New ONS data on deaths of homeless people: Nothing short of a scandal
20 December 2019
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has today (20 December) released data for the first time on the number of people who die while homeless, reporting that in 2017, 597 people died while sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation. The number has risen year on year, up 24% compared to 2013.
St Mungo’s is calling for a new programme to ensure every death is adequately investigated, as well as government action to end rough sleeping for good.
Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said: “The ONS report is further confirmation of what we have long known and feared – that the number of people dying while homeless is nothing short of a national scandal.
“These numbers are shocking. People are not just stuck sleeping on the streets, they are dying on the streets. Worse still many of these deaths are premature and entirely preventable. The statistics do not do justice to the individuals who have died. Their stories must be told and lessons learned.
“We want the Government to deliver on its commitment to ensure a formal review when someone dies while rough sleeping. We think there is a strong case for Government to fund a separate programme outside of the Safeguarding Adult Review process to ensure every death of someone sleeping rough is reviewed. This way we can identify the changes needed, at the local and national level, to stop these tragedies.
“That’s what it will take to end rough sleeping and the scandal of people dying on the streets,” he said.
Rough sleeping is the most damaging form of homelessness. Studies have shown that the average age of death for a man who dies whilst sleeping rough or in homelessness services is only 47. For women it’s 43.
And the longer someone spends on the streets the harder it is to come back from.
Government action can stop people returning to the streets permanently by:
- building more social homes and making them available to people who have slept rough;
- improving private renting; and
- guaranteeing long-term funding for homelessness services.
Sign our campaign at www.mungos.org/homeforgood
- For the first time, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has produced experimental data on the deaths of homeless people in England and Wales. The figures will act as a measure for the number of people sleeping rough, and night shelter and hostel users who die each year.
- On Monday, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism released findings from its Dying Homeless Project which revealed that 554 people have died while homeless since October 2017.
- This week the Government and Labour Party both put forward proposals to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.