- The total number of households newly recognised as homeless rose substantially in the period from 2000/01 to 2003/04, from 33,000 in 2000/01 to 40,000 in 2003/04. Since then, the numbers have remained stable.
- The increase broadly coincided with the introduction of the 2001 Housing (Scotland) Act and the 2003 Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act, which collectively created a framework which is much more generous towards homeless people without dependent children than before.
- Three-fifths of those officially recognised as homeless are single adults with no dependent children, and the majority of these are aged 25 or over. Most of the others are lone parents, with relatively few being couples.
- Every local authority has a homelessness problem, but West Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, and Glasgow have the greatest problems.
- Until the passage of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, local authorities had an obligation to provide temporary accommodation only to those households deemed to be in 'priority need', the most common reason for a household's application being accepted being the presence of dependent children. The 2001 Act means that local authorities now have an obligation to provide at least temporary accommodation for all households accepted as homeless.
The first graph shows the number of households accepted by their local authorities as homeless each year, with the data being broken down into three broad household types: households with dependent children, single person households aged 25 or more and single person households aged less than 25. The figures include both households who are 'priority' and those who are 'non-priority'. The small number of couples without children who are accepted as homeless are not shown.
The second graph shows, for the latest year, how the proportion of households accepted as homeless by their local authority varies by household type.
The third graph and map show how the proportion of all households who are accepted as homeless by their local authority varies by local authority. To improve its statistical reliability, the data is averaged over the latest three years. To derive the proportions from the absolute numbers, data on total household numbers by local authority from the 2001 Census is used.
The data for all the graphs is the Scottish Government statistical bulletin entitled Operation of the homeless persons legislation in Scotland.
Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium. While there is no reason to believe there is any problem with the underlying data, the extent to which it leaves 'homelessness' dependent on administrative interpretation means that there is some uncertainty about the extent to which the figures accurately measure the scale of the homelessness problem. Also, not all homeless people apply to local authorities to be classified as such and, for example, the increased in the number of single people applying since 2002 might be due, at least in part, to the widening eligibility for temporary accommodation introduced in September 2002.
See the University of Glasgow Urban Studies Department's paper on structural trends and homelessness.