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UK official statistics on homelessness: comparisons, processes and definitions BETA

Interactive Tools

This tool will help you to compare official statistics on homelessness and rough sleeping across the UK, with information provided on each of the four countries.

Using the links above you can view comparison guidance and definitions for a number of key topics within homelessness.

You can also view the journey a person may go through when seeking support for housing from a local authority.

To find out more about how to use this tool, please visit the 'About' section.

Find out how to compare statistics on different homelessness topics and their definitions.

Explore the process a person applying for housing support would go through in each UK country.

Applicant process journeys for each UK country

England

Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

England

Not homeless Homelessness has beenprevented andaccommodation has beensecured for at least sixmonths. Application ended becauseclient no longer requiresassistance Accommodation securedwithin 56 days Application ended becauseclient no longer requiresassistance Accommodation secured Application ended becauseclient no longer requiresassistance Applicant refusedaccommodation Assistance with relievinghomelessness owed toapplicant Yes - eligible forassistance Duties end No - not eligible forassistance Is the applicant eligiblefor assistance withrelieving homelessness? Homeless after 56 days Assistance with relievinghomelessness owed toapplicant Homelessness has not beenprevented Assistance withpreventing homelessnessowed to applicant Threatened withhomelessness Homeless Is the applicant homelessor threatened withhomelessness? Yes - eligible forassistance No - not eligible forassistance Is the applicant eligiblefor assistance? Information included inrough sleepingstatistics. Has the applicant sleptrough? A household has appliedfor help with retainingor obtaining housing.
These boxes contain information on comparisons between countries

Keys:

Entry Point
Assessment
Decision
Outcome

Click the buttons below to explore the next stages in the application process

To collect case level information on statutory homelessness in England, the Homelessness Case Level Information Collection system (H-CLIC) was established in 2018.The H-CLIC system provides detailed information on the causes and effects of homelessness as well as long term outcomes and prevention of homelessness. The following information shows the data collected on homelessness applicants at different stages of the homeless process in England. Official statistics are produced for each of the stages in the process model.

Wales

Not homeless orthreatened withhomelessness Successful prevented fromhomelessness Application ended forother reasons Successfully helped tofind accommodation Applicant accepted anoffer of settled,suitable accommodation Other outcomes No - applicant isunintentionally homeless Yes - applicant isintentionally homeless Is the applicantintentionally homeless? Yes - applicant meets thecriteria for priorityneed No - applicant does notmeet the criteria forpiority need Does the applicant meetthe priority needcriteria? Unsuccessfully helped tofind accommodation Application ended forother reasons Homeless Unsuccessfully preventedfrom homelessness Threatened withhomelessness Is the applicant homelessor threatened withhomelessness? Yes - eligible forassistance No - not eligible forassistance Is the applicant eligiblefor assistance? A person has applied forhelp with retaining orobtaining housing.
These boxes contain information on comparisons between countries

Keys:

Entry Point
Assessment
Decision
Outcome

Click the buttons below to explore the next stages in the application process

To collect information on statutory homelessness in Wales, local authorities are required to collect data on all households who apply for homelessness assistance and to provide aggregated outcomes based information to the Welsh Government. The following information shows the data collected on homelessness applicants at different stages of the homeless process in Wales. Official statistics are produced for each of the stages in the process model.

Scotland

No - not eligible foradvice and assistance Assistance offered Lost contact No - not intentionallyhomeless Advice provided Yes - intentionallyhomeless Did the applicant becomehomeless or threatenedwith homelessnessintentionally? Threatened withhomelessness Homeless Not homeless Lost contact/ withdrew Resolved beforeassessment Is the applicant homelessor threatened withhomelessness? Yes - eligible No - not eligible Is the applicant eligiblefor assistance? Applicant undergoes ahomelessness assessment. Information included inrough sleepingstatistics. Has the applicant sleptrough? A person applied forhousing support to alocal authority Advice and assistanceoffered Yes - eligible for adviceand assistance Is the applicant eligiblefor advice andassistance? A household has appliedfor help with retainingor obtaining housing.
These boxes contain information on comparisons between countries

Keys:

Entry Point
Assessment
Decision
Outcome

Click the buttons below to explore the next stages in the application process

In Scotland, four systems (HL1, HL2, HL3, and Prevent1), are used to collect data on households applying as homeless to local authorities.

The HL1 and PREVENT1 data collections collect case level data on Homelessness and Housing Options applications respectively and the HL2 and HL3 collections collect data on temporary accommodation. If a household presents themselves as homeless or threatened with homelessness (within 56 days), the local authority will ask them to complete a HL1 form.

The following information shows the data collected on homeless applicants at different stages of the homeless process using both the PREVENT1 and HL1 forms in Scotland. Official statistics are produced for each of the stages in the process model.

