Homelessness Statistics 2020-21

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Annual update on Homelessness Statistics covering 2020/21 have been released by Scotland’s Chief Statistician. 

Findings for that period show:

  • There were 33,792 applications for homelessness assistance - a decrease of 3,251 (9%) compared with 2019/20
  • There were 27,571 households assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness - a decrease of 4,010 (13%) compared to 2019/20
  • While the number of applications fell, there was also a reduction in the number of cases closed. As a result, the number of open homelessness cases at 31 March 2021 reached 25,226, a 10% increase compared to 31 March 2020. This peaked at 27,058 as at 30 September 2020
  • There were 13,097 households in temporary accommodation at 31 March 2021 - a 12% increase compared to 11,665 at 31 March 2020. This reached a peak of 14,151 at 30 September 2020
  • The most common reasons for making an application were ‘Asked to leave’ (27% vs 24% the previous year), ‘Dispute within the household / relationship: non-violent (22% vs 19% the previous year) and ‘Dispute within the household: violent or abusive’ (14% vs 13% the previous year)
  • There was a notable decrease in households becoming homeless from a private rented tenancy – a drop of 2,161 (42%) from 5,145 to 2,984. 11% of households assessed as homeless in this period gave this as their previous accommodation type, compared to 16% in the same period in 2020. This may be due to a reduction in the number of evictions due to emergency coronavirus legislation temporarily extending eviction notice periods
  • There was a 44% reduction in households assessed as homeless in Edinburgh in 2020/21 compared to 2019/20, from 3,402 to 1,912. This was largely due to a 67% reduction from a private rented tenancy (264 in 2020/21 compared to 802 in 2019/20) compared to 42% nationally. In addition, Edinburgh also experienced a decrease of those becoming homeless from either ‘parental / family home / relatives’ or ‘friends / partners’ of 35% (from 1,532 to 1,002) compared to a national increase of 7%
  • Homelessness applications that closed in 2020/21 that used temporary accommodation spent 199 days in temporary accommodation on average.  This increased from 187 days the previous year
  • There were 605 cases of households not being offered temporary accommodation in 2020/21 – a fall of 87% (from 4,590) compared to last year. 525 of these were in Edinburgh
  • 80% of homeless households (18,313 out of 22,967) secured settled accommodation in 2020/21, increasing from 64% in 2002/03, and a drop from 83% last year
  • It took 248 days on average from assessment to closure in 2020/21 for cases assessed as homeless – an increase from 225 in 2019/20
  • 58% of main applicants were male; 62% were aged 25-49; 70% were single person households; and 87% were of White ethnicity


 The full statistical publication is Homelessness Statistics Scotland 2020/21.

The Homelessness in Scotland: 2020 to 2021 publication presents information on local authority homelessness applications, assessments and outcomes in the period from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, and places it in the context of longer term trends. It also provides data on the number of households in temporary accommodation throughout the same period.

This is the first annual homelessness statistics release for which Covid-19 restrictions and changes in practices were in place for the full reporting period. Where it is believed that Covid-19 has had an impact on the data and trends shown in the publication, these have been highlighted with explanations where possible.

Professionally independent statistical staff produce official statistics in Scotland and more information on the standards can be found in the Official Statistics guide.


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