Comparability with other UK homelessness statistics
In England, Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 and the Homelessness Act 2002 place statutory duties on local housing authorities to provide assistance to people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. Authorities must consider all applications from people seeking accommodation or assistance in obtaining accommodation. A main homelessness duty is owed where the authority is satisfied that the applicant is eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and falls within a priority need group, which are specified in the legislation (e.g. households with dependent children or a pregnant woman).
Where a main duty is owed, the authority must ensure that suitable accommodation is available for the applicant and his or her household until a settled home becomes available for them. Where households are found to be intentionally homeless or not in priority need, the authority must make an assessment of their housing needs and provide advice and assistance to help them find accommodation for themselves. Where the applicant is found to be intentionally homeless but falls in a priority need category the authority must also ensure that accommodation is available for long enough to give the applicant a reasonable opportunity to find a home.
Data on Local Authorities' activities in carrying out their statutory homelessness duties are collected on the quarterly P1E return.
The most recent statutory homelessness statistics for England are available at:
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government introduced a Homelessness Case Level Information Classification (H-CLIC) in April 2018 to coincide with the commencement of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.
H-CLIC will collect case level data and provide more detailed information on the causes and effects of homelessness than has been collected in the past.
The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 will place new legal duties on English councils so that everyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness will have access to meaningful help, irrespective of their priority need status, as long as they are eligible for assistance. The Act will amend part VII of the Housing Act 1996.
In Wales, Local Authorities are bound by similar statutory duties as those in England. The data is collected on a quarterly Local Authority level WHO12 return, similar to the P1E form in England.
The most recent statutory homelessness statistics for Wales are available at:
The National Assembly for Wales has enacted new homelessness provisions which can be found at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/anaw/2014/7/contents/enacted. In particular, section 66 details a new prevention duty.
In Northern Ireland statistics on homelessness are sourced from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). Under the Housing (NI) Order 1988, NIHE has a similar statutory responsibility to secure permanent accommodation for households who are unintentionally homeless and in priority need; to secure temporary accommodation in a variety of circumstances and to provide advice and assistance to those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.
The most recent statutory homelessness statistics for Northern Ireland are available at: https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-homelessness-bulletin-april-september-2018
Scottish homelessness statistics are available at:
Key similarities and differences
The Government Statistical Service (GSS) published the Harmonisation of Definitions of Homelessness for UK Official Statistics: A Feasibility Report in February 2019. It found that due to the devolved nature of housing and homelessness matters across the UK, definitions of homelessness do vary. Data collection techniques for homelessness data have been designed to individually reflect the legislation in each country. Operational differences in collecting homelessness information results in differences in homelessness statistics across the four nations and currently there is insufficient guidance on how to compare the related statistics.
The report recommended that that more comprehensive guidance on the processes and definitions of homelessness should be developed and used in each country's statistical publications. The GSS Harmonisation Team are currently working with UK producers of homelessness statistics to create consistent guidance for all four UK publications to be included in future statistical publications.
It also recommended creating a separate, more detailed stand-alone report on UK comparability of homelessness statistics which will include a conceptual framework for homelessness. The conceptual framework will allow users to visualise the different definitions of homelessness currently being used for official statistics and how these fit together. This report is currently being drafted and is due to be published in Autumn 2019.