Operation of the Homeless Persons Legislation in Scotland: 2011-12

This bulletin provides information on homelessness applications, assessments and outcomes to 31 March 2012. It includes information on the characteristics of applicant households, local authority assessments and the action taken in respect of cases that were concluded. Snapshot data on households in temporary accommodation at 31 March 2012 are presented and notifications of households at risk of homelessness due to eviction/repossession.

Notes on tables

Missing data

1. We are extremely grateful to all 32 Scottish local authorities who submitted their HL1 and HL2 returns on time. There is no missing data in this publication.

Policy Context

2. In interpreting the statistics and analyses in this release, it is important to bear in mind that the information is derived from councils' administration of homelessness legislation. Trends can be affected by legislative changes, changes in interpretation of legislation or guidance and by changes in local authority recording practice. Where these have been identified, these are highlighted in the description of the main trends.

3. In 2001, the Scottish Parliament passed legislation which placed additional duties on councils to provide a minimum of temporary accommodation, advice and assistance to all applicants assessed as homeless. From September 2002, this took effect and councils have been required to provide temporary accommodation, advice and assistance to non-priority applicants who in the past would have received advice and assistance only. This has had a noticeable impact on applications, which has been reflected in changing assessments and outcomes for homeless people. Some tables in this release therefore present time series data so that this impact can be tracked.

Data sources used

4. The data presented in these tables are based on the time period relevant to the analysis. In some cases, this might be when the application was made while, in others, this might when the assessment was made or when the application was completed. All years refer to financial years.

5. To facilitate comparisons between authorities, some of the local authority tables are presented in the form of percentages. However, where the number of applications is small, the percentage figures should be treated with caution.

6. Unless otherwise stated, the assessment category of 'homeless' includes both homeless and potentially homeless, as well as unintentional and intentional homeless. Although the focus of the current legislative changes is on providing settled accommodation to those assessed as unintentionally homeless, the proportion of applications assessed as intentionally homeless and in priority need is relatively small. This category has therefore been combined with that of unintentionally homeless and in priority need for the more complex analyses.

7. In December 2001, the Scottish Executive changed its homelessness data collection system to an electronic case-based HL1 return to provide more detailed information on applications by individual households and to allow more timely reporting. The electronic data capture system allows cases to be registered and updated on a continuous basis, as well as enabling applications made by the same household to be linked.

8. The data collection system introduced in December 2001 allows analysis by individual households and the identification of repeat applications. However, this is not the case for earlier data and so analyses comparing data over time will tend to refer to applications rather than individual households. This is also the case for analyses of flow through the assessment process where repeat applications by the same individual household might be assessed differently and have different outcomes. For other analyses, it is useful to distinguish individual households and so the unit of analysis (applications or individual households) is specified in the footnotes for each table/ chart.

9. The data collection was further revised in April 2007 in the light of the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003, with some additional information included to reflect current best practice. Further information on the HL1 can be found at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/15257/HL1revisions.

Interpretation of statistics on temporary accommodation

10. The figures on households in temporary accommodation relate to households which have been placed in temporary accommodation by a local authority under the Homeless Persons legislation. This will include households for whom the local authority's decision and final action is still pending, as well as households which were secured such accommodation as a final action by the authority under the legislation. The data provide a snapshot picture of the numbers in temporary accommodation as at the last day of each quarter and are collected in the summary HL2 return.

11. Hostels, as temporary accommodation under the homeless persons legislation, were used mainly by Glasgow. In fact, almost all households in hostels in Glasgow were placed there by the authority under the Homeless Persons legislation. In other authorities, particularly in the cities, there may be households in hostels that have not been placed there by the local authority under the Homeless Persons legislation. Consequently, they are not recorded in the statistics.

12. In June 2005, the HL2 return was revised in order to monitor the implementation of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2004. The revised return records the number of households with children or pregnant women in temporary accommodation as at the end of the quarter, the number of those in unsuitable accommodation as defined by the Order, and the number of those in accommodation which breaches the Order. Not all use of unsuitable accommodation is in breach of the Order as such use may be allowed under exceptional circumstances as defined in the Order (see summary of legislation below), and therefore the focus of this release is on actual breaches rather than all instances of use of unsuitable accommodation where exceptions may apply. To put the figures into the context, as at 31 December 2012, there were 20 uses of unsuitable accommodation, compared to 8 breaches of the Order.

13. From 31 March 2008, there is a break in comparability in the information on numbers of homeless applicants in temporary accommodation in Glasgow. The number of homeless households in temporary accommodation in Glasgow includes asylum seekers given indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom and who are in temporary accommodation. From 31 March 2008, there was a significant increase in such households as a consequence of the "Legacy" Case reviews undertaken by the Home Office. This introduced a discontinuity in the statistics for both Glasgow and for Scotland in the totals for all households and households with children. To bridge the discontinuity, Glasgow have provided figures on the numbers of such households included at the end of each quarter from 31 March 2008. The additional numbers included are:-



Households with children or household member pregnant


31 March 2008




30 June 2008




30 September 2008




31 December 2008




31 March 2009




30 June 2009




30 September 2009




31 December 2009




31 March 2010




30 June 2010




30 September 2010




31 December 2010




31 March 2011




30 June 2011




30 September 2011




31 December 2011




31 March 2012





13. In some tables, where figures have been rounded, the total shown may not equal the sum of its constituent parts. The live nature of the current electronic system used for the case-based HL1 returns will result in figures being revised as data are updated, and current figures may differ from those previously published.

How we maintain quality

14. The quality of this publication depends critically on the quality and consistency of the information supplied to us by councils on the HL1 and HL2 returns. The quality statement on the Scottish homelessness statistics website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/15257/quality sets out the ways in which we do this. The main focus of our systems is to ensure consistency between the HL1 and HL2 returns and consistency of the case level information within each HL1 return.

How we deal with revisions and corrections

15. Our approach to revisions and corrections is set in detail on the Scottish homelessness statistics website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/15257/revisionpolicy. In summary, published statistics and supporting reference tables are generally revised when the figures next appear in any publication. However, if a revision is significant resulting in a major change to the published figures a note showing the revisions will be published as soon as possible on the homelessness statistics website. It will also be distributed to all known recipients of the originally published data via email and the ScotStat mailing list.

How we consult with users and providers of statistics

16. Local authorities in Scotland provide homelessness statistics as a by-product of their administration of Scottish homelessness legislation. The main users of homelessness statistics are local authorities, housing associations, The Scottish Government and voluntary bodies such as Shelter and the Scottish Council for Single Homeless. In November 2011 we re-established the Scottish homelessness statistics user provider group with representatives of providers and users of the statistics. We aim for the group to meet twice a year. The minutes and papers from meetings of the group can be found on the Scottish homelessness statistics website at .. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/15257/22540

Obtaining additional analyses

17. A set of reference tables providing a wider and more detailed suite of analyses for Scotland and Scottish local authorities is available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/homelessstats . The HL1 returns provide a very rich dataset capable of supporting a great deal more analysis than we provide in our regular publications and reference tables. If you can't find the analysis you need contact us at homelessnessstatisticsinbox@scotland.gsi.gov.uk. We can also supply case level extracts from the HL1 database suitably anonymised to prevent disclosure.


Email: Housing Access and Support Statistics

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