Northern Ireland

Applicant is on thewaiting list Accomodation andassistance offered Applicant meets criteriafor assistance Homelessness has beenprevented A decision is pending Applicant does not meetthe criteria forassistance Applicant has withdrawntheir application or lostcontact. Is the applicanteligible, homeless, inpriority need orintentionally homeless? A household has appliedfor help with retainingor obtaining housing.
These boxes contain information on comparisons between countries

Keys:

Entry Point
Assessment
Decision
Outcome

Click the buttons below to explore the next stages in the application process

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) is responsible for homelessness assessments and provision of housing. NIHE records data on those who present as homeless to the housing executive and decisions made on the four homeless tests.

The following information shows the data collected on homelessness applicants at different stages of the homeless process in Northern Ireland. Official statistics are produced for each of the stages in the process model.

Homelessness definitions and comparisons

Temporary Accommodation

Threatened with homelessness

Homeless

Rough Sleeping

Repeat Homelessness

Priority Need

Intentionally homeless

Glossary of terms and acronyms

To begin searching for a term, enter it in the search-bar or select a button.
  • MHCLG:

    Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

    MHCLG is the leading Government department on housing and homelessness.

    MHCLG publish statistics on homelessness for England.

  • NI:

    Northern Ireland.

  • WG:

    Welsh Government.

    Welsh Government publish statistics on homelessness for Wales.

  • SG:

    Scottish Government.

    Scottish Government publish statistics on homelessness for Scotland.

  • NIHE:

    Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

    NIHE is the strategic Housing Authority for Northern Ireland.

    NIHE provide housing assistance and collect information on homelessness and applications for housing support.

  • HRA:

    Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

    English legislation which places new duties on housing authorities to intervene earlier to prevent homelessness.

  • B&B:

    Bed and breakfast.

  • NISRA:

    Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

  • LA:

    Local authority.

    A local authority is an organisation responsible for a range of local services.

    This could take the form of a county council or district, borough, or city council.

  • HA:

    Housing authority.

    A housing authority is a government body that governs local housing services.

  • H-CLIC:

    Homelessness Case Level Information Collection, MHCLG's case-level data collection system as of April 2018.

  • Temporary accommodation:

    Temporary accommodation can be used to place households in accommodation to address both an interim duty to accommodate and the full housing duty.

    More information on temporary accommodation and how to make comparisons across the four UK countries can be found by clicking the 'see comparisons' button below.

  • ONS:

    Office for National Statistics.

    ONS produce statistics on deaths of homeless people.

  • OSR:

    Office for Statistics Regulation.

    The Office for Statistics Regulation is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority.

    They provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK.

  • GSS:

    Government Statistical Service.

    The Government Statistical Service (GSS) is a community for all civil servants working in the collection, production and communication of official statistics.

  • Harmonisation:

    Harmonisation is about making statistics more comparable, consistent and coherent.

    For more information, please visit the GSS Harmonisation Team.

  • HL1, HL2, HL3:

    If a household presents themselves as homeless or threatened with homelessness (within 56 days) in Scotland, the local authority will ask them to complete a HL1 form.

    The HL2 system is used to collect a snapshot of households in temporary accommodation at the end of each quarter.

    Since 2016, it has been mandatory for local authorities to submit placement level data on temporary accommodation which has formed the HL3.

  • Prevent 1:

    In Scotland, the Prevent1 data collection system gathers information on the operation of 'Housing Options' services that are made available when households seek assistance for housing-related issues, and which can be used by local authorities as a means of delivering statutory duties around the provision of advice and information for the prevention of homelessness.

  • DfC:

    Department for Communities in Northern Ireland.

    Data on homelessness is collected by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) and analysed and published by DfC.

  • Households:

    One person living alone; or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address who share cooking facilities and share a living room or sitting room or dining area.

  • Eligible:

    Being 'eligible' for homelessness assistance depends on your immigration and residence status.

  • Homeless:

    A person is homeless if he/ she has no accommodation in the UK or elsewhere.

    More information on this and guidance on how to make comparisons across the four UK countries can be found by clicking the 'see comparisons' button below.

  • Threatened with homelessness:

    A person is threatened with homelessness if it is likely that he/ she will become homeless within one or two months, depending on the country. More information on this and guidance on how to make comparisons across the four UK countries can be found by clicking the 'see comparisons' button below.

  • Priority need:

    Someone with a priority need may struggle to cope as a homeless person more than others, due to some sort of vulnerability. More information on priority need, the criteria for priority need and what this means for each UK countries definition and statistics, can be found by clicking the 'see comparisons' button below.

  • Intentionally homeless:

    Intentionally homeless means the applicant intentionally did something, or failed to do something that resulted in their homelessness. More information on this and guidance on how to make comparisons across the four UK countries can be found by clicking the 'see comparisons' button below.

