OXFORD's city council is committing £9.1m of public money to tackling homelessness in its budget for next year,

The budget, which is currently in a draft form that needs to be approved, includes plans to spend extra funding from the Government, bringing its original plans to spend £8.2m on homelessness prevention up by almost a further million.

The council has also highlighted how it has spent extra money on tackling rough sleeping in the current year due to a national programme called Everyone In which has aimed to temporarily house as many homeless people as possible and prevent Covid spreading among them.

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The council's cabinet member for affordable housing and housing the homeless, Mike Rowley, said the increased investment demonstrates the council's 'commitment to protecting the most vulnerable people in our community'.

He added: “Everyone In is a national initiative. But I am proud of the way we have implemented it locally. We are an inclusive community with a globally recognised and important role to play in the pandemic. As a city, we always think of others. At this time of year, in this year of all years, it is especially poignant.

“Our investment and the tireless work of partners like Aspire and St Mungo’s strengthens our ability to provide support – and hope – to people experiencing rough sleeping and vulnerable homeless people in these challenging times.”

Oxford Mail:

Mike Rowley

In 2019/20, the last full year before the pandemic, the council spent £6.3m on preventing homelessness and rough sleeping.

For 2020/21, it originally budgeted £7.4m on homelessness prevention.

It had added more money to allow full opening of the assessment hub and shelter in Floyds Row, fund more than 220 beds for rough sleepers in Oxford and provide a wide range of support to prevent families from becoming homeless.

As England went into the first lockdown in March the government issued an ‘Everyone In’ direction for councils to provide emergency housing for rough sleepers and vulnerable homeless people to prevent the spread of the virus.

READ AGAIN: Why are homeless rough sleepers still on the streets?

This response, plus short-term funding to provide this from the Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP) means that the council now expects to spend £8.9m this year.

The short-term NSAP funding currently ends in March 2021, and the council originally expected to invest £8.2m in homelessness prevention in 2021/21.

But a further award of medium-term funding from the NSAP means that the council’s overall homelessness prevention budget for next year now stands at £9.1m.

The council said the NSAP money will help to provide a 'new approach' to rough sleeping, including Everyone In, plus medium-term funding facilitates the provision of women-only and winter shelter accommodation.

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