Are there enough beds to help Cherwell’s homeless?

sleeping rough on the streets
sleeping rough on the streets

Around £2.9million is to be spent on supporting the homeless across the county over the next three years, but the number of beds is to be reduced.

A seven-member partnership – Oxfordshire County Council, the county’s district councils, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group – has been formed to manage the reduction in beds for single, homeless people.

A new commissioning process is to be put in place to continue the funding for 13 local supported beds in Cherwell and six local supported beds in West Oxfordshire as well as a 56-bed hostel and around 50 supported beds in Oxford city, which people in Banbury and the surrounding area can be referred to.

Funding will cease for Oxford-based Simon House Hostel and Julian Housing.

The details of the partnership have been released following a reduction in the county council’s budget of £1.5m by 2019/20. The project will start in April next year.

Cherwell District Council has estimated the number of people rough sleeping in the district has fallen by 19 per cent in the past year, from 21 rough sleepers to 17. The annual estimate was taken on November 8.

John Donaldson, Cherwell’s councillor for housing, said: “We are pleased at this reduction in the estimated number of rough sleepers in Cherwell. Nevertheless, there is no room for complacency.

“Cherwell and its partner agencies will continue to work together to identify and support the homeless and offer them routes to warmth and stability, which include referrals to access 24-hour support based within Oxford and 13 supported beds within Cherwell district.

“We encourage members of the public to report cases of rough sleeping via the StreetLink website and if they wish to donate, to use The Beacon Centre’s text message service.”

Judith Heathcoat, Oxfordshire County councillor for adult social care, said: “I am pleased discussions held between all of the different agencies involved has led to a plan being set out on how services for single homeless people can be continued in Oxfordshire.

“These new proposals would involve £2,940,000 being contributed by the seven organisations involved over the next three years, this includes the NHS, the county council in its role as the provider of social care and the district councils in their role as housing authorities.

“This is a good example of local organisations working together to come up with a realistic solution despite difficult circumstances.