A STREET count has shown an increase in rough sleepers in Oxford.

The city council conducts street counts of people sleeping rough in the city under its funding agreement with the government’s Rough Sleeper Initiative. These take place every two months.

In September, the council counted 51 people sleeping rough on the night – a 24 per cent increase from the 41 people counted in July and a 42 per cent increase from the 36 people counted in September 2018.

There were 61 people counted in November 2017.

A quarter of those counted (13 people) had been sleeping rough for less than six months and another eight people (16 per cent) were newly verified by the outreach team (OxSPOT) on the night.

In July, 16 people (39 per cent) has been sleeping rough for less than six months with another three people (seven per cent) newly verified during the count.

Oxford Mail:

The number of homeless UK nationals experiencing homelessness fell from 28 (68 per cent) in July to 24 (47 per cent) in September.

READ AGAIN: Oxford Homeless Movement to help tackle rough sleeping

Earlier this month councillors agreed a new approach to tackling rough sleeping that will mean improved assessment and a range of new accommodation and services – all aimed at getting people off the streets and into sustainable housing more quickly.

The council has been spending millions of pounds on tackling homelessness, and is investing in the transformation of a former job centre in Floyds Row into an assessment centre for rough sleepers.

It is expected to open in the new year.

City councillor Linda Smith, cabinet member for housing, said: "Street counts are a snapshot taken on one night and their main value is in measuring trends and the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

"That said, this is the second highest count on record and it’s hugely disappointing as we are working so hard to get people off the streets for good.

READ AGAIN: Child found in state of undress with man at hotel

“We want to prevent and reduce all forms of homelessness. This year we’ve committed £6m to homelessness prevention, including providing more than 200 beds for people experiencing rough sleeping.

"Despite our best efforts, the effects of austerity mean that vulnerable people with increasingly complex needs continue to fall through the safety net and hit the streets.

“We’re transforming the way we provide services to prevent and reduce rough sleeping and the September street count demonstrates the need to do this."

Oxford Mail:

On World Homeless Day, the council helped launch Oxford Homeless Movement, a new citywide partnership with the aim of ensuring that nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford.

READ MORE: Council leaders to agree funding for Floyds Row homeless hub

The Oxford Homeless Movement website provides information on how to give time, money or help in kind to organisations supporting people sleeping rough.

It also gives guidance and advice for people who need help.

Oxford Homeless Movement is asking for direct donations at oxfordhomelessmovement.org.uk