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Scotland's homelessness stats revealed

Thursday 06 July 2017

The Scottish Government has produced a publication assessing the number of households in temporary accommodation and has provided information on homelessness applications and data on households placed in unsuitable accommodation.

Between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017, the Scottish Government collected data to determine the key trends and features of homelessness in Scotland.

The report found that homelessness applications and the number of people assessed as being homeless or likely to become homeless within two months both reduced during 2016/17. However, according to official statistics, the number of households in temporary accommodation continues to increase.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician recently released the following two publications, detailing the figures:

During that time, Scottish Local Authorities received 34,100 applications for homelessness assistance, that's two per cent lower than in the same period in 2015/16. During the same period 34,267 application assessments were made, 82 per cent of which were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness, a figure which remains unchanged since 2015/16.

Overall, there were 10,873 households in temporary accommodation as of 31 March 2017 – a three per cent increase of 330 households compared with one year earlier. Over a quarter (3,250 households) included children or a pregnant member of the household - an increase of 367 households (13 per cent) since the same time last year. The number of children in temporary accommodation also increased by 818 children (plus 16 per cent) compared to the same time last year.

The main reasons cited for having to leave prior accommodation have remained largely unchanged since 2007/08. Being asked to leave accounted for 25 per cent of homelessness applications, with disputes within the household and relationship breakdowns being a key driver of homelessness. In 2016/17, 12 per cent of homelessness applications came from those who have been through a violent household dispute, and 18 per cent from a a nonviolent fall out. Four per cent reported that their accommodation was no longer available due to such things as rent arrears or mortgage defaults. Meanwhile, 6% of applications were from those leaving prison/ hospital/ care or some other institution.

With respect to Housing Options, which is advice provided by local authorities under section 2 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, local authorities received 50,120 approaches during 2016/17, a reduction of 5,985 (a decrease of 11 per cent) compared to the same period in 2015/16. The most common assistance undertaken was providing general housing or tenancy advice and informing households of their rights under the homelessness legislation.

Of those approaches closed during 2016/17, 44 per cent went on to make a homelessness application, 22 per cent remained in their current accommodation, 16 per cent found alternative accommodation and 18 per cent had an unknown outcome or contact was lost.

The report showed that there was considerable variation in the mix of outcomes by Local Authority in the frequency and delivery of this work, reflecting the locally developed nature of the Housing Options policies.

It found that the underlying drivers of homelessness have remained largely the same over the past few years, however, the introduction of Housing Options has resulted in an overall decrease in the number of homelessness applications.