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.

Temporary accommodation

Key Points

  • 3,385 refusals of temporary accommodation offers, a 7% decrease compared to 2021
  • 300 instances of households not being offered temporary accommodation

Sources of temporary accommodation data

Since 2002, local authorities have provided aggregate snapshot information relating to households in temporary accommodation. While this allows trends to be explored over time, understanding around individual placements and how these relate to assessed households is not possible from the snapshot data. Therefore, since 1 April 2016 placement level information on households in temporary accommodation has been provided to enable a more rounded picture of the use of temporary accommodation.

The snapshot data shows 14,458 households in temporary accommodation as at 30 September 2022. The placement level returns show that there were 15,026 temporary accommodation placements open at 30 September 2022 – 568 (4%) higher than the snapshot returns. Differences may be explained by the returns including different types of temporary accommodation and the placement level returns experiencing a lag in cases being closed.

Both of these figures show households in temporary accommodation at a point in time and, as such, will include those who have recently entered temporary accommodation as well as those who have been in temporary accommodation for a longer period of time (including prior to the reporting period).

Households entering and exiting temporary accommodation

Between April and September 2022, 10,941 households entered temporary accommodation for the first time while 8,633 exited for the last time (i.e. where homelessness cases were closed) – this is a net difference of 2,308 (21%) households in temporary accommodation over this period.

Glasgow had the largest numerical difference with 464 more households entering than exiting. The next largest was Edinburgh with a net difference of 407 more households entering than exiting.

The most commonly used temporary accommodation was local authority accommodation

Chart 8: Types of temporary accommodation used, as at 30 September 2022

Pie chart showing the types of temporary accommodation used as a proportion of all households in temporary accommodation (as at 30 September 2022)

Generally, there has been a decrease in the proportion of most types of temporary accommodation, with an increase in the proportion of ‘other’ types of accommodation.  ‘Other’ accounted for 18% at September 2019 compared to 23% at September 2022. The increased use of ‘Other’ is likely the result of ‘newer’ types of accommodation such as rapid access accommodation, community housing and shared tenancies, which can be deemed suitable.

The exception is Bed & Breakfast accommodation, which accounted for 6% of temporary accommodation placements at September 2019 compared to 10% at September 2022.

Local authority (furnished), housing association, other and women’s refuge accommodation remain more commonly used for households with children compared to all households. Hostel and bed and breakfast accommodation are used much less for households with children.


A household can choose to refuse an offer of temporary accommodation made by the local authority. There were 3,385 refusals of temporary accommodation between April and September 2022. This is 250 (7%) less than the same period for 2021.  Refusals were particularly high in July to September 2020 (2,050) and April to June 2021 (1,900).

Failure to provide temporary accommodation

A local authority is required to indicate when they do not offer any temporary accommodation to a household and are therefore acting unlawfully.

Between April and September 2022, there were 300 instances of households not being offered temporary accommodation – 75 for April to June and 225 July to September. This is a fall of 15% compared to 355 in the same period in 2021 and is considerably smaller than that reported pre-pandemic. This is largely driven by the reduction in Glasgow as a result of steps taken to improve access to emergency accommodation, including re-purposing hotels during the pandemic.

A total of five local authorities reported at least one instance of not offering accommodation over the six month period in 2022, with Edinburgh reporting the majority (285). The others were Aberdeen City, Fife, Highland and Scottish Borders.

How often do local authorities breach unsuitable accommodation legislation?


Important! These figures should be treated with caution due to:

  • reporting anomalies and inconsistencies;
  • uncertainty caused by the extension of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order (UAO) legislation in May 2020; and
  • the existence of COVID-19 exceptions between May 2020 and September 2021.

See below for further details on these.

Between April and September 2022 there were 1,470 reported breaches of the unsuitable accommodation order (UAO). This is a notable increase from the 410 reported in 2021. This is very likely due to the ceasing of the COVID-19 exceptions on 30 September 2021, as evidenced by the increase from 285 in July to September 2021 to 825 between October and December 2021.

The extension of the legislation to all households will also impact these figures. Prior to May 2020, the UAO only applied to households with a pregnant member and/or children.

Twenty local authorities reported a breach over the six month period with Edinburgh accounting for the highest number (655). Other local authorities with a large number of breaches were West Lothian (270), Fife (235), East Lothian (120) and Glasgow (85).

Reporting anomalies and inconsistencies

Increased scrutiny of the data brought about by changes in legislation and the introduction of COVID-19 exceptions uncovered anomalies and inconsistences in the reporting of breaches. Through this process, it became clear that this was exacerbated by a lack of consistent interpretation of unsuitable accommodation legislation and data collection guidance.

In May 2022, enhanced data collection guidance was issued to local authorities to clarify reporting requirments and, in turn, ensure consistency and improve quality. While some local authorities have been able to update their management information systems in line with the ehanced guidance in time for this publication, many have not.

In addition, some errors have been identified for local authorities who have implemented changes. This is to be expected over the transition period.

Therefore, issues persist around comparability and correctness of this data.

Additional quality assurance processes have been incorporated to pick up errors quickly and close working with local authorities is ongoing to ensure that consistent reporting against updated guidance is implemented as quickly and as correctly as possible.

Changes in legislation

Prior to 5 May 2020, a breach was encountered when a household with a pregnant member and/or child is in unsuitable temporary accommodation for more than 7 days. From 5 May 2020, this was extended to all households. Therefore, breaches figures before and from the 5 May 2020 are not comparable. To also note, this falls in the middle of a reporting quarter.

COVID-19 exceptions

Temporary exceptions were put in place to allow local authorities to provide households with accommodation in response to COVID-19. The legislation noted that a placement was not considered unsuitable if:

  • a person in the household has symptoms of coronavirus and the household requires to isolate; or
  • the accommodation is required to provide temporary accommodation to ensure that a distance of 2 metres can be maintained between a member of the household and a person who is not a member of the household in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus; or
  • the local authority is unable to place the household in suitable accommodation as a result of the impacts of coronavirus on temporary accommodation supply in the area, provided that where a household includes a child or a pregnant woman, the household is not placed in unsuitable accommodation for more than 7 days.

The first two of these came into effect in May 2020 and the third came into effect on 30 September 2020. All ceased on 30 September 2021. Again, this means that data will not be comparable across the series.

A household placed in unsuitable accommodation for longer than 7 days where an exception did not apply must still be recorded as a breach.

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