Oxford increases annual rough sleeping investment

Oxford City Council is set to increase its investment on preventing homelessness and rough sleeping to £7.4 million in the next financial year.

The increased investment means that the council will spend an extra £1.2 million on tackling homelessness and rough sleeping in the coming financial year – a 19 per cent increase on 2019/20. It is hoped that the funding will enable the council to continue its transformation of homelessness services with the full opening of the assessment hub and shelter in Floyds Row, fund more than 220 beds for rough sleepers in Oxford and provide a wide range of support to prevent families from becoming homeless.

Latest statistics for the region show that there were 43 people counted as sleeping rough in Oxford during the November street count that contributes to annual government statistics on rough sleeping in England. Overall, increased investment in services means that the number of people experiencing rough sleeping at any one time is down by 30 per cent on the record 61 people counted in November 2017.

Linda Smith, deputy leader of the council, said: “On most days, an hour in the heart of our city will reveal the terrible human cost of a national homelessness crisis sparked by austerity, welfare reform and a broken rental market. Much less obvious is the work that we and our partners do to help hundreds of people off the streets every year.

“But homelessness prevention is about more than rough sleeping and can include finding housing for families or supporting parents facing eviction because they can’t afford to pay the rent and put food on the table.

“We’re increasing our investment in all homelessness prevention to £7.4 million a year in 2020/21 – £1.2 million more than last year. In January we opened our new assessment hub and shelter in Floyds Row. Co-designed by homeless people, Floyds Row is a place where people can get the shelter and support they need to move on from the streets and into sustainable housing as quickly as possible. Homelessness is not inevitable and it is not something we will ever accept. Everybody deserves a decent roof over their head and nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford.”