Homelessness and Housing Options Statistics Published

A National and Official Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Scottish local authorities received 34,972 applications for homelessness assistance between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018, 1% higher than the same period during 2016/17.  Comparing the same time periods, 43,900 Housing Options approaches were recorded, a reduction of 16%.

The annual increase in homelessness applications follows eight consecutive annual decreases seen in in the preceding years.  The fall in homelessness applications (from a peak of 57,672 in 2008/09 to 34,570 in 2016/17) is likely to be due to the impact of housing options and homelessness prevention strategies adopted by most local authorities over the past few years rather than to changes in the underlying drivers of homelessness.  The rate of reduction in homelessness applications has significantly slowed over most recent years, with 1% increase being seen in the latest year.  This suggests that, in its current form, the impact of housing options work is unlikely to lead to further large reductions in applications beyond those already seen.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician today released the following two publications:

  • Homelessness in Scotland: 2017/18
  • Housing Options (PREVENT1) Statistics in Scotland: 2017/18

Homelessness Graph
Homelessness Graph

Key Points, covering the Homelessness publication:


  • Scottish local authorities received 34,972 applications for homelessness assistance between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018, 1% higher than the same period during 2016/17.
  • The proportion of direct homelessness applications – that is those which don’t go through Housing Options first, is increasing. During April 2017 to March 2018, 46% of all homelessness applications – were direct applications, up 3% on 2016/17.
  • The main reasons for applying as homeless have remained largely unchanged in the latest year. Dispute within the household / relationship breakdown is one of the main causes of homelessness applications (30% of all applications) or being asked to leave (25%).


  • 82% of applicants (28, 792 assessments out of a total of 34,950 assessments) were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness in 2017/18. This proportion has increased steadily from 72% in 2004/5, but has since levelled off and remains largely unchanged since 2014/15.
  • Repeat homelessness has remained at a similar level to 2016/17 and was 6.4% for 2017/18.
  • The proportion of homeless assessments where the applicant had at least one support need has increased from 34% in 2012-13 to 47% in 2017-18. This trend suggests that a larger proportion of applicant households have more complex needs being recorded than was previously the case.


  • For those households assessed as unintentionally homeless (with a right to settled accommodation), just over two-thirds (18,457 or 69%) secured a social rented tenancy or a private rented sector tenancy. This proportion has gradually increased each year since 2013/14, when 66% secured settled accommodation.
  • An outcome of lost contact or unknown outcome was reported for 15% of cases closed which had been assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness during 2017/18. The overall proportion of lost contacts has remained roughly the same since 2009/10, varying between 17% and 20%.

Temporary accommodation

As at 31 March 2018:-

  • There were 10,933 households in temporary accommodation, an increase of 60 households (+ 1%) since last year.
  • Of these households in temporary accommodation, 3,349 had children – an increase of 118 households (+4%) compared with one year earlier and the fourth consecutive annual increase.
  • The number of children in temporary accommodation increased by 557 children (+9%) to 6,615, compared with the same date one year ago and the fourth consecutive annual increase.

During 2017/18 (based on new information presented within the publication for the first time using new HL3 placement level data on temporary accommodation) :-

  • A total of 20,320 unique households entered temporary accommodation and 20,450 exited temporary accommodation.
  • The majority of households entering and exiting temporary accommodation were single person households (68% entering and 69% exiting), while around a quarter (26% entering and 25% exiting) contained children.
  • Households in temporary accommodation spent an average of 171 days (just under six months) in temporary accommodation placements. Households with children tended to be in temporary accommodation for longer (204 days) compared to households without children (161 days).
  • Off the 20,450 households which exited temporary accommodation during 2017/18, the majority (68%) had a total duration of 5 weeks to 12 months, this includes 4,344 households (21%) which were in temporary accommodation for 5 to 12 weeks, 4,770 households (23%) which were in temporary accommodation for 3 to 6 months and 4,784 households (23%) with a duration of 7 to 12 months. A total of 2,582 households (13%) were in temporary accommodation for a year or longer, whilst 4,006 households (20%) were in for a 4 weeks or less.
  • When looking at average time within each placement, housing association placements (212 days) local authority placements (141 days) and private sector lease placements (177 days) are more likely to have involved longer periods of time on average than other types of temporary accommodation. In comparison, hostel placements (64 days) and bed and breakfast placements (36 days) have tended to be shorter on average.

Breaches of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation Order) (Scotland)

  • It is important to note that figures presented on breaches of unsuitable accommodation are on a different basis to those included in previous publications. The Homelessness Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation Order) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2017, implemented from 2nd October 2017, has reduced the specified time period from 14 days to 7 days. In addition to this, the new HL3 placement level data provides a picture of total breaches throughout the entire year, as opposed to at a snapshot date, however the HL3 data begins in the year 2017/18 and so annual trends are not yet available on this basis.
  • There were 20 breaches of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2014 as at 31st March 2018.
  • Between 1 April 2017 and 31st March 2018 (based on temporary accommodation placement cases closed during this period), there were 400 placements involving a breach of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order. Most of these were in Edinburgh (280 breaches), but there were nine other local authorities in which breaches of the Order were recorded.

Key Points, covering the Housing Options publication:


  • In the last year (1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018), there were 43,900 approaches recorded. Compared with the same period one year ago, there has been a reduction of 8,185 approaches across Scotland (-16%).
  • At 31 March 2018, 18,270 approaches remained open. This equates to 8% of all approaches recorded since 1 April 2014.
  • Despite the overall reduction in Housing Options approaches when comparing 2017/18 with 2016/17, the proportion of approaches made for homelessness type reasons (61%) versus prevention type reasons (39%) has remained the same across these two years.


  • The most common type of activity was to provide general housing advice and tenancy rights advice - this accounted for 38% of all activities during 2017/18. Informing clients of their rights under the homelessness legislation accounted for 27% of all activities.


  • For approaches closed during the 2017/18 financial year, 45% of approaches made a homelessness application, 22% remained in their current accommodation and 19% had an unknown outcome or contact was lost. 14% found alternative accommodation, including a social rented tenancy (4%), a private rented tenancy (3%) and moving in with family and friends (2%). Other known outcomes accounted for a further 5%. There is considerable variation in the mix of outcomes by Local Authority area, reflecting the locally developed nature of Housing Options policies.


The full statistical publication is available.

The Homelessness in Scotland: 2017/18 publication presents information on local authority homelessness applications, assessments and outcomes in the period from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 along with snapshot information on the use of temporary accommodation as at 31 March 2018.  In addition, new information is presented for the first time from new HL3 placement level data on temporary accommodation in the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018, which includes information on the average length of time spent in temporary accommodation and the number of breaches of unsuitable accommodation recorded throughout the entire year (which differs to the number of breaches recorded at a particular point in time in the year).

The Housing Options (PREVENT1) Statistics in Scotland: 2017/18 publication gives an overview of key trends and features of Housing Options work in Scotland over the same period.  These statistics are being published as experimental statistics in order to involve users and stakeholders in their development and as a means to build in quality at an early stage. These official statistics have not yet been assessed by the UK Statistics Authority and have therefore not been designated as National Statistics at this stage.

Housing Options has been described as: “a process which starts with housing advice when someone approaches a local authority with a housing problem.  This means looking at an individual’s options and choices in the widest sense. This approach features early intervention and explores all possible tenure options, including council housing, housing associations and the private rented sector. The advice can also cover personal circumstances which may not necessarily be housing related, such as debt advice, mediation and mental health issues”.

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/About


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