Across the UK, almost 700 people died while homeless in England and Wales during 2020 and Covid-19 was recorded as a homeless cause of death for the first time, with 13 deaths recorded.
Despite Government efforts to protect rough sleepers through the pandemic, figures suggest there were four fatalities in Doncaster – up from zero in 2019.
In 2018, there was one death recorded in Doncaster. However, the figures are estimates rather than actual deaths.
An estimated 688 deaths of homeless people were recorded across England and Wales in 2020, according to official figures.
The leading underlying cause of death registered was ‘accident’, affecting 307 people, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
An underlying cause of death is a disease or injury which initiated the chain of events leading directly to death.
Two out of five (39%) of all the deaths were related to drug poisoning – 265 in total. There could be many underlying causes for drug related deaths, ranging from accidents to suicides to illnesses caused by drug abuse or dependence.
There were 90 fewer deaths recorded in 2020 than the year before, a drop of 11.6%.
An estimated 13 deaths involved Covid, which includes those where the virus was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate
But the ONS said deaths of homeless people may have been under-reported for 2020 because of the ‘Everyone In’ scheme, where more than 37,000 homeless people were provided with emergency accommodation from March of that year.
The figures are estimates; the ONS uses statistical modelling to account for a likely number of homeless deaths beyond those officially identified. The estimate is still likely to be conservative, it said.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “To think at least 688 people’s final days were spent homeless in the pandemic is a sobering thought. If it wasn’t for the Government’s Covid response to help people off the streets even more lives would have been lost.
“As we head into another hard winter with the virus still circulating, we cannot leave anyone out in the cold.
“The Government must step in again to keep people safe from Covid and the ravages of homelessness this winter.”