Dunfermline Press

Another 19 people from Fife die while homeless Efforts continue to support those without permanent accommodat­ion

- By Clare Buchanan Reporter cbuchanan@dunfermlin­epress.co.uk

AN ESTIMATED 19 people died while homeless in Fife last year according to new figures published by the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The Homeless Deaths report shows that the figures remain unchanged compared to 2021; however, there has been a rise in the last five years from the seven deaths recorded in 2017.

Gavin Smith, Fife Council service manager, said any death associated with homelessne­ss is a “tragedy” and something the authority are working hard to prevent.

He continued: “We are currently facing unpreceden­ted pressures on temporary accommodat­ion, stemming from the long-term effects of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.

“Neverthele­ss, we respond to any reports of rough sleeping and provide the vast majority of temporary accommodat­ion as properties in the community.

“Many homeless people deaths are due to substance abuse and so we also work closely with Fife Health and Social Care Partnershi­p and Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnershi­p.

“We continue to develop these support services, with a focus on prevention as well as improving health and wellbeing, to reduce premature deaths.

“In January, elected members will be asked to approve a new homelessne­ss reduction plan. It will provide a clear route map for the partnershi­p services to step up prevention work and increase the options available to those in vulnerable housing situations.”

Across Scotland, an estimated 244 people died, while homeless with the number of deaths attributed to drug misuse among those experienci­ng homelessne­ss falling from 127 to 89.

Almost three quarters of those who died across Scotland were male.

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.”

Homelessne­ss services run by local authoritie­s provide temporary accommodat­ion for those without a settled home and these figures cover this much larger group as well as the minority who were sleeping rough.

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

Drug-misuse accounted for 36 per cent of all deaths among people experienci­ng homelessne­ss.

Half of all deaths were classed as “external causes” which include most drug misuse deaths, accidents, suicide and assault.

Paul McLennan, housing minister, said: “Every single one of these deaths is one too many and I extend my sincerest condolence­s to all those affected.

“We know that people who have experience of homelessne­ss are much more likely to have poor physical and mental health than the general population.

“Scotland has the strongest rights in the UK for people experienci­ng homelessne­ss, but we are committed to ensuring that no one need become homeless in the first place.

“We are providing local authoritie­s with £30.5million annually for their work to prevent homelessne­ss.

“Separately, we are providing a total of £100m from our multi-year Ending Homelessne­ss Together fund.

“I have also regularly met with representa­tives from Scotland’s local authoritie­s and have actively engaged with them to find solutions to help address housing pressures in their area.

“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.”

 ?? ?? ‘TRAGEDY’: A total of 19 people in Fife died while homeless last year.
‘TRAGEDY’: A total of 19 people in Fife died while homeless last year.
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