Housing, homelessness, rough sleeping and planning statistics

High quality statistics on housing, homelessness, rough sleeping and planning are vital for the UK. They can help answer major questions for policy makers, the housing sector and private citizens, such as:

  • Are we building enough houses to sustain our growing population?
  • Can I afford a home in my local area?
  • How many people are homeless and what factors influence this?

Housing and homelessness are devolved policy areas across the four nations of the UK. Currently, more than twenty different departments and public bodies publish such statistics. This means that finding the right statistics for the right area can be time-consuming. It also means that, for any given topic area, statistics are not always comparable between UK countries.

We, as statisticians from across the Government Statistical Service (GSS), have been working together to try to change this for the better. Our ambitious goal has been to improve the coherence of housing and homelessness statistics by putting the needs of users first. This inclusive approach has also created a basis for sustainable continuous improvement.

We are working with colleagues across government in four main areas:

  • to work with data producers to develop coherent, joined-up housing, planning, homelessness and rough sleeping statistics
  • to improve quality and coverage of existing statistics — this includes researching new data sources
  • to improve the accessibility of data through a single access point to help users find official housing, planning, homelessness and rough sleeping statistics
  • to be inclusive and put you, the user, at the centre of the system by engaging to identify topics of interest from across the UK

You can find out more about what we are working on by exploring our housing and planning workplan.

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR)

highlighted our ambitious work that has been achieved through working together. The success of our approach has led to its adoption for other topic areas, such as:

  • adult social care
  • health and care
  • income and earnings

Improving coherence

Many public bodies produce housing, homelessness, rough sleeping and planning statistics. These bodies collect statistics in different ways for different purposes. This is because there are different laws in different parts of the UK. This means statistics being incomparable between bodies and UK countries.

Statistics producers are now linking to other relevant statistics more frequently to help users navigate statistics on these topics. Where possible, this may include linking to guidance on how definitions differ between countries, such as in the Homelessness in Scotland publication.

We have published several articles bringing together a range of statistics from across the UK, on areas such as:

These build an overview of the available data and how the data compares across the UK.

We have also launched a series of interactive tools around housing and planning statistics in the UK. These tools let you:

  • understand the different topic areas found within housing and planning statistics
  • explore all available housing, planning, homelessness and rough sleeping statistics from across the UK
  • understand the different concepts of
  • homelessness and rough sleeping and how statistics for those concepts can be compared across the four UK countries
  • understand the different processes a person may go through when seeking support for housing from each country’s local authorities

These tools complement existing publication platforms by providing a single access point to UK data.

Improving quality

Across the GSS there is a culture of continual improvements to quality in sustainable ways, such as through:

  • better presentation of data
  • greater detail of data

Producers can sometimes make more radical changes to fill data gaps. These improvements are often based on user engagement or regulatory work on housing from the OSR. An example of this is the ONS working with commercial companies, such as Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia Group, to publish new short-term lets data for the UK.

We are continuing our ambitious housing statistics improvement plans, with projects looking at:

  • data-linking
  • quality assuring administrative data (QAAD)
  • streamlining data pipelines

These projects will help to produce more accurate statistics at a faster pace. This will also increase the re-usability and sustainability of the data we collect.

We are working with steering groups and working groups across the UK to:

  • improve awareness of initiatives being conducted across the GSS among statistical producers and analysts
  • build greater coherence of the UK housing and homelessness landscape for users

Improving accessibility

There are a vast amount of official statistics and data available on housing, homelessness, rough sleeping and planning. These statistics are published on different websites and it can sometimes be hard to find the right source.

Our improves the accessibility of data by helping you explore the landscape of housing statistics. You can also search a database of official housing, homelessness, rough sleeping and planning statistics.

We have ambitious plans to make more data available in open data formats. This will simplify how we combine and compare different data sets.

Explore Subnational Statistics (ESS) is a new system that allows users to explore their local area for a range of measures all in one place, including housing net additions per 1,000 dwellings. Users can now also profile their local area or even create their own area.

To make geographical data easier to find, the Geospatial Commission has brought together over 350 housing and planning datasets and portals. They come from a variety of sources, with a variety of licences. Many of these sources are available under the Open Government License (OGL).

Improving user engagement

We are helping to bring users and producers of data closer together.

We are working with data producers and users from across the UK to:

  • improve awareness of initiatives being conducted across the GSS among statistical producers and analysts
  • build greater coherence of the UK housing landscape for users

Our engagement statement explains the benefits of engaging with colleagues across boundaries to help us make better decisions and maximise the value and relevance of our statistics. This can support statistical producers to develop their own user engagement work.

We have published a homelessness improvements article that shows how analysts across the UK are working together. This enables policy and decision makers to have the statistics and evidence to support people when they need it the most.

We have been working with the Centre for Homelessness Impact (CHI) and their networks. They are providing a robust challenge for us to improve the evidence base around homelessness statistics.

Improving inclusivity

We support a UK system-wide approach. One of the ways we do this is by supporting the production of crucial data which builds on the understanding that data users have about the differing housing needs of people living in different circumstances. We support bringing together data producers and experts to share best practice on approaches to measurement and reporting.

We have produced qualitative research to understand more about the lived experience of specific non-household populations and the lived experience of young people who are refugees, asylum seekers, and their parents and carers.

More producers, including the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), are publishing in HTML as standard, instead of using PDFs. This improves accessibility and inclusivity, including for those who use screen readers.

Contact us

Your feedback influences all our work and we continually seek your views on the work we are doing. It enables us to know where we should concentrate our time and resources when improving the statistical landscape.

If you think we can improve cross-UK housing, planning, homelessness and rough sleeping statistics, then we would like to hear from you. You can contact us through the Office for Statistics Regulation, or by emailing us at GSS.Housing@ons.gov.uk.

This page was last updated on Monday 25 March 2024.