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


Key Points

  • 9,920 homelessness cases assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness were closed in the period April to September 2020 – a fall of 30% compared to 2019.
  • The proportion of households assessed as unintentionally homeless securing settled accommodation fell from 82% to 77%

Homelessness cases are closed once the local authority has fulfilled its statutory duty or contact has been lost with the applicant household for 28 days. Local authorities provide information on the circumstances and outcomes of homelessness cases once they have been closed.

Number of cases closed

The number of homelessness applications that were closed declined in the months immediately following the outbreak in covid-19. As a result, there were 30% fewer homelessness cases closed in the period April to September 2020 for applications assessed as unintentionally homeless or threatened with homelessness (9,920 compared to 14,265). This was due to covid-19 restrictions at this time limiting the ability of local authority staff to move households into permanent accommodation. Similarly, there were 59% fewer intentionally homelessness cases closed over the same period (from 690 to 285). (Table 24)

How often do local authorities lose contact with applicants?

For households assessed in the period from April to September 2020, contact was maintained for 95% of those assessed as both unintentionally and intentionally homeless, in line with 2019 proportions.

What are the outcomes for homeless households?

Of the 9,400 unintentionally homelessness cases that closed in the period April to September 2020 (where contact was maintained and the outcome was known), 77% secured settled accommodation as their outcome. Settled accommodation here is defined as a local authority tenancy, a tenancy with a registered social landlord or a private rented tenancy.

This proportion fell from 82% securing settled accommodation in the same period in 2019, with an increasing proportion returning to their previous accommodation, moving in with friends or relatives and 'other (known)' outcomes. (Table 25)

The proportion of intentionally homeless households securing settled accommodation also fell in this period, from 47% in 2019 to 37% in 2020 (Table 26).

Chart 7: A smaller proportion of households moved into LA tenancy or RSL accommodation
Bar chart showing a smaller proportion of households moved into LA tenancy or RSL accommodation

Were Housing Support assessments carried out and housing support provided?

Upon closing a homelessness case, local authorities are required to assess whether any housing support services are required by the household for any cases assessed as unintentionally homeless and where it has reason to believe that support would be beneficial. It also has a duty to provide that support if needed.

Across Scotland, assessments for housing support needs were carried out in 77% of cases where there was a duty to assess in April to September 2020. Housing support was provided in 40% of all cases, although support was not provided for 10% of cases where a support need was identified. In 22% of cases where there was a duty to assess, no assessment took place and no support was provided. (Table 27)


Email: homelessness_statistics_inbox@gov.scot

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