Homeless Link responds to year on year homeless deaths statistics falling for the first time since 2014

Wednesday, 1 December 2021 - 11:01am

Homeless Link responds to new ONS statistics showing the first year on year fall in homeless deaths since 2014.

On 1 December 2021, the ONS released new statistics detailing the number of deaths of people experiencing homelessness for the calendar year of 2020. The key statistics are as follows: 

  • 688 deaths of those experiencing homelessness were reported, a decrease of 11.6% 
  • This decrease is not statistically significant and the figure is likely to underreport deaths, as the Everyone In scheme made it difficult to identify those experiencing homelessness 
  • 1.9% of all deaths (13) were from COVID-19 
  • 61.4% of all deaths were from drug poisoning, alcohol or suicide (38.5%, 12.1% and 10.8%, respectively) 

Responding to the statistics, Rick Henderson, CEO at Homeless Link, the national membership charity for frontline homelessness organisations in England, said:   

"Any death of someone experiencing homelessness is a tragedy. These figures represent a diverse range of people, let down by systems that should protect them. Each death must be investigated to learn how to prevent people losing their lives too early in the future.  

“688 deaths in a year is clearly unacceptable, as is the fact that the mean age at death for someone experiencing homelessness is 46 for men and 42 for women. In one of the richest societies in the world, this simply shouldn’t be the reality.  

“But the fact that the number of deaths has officially gone down for the first time in five years and that there were so few deaths from COVID, despite the increased vulnerabilities of many who experience homelessness, is important. From April 2020 onwards, the Government provided anyone sleeping rough with accommodation as part of the Everyone In scheme. This shows the impact of providing stable accommodation, whilst treating homelessness as a health issue. We must continue to harness this approach moving forward.”