According to a report from the Office for National Statistics, 597 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2017. This is up by 24% over the previous five years.
In total, 2,627 homeless people have died during this five-year period.
Chartered Institute of Housing chief executive Terrie Alafat has commented on this data: “It is shocking and shameful that so many people are dying on the streets of our relatively prosperous countries – and that the number has jumped by almost a quarter in five years.
Alafat has also responded: “These statistics are a stark reminder of the suffering at the very sharpest end of our national housing crisis. And we must remember that they are only an estimate, so the true figure could be even higher.”
The highlights of this report included the following:
- In 2017, the highest estimated number of deaths of those homeless were in major urban areas, such as Manchester and Birmingham
- Smaller towns, such as Blackburn with Darwen, had some of the highest estimated rates of death of homeless people, relative to the total population of each area
- Looking at local areas in England with the highest rate of deprivation, they had around nine times more deaths of homeless people, relative to their population, than the least disadvantaged areas
- A more concentrated number of homeless people occurred in urban areas, compared with rural areas
The Local Authorities with the highest estimated numbers of deaths in 2017 included:
- Manchester – 21 deaths
- Birmingham – 18 deaths
- Bristol – 17 deaths
- Lambeth – 17 deaths
- Liverpool – 17 deaths
- Camden – 15 deaths
There have been significantly more deaths of homeless people occurring in urban areas than rural areas.
The following table shows the five local authorities with the highest deaths of homeless people per 100,000 population in England and Wales, during 2013 to 2017:
|Table 2: The five local authorities with the highest deaths of homeless people per 100,000 population|
|England and Wales, 2013 to 2017|
|1||Camden||11.5||Weymouth and Portland||7.4||Westminster||10.1||Camden||11.7||Blackburn with Darwen||10.2|
|2||Bournemouth||8.6||Blackburn with Darwen||6.7||Camden||10||Blackburn with Darwen||10.1||Oxford||8.1|
|3||Watford||7.1||Camden||5.7||Blackburn with Darwen||7.8||Oxford||7.9||Camden||7.4|
|5||Lambeth||6.4||Newcastle upon Tyne||5.4||Reading||6.9||Brighton and Hove||5.8||Canterbury||6.8|
|Source:||Office for National Statistics|
According to official figures, there were 4,677 people sleeping rough in a single night in England during autumn 2018. This statistic comes from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It is down by 2% compared to 2017 results, but it is up a staggering 165% since 2010.
Chartered Institute of Housing deputy chief executive Gavin Smart has commented on this data: “It is frankly unacceptable that thousands of people are being forced to sleep on our streets – and the fact that this number has soared by 165% since 2010 should shame us all.
“We must take action now. The government’s rough sleeping strategy rightly recognises this and aims to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027 – this is achievable, but only with the right level of investment and all of us pulling out all the stops to end homelessness.
“We believe that a chronic shortage of affordable homes combined with the welfare reforms introduced since 2012 has created a toxic mix. To truly get to the root of the problem, the government must invest in more genuinely affordable housing as well as reviewing the impact of welfare reforms like the benefit cap, universal credit and the housing benefit freeze for private renters.”
In relation to tackling the issue of homelessness, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire previously said: “No-one is meant to spend their lives on the streets or without a home to call their own. Every death on our streets is too many and it is simply unacceptable to see lives cut short this way.”
There will be a total of £1.2 billion contributed towards tackling homelessness. The Government believes that £100m of this will halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027.
With the promise of such a significant amount of funding, will we finally see an end to the issue of extreme homelessness in England and Wales?