Homelessness and Housing Options statistics published

A National and Official Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Scottish local authorities received 36,465 applications for homelessness assistance between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, 3% higher than the same period during 2017/18. Throughout 2018/19, 2,876 (8% of) homeless applicants reported they had slept rough at least once in the last 3 months before making their homeless application. As a proportion of all applications, this remained the same as 2017/18, however the number of applicants reporting sleeping rough in the last 3 months has risen by 201 (8%).  

The annual increase in homelessness applications follows a slight increase last year and eight consecutive annual decreases seen in in the preceding years. The fall in homelessness applications (from a peak of 60,298 in 2005/06 to 34,726 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 a 1% increase being seen last year and a 3% increase in the latest year.  This suggests that, in its current form, the impact of housing options work is unlikely to lead to further reductions in applications beyond those already seen.

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

  • Homelessness in Scotland: 2018/19
  • Housing Options (PREVENT1) Statistics in Scotland: 2018/19

homelessness stats graph

Key Points, covering the Homelessness publication:


  • Applications rose by 892 (3%) to 36,465 in 2018/19. This is the second year applications have risen following a period of consistent decline since 2005/06.
  • The number of applicants who experienced rough sleeping at least once during the last 3 months before their application increased by 201 (8%) to 2,876, compared to the previous year.
  • The most common reason cited as the main reason for making a homelessness application was being ‘Asked to leave’ their previous accommodation, which accounted for 25% of applications. The second most common reason was ‘Dispute within the household / relationship breakdown: non-violent’ (18%), followed by ‘Dispute within the household: violent or abusive’ (13%).
  • 67% of applicants gave additional reasons for failing to maintain accommodation. Of these, ‘Not to do with applicant household (e.g. landlord selling property, fire, circumstances of other persons sharing previous property, harassment by others, etc)’, remains the most common additional reason for failing to maintain accommodation, with 44% of people answering this question giving this as a reason. 25% of applicants gave ‘Mental health reasons’ as an additional reason, while 23% cited ‘Lack of support from friends / family’.


  • 29,894 applications were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness, a rise of 523 (2%) on 2017/18. This represents 82% of the 36,392 assessments made in 2018/19.
  • 1,744 of those assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness were assessed as repeated homeless. This was 5.8% of those assessed, a proportion that has fallen from a 7.0% in 2014/15.

Temporary accommodation

  • There were 10,989 households in temporary accommodation as at 31 March 2019, an increase of 56 households (+0.5%) since last year.
  • Of these households in temporary accommodation, 3,315 had children or a pregnant women – an increase of 65 households (+2%) compared with one year earlier.
  • The number of children in temporary accommodation increased by 180 children (+3%), to 6,795 compared with the same date one year ago.
  • Between 1 April 2018 and 31st March 2019 (based on temporary accommodation placement cases closed during this period), there were 620 placements involving a breach of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation Order) (Scotland). Most of these were in Edinburgh (465 breaches).
  • During 2018/19, there were 3,535 cases where homeless applicants were not offered temporary accommodation, an increase of 320 (10%) on the previous year. 3,365 of these cases (95%) were in Glasgow.


  • 71% of those assessed as unintentionally homeless or threatened with homelessness secured settled accommodation. This proportion has risen consistently from 48% in 2002/03.

Key Points, covering the Housing Options publication:


  • In the last year (1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019), there were 42,850 approaches recorded. Compared with the same period one year ago, there has been a reduction of 2,995 approaches across Scotland (-7%).
  • At 31 March 2019, 19,310 approaches remained open. This equates to 7% of all approaches recorded since 1 April 2014.
  • Despite the overall reduction in Housing Options approaches when comparing 2018/19 with 2017/18, the proportion of approaches made for homelessness type reasons (59%) versus prevention type reasons (41%) has fallen across these two years. In 2017/18 61% of approaches were for homelessness type reasons.


The most common type of activity was to provide general housing advice and tenancy rights advice - this accounted for 37% of all activities during 2018/19. Informing clients of their rights under the homelessness legislation accounted for 28% of all activities.


For approaches closed during the 2018/19 financial year:

  •  50% of approaches made a homelessness application.
  •  22% remained in their current accommodation.
  • 13% had an unknown outcome or contact was lost.
  • 15% found alternative accommodation, including a social rented tenancy (5%), a private rented tenancy (2%) and moving in with family and friends (2%). Other known outcomes accounted for a further 6%.

There is considerable variation in the mix of outcomes by Local Authority area, reflecting the locally developed nature of Housing Options policies.


Read the full statistical publication.

The Homelessness in Scotland: 2018/19 publication presents information on local authority homelessness applications, assessments and outcomes in the period from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 along with information on the use of temporary accommodation up until 31 March 2019.

The Housing Options (PREVENT1) Statistics in Scotland: 2018/19 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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