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CIH Scotland

Housing advisers

Who are the new migrants?

This page is for housing advisers. If you are a new arrival please click here for sections more relevant to you.

Historically, Scotland has been a country of net out-migration, with more people leaving to live elsewhere than moving to live in Scotland. However, since the 1960s, net out-migration has greatly reduced and, in some years during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Scotland experienced net migration gains. Scotland has now entered a period of net in-migration. Between 2001 and 2017, there were net gains of about 21,000 per year, and this is the level of migration that now applies.

Almost all new migrants from overseas are younger than their mid-40s and there are high numbers of migrants from age 19 to 30. This results in a net migration gain of young adults through to the age of 35.

New arrivals to Scotland may be here:

  • to work
  • to join family members
  • to seek refuge
  • to study
  • to visit.

Many of them arrived many years ago, some were born to British parents abroad, and many more have become citizens since arriving. In 2017, almost 64,000 people were granted settlement in the UK. The largest group were those granted settlement for 'other' reasons (36,000), followed by work and asylum reasons (28,000 each), and by those who had come to join family members (8,000).

Scotland has a history of welcoming asylum seekers and refugees. Overall, the Scottish Refugee Council estimates there are about 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers living in Scotland, mainly in Glasgow.

Migrants and housing

There are rules about who can go on to council waiting lists or allocation schemes for housing, which exclude some new arrivals such as visitors, students and people on work permits. The same applies to local authority temporary housing for homeless people.

These rules do not apply to housing associations (also known as registered social landlords) when they offer housing themselves, nor to private landlords.

Find out on these pages about who can obtain a rented home through the local council and apply as homeless to local councils.

If local authorities or housing associations refuse housing because of their immigration status to people who have an entitlement, they may be discriminating against them. This is unlawful and can be challenged.

Find out here who is eligible for housing benefit.

Background Topics

How can we improve housing for new migrants in the UK?

A Housing Practitioners' Guide to Integrating Asylum Seekers & Refugees

A Housing Practitioners Guide to Integrating Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Published by the Scottish Refugee Council with support from CIH Scotland

Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland