“We need to learn from these failings and put in place measures to stop this from happening again. We’ve long known how damaging homelessness can be for someone’s health and it is vital that we act now to prevent people from losing their homes.”
Within Scotland, West Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde and South Ayrshire had the highest rates of homeless deaths while six local authority areas had no deaths.
Most of the people who died were men – amounting to 77 per cent – while just under a quarter of the people who lost their lives were identified as women.
The statistics showed the majority of men and women experiencing homelessness die under the age of 45 with 57 per cent and 65 per cent deaths under that age respectively.
Most deaths were also attributed to external causes of morbidity and mortality – just over 70 per cent were down to drug deaths, accidents, suicides and assaults.
Drug deaths had the greatest impact on these figures. The 151 deaths related to drugs made up 59 per cent of the total number of estimated deaths and drove a rise of 30 deaths from external causes.
Meanwhile, eight per cent of deaths were caused by circulatory conditions like heart disease and strokes while five per cent were put down to cancer.
Julie Ramsay, the National Records of Scotland’s head of vital events, said: “The estimated number of people dying while experiencing homelessness has risen consistently over the past three years. Improvements to the data sources and the ability to identify whether a person was homeless may partly explain some of this increase since 2017.
“The figures show people experiencing homelessness dying at younger ages than the population as a whole.”
Big Issue Foundation
Donate to support vendors today
Your gift today will mean Big Issue vendors will get the support they need to progress forward in life. You will be supporting vendors in key areas including housing, finance, mental health and employment.
Previous figures showed that Scotland’s rate of homeless deaths was among the highest in Great Britain and the Office for National Statistics’ official 2020 count for England and Wales is set to be revealed tomorrow.
Like other parts of Britain, Scotland used hotels and other emergency accommodation to provide shelter for homeless people to protect them from the virus during the pandemic.
The country has been shifting away from the traditional use of group shelters for some time and has been scaling up efforts to provide accommodation using a Housing First model where accommodation is provided alongside support. In total 545 people had been housed under Scotland’s Housing First Pathfinder project as of August this year.
There is also a rapid rehousing approach to get people who fall into homelessness into settled, mainstream housing as soon as possible and the efforts have had an impact on the number of people on the streets. Just four people are regularly sleeping on the streets of Glasgow, Simon Community Scotland revealed last week.
However, progress on the streets risked being undermined by the country’s struggle to address drug addiction. Drug-related deaths rose to record levels in 2020 with 1,339 people losing their lives despite efforts in recent years to combat the rise.