more breaches at any one time
- the highest number of breaches occurred on 30 September when 59 households with children or pregnant women were in unsuitable accommodation in breach of the Order.
- Each snapshot shows that the number of households with children or pregnant women in unsuitable temporary accommodation in breach of the Order is fewer than the number in bed & breakfast accommodation. This is because some B&Bs will meet the standards set out in the Order, and because not all stays in unsuitable accommodation will be classed as breaches of the Order, as exemptions are allowed under the terms of the Order (see summary of current legislation below).
- These data were collected from June 2005 onward and time trends for these figures will be reported as more data become available.
Notes on tables
1. The data presented in these tables are based on the time period relevant to the analysis. In some cases this might be the year of application, while in others this might relate to the year in which the assessment was made or action taken. All years refer to financial years.
2. 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.
3. 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 secure 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.
4. In December 2001, the Scottish Executive changed the data collection system for the case-based HL1 return to provide more detailed information on applications by individual households and to allow more timely reporting. This entailed changing to an electronic data capture system which allows cases to be registered and updated on a continuous basis, as well as enabling applications made by the same household to be linked.
5. 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.
6. 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 households which were secured such accommodation 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. In order to streamline this release, the local authority level analysis on type of accommodation by household type is shown for the most recent time-point as at 31 December 2005. Analyses for the previous two time-points can be found in the Excel tables published on the Scottish Executive Housing Statistics reference website (see link below).
7. Hostels, as temporary accommodation under the Homeless Persons legislation, are used mainly by Glasgow. In fact, almost all households in hostels in Glasgow have been placed there by the authority under the Homeless Persons legislation. In other authorities, particularly in the cities, there are many 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.
8. 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 below), and therefore the focus of this release is on actual breaches rather than all instances of use of unsuitable accommodation where exceptions may apply. The latter figure provides a useful process measure to assess implementation in practice. To put the figures into the context, as at 30 June, 30 September and 31 December 2005 there were respectively 120, 139 and 65 instances of use of unsuitable accommodation. On the whole, the Order was actually breached in under half the cases (39%, 42% and 51% of cases respectively).
9. The following symbols are used in all tables:
|*||less than half the final digit shown (less than: 0.5%, 50 for figures rounded to nearest 100, or 5 for figures rounded to nearest 10)|
10. Figures which have been revised for this issue (as well as all percentages) are shown in italic type. 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.
11. Additional tables may be obtained from Housing Statistics on request. See back cover for contact details. Housing statistics publications, including printable Adobe portable document format and Excel versions of the tables, are available in the published data section of the Housing Statistics reference website: www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/housing/hsbref .
List of Tables
Table 1 Applications to each local authority by quarter: April 2004 to September 2005
Table 2 Main reason for applying: April to September 2005
Table 3 Assessment decision by presence of children in household and age of main applicant: April to September 2005
Table 4 Local authority action by assessment decision: April to September 2005
Table 5 Households in temporary accommodation by accommodation type: as at 31 March 1995 to 31 December 2005
Table 6 Households with children by accommodation type: as at 31 March 2003 to 31 December 2005
Table 7 Households with children by accommodation type and local authority area: as at 31 December 2005
Table 8 Households with children in temporary accommodation by local authority area: as at 31 December 2004 to 31 December 2005
Table 9 Breaches of Unsuitable Accommodation Order by local authority area: as at 30 June, 30 September and 31 December 2005
Table A Individuals in households by gender and age: April to September 2005
Table B Household type and characteristics of main applicant: April to September 2005
Summary of current legislation
Scottish Executive Statistical Services