Deaths among homeless people in Scotland up 10%

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More than 200 people who were registered as homeless died in Scotland in 2019, an increase of 11% on the previous year.

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) said 216 such deaths were recorded in Scotland, about three times that of England and Wales.

About half of the deaths (54%) were drug-related, the NRS report said.

They compiled the figures using a new method to search records for evidence the deceased may have been homeless.

The total included people who were staying in temporary accommodation at the time of their deaths, as well as rough sleepers.

The NRS statistics found:

  • Scotland had the highest rate of homeless deaths in 2019, with a rate of 52.2 per million population aged 15-74, compared to 18.0 in England and 14.3 in Wales.
  • In 2019 Inverclyde (213.2), South Ayrshire (120.3) and North Ayrshire (111.8) had the highest homeless death rates per million population aged 15-74.
  • 73% of homeless deaths were male (157 deaths) and 27% were female (59 deaths)
  • The average age at death was 43 years for men and 39 years for women.

Julie Ramsay, of the NRS, said they had worked with the Office for National Statistics to develop the new methodology for counting the numbers of homeless people who died.

She said: "While these statistics help our understanding of this issue, it's important to understand these figures are currently experimental and the methodology is under development.

"These estimates do provide context and show that homeless deaths have increased for the second consecutive year, with an 11% increase on the estimate in 2018."

NRS said that as the statistics and methodology were experimental, the statistics would continue to be evaluated for their suitability and quality.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said that ending homelessness was a priority and that the numbers of those currently sleeping rough had been reduced.

He said: "While there are now only a dozen or so people sleeping rough, we must ensure everyone experiencing any form of homelessness is fully supported to overcome the trauma of finding themselves without a home and helped into settled accommodation."

Mr Stewart said the Scottish government was investing £32.5m of its £50m Ending Homelessness Together fund to help local authorities prioritise settled accommodation for all, while its Winter Plan for Social Protection fund, announced in November last year, added another £5m to accelerate this work.

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