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

Temporary Accommodation

(Tables 17 to 23)


Homeless applicants may be placed in temporary accommodation while the Local Authority assesses their application or while awaiting the offer of a permanent let.

There has been an overall rise of numbers in temporary accommodation since 2002 (See Table 17 and Chart 10). In 2002 (on 31 st March), there were 4,153 households in temporary accomodation. This number gradually increased between 2002 and 2010 - 10,729 households were in temporary accomodation on 31 st March 2010. Since 2010, this figure has remained relatively stable.

Chart 10: Scotland: Households in temporary accomodation at 31 March each year

Chart 10: Scotland: Households in temporary accomodation at 31 March each year

The increase in the overall number of households in temporary accommodation from 2002 was initially driven by homelessness legislation, which placed new duties on councils to provide temporary accommodation, advice and assistance for priority and non-priority homeless households. In 2002 the majority of priority homeless were households with children. Following this new duty there was a notable increase in the number of single people applying for homelessness assistance. These single people were also eligible for temporary accommodation.

From 2010 the number of homelessness applications has been falling mainly as a consequence of the development of homelessness prevention activities by councils through adopting a 'housing options' approach to meeting housing need. This change in practice looks to have contributed to the overall drop in numbers in temporary accommodation between 2011 and 2014.

On 31 March 2017, the latest snapshot figures date reveal that:

  • There were 10,873 households in temporary accommodation, an increase of 330 households since last year. This figure has been slightly decreasing since 2011 (when there were 11,254 households) (Table 17).
  • Of these households in temporary accommodation, 3,250 had children - an increase of 367 households (+13%) compared with one year earlier (Table 18 and Chart 10).
  • The number of children in temporary accommodation increased by 818 children (+16%), with the same date one year ago (Table 19).

Local Authority variation of households in temporary accommodation

Chart 11 below shows the general shape of the variation amongst households in temporary accommodation in Local Authorities from June 2002 to March 2017. The overall rise in the Scotland level figure over the years reflects this rise amongst many LAs.

However, although the majority of LAs have seen an increase between 2002 and 2017, it should be noted that some LAs have seen a decrease in numbers in temporary accommodation in recent years. Argyll & Bute, Dumfries & Galloway and Inverclyde for example, have seen numbers decline since part way through this time period.

Comparing 31 st March 2017 with 31 st March 2016, more local authorities (20) saw a percentage increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation, than those which saw a percentage decrease (11 local authorities) and those whose temporary accommodation remained the same (1 local authority) (see Table 17).

Chart 11: Temporary Accomodation by Local Authority, from 30th June 2002 to 31st March 2017

Chart 11: Temporary Accomodation by Local Authority, from 30th June 2002 to 31st March 2017

Types of temporary accommodation used

The majority of households in temporary accommodation were in Local Authority or Housing Association accommodation (61%), with a further 16% in hostels and 10% in bed and breakfast (Table 20).

Households with children or pregnant women are mainly provided with Local Authority or housing association accommodation (82%), with a small proportion (1%) being placed in bed and breakfast accommodation. (Table 21). On 31 March 2017, there were 33 households with children or pregnant women in bed and breakfast accommodation (Table 21). This figure has increased (from 29 on 31 st March 2016) since the same date one year ago.

On the 31 st March 2017, there were 3 breaches (2 in East Dunbartonshire and 1 in East Lothian) of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2014 (Table 23).

Future Monitoring of Temporary Accommodation

In addition to the data collected for this publication via the HL1 and HL2 data returns, from 1 April 2016, Local Authorities will begin submitting data on temporary accommodation via the HL3 return.

This gives placement level information on temporary accommodation and will also enable analysis of the time spent in each placement. Once the data quality has been assured, the successful implementation of the HL3 will result in the reduction of reporting requirements elsewhere - the HL2 return will cease and question 24 in the HL1 return will no longer be required. Further information on the HL3 Return and a stand-alone data collection system is available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/15257/1529/HL3


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