AN ESTIMATED three homeless people died in West Dunbartonshire throughout 2018, new figures have revealed.

Statistics published earlier this month by the National Records of Scotland indicate that there were an estimated 195 deaths of people experiencing homelessness in 2018 - an increase of 19 per cent on the estimate of 164 in 2017.

Despite an increase across the country, the number of estimated homeless deaths in West Dunbartonshire decreased from five in 2017 to three in 2018.

The number of identified homeless deaths within the local authority in 2018 – two – was down from four the previous year.

The statistics revealed that more than half of homeless deaths in 2018, 53 per cent or 104, were drug-related.

Martin Dcoherty Hughes MP told the Reporter: “The impact of homelessness can be devastating and even just one person losing their life in these circumstances is one too many.

“These latest figures appear to confirm that things are improving in West Dunbartonshire; however, too many people still don’t have access to a home of their own.

“West Dunbartonshire Council, with the support of the Scottish Government and its partners, is working hard to eradicate rough sleeping and deliver more affordable housing.

“The SNP’s goal is to end homelessness once and for all. I believe adopting a ‘housing first’ approach which offers fast-tracked settled accommodation and better person-centred support will be key to achieving that goal.

“Whilst the causes of homelessness can be complex, it’s important to know that support is available.

"I would urge anyone locally worried about homelessness to get in touch with the council’s homelessness service by calling 01389 737 000.”

Grant Campbell, director of Crisis Scotland, added: “For the first time, we can see the true, devastating scale of the number of people who have died without a place to call home, because of failings within the very system which should have prevented them from falling into poverty and homelessness in the first place. Behind these figures are human beings - mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters.

“Every death must be fully investigated so that we can learn from the failings which caused someone to die without a home. We’re pleased to see commitments from the Scottish Government towards ending homelessness, such as the push towards providing long-term homes and wrap around support for those with complex needs, as well as doing more to help people from losing their homes in the first place. Despite this, we still have the highest rates of homeless deaths in Great Britain. This is a damning and urgent reminder that we need to do so much more to support some of our most vulnerable citizens.”