Rough sleepers mourn death of friend as ‘shameful’ UK statistics revealedDecember 21, 2018
The number of homeless people dying on UK streets has soared by a quarter in the past five years.
Office for National Statistics data showed 597 died in 2017 in England and Wales – a rise of 24% since 2013.
The shameful stats came as it emerged the second rough sleeper of the year died on the doorsteps of Parliament.
Friends said Hungarian Gyula Remes, 43, was a dad-of-two who was awaiting his first pay packet as a chef’s assistant.
He is understood to have taken the drug Spice before being found by police at 11.30pm on Tuesday. He died hours later in hospital. Today’s statistics estimated 482 homeless people died in 2013, with the figure rising every year.
Labour MP Paula Sherriff said: “It makes me sick. The Prime Minister promised to tackle burning injustices.
“What bigger burning injustice could there be than in 2018 people not just living on the street but the number going up and up and up. The Government needs to wake up and realise the damage their policies are doing.”
Leading homeless charity Crisis called it a “national tragedy”.
Chief Executive Jon Sparkes added: “Behind these statistics are human beings whose families will be coming to terms with their loss. This has to change.”
The figures cover people sleeping rough or using emergency accommodation “at or around the time of death”.
The death of Mr Remes, who slept in a subway yards from an underground entrance to the Palace of Westminster, left friends disgusted.
Alex Stanley, 21, also a rough sleeper, said: “He was determined to provide for his children. He’d been working 12-hour shifts. He was due his first pay of £350. They don’t care, the MPs next door. He’s another number – they think his life’s worth less.”
Melanie Onn MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, said the “utterly shameful” figures “reflect a complete failure of Conservative policy on housing”. Theresa May’s spokesman swerved questions when asked. He said the figures were “very concerning” and the Government was investing £1.2billion to tackle homelessness.
Asked if the PM “feels a sense of shame” because the man had been sleeping rough outside Parliament, he said: “The PM’s thoughts are with all those who knew the guy. It’s very tragic.” Councillor Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesman, said central government funding had to improve.
He said: “Every death of a homeless person is preventable. Homelessness services are facing a funding gap of more than £100million in 2019/20.”
Staff in Parliament have set up a fundraising page for homeless charity Street Link in response to Mr Remes’ death, which was last night at £3,350.
In February, a Portuguese rough sleeper died in freezing temperatures in a Westminster underpass.
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