Homelessness in Scotland: 2016-2017

An overview of key trends and features of homelessness in Scotland from 2016 to 2017, as at 31 March 2017.

This document is part of a collection

Main Points

For the twelve month period of 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017:


  • There were 34,100 applications. This was 826 (2%) lower than the number of applications received in the same period in 2015-16.
  • The number of applications has fallen in 16 out of Scotland's 32 local authorities.
  • The continuing fall in applications overall is mainly due to the impact of housing options/ homelessness prevention strategies adopted by most Local Authorities over the past few years rather than to changes in the underlying drivers of homelessness. However, the rate of reduction in homelessness applications has slowed. This suggests that, in its current form, the impact of housing options work is unlikely to lead to further large reductions in applications beyond those already seen.
  • 58% of homeless applicants had made a Housing Options approach prior to (or on the same day) - a decrease of four percentage points compared to 2015/16. This varied widely amongst LAs, from no previous housing options approaches in Eilean Siar during 2016/17, to almost 100% of applications doing so in Glasgow City.
  • The main reasons for applying as homeless remained largely unchanged. Dispute within the household/ relationship breakdown is one of the main causes of homelessness applications (30% of all applications) or being asked to leave (25%).


  • 82% of applicants (28,247 assessments out of a total of 34,267) were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness. This proportion has increased steadily from 72% in 2004/5, but has since levelled off and remains unchanged since 2015/16.
  • 25,123 cases were assessed as unintentionally homeless, and therefore entitled to settled accommodation (a decrease of 135 cases, -1% on 2015/16).
  • Relatively few assessments are found to be intentionally homeless or intentionally threatened with homelessness. These comprise 4% (or 1,484) of all homelessness assessments. This proportion has been relatively stable for the past four years, after rising from 2.5% in 2009/10.
  • Repeat homelessness has remained at a similar level to 2015/16 and was 6.7% for 2016/17. The proportion of homeless assessments where the applicant had at least one support need has increased from 34% in 2012-13 to 44% in 2016-17. This trend suggests that a larger proportion of applicant households have more complex needs than was previously the case.


  • For those households assessed as unintentionally homeless (with a right to settled accommodation) , just over two-thirds (17,892 or 68%) secured a social rented tenancy or a private rented sector tenancy. This proportion has varied between 65% and 68% since 2008/9.
  • An outcome of lost contact or unknown outcome was reported for 17% of cases closed which had been assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness. The overall proportion of lost contacts has remained roughly the same since 2009/10, varying between 17% and 20%.

Temporary accommodation

At 31 March 2017:-

  • There were 10,873 households in temporary accommodation, an increase of 330 households (+ 3%) since last year.
  • Of these households in temporary accommodation, 3,250 had children - an increase of 367 households (+13%) compared with one year earlier.
  • The number of children in temporary accommodation increased by 818 children (+16%), compared with the same date one year ago.
  • There were three breaches of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2014, two of these were in East Dunbartonshire and one in East Lothian.


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