Oxford City Council has been successful in a bid for government funds to ease pressures on local education, health and housing services because of recent migration.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has agreed to give £790,000 to the council to improve English language support for refugees and asylum seekers, to tackle rogue landlords and poor housing conditions, and to support rough sleepers who cannot access other services.
This funding will also improve the council’s capacity to tackle anti-social behaviour, exploitation of migrants and human trafficking.
The council will work in partnership with other Oxfordshire councils, education providers and the voluntary sector to deliver more pre-entry English (ESOL) classes for recent arrivals in the county. The ESOL programme will include a buddying and volunteering scheme to help migrants integrate and contribute more strongly to their local communities. It will also improve access to public services and support the NHS Choose Well initiative, which aims to reduce inappropriate and costly use of health services.
Migrants are at particular risk of poor housing conditions and exploitation by rogue landlords. DCLG funding will allow the council and its partners to tackle poor housing conditions in the private rented sector, including overcrowding and unlawful “beds in sheds”.
Rough sleepers who cannot currently access benefits or housing due to their immigration status will be provided with short-term accommodation and wraparound support to help them off the streets.
Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said:
“We are delighted that our bid for DCLG funding was successful. Oxford is a multinational and diverse city, and migrants have long made a significant contribution to our economy and culture. We recognise that there are barriers that prevent migrants from being able to play a full part in the Oxford community. In a time when all public services are stretched, it is also vital for services and all residents that migrants can use those services effectively.
“DCLG funding will help recent arrivals to Oxford integrate more easily into our community, finding volunteering and work, and will also reduce pressure on the NHS. Targeting rogue landlords who prey on migrants will improve standards in the private rented sector, which will benefit migrants and the wider community alike. We also welcome the opportunity to support entrenched rough sleepers off the streets.”