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Behind the Statistics 2018-19

By: Shelter Scotland
Published: November 2019

Behind the Statistics 2018-19

EDIT: This document was updated on 28.11.2019 to correct the % increase in homeless applications from single person households and single parent households in the past year, in the table on page 21, and the sentence below regarding a 6% increase from households containing single women.

Individual sections of this report can also be accessed separately:

- Introduction and key points
- How many people become homeless?
- Who becomes homeless?
- Why do people become homeless?
- How is temporary accommodation used?
- What happens after people access homelessness services?
- Conclusion and recommendations

Key points:

After years of decrease, homeless applications are on the rise again: In 2018-19, 36,465 households applied as homeless, an increase of 3% on the year before. This is the second year running that there has been an increase in homeless applications.

29,163 adults and 14,043 children were assessed as homeless last year.

The pattern of homelessness is different amongst men and women depending on their age; more young women up to the age of 25 apply than young men, but at 35 this trend reverses and more men than women apply as homeless.

Prison leavers, care experienced people, and former members of the armed forces are persistently overrepresented in homelessness statistics.

The number of children in temporary accommodation has increased for the fifth year running, to 6,795. This is particularly concerning given the length of time households – particularly households with children – are spending in temporary accommodation is also increasing: On average, households spend 6 months in temporary accommodation; households with children spend over 7 months.

49% of households assessed as homeless in 2018-19 identified a support need, over half of which were mental health conditions. In terms of reasons for making a homeless application, 25% of households failed to maintain their previous home because of a mental health reason.
6% of all households assessed as homeless had been assessed already as homeless within 2018-19.

There is an increasing number of instances in which local authorities are failing in their duties either through breaches of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order or through failure to accommodate households with a legal right to temporary accommodation.

Contact is lost with 14% of households assessed as homeless.

71% of households assessed as unintentionally homeless go on to secure settled accommodation, compared to just 25% of households assessed as intentionally homeless.

The recent government work consulting on the future of intentionality therefore has the potential to materially change housing outcomes for many vulnerable people.

Whilst the Scottish Government homelessness data analysed in this paper gives us useful information into the demographics of people who apply as homeless, there is also an unknown number of people who do not engage with statutory homelessness services, and therefore do not appear in the statistics. We refer to these individuals as experiencing hidden homelessness.