There had been estimated 18 homeless deaths in Cambridge between 2013 and 2017LUCAS CHEBIB

Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the death-rate amongst homeless people in Cambridge between 2013 and 2017 was more than double the national rate.

During this five year period there had been an estimated 18 deaths in Cambridge. This figure amounts to a death-rate of 2.7 per 100,000 people, over twice as many as the average rate in England and Wales of 1.2 per 100,000.

An estimated 597 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2017 alone, which marks a 24% increase from 2013 to 2017. This is the first time that official estimates of the number of deaths amongst homeless people have been gathered.

The ONS’ findings also reveal that the more disadvantaged the local area, the higher the number of deaths there are. The report outlines that in the most deprived 10% of England’s local areas, the death-rate of the homeless per 100,000 was 9.2 times that of the least deprived tenth between 2013 and 2017. In Wales, the rate in the most deprived tenth was 3.4 times that of the least deprived tenth.

Accidents were the primary recorded cause of death in the five-year period, registered in 241 instances. The second most common cause was suicide, which accounted for an estimated 78 deaths. These two factors, combined with diseases of the liver, made up over half of the causes of death of homeless people recorded by the study.

It is noted in the report that exact figures are difficult to ascertain due to the limited information available in some areas and certain methodological constraints, meaning that the actual figures may be even higher than those released. The study accounts for those whose recorded place of residence when they died, or their recorded place of death, was “no fixed abode”, “homeless” or “night shelter”, and also includes those who were listed as living at known homeless hostels or projects.

A Cambridge City Council spokesperson stated that “Cambridge City Council regrets the death of anyone using the city’s homelessness services.” Whilst they welcomed the ONS’ analysis, they said that “the figures need to be seen in context”, given that, as the report states, homelessness is concentrated in urban areas such as Cambridge.

“The council spends over £700,000 a year in grants to various services assisting homeless people and people on the street. All the major local homelessness charities receive some funding from the council. In addition to the grants it makes to other organizations, the council funds its own services for single homeless people and rough sleepers.”


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Councillor Richard Johnson, who is the executive councillor for housing, made it clear that “The death of anyone who is sleeping rough, or is known to homelessness services is a tragedy.”

He added, “It is important, however, to understand that the rise in homelessness in Cambridge and in the country, with the sad net result being an increase of people dying on the streets, is linked to nine years of cuts from Whitehall.”

“The government needs to recognise this by urgently changing course and give councils, including us, the full resources required to fully reverse this trend.”

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