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

Making government statistics accessible to everyone

About these tools

Thu 13 October 2022

Homelessness is a devolved matter in the UK, so homelessness statistics are produced by each UK country separately: the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for England, the Welsh Government for Wales, the Scottish Government for Scotland, and the Department for Communities for Northern Ireland.

Statutory homelessness and rough sleeping are the two main concepts of homelessness which are collected in each country and published as official statistics. However, due to devolution, legislation, and administrative data collection, systems are different in each country and information about comparability is generally limited.

The aim of this tool is to enable users to understand:

  • what the various homelessness concepts are,
  • what the cans and cannots are when comparing homelessness statistics between UK countries, and
  • the process a person goes through after applying for housing assistance in each UK country and how this process links to data collection

This tool does not:

  • enable users to browse homelessness figures for each UK country
  • provide information on the strengths and weaknesses in the methods used by each county to collect homelessness data
  • cover all official statistics on homelessness (for example, does not include deaths of homeless people in England and Wales from the Office for National Statistics or deaths of homeless people in Scotland from National Records of Scotland)

It is important to note that not all homeless people are included in these statistics (for example, if they have not approached the local authorities for housing support) and this is an issue across all four countries of the UK. If you are interested in how the Government Statistical Service is improving UK homelessness statistics, please read the report on Improving homelessness and rough sleeping statistics across the UK.