Decision Maker Response
Oxford City Council’s response
Jan 5, 2018 — We think it’s important to clear up some inaccuracies in this petition.
The lady who died last year was not sleeping rough, and the weather was not 0°C or below, at the time of her death. She had an Oxford connection and was accessing homelessness services in Oxford; she was accommodated at the time she was taken ill. Increasing SWEP to every night that temperatures are predicted to drop to 0°C or below would have had no impact on this individual. We believe it to be inappropriate for anyone to base their argument on an incomplete and misleading understanding of the sad facts concerning a particular individual’s death.
It has been alleged that people were turned away from the SWEP service due to a lack of space. This is simply not true – no one was turned away because of a lack of space. Homeless Oxfordshire, St Mungo’s and the Porch have provided an excellent SWEP service on behalf of the City Council. From time to time they will bar individuals on safeguarding grounds as they have duties of care to staff and residents, and some individuals have a record of incidents posing an unacceptable risk to others. Also they may not admit individuals outside the opening hours, which are clearly communicated to rough sleepers.
In common with everyone who has signed up to the City Conversation, our vision is an Oxford where nobody has to sleep rough. We have invested around £20m to help the homeless in the last couple of years, including buying properties to provide accommodation for homeless families, to provide £1.4m of annual grants to homelessness services, and to fund a £1.1m new homeless shelter in Oxford. We are doing what we can to help the homeless and end this national tragedy that is playing out on our streets. If you would like more information about our work, or would like to know how you can help the homeless in Oxford, please visit: www.oxford.gov.uk/tacklinghomelessness.