Homelessness in Scotland: 2017 to 2018

Information on local authority homelessness applications, assessments and outcomes.

This document is part of a collection

Main Points

For the twelve month period of 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018:


  • There were 34,972 homelessness applications recorded in Scotland, 402 (1%) higher than the number of applications received in the same period in 2016/17. The annual increase in the latest year follows eight consecutive annual decreases seen in the preceding years, which saw applications fall from a peak of 57,672 in 2008/09 to 34,570 in 2016/17.
  • The number of applications in 2017/18 has increased in 17 out of 32 local authorities in Scotland in the latest year.
  • The fall in homelessness applications from 2008/09 to 2016/17 is likely to be due to the impact of housing options and 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 significantly slowed over most recent years up to 2016/17, with a 1% increase in the latest year. 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.
  • During 2017/18, 54% of homeless applicants in Scotland had made a Housing Options approach prior to (or on the same day) as the homelessness application. However this varied widely amongst local authorities, from no applications having a housing options approach being recorded in East Dunbartonshire during 2017/18, to almost 100% of applications having a housing option approach being recorded in Clackmannanshire and City of Edinburgh.
  • The main reasons for applying as homeless have remained largely unchanged in the latest year. 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 (28,792 assessments out of a total of 34,950 assessments) were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness in 2017/18. This proportion has increased steadily from 72% in 2004/5, but has since levelled off and remains largely unchanged since 2014/15.
  • 27,241 cases were assessed as unintentionally homeless, and therefore entitled to settled accommodation (an increase of 95 cases on 2016/17).
  • Relatively few assessments were found to be intentionally homeless or intentionally threatened with homelessness in 2017/18. These comprised 5% (or 1,551) of all homelessness applications assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness. This proportion has risen from 3% during 2009/10.
  • Repeat homelessness has remained at a similar level to 2016/17 and was 6.4% for 2017/18.
  • The proportion of homeless assessments where the applicant had at least one support need has increased from 34% in 2012/13 to 47% in 2017/18. This trend suggests that a larger proportion of applicant households have more complex needs being recorded than was previously the case.


  • For those households assessed as unintentionally homeless (with a right to settled accommodation), just over two-thirds (18,457 or 69%) secured a social rented tenancy or a private rented sector tenancy. This proportion has gradually increased each year since 2013/14, when 66% secured settled accommodation.
  • An outcome of lost contact or unknown outcome was reported for 15% of cases closed which had been assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness during 2017/18. The overall proportion of lost contacts remained roughly the same between 2009/10 and 2016/17, varying between 17% and 20%.

Temporary accommodation

As at 31 March 2018:-

  • There were 10,933 households in temporary accommodation, an increase of 60 households (+ 1%) since last year.
  • Of these households in temporary accommodation, 3,349 had children – an increase of 118 households (+4%) compared with one year earlier.
  • The number of children in temporary accommodation increased by 557 children (+9%), to 6,615, compared with the same date one year ago.

During 2017/18:-

  • A total of 20,320 unique households entered temporary accommodation and 20,450 exited temporary accommodation.
  • The majority of households entering and exiting temporary accommodation were single person households (68% entering and 69% exiting), while around a quarter (26% entering and 25% exiting) contained children.
  • Households in temporary accommodation spent an average of 171 days (just under six months) in temporary accommodation placements in 2017/18. Note that this figure relates to total time spent across all temporary accommodation placements, i.e. where households have lived in more than one placement it relates to total time spent across all accommodation. Households with children tend to be in temporary accommodation for longer (204 days) compared to households without children (161 days).
  • Off the 20,450 households which exited temporary accommodation during 2017/18, the majority (68%) had a total duration of 5 weeks to 12 months, this includes 4,344 households (21%) which were in temporary accommodation for 5 to 12 weeks, 4,770 households (23%) which were in temporary accommodation for 3 to 6 months and 4,784 households (23%) with a duration of 7 to 12 months. A total of 2,582 households (13%) were in temporary accommodation for a year or longer, whilst 4,006 households (20%) were in for a 4 weeks or less.
  • When looking at average time within each placement, housing association placements (212 days) local authority placements (141 days) and private sector lease placements (177 days) are more likely to have involved longer periods of time on average than other types of temporary accommodation. In comparison, hostel placements (64 days) and bed and breakfast placements (36 days) have tended to be shorter on average.

Breaches of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation Order) (Scotland)

  • There were 20 breaches of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2014 as at 31 March 2018.[1]
  • Between 1 April 2017 and 31st March 2018 (based on temporary accommodation placement cases closed during this period), there were 400 placements involving a breach of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order. Most of these were in Edinburgh (280 breaches), but there were nine other local authorities in which breaches of the Order were recorded.


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