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Homelessness statistics

Shelter Scotland works to alleviate and prevent homelessness, but how big a problem are we facing? Here you'll find all the latest facts about housing and homelessness in Scotland - and you'll find the figures speak for themselves.

Where do homelessness statistics come from?

These figures are taken from the Scottish Government's Statistics Release, published in July 2013, the Operation of the Homeless Persons Legislation in Scotland: national and local authority analyses 2012-13, except where noted.

How many people are homeless in Scotland?

  • In 2012-13, 39,827 households made homeless applications to their local council in Scotland. This is a 13 per cent decrease on the number of households who made homeless applications in 2011-12.
  • In 2012-13, 31,964 households were accepted by their local authority as homeless or potentially homeless.
  • The number of households accepted as homeless or potentially homeless has decreased by 19 per cent since 2002-2003.
  • In 2012-13 there were over 18,000 children living in households accepted as homeless.

Who makes homeless applications in Scotland?

Of the people who make homeless applications:

  • 44 per cent are single men
  • 21 per cent are single women
  • 17 per cent are single parents who are female
  • 6 per cent are single parents who are male
  • 5 per cent are couples with children
  • 4 per cent are couples without children

For more detailed information on homeless households by gender, age and household type, please refer to the Scottish Government's statistical release.

How many people are evicted in Scotland?

  • In 2012-13 965 local authority tenants lost their homes as a result of eviction action.  550 tenants were evicted and 415 abandoned their property after an eviction order had been granted.  [1]
  • In 2012-13 774 housing association tenants lost their homes as a result of eviction action. [2]
  • The majority of evictions in the social rented sector were for non-payment of rent, with anti-social behaviour accounting for less than 6 per cent of cases.

Why do people become homeless?

The main reasons why people become homeless in Scotland are:

  • dispute within household (28 per cent)
  • asked to leave accommodation (26 per cent)
  • as a result of action by landlord or lender (14 per cent)
  • harassment or non-domestic violence  (5 per cent) 
  • discharge from hospital, prison or care (8 per cent)

Where do people live before applying as homeless?

The most common previous housing circumstances of homeless people in Scotland are:

  • living with family, friends or partner (45 per cent)
  • council or housing association rented accommodation (12 per cent)
  • private sector rented accommodation (17 per cent)
  • owner-occupier (5 per cent)
  • prison (6 per cent)

How many households live in temporary accommodation in Scotland?

  • On 31 December 2013, there were 9,963 households in temporary accommodation across Scotland. 932 (10 per cent) of these households were in bed and breakfast hotels. [3]
  • On 31 December 2013, there were 2,456 households with dependent children and pregnant women in temporary accommodation across Scotland. 48 (2 per cent) of these households were living in bed and breakfast hotels and hostels. [3]
  • As at 31 December 2013, there were 4,134 dependent children living in temporary accommodation across Scotland. [3]

If you require further information please contact Shelter Scotland on 0344 515 2444.


[1] Scottish Government (2013) Housing Statistics for Scotland

[2] Scottish Housing Regulator (2013) Annual Performance & Statistical Return 2012-13

[3] Scottish Government (2013) Operation of the Homeless Persons Legislation in Scotland