Housing statistics 2016: key trends summary

Summary of the key trends in the housing statistics for 2016.

Housing Lists

At 31st March 2016, 167,122 applications were recorded on local authority or common housing register housing lists, a 5% decrease, or 8,211 fewer households than 2015, and the eighth consecutive annual decrease.

An estimated 167,122 households were on local authority or common housing register lists as at 31 st March 2016, a 5% decrease, or 8,211 fewer households than 2015 and the eighth successive annual decrease. Of these 24,600 are recorded as being on Transfer Lists and 142,500 on Waiting Lists for entry into social housing.

However, 9 out of the 26 local authorities with housing stock did not operate separate waiting and transfer lists. In this report all of the households on the lists of these authorities are treated as being on the waiting lists and none on the transfer list. This means that the Waiting List figure is over-estimated and the transfer list figure is under-estimated. Also, the separate reporting of Waiting and transfer lists by local authorities has changed over time, which means the historic trends are not consistent or reliable. This clearly contributes to the trends illustrated in Chart 18. The chart shows large increases in the number of people on waiting lists until 2010 and large decreases in transfer lists until 2012, whilst the overall total remains more constant although has fallen in recent years.

Chart 18: Applications on Housing Register 2001-2016

Chart 18: Applications on Housing Register 2001-2016

While numbers of applications may be recorded accurately within each authority, there is difficulty in recording actual numbers of people wishing to access all social housing and also in determining their current tenure. In addition to the double-counting of people who apply to more than one local authority, households often apply for both council and RSL housing in their desired area (although this has become less of an issue over time due to the increase in the number of Common Housing Registers). Some applicants may no longer need a social house if, for example, they take up tenancies with other housing providers however they may not be removed from the housing list immediately. Chart 16 shows, alongside the figures collected for this publication, survey estimates from the Scottish Household Survey ( SHS) and MORI.

The SHS and MORI estimates are population based, which means they cover all housing lists in Scotland, whereas those related to Local Authority and Common Housing Registers do not include the 6 local authorities (including Glasgow) which have transferred all of their housing stock to Registered Social Landlords. In addition, the MORI and SHS estimates asked respondents whether they were on any housing lists, so they are not affected by the double counting issue. The SHS and MORI results may therefore provide a more realistic estimate of applicants on housing lists in Scotland although they are based on sample surveys.

Chart 19 shows housing list applicants at 31 March 2016 broken down by local authority.

Chart 19: Applications on Housing Register at 31 March 2016

Chart 19: Applications on Housing Register at 31 March 2016

Link to tables on housing lists:

The Scottish Household Survey has asked a question since 2013 on whether the random adult interviewed is on a housing list. Scotland and local authority estimates are published in SHS Annual Reports:

Official statistics obtained from an Omnibus Survey carried out in February 2011 estimate the number of households which contain someone who is currently on a social housing list. These statistics provide an estimate which eliminates the double counting included in the administrative data collected annually from councils and housing associations. The excel tables can be accessed through the following link:


Email: Esther Laird,

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