The chief executive of a homelessness charity has hit out at the ‘shameful’ rise in homeless deaths.

According to figures published this week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 741 reported deaths of people experiencing homelessness, a 7.7% increase on the previous year.

The ONS figures also show:

  • 4% of estimated deaths were due to suicide, an annual increase of 34%
  • The estimated number of deaths among homeless people has increased by 54% since records began in 2013 and has increased in every region
  • London and the North West had the highest numbers of homeless deaths registered in 2021, with 154 (20.8% of the total) and 114 (15.4% of the total) respectively.

Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link, the national membership charity for front line homelessness organisations in England, said: “The rise in the number of homeless deaths last year is shameful.

“Each and every death of a person experiencing homelessness is a tragedy, and a clear sign that they have been failed by the systems that are designed to support them.

“It is important that each death is investigated with a safeguarding adult review so that we can learn lessons and address mistakes made to prevent people from prematurely losing their lives in future.

“We know from our Unhealthy State of Homelessness research that people experiencing homelessness face significant and growing health inequalities, and this has simply got to change.

“We should not and cannot accept poorer health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness. These ONS stats are damning indictment of what happens if we do. Furthermore, we should redouble our efforts to ensure we are preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place.”