AN ESTIMATED 19 people died while homeless in Fife last year according to new figures published by the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The Homeless Deaths report shows that the figures remain unchanged compared to 2021 however there has been a rise in the last five years from the seven deaths recorded in 2017.

Fife Council Service Manager Gavin Smith said any death associated with homelessness is a "tragedy" and something the authority are working hard to prevent.

"We are currently facing unprecedented pressures on temporary accommodation, stemming from the long-term effects of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis," he said.

"Nevertheless, we respond to any reports of rough sleeping and provide the vast majority of temporary accommodation as properties in the community.

"Many homeless people deaths are due to substance abuse and so we also work closely with Fife Health and Social Care Partnership and Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership.

"We continue to develop these support services, with a focus on prevention as well as improving health and wellbeing, to reduce premature deaths.

"In January, elected members will be asked to approve a new homelessness reduction plan. It will provide a clear route map for the partnership services to step up prevention work and increase the options available to those in vulnerable housing situations."

Across Scotland, an estimated 244 people died, while homeless with the number of deaths attributed to drug misuse among those experiencing homelessness falling from 127 to 89. Almost three quarters of those who died across Scotland were male.

Beth Watson, senior assistant statistician, said: “Our estimate shows a small drop in the number of deaths among people experiencing homelessness between 2021 and 2022 but this change is not statistically significant.

“Our figures go back to 2017 when there were 164 deaths. While the year on year change is small, the number is still significantly higher than it was five years ago.”

Homelessness services run by local authorities provide temporary accommodation for those without a settled home and these figures cover this much larger group as well as the minority who were sleeping rough.

Almost half of the people who died while homeless in Scotland in 2022 were under 45 years old. Drug-misuse accounted for 36 per cent of all deaths among people experiencing homelessness.

Half of all deaths were classed as "external causes" which include most drug misuse deaths, accidents, suicide and assault.

Commenting on the statistics, Housing Minister Paul McLennan said: “Every single one of these deaths is one too many and I extend my sincerest condolences to all those affected.

"We know that people who have experience of homelessness are much more likely to have poor physical and mental health than the general population.

"Scotland has the strongest rights in the UK for people experiencing homelessness, but we are committed to ensuring that no one need become homeless in the first place.

“We are providing local authorities with £30.5 million annually for their work to prevent homelessness. Separately, we are providing a total of £100 million from our multi-year Ending Homelessness Together fund.

"I have also regularly met with representatives from Scotland’s local authorities and have actively engaged with them to find solutions to help address housing pressures in their area.

“We have also committed to invest at least £60 million to help local authorities and registered social landlords acquire properties for use as high quality, affordable, permanent homes, as part of our wider Affordable Housing Supply Programme investment of £752 million this year."