Homelessness in Scotland: update to 30 September 2019
This bulletin provides information on local authority homelessness applications, assessments and outcomes in the period from 1 April to 30 September 2019.
This document is part of a collection
(Table 8 to Table 18)
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.
In addition to the HL2 return, local authorities have provided placement level information on households in temporary accommodation to the Scottish Government (the HL3 return) since April 2017. This has enabled new analysis of households in temporary accommodation, and 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 Quarterly snapshot information
(Tables 7 to 11)
This section provides information on households in temporary accommodation as at 30 September 2019 along with historic quarterly trends, 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 2019. There were 11,432 households in temporary accommodation at 30th September 2019.
Chart 7: Households in temporary accommodation, 2002 to 2019
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 both priority and non-priority homeless households. Before 2002, the majority of priority homeless households were households with children. Following the introduction of 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 fallen, 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, although applications have increased slightly since 2016. 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 2019.
On 30 September 2019, the latest snapshot figures show that:
- There were 11,432 households in temporary accommodation, an increase of 477 households (4%) compared to the previous year. This is the highest figure since the provisions of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 were commenced in 2002 (Chart 7).
- Of these households in temporary accommodation, 3,579 had children or a pregnant member – an increase of 264 households (8%) compared to the same date one year ago (Table 7b).
- The number of children in temporary accommodation increased by 426 children (6%) to 7,252 compared to the same date one year ago (Table 7c).
Local Authority variation
Seventeen local authorities experienced a percentage increase in homeless households in temporary accommodation as at September 2019 compared to September 2018. Thirteen experienced a percentage decrease, with the remaining two staying the same. The biggest increase was in Orkney (59%, 19 households) with the most notable decreases being in Perth & Kinross (-24%, -81 households) and Aberdeen City (-21%, 330 households). (see Table 8).
Chart 8: Households in temporary accomodation on 30 September 2019, compared to 2018
Types of temporary accommodation used
The majority of households in temporary accommodation at 30th September 2019 were in Local Authority (45%) or Housing Association accommodation (16%), with a further 15% in hostels and 6% in bed and breakfast (Table 7a). Since June 2019, there has been a decrease in the number of Bed & Breakfast (B&B) temporary accommodation placements and a subsequent rise in the number of ‘other’ temporary accommodation placements due to Edinburgh reclassifying some of their accommodation from B&B to Other.
Households with children or pregnant women are mainly provided with Local Authority (49%) or Housing Association accommodation (27%), with a small proportion (less than 1%) being placed in bed and breakfast accommodation (Table 7b). On 30 September 2019, there were 25 households with children or pregnant women in bed and breakfast accommodation – this is 12 less households compared to the same date one year ago.
On the 30th September 2019, there were 16 breaches (12 of which were in Edinburgh) of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2014 (Table 11). This is a decrease compared to the same date one year ago when there were 19 breaches of the Order.
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 12 to 16)
Between 1st April 2019 and 30th September 2019, a total of 10,945 unique households entered temporary accommodation within this year (Table 12). Over two-thirds of these households (69%) were single person households, with a quarter (25%) containing children (Table 13).
During the same time period, 11,315 households exited temporary accommodation, a figure 3% higher than the number of households entering temporary accommodation. Percentages were similar to households entering temporary accommodation with 70% of the households exiting temporary accommodation being single person households, and 25% containing children (Table 13).
Table 14 presents information on the number of households entering and exiting temporary accommodation during the 6 months, April to September 2019 by type of accommodation. It is worth noting that there were nearly 1,700 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 1,300 more households entering bed and breakfast accommodation compared to exiting this type of accommodation 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 15 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. Housing association has the highest proportion of households entering containing children (44%).
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. For example, a household with children as part of the application may or may not have the children in the temporary accommodation placement.
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 16)
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 2019 households spent on average 178 days in temporary accommodation. Households with children tend to be in temporary accommodation for longer (212 days for households with children compared to 167 days for households without children). This is particularly pronounced in some local authorities (for example, in Midlothian, the average number of days is 477 for households with children and 297 for households without children). Although it is worth noting that the number of households with children is considerably smaller than the number of only adult households.
Chart 9: Total duration (days) in temporary accommodation by household type, April to September 2019
However, as households may have more than one temporary placement, it is useful to consider the total duration of households from all placements. Chart 10 shows that of the 11,315 households which exited temporary accommodation during April to September 2019: 2,295 (20%) had a total duration of 4 weeks or less; 5,085 (45%) had a total duration of 5 weeks to 6 months; 2,405 (21%) had a total duration of 7 to 12 months; and 1,525 (13%) were in temporary accommodation for a year or more.
Chart 10: Number of households by total duration in temporary accommodation
Duration in temporary accommodation (within each placement)
Placement level analysis (Charts 11 to 13)
As noted above, households may experience more than one temporary accommodation placement. There were a total of 21,659 placements which were closed during April to September 2019. Of these: 9,179 (42%) had a total duration of 4 weeks or less; 8,715 (40%) had a total duration of 5 weeks to 6 months; 2,893 (13%) had a total duration of 7 to 12 months; and 872 (4%) were in temporary accommodation for a year or more (Chart 11).
Chart 11 shows that across temporary accommodation placements which ended during April to September 2019, 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 accommodation by accommodation type for those exiting accommodation from Aptil to September 2019
Chart 12 shows that households without children are in temporary accommodation placements for shorter periods (12 weeks or less) compared to those with children. This may be driven by the volume of single person households in accommodation types which are intended to be short-term, i.e. bed and breakfast accommodation and hostels (Table 15). Conversely, households with children have the highest percentages in temporary accommodation for a year or more (between 6% and 8%). This may be because housing families with children is more difficult due to requirements for larger homes and proximity to schools, family and other support networks.
Chart 12: Time spent in temporary accommodation by household type for those exiting accommodation April to September 2019
Local authority variation in placement duration
The average length of time for all placements in Scotland is 98 days. This varies from 43 days (North Ayrshire) and 47 days (Inverclyde) to 237 days (Eilen Siar) and 239 days (Highland). Sixteen local authorities are equal to or below the national average (Chart 12).
Chart 13 shows that some local authorities with a relatively small number of placements exiting temporary accommodation during April to September 2019 can have the longest average stays (for example, Shetland, Eilean Siar and Highland). This is likely due to a lack of available accommodation within these authorities that is suitable for the needs of the household. Conversely, local authorities with a much greater volume of placements (Glasgow and Edinburgh), can have smaller average durations, particularly Edinburgh, where the average length of placement is 76 days.
Chart 13: Average duration (days) 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 and the household requires temporary accommodation. However, a local authority is also required to indicate when they do not offer temporary accommodation to a household and thus are acting unlawfully. During six months April to September 2019, 1,815 applications were ‘not offered’ do not offer any temporary accommodation to a household and thus, are acting unlawfully temporary accommodation (Table 17). The majority (82%) 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 190 breaches of the Homelessness Persons Unsuitable Accommodation Order during the period April to September 2019 (Table 18), based on temporary accommodation placement cases closed during this year, compared to 16 breaches current on 30th September (snapshot HL2 information).
There were 195 fewer breaches of the Order recorded for April to September 2019 compared to April to September 2018. These numbers are largely driven by Edinburgh which accounted for 125 of the breaches between April and September 2019 compared to 280 during the comparable period in 2018.
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