Significantly more people are dying in England’s major urban areas than across the rest of England and Wales, new figures on homeless deaths have revealed.
Urban hotspots included Manchester, which saw 21 deaths in 2017, and Birmingham, where 18 people died.
There were 17 deaths each in Bristol, Liverpool and the London borough of Lambeth – figures which should act as a “wake-up call” said Polly Neate, CEO of housing charity Shelter.
Deaths among homeless people in England’s most deprived areas were nine times higher than in the county’s least disadvantaged places, the figures from the Office for National Statistics show.
The latest data has collated deaths according to local authority between 2013 and 2017.
“The high number of deaths across England should be a wakeup call, both regionally and nationally. There is nothing inevitable about people dying homeless, it is a direct consequence of a broken housing system,” Neate said.
“When more and more people have no choice but to sleep on the street, we see the absolute sharpest end of the housing emergency. Unstable and expensive private renting, welfare cuts and a severe lack of social housing are fundamentally at the root of this crisis.
“But we do have the power to fix this. To prevent more people being pushed into homelessness, the government must ensure housing benefit can cover rents, and urgently ramp up building social homes.”
It follows the first ever set of figures on deaths among homeless people published in December.
Some 597 deaths were recorded in England and Wales in 2017, a rise of 24% over five years, the ONS found.
Men made up 84% of the deaths, more than half of which were caused by drug poisoning, liver disease or suicide.
The mean age at death of homeless people in England and Wales was 44 years for men, 42 years for women between 2013 and 2017, compared with 76 years for men and 81 years for women among the general population.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: “Every death on our streets is one too many and it is simply unacceptable to see lives cut short this way.
“That’s why we are investing £1.2bn to tackle homelessness and have bold plans backed by £100m to end rough sleeping for good.
“Councils have used this funding to create an additional 1,750 beds and 500 rough sleeping support staff – and figures published last month show this investment is already starting to have an effect with the number of people sleeping on our streets falling for the first time in eight years.
“I am also committed to ensuring independent reviews into the deaths of rough sleepers are conducted, where appropriate, so that important lessons are learned – and I will be holding local authorities to account in doing just that.”