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April 9, 2020

Introducing the COVID-19 index

Guillermo Rodríguez-Guzmán

To help to shed some light on the risk of exposure faced by people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic, we have created the COVID-19-Homelessness Index

Even if homelessness data can be especially limited, it can nevertheless help uncover patterns and shed light to help governments across the UK and local areas use resources effectively. This underscores the importance of investing in more and better data – one of the Centre for Homelessness Impact’s key objectives – as a crucial tool to help decision-makers respond to emergencies, but also to deliver more effective mainstream services at all times. We hope that by highlighting the greatest need, the index can help to support decision-making and the allocation of resources. 

To develop the Index, we paired information from Public Health England (PHE) on the number of confirmed cases in each Local Authority and from Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on the number of people living in temporary accommodation (TA). The Index multiplies the prevalence of people living in temporary accommodation per 100,000 inhabitants and the number of confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants. This is important because people living or at risk of living in homelessness face higher risk from COVID-19; while those living in some types of temporary accommodation, such as B&Bs, might struggle to follow the government advice, including being able to isolate themselves if they have symptoms.

Higher values of the Index identify areas that face higher risks as they have a large number of confirmed cases and large proportions of people living in temporary accommodation. We also compare changes in the index over time to get a better picture of the areas that are facing mounting pressures. 

England 25/03/2020

England 31/03/2020

England 07/04/2020

Using data from 25/03, 31/03 and 07/04, we can observe that the crisis is deepening:  the maximum value of the index roughly doubles each week as the number of confirmed cases increases. 

The Index highlights that the metropolitan areas of London, Manchester and Birmingham come top due to high numbers of temporary accommodation units and instances of COVID-19 with London Boroughs consistently topping the Index. 

Other areas are also seeing rapid increases in the number of cases in the last seven days which will put more pressure on those Local Authorities (the colour of the bubbles shows the average daily increase in the number of cases between 31/03 and 04/07). Barnet and St. Helens are among the LAs with the fastest increase in the number of confirmed cases in the last seven days, and consequently are also among the ones that have had the largest changes in the Index - Barnet up 29 positions and St. Helens up 24 positions. 

The rates of infections in Brent, Southwark and Lambeth are also increasing rapidly, completing the top five local authorities with the largest increases in the last seven days and showcasing the mounting crisis faced by London Boroughs. These three LAs are most at risk due to the high numbers of both temporary accommodation and confirmed cases of COVID, but the numbers are very high across the city and increasing rapidly. To download the full dataset, click here

Information on COVID-19 and temporary accommodation is broken down by comparable administrative geographies (counties, local authorities) only for England. If data becomes available for other UK nations, we will update the Index accordingly. 

We will continue to update the Index periodically to adjust it as the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases changes over coming weeks, and also develop related resources and analysis to help decision makers harness the power of data in their responses to the crisis.

For any questions or comments, get in touch with guillermo@homelessnessimpact.org 

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