Rise recorded in number of homelessness applications

THE number of applications for homelessness assistance has risen between 2020/21 and this financial year, 2021/22.

According to the Scottish Government’s chief statistician, here, there were 35,230 applications for homelessness assistance – an increase of 944 (three per cent) compared with 2020/21, but still below pre-Covid pandemic levels (37,060 in 2019/20).

Also according to the chief statistician, there were 28,882 households assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness – an increase of 840 (three per cent) compared to 2020/21, and again below pre-pandemic levels (31,612 in 2019/20).

Among other findings:

* There were 13,945 households in temporary accommodation at 31 March 2022 – a four per cent increase compared with 13,359 at 31 March 2021. This compares to 11,665 at 31 March 2020;

* The number of children in temporary accommodation has increased to 8,635 in March 2022 from 7,385 in March 2021 (17 per cent). This compares to 7,280 at 31 March 2020;

* There has been an increase in those becoming homeless from a private rented tenancy – 15 per cent compared with 11 per cent in 2020/21, almost reaching pre-pandemic proportions of 16 per cent (2019/20). One contributory factor is likely to be the end of the ban on evictions imposed by emergency COVID-19 legislation, which was lifted on 17 May 2021; and

* There has been a decrease in rough sleeping, with 2,129 households reporting rough sleeping during the previous three months and 1,304 the night before the application. Both of these are the lowest in the time series (since 2002/03).

Further findings include:

* Homelessness applications that closed in 2021/22 which used temporary accommodation spent 207 days in temporary accommodation on average. This increased from 204 days in 2020/21 and 187 days in 2019/20;

* There were 690 instances of households not being offered temporary accommodation. This is an increase of 16 per cent compared to 2020/21 but a decrease of 85 per cent compared to 2019/20. Almost all of these (670) were in Edinburgh;

* 82 per cent of households assessed as unintentionally homeless secured settled accommodation in 2021/22, increasing from 80 per cent in 2020/21, more in line with pre-pandemic proportions (83 per cent);

* It took an average of 256 days to close a case for homeless households in 2021/22, similar to 255 days in 2020/21, but greater than 225 in 2019/20; and

* Of the 28,882 homeless households: 63 per cent of applicants were aged 25 to 49; 67 per cent were single person households; 85 per cent of applicants were of White ethnicity; and 52 per cent of applicants had at least one support need.

Pictured: Aberdeen, Picture credit: Place Design Scotland