St Mungo’s responds to homeless death statistics

Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s says the fall in the number of people who died while experiencing homelessness in 2020 is further evidence of the effectiveness of the cross-sector emergency response to the pandemic.

New data released today (1 December) by the Office for National Statistics shows that there has been a 11.6% fall in the number of registered deaths of people who were homeless from 778 in 2019 to 688 in 2020 – the first fall since 2014.

The statistic cover from 1 January 2020 to 31 December, during which the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative saw all local authorities instructed to move anyone who was sleeping rough into Covid-secure accommodation to shield them from the virus.

St Mungo’s Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE said: “We must remember that each of these deaths represents a person, someone’s son, daughter, sister or brother – and every one is a tragedy.

“What we know from our work out on the streets supporting people 365 days a year, from our clients’ experiences, and from our involvement with the Kerslake Commission, is that homelessness and health are inextricably linked.

“We have achieved a great deal treating homelessness as a public health emergency during Covid-19, however the work is not done.

“The positives achieved by the emergency response cannot be allowed to be lost. We must learn the lessons.

“The Kerslake Commission and its recommendations have provided a blueprint for what must be done if we are to end rough sleeping and move to a position where no one’s accommodation situation impacts on their life expectancy.

“Unless we adopt these recommendations, we risk more people coming to the streets, and more people dying on them as a result.”

The data also revealed that:

  • The average age of death for a man who is street homeless was 45, for women it was 41 – which is a fall of two years from the previous year
  • Of the total, one in five deaths occurred in London
  • 13 deaths were attributed to Coronavirus
  • Almost two in five deaths (38%) of people who were homeless were related to drugs, and
  • 74 people ended their own lives.

In January St Mungo’s published its own research into the health needs of people sleeping rough in England and their vulnerability to Covid-19, and the approach taken to address the health and housing needs of this group during the pandemic. Read more here.