Freedom News

New research: 1313 homeless deaths in 2022

New research by Museum of Homelessness has revealed another increase in the number of people dying while homeless in the UK – with nationwide figures reaching 1313 in 2022, an 85% increase on the numbers recorded by the study in 2019.

These statistics include people sleeping rough as well as those placed in emergency accommodation and other insecure settings. Each fatality was verified by a freedom of information request, coroners’ report, charity or family member.

These headline figures mask significant regional differences. Last year, fatalities in England rose 22% to 875 and by 27% in Wales to 76. The number of deaths in Northern Ireland fell by a third to 205 but remain more than double the level seen in 2020 after the major spike last year. Scotland recorded a 15% decrease with 157 fatalities. This limited the UK wide increase relative to the 1286 deaths in 2021. Further details – including situations in major cities in included below.

The real numbers are likely to be higher due to certain local authorities refusing to contribute to the research over the last two years. These include:

  • Ealing
  • Hackney
  • Hillingdon
  • Lewisham
  • Blackpool
  • Fife
  • Birmingham

Unregulated tax payer funded accommodation costs lives

Where we know of the person’s situation, 83% of the deaths in 2022 took place after the person was place in some form of homelessness accommodation rather than rough sleeping.

For the first time, we specifically asked about deaths in exempt accommodation and found that only 12 local authorities held this information. Exempt accommodation is accommodation that is defined as a type of supported housing that is exempt from usual housing benefit limits because of the added support that is provided for vulnerable people. There have been growing concerns about the quality of accommodation and support. In 2021, Crisis stated:

“due to a lack of meaningful oversight and regulation, many exempt providers are abusing the system for financial gain, providing little or no support whilst leaving tenants in poorly managed and dangerous accommodation.”

Of the 12 who responded, Manchester reported a staggering 109 deaths in exempt accommodation [across 98 properties]. This compared to 21 deaths amongst the rest of the homeless population in Manchester. More people died in exempt accommodation in Manchester than we recorded in the whole of Wales – suggesting our headline figures under-report the true scale of the crisis.

We have not included data from this part of the study in our headline figures to ensure our figures can be compared year on year. MoH director Matt Turtle said:

“The fact that so many people continue to die in unregulated, tax payer funded accommodation run by rogue landlords is a disgrace. The upcoming Supported Housing (regulatory oversight) Bill will provide an urgently needed framework to regulate the rogues but its clear local authorities won’t have the resources they need to implement it. The government needs to move past piecemeal measures to address both the immediate crisis and the lack of social housing that causes it.”

Cuts to health, mental health and drug and alcohol services take their toll

Of the cases where we know the cause of death, 36% related to drugs and alcohol and 10% died by suicide. This is a broadly similar picture to 2021 that illustrates how too many people cannot access the help they need. Cuts to services since 2010 have led to fatal slowness and conditionality in drug and alcohol services, with people having to wait years to get help.

The ongoing problems with accessing lifesaving services has led to the People’s Recovery Project being launched by Ed Addison and Nathan Rosier, members of the Dying Homeless Project coalition with many years of experience of working frontline with people who are homeless and in active addiction. The People’s Recovery project is a new charity funding treatment and investing in recovery, creating additional alternative and faster routes out of homelessness and into recovery for people experiencing homelessness and addiction. Director of MoH Matt Turtle said:

“The government’s misguided approach to homelessness and housing has fatal consequences. A toxic cocktail of cuts, criminalisation and crackdowns is making life even harder for the UK’s most vulnerable people. Just tinkering around the edges as the government plans, won’t fix the damage of the last 12 years. Far stronger policy and investment are needed to deal with the appalling loss of life. With a heavy heart we expect to report more of the same in 2024, but with our colleagues we will continue to do what we can to save lives.”

On 20th April Museum of Homelessness and frontline groups including the Simon Community, Streets Kitchen and The Outside Project will hold a vigil outside Downing Street from 6pm – 8pm. MoH Poet in residence Surfing Sofas will perform a new work written specially for the occasion. All are welcome. People are invited to light a candle there or at home and post it online with the hashtag #MakeThemCount

Museum of Homelessness @Our_MoH

The picture across the UK

Northern Ireland205325107
  • Belfast 56
  • Brighton and Hove 43
  • Cardiff 22
  • Edinburgh 40
  • Glasgow 50
  • Liverpool 25
  • London 295
  • Manchester 21
  • Swansea 16

How we gather our data

The Dying Homeless Project uses information from coroners’ enquiries, media coverage, family testimony and freedom of information requests to verify details of each case.

Our data is published ahead of the official ONS figures on the deaths of people who are homeless. Our methodology includes no estimates where the ONS use a ‘capture/recapture’ method which estimates a portion of the deaths. In addition to FOIs, we nurture our relationships with our grassroots community so that we can remember people who died in a wide variety of insecure situations that may not always be captured by official statistics. Our project is live and updated throughout the year.

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