Number of rough sleepers dying dramatically rises

  • WATCH: Andy Dickenson reports on the crisis on our streets

The number of rough sleepers dying across the South has increased.

Data from the Office for National Statistics found the biggest increase in deaths of homeless people in England and Wales since records began.

It found that 11 homeless people have died in Brighton last year.

There were three recorded deaths of people who'd been sleeping rough or using emergency shelters in 2015.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said that councils require a "long-term sustainable funding solution" provided by the government.

The government says its programmes are "helping more people than ever before access vital support."

Brighton and Hove council said it is "determined" to prevent further deaths.

The ONS found that deaths overall had increased by 22% in 2018.

Two in five of these fatalities were found to be drug related, compared to just 16 per cent in the population as a whole.

There were 33 deaths in the Meridian region during that period, including 9 in Dorset and 12 in Hampshire.

There was however a fall in the number of deaths in the Thames Valley, down 3 to 16 on 2017.

Opiates, including heroin and morphine, were found to the most common substances listed on the death certificates of homeless people.

  • Stats are "shocking" says Brighton and Hove council

Brighton & Hove Council, which has seen a sharp increase over the last four years, said the new figures show "the tragic human toll" of homelessness.

It says it has a "welfare first" approach, with services "co-ordinated" across the city.

  • Figures are "worrying" says LGA

Responding to the announcement, the LGA described the figures as "worrying".

Cllr David Renard called on the government to "provide councils with a long-term sustainable funding solution" to reduce homelessness.

He said that better funding for public health was required.

He also called on the government to "adapt welfare reforms to protect families at risk of becoming homeless, and give councils the powers to invest in new homes for those that need them, such as through reforming the Right to Buy scheme to enable councils to keep all sales receipts and set discounts locally.”

  • "Much more to do" says government

The government said the statistics are a "sombre reminder that there is still much more to do" on homelessness and rough sleeping.

The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Governments says that they are currently undertaking a "comprehensive review" of drug policy which "will help protest the most vulnerable."

They added that they are working "tirelessly" to provide the right advice and support to get people off the streets.