Sixty homeless people died in Wales last year, new research has revealed.

The number was down by three from 2020, with Wales the only nation in the UK to see figures fall.

Cardiff, however, saw an increase of four deaths from 14 to 18 in 2021.

The Dying Homeless Project, carried out by the Museum of Homelessness, recorded 1286 deaths across the UK in 2021 - a 32% increase on the numbers reported in the 2020 study and an 80% increase over the number published in 2019.

There were 719 deaths in England, 325 in Northern Ireland, 182 in Scotland and 60 in Wales.

The Welsh Government did not wish to respond to the findings, claiming they were "not reflective of the situation in Wales".

The number of deaths in other Welsh local authority areas was: 

  • Conwy - 6
  • Denbighshire - 1
  • Flintshire - 1
  • Gwynedd - 1
  • Neath Port Talbot - 8
  • Newport - 7
  • Pembrokeshire - 2
  • Powys - 1
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf - 4
  • Swansea - 8
  • Torfaen - 2
  • Vale of Glamorgan - 1

Other council areas had no recorded deaths.

The statistics include people sleeping rough as well as those placed in emergency accommodation and other insecure settings. Each fatality was verified by a freedom of information request, coroners’ report, charity or family member.

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Cofounder of the Museum of Homelessness Matt Turtle said: “Too many people are dying in dangerous accommodation run by unregulated landlords and funded by the taxpayer. Our research suggests over 90% of deaths in the cases where we know of a person’s situation occurred after they were placed in insecure accommodation.

“These often occur in taxpayer funded hostels which are exempt from the price cap local authorities apply to shared accommodation as they are meant to provide people experiencing homelessness with care as well as a safe place to live temporarily. But many fail to meet their most basic obligations.”

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Responding to the figures, Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, said: "The death of just one person is a tragedy, so it is even more heartbreaking and unacceptable that 1,286 people died last year whilst experiencing homelessness. That these people had to spend their last days and hours without a safe, stable home should shame us as a society.

Denbighshire was noted by the findings as a local authority area which has “shown positive progress” with the numbers of deaths falling from six in 2020 to one in 2021.

During the Coronavirus outbreak, governments across Britain took extraordinary actions to move thousands of people into emergency accommodation.

The Welsh Government launched the ‘phase 2’ work in July, making £50 million available for bids from councils and their service delivery partners. Phase 2 aimed to make sure people could find more permanent accommodation and ensure no one was forced back onto the street.

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‘Phase 2’ funding only lasted until March 2021, but Ministers are making £10 million available in 2022-23 to local authorities for the expenditure they would have previously claimed from the hardship fund.

The Welsh Government says it also plans to spend £190 million on homelessness prevention and housing support in 2022-23, and £310 million on social housing.

A spokesperson for Cardiff Council said: “Every homeless death is a tragedy and we are always saddened when individuals who have been sleeping rough or are staying in emergency accommodation die. The circumstances are always investigated to see what lessons can be learned and to ensure we are doing the best we can to support vulnerable people.

“Many clients have serious health conditions, either caused or exacerbated by life on the streets so helping people into longer term, more settled accommodation is a priority for us.

“Our multi-disciplinary team, which consists of a range of professionals with the expertise to support people with complex needs, includes drug and alcohol workers, nurses, social workers, therapeutic workers and counsellors and access to rapid prescribing services. These services deliver support where they are needed, on the street or in our hostels and supported accommodation.

“We recognise that good quality, supported accommodation is an essential component of our services and that is why, over the past two years, we have been acquiring additional accommodation as well as reconfiguring existing provision to ensure we are delivering the right accommodation and specialist support to give people the best chance possible of moving away for homelessness for good.”