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The facts: bad housing and homelessness for children and young people in Scotland 2011

By: Shelter Scotland  Published: April 2011

The report seeks to provide a real picture of how many children and young people are affected by poor housing conditions and homelessness in Scotland.   


  • One in ten (96,000) children are living in overcrowded homes in Scotland. This means children live in nearly two thirds (65 per cent) of all overcrowded households.
  • Nearly one in five (179,000) children are living in fuel poverty in Scotland. This is enough children to fill Hampden Park stadium three times over. The number of fuel poor households with children rose by 40 per cent in the last year predominantly because fuel costs rose faster than incomes
  • Although the number of homes which fail the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) is falling, it still remains the case that 61 per cent of children in Scotland are growing up in properties that fall below the SHQS.
  • 186,000 children live in homes which have condensation or damp, or both, putting these children at a higher risk of asthma and other respiratory problems. This is the same as if every child in Edinburgh and Glasgow were living in places with damp or condensation problems.
  • Sixty children a day become homeless somewhere in Scotland. That is enough to fill three primary one classes every day and is a total of 22,000 children a year.
  • Nearly half of all homeless children (46 per cent) are under five years old.
  • Despite a modest rise of one per cent in the overall levels of homelessness over the last five years there has been a six per cent rise in the number of families with children who are homeless over the same period.
  • Lone parent families are over represented within the homeless population. They are the second largest group of homeless households, accounting for 25 per cent of all homeless households despite representing only six per cent of all households in Scotland.
  • An estimated 1,200 children in Scotland were in families evicted from social housing in 2009-10, usually for rent arrears. This means that approximately three children a day lose their home due to eviction.
  • Approximately 25 in every 1,000 young people in Scotland become homeless.
  • Young homeless people are vastly over represented in the homeless population. They represent 37 per cent of all homeless households despite only four per cent of all households in Scotland being headed up by someone under 25.
  • Young people who run away are at particular risk of experiencing homelessness as a young person. The findings of a recent survey suggest that the vast majority of young homeless people (84 per cent) had also run away overnight from home or care when they were under 16.