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Number of People Living & Dying on Britain's Streets 'a National Scandal'

© AFP 2023 / Tolga AkmenA group of people walks past homeless people on Broadway Market in east London on July 23, 2017
A group of people walks past homeless people on Broadway Market in east London on July 23, 2017 - Sputnik International
Britain is the sixth richest country in the world however increasing numbers of people are becoming homeless and forced to live on the street where many of them end up dead.

At least 449 homeless people have died in the UK in the last year in what's been called a "national scandal". An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism discovered the majority of deaths were men, aged between 18 and 94. The causes of death included suicide, assault, illnesses and drug overdoses. In some cases, people starved to death.

Howard Sinclair, chief executive of homeless charity St Mungo's told the bureau: "These figures are nothing short of a national scandal. These deaths are premature and preventable."

​The British government says it is spending US$1.5 billion to tackle homelessness with the intention of ending rough sleeping by 2027.

​Britain's TV station Channel 4 broadcast a report detailing the deaths of people living on the street, prompting a response from Housing Secretary James Brokenshire: "The report you ran in relation to those who are dying on our streets is utterly shocking and does not reflect the modern Britain that we need to be."

​World Homeless Day is marked on 10th October every year, in the hope the global issue is talked about locally. 

​Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons: "We want to ensure rough sleeping becomes a thing of the past."

​Meanwhile the number of women with children sleeping rough has almost doubled, according to newspaper The Independent which has seen research carried out by housing charity, Shelter.

Since 2009-10, the number of single parents found to be homeless have risen from 17,950 to 26,610 according to Shelter's figures.

​Shelter's chief executive Polly Neate told The Independent the charity is "deeply concerned by the rising number of single parents — the vast majority of whom are women — being tipped into homelessness."

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The government's official statistics body, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has announced it will work on counting the number of homeless deaths following the investigation.

​A report published by the Public Accounts Committee in December 2017 found there were almost 10,000 rough sleepers in England and 78,000 families living in temporary accommodation.

"National Crisis"

A shortage of housing options has left homeless people at risk, according to the cross party committee of MPs who say the issue in England is a "national crisis."

Under UK law, homelessness includes people living rough, single people staying in hostels and those in temporary accommodation. Around 120,000 children don't have a permanent home, the report says.

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The committee took evidence from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Work and Pensions and had evidence from two local authorities, Bristol City Council and the London Borough of Hackney along with homeless charity, Crisis.

The department accepted it had failed to tackle the rise in homelessness and lack of affordable housing due to is "light touch approach". The department is working to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and abolish it completely by 2027.

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