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.

Notes on tables

Data within this publication is available in electronic format within tables and charts on the supporting documents page.

There are workbooks available which contain data for:

  • main findings
  • equalities (characteristics of the homeless population)
  • Ukrainian displaced households
  • children in temporary accommodation (HL3 Q12 & Q13)

In response to user feedback, the number of years available in the main findings and equalities workbooks have been reduced (to the most recent five years) to make these more user friendly. Full time series data is available on the full statistical time series page.

The statistics included in this publication are based on administrative data collected by local authorities in the course of carrying out their homelessness activities. This data is collected from local authorities and quality assured by the Scottish Government on a quarterly basis. Details about the data we collect, our quality assurance process, and how we engage with users to improve our statistics are outlined in our quality assurance statement.

Data Protection Impact Assessment and Quality Assurance Statement for HL1, HL2, HL3 and PREVENT1 data collections

The rates of homeless households and households in temporary accommodation per 10,000 households were calculated using Households and dwellings in Scotland, 2022 statistics, produced by National Records of Scotland.

Updates to previous statistics

The data we use in this publication is collected from local authorities on a quarterly basis. As a result these figures are updated on an ongoing basis and may differ from those previously published. This may be a result of delays in some cases being reported to the Scottish Government due to IT issues, quality assurance processes and delayed entry of data – particularly at the end of the financial year.

For example, this publication estimates that 35,759 homeless applications were made in 2021-22, but the previous ‘Homelessness in Scotland: 2021 to 2022’ publication gave a figure of 35,230. This is a difference of 529 applications, or approximately 1%. A table comparing the annual number of applications is included in the main tables document accompanying this publication (table QA2) available on the supporting documents page.

Characteristics information

Information on the characteristics of the main applicant/household are gathered and recorded as part of the application stage of a homelessness case. This information is linked to the temporary accommodation placements associated with that household to enable reporting by characteristic for temporary accommodation. To note, it is not possible to do the same for the aggregate snapshot temporary accommodation data.

Data for the Scottish population was taken from mid-2021 population estimates produced by National Records of Scotland.

Data for household types was taken from the Scottish Household Survey 2019.

Data for ethnicity was taken from the Scottish Surveys Core Questions 2019.

Known data quality issues

There are other data quality issues of which we are aware:

  • there are a small number of temporary accommodation cases on the Scottish Government temporary accommodation placement database that are recorded as open but are linked to homelessness applications that we know to be closed. This occurs when a local authority fails to provide an update for these cases after the placement is closed. In these cases we have taken the approach of using the close date of the homelessness application as the exit date of the temporary accommodation placement. This may have the impact of inflating the length of time these households are recorded as using temporary accommodation
  • snapshot data about temporary accommodation provided by Fife and Orkney do not include all temporary accommodation placements used, and therefore understates the number of households in temporary accommodation within these councils
  • there are inconsistencies between local authorities in the reporting of breaches of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2020. From May 2020 to September 2021 exceptions were put in place in response to COVID-19 which caused confusion for some local authorities, particularly around when the extension of the legislation (from only households with pregnant women and/or children to all) should commence. Local authorities were able to capture different levels of information regarding breaches around this time (i.e. whether an exception could or could not be applied) which has implications for data comparability. In May 2022, enhanced guidance was issued to provide clarity around the reporting of breaches. It was anticipated that this should relate to all data from 1 April 2022, however, not all local authorities have managed to correctly implement changes to management information systems as yet, and therefore over the transition period, there will remain inconsistency and inaccuracies within the data

Comparability with other UK homelessness statistics

Because of the substantial differences in legislative frameworks and data collection methods that exist across the UK care needs to be taken in comparing homelessness statistics across the four countries.

In September 2019 the Office for National Statistics published the UK homelessness: 2005 to 2018 report, which assessed the comparability and coherence of existing UK government homelessness data sources.

Also published in September 2019, the GSS Homelessness Interactive Tool allows users to explore the similarities and differences between how key concepts relating to homelessness are defined across the four UK countries. It allows users to explore an applicants’ process through each of the different homelessness systems and enables users to visualise the different definitions of homelessness currently being used for official statistics and how these compare.




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