Calls for changes to tackle ‘scandalous’ numbers of rough sleepers in Cherwell

A senior councillor has called for change after the number of rough sleepers in Cherwell was revealed.

An estimated 11 people were sleeping on the streets in the district during a spot check on one night last autumn, according the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. In 2010, that number was an estimated zero.

Homelessness stock photo

Homelessness stock photo

Today (Monday, February 25), the Office for National Statistics revealed three homeless people died in Cherwell district in 2017 but estimated that figure as four deaths.

Opposition leader Sean Woodcock said the figures are part of a ‘scandalous national picture of crisis’ and urged the district council to increase the number of affordable homes available.

“Rough sleeping has nearly trebled. Meanwhile more and more people are in insecure accommodation,” he said.

“Lots of house are going up but the number of people on the housing waiting list has not reduced.

“Labour believes we need to increase the number of affordable homes on sites marked for development in Cherwell to 50 per cent.

“We also need to look at schemes like co-operative housing to provide more homes for social rent.”

Cllr John Donaldson, Cherwell District Council’s lead member for housing, said the authority is being ‘proactive in doing more to protect those at risk of rough sleeping’.

He added that the council is committed to providing extra winter beds for homeless people and supporting external services.

“Even one person sleeping out on the streets is one too many; there is no room for complacency,” he said.

Last year, nearly 60 homeless or threatened with homelessness families gained a property through the district council’s housing register, out of 800 families.

Cllr Donaldson added that the council is hiring officers tasked with stopping the eviction of single people to ‘tackle homelessness at root’.

Plus ‘ambitious’ affordable housing requirements are being added to permissions for new developments and the number of affordable homes in the district for the past financial year was more than double the council’s target.

The ONS figures show the estimated deaths by population in Cherwell was 3.4 in 2017.

In Stratford and West Oxfordshire, there were zero rough sleeper deaths in 2017 – there are no statistics available for South Northamptonshire.