  • Rough sleeping:

    People sleeping, or bedded down, in the open air. More information on how these statistics are collected and how to compare rough sleeping statistics across the four UK countries can be found by clicking the 'see comparisons' button below.

  • Outcome:

    In this tool an outcome (in light blue) is classified as an action taken as a result of the decision.

  • Decision:

    In this tool a decision (in blue) is classified as a decision made to categorise an applicant or take action based off the assessment stage.

  • Assessment:

    In this tool an assessment (in dark blue) is classified as a test or assessment stage where the applicant is measured against a set of criteria.

  • Repeat homelessness:

    Applicants presenting as homeless within 365 days of their last presentation. More information on how these statistics are collected and how to compare repeat homelessness statistics across the four UK countries can be found by clicking the 'see comparisons' button below.

  • Applicant:

    When referenced in this tool, an 'applicant' or 'presenter' is a household or individual that has applied for assistance with housing-related issues form a local authority or the Housing Executive.

  • Statutory homelessness:

    Statutory homelessness is where local authorities or the housing executive have defined a household as homeless within the terms of the homelessness legislation.

    Each country has legislation on the definition and provision of support for homeless households.

Download supporting documents

A database including definitions and comparison information is available for download, along with the applicant process journeys for each UK country.

Download database as:

.xlsx

Download zipped process maps as:

.png

About this tool

Content

1 - How to use this tool2 - Background and coverage

1 - How to use this tool

To view information on the comparability of homelessness statistics you can click on the definitions and comparison information for key topics; specific information is provided for each country.

To view the process a person goes through after applying for housing assistance, you can navigate between the four countries and be guided through each journey. The journey will be slightly different dependent on the country; the homelessness application process is different as is the legislation and statutory requirements underpinning it.

As you navigate through a journey, definitions and short explanations of concepts will be available to view. This is to help you understand what a concept means and how a similar concept in another country may be different.

If you would like to view the full journey, you can click on the 'whole view'. To view another country's journey, you can click on 'another country'.

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2 - Background and coverage

The aim of this tool is to enable users to understand what can and cannot be compared with regard to homelessness statistics across the UK.

This tool covers the process of gathering the data used in each UK country's main statistical publication on homelessness. There is also information on each UK country's rough sleeping statistics. We recognise that there are a number of ways for a homeless person to be not included in these main statistics, such as if they have not approached the local authorities for housing support; however, this is currently out of the scope of this tool.

Also currently out of scope are the other sources of statistics on homelessness which are not included in this tool. For example statistics on deaths of homeless people in England and Wales from the Office for National Statistics.'

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Version: 0.1b - Updated: 12/09/2019

Definition

Temporary accommodation can be utilised to address both an interim duty to accommodate and the full housing duty.

That is, an applicant could be placed here during their investigation, as part of relief of homelessness, or whilst waiting for a permanent offer of rehousing.

How can it be used?

Trends based on time-series data for the number of households in temporary accommodation can be compared across the UK.
Trends based on time-series data on demographics of households in temporary accommodation can be compared across the UK.
Direct comparisons are not possible due to the difference in eligibility criteria for temporary accommodation. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, temporary housing is largely provided for applicants who are in priority need; in Scotland, all applicants are entitled to temporary accommodation.
Direct comparisons are also not possible due to the differences in reporting time frames, such as snapshot data or placements over time, and reporting categories, such as types of accommodation and length of stay.

Definition

A person is threatened with homelessness (potentially homeless) if it is likely that he/ she will become homeless within 56 days.

In Northern Ireland it is within 28 days.

How can it be used?

Official figures for households who have been threatened with homelessness in England, Wales and Scotland can be compared. Data for Wales are based on outcomes of applications rather than presentations, and therefore comparisons should be treated with caution.
Figures for households threatened with homelessness in Northern Ireland should not be compared with statistics from England, Wales, or Scotland. This is because Northern Ireland do not produce statistics for those 'threatened with homelessness', so, those who present as at risk within 28 days will be included in the numbers of those presenting as homeless.

Definition

A person is homeless if he/ she has no accommodation in the UK or elsewhere.

A person is also homeless if he/ she has accommodation but cannot reasonably occupy it, for example because of a threat of violence.

How can it be used?

Characteristics of homeless households can be compared across the four UK countries.
Trends in individual country time series data are comparable.
Statistics on households that applied for housing support are comparable for England and Scotland.
Statistics on eligible households are comparable for England and Scotland.
Headline figures for all four UK countries should not be compared due to legislative and data collection differences.
Statistics from Northern Ireland are largely not comparable to the rest of the UK due to the distinction in England, Wales and Scotland between those 'threatened' or 'at risk' and homeless presenters. In NI prevention and relief duties are not legislated and therefore, those considered 'threatened' elsewhere, are included in the NI numbers of homeless applicants.
Scotland does not assess for priority need at any stage of application which should be taken into account when comparing to other countries.
As reporting timeframes are different in Northern Ireland to other countries, this should be taken into account when making comparisons.
In Wales each application can be recorded under multiple outcomes as they flow through the homelessness system and outcomes are therefore not representative of unique households. This must be taken into account when making comparisons.

