Urban areas at centre of ‘unacceptable’ death toll from homelessness

More than nine in 10 deaths of homeless people were in cities and towns in 2017. Picture by Yui Mok/PA Wire.
More than nine in 10 deaths of homeless people were in cities and towns in 2017. Picture by Yui Mok/PA Wire.
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More than nine in 10 deaths of homeless people were in cities and towns in 2017 with only 26 homeless people dying in rural areas, new figures show.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 571 of the estimated 597 deaths across England and Wales were in urban local authority areas compared to 26 in rural council areas.

Its findings also showed that regions with the highest deprivation had around nine times more deaths relative to their population than the least disadvantaged areas.

The highest number of estimated deaths in 2017 were in Manchester, where there were 21. In Yorkshire, the highest number were in Hull with 12.

Deaths of rough sleepers and those in emergency accommodation have risen from 482 in 2013 and since then Leeds has a higher estimated number of deaths, 52, than anywhere else in Yorkshire. A high of 90 were recorded in Birmingham.

The findings prompted Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, to call for the Government to ensure councils have funds to review every homeless death.

He said: “Ultimately, we must stop these tragedies from happening year after year.”

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire explained that the Government was investing £1.2bn to tackle homelessness and had bold plans backed by £100m to end rough sleeping for good.

He said councils had used the cash to create an extra 1,750 beds and 500 rough sleeping support staff.

The Minister added: “Every death on our streets is one too many and it is simply unacceptable to see lives cut short this way.”