Decision Maker Response

Oxford City Council’s response

Feb 16, 2017 — Dear all,

The basis of this petition is false.

Oxford City Council provides £1.4m of grants to Oxford’s homelessness charities every year. This money funds a wide range of services and beds for rough sleepers.

As part of this £1.4m funding, the City Council operates a ‘severe weather emergency provision’ fund, which opens additional beds for rough sleepers when the temperature is forecast to fall below 0°C for three or more nights.

This emergency provision fund has provided help for homeless individuals 313 times over 18 nights since November. During those 18 nights, 34 beds were available and the highest uptake was 30 people – meaning there were always at least 4 beds available for rough sleepers even on the busiest nights.

It is therefore completely untrue to say that Oxford City Council has “left homeless people to freeze on our streets” – Oxford City Council does more than anyone to help Oxford’s homeless.

On top of this, Oxford City Council has a £952,000 reserve to support people who are homeless or vulnerably housed. This was created because of Oxford’s ‘double whammy’ of rising housing costs and shrinking support. Oxfordshire County Council has cut its entire £1.5m budget to support homelessness charities, and the Government has further cut the benefit cap, which will affect hundreds of households with children in the city struggling to afford rent.

Given these massive threats hanging over families in Oxford, we think it would be utterly irresponsible for the City Council to spend all or most of its reserve as a one-off.

Finally, we are unsure where the “over 100 homeless people sleeping rough in Oxford” information has come from. The last official street count indicated that there are currently about 30 individuals sleeping on streets in Oxford. Each and every one of those individuals has been contacted by the City Council with offers of support.

Thank you for your time,

Oxford City Council