New government figures have revealed that Blackburn with Darwen is the second most dangerous place to live as a homeless person in England and Wales.

Figures show that 42 registered homeless people have died in the borough since 2013.

Last year alone, eight homeless died from accidents, overdoses and diseases – the second highest recorded rate in the country per head of population.

And across East Lancashire as a whole, 11 homeless people died in 2018 – with the Ribble Valley recording its first death in the borough since 2013.

But Blackburn with Darwen council bosses say only two deaths have been ‘confirmed’ on the borough’s streets since 2017, meaning the vast majority involved people living in a hostel or communal accommodation at the time.

Sayyed Osman, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s director of adults and prevention, said: “Any death is a tragedy and one is too many, and we continue to work with partners to tackle these issues.

“This is a complex issue and we do have a disproportionate amount of houses in multiple occupation (HMO) which people from outside of our borough are coming to use and this does put pressure on our services.

"The council is continuing its work to try to make sure no person has to sleep rough on the streets or resort to begging.

"Help for people is out there and is available.”

Nationally, homeless deaths are at an all-time high, with a total of 726 people dying in 2018. Accidents, diseases of the liver, intentional self-harm, mental health issues and events of undetermined intent were listed among the most frequent causes of death.

Ben Humberstone, head of analysis at the Office for National Statistics, said: “The deaths of 726 homeless people in England and Wales recorded in 2018 represent an increase of over a fifth on the previous year.

"That’s the largest rise since these figures began in 2013. A key driver of the change is the number of deaths related to drug poisoning which are up by 55 per cent since 2017 compared to 16 per cent for the population as a whole.”

Of the 726 deaths 34 are estimated to have been young people aged between 15-24 - meaning over the year the death of a young person experiencing homeless was registered every 11 days on our country’s streets.

And charity bosses say a ‘lack of council funding’ has contributed to a lack of support available for those who need it most.

Balbir Chatrik from national charity Centrepoint said: “We know how to reduce homelessness. We need more social housing, ensure housing benefit covers the cost of renting privately, and proper funding for mental health services. What we need now is the political will and financial resources to put these solutions into practice.”