Definition

Rough sleeping is defined as: people sleeping, or bedded down, in the open air (such as on the streets, or in doorways, parks or bus shelters) ; people in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations or 'bashes').

How can it be used?

England and Wales' rough sleeping count statistics can be broadly compared. Although caution must be taken because in Wales local authorities are also required to produce estimates over a two-week period in October, as well as a street count in November. Whereas local authorities in England are not required to produce the estimates prior to the count.
England, Wales and Northern Ireland's rough sleeping count statistics for similarly sized cities can be compared.
Scotland and Wales' statistics should not be compared because the data is collected differently. Scotland do not carry out a rough sleeping count, but collect information at the application stage. Wales carry out a rough sleeping count and do not collect information on rough sleeping at the homelessness application stage.
Scotland and Northern Ireland's statistics for rough sleeping should not be compared because of the different data collection approaches. Scotland do not carry out a rough sleeping count, but collect information at the application stage. Northern Ireland carry out a rough sleeping count in major cities and do not publish information gathered at the application stage.
Scotland and England's statistics for rough sleeping should not be compared because of the different data collection processes. England carries out a rough sleeping count, Scotland does not. Both England and Scotland collect information on rough sleeping at the application stage. However the questions at this point are different and are not directly comparable.

Definition

Applicants presenting as homeless within 365 days of their last presentation.

How can it be used?

Scotland and Northern Ireland both publish statistics on repeat homeless applicants. These statistics are broadly comparable.
Scotland and Northern Ireland's statistics on repeat homelessness are not directly comparable due to definitional differences. To be classed as repeat homeless in Scotland the applicant household must be assessed as homeless within 365 days of their previous application being closed. Whereas in Northern Ireland repeat homeless applicant are counted irrespective of the outcome of the previous presentation, they do not need to have been 'accepted' in the first application to count as repeat in the second.
Wales do not collect information on repeat homelessness.
England do not currently publish statistics on repeat homelessness.

Definition

Applicants who have priority need for housing include households with dependent children or a pregnant woman, people homeless due to fire/flood, and people who are particularly vulnerable due to ill health, disability, old age, having been in care or as a result of having been in custody or care, or having become homeless due to violence or the threat of violence.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, legislation dictates that some categories of applicants have a priority need for accommodation if homeless.

Scotland do not test for priority need.

How can it be used?

Trends in time series data on England and Wales' statistics for applicants with a priority need are broadly comparable. Categories of those included in priority need groups do differ slightly between the two countries. Both England and Wales collect this information after prevention and relief duties have come to an end.
Northern Ireland's statistics for those with a priority need should not be compared with England, Wales or Scotland. Northern Ireland test for a priority need at the beginning of the application process, whereas England and Wales test after prevention and relief duties have come to an end, and Scotland does not test for priority need.

Definition

Intentionally homeless means the applicant intentionally did something, or failed to do something that resulted in their homelessness.

How can it be used?

All of the four UK countries assess for intentionality. Intentionality as a proportion of all applicants can be compared across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Statistics for the four UK countries are not currently directly comparable. This is because assessment for intentionality comes at a different stage in each of the country's processes.
Intentionality as a proportion of all applicants cannot be directly compared across all four UK countries because Wales do not currently publish a figure for all applicants.

Help - navigation bar

Click to begin
Another Country
Whole view
Help
Increases the zoom level in the worldview.
Decreases the zoom level in the worldview.
Focuses on the first entry point of the process map to let users explore through the process map for that country.
Exits the current country process map and returns to the process map country selection page.
Zooms out to reveal the country's entire process map.
Opens the process map help pages.

Help - worldview and keys

The worldview shows the entire applicant process map for obtaining homelessness assistance within that country.

Each coloured rectangle in the world view represents a stage within a process map in which an applicant may enter. The colour of the rectangle corresponds to what type of stage it is (see the keys for details).

Stages with a black circle in the top-left corner are those in which there is comparison information available between the countries.

To find out more about each stage, click on the rectange to zoom into it.

Dashed lines connect earlier stages to stages which directly follow-on in the process.

Help - tile stages

Name of the current stage in the process map.
Click to return to the stage in the process of which the current stage is a outcome.
Description of the stage.
*Note that the shades of blue in the tile correspond to the definition keys in the worldview.
Takes the user to the comparisons page for the stage. Only present if there is information on comparisons between countries and is denoted by a black circle in the top-left corner of the tile in the worldview.
Possible outcomes from this stage in the process map. Click to move onto that stage.