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Homelessness in Scotland 2014: Getting behind the statistics

By: Shelter Scotland  Published: January 2015


Please note this document was updated on 4/2/2015 to correct for an error in chart 10.  The correction does not affect the text or conclusions from the analysis.

Summary

  • There has been a marked decrease in the number of homeless applications, with 36,457 applications made in 2013-14. This has been falling since 2009-10, with a 34% reduction in the number of homeless applications in Scotland in that period.
  • This decrease can be linked to the introduction of the housing options model and a renewed preventative approach adopted by local authorities, rather than any significant change in the underlying causes of homelessness.
  • There are large variations in the statistics in local authority areas for many of the series of data that are gathered, as a result of differing pressures and practice.
  • Different groups are responding differently to changes in legislation and practice. The number of applications from single people over 25 is not falling as quickly as it is for other groups.
  • The proportion of homeless applicants who are classed as intentionally homeless (i.e. when the local authority decides a household deliberately did or did not do something which made them homeless) has been increasing since 2009-10, and is now higher than in 2002-03, at over 6%.
  • The proportion of homeless applications from households renting in the private sector has grown from 13% in 2008-09 to 18% in 2013-14, and is disproportionate to the number of households in the sector.
  • The existing data portrays a homeless population of whom a large proportion have additional support needs.
  • Contact was lost with around a fifth (18%) of all applicants at some stage in the assessment process. Whilst in some cases the household's circumstances may have changed, for instance they may have found alternative accommodation, it is unlikely this was the case for all of this group.
  • 10,281 households were in temporary accommodation on 31 March 2014. Since a peak in 2011, the total number of households in temporary accommodation has been decreasing, mirroring the trend in homeless applications. It should be noted however that this figure is still 60% higher than the same period in 2002.
  • The number of households without children in temporary accommodation is continuing to rise, in contrast to households with children which has been falling since 2008.
  • Pressures on housing supply has an impact on the type of tenancy authorities can offer settled accommodation in. Local authorities discharged their duty to homeless applicants through an offer of a social rented tenancy for 69% of households. Household type has a large influence on how the duty is discharged, for example as a result of the availability of different property sizes in an area.

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