St Mungo’s responds to homeless death statistics

Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has responded to new data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showing that an estimated 741 people experiencing homelessness died in 2021.


This represents an 8% rise on the previous year when an estimated 688 people lost their lives and takes the number up to almost pre-pandemic levels. The data covers England and Wales.


St Mungo’s Chief Executive Emma Haddad said: “Every single death of a person experiencing homelessness is an absolute tragedy. Each one these people was someone’s child, sister or brother – all with their own hopes and dreams.


“Health and homelessness are inextricably linked and it is an awful reality that sleeping rough causes chronic illness and can lead to premature death, with the average age of death for someone living on the streets being around 30 years earlier than the general population.


“The Government’s recently published Rough Sleeping Strategy has a strong focus on  prevention and tackling the root cause of homelessness.


“Today’s data shows yet again why it is so important we implement this to prevent people from ending up on our streets in the first place, especially as winter approaches, the current cost of living crisis worsens, and more people are facing losing their homes.


“St Mungo’s will continue to do everything we can to prevent street homelessness, and support those who have ended up sleeping rough to spend as little time as possible on the streets.”



Today’s data shows between 1 January and 31 December 2021:

  • Almost two in five deaths of homeless people were related to drug poisoning in 2021 (259 estimated deaths)
  • Of the total number 99 people ended their own life
  • There were estimated to have been 26 deaths involving coronavirus, twice the number estimated in 2020
  • London had the highest numbers of deaths registered in 2021, with 154 people dying in the capital
  • The mean age of death of people who were homeless is much lower than the general population being 45.4 for men and 43.2 for women.

In this data someone is defined as homeless if they have been sleeping rough or using emergency or temporary accommodation at or around the time of death.

The statistics are based on the year of death registration – because of death registration delays, around half of these deaths occurred in previous years.