Housing charity Shelter have called shocking new homelessness statistics a “wake-up call” as it’s been revealed homeless deaths are nine times higher in deprived areas than affluent ones.
The alarming statistics have been calculated from data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) based upon deaths between 2013 and 2017 in England and Wales.
The highest number of homeless deaths in 2017 took place in Manchester, which tallied 21, followed by 18 in Birmingham and 17 in Bristol, Lambeth and Liverpool respectively.
However, with population density taken into account, the 11 deaths in Blackburn and Darwen in 2017 showed the highest rate of deaths in terms of population.
Deaths in Blackburn and Darwen in 2017 showed the highest rate of death in terms of population. Image credit: Geograph
Housing System ‘Broken’
“There is nothing inevitable about people dying homeless, it is a direct consequence of a broken housing system,” Polly Neate from Shelter has said.
Unstable and expensive private renting, welfare cuts and a severe lack of social housing are fundamentally at the root of this crisis
Polly Neate, housing charity Shelter
“When more and more people have no choice but to sleep on the street, we see the absolute sharpest end of the housing emergency.
“Unstable and expensive private renting, welfare cuts and a severe lack of social housing are fundamentally at the root of this crisis”.
Number Crunching Reveals More Deaths In Deprived Areas
A spokesperson for the ONS commented: “The rate of deaths per 100,000 population in the most deprived tenth of local areas in England was 9.2 times that of the least deprived tenth.
“For Wales, the rate of deaths per 100,000 population in the most deprived tenth of local areas was 3.4 times that of the least deprived tenth.”
“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.”
Housing charity Shelter have called statistics a “wake-up call”. Image credit: Geograph
More Money Must Be Spent On Social Care
Shelter have urged the government to spend more money on housing and social care. Earlier in 2019 the charity published a document insisting the government must commit to spending three million on social homes for the homeless.
In the document Shelter claimed the cost of additional social housing would be offset by housing benefit savings and tax revenue from new homes.
“There needs to be a profound shift to see social housing as a national asset like any other infrastructure,” said cross-bench peer Jim O’Neill.
“The government’s budget for capital expenditure is £62bn a year – our housebuilding programme would cost only a fraction and is well within its financial reach.”
Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi added: “Social mobility has been decimated by decades of political failure to address our worsening housing crisis.”
Homelessness in the UK has been declared a “national scandal”. Image credit: Flickr
Homelessness levels in the UK were declared a “national scandal” and “entirely preventable” late in 2018 when the original data published by the ONS was unearthed, revealing 597 deaths in 2017.
The ONS report is further confirmation of what we have long known and feared
Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s charity
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.”
In November, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, highlighted a shocking jump in homelessness, as well as a shortage of affordable social housing.
“In England, homelessness is up 60 per cent since 2010, rough sleeping is up 134 per cent. There are 1.2 million people on the social housing waiting list, but less than 6,000 homes were built last year,” he said.