I've demanded both of Scotland’s governments urgently adopt new policies to tackle the “emergency” of homeless deaths, after the first ever statistics for Scotland revealed 195 homeless people died in 2018 - 4 a week.
They also showed:
- Scotland had the highest rate of homeless deaths of all GB countries in 2018, with a rate more than twice that of England or Wales.
- a 19% increase on the estimated 164 deaths in 2017.
- 53% of deaths in 2018 were drug-related (up from 41% in 2017).
- 8% of deaths in 2018 were suicide
- 8% of deaths in 2018 were alcohol-related
- 79% of those who died were male, while the mean age at death was 43 for females and 44 for males.
These figures are absolutely devastating. Both of Scotland’s governments should be mortified and guilt-ridden by the frequency of deaths on our streets and in temporary accommodation. Hundreds of people, and each of their families, have been utterly failed.
It’s one of the most basic responsibilities of the state to look after those who don’t even have a roof over their head. Sleeping rough is a dreadful fate, especially in the depths of winter, and it is taking a terrible toll.
The extent of both the homelessness death emergency and the drugs crisis in Scotland has been laid bare. It’s shocking to see the situation here being so much worse than the rest of the UK.
Scottish Liberal Democrats argued against the SNP’s cuts to drug and alcohol partnership budgets and have pressed for the establishment of a Scotland-wide network of heroin-assisted treatment. The Scottish Conservatives must also put pressure on Boris Johnson to end the punishing social security policies which are putting people at greater risk of homelessness.
The country cannot afford to continue to look the other way.