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New figures show 16 rough sleepers died in Suffolk over five years

PUBLISHED: 16:00 25 February 2019

Government figures showed there were 16 deaths of homeless people in Suffolk over the five years between 2013 and 2017. File picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Government figures showed there were 16 deaths of homeless people in Suffolk over the five years between 2013 and 2017. File picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

A total of 16 people sleeping rough in Suffolk died over the last five years, according to new figures from the government - with seven of those deaths in Ipswich.

The new figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that across the country, 90% of deaths of homeless people were in cities or large towns – and the number of deaths has increased over the last five years.

Deaths of rough sleepers and those in emergency accommodation rose from 482 in 2013 to 597 in 2017 across England and Wales.

According to the ONS there were no deaths among homeless people in the Waveney district, which includes Lowestoft, between 2013 and 2017. There was one death in each of Forest Heath, Suffolk Coastal and Mid Suffolk, three each in St Edmundsbury and Babergh, and seven in Ipswich. During the same period there were three deaths in Colchester and three in Tendring in north Essex.

The ONS found that 571 of the deaths in 2017 were in urban local authority regions, compared to 26 in rural council areas.

It found the highest number of estimated deaths that year was 21 in Manchester, with 18 recorded in Birmingham and 17 in Bristol and Liverpool.

Lambeth in London had the highest number of estimated deaths in the capital at 17, followed by 15 in Camden, 12 in Southwark and 10 in Tower Hamlets.

The figures came out on the day the government and many councils came under fire for changing the way rough sleepers are calculated. Ipswich was one of the councils were there was said to be a significant reduction in the number of rough sleepers after councils switched from estimating numbers to doing a head-count in areas where rough sleepers gather.

A spokesman for the borough said this change had led to the number of rough sleepers recorded in the town centre falling from 11 in November 2017 to “single figures” (believed to be seven or eight) 12 months later.

The next count was expected to take place in March – but numbers of rough sleepers are always lower in the winter than in summer when night-time temperatures are likely to be much higher.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire said the government was investing £1.2billion to tackle homelessness and had “bold plans backed by £100 million to end rough sleeping for good”.

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