NEARLY 200 homeless people died in Scotland during the pandemic despite the offer of hotel accommodation to prevent deaths from Covid-19, according to new analysis.

New data reveals that there were nearly 40% more in those 12 months than over an 18 month period to March, 2019.

The numbers which include homeless people living on the streets, sofa surfing, and in emergency or temporary accommodation, have been gathered with the help of Freedom of Information requests and a national network of organisations that contribute to the Dying Homeless Project overseen by the Museum of Homelessness (MoH).

The Scottish Tenants Organisation said the new figures were "a scandal" and come after official figures for 2019 showed that Scotland had the highest homeless death rate when compared to England and Wales, with a rate of 52.2 per million population aged 15-74 compared to 18.0 in England and 14.3 in Wales.

When lockdown began in March, hundreds of rough sleepers were brought in off the streets to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

With temporary accommodation full, many were placed in hotels. But campaigners raised concerns that that B&B's and hotels were not fit to deal with people in crisis and that consequently homeless people were losing out on access to drug and alcohol addiction services and mental health care.

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The MoH say that new FOI responses meant there were 193 deaths of homeless people in Scotland in 2020.

 The group said  that across the UK, 3% of recorded causes of homeless deaths were directly attributed to coronavirus. Of the cases for which they had confirmed details of the cause of death, 36% were related to drug and alcohol use and 15% were suicide.


Some 2000 homeless people were housed in bed and breakfasts in Glasgow alone in the first nine months while new rules were delayed that were meant to ensure that they are only to be used in emergencies and for no more than seven days.

At its peak as many as 600 homeless people were in in B&B and hotel accommodation in Glasgow.

Concerns about the use of B&B accommodation came into sharp focus last year following nine deaths at the Alexander Thomson Hotel - five men and four women. The hotel, used as homeless accommodation during lockdown, closed in December, reportedly for refurbishment.

Police Scotland had stated that all of them were either investigated or the process of investigation and that seven were unexplained, with one death considered non-suspicious. A 38-year-old woman was found dead in the hotel on April 25, last year while a 21-year-old man was found on May 17.

Two 43-year-old men were then discovered on June 7 and 21 June before a 25-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman were both found on July 28.

A 49-year-old was then found dead on August 27.

The latest reported death was of a man found in the hotel on December 8.

The death of a 48-year-old woman found at the hotel on August 28 was confirmed as a non-suspicious death. The the deaths of the others were believed to be drug-related.

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It is understood staff at the Alexander Thomson Hotel were given training in the use of naxolone - a drug used to slow down breathing problems during a drug overdose.

After details of the deaths emerged, Glasgow's Health and Social Care Partnership said their Housing First assessment team were working in the hotel to find people permanent accommodation "as it becomes available" with the lifting of Covid restrictions.

In January Glasgow City Council said the numbers in hotels had been cut by a quarter.

Sean Clerkin, campaigns co-ordinator for the Scottish Tenants Organisation said: "The number of homeless deaths in Scotland in 2020 is a scandal in that many homeless people were placed in hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation to protect them from COVID-19 and yet many of them were failed in that the duty of care to them was not fulfilled.

"The Scottish Government has to allocate much more resources so that homeless people have access to person centred mental health care and drugs and alcohol related services along with an accelerated Housing First Programme. The time for talking is over as we need urgent action to help homeless people now."


The latest experimental National Records of Scotland data for 2019, before the pandemic, found that 200 people experiencing homelessness died in 2019 - a rise of 11%.

More than half of the homeless deaths were drug-related.

Tragically, the average age at death was falling – and was 43 for men and just 39 for women. In 2018 it was 44 for men and 43 for females.

Inverclyde recorded the highest homeless death rate in Scotland - with 213.2 deaths per million, followed by Na h-Eileanan Siar (191.4), South Ayrshire (120.3) and North Ayrshire (11.8). In 2018 Glasgow City (100.5) and Aberdeen City (67.8) had the highest homeless death rates per million population.

Six local authority areas had no recorded homeless deaths - Shetland Islands, Scottish Borders, Moray, East Renfrewshire, East Lothian and Argyll and Bute.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart responded by saying that ending homelessness is a priority for the Scottish Government.

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In December, the Scottish Government was urged to build more social homes and ramp up support services after data revealed thousands of children spent the previous Christmas without a permanent place of shelter.

The Herald revealed a fortnight ago that there were fears of a homelessness "tsunami" as some 15,000 Scots landlords are expected to pursue evictions for rent arrears totalling £126m.

The Glasgow City Mission produced a video four years ago explaining what happens at its temporary emergency accommodation for the homeless.

As the Covid eviction ban has effectively been lifted as lockdown restrictions eased, a new survey has found that one-in-five landlords reported current tenancies in arrears at July 2021, which scaled up to 45,000 across Scotland.

The analysis from the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) found that 9,000 landlords are at the stage where they have issued a Notice to Leave for one or more tenancies.

And a further 4,500 have applied or are applying for an eviction order.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Every death of a person experiencing homelessness is a tragedy, and the Scottish Government remains committed to ending homelessness and rough sleeping for good. Temporary accommodation offers an important safety net for anyone who finds themselves homeless but it should only ever be temporary.

“Our priority has been to keep people safe during the pandemic but this has inevitably resulted in higher numbers in temporary accommodation. Local authorities are working hard to ensure people have the appropriate support and move as rapidly as possible into settled accommodation. The Scottish Government has invested £37.5 million to support councils in this work.”