COVID-19 Homelessness Index: 05/28 update
The pandemic is easing – now an uncontroversial fact. In our last update in early May we reported that the number of cases per week was increasing in around 13 thousand additional cases in the week leading up to 4th May. This has now dropped to around 11 thousand additional cases in the two weeks leading up to 26th May. The maximum value of the Index which multiplies the number of people living in TA and the cumulative cases continues to increase but the observed changes are now small.
Using data for the last month, we can clearly observe that the number of additional cases per 100,000 people (the colour of the bubbles) is considerably lower relative to the number of additional infections at the beginning of the period but that the value of the Index remains similar.
The Index using cumulative cases (Index of Cumulative Cases) continues to highlight that the metropolitan areas of London, Manchester and Birmingham have faced the highest risks, due to high numbers of temporary accommodation units and instances of COVID-19, with London Boroughs consistently topping the Index of Cumulative Cases. Other towns near to the capital, such as Slough, Reading and Luton, and others such as Bedford are also amongst the most highlighted by this metric and have been moving upwards in the rank due to the high rates of infections over the last weeks (Luton, +4 positions up; Bedford, +10 positions in the last 2 weeks).
However, now that the rate of infections declines, a more relevant metric would consider the number of additional cases and the number of people in TA. This additional metric, the Index of New Cases, highlights areas that might be facing the greatest pressures now as the number of new cases remains high relative to other parts of the country.
This additional metric allows us to tell a more nuanced story.
Firstly, it reinforces the message that the pandemic is easing as the values of the Index of New Cases is lower for late-May than for mid-May (smaller bubbles) which is mainly driven by a reduction in the number of additional cases (lighter colours). Secondly, it moves the focus away from London Boroughs which currently have relatively few new infections considering population size (small bubbles, lighter colours). Thirdly, but probably more importantly, it highlights some areas were the number of cases continues to increase at a faster pace than in other places in the country: Bedford, Tameside and Blackpool have large numbers in TA and some of the highest numbers of new COVID-19 cases. Other areas facing potentially large pressures are in the midlands like Luton, Peterborough, Shropshire, Sandwell and Northamptonshire, and in the greater Manchester area including Manchester and Oldham.
We will continue to update and adjust the Index as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases change 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.