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Alarm as new figures show how many Scots died while homeless last year

A woman walks past homeless people's tents <i>(Image: PA)</i>
A woman walks past homeless people's tents (Image: PA)

A TOTAL of 244 people died while homeless in Scotland in 2022, figures have revealed.

The National Records of Scotland said the latest estimate was similar to 2021, although the number of deaths attributed to drug use fell from 127 to 89.

The Homeless Deaths 2022 Report also said almost three quarters of those who died were male (73%), with the number of deaths among females back to levels seen in previous years following a drop between 2020 and 2021 (27%).

Edinburgh, Na h-Eileanan Siar, Glasgow City and Stirling had the highest rates of homeless deaths per million population.

Beth Watson, senior assistant statistician, said: “Our estimate shows a small drop in the number of deaths among people experiencing homelessness between 2021 and 2022 but this change is not statistically significant.

“Our figures go back to 2017 when there were 164 deaths. While the year-on-year change is small, the number is still significantly higher than it was five years ago.”

Almost half of the people who died while homeless in Scotland in 2022 were under 45 years old, according to the report.

Drug misuse accounted for 36% of all deaths, and half of all deaths were classed as “external causes” which includes most drug misuse deaths, accidents, suicide and assault.

Housing Minister Paul McLennan (below) said each death was "one too many" and noted that homeless people often have worse physical and mental health than the general population.

The National: Paul McLennan
The National: Paul McLennan

The Scottish Government is providing £30.5 million every year, he said, to fund anti-homelessness drives, on top of another £100m from the "ending homelessness together" fund.

“We have also committed to invest at least £60m to help local authorities and registered social landlords acquire properties for use as high quality, affordable, permanent homes, as part of our wider affordable housing supply programme investment of £752m this year," McLennan added.

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“Scotland has led the UK in providing affordable housing, having delivered 123,985 affordable homes since 2007.

“We are making available £3.5 billion over this parliamentary term to support the delivery of 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, 70% of which will be for social rent.

“One focus of the national mission to reduce drug deaths – backed by £250m investment over the life of the Parliament – is to strengthen partnerships between health and other services to improve outcomes for people who use drugs and have multiple needs, such as experiencing homelessness."

Sean Clerkin (below), the campaign co-ordinator of the Scottish Tenants Organisation and an anti-homelessness activist, called for homeless deaths to be treated as a "national emergency".

The National:
The National:

In a statement, he said: "These homeless human beings are wrongly blamed for their predicament and therefore completely ignored by those in power.

"This continuing scandal can only be tackled once and for all by treating it as a national emergency in Scotland providing the political leadership through committing tens of millions of pounds to genuinely provide quality wrap around services to homeless people with drug and alcohol addiction problems as well as mental health needs in quality temporary accommodation and in permanent tenancies."

Scottish LibDem housing spokesperson Paul McGarry added: "It is a reflection of failed government policies on drugs, mental health and housing."