Homeless deaths increase 80% in two years

By William Eichler | 31 March 2022

The number of people dying while homeless has increased by 80% in two years, shocking new research reveals.

New research by Museum of Homelessness has recorded 1286 homeless deaths across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 2021.

This was a 32% increase on the numbers reported in the organisation’s 2020 study – and a staggering 80% increase over the number published in 2019.

These statistics, drawn from over 300 freedom of information requests, include people sleeping rough as well as those placed in emergency accommodation and other insecure settings.

Cofounder of Museum of Homelessness Jess Turtle said: ‘These findings are a hammer blow. It’s heart-breaking to see so many people dying and to feel so helpless in the face of such a serious emergency. Government neglect means things keep getting worse with new provision for mental health, addiction and social housing failing to make up for previous cuts.

‘If the Government took this situation seriously, it wouldn’t have slashed the budget for discretionary housing payments by over a third last month – making it harder for councils to offer the people the breathing space they need to avoid homelessness.

‘Reversing this £40m cut and ending the freeze on Local Housing Allowance rates should be immediate priorities so that people have a fighting chance of meeting the spike in private rents.

‘Ultimately, the Government can’t fix what it doesn’t understand. There needs to be a confidential enquiry into the deaths of homeless people to allow an honest appraisal of what’s happening to the UK’s most vulnerable people. There should also be mandatory fatality reviews for all local authorities – so lessons can be learned from each death.’

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