At least two a day died homeless in the pandemic last year

Posted 01 Dec 2021

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released new figures today on the estimated number of homeless people who died in England and Wales in 2020. The figures show:

  • In 2020, an estimated 688 homeless people died in England and Wales, this equates to two people dying every day. However, the figures are likely to be an underestimate because the ONS states the Everyone In scheme has made it more difficult to identify homeless people in the mortality records.

  • The cities with the highest number of estimated homeless deaths were London (143), Liverpool City Region (46), Greater Manchester (35), Birmingham (21), Bristol (20) and Leeds (18).

  • In 2020, the average age at death was 45.9 for men and 41.6 for women. This is more than 30 years lower than the average age at death of the general population of England and Wales.

  • An estimated 13 people – 1.9% - died with Covid 19 listed on their death certificate. This may also be an underestimate, as figures published earlier in the year by the ONS showed the number of deaths with Covid 19 listed in the first three months of the pandemic was 16.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “To think at least 688 people’s final days were spent homeless in the pandemic is a sobering thought. If it wasn’t for the government’s Covid response to help people off the streets even more lives would have been lost.

“As we head into another hard winter with the virus still circulating, we cannot leave anyone out in the cold. Our services are already being approached by people in need of emergency accommodation, who are being turned away by councils and often told they have no rights.

“The government must step in again to keep people safe from Covid and the ravages of homelessness this winter. Councils need clear guidance to ensure everyone at risk of sleeping rough is offered emergency accommodation, and the funding to provide it.”

Everyone should have the right to a safe and warm place to stay during the ongoing pandemic. Shelter has launched a petition calling on the Prime Minister to get everybody off the streets this winter: http://shltr.org.uk/j1g

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • The number of homeless people who died in England and Wales is the estimated number of homeless people who died whilst rough sleeping or living in emergency accommodation, such as shelters and hostels, at or around the time of death. The is available at ONS, Deaths of homeless people in England and Wales: 2020, Table 1.

  • Deaths of homeless people were identified from the death registration records held by ONS, and a statistical method of modelling was applied to estimate the most likely number of additional registrations not identified as homeless people. The method used provides a robust but conservative estimate, so the real numbers may be higher.

  • The number of homeless people who died every day last year is calculated by dividing the estimated number of homeless people who died in England and Wales in 2020 (688) by the number of days in the year (366).

  • The cities with the highest numbers of estimated deaths is from ONS, Deaths of homeless people in England and Wales: 2020, Tables 6, 7 and 8.

  • Among homeless people, the mean age at death was 45.9 years for males and 41.6 years for females in 2020. The average age at death is the mean age at death of homeless people. This is available at ONS, Deaths of homeless people in England and Wales: 2020, Table 12.

  • In the general population of England and Wales, the mean age at death was 76.5 years for men and 81.1 years for women. This is 30.6 years higher than the mean age at death for men and 39.5 years higher than the mean age at death for women. The mean age at death for the general population of England and Wales is available at ONS, Deaths of homeless people in England and Wales: 2020, Table 12.