The following statement is Oxford City Council’s response to The Observer reporting a Home Office plan to use charities to target non-UK rough sleepers (7 July).
Councillor Linda Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure and housing, said: “St Mungo’s operates our street population outreach team, OxSPOT. OxSPOT works tirelessly to help people experiencing homelessness off our streets and to connect them to other services that can deal with the complex issues they often face. OxSPOT does a fantastic job helping us tackle the homelessness crisis created by austerity, welfare reform and not enough secure, affordable housing.
“Unlike some councils, we don’t require our outreach team to work with Home Office immigration enforcement teams. Our homelessness services will never pass on people’s personal data to the Home Office without their explicit consent. We do help people experiencing homelessness in Oxford return to their home countries, but we only do this and will only ever do this with their explicit permission.
“Last winter we used temporary funding from the Rough Sleeper Initiative to provide emergency accommodation for people from abroad who can’t claim housing or benefits. The day services we fund are open to everybody sleeping rough. This winter, we aim to provide winterlong emergency shelter to anyone experiencing homelessness – whatever their immigration status.”