Homeless Link responds to ONS data on deaths of homeless people in England and Wales: 2018
The Office of National Statistics yesterday published data on the number of deaths of people who are homeless in England and Wales over the five year period between 2013 and 2018.
Last year there were an estimated 726 deaths of homeless people, the highest year to year increase since 2013. Other key findings included:
- Most of the deaths in 2018 were among men (641 estimated deaths; 88% of the total).
- The mean age at death was 45 years for males and 43 years for females in 2018; in the general population of England and Wales, the mean age at death was 76 years for men and 81 years for women. These figures closely reflect earlier research on the average age of death from the homelessness sector which found homeless people are more likely to die young, with an average age of death of 47 years old and even lower for homeless women at 43
- Two in five deaths of homeless people were related to drug poisoning in 2018 (294 estimated deaths), and the number of deaths from this cause has increased by 55% since 2017.
- London and the North West had the highest numbers of deaths in 2018, with 148 (20% of the total number) and 103 (14% of the total number) estimated deaths of homeless people respectively.
Responding to these figures, Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link yesterday said:
“We have long known the shocking inequalities that people who experience homelessness face. Homelessness and the disadvantages that go alongside this result in premature death, often from health problems that could be prevented or treated earlier.
“What today’s figures show even more clearly is that these inequalities are widening. Behind each of these numbers is an individual who has been failed by society and the systems set up to support them. This is not acceptable.
“Homeless Link has long being calling for deaths of homeless people to be more thoroughly investigated, so we can learn how to prevent them in the future. We also need to re-look at efforts being made to improve access to health services, which too often exclude people who are homeless. The fact that drug-related deaths is going up is real cause for alarm, as we know from our members that local substance misuse services have been hit by funding cuts in recent years, leaving many individuals without the support and treatment they need.
“We believe that both homelessness, and the poor health experienced associated with it, are often preventable. Today’s data must be a warning to do more to tackle its structural causes and make sure everyone has an affordable, healthy and safe place to call home and the support they need to keep it”
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