Homelessness: Death

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Labour, Dulwich and West Norwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the number of homeless deaths in 2018 attributable to substance misuse; and what representations his Department has made to the Department of Health and Social Care on drug and alcohol support for homeless people and rough sleepers.

Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

It should not happen that people die prematurely  because they are homeless.

The recent ONS statistics emphasise the devastating impact of substance and alcohol misuse. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is working with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to ensure that rough sleepers have the health care they need, when they need it. This includes several commitments that were made in the Rough Sleeping Strategy, such as:

  • rapid audit of health service provision to rough sleepers, including mental health and substance misuse treatment ;
  • £2 million to test community-based models of access to health services for rough sleepers, including mental health and substance misuse services ;
  • new training for front-line workers to help them support rough sleepers under the influence of New Psychoactive Substances such as spice, and;
  • working with the Home Office to ensure rough sleepers are considered in the forthcoming Alcohol Strategy, which will focus on vulnerable people .

My Department will continue to work with colleagues in the DHSC, Public Health England and the Home Office, including through the forthcoming independent review of drugs policy. Professor Dame Carol Black has been appointed to carry out this major review of drug misuse. The review, which is building on existing government strategies to combat drugs, serious violence and serious and organised crime, is examining the harms that drugs cause and the best ways to prevent drug-taking.

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