Almost 1,000 homeless deaths occurred last year across the UK, a social justice group said earlier this month. Now it has been reported that money that was supposed to help rough sleepers was unspent.
The Museum of Homelessness (MoH) said the figure rose by more than a third on the previous year, and called for more to be done to stop such “terrible loss of life”.
The museum’s Dying Homeless Project recorded 976 deaths across the four nations in 2020.
It said it had verified 693 homeless deaths in England and Wales, 176 in Scotland and 107 in Northern Ireland.
The total figure was up 37% on the 710 UK deaths reported in the 2019 study, it said.
The Government’s “Everyone In” scheme saw thousands of homeless people rapidly brought to safety at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The MoH said its findings showed that less than 3% of recorded causes of death were directly attributed to coronavirus, which it described as a “significant achievement” of the scheme.
But it added that the efforts could not make up for pre-pandemic cuts to services, coupled with the disruption caused by the outbreak.
It said of the cases for which they had confirmed details of the cause of death, 36% were related to drug and alcohol use and 15% were suicide.
Jess Turtle, co-founder of MoH, said: “The Government touts ‘Everyone In’ as a runaway success.
“But it didn’t stop a staggering increase in the number of people dying while homeless – despite the best efforts of our colleagues around the country who worked 24 hours a day on emergency response.”
She said their findings show that the pandemic affected a system “already cut to the bone from 10 years of austerity” and called on the Government to “stop repackaging old funding commitments as new support and do more to stop this terrible loss of life”.
Now it has been reported by the Mirror found that a huge sum of money that was earmarked to help rough sleepers in winter was not spent.
The Housing department manages the £10m Cold Weather Fund and the £15m Protect Programme.
As we are close to spring Housing Minister Eddie Hughes admitted around £4 million between the two funds is still unallocated.
Replying to a question from Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire, Mr Hughes said: “We have confirmed allocations totalling £9 million to local authorities via the Cold Weather Fund, which is available to all local authorities.
“The Protect Programme has allocated £12 million to local authorities who need it most.”
The figure leaves £1m unspent in the Cold Weather Fund and £3m from the Protect Programme.
A Ministry of Communities, Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) spokesperson said it was “wrong and misleading” to say the money had gone unspent.
They added: “The £15m Protect Programme and £10m Cold Weather Fund were allocated based on bids from councils, which took into account their local needs and ensured value for money.”