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by Kirsteen Paterson
22 November 2022
Scottish homeless deaths figures revealed

Scottish homeless deaths figures revealed

As many as 250 people died while experiencing homelessness in Scotland last year, official figures show.

However, National Records of Scotland (NRS) cautions that its figure may not reflect the true scale of the issue, because not all death records state that a person was homeless.

The "conservative" estimate is based on papers recording people who were sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation before they died.

More than eight in ten of those who died while homeless in 2021 were male, with six in ten aged under 45. For women, seven in ten of those who died were under 45.

The highest rates of homeless deaths were in Midlothian, Glasgow and Edinburgh council areas.

None were recorded in Na h-Eileanan Siar, Orkney, Perth and Kinross or Stirling.

The overall level is similar to last year, but higher than when NRS first began collecting the data in 2017.

Covid was listed as the underlying cause of death for two cases. However, most were related to drug misuse.

Julie Ramsay, head of vital events at NRS, said: "Drug-misuse deaths of people experiencing homelessness fell in the past year for the first time, from 151 to 127, but it was still the cause of over half of all deaths for people experiencing homelessness in 2021.

"As in previous years, the death rate of males is much higher than that of females."

The news comes one day after the publication of the "Blueprint to Save Lives" report by advocacy group the Faces and Voices of Recovery (Favor), which claimed that politicians have "forgotten" Scotland's drugs deaths crisis.

That coincided with the launch of Harper House in Saltcoats, a new rehab facility supporting families. Run by the charity Phoenix Futures, it is backed by £8m from the Scottish Government and accepts referrals from across the country.

Launching that facility, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the issue had "absolutely not" been forgotten.

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