Government defends record on tackling homelessness as investigation reveals homeless deaths total
The Government defended its record on tackling homelessness in all its forms last night as the Office for National Statistics announced it would be reviewing the Dying Homeless project's findings.
The national study, led by the Bureau for Investigative Journalism and supported by the YEP, revealed that at least 449 people died in the UK while living as homeless in the 12 months from October 1, 2017.
Responding to the data on deaths, a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Every death of someone sleeping rough on our streets is one too many and we take this matter extremely seriously.
“We are investing £1.2bn to tackle all forms of homelessness, and have set out bold plans backed by £100m in funding to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027.
“We have committed to make sure that Safeguarding Adult Reviews, in the case of the death or serious harm of a person who sleeps rough, to ensure that lessons are learnt for services.”
The Government is also working with the Local Government Association and councils so that all local authorities update their homelessness strategies by next year.
Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics said it was currently producing experimental data on the deaths of homeless people in England and Wales.
The figures, which it plans to publish later this year, will act as a measure for the number of rough sleepers that die each year and will improve understanding of how and why homeless people die.
It said the work was a reflection of its strategic commitment to produce helpful analyses on a wide range of important public policy issues in order to aid decision-makers in the UK.
Ben Humberstone, its deputy director for health analysis and life events, said: “In order to produce new data, we look at other sources of information from a variety of organisations, government departments and stakeholders.
“In this case, we have looked at a crowdsourced database set up by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and compared that information with our own figures, collected from death registrations. This is to find out whether it would be possible to produce accurate estimates of the deaths of homeless people, their characteristics and what they have died of.
“Information gathered by outside organisations like these is not used for our official statistics, but it helps us develop the most accurate method of identifying all the deaths that should be counted.
“Although this is a new area of data collection, we have a responsibility to ensure it meets the same high standards of quality, accuracy, confidentiality and security as the rest of our work.”