Mayor says homeless deaths are “absolutely appalling” as figures are revealed for first time
Nine homeless people died in our region in a year as the death rates are revealed for the first time ever.
Sheffield City Region falls in the middle of a table for mortality rates of homeless people according to a new report by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
By comparison, West Yorkshire saw 13 deaths and there were 50 in Greater Manchester. London topped the table with 136.
Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis described the figures as “absolutely appalling” and blamed eight years of welfare cuts and lack of funding from the Government.
Collating the figures is complicated as homelessness can range from rough sleepers to people awaiting rehousing and those “sofa surfing” with friends and relatives.
There is also no specific way to record that someone is homeless when registering a death.
The ONS has released the first official estimates and hopes to narrow it down even further with the figures for Sheffield later this year.
Mr Jarvis recently hosted the region’s first Homelessness Summit. He said: “The death of one person who is homeless is one too many. That nine homeless people died within the Sheffield City Region is absolutely appalling.
“The increase in the number of homeless people who have died nationally represents a shocking indictment of the Government’s approach to public services and comes as a direct result of eight years of welfare cuts, austerity policies and a lack of investment in local government.”
Report authors say these initial figures are conservative estimates and the real numbers could be higher.
Nationally, there were an approximately 597 deaths of homeless people in England and Wales in 2017, a figure that has increased by a quarter over the last five years.
Five times as many homeless men died as women – men made up 84 per cent of the deaths.
The average age was 44 for men and 42 for women. By comparison, in the general population, the average age at death was 76 for men and 81 for women.
Over half of all deaths were due to drug poisoning, liver disease or suicide – drug poisoning alone made up 32 per cent mainly from heroin or morphine.
Mr Jarvis said he would establish a regional Homelessness Network to develop a more coordinated approach.
“Ending homelessness across our region is not a simple task, but by working together with our local authorities and with organisations that have the right experience and knowledge we can tackle the issues head-on.
“I will continue to campaign for more resources and better structural support for those who are homeless, providing a vital safety net where Government have failed.”
The full report can be read at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsofhomelesspeopleinenglandandwales/2013to2017