Homelessness in Scotland: 2020 to 2021

This statistics bulletin provides information on homelessness in Scotland in the period from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, alongside historical data.

This document is part of a collection

Notes on Tables

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


The statistics included in this publication are based on administrative data collected by local authorities in the course of carrying out their homelessness activities. This data is collected from local authorities and quality assured by the Scottish Government on a quarterly basis. Details about the data we collect, our quality assurance process, and how we engage with users to improve our statistics are outlined in our quality assurance statement.


Updates to previous statistics

The data we use in this pulbication is collected from local authorities on an quarterly basis. As a result of this figures are updated on an on-going basis and may differ from those previously published. This may be a result of 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.

For example, this publication estimates that 37,043 homeless applications were made in 2019/20, but the previous ‘Homelessness in Scotland: 2019 to 2020’ publication gave a figure of 36,855. This is a difference of 313 applications, or approximately 1%. A table comparing the annual number of applications is included in the tables document accompanying this publication.

Characteristic information

Information on the characteristics of the main applicant / household are gathered and recorded as part of the application stage of a homelessness case. This information is linked to the temporary accommodation placements associated with that household to enable reporting by characteristic for temporary accommodation. To note, it is not possible to do the same for the aggregate snapshot temporary accommodation data.

Population comparison data

Comparative data for the the proportion of male adults in the Scottish population was taken from 2019 mid-year population estimates produced by National Records of Scotland.

Data for household types was taken from the Scottish Household Survey 2019.

Data for ethnicity was taken from the Scottish Surveys Core Questions 2019.

Known data quality issues

  • Not all temporary accommodation placements have an associated homelessness application, however, this accounts for a very small proportion only (1%).
  • There are a small number of temporary accommodation cases on the Scottish Government temporary accommodation placement database that are recorded as open but are linked to homelessness applications that we know to be closed. This occurs when a local authority fails to provide an update for these cases after the placement is closed. In these cases we have taken the approach of using the close date of the homeless application as the exit date of the temporary accommodation placement. This may have the impact of inflating the length of time these households are recorded as using temporary accommodation.
  • There were inconsistencies between local authorities in the reporting of breaches of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2020. This was due to changes in legislation – extending breaches from households with only a pregnant women and/or child(ren) to all households – and exceptions put in place in response to covid-19. The urgency of having to adapt to the revised legislation without any specific guidance means that some local authorities have reported being unclear as to how these related to the covid-19 exceptions in place. Local authorities were able to capture different levels of information regarding breaches around this time (i.e. whether an exception could or could not be applied) which has implications for data comparability.


Email: homelessness_statistics_inbox@gov.scot

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