Thousands of people sleeping rough across Scotland

A total of 2884 homeless households reported at least one person rough-sleeping in the last year.

Thousands of Scots are sleeping rough while homelessness applications have risen for the third straight year.

A total of 2884 homeless applicants reported at least one member of their household rough-sleeping in the three months before their application.

The most-affected city was Glasgow, where 510 households said they had to sleep in the streets in 2019-20, and 315 in Edinburgh.

This is slightly down on the figure of 2912 homeless households who slept rough across Scotland in 2018-19.

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The latest annual Scottish Government homelessness statistics go up to March 31 of this year – meaning they only include about a week of Covid-19 restrictions.

As a result, the report says, “changes in trends in homeless data as result of coronavirus will be minimal”.

Since the pandemic began, the Scottish Government has worked to reduce the number of people sleeping on the street.

In numbers

Overall, there has been a small rise in the total number of applications for homelessness assistance in Scotland, up by 84 from the year before to stand at 36,855.

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There were 31,333 households assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness, up by 1097 (4%) on 2018-19.

These households contained 51,365 people – a rise of nearly 1000 on last year – including 35,654 adults and 15,711 children.

More than 5200 of those households are in Glasgow – with the city’s number up by 12% – along with 3355 in Edinburgh and more than 2100 in Fife.

Of the households who reported at least one person sleeping rough, there were 1643 who said they were sleeping rough the day before sending in their homelessness application.

More than a quarter of them (430) were in the city of Glasgow.

Across Scotland, there were 11,665 households in temporary accommodation as of March 31, 2020.

That’s the highest figure on record – and an increase of 676 (6%) compared to the same date last year.

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Within those households, a total of 7280 children were in temporary accommodation, up by 485 (7%) on 2019.

Homeless applicants whose applications were closed in the last year spent 184 days in temporary lodgings on average.

A total of 4595 homeless households were not offered temporary accommodation in 2019-20 – with 3835 of them in Glasgow.

There were 500 breaches of the unsuitable accommodation order in 2019-20 – down from 645 the year before – with 375 of these were in Edinburgh.

Of homelessness cases that closed in the last year, 82% of households (20,806 out of 27,002) secured settled accommodation, rising from 63% in 2002-03. 

Ministers ‘must keep promises’

Homelessness charity Shelter Scotland said the figures show a household in Scotland becomes homeless every 17 minutes.

It added that other data sources indicate homelessness applications and numbers in temporary accommodation have increased significantly since the end of March amid the pandemic.

Gordon MacRae, from Shelter Scotland, said: “These figures show that Scotland’s homelessness system was failing people even before the pandemic hit.

“We had rising homelessness and record numbers of people in temporary accommodation before the lockdown.

“Local authorities were already struggling to cope with the level of housing need and since then the situation has gotten a lot worse.”

He continued: “The Scottish Government took swift action in the early days of the pandemic to get rough sleepers off the streets, protect people from eviction and limit the amount of time anyone could spend in unsuitable temporary accommodation.

“They pledged not to go backwards on homelessness as we emerged from the crisis.

“Now is the time for ministers to uphold their promises to homeless people.

“Government and local authorities must urgently step up and significantly increase the supply of suitable accommodation.”

“Otherwise a short-term success could become a long-term crisis, with more and more people trapped in unsuitable temporary accommodation, or forced back on to the streets.”