Today, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released new statistics on the number of people who died while homeless in England and Wales in 2019. The figures show that an estimated 778 people died while rough sleeping or living in emergency accommodation such as night shelters.

This is the highest figure on record since reporting began in 2013 and represents a 7% increase from the 726 deaths registered in 2018. In the past two years, the number of people who have died while homeless has increased by 52%. The figures are based on conservative estimates and the true figure may be substantially higher.

As in previous years, the majority of deaths (88%) were among men. The average age of death was 45 years for homeless men and 43 years for women, more than 30 years younger than the general population in England and Wales (76 years for men and 81 years for women). In 2019, the number of homeless people who completed suicide increased by 30%, from 86 to 112.

Simon Grainge, Chief Executive of Emmaus UK, said:

“These shocking figures show that even before the COVID crisis struck, many people experiencing homelessness found themselves with nowhere safe to turn. This winter, the situation of people who are street homeless is even more perilous, as many emergency shelters are unable to open as they are unable to comply with social distancing requirements. With COVID levels still high, the government urgently needs to ensure that sufficient funding is available to provide anyone at risk of rough sleeping with a safe place to stay, regardless of their immigration status.”