Homelessness in Scotland: 2022-23

This statistics bulletin provides information on homelessness in Scotland in the period from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023, alongside historical data.

A note on interpreting the figures

It is not possible to make direct links within a reporting year for the different stages of the homelessness process as different households will be at a different stage at different times.

That is, not all applications made in 2022-23 will have an assessment or temporary accommodation placement that year. Similarly, some assessments made in 2022-23 will relate to applications received prior to this; and some temporary placements in 2022-23 will relate to household applications and assessments prior to this also. Furthermore, there will be households who entered and exited temporary accommodation within the same reporting year, and therefore will not appear in the end of year snapshot of households in temporary accommodation.

To also note:

  • it is possible for households to make an application and/or be assessed more than once in the same year
  • not all households assessed as homeless enter temporary accommodation

The term 'homeless households' is used throughout the publication to denote households who have been assessed as (unintentionally or intentionally) homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

In 2020-21 there was a departure from longer-terms trends for some aspects of homelessness, mainly as a result of the unusual circumstances following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and on-going restrictions; this was particularly the case for the period April to June 2020. Caution should therefore be applied when making comparisons with 2020-21 figures, however, these comparisons are in themselves useful in observing any changes in trends since the onset of the pandemic.

In response to the pandemic, local authorities made a huge effort to house all of those in need (including those who would not otherwise be eligible for homelessness support). This included, but was not restricted to, the accommodating of rough sleepers. Where households housed in response to the pandemic have a formal homelessness application to a local authority and/or have a temporary accommodation placement recorded on management information systems, they will be included in the statistics presented in this publication. If there is no corresponding homelessness application and/or temporary accommodation placement recorded, they will not be included.

To protect renters over the COVID-19 period the use of extended notice periods for eviction proceedings were introduced through temporary Coronavirus legislation. In addition, mortgage payment deferrals were introduced across the UK in March 2020 to allow customers experiencing issues paying their mortgage during the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for a break in making mortgage payments for a period of up to 6 months, alongside a temporary ban on home repossessions.

Local authorities are still reporting on-going effects of COVID-19 on homelessness service provision. In particular, many are experiencing high levels of backlogs due to both the increase in the number of households, and the extended periods households are staying, in temporary accommodation. There was an increase in the number of households and length of time in temporary accommodation over the pandemic due to local authorities being unable to close cases. This was a result of restrictions limiting the ability to move households into permanent accommodation, including difficulties in carrying out necessary repairs, challenges conducting viewings due to households shielding or self-isolating, and a lower level of lets due to staff, especially registered social landlords, being furloughed. In addition, some households who had previously chosen not to take up temporary accommodation now required it as the alternative arrangements they had made were no longer viable due to the pandemic.

These backlogs were noted by local authorities as being exacerbated by a shortage of tradespeople and building materials, as well as the increased cost of materials, both of which limited the ability to prepare properties for use (as settled and temporary accommodation), particularly between tenancies. These were noted especially for data over the 2021-22 reporting period.

Where findings are believed to have been impacted by COVID-19, including additional protections and on-going effects, these have been outlined within the relevant sections.

Impact of cost of living crisis

The Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022 was introduced from 27 October 2022 in response to the cost of living crisis, to protect residential tenants from increases in rent and from eviction. This came in to force partway through the reporting period 2022-23.

Where figures are believed to have been impacted by cost of living crisis, these have been outlined within the relevant sections.

Impact of Ukrainian displaced people

In order to be able to quantify how many Ukrainian displaced people (UDP) are presenting as homeless, new response categories were added in to the HL1 data collection. Local authorities were asked to provide information backdated to June 2022.

Twenty-nine out of 32 local authorities have been able to provide this information with their data returns that are used for this publication. One provided information at a later date which has enabled application figures (only) for 2022-23 to be estimated. The remaining two have provided figures informally for the number of homelessness applications (only).

For 2022-23, there were 275 applications nationally from UDP households (defined as eligible for support as a result of being a Ukrainian national, lawfully present in the UK through an appropriate scheme). This accounts for less than 1% of all homelessness applications in 2022-23. If the 275 UDP households were not present in the homelessness application figures, this would change the annual increase in applications from 9% to 8%. Data relating to UDP households has been made available in a separate workbook on our supporting documents page.

Impact of changes to local connection legislation

Of the 32,240 households that were assessed as homeless in 2022-23, 705 (2%) of these were reported as having no local connection to the local authority to which the application was made but to another local authority. This proportion was the same across all quarters, implying no impact on presentations as a result in the change in local connection legislation in November 2022. Furthermore, this was lower than the 3% of cases with a local connection to (only) another local authority in 2021-22.

Temporary accommodation data sources

Local authorities provide two sets of temporary accommodation data:

  1. aggregate snapshot information as at the end of the quarter, available since 2002
  2. placement level information, provided since 2016

The snapshot data is used to report headline temporary accommodation figures (i.e. households, households with children and number of children as at 31 March). The placement level information is used to provide greater detail and context around the use of temporary accommodation (e.g. number of placements, length of time).

The plan is to discontinue the snapshot collection given the richer placement level data. However, this has been difficult due to:

  • figures between the two sources not matching (placement level returns are higher by 4%); and
  • the placement level information not containing information on children within the placements.

New questions were introduced into the placement level collection in 2019 and this data has been provided by all 32 local authorities for the first time for 2022-23. This is subject to on-going quality assurance. New data relating to the individual placement return has been made available in a separate workbook on our supporting documents page.

Stock transfer authorities

For six local authorities – Argyll & Bute, Dumfries & Galloway, Eilean Siar, Glasgow, Inverclyde, and Scottish Borders – stock was transferred from local authority control to housing associations between 2003 and 2007. This should be borne in mind when interpreting figures at local authority level, particularly for outcomes by accommodation type.



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