Operation of the homeless persons legislation in Scotland: quarters ending 30 June and 30 September 2007 (including households in temporary accommodation at 31 December 2007)

Routine homelessness statistics update to September 2007

Main points

Applications and applicant households

  • During the period April-September 2007, there were an estimated 28,376 applications to local authorities under the Homeless Persons legislation. This represents a decrease of 8% compared to the 30,721 applications during April-September 2006 ( Table 1).
  • The majority of households applying were single-person households (60%), mainly men. Single parents, predominantly women, accounted for the next largest group (25%) ( Table B).
  • The main reasons for applying as homeless were household disputes or relationship breakdown (27%) and being asked to leave (24%) ( Table 2).
  • The main contributing factors for loss of accommodation were external factors such as fire, flood or harassment (24%), lack of support from family/friends (10%), and financial difficulties, debt or unemployment (9%). Other factors included drug/alcohol dependency (7%) and mental health issues (6%) ( Table 3).

Local authority assessment

  • Of the 26,608 applications assessed during April-September 2007, 73% were assessed as homeless, 7% were assessed as not homeless, 16% lost contact, withdrew before assessment or were ineligible for assistance, and 4% resolved their homelessness prior to assessment ( Table 4).
  • Of the 19,434 cases assessed as homeless, 15,372 (79%) were assessed as in priority need. This is an increase of three percentage points compared with the period April-September 2006 ( Table 4).

Action taken by local authorities

  • There were 24,165 applications actioned by local authorities during April-September 2007: out of the 13,132 assessed as unintentionally priority need, 60% were offered a social sector tenancy, 5% were offered a private rented sector tenancy, 3% were offered temporary accommodation, advice and assistance, 3% were offered advice and assistance only, 8% were offered some other form of accommodation and 20% lost contact with prior to discharge of duty ( Table 5).

Households in temporary accommodation

  • The latest snapshot figure for households placed in temporary accommodation by local authorities under the Homeless Persons legislation was 8,633 at 31 December 2007. At the Scotland level, this represents an increase of 7% compared to the situation at 31 December 2006. The longer term Scotland-level data indicate that the level of increase has been gradually tapering off since 2003, when increases were in the order of 30% (Chart 3 above and Table 6).
  • There is substantial variation in the use of temporary accommodation between local authorities. Between 31 December 2006 and 2007, 16 local authorities showed an increase in households in temporary accommodation of more than 10%, while five local authorities had a decrease of more than 10% ( Table 11).
  • The most recent figure for households with children or pregnant women was 3,311 at 31 December 2007. This represents an increase of 481 households (17%) compared to 31 December 2006 ( Table 6). While earlier increases have been higher, more recent figures have been rather volatile, and it is too soon to tell what the longer term trend is likely to be (Chart 3 above).
  • As at 31 December 2007, 63% of households in temporary accommodation were in local authority or housing association accommodation, with a further 13% in hostels and 16% in bed and breakfast accommodation ( Table 7).
  • Households with children tend on the whole to be provided with local authority or housing association accommodation (87%), with a minority (2%) being placed in bed and breakfast accommodation. As at 31 December 2007, there were 69 households with children or pregnant women in bed and breakfast accommodation. This varied by local authority, with 20 local authorities having none or only one household with children in bed and breakfast, and no local authorities having more than ten ( Tables 10). The proportion of households with children in bed and breakfast accommodation has been dropping steadily since 2005.

Implementation of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order

  • A total of 35 breaches of the Order were reported at 31 December 2007. Due to the relatively small numbers, there is considerable variation in the figures since local authorities began submitting data in 2005. However, the most recent figures for 2007 provide some indication that the figures may be dropping in that three out of the four data points show a decrease when compared to the same period in 2006.
  • The most recent set of breaches for 31 December 2007 were distributed across ten local authorities, with 22 having none and two more than 5 ( Table 12). This represents 1% of households with children or pregnant women in temporary accommodation at that point.
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