Dozens of homeless people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough died over the last five years, figures show

PUBLISHED: 15:05 21 December 2018

Dozens of homeless people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have lost their lives over the past five years, according to official estimates. Picture: ARCHANT

Dozens of homeless people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have lost their lives over the past five years, according to official estimates. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Dozens of homeless people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have lost their lives over the past five years, according to official estimates.

A report by the Office of National Statistics, the first of its kind, estimated that from 2013 to 2017, 28 homeless people died in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough combined authority.

There were six deaths in the area last year, according to the ONS.

Homelessness charity Crisis called the death toll, which has risen by 24 per cent in England and Wales over five years, “a national tragedy”.

The ONS counted anyone with no fixed abode at the time of their death, including people living in night shelters or homeless hostels, in the numbers.

According to the report, 597 homeless people died in England and Wales last year. Over the last five years there have been an estimated 2,627 deaths.

The mortality rate for homeless people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is 7.2 deaths per million population.

That’s lower than across England and Wales, where the mortality rate is 10.2 deaths per million population.

However, homeless mortality rates in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are slightly higher than they were in 2013, when the rate was 5.8 per million.

Homelessness charities Shelter and Crisis criticised the Government’s housing policy and shrinking safety nets for vulnerable people.

Shelter campaign director Greg Beales said: “This appalling loss of life should be a source of national shame.

“There is nothing inevitable about homelessness or about these tragic deaths which are a consequence of a housing system which fails too many people.

“Our crippling shortage of social housing and a threadbare safety net are at the root of this national emergency.

“We call on the Government to make this year a turning point in the fight to ensure that there is a safe home for all those who need it.”

Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes said that in one of the world’s wealthiest countries, “no one should be dying because of homelessness”.

He said: “It’s imperative that governments act now to stop this national tragedy once and for all.

“Behind these statistics are human beings - mothers, fathers, daughters and sons - whose families will now be spending Christmas coming to terms with their loss. This has to change.

“Governments must urgently expand the system used to investigate the deaths of vulnerable adults to include all those who have died while street homeless, so that crucial lessons can be learned to help prevent more people from dying needlessly.”

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire described the report as “stark”, telling MPs: “It’s simply unacceptable to see lives cut short this way, and I believe we have a moral duty to act.”

“We remain focused and resolute in our commitment to make rough sleeping a thing of the past and where we need to do more, we will.”

He said the Government was committed to halving rough sleeping by 2022, and ending it by 2027.

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