National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Summary and Key Findings

Summary and Key Findings

This publication contains household estimates for Scotland, including background information on occupied and vacant dwellings, and trends in household types.

Key findings are:

  • Number of households: There were 2.27 million households in Scotland in June 2005, an increase of 22,000 (1 per cent) over the past year.  The number of households in Scotland has increased steadily since 1991, by between 0.5 and 1 per cent each year.  This year’s increase is partly because there are more dwellings and partly because more existing dwellings are occupied.
  • Dwellings: There were 2.40 million dwellings (self-contained units of accommodation such as a house or flat) in Scotland in September 2005.  The number of dwellings has been increasing by around 0.8 per cent per year – an increase of nearly 20,000 over the past year.
  • Vacant dwellings and second homes: The biggest change in trend has been in the number of vacant dwellings and second homes.  Up to 2003, there was an increase each year, but since then the figures have started to decline, with a reduction of over 2,300 vacant dwellings and second homes over the past year.  Overall, 4.5 per cent of all dwellings in Scotland were vacant or second homes in 2005 (including some self-catering holiday accommodation).  The figures are highest in the island authorities, Argyll & Bute and Highland.
  • It is too soon to be certain about the causes of this decrease in the number of vacant dwellings and second homes.  It could be caused by changes in the housing market, and may have been influenced by a change in Council Tax policy which gave councils the discretion to reduce the Council Tax discount for second homes and long term empty properties. However, this policy was introduced in April 2005, one year after the decline first started.
  • Councils: Aberdeenshire and Highland showed the largest percentage increase in the number of households over the past year (1.9 per cent), due to a combination of more dwellings, and more of the existing dwellings being occupied. 
  • Size of households: Since 1991, Scotland’s population has fallen by 0.1 per cent.  The number of households is increasing while the population is declining, because the average household size is getting smaller, with fewer large households and more people living alone.