688 people died whilst homeless last year across England and Wales – Crisis responds 

Today, new data from the ONS has been released highlighting that 688 people died while homeless in England and Wales over 2020. 

This follows on from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) who yesterday released their data for 2020 reporting that 256 people died whilst homeless in Scotland last year. 

This data range covers the period of the Everyone In government initiative that launched in March 2020 in England, with similar schemes in Scotland and Wales, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These schemes saw thousands of people experiencing the worst forms of homelessness supported into emergency accommodation across England, Scotland and Wales to ensure that they were able to safely isolate from the virus. 

Additional analysis of the ONS data for England and Wales showed that: 

  • The number of people who died whilst homeless in 2020 is an 11.6% decrease on the previous year. 
  • Of the 688 figure, 666 people were in England and 22 in Wales.
  • The average age of death for men experiencing homelessness was just 45.9 years and for women it was 41.6, decades shorter than the average for people not experiencing homelessness.
  • Last year, there were an estimated 13 deaths involving COVID 19.

Responding to the figures, Jon Sparkes, Crisis Chief Executive, said: “It’s simply devastating that hundreds of people were forced to spend their last days without the dignity of a place to call home. These deaths aren’t just numbers. Each individual was someone’s loved one whose life has been cut short and whose ambitions and dreams will now never be fulfilled. 

“We cannot let the lessons from each of these tragic and often preventable deaths carry on going unlearnt. This is why we urgently need to see the Governments across England and Wales expand the current safeguarding review system used to investigate the deaths of vulnerable adults to include everyone who has died while street homeless.  

“In the longer term, we also need to help people to avoid homelessness before it happens. This requires a long-term strategy from the Westminster Government to provide safe and secure homes and access to healthcare for people facing homelessness in England, and swift action from the Welsh Government to implement their new plan to end homelessness quickly and effectively. Only by doing this will we be able to prevent further loss of life in the future.”