Housing

Homeless people are nine times more likely to die in deprived areas

The Office for National Statistics has dug deeper in the first-ever homeless death count, identifying the 26 areas most affected in England and Wales

Homeless man on ground with guitar

An analysis of the first-ever official homeless death count has revealed that homeless people are nine times more likely to die in deprived areas.

The Office for National Statistics’ deep dive in to the count they released in December uncovered the “nothing less than shameful” statistic as well as revealing some of the worst-hit areas in England and Wales.

Largely, that was the big cities with 95 per cent of all deaths classed as urban as opposed to rural – with 574 people dying in built-up areas compared to just 26 deaths in the countryside.

In 2017, the last year of their five-year study, Manchester led the way with 21 deaths, just ahead of Birmingham (18 deaths) and Bristol (17 deaths). London was counted by individual authorities with Lambeth and Camden leading the way with 17 and 15 deaths respectively.

Of the 2,181 deaths counted over five years, Greater London had the most with 536 people, ahead of the North West of England’s 330. The South East was narrowly behind with 324 people while Wales was the region with the lowest at 75 people.

But, once adjusted for the relative populations for each area per 100,000, areas like Blackburn with Darwen and Weymouth and Portland stood out. The Lancashire region had an estimated nine deaths in 2017 but has featured in the highest nationwide rates for four of the last five years.

Local areas in England with the highest deprivation had around nine times more deaths of homeless people relative to their population than the least disadvantaged areas.

Ben Humberstone, head of Health and Life Events, Office for National Statistics said:

“Today’s findings show a real contrast between areas in terms of where homeless people are dying. Every one of these deaths is a real human tragedy and understanding where these deaths occur is particularly poignant.

While the worst affected areas change from one year to the next, the figures show that the deprivation level of an area has a real impact.”

It’s  nothing less than shameful that hundreds of  people across England and Wales with nowhere to turn have died while homeless

Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes responded to the figures by calling for the funding to conduct Safeguarding Adult Reviews – a multi-agency analysis of each death.

He said: “It’s  nothing less than shameful that hundreds of  people across England and Wales with nowhere to turn have died while homeless, especially when we know that homelessness is entirely preventable. This simply cannot go on.

“Governments must ensure local authorities, particularly in the most deprived areas, have the appropriate funding to conduct reviews into the death of every person who has died while homeless, to prevent more people from dying needlessly.”

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