Scottish homelessness deaths increase to more than double rate of England or Wales

The number of people experiencing homelessness who died in Scotland rose by 19% in 2018 in relation the previous year, according to figures published by the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The ‘Homeless Deaths 2017 and 2018’ report estimated that there had been 195 deaths during the year – up from 164 in 2017.

The figures include people who were in temporary accommodation at the time of their death, as well as those who were sleeping rough.

Key findings include:

  • Scotland had the highest rate of homeless deaths of all countries in the UK in 2018, with a rate of 35.9 per million population compared to 16.8 in England and 14.5 in Wales
  • More than half (53%) of homeless deaths in 2018 were drug-related
  • About three quarters of homeless deaths were male – 74% of the total in 2017 and 79% in 2018
  • The mean age at death was 43 for females and 44 for males.
  • The report indicates that the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee had above-average death rates in 2018
  • Glasgow and Aberdeen recorded the highest rates – 100.5 and 67.8 deaths per million population.
  • Shetland recorded 111.8 deaths per million population, but the NRS warned that this figure should be treated “with caution” because of the very small number of deaths.
  • No homeless deaths were identified in four council areas – Angus, East Renfrewshire, Moray and the Scottish Borders.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said the Scottish government was working to “transform” services for the homeless. He stated the reasons for individuals becoming homeless were “complex”, but could include addiction, poor mental health, and family breakdown.

He said: “This report shows that of the number of people who died while experiencing homelessness, 53% were drug-related deaths.

“This reflects the wider public health emergency Scotland is facing over drug deaths.”

Click here to read the NRS report