(Table 1 to Table 3)
In the 6 months between 1 April and 30 September 2019, local authorities received 18,645 homelessness applications, a decrease of 370 (2%) over the same period in the previous year (see Table 1). Looking over the 12 months period, figures are comparable - only 9 less applications in 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.
Chart 1 shows that the number of homelessness applications over time has decreased beginning around Spring 2010. This downward trend has slowed down over the last few years and has leveled out since 2015, although applications have been increasing slightly since 2016. There are quarterly fluctuations, but this trend is clearer when looking at the five-quarter centred moving average.
Chart 1: Number of applications for homelessness assistance in Scotland, by quarter, April 2002 to September 2019
Since 2010, local authorities have been assisting households to consider the range of options available to address their housing needs - Housing Options. As a consequence, some of the households who might previously have made a homelessness application may now have their housing needs met without first becoming homeless or being threatened with homelessness. This is likely to have contributed to an overall downward trend in the number of homelessness applications since 2010. The leveling out of homelessness applications (since 2015) suggests that the effect of Housing Options on decreasing homelessness application numbers may have reached a plateau. Indeed applications began to increase since 2016.
There is, however, variation in trends over time between local authorities. Table 1 shows that when comparing April to September 2019 with the corresponding period in 2018, the number of homelessness applications increased in 11 (34%) local authority areas and decreased in the remaining 21 (66%). The largest numerical reductions were in Perth & Kinross (-245 applications, -24%), North Lanarkshire (-190, -8%) and Aberdeen City (-149 applications, -9%). The largest numerical increases were in Glasgow (599 applications, 11%) and South Lanarkshire (168 applications, 9%).
The greatest number of applications over the 12 months period was received by Glasgow (5,873), accounting for 16% of all applications.
Chart 2: Homeless applications by local authority, April to September 2019 compared to April to September 2018
Reasons for homelessness
The underlying reasons for homelessness have remained stable over time in Scotland, since April 2007. Table 2a and Table 2b show this since January 2017.
Of the 18,645 homelessness applications received in the 6 months period between April and September 2019:
- The most common reason cited was “asked to leave” – which accounted for a total of 4,528 (24%) applications, a decrease of 75 applications (2%) relative to the equivalent period of the previous year;
- The second most common reason cited was “non-violent dispute within the household and/or a relationship breakdown” – which accounted for a total of 3,384 (18%) applications, a decrease of 47 (1%) compared to the same period in the previous year.
- The third most common reason was “dispute within the household: violent or abusive” – which accounted for 2,452 (13%) of applications. This was an increase of 22 (1%) compared to the previous year.
Chart 3: Reason for making a homeless application, April to September 2019 compared to April to September 2018
Table 3a shows that, in the 6 months between 1 April and 30 September 2019, there were 12,586 (68% of the 18,645) homelessness applications where the local authority recorded a reason for failing to maintain the accommodation. Applicants are given a list of possible reasons, and local authorities may select multiple reasons.
Of the 12,586 applicants providing a reason for failing to maintain accommodation the most common reasons were: not to do with applicant’s household (5,533, 44%), mental health (3,204, 25%) and lack of support from friends/family (2,757, 22%).
Chart 4: Additional reasons for failing to maintain accommodation, April to September 2019 compared to April to September 2018
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