Publication - Statistics

Homelessness in Scotland: update to 30 September 2020

Published: 23 Mar 2021
Local Government and Communities Directorate
Part of:
Equality and rights, Housing

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.

Homelessness in Scotland: update to 30 September 2020
Notes on Tables

Notes on Tables

All of the tables and charts in this publication are available in electronic format at:

The statistics included in this publication are based on administrative data collected by local authorities in the course of carrying out their homelessness activities. This data is collected from local authorities and quality assured by the Scottish Government on a quarterly basis. Details about the data we collect, our quality assurance process, and how we engage with users to improve our statistics are outlined in our quality assurance statement.

Updates to previous statistics

The data we use in this publication is collected from local authorities on a quarterly basis. As a result of this figures are updated on an on-going basis and may differ from those previously published. This may be a result of delays in some cases being reported to the Scottish Government due to IT issues, quality assurance processes and delayed entry of data – particularly at the end of the financial year.

For example, this publication estimates that 9,456 homeless applications were made in January to March 2020, but the previous 'Homelessness in Scotland: 2019 to 2020' publication gave a figure of 9,324. This is a difference of 132 applications, or approximately 1%. A table comparing the annual number of applications is included in the tables accompanying this publication. 

Known data quality issues

There are other data quality issues of which we are aware:

  • There are a small number of temporary accommodation cases on the Scottish Government temporary accommodation placement database that are recorded as open but are linked to homelessness applications that we know to be closed. This occurs when a local authority fails to provide an update for these cases after the placement is closed. In these cases we have taken the approach of using the close date of the homelessness application as the exit date of the temporary accommodation placement. This may have the impact of inflating the length of time these households are recorded as using temporary accommodation.
  • Snapshot data about temporary accommodation provided by Fife does not include all temporary accommodation placements used, and therefore understates the number of households in temporary accommodation in Fife.
  • There were inconsistencies between local authorities in the reporting of breaches of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2020. This was due to changes in legislation – extending breaches from households with only a pregnant women and/or child(ren) to all households – and exceptions put in place in response to covid-19. The urgency of having to adapt to the revised legislation without any specific guidance means that some local authorities have reported being unclear as to how these related to the covid-19 exceptions in place. Local authorities were able to capture different levels of information regarding breaches around this time (i.e. whether an exception could or could not be applied) which has implications for data comparability.