Statement on homelessness funding in government spending review

Published: Thursday, 5th September 2019

Councillor Linda Smith, deputy leader of Oxford City Council and cabinet member for leisure and housing, said:

“The spending review contains £54 million in new funding for 2020/21 that means the government will spend £422 million reducing homelessness and rough sleeping. While this is welcome, austerity and the end of ring-fenced funding mean that English councils now spend a billion pounds a year less on homelessness support than they did nine years ago.

“The consequences are all too obvious on our streets – not just in Oxford, but in towns and cities across the country. If the government wants to meet its target of ending rough sleeping by 2027, it must restore funding to pre-austerity levels.

“Oxford City Council has stepped in to mitigate what is now a £2.75 million a year cut in countywide funding since 2013/14. We’re doing more than ever before to prevent and reduce rough sleeping in Oxford, yet a quarter of the people we counted experiencing homelessness in July were new to the streets.

“We’ve been successful in winning government funding to tackle homelessness, including nearly £2 million in the last year alone. The issue with programmes like the Rough Sleeper Initiative and the Rapid Rehousing Pathway is that funding is not guaranteed, it’s limited and we have to apply for it every year.

“We have ambitious plans to help realise our vision that nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford. It’s not just about providing beds. We want to transform our services to provide the right kind of support – not just to help people arriving on or returning to our streets, but also to ensure they successfully move on into sustainable housing as quickly as possible.

“We hope that some of the new funding announced yesterday will be available to help us do this in Oxford, but we need more than that. The government needs to provide enough guaranteed, long-term funding so we can plan effective services that deliver value for money and help people off the streets for good.”