Nearly 600 Homeless People Died Last Year In The UK, First Official Government Figures Show

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Dec 22 12:42:39 GMT 2018

Nearly 600 Homeless People Died Last Year In The 
UK, First Official Government Figures Show


Homeless deaths soar by 24 per cent in five years

Bulman – Social Affairs Correspondent – @maybulman – Fri 21 December 2018

Nearly 600 homeless people died last year in 
England and Wales, according to government 
figures published for the first time.

The figure marks a 24 per cent increase over the 
last five years, according to the data.

Only two days ago, a homeless man was found 
collapsed yards from parliament. He later died in 
hospital, prompting claims ministers were 
ignoring the growing problem of street homelessness on their doorstep.

Another homeless man died in the same place 
during a freezing cold night in February.

The latest figures, collated by the Office for 
National Statistics (ONS), show more than half of 
all deaths of homeless people in 2017 were due to 
drug poisoning, liver disease or suicide.

London and the northwest of England had the 
highest mortality of homeless people, both in 
numbers of deaths and per million population of the region.

Some 84 per cent of those who died were men. The 
average life expectancy for homeless people was 
found to be 44 years for men and 42 years for women.

For the general population of England and Wales 
in 2017, the mean age at death is 76 years for men and 81 years for women.

The records identified are mainly those sleeping 
rough, or using emergency accommodation such as 
homeless shelters and direct access hostels, at or around the time of death.

Separate figures published by Crisis last week 
revealed levels of rough sleeping in the UK – 
including sleeping on public transport and in 
tents – had doubled in five years, rising by 20 
per cent to 24,000 in just 12 months.

Gyula Remes, a 43-year-old Hungarian national, 
was found by British Transport Police on Tuesday 
night outside Westminster underground station. 
Although officers administered first aid, he died hours later.

He was initially found by his friend Gabor Kasza 
looking “all blue” near a set of revolving doors 
used by politicians and staff in the House of Commons.

Mr Kasza said Mr Remes had been drinking that 
night and had been given a cigarette, which he 
suspected had been laced with the synthetic drug spice.

He said the Hungarian had recently begun work as 
a chef’s assistant. He said that Mr Remes was due 
to receive his first pay cheque “some time this 
week”, which he had hoped would enable him to get off the streets for good.

Mr Remes’ death caused widespread outrage. Labour 
MP Neil Coyle said: “We should all be ashamed 
that Westminster – a world heritage site – is 
also a place homeless people are forced to try to stay warm.”

Responding to the latest figures, shadow housing 
minister Melanie Onn said: “These figures are 
utterly shameful and reflect a complete failure 
of Conservative policy on housing, which has seen 
rough sleeping skyrocket since 2010.

“We are one of the richest countries in the world 
and there is no excuse for people dying on our streets.”

Howard Sinclair, chief executive of St Mungo’s, 
which supports rough sleepers across the south of 
England, said: “The figures don’t surprise me. I 
wish they did. I have personally been informed of 
five deaths in the past couple of weeks.

“We’ve seen increased numbers, but also increase 
in the need of people in terms of range and depth 
of need, particularly in last three to four 
years. People’s mental health needs are far 
greater, people’s dependency on drugs is far higher.

“It’s a result of cuts in funding, particularly 
to NHS services and local authorities. This is 
one of the effects of austerity – the services 
people need have been reduced, so it’s no 
surprise that it’s what we’re seeing day in day out.”

Greg Beales, campaign director at Shelter said: 
“This appalling loss of life should be a source 
of national shame. There is nothing inevitable 
about homelessness or about these tragic deaths 
which are a consequence of a housing system which fails too many people.

“Our crippling shortage of social housing and a 
threadbare safety net are at the root of this 
national emergency and we call on government to 
make this year a turning point in the fight to 
ensure that there is a safe home for all those who need it.”

Ben Humberstone of the ONS said: “Every year 
hundreds of people die while homeless. These are 
some of the most vulnerable members of our 
society so it was vital that we produced 
estimates of sufficient quality to properly shine 
a light on this critical issue.”

Communities secretary James Brokenshire said: “No 
one is meant to spend their lives on the streets, 
or without a home to call their own. Every death 
on our streets is too many and it is simply 
unacceptable to see lives cut short this way.

“That’s why we are investing £1.2bn to tackle 
homelessness and have bold plans backed by £100m 
to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027.”

He said he was also committed to ensuring 
independent reviews into the deaths of rough 
sleepers are conducted where appropriate and that 
he would be holding local authorities to account.

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