Homeless applicants may be placed in temporary accommodation while the council assesses their application or while awaiting the offer of a permanent let. Also, intentionally homeless households, and before 31 December 2012, non-priority households, may have been placed in temporary accommodation as the outcome of their application.
Since 2002, local authorities have provided the Scottish Government with the total number of households in each type of temporary accommodation at the end of each quarter. This snapshot information (the HL2 return) enables us to explore trends in temporary accommodation since 2002 (Tables 8 to 12).
In addition to the HL2 return, local authorities have more recently provided placement level information on households in temporary accommodation to the Scottish Government (the HL3 return). This has enabled new analysis of households in temporary accommodation since April 2017, this information was presented for the first time in June 2018. Additional information about the HL3 data received from all 32 local authorities can be found in the data quality section.
Temporary Accommodation as at 30th September 2018
This section provides information on households in temporary accommodation as at 31 September 2018, from the snapshot information collected via the HL2 return.
There has been an overall rise of numbers in temporary accommodation since 2002 (See Chart 7). In 2002 (on 31st March), there were 4,153 households in temporary accomodation. This number gradually increased between 2002 and 2011 – 11,254 households were in temporary accomodation on 31st March 2011. This increase was linked to local authorities preparing for the abolition of priority need in December 2012, as required by the Homelessness etc (Scotland) Act 2003. Since 2010, this figure has remained relatively stable, incorporating a slight dip to 2014 followed by a subsequent rise to 2018. There were 10,955 households in temporary accommodation at 30th September 2018.
Chart 7: Households in temporary accommodation
The increase in the overall number of households in temporary accommodation from 2002 is likely to have been initially driven by a change to the homelessness legislation, which placed new duties on councils to provide temporary accommodation, advice and assistance for priority and non-priority homeless households. Before 2002, the majority of priority homeless households were households with children. Following this new duty there was a notable increase in the number of single people applying for homelessness assistance. These single people were also eligible for temporary accommodation.
From 2010 the number of homelessness applications has been falling, likely in part due to a consequence of the development of homelessness prevention activities by councils through adopting a 'housing options' approach to meeting housing need. This change in practice may also have contributed to the overall drop in numbers in temporary accommodation between 2011 and 2014, although the number of households in temporary accommodation has since increased between 2014 and 2018.
On 30 September 2018, the latest snapshot figures show that:
- There were 10,955 households in temporary accommodation, an increase of 56 households (0.5%) compared to the previous year. This figure remains lower than that recorded in 2010, when there were 11,264 households in temporary accommodation (Chart 7).
- Of these households in temporary accommodation, 3,315 had children or a pregnant member – a decrease of 111 households (3%) compared to the same date one year ago (Table 8b).
- The number of children in temporary accommodation increased by 245 children (4%) to 6,826 compared to the same date one year ago (Table 8c).
Local Authority variation
Chart 8 below shows the general shape of the variation amongst households in temporary accommodation in local authorities from June 2002 to September 2018. The red dot indicates the maximum number of households in temporary accommodation and the green dot the minimum. The overall rise in the Scotland level figure over the years reflects this rise amongst many local authorities.
However, although the majority of local authorities have seen an increase between 2002 and 2018, it should be noted that some have seen a decrease in numbers in temporary accommodation in recent years. Argyll & Bute, Dumfries & Galloway, Falkirk, Inverclyde and Perth and Kinross for example, have seen numbers decline since part way through this time period.
Comparing 30th September 2018 with 30th September 2017, more local authorities (16) saw a percentage decrease in the number of households in temporary accommodation, than those which saw a percentage increase (13 local authorities) and those whose temporary accommodation remained the same (3 local authority) (see Table 9).
Chart 8: Temporary Accommodation by local authority
From 30 June 2002 to 30 September 2018
Types of temporary accommodation used
The majority of households in temporary accommodation at 30th September 2018 were in Local Authority or Housing Association accommodation (61%), with a further 15% in hostels and 10% in bed and breakfast (Table 8a).
Households with children or pregnant women are mainly provided with Local Authority or Housing Association accommodation (78%), with a small proportion (1%) being placed in bed and breakfast accommodation (Table 8b). On 30 September 2018, there were 37 households with children or pregnant women in bed and breakfast accommodation. This figure remains unchanged from the same date one year ago.
On the 30th September 2018, there were 19 breaches (13 of which were in Edinburgh) of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2014 (Table 12).
This is an increase compared to the same date one year ago when there were 12 breaches of the Order, which may be a reflection of the Homelessness Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation Order) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2017, implemented from 2nd October 2017. The 2017 Amendment Order specifies a reduction in the number of days that local authorities can use unsuitable accommodation such as bed and breakfasts for families with children or pregnant women from 14 to 7 days, except in exceptional circumstances.
Placement level analysis of Temporary Accommodation usage
This section provides analysis and information on households in temporary accommodation, based on the placement level data collected in the HL3 return.
Numbers of households (Tables 13 to 17)
Between 1st April 2018 and 30th September 2018, a total of 10,475 unique households entered temporary accommodation within this year (Table 13). Over two-thirds of these households (68%) were single person households, whilst around a quarter (26%) contained children (Table 14).
During the same time period, 10,930 households exited temporary accommodation, a figure 4% higher than the number of households entering temporary accommodation. 69% of the households exiting temporary accommodation were single person households, and 25% contained children (Table 14), similar percentages compared to households entering temporary accomodation.
