Homelessness in Scotland: update to 30 September 2022

This statistics bulletin provides information on homelessness in Scotland in the six-month period from 1 April 2022 to 30 September 2022, alongside historical data.

A note on interpreting the figures

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

That is, not all applications made between 1 April and 30 September 2022 will have an assessment or temporary accommodation placement within that same six-month period. Similarly, some assessments made between 1 April and 30 September 2022 will relate to applications received prior to this; and some temporary placements in this period 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 period, and therefore will not appear in the end of period 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 period (although this would be extremely unlikely in a six-month period)
  • not all households assessed as homeless enter temporary accommodation

Where the publication refers to ‘in the six-month period’ this relates to the period 1 April to 30 September 2022, unless another year has been specified in the text.  Where the years 2019, 2020 and 2021 are referred to in the publication (including charts), this relates to the respective six-month period 1 April to 30 September in each of the years.

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.

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 will not impact on the data presented in this publication as data is only covered up to 30 September 2022.

Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

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 (lifted on 30 September 2021). 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 six months, alongside a temporary ban on home repossessions.

Local authorities are reporting ongoing 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 in temporary accommodation, 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 local authorities being unable to close cases. This was a result of restrictions limiting the ability to move households into permananent acommodation, 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 provided by the local authority, now required it as the alternative arrangements they had made were no longer viable due to the pandemic.

These backlogs have more recently been further exacerbated by a shortage of tradespeople and building materials, as well as the increased cost of materials, both of which are limiting the ability to prepare properties for use (as settled and temporary accommodation), particularly between tenancies.

Where findings are believed to have been impacted by COVID-19 these have been outlined within the relevant sections.

The period April to June 2020 was particularly unusual given it immediately followed the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of restrictions. As a result of changing restrictions and the ongoing impact of the pandemic, quarterly 2020 figures are particularly variable. Caution should therefore be applied when making comparisons with 2020 figures, however, these comparisons are in themselves useful in observing any changes in trends since the onset of the pandemic.

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