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

Reasons for Homelessness and Prior Circumstances

Key Points

  • 'Household disputes' and 'asked to leave' were more common reasons for homelessness in 2020 than 2019; with reasons associated with loss of property less common.
  • 1,365 applications reported a household member experiencing rough sleeping in the 3 months prior to application, and 859 the night before.

There were notable differences in the main reason given for making a homelessness application during April to September 2020 compared the same period in 2019.

Chart 3: There was an increase in the proportion of applications due to household disputes
Bar chart showing an increase in the proportion of applications due to household disputes

Chart 3 shows there have been increases in the proportion of those presenting as homeless for reasons of 'being asked to leave' and household disputes (both violent and non-violent, and including fleeing domestic violence) in 2020 compared to 2019. These tie in with the increase in proportion of those noting 'Lack of support from friends/ family' as an additional reason (15% to 17%). 

Conversely, there have been decreases for the reasons of 'Termination of tenancy / mortgage due to rent arrears / default on payments'; 'Other action by landlord resulting in the termination of the tenancy' and 'Other reason for loss of accommodation'. This is likely due to temporary measures introduced to protect renters over the covid-19 period, including the use of extended notice periods for eviction proceedings as noted earlier[4]. In addition, mortgage payment deferrals were introduced across the UK in March 2020 to allow customers experiencing issues paying their mortgage during the covid-19 pandemic to apply for a break in making mortgage payments for a period of up to 6 months, alongside a temporary ban on home repossessions[5].

'Not to do with the applicant household' (5,353, 31% of all applications); 'mental health reasons' (2,970, 17%); and 'lack of support from family and friends' (2,968, 17%) were the most common additional reasons given for failing to maintain accommodation. (Tables 4 & 5).

Previous property

Chart 4: A greater proportion of households became homeless from accommodation shared with relatives, friends or partners
Bar chart of the property type from which households became homeless

The reporting of previous property is linked strongly with reasons for homelessness. As is clear from Chart 4, there are increase in the proportions becoming homeless from the family home or friends/partners, and decreases from own private rented property and supported accommodation. (Table 10)

Rough Sleeping

Between April and September 2020, 859 households (5% of all applications) reported a household member experiencing rough sleeping the night prior to their application, and 1,365 (8% of all applications) reported a household member experiencing rough sleeping in the three months prior to their application (Tables 2 & 3).

There was an increase of 4% in the proportion reporting rough sleeping the night before. Indeed, the proportion of households reporting rough sleeping the previous night was higher (6%) in April-June 20 than any other quarter from January 2018. Although there was a 4% decrease in reported rough sleeping in the 3 months prior, this was less than the overall decrease in applications (10%). These findings may be the result of additional efforts by local authorities to house rough sleepers following the outbreak of covid-19. The decrease over the 3 month period, particularly compared to the increase from the night before, may be due to a reduction in applications from households with less urgent housing needs.


Email: homelessness_statistics_inbox@gov.scot

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