Table 15 presents information on the number of households entering and exiting temporary accommodation during the 6 months, April to September 2018 by type of accommodation. It is worth noting that there were over 1,500 more households exiting social sector accommodation (local authority ordinary dwelling and housing association accommodation) compared to entering this type of accommodation. Conversely, there were over 1,000 more households entering bed and breakfast accommodation compared to exiting this type of household during the time period. However some of these differences are likely due to how some households have been moving between different placements whilst in temporary accommodation, for example some households may have been placed in hostel or bed and breakfast type of accommodation when they first entered temporary accommodation, after which they may subsequently have been placed in social sector or other types of temporary accommodation before exiting temporary accommodation completely.
Table 16 provides information on the numbers and percentages of households entering and exiting temporary accommodation by both household type and accommodation type. This shows that there are some differences in placements by household type. For example 88% of households entering temporary accommodation in hostels are single people, whilst 51% of households entering temporary accommodation in housing association dwellings contain children.
It should be noted that the information presented on household type is derived from the information on household type as at the time of the original homelessness application, and therefore may not reflect the actual composition of the household whilst in temporary accommodation.
Total duration in temporary accommodation – at a household level (a measure of duration across all placements that a household has been in)
Household level analysis (Table 17)
These figures look at total duration in temporary accommodation across all placements, i.e. where a household has had more than one placement then the average time figure relates to the total time spent across all placements.
Across all local authorities during the period from April 1st to September 30th 2018 households spent on average 178 days in temporary accommodation. Households with children tend to be in temporary accommodation for longer (216 days for households with children compared to 167 days for households without children). This is particularly pronounced in some local authorities (for example, in Inverclyde, the average number of days is 237 for households with children and 93 for households without children). Although it is worth noting that the number of families is considerably smaller than the number of only adult households.
Chart 9 shows that of the 10,931 households which exited temporary accommodation during April to September 2018, 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 a 4 weeks or less.
Chart 9: Number of households by total duration in temporary accommodation
Duration in temporary accommodation (within each placement)
Placement level analysis (Charts 10 to 13)
Chart 10 shows that of the 20,913 placements which were closed during April to September 2018, the majority had a duration of 12 weeks or less, this includes those that lasted one week or less (22%); those that lasted 1 to 4 weeks (18%) and those that lasted 5 to 12 weeks (25%). 4% of placements had a duration of a year or longer. Note that a single household may have more than one placement during their time in temporary accommodation.
Chart 10: Time spent in temporary accomodation for those exiting accomodation from April to September 2018
Chart 11 shows that across temporary accommodation placements which ended during April to September 2018, the average length of stay can vary by accommodation type. Local authority, housing association and private sector placements are likely to involve longer periods (i.e. 3 months or longer). Most hostel placements last 12 weeks or less. Bed and breakfast placements tend to be much shorter in length (most placements fall in the 1 week or less category); nonetheless, the chart shows that in some cases, such placements last for longer than 7 months and in some cases, over a year.
Chart 11: Time spent in temporary accomodation by accommodation type for those exiting accommodation from April to September 2018
Chart 12 shows that the majority of single person households are in temporary accommodation placements for shorter periods (12 weeks or less); this is likely due to the volume of single person households in accommodation types which are intended to be shorter-term, i.e. bed and breakfast accommodation and hostels (Table 17). For other household types there is a fairly constant distribution across the duration periods other than lower numbers for 1 year plus.
Chart 12: Time spent in temporary accommodation by household type for those exiting accommodation from April to September 2018
Local authority variation in placement duration
Most local authorities have an average placement duration of around 100 days (Chart 13). This is the average length of time for all placements.
Chart 13 shows that some local authorities with a relatively small number of placements exiting temporary accommodation during April to September 2018 can have the longest average stays (for example, Shetland and Eilean Siar). Conversely, local authorities with a much greater volume of placements (Glasgow and Edinburgh), can have smaller average durations, particularly Edinburgh, where the average placement is less than
Chart 13: Average duration in Temporary Accommodation by local authority
Different local authority trends emerge when looking at average time in specific temporary accommodation types. Notably, some local authorities do not use some accommodation types. For example stock transfer local authorities make very little, or no use of local authority dwellings (Glasgow, Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute, Inverclyde and Eilean Siar), while other local authorities do not use Housing Association accommodation (for example, Aberdeen City, Clackmannanshire and Fife).
Applications in which temporary accommodation was not offered
An HL3 return is completed when a local authority has a statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation under the homeless persons legislation, however, a local authority is also required to indicate when they do not offer any temporary accommodation to a household and thus, are acting unlawfully. During six months April to September 2018, 1,850 HL3 applications were ‘not offered’ temporary accommodation (Table 18). The majority (95%) of these cases were in Glasgow.
Breaches of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order
In addition to the information on breaches available through the HL2 (the number of breaches at a ‘snapshot’ date), the HL3 return provides the number of breaches throughout the time period; we would expect the number of breaches shown through the HL3 to be higher as these are based on breaches throughout the year rather than a single point in time. In total, there were 345 breaches of the Homelessness Persons Unsuitable Accommodation Order during the period April to September 2018 (Table 19), based on temporary accommodation placement cases closed during this year.
A greater number of breaches of the Order were recorded April to September 2018 compared to April to September 2017 (165). This is likely due to the Amendment Order 2017, which was implemented from October 2017 and which shortened the number of days that local authorities can use unsuitable accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts, for families with children or pregnant women from 14 to 7 days, except in exceptional circumstances. The majority of breaches during April to September 2018 were in Edinburgh, but there were eight other local authorities in which breaches of the Order were recorded.
Monitoring of Temporary Accommodation
We would be pleased to hear your views on the placement level HL3 analysis provided in this publication, and further on any additional tables or charts which you may find useful. You can get in touch with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note: All of the tables in this publication are available in electronic format at: http://www.gov.scot/homelessstats
Email: Lee Bunce