Scottish House Condition Survey: 2021 Key Findings

Figures from the 2021 survey, including updated fuel poverty rates, energy efficiency ratings and data on external disrepair.

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The statistics in this report are based on a national survey of the housing stock, the only one of its kind in Scotland, which is part of the Scottish Household Survey (SHS). Until 2011 it was carried out as a stand-alone survey, under the name the Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS). Following the review of the large-scale Scottish population surveys, the SHCS was incorporated within the SHS in 2012 and became one of its modules. We continue to report the results from this module of the SHS under the name the SHCS.

The SHCS consists of an interview with householders and a physical inspection of the dwelling they occupy, which provides a picture of Scotland's occupied housing stock. It covers all types of households and dwellings across the country - whether owned or rented, flats or houses. The physical data about the dwelling is recorded by surveyors trained to collect detailed information on housing characteristics. This is combined with information about the household collected through the (usually) face-to-face social interview, covering a range of topics such as household characteristics, tenure, neighbourhood satisfaction, dwelling satisfaction, health status and income. The result is a unique and powerful data set for examining the condition and characteristics of Scotland's housing stock alongside the views and experience of the people living in those dwellings.

This is the seventeenth 'Key Findings' report since the SHCS changed to a continuous format in 2003 and the ninth since it was integrated within the SHS in 2012. (Note that the 2020 SHCS could not be completed due to Covid-19 restrictions.) Details on the methodology and design of the survey are provided in the Scottish Household Survey Methodology and Fieldwork Outcomes reports. The incorporation of the SHCS within the SHS in 2012 introduced some discontinuities in the methodology of the survey and may contribute to some observed change over time.

In 2009, the SHCS was designated as a National Statistics product by the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) and in October 2020, following a compliance check by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR), it was confirmed that these statistics should continue to be designated as National Statistics. This demonstrates that the SHCS statistics are accurate, trustworthy, and compliant with the high standards required of National Statistics.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions the 2020 SHS and the 2021 SHS were undertaken using a push to telephone/video approach. It was not possible to resume the 2020 SHCS but the 2021 SHCS was undertaken using an external+ approach. For further details see the section on external+ data quality.

However, due to the change in approach for the 2021 SHCS, the results are not directly comparable with the National Statistics from previous waves of the survey.

As such, we have agreed with the OSR (see the letters between the OSR’s Director General for Regulation and the Scottish Government’s Chief Statistician) that the key findings should be published as Experimental Statistics representing a snapshot of the key attributes, energy efficiency and condition of the housing stock and fuel poverty levels in 2021. The results for 2021 should not be compared with those for previous or future years.

The 2022 SHCS returned to full in-home surveying in April 2022, and we expect to publish the key findings as National Statistics in January 2024.

The lack of SHCS data for 2020 and the enforced changes for 2021 cause issues with the production of local authority estimates from the SHCS, which requires three consecutive years of survey data to be combined to provide a three-year average.
For the 2021 external+ SHCS we cannot take the usual approach for two reasons. Firstly, there is no SHCS data for 2020 so we cannot produce a three-year average for 2019 to 2021. Secondly, the data from the 2021 external+ SHCS is not directly comparable with that for earlier years due to the methodological differences and it would not be appropriate to combine it with the data for 2019 (or earlier) to produce a multi-year average.
Therefore we will not be using the 2021 external+ SHCS to produce local authority estimates.
We won’t be able to return to the usual approach for producing local authority estimates from the SHCS until the 2024 wave of the SHCS has completed. We will then be able to produce local authority estimates from the SHCS based on a three-year average for 2022 to 2024. We expect these estimates to be published in early 2026.
We appreciate there is a user demand for local authority estimates from the SHCS. So, until we can expect to get back to the usual approach in 2026, we will explore other options for providing local authority estimates and will update users in due course.

In 2021 there were 3,174 surveyed properties. Statistics published in this report are based on fieldwork undertaken mostly during 2021. Household interviews took place between April 2021 and March 2022 with 16% of the interviews taking place in the first quarter of 2022. Physical surveys took place between May 2021 and April 2022 with 21% of the surveys taking place in the first quarter of 2022 and early April.

Past methodological changes are described in each years' key findings report and associated methodology notes and, where relevant, in individual sections of this report. We always seek to improve and keep our methods and processes up to date and there may therefore be small changes to elements of data processing which do not impact significantly on the results. Details are provided in the respective technical sections.

The main change for 2021 is that the results are being presented in isolation and are not being compared with those for previous years. Furthermore, as it was not possible to collect information on internal disrepair, only the number of dwellings with urgent disrepair to critical elements has been reported as all other disrepair metrics include internal elements. Similarly, we are unable to report on the presence of damp and/or condensation and compliance with housing standards, e.g., the tolerable standard and the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS). The fuel poverty estimates presented in this report include changes to better align with the definition set out in the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy)(Scotland) Act 2019 (e.g., incorporating the Fuel Poverty (Enhanced Heating) (Scotland) Regulations 2020) and methodological improvements (e.g., including the income of up to three other adults in addition to the highest income householder and/or their spouse). For further details see the section on fuel poverty.

Differences across characteristics are only highlighted in the commentary of this report if they are statistically significant. Values will be described as 'similar' if they are not significantly different. On occasion we also explicitly note that a difference is not statistically significant, particularly if it might appear large to the reader. This can occur if the statistic is based on a small sample size. Please see the technical notes and definitions for further details on confidence intervals, design effects and statistical significance.

The remainder of this report covers the following topics:

Key Attributes of the Scottish Housing Stock: this chapter describes key dwelling characteristics such as dwelling type, age of construction, main heating fuel and the characteristics of the households that occupy them.

Energy Efficiency: this chapter presents an analysis of the energy efficiency of the housing stock including presence and level of insulation.

Fuel Poverty: this chapter presents an analysis of the characteristics of households in fuel poverty and extreme fuel poverty. In addition to the issues with data quality due to the enforced change in approach for the 2021 SHCS, it should also be noted that the fuel poverty estimates presented in this report pre-date the increases in energy prices that occurred in 2022. We have separately undertaken fuel poverty scenario modelling [1] based on data from the 2019 SHCS to estimate the number of households in Scotland that are likely to now be in fuel poverty, by applying up to date increases in fuel prices, price caps and various government support interventions. From April 2023 [2] with the price cap for the typical dual-fuel household paying by direct debit set at £2,500 under the Energy Price Guarantee and removal of the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme we estimate that there will be 920,000 fuel poor households (37% of all households), of which 720,000 (29% of all households) will be in extreme fuel poverty.

Energy Perceptions: this chapter examines the householder's self-reported experience and satisfaction with their heating system and the extent to which they monitor their use of energy. This is analysed by the fuel poverty status of the household.

Housing Conditions: this part of the report provides information on the number of dwellings with urgent disrepair to critical elements and the external critical elements with disrepair. It also covers overcrowding and under-occupation, as defined by the bedroom standard.

External+ Data Quality: this part of the report details the external+ approach, potential sources of bias, the changes to sampling and weighting, the changes in the data collection mode, and the impact on data quality and key statistics from the SHCS.

Technical Notes and Definitions: the final part of the report provides information about the content of the survey and the definition of some of the key concepts used. Discussion on the statistical reliability of the estimates is also included.



[1] See the ‘Updated Economic Context’ section of the report Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Act 2022: first report to the Scottish Parliament.

[2] See the response to the parliamentary question S6W-15551.



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