Homelessness: Highest since records began – two now die every day on streets

7th October 2019 / United Kingdom

Charities and campaigners have reacted in shock to a huge increase in the number of homeless deaths in England and Wales, as the latest figures show a 22% surge in mortality among homeless people.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published today estimate that 726 homeless people (average 1.98 per day) died in England and Wales during 2018.

The figures also show that the average age of death was 45 for men and 43 for women, which is 30 years lower than the average life expectancy among the population as a whole.

Since the 2017 Homelessness Reduction Act became law, homelessness has soared. This last twelve-month figure represents a jump of 22% on the previous year and is the single biggest annual increase since records began. Over the last five years, the rise in homelessness has been about 10% per year, so last years numbers are particularly alarming as the rate of homelessness last year effectively doubled from an average of 10% per year to over 20% per year.

An astonishing 95% of these deaths occurred in England, with London seeing the highest number of homeless deaths (148 or 20%).

Other highly affected regions include Birmingham (23 deaths), Newcastle (20), Manchester (19), Bristol (17) and Liverpool (16).

In 2018, it was reported that 320,000 people were recorded as homeless in Britain, which equated to 36 new people becoming homeless every day.



State recklessness and the homeless

Only individuals in contact with local authorities or in hostels are included in the official figures.

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Telli Afrik, is a good example of how the state defeats ordinary people from getting by with reckless policies and an obsession with people justifying themselves. Telli, his wife and two young children, were just one family caught up in the homelessness crisis last year.

They lost their home because, despite working, they could no longer afford to pay their rent.

They are now living in a single room in their sixth homelessness hostel and have to eat sitting on the floor because they have no table.

Telli lost his job as a supermarket manager because he had to attend so many appointments with different housing teams – and therefore lost the job that paid for a home in the first place.

“That was a direct result of our homelessness,” he says.


Responding to the latest figures, Polly Neate, chief executive of homes charity Shelter, said: “This is a moment to pause and reflect on what matters to us as a society.

These tragic deaths are the consequence of a housing system that is failing too many of our fellow citizens. We desperately need to set a new course and to do that we need urgent action. You can’t solve homelessness without homes”

Howard Sinclair, CEO of homelessness charity St Mungo’s, described the 22% increase in homeless deaths as “a national tragedy”.

“Years of funding cuts have devastated crucial services supporting people who are homeless, he said. “726 people died in 2018. That’s the equivalent of two people every day. The number of people dying has increased by 51% since 2013. We need to build homes, to make the welfare system truly work for the most vulnerable and to fund homelessness services to help people find a way off the streets, and out of danger, for good.”




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