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Deaths of homeless people increase by almost a quarter

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Deaths of homeless people have increased by almost a quarter over five years, according to Office of National Statistics estimates.

An estimated 597 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2017, compared to 492 in 2013.

Men made up 84% of deaths of homeless people in 2017.

The research found on average homeless men died aged 44 and women at 42, compared to 76 and 81 for the general population.

London and the North West had the highest mortality rates.

In 2017 in England and Wales, more than half of all the deaths were caused by drug poisoning (which includes misuse), liver disease or suicide.

The highest number of deaths in 2017 came in August, with 72 dying, followed by 56 in February and 55 in May.

Tributes have been left at the scene where the man fell ill
Image:
Tributes have been left at the scene where the homeless man outside Parliament collapsed

The statistics come the day after MPs were told about the death of a 43-year-old homeless man, known as Gyula Remes, who was found outside the Houses of Parliament.

He was the second homeless man to have died next to Parliament in 2018.

An urgent question on the deaths will be heard in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Ben Humberstone, Office for National Statistics director, said: “Every year hundreds of people die while homeless.

Deaths of homeless people (identified cases only and total estimated number) registered in 2013 to 2017. Pic: ONS
Image:
Deaths of homeless people (identified cases only and total estimated number) registered in 2013 to 2017. Pic: ONS

“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.

“Today we have been able to do just that.”

He added: “Our findings show a pattern of deaths among homeless people which is strikingly different from the general population. For example, homeless people tend to die younger and from different causes.”

Greg Beales, director of homelessness charity, 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.”

His comments were echoed by Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis.

Mr Sparkes said: “This is nothing short of a national tragedy – especially when we know that homelessness is not inevitable. In one of the world’s wealthiest countries, no one should be dying because of homelessness. It’s imperative that governments act now to stop this tragedy once and for all.

“Behind these statistics are human beings – mothers, fathers, daughters and sons – whose families will now be spending Christmas coming to terms with their loss. This has to change.”

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