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

Making government statistics accessible to everyone

Glossary of terms

Thu 13 October 2022

As homelessness is a devolved matter, each UK country has the power to set homelessness legislation and to manage administrative data-collection schemes. This means that there is no unified definition for homelessness concepts for across the UK.

If you're interested in finding out more on definitions found within individual data-producers homelessness outputs, links can be found in the "Links to glossaries" box on this page.

This glossary is not intended to be used as a single reference point for definitions found in all official UK homelessness statistics. The definitions found within this glossary are for terms used within this tool only.

You can search the glossary by:

  1. Clicking on the "Open all" button.
  2. Opening the search bar by pressing Ctrl and f (PC) or and f (Mac).
  3. Typing the acronym or word you are interested in.



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


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

B and B

Bed and breakfast


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


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


Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. DLUHC is the leading Government department on housing and homelessness. DLUHC publish statistics on homelessness for England.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.


Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. English legislation which places new duties on housing authorities to intervene earlier to prevent homelessness.


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.


Northern Ireland


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.


Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.


Office for National Statistics. ONS produce statistics on deaths of homeless people.


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.


In this tool an outcome is classified as an action taken as a result of the decision.

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.


Registered social landlord.


Scottish Government. Scottish Government publish statistics on homelessness for Scotland.


Welsh Government. Welsh Government publish statistics on homelessness for Wales.