Edinburgh homelessness: More than 40 people died while homeless in Edinburgh in 2022, report finds

Shocking new figures around homeless crisis in Edinburgh
Homeless death toll figures spark calls for actionHomeless death toll figures spark calls for action
Homeless death toll figures spark calls for action

More than 40 people died in Edinburgh in 2022 new ‘shameful’ figures have revealed, more than in the previous two years put together. Across Scotland there were more than 160 homeless deaths in 2022 and 520 in the past three years since the pandemic hit, despite some hotel accommodation being provided to prevent deaths. The numbers, which have laid bare the homelessness crisis, include those who have died while living on the streets, sofa surfing, and in emergency or temporary accommodation.

Edinburgh and Glasgow both have some of the highest numbers of deaths across the UK. Now the figures have sparked warnings that deaths will only rise as numbers seeking help for homelessness has soared – while councils struggle to provide emergency accommodation. It’s feared B&Bs and hotels are not fit to deal with people in crisis and that homeless people can miss out on access to services, such as drug and alcohol addiction services and mental health care.

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Francesca Albanese, acting director of policy and external affairs at Crisis, said: “These figures are shameful and they shouldn’t be acceptable to any decent society. Every single one of these deaths represents a tragedy and an injustice. Every one of these people were part of our communities and they will be missed. But as more and more people enter into the homelessness system, deaths will continue to rise.

"We’ve long known about the damage homelessness does to someone’s physical and mental health. Homelessness is a public health emergency, and it should be treated as such. That means taking urgent action to reduce the numbers of people being forced to spend long periods of time trapped in temporary accommodation. The best way to end homelessness is to prevent it from happening in the first place. By allowing people at risk of homelessness to get help earlier, and widening responsibility for preventing homelessness across public services, we can stop so many people being forced from their home.”

The independent investigation taken up by Museum of Homelessness prompted the Office for National Statistics to start producing its own numbers on homeless deaths. It follows warnings by Council leader Cammy Day that the homelessness crisis is set to worsen unless funding from the Scottish Government is increased.

Councils have a statutory obligation to offer temporary accommodation when they assess a person or household as unintentionally homeless. Most councils meet this obligation all of the time. But in 2021/22 there were 725 instances where there was failure to provide temporary accommodation, of which Edinburgh accounted for 695.

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The Edinburgh Evening News revealed in December a shortage of suitable accommodation in the Capital sees families sent more than 150 miles away, from Stirling to Inverness. Campaigners have said the ‘shocking reality’ is that the true numbers of homeless deaths in Scotland will be higher. It’s underestimated because a number of local local authorities did not respond to FOI requests.

The Scottish Tenants Organisation said the new figures were "a scandal" and called for a massive social house building programme to eradicate homelessness "once and for all". The group said: "The picture of homeless deaths is horrendous. The shocking reality is that the numbers will be even higher."

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