Homelessness in Scotland: update to 30 September 2023

This statistics bulletin provides information on homelessness in Scotland in the six-month period from 1 April 2023 to 30 September 2023, alongside historical data.

This document is part of a collection

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 2023 will have an assessment or temporary accommodation placement within that same six-month period. Similarly, some assessments made between 1 April and 30 September 2023 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 2023, unless another year has been specified in the text.  Where the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 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.

Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

There was a departure from longer-term trends for some aspects of homelessness following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions; this was particularly the case for the period April to June 2020. Caution should therefore be applied when making comparisons with the 2020 figures, however, these comparisons are in themseves 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 those in need (including those who would not otherwise be eligible for homelessness support). Only households housed in response to the pandemic with a formal homelessness application to a local authority and/or have a temporary accommodation placement recorded on management information systems will be included in the statistics presented in this publication.

In addition, measures were put in place over the COVID-19 period including: temporary coronavirus legislation (lifted on 30 September 2021) to protect renters; mortgage payment deferrals (introduced in March 2020); and a temporary ban on home repossessions.

Local authorities are still reporting the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on homelessness service provision. In particular, backlogs have built up due to restrictions limiting the ability to move households in to permanent accommodation, and the greater demand for temporary accommodation that resulted from households whose alternative arrangements were no longer viable.

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).

Where findings are believed to have been impacted by COVID-19 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.

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.

31 out of 32 local authorities have been able to provide this information with their data returns that are used for this publication.

Between April and September 2023, there were 145 applications nationally from UDP households (definied 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 over this period. 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 16,420 households that were assesed as homeless between April and September 2023, 455 (3%) of these were reported as having no local connection to the local authority to which the application was made but to another local authority. It is difficult to determine with any certainty if the changes to local connection legislation has affected these proportions. Although the proportion with a local connection to another (Scottish) local authority only was 2% between January 2021 and March 2022, prior to this it had generally been 3% or higher (the only exception being April to September 2020, immediately following the COVID-19 outbreak). 

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.


Email: homelessness_statistics_inbox@gov.scot

Back to top