95% of homeless deaths in towns and cities, new data reveals

More than nine in 10 deaths of homeless people were in cities and towns in 2017 – with only 26 homeless people dying in rural areas, new data has revealed.

Deaths of rough sleepers and those in emergency accommodation rose from 482 in 2013 to 597 in 2017 across England and Wales, according to the first Office for National Statistics (ONS) research of its kind in December.

New data from the ONS, published on Monday, found that 571 of those estimated deaths were in urban local authority regions compared to 26 in rural council areas.

It found the highest number of estimated deaths that year was 21 in Manchester, with 18 recorded in Birmingham and 17 in Bristol and Liverpool.

Lambeth in London had the highest number of estimated deaths in the capital at 17, followed by 15 in Camden, 12 in Southwark and 10 in Tower Hamlets.

The ONS said 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.

During the period from 2013 to 2017, 480 of the 2,106 identified homeless deaths in England were in the most deprived decile in the country, compared to 51 in the highest decile.

ONS head of health and life events Ben Humberstone said the new data showed that deprivation levels had a “real impact”.

He added: “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.

“Many more people die homeless in the most deprived areas of England and Wales, and 95% of the deaths are in urban areas rather than rural areas.”

Homeless charity Crisis’ chief executive Jon Sparkes said the Government must ensure local authorities have the cash to conduct reviews into the death of every person who has died while homeless.

He added: “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.

“Ultimately, we must stop these tragedies from happening year after year.”

The new data also found highest estimated rates of deaths of homeless people included some smaller towns such as Blackburn with Darwen, which had the highest rate of estimated homeless deaths per 100,000 population at 10.2.

Other local authorities with high rates of estimated homeless deaths per 100,000 population were Oxford at 8.1, Camden at 7.4 and Barrow-in-Furness at 7.3.

While London had the highest mortality rate at 136, the North West of England saw the largest increase over the period, with homeless deaths more than doubling to 119.

It was estimated that last year more than one in 10 homeless deaths were due to suicide, while more than two-fifths was due to drug poisoning or alcohol-related, the ONS reported in December.

The most recent Government figures, published in December, showed the number of households living in temporary accommodation in England had risen by 5% in a year to 82,310.

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