Scottish Government publishes homelessness equalities statistics

Scotland has seen a 57% reduction in homelessness applications from under-25s over the last ten years, including a 68% reduction in applications from 16-17-year-olds, compared to a reduction of 37% in all homelessness applications.

The figures were revealed in the newly released Homelessness in Scotland: 2018/19 – Equalities Breakdowns report.

The publication provides information about homelessness in Scotland, with a focus on the age, gender and ethnicity of homeless applicants. It covers the period from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, with some additional analysis of trends over the last decade.

The information found that during 2018-19, 45% of homelessness applications came from single male households and 76% of main applicants were of white Scottish ethnicity. Single males also make up a large proportion of homelessness applicants who have previously slept rough.

During the same period, 74% of those who slept rough in the three months before making their homelessness application were single males and 78% of those who slept rough the night before making their homelessness application were single males.

For female main applicants, the most common reason for making a homelessness application is a violent or abusive dispute within the household - 22% compared to 5% of applications from male main applicants.

On assessments, the report also found that older applicants were less likely to be repeat applicants, with 1.5% of those aged 65 or over-assessed as repeat applicants compared to 5.8% for all assessments.

Single female households were most likely to be assessed as having a support need, such as a physical disability or a medical condition, with a mental health problem identified in 31% of cases. Couples with children were the least likely to have a support need, with just a third of this household type having at least one support need.

Of applicants age 16-17, 58% were assessed as having a support need, of which ‘basic housing management’ and ‘independent living skills’ were the most common - 44% of assessments. Support needs were more likely to be identified for applicants of white Scottish 51%, white British, 52%, and ‘not known’ or ‘refused ethnicity’, 55%, than for other ethnic groups.

In regards to temporary accommodation, the report found that households where the main applicant is of African, Caribbean or black, mixed or multiple ethnic groups are more likely to have more than one placement in temporary accommodation - 65%, 65% and 64% respectively - compared to 41% of all households that exited temporary accommodation, although these households account for only a small proportion of temporary accommodation placements.

Households where the main applicant was aged 65 or over had the shortest average length of time spent in temporary accommodation of 150 days and the average stay across all households was 180 days.

Of the 3,540 applications that were not offered temporary accommodation during 2018-19, the majority, 65%, were single male applicants, with a further 12% being single female applicants. Of those ‘not offered’ temporary accommodation, 18% were households with children.

However it should be noted that household characteristics are taken from the homelessness application and in some cases this may not accurately reflect who is present in a temporary accommodation placement - eg a household with children may make alternative temporary accommodation arrangements for the children, eg living with relatives.

Three-quarters of placements where a breach of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order occurred had a female main applicant, with over half (56%) of all breaches in 2018-19 affecting female single-parent households.

On homelessness outcomes, the report found that the proportion of applicants securing settled accommodation increases with age, with 59% of main applicants assessed as unintentionally homeless aged 16-17 securing settled accommodation, compared to 78% of those aged 65 and over. Caribbean or black households are most likely to secure settled accommodation - 81% of cases - while the figure for Asian, Asian Scottish or Asian British was just 69%

An outcome of lost contact is most common for single males, with 19% of those assessed as homeless, or threatened with homelessness, losing contact, or having an unknown outcome, compared with 13% for single female households.

The Scottish Government said it intends to review homelessness data collections and consider whether to include other equalities characteristics in the future.

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