ONS announce 7.7% increase in deaths of homeless people in 2021

24 Nov 2022

The Wallich responds as deaths of people experiencing homelessness reach pre-pandemic level


On Wednesday 23 November, The Office for National Statistics released their annual figures for the number of people who died whilst experiencing homelessness last year in England and Wales.

There were an estimated 741 deaths of people experiencing homelessness in England and Wales registered in 2021.

What are the highest causes of death for people experiencing homelessness?

Almost two in five of deaths recorded were related to drug poisoning in 2021 (259 estimated deaths; 35% of the total number).

99 people died by suicide. 71 people died due to an alcohol-specific death. These accounted for 13.4% and 9.6% of all deaths respectively.

There was estimated to have been 26 deaths (3.5% of the total) of people experiencing homelessness involving coronavirus (COVID-19) registered in 2021; this was twice the number estimated in 2020 (13 deaths).

An estimated 40 of those who died without a home, died in Wales.

Amy Lee Pierce, Head of Communications & Public Affairs, said:

“Every death of a person experiencing homelessness is a tragedy and on top of the 7.7% increase in figures released by ONS, we think the number is likely to be higher than recorded.

“Contrary to public opinion, homelessness is not a Christmas issue, or a winter issue. People are not dying just because it’s cold. People are dying year-round for a multitude of preventable reasons.

“As a minimum, the figures show last year an estimated 741 people in England and Wales died whilst experiencing homelessness.

“That’s 741 people who are somebody’s sibling, somebody’s parent or child, who are now lost.

“Year on year, we see the same tragic reasons why people experiencing homelessness die before their time: suicide and challenges with substances.

“In the past two years, we have also mourned the loss of those who died with COVID without a safe, permanent place to call home.

“As has happened during COVID, we need a public health response to homelessness, not just a housing response, to save valuable lives.

“Only a Wales-wide, trauma-informed approach from all governments, public services and partners will lead to a sustained decrease in these figures.

“We must all work together to prevent all avoidable early deaths of people experiencing homelessness, substance use and trauma.

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