Exactly how many homeless people died in Northamptonshire in last five years

Charity Shelter warns things are ‘getting worse not better’ as ONS figures show more sleeping rough
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Housing charity Shelter labelled new figures showing dozens of homeless people have died in Northamptonshire during the past five years as “utterly awful and unacceptable”.

Every year, the Office for National Statistics collates deaths of homeless people under the age of 75, their location, ages, and cause of death. Latest ONS estimates suggest there were 26 deaths in West Northamptonshire and 12 in North Northamptonshire between 2017 and 2021. Of these, eight occurred last year.

Separate figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show there were more than 3,000 households presenting as homeless in Northamptonshire in the year to March — 1,972 in West Northants and 1,211 in the North.

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Across England and Wales, the ONS estimates 741 homeless people died in 2021 — up eight percent from the year before but down from a peak of 788 in 2019.

The total number of deaths includes people who were identified from death records held by the ONS, together with an estimate of the most likely number of additional registrations not identified as homeless people.

Polly Neate, Shelter chief executive, said they are looking at “one of the toughest winters yet” as rents rise while housing benefits stay frozen.

She said: “The government promised to end rough sleeping, but things are getting worse not better. They must immediately unfreeze and increase housing benefit to protect people from the ravages of homelessness this winter, and to keep people off the streets for good it has to invest in building good quality, supported social homes.”

West Northamptonshire Council launched a new anti-poverty strategy earlier this year setting out how it works with partners to stop people people falling into poverty.

Shelter's comments were echoed by the charity Crisis, which said its services are preparing for “an incredibly challenging winter, with thousands facing the brutality of homelessness as the rising cost of living pushes them to breaking point”.

Chief executive Matt Downie said: “These dire economic times must not lead to more people falling through the cracks and dying needlessly on our streets.”

Across the East Midlands, there have been an estimated 231 deaths of homeless people in the past five years, mainly people who were sleeping rough or using emergency accommodation such as homeless shelters at or around the time of death. Due to delays in registrations, around half of the deaths registered in 2021 took place in previous years, the ONS said.

Males accounted for 87 percent of deaths registered across England and Wales in 2021 compared with 13 percent for females, a ratio similar to previous years.

An estimated 259 deaths were related to drug poisoning, accounting for 35 percent of the total. Alcohol-specific causes and suicide accounted for 10 percent and 13 percent respectively.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said “good progress has been made” toward tackling rough sleeping, but that these figures were a reminder that there is still more to be done.

They added that the Government is providing £2 billion over the next three years to tackle homelessness.