Museum of Homelessness publishes shocking figures
New figures published by the Museum of Homelessness (MoH) reveal a massive and shocking rise in the number of deaths among homeless people, with one person on average dying every seven hours, an increase of eighty percent in just two years.
The biggest increases in the last year are in England and Northern Ireland, while Wales – run by left-winger Mark Drakeford despite attacks on him by the Labour right – has seen its number fall slightly:
Of the UK’s hundreds of local authority areas, only seven have seen year-on-year progress in reducing deaths among homeless people:
Not all of the deaths are among people sleeping rough. Of the 1,286 homeless people who died in 2021, the MoH says that its figures reveal large numbers of deaths in ‘unsafe, unregulated, tax-payer funded accommodation’ and it comments that cuts in support continue to worsen the situation, while the burgeoning and avoidable ‘cost of living crisis’ will accelerate the situation.
The hopelessness that comes from that lack of support is reflected in the causes of death: 41% from alcohol and drugs and 12% by suicide.
MoH co-founder Jess Turtle called the new figures a ‘hammer blow’ and accused the government of not taking the issue seriously and allowing unregulated landlords to make fortunes on inhumane accomodation:
These findings are a hammer blow. It’s heart-breaking to see so many people dying and to feel so helpless in the face of such a serious emergency. Government neglect means things keep getting worse with new provision for mental health, addiction and social housing failing to make up for previous cuts.
If the government took this situation seriously, it wouldn’t have slashed the budget for discretionary housing payments by over a third last month – making it harder for councils to offer the people the breathing space they need to avoid homelessness. Reversing this £40 million cut and ending the freeze on Local Housing Allowance rates should be immediate priorities so that people have a fighting chance of meeting the spike in private rents.
Ultimately, the government can’t fix what it doesn’t understand. There needs to be a confidential enquiry into the deaths of homeless people to allow an honest appraisal of what’s happening to the UK’s most vulnerable people. There should also be mandatory fatality reviews for all local authorities – so lessons can be learned from each death.”
Too many people are dying in dangerous accommodation run by unregulated landlords and funded by the taxpayer. Our research suggests over 90% of deaths in the cases where we know of a person’s situation occurred after they were placed in insecure accommodation.
These often occur in taxpayer funded hostels which are exempt from the price cap local authorities apply to shared accommodation as they are meant to provide people experiencing homelessness with care as well as safe place to live temporarily. But many fail to meet their most basic obligations.
Companies benefit from this exemption in the properties they manage now receive over £800m a year in public funds and Turtle added that the government ‘needs to urgently regulate these businesses – providing proper oversight so people are protected and our taxes stop funding negligent landlords.’
SKWAWKBOX needs your help. The site is provided free of charge but depends on the support of its readers to be viable. If you’d like to help it keep revealing the news as it is and not what the Establishment wants you to hear – and can afford to without hardship – please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here to set up a monthly donation via GoCardless (SKWAWKBOX will contact you to confirm the GoCardless amount). Thanks for your solidarity so SKWAWKBOX can keep doing its job.
If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.