Homelessness in Scotland: update to 30 September 2018

Information on homelessness applications, assessments and outcomes in the period to 30 September 2018.

This document is part of a collection

Main Points

For the six-month period of 1 April to 30 September 2018:


  • There were 18,486 applications for homelessness assistance, this was 2% (284 applications) higher than the same 6 month period in 2017. Looking over the whole of the last 12 months, there has been a 1.3% (460 applications) annual increase from 35,378 applications in the 12 months to end September 2017 to 35,838 applications in the 12 months to end September 2018.
  • The number of homelessness applications over time has decreased since 2010, with the latest annual figure of 35,838 applications being 21,868 (38%) less than the 57,706 applications in the 12 months to end September 2010, however this downward trend has slowed down over the last couple of years and has leveled out since 2015.
  • In the year to end September 2018, the greatest increase in number of applications was seen in North Lanarkshire, where applications increased by 452 (23%) from 1,931 to 2,383. South Lanarkshire saw the biggest decrease, with applications falling by 226 (11%) from 2,101 to 1,875. A total of 16 out of 32 (50%) of local authorities saw an increase in applications in the latest year to end September.
  • The proportion of direct homelessness applications – that is those which don’t go through Housing Options first - has increased in the latest 6 month period. During April to September 2018, 47% of all homelessness applications were direct applications, up 4 percentage points (from 43% to 47%) from April to September 2017.


  • There has been a small rise in the number of assessments made by local authorities when comparing the latest 6 month period with the same period in 2017 (18,499 assessments were made between April to September 2018, compared to 18,153 for the same period in 2017, an increase of 346 assessments). Over the full 12 month period to end September 2018, the number of assessments made has risen by 2% (694 assessments) compared to the previous year.
  • Of the 18,499 assessments made, there were 15,247 (82%) homeless or threatened with homelessness assessments. Compared with the same period one year ago, the proportion of cases assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness is similar (at 83%).


Of the 11,480 unintentionally homeless households that had an outcome, around four out of five households (9,360 households or 82%) secured settled accommodation, that is, predominantly permanent accommodation from social or private rented tenancies. This refers to those households with whom contact had been maintained and whose case was closed between April to September 2018. This proportion of households securing settled accommodation has been at a roughly constant level of around four out of five in each quarterly period over the last decade.

Temporary accommodation

As at 30 September 2018:

  • There were 10,955 households in temporary accommodation, an increase of 56 households (+ 0.5%) since last year.
  • Of these households in temporary accommodation, 3,315 had children – a decrease of 111 households (-3%) compared with one year earlier.
  • The number of children in temporary accommodation increased by 245 children (+4%), to 6,826, compared with the same date one year ago.

For the six-month period of 1 April to 30 September 2018:

  • A total of 10,475 unique households (i.e. households who entered multiple placements are counted only once) entered temporary accommodation and 10,930 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 178 days (just under six months) in temporary accommodation. 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 (216 days) compared to households without children (167 days).
  • Of the 10,931 households which exited temporary accommodation, the majority (67%) had a total duration of 5 weeks to 12 months, this includes 2,444 households (22%) which were in temporary accommodation for 5 to 12 weeks, 2,450 households (22%) which were in temporary accommodation for 3 to 6 months and 2,471 households (22%) with a duration of 7 to 12 months. A total of 1,474 households (13%) were in temporary accommodation for a year or longer, whilst 2,092 households (19%) were in for 4 weeks or less.

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

  • There were 345 breaches of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2014[2] from April to September 2018. The majority of these were in Edinburgh (260 breaches).
  • Between 1 October 2017 and 30th September 2018 (based on temporary accommodation placement cases closed during this period), there were 580 placements involving a breach of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order[2]. Most of these were in Edinburgh (400 breaches), but there were eight other local authorities in which breaches of the Order were recorded.


Email: Lee Bunce

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