Homelessness harmonisation guidance

Policy details

Metadata item Details
Publication date:17 April 2019
Owner:GSS Harmonisation Team
Who this is for:Users and producers of statistics
Type:Harmonisation standards and guidance


Homelessness is a devolved matter in the United Kingdom (UK), so homelessness statistics are produced by each UK country separately.

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.

What have we done to help?

Homelessness interactive tool

We have created an interactive tool in collaboration with colleagues from across the Government Statistical Service (GSS).

This tool should help users compare official statistics on homelessness and rough sleeping.

It was originally published in September 2019. In February 2020, the team released a second version of the interactive tool which contained a number of improvements based on feedback from users.

The tool provides comparison guidance, outlines the process a person may go through when seeking support for housing in each UK country, and shows how each country’s statistics are collected.

If you have any feedback on the tool, please email us at Harmonisation@statistics.gov.uk.

Feasibility report: harmonising definitions of homelessness

To provide you with an in-depth understanding of the comparability of homelessness statistics, in February 2019 we published a feasibility report looking into the harmonisation of definitions of homelessness in UK official statistics.

This report:

  • provides an in-depth understanding of the comparability of homelessness statistics
  • identifies the different definitions of homelessness in use across the UK
  • assesses what can be done to improve the clarity, comparability and transparency of homelessness statistics
  • provides some clear recommendations to help improve users’ understanding of the comparability of homelessness statistics (for example, the homelessness interactive tool).

Further work on housing statistics

In addition to homelessness, the GSS harmonisation team are also committed to improving the comparability of other housing statistics across the UK.

For example, in November 2019, the GSS harmonisation team published a report which investigates the definitions and terminology used for affordable housing statistics in the UK and the feasibility of harmonising these. This can be found on the affordable housing page.

Further information on cross-UK work to improve housing statistics is available on the housing and planning statistics page.

Inclusive Data Taskforce

In October 2020, the National Statistician established the Inclusive Data Taskforce to improve the UK’s inclusive data holdings in a broad range of areas, including the nine protected characteristics of the Equality Act. In September 2021, the Taskforce recommendations were published, some of which specifically refer to harmonised standards. The National Statistician’s response to these recommendations references the publication of a GSS Harmonisation Plan and the review, refinement and updating of harmonised standards. Further information on this work will be made available in due course.

Contact us

We are always interested in hearing from users so we can develop our work. If you use or produce statistics based on this topic, please contact the team at Harmonisation@statistics.gov.uk.


Date Changes
25 February 2020 The harmonisation guidance was updated to reflect the latest release of the interactive tool.



Harmonisation of definitions of homelessness for UK official statistics: a feasibility report (PDF, 0.62MB)

Download Harmonisation of definitions of homelessness for UK official statistics: a feasibility report

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