Homelessness in Scotland: 2017 to 2018

Information on local authority homelessness applications, assessments and outcomes.

Notes on Tables

Please note:

All of the tables and charts in this publication are available in electronic format at:


HL1 and HL2 recording

We are grateful to all 32 Scottish Local Authorities who submitted their HL1 and HL2 returns on time.

Given the continuous nature of the recording system, figures are updated on an on-going basis and may differ from those previously published. There may be delays in some cases being reported to the Scottish Government due to IT issues, quality assurance processes and delayed entry of data – particularly at the end of the financial year. As a result, we estimate that the headline number of applications may change by as much as 1% between first and subsequent publications.

Reporting of the Number of Applications

Publication Date 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
19-Jun-18 60,542 59,586 57,325 57,672 57,212 55,640 45,537 40,028 36,825 35,964 34,939 34,570 34,972
27-Jun-17 60,560 59,590 57,327 57,676 57,213 55,642 45,545 40,036 36,819 35,946 34,926 34,100  
28-Jun-16 60,568 59,596 57,337 57,682 57,217 55,646 45,551 40,040 36,824 35,949 34,662  
30-Jun-15 60,662 59,554 57,253 57,682 57,220 55,646 45,552 40,051 37,234 35,764  
24-Jun-14 60,662 59,555 57,255 57,688 57,228 55,651 45,550 40,050 36,457  
16-Jul-13 60,684 59,609 57,208 57,676 57,211 55,644 45,547 39,827  
26-Jun-12 60,698 59,608 57,211 57,681 57,214 55,663 45,322  
30-Aug-11 60,820 59,654 57,239 57,668 57,122 55,227              
Difference in applications between publication shown and most recent publication
27-Jun-17 - 18 - 4 - 2 - 4 - 1 - 2 - 8 - 8 6 18 13 470  
28-Jun-16 - 26 - 10 - 12 - 10 - 5 - 6 - 14 - 12 1 15 277  
30-Jun-15 - 120 32 72 - 10 - 8 - 6 - 15 - 23 - 409 200  
24-Jun-14 - 120 31 70 - 16 - 16 - 11 - 13 - 22 368  
16-Jul-13 - 142 - 23 117 - 4 1 - 4 - 10 201  
26-Jun-12 - 156 - 22 114 - 9 - 2 - 23 215  
30-Aug-11 - 278 - 68 86 4 90 413              
Percentage difference in applications between publication shown and most recent publication
27-Jun-17 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1%  
28-Jun-16 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1%  
30-Jun-15 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% -1% 1%  
24-Jun-14 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1%  
16-Jul-13 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1%  
26-Jun-12 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%  
30-Aug-11 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 1%              

The data over time

In 2001, the Scottish Parliament passed legislation which placed additional duties on Local Authorities to provide a minimum of temporary accommodation, advice and assistance to all applicants assessed as homeless. From September 2002, this took effect and councils have been required to provide temporary accommodation, advice and assistance to non-priority applicants who in the past would have received advice and assistance only. This has had a noticeable impact on applications, which has been reflected in changing assessments and outcomes for homeless people. Some tables in this release therefore present time series data so that this impact can be tracked.

In December 2001, the Scottish Government changed the data collection system for the case-based HL1 return to provide more detailed information on applications by individual households and to allow more timely reporting. This entailed changing to an electronic data capture system which allows cases to be registered and updated on a continuous basis, as well as enabling applications made by the same household to be linked.

The data collection system introduced in December 2001 allows analysis by individual households and the identification of repeat applications. However, this is not the case for earlier data and so analyses comparing data over longer time periods will tend to refer to applications rather than individual households. This is also the case for analyses of flow through the assessment process where repeat applications by the same individual household might be assessed differently and have different outcomes. For other analyses, it is useful to distinguish individual households and so the unit of analysis (applications or individual households) is specified in the footnotes for each table.

The data collection was further revised in April 2007 in the light of the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003, with some additional information included to reflect current best practice. Further information on the HL1 can be found at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/15257/HL1revisions.

Interpretation of statistics on temporary accommodation

The figures on households in temporary accommodation relate to households which have been placed in temporary accommodation by a Local Authority under the Homeless Persons legislation. This will include households for whom the Local Authority’s decision and final action is still pending, as well as households which were secured such accommodation as a final action by the authority under the legislation.

The summary HL2 return (since 2002) has provided a snapshot picture of the numbers of households in temporary accommodation as at the last day of each quarter.

In June 2005, the HL2 return was revised in order to monitor the implementation of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2004. The revised return records the number of households with children or pregnant women in temporary accommodation as at the end of the quarter, the number of those in unsuitable accommodation as defined by the Order, and the number of those in accommodation which breaches the Order. Not all use of unsuitable accommodation is in breach of the Order as such use may be allowed under exceptional circumstances as defined in the Order (see summary of legislation below).

Since April 2016, it has been mandatory for local authorities to also complete an HL3 return, which provides placement level information on households in temporary accommodation. By providing placement level information, it is possible to provide in-depth analysis of the temporary accommodation use, for example, length of stay in temporary accommodation.

How we maintain quality

HL1 and HL2

The quality of this publication depends critically on the quality and consistency of the information supplied to us by Local Authorities on the HL1 and HL2 returns. The quality statement on the Scottish homelessness statistics website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/15257/quality sets out the ways in which we do this. The main focus of our systems is to ensure consistency between the HL1 and HL2 and consistency of the case level information within each HL1 return.


The quality of the additional temporary accommodation analysis provided in this publication also relies on the information supplied by local authorities. From April 2016, it became mandatory for local authorities to submit placement level information on temporary accommodation through the HL3 return. The Scottish Government have been working with local authorities to quality assure this data. This has involved comparison with snapshot HL2 figures at the end of each quarter and further, consistency checks with associated HL1 records.

The ‘Tables’ document, which is published alongside this document (and available here: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Housing-Regeneration/RefTables) provides an additional ‘HL3 Data Quality’ tab with a local authority breakdown. Some local authorities have a larger than 10% difference between the number of households in temporary accommodation recorded through their HL2 versus their HL3 data as at 31st March 2018 (Fife, Orkney, Midlothian and Perth and Kinross). Reasons for these differences are given below the table.

Highland is highlighted in the table because it is the only local authority which has a large proportion of HL3 records which do not match with an HL1 record on the Scottish Government’s data system. For this reason, Highland are caveated in all tables where HL3 household level analysis is carried out as numbers are likely to be subject to change to incorporate future data revisions and corrections.

How we deal with revisions and corrections

Our approach to revisions and corrections is set out in detail on the Scottish homelessness statistics website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/15257/revisionpolicy. In summary, published statistics and supporting reference tables are generally revised when the figures next appear in any publication. However, if a revision is significant resulting in a major change to the published figures a note showing the revisions will be published as soon as possible on the homelessness statistics website. It will also be distributed to all known recipients of the originally published data via email and the ScotStat mailing list.

How we consult with users and providers of statistics

Local Authorities in Scotland provide homelessness statistics as a by-product of their administration of Scottish homelessness legislation. The main users of homelessness statistics are Local Authorities, housing associations, The Scottish Government and voluntary bodies such as Shelter, Homeless Action Scotland and Crisis. In November 2011, we re-established the Scottish homelessness statistics user provider group with representatives of providers and users of the statistics. We aim for the group to meet once a year. The minutes and papers from meetings of the group can be found on the Scottish homelessness statistics website at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/15257/22540.


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