Statistical Analysis Report: Homelessness and prevention through Housing Options in 2015 - what does the data show?

By: Shelter Scotland
Published: December 2015

Statistical analysis report: Homelessness and prevention through Housing Options in 2015 - what does the data show?

This report contains a statistical analysis of the annual Scottish Government homelessness data for 2014-15, as well as the new annual housing options data.

Key points:

- New data would seem to support the assertion that the reduction in the number of homeless applications made since 2009-10 is almost wholly due to the impact of housing options, rather than any change in the underlying causes of homelessness.

- Young people are over-represented in both housing options and homelessness services compared to over 25s.

- There is a high number of people with multiple and complex needs identified approaching both services, particularly in relation to physical and mental health, and dependency support needs. 38% of homeless applicants had one or more support needs.

- There is a large variation in the number, level and type of prevention activity delivered through housing options services throughout Scotland, demonstrating the differing levels of service available.

- Not all households who report being homeless (as their property type defines them as such) were recorded as being informed of their homeless rights through the housing options system. Only 590 of the 1,327 approaches from rough sleepers were recorded as having been informed of their homeless rights. Similarly, being informed of homeless rights was recorded 750 times for the 1,073 approaches from sofa-surfers.

- 200 people identified as long-term roofless or sofa-surfing, and a further 900 prisoners were recorded as remaining in their current accommodation as their housing options outcome. This highlights the importance when analysing this data of considering where and why the household made its approach in assessing whether their outcome was positive.

- Understanding the outcomes for households in housing need is limited in its current form. More analysis is needed at a household level, looking at the outcomes of households who have gone through the homeless route only and outcomes of people who have gone through the housing options route only, as well as those that have gone through both. This would create a clearer picture of the best route to a good outcome for households approaching their local authority for help with housing, and would allow a better evaluation of the housing options service.