Homelessness in Scotland: update to 30 September 2020

This statistics bulletin provides information on homelessness in Scotland in the 6 month period from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020, alongside historical data.

This document is part of a collection


This statistics bulletin provides information on homelessness in Scotland in the 6 month period from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020, alongside historical data. 

Its main purpose is to provide an indication of trends for key aspects of homelessness including applications, assessments, use of temporary accommodation and outcomes ahead of the annual publication, which includes a fuller set of information. 

The statistics in this publication are based on administrative data collected by local authorities in the course of processing homelessness applications. A limitation of this approach is that data is not collected for any households that are homeless but do not engage with their local authority. For this reason the statistics in this publication do not necessarily cover the entire homeless population in Scotland. More detail on the data sources we use are included at the end of this publication.

Excel workbooks containing the tables and charts referenced in this publication are available to download at: https://www.gov.scot/collections/homelessness-statistics/

A Quick Guide to the Homelessness Process

A household is homeless if they have no accommodation in the UK or elsewhere, or have accommodation but cannot reasonably occupy it. A household is threatened with homelessness if it is lik likel y they will become homeless within two month months.

There are three stages involved in a homeless application in Scotland Scotland:

1.The Application stage where the household first presents to the localauthority.

2.The Assessment stage which determines:
a.If the household is eligible for assistance. Households with norecourse to public funds are not eligible for homeless assistance,though may be provided temporary accommodation while theirstatus is assessed;
b.whether the household is homeless or threatened withhomelessness;
c.if the household is homeless, whether this is 'unintentional' or 'intentional'; and
d.if unintentionally homeless, whether there is a connection to thelocal authority to which the application was made and/or to anyother local authority.

3.The Outcome stage. A case can be closed only once the local authorityhas fulfilled its statutory duty or contact has been lost for 28 days.

What is the statutory duty of the local authority?

If a household is unintentionally homeless (or threatened with homelessness), the local authority must offer settled accommodation. Until this is available, the local authority must offer temporary accommodation. 

If a household is intentionally homeless (or threatened with homelessness), the local authority has no statutory duty to provide settled accommodation (although they may choose to do so). There is a duty to provide temporary accommodation and advice and assistance to help the household secure alternative accommodation.

Temporary accommodation must be offered while the household is awaiting an assessment decision. 

The statutory duty lies with the local authority the household applies to. If a household has no local connection to the one to which it applied, but to another local authority, they may be referred.

A household can accept or refuse offers of accommodation. A local authority's duty to secure accommodation for unintentionally homeless households would be fulfilled by an offer that is refused, provided that the offer is a reasonable one.

More information on the duty local authorities have to assist people who are threatened with or experiencing homelessness can be found in the Code of Guidance on Homelessness.

A Note On Interpreting The Figures

It is not possible to make direct links within a reporting period for each stage of the homlessness process as households will be at a different stage at different times.

That is, not all applications made between 1 April and 30 September 2020 will have an assessment or temporary accommodation placement within that same 6 month period. Similarly, some assessments made between 1 April and 30 September 2020 will relate to applications received prior to this; and some temporary placements in this period will relate to household applications and assessments prior to this also. Furthermore, there will be households who entered and exited temporary accommodation within the same reporting period, and therefore will not appear in the end of period snapshot of households in temporary accommodation. 

To also note:

  • it is possible for households to make an application and/or be assessed more than once in the same period (although this would be extremely unlikely in a 6 month period only)
  • not all households assessed as homeless enter temporary accommodation

The term 'homeless households' is used throughout the publication to denote households who have been assessed as (unintentionally or intentionally) homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Impact of covid-19

This is the first official homelessness statistics release for which covid-19 restrictions and changes in practices were in place for the full reporting period. Where it is believed that covid-19 has had an impact on the data and trends shown in the publication, these have been highlighted with explanations where possible.

In response to the pandemic, local authorities made a huge effort to house all of those in need (including those who would not otherwise be eligible for homelessness support). This included, but was not restricted to, the accommodating of rough sleepers. Where households housed in response to the pandemic have a formal homelessness application to a local authority and/or have a temporary accommodation placement recorded on management information systems, they will be included in the statistics presented in this publication. If there is no corresponding homelessness application and/or temporary accommodation placement recorded, they will not be included. 

Some summary information for homelessness applications and the use of temporary accommodation during the coronavirus period has been collected (from local authorities) by both the Scottish Housing Regulator and by the Scottish Government (on behalf of SOLACE[1]). To date, both of these returns have been collected on a monthly basis, and therefore provide more up to date information. 

However, they are not subject to the same level of quality assurance processes as the Official Statistics presented in this publication. The SHR and SOLACE collections are instead released as management information. Comparisons between these sources and the Official Statistics are presented in this publication.


Email: homelessness_statistics_inbox@gov.scot

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