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More than 240 people died while homeless in Scotland last year, figures show

More than 240 people died while homeless, the latest figures show (Yui Mok/PA)
More than 240 people died while homeless, the latest figures show (Yui Mok/PA)

A total of 244 people died while homeless in Scotland in 2022, figures have revealed.

The National Records of Scotland said the latest estimate was similar to 2021, although the number of deaths attributed to drug use fell from 127 to 89.

The Homeless Deaths 2022 Report also said almost three quarters of those who died were male (73%), with the number of deaths among females back to levels seen in previous years following a drop between 2020 and 2021 (27%).

Edinburgh, Na h-Eileanan Siar, Glasgow City and Stirling had the highest rates of homeless deaths per million population.

Beth Watson, senior assistant statistician, said: “Our estimate shows a small drop in the number of deaths among people experiencing homelessness between 2021 and 2022 but this change is not statistically significant.

“Our figures go back to 2017 when there were 164 deaths. While the year-on-year change is small, the number is still significantly higher than it was five years ago.”

Almost half of the people who died while homeless in Scotland in 2022 were under 45 years old, according to the report.

Drug misuse accounted for 36% of all deaths, and half of all deaths were classed as “external causes” which includes most drug misuse deaths, accidents, suicide and assault.

Matt Downie, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, said: “These figures are a national disgrace, but they are not at all surprising. Anyone familiar with the nature of homelessness knows the damage it does to people’s health. It exposes them to physical danger, and it damages their mental health.

“But the truth is that, as more people are forced into the homelessness system, more people will die homeless. And with the system now straining beyond local authorities’ ability to cope, we are seeing more people forced to sleep on the street, more families trapped for long periods in accommodation that’s totally unsuitable, and more people being told there is simply nowhere for them to go.

“We urgently need the Scottish Government to press on with plans to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place. New duties to prevent homelessness, if properly resourced, could allow people to get help before they reach crisis point, to help them avoid being forced from their homes.”

Scotland’s housing minister, Paul McLennan, said: “Every single one of these deaths is one too many and I extend my sincerest condolences to all those affected.

“We know that people who have experience of homelessness are much more likely to have poor physical and mental health than the general population.

“Scotland has the strongest rights in the UK for people experiencing homelessness, but we are committed to ensuring that no one need become homeless in the first place.

“We are providing local authorities with £30.5 million annually for their work to prevent homelessness. Separately, we are providing a total of £100 million from our multi-year Ending Homelessness Together fund.

“I have also regularly met with representatives from Scotland’s local authorities and have actively engaged with them to find solutions to help address housing pressures in their area.

“We have also committed to invest at least £60 million to help local authorities and registered social landlords acquire properties for use as high quality, affordable, permanent homes, as part of our wider affordable housing supply programme investment of £752 million this year.

“Scotland has led the UK in providing affordable housing, having delivered 123,985 affordable homes since 2007.

“We are making available £3.5 billion over this parliamentary term to support the delivery of 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, 70% of which will be for social rent.

“One focus of the national mission to reduce drug deaths – backed by £250 million investment over the life of the Parliament – is to strengthen partnerships between health and other services to improve outcomes for people who use drugs and have multiple needs, such as experiencing homelessness.

“We are also prioritising homelessness as part of our suicide prevention strategy.”