Homeless death rates not shown to be higher in Scotland

No titillating images here

Several media reports, such a this from the Herald have suggested higher homeless deaths in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK:

Official figures for 2019 showed that Scotland had the highest homeless death rate when compared to England and Wales


Reader George S Gordon offers this careful analysis to cast doubt on the media reports:

Apologies for the size of this post, from gov.uk in Nov 2022, but it contains a number of things of interest –

“Many new homeless accommodations were arranged to protect people during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has increased the methodological gap that existed between the England and Wales statistics and the Scotland statistics.

Three days into the first national lockdown, the UK Government wrote to local authority leaders in England asking them to ensure that homeless people were safely accommodated to guard them from the risks of contracting and spreading COVID-19. This included inviting homeless people to stay in hotels around the country. This scheme was known as the “Everyone In” scheme.

Similar schemes were used in Wales and Northern Ireland. [***No new policy was needed in Scotland because all homeless people already had the right to temporary accommodation, regardless of priority need.***]

[***Scotland’s methodology accounts for all their homeless accommodations. This means that it accounts for the full increased use of temporary accommodation during the pandemic.***] The methodology for England cannot do so because the new homeless accommodations used in the “Everyone In” scheme are not discoverable through ONS web-scraping. Although the new accommodations are discoverable for Wales, they were also used for other purposes, such as providing healthcare workers with another place to stay if they lived with clinically vulnerable people. [***This means that it is impossible to identify who was homeless in these accommodations, and so they are excluded from ONS analysis.***]

The difference in methods used to identify homeless deaths, were affected by policies during the COVID-19 pandemic and may have contributed to differences in death rates across the UK. This is in addition to the effect of legislative differences, as [***there are fewer criteria in Scotland for statutory homelessness applicants to qualify for temporary accommodation***]. So, although published homeless death rates appear higher in Scotland than in England and Wales in each year where data are available, the data should not truly be compared. [***It is likely that the different methods have led to the higher estimate in Scotland.***]”

I’ve used [*** ***] to highlight the useful points which should be understood by anyone looking into homelessness. If its worthy of publication on a UK Gov website, it’s surely worth noting by our chums at BBC Scotland. As if!!!


I should have added this, from the same UK Gov report –

“While this description of the methodologies is consistent for England and Wales and for Scotland, there is a difference in how their lists of known homeless accommodations are compiled. ONS updates their homeless accommodation lists for England and Wales by searching information that is publicly available online. NRS requests their lists each year, from each local authority in Scotland individually.

Because there are only 32 local authorities in Scotland, it is more manageable to speak to them individually to collect information. This contact also allows NRS to check their identified homeless deaths with those councils, who can verify them case by case. There are over 350 local authorities in England and Wales, so it is impractical for ONS to contact them all individually.”

So Scotland is on top again (no surprise!) – because the ONS, because the mighty ONS can’t cope with the size of England and Wales – which you’d think it was equipped to cope with?


6 thoughts on “Homeless death rates not shown to be higher in Scotland

  1. Thanks for this deconstruction of the data and, consequently, of the Herald article.

    It is a sad reflection on unionist journalists who seem to be excited by finding data which they think will show Scotland in a poor light and, preferably allowing them to deploy the term ‘worst’. I cannot imagine media anywhere else that are so consistently damning of their own country.

    Of course the media should hold government to account, but they also need to publicise data which reflects well on the government.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Covid halted house building in Scotland. The Scottish Gov is committed to building 6,000 affordable homes a year. 17,000+ are built by private builders. 58,000 people die in Scotland a year on average,. House building was held up by Covid. More people have possibly died because of Covid? Data still not averaged out. Might gain higher deaths than lose death next year. Lower.

    A peak and than a fall?

    Honeskess household numbers would be lower than individual numbers. – families. 9,000 children. 10,000+ household? Larger households need larger accomadation.

    Woman who cohabit (the majority) do not have equal rights or get legal aid. They cannot get alternative accommodation. Letting Agencies illegally can charge 6 months upfront rent and deposit. Even to women who have adequate finances and good credit. Abused women can become homeless to get away.


  3. Austerity has made people less able to manage. The Scottish Gov has to mitigate the cuts from Westminster of the Scottish budget. Scottish revenues and resources being wasted, mismanaged and mis spent by Westminster. No taxation without representation. Brexit has increased and doubled the cost of supplies and building materials. Putting up all building costs and prices. Along with most other household costs and inflation caused by Westminster Tories, People in Scotland did not vote for them or their appalling policies.

    There are enough homes in Scotland but not in the right places. For family and access to work radius. Some people have to travel or commute.

    The Scottish Gov has funded £250Million+ over five years to alcohol/drug rehabilitation. Proper ‘total abstinence’ rehab facilities. Instead of councils putting people on methodone for years. Just as bad as heroin and alcohol. Poisoning the human body. All the drug deaths in Scotland are people prescribed drugs and take other substances. People can get proper help and manage to work. MUP has reduced consumption and less alcohol deaths, Some of the graphs and statistic (Westminster) show drug deaths recorded
    separately. In different catagories. ‘Death by poison’. ‘Misuse of drugs desths. Death by heroin. Not recorded as a total, Statistics gathers differently? In Scotland data recorded as a total? Resulting in a higher percentage,?


  4. Proper drug rehabilitation means people can get healthier and stay in work. Less homelessness. Less alcohol consumption. Less divorce and separation. Less homelessness or strain on relationships and families. Less abuse. Drink’s in the wit’s oot. Less crime.or criminal behaviour,


  5. A dilapidated cell might suffice crooks robbing the public purse. Nurses cannot get their proper remuneration. Abnoxious individuals. The Tory sycophants leeches.


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