Operation of the Homeless Persons legislation in Scotland: national and local authority analyses 2006-07

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1. Introduction

1.1 This bulletin presents statistics on applications made to Scottish local authorities for assistance under the Homeless Persons legislation from the mid-90s to 2006-07. The number of applications, together with detailed analyses of how local authorities have assessed and dealt with cases, is provided at both national and local authority level, including data on households in temporary accommodation.

Chart 1: Number of applications and assessments made under the Homeless Persons legislation in Scotland: 1992-93 to 2006-07

Chart 1: Number of applications and assessments made under the Homeless Persons legislation in Scotland: 1992-93 to 2006-07

Note: Assessment figures exclude cases which have not been assessed by the end of the period. For applications made in 2006-07, there were some 2,000 cases which had not been assessed by the end of the period (this may include some cases where contact has been lost). Assessment figures for 2006-07 are therefore provisional.

Context

1.2 In interpreting the statistics and analyses in this bulletin it is important to bear in mind that the information is derived from councils' administration of homelessness legislation. Trends can be affected by legislative changes, changes in interpretation of legislation or guidance and by changes in local authority recording practice. Where these have been identified these are highlighted in the description of the main trends.

1.3 In 2001, the Scottish Parliament passed legislation which placed additional duties on councils to provide a minimum of temporary accommodation, advice and assistance to all applicants assessed as homeless. In particular, from September 2002, councils have been required to provide temporary accommodation, advice and assistance to non-priority applicants who in the past would have received advice and assistance only. This has had a noticeable impact on applications, which has been reflected in changing assessments and outcomes for homeless people. Some tables in this bulletin therefore present time series data from 2002-03 onwards in order that this impact can be tracked.

1.4 The Homelessness Etc (Scotland) Act 2003 aims to ensure that by 2012 everyone assessed as being unintentionally homeless is entitled to permanent accommodation. In the homelessness statistics we would generally expect to see progress towards this commitment reflected in increasing proportions of those applicants who are homeless assessed as also in priority need, and reducing proportions assessed as non priority.

1.5 The Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order came into force in December 2004. This Order requires councils to ensure that households with children or pregnant women are not placed in unsuitable temporary accommodation, unless exceptional circumstances apply. Changes in the data collection to monitor the implementation of the Order are described in the notes section before the tables.