Issue - meetings

Issue - meetings

Rough sleeping

Meeting: 01/03/2017 - Housing Panel (Panel of the Scrutiny Committee) (Item 86)

86 Services for rough sleepers pdf icon PDF 148 KB


Background Information

The Panel requested a report on the council’s approach to dealing with and supporting people who are sleeping rough in the city, including those with no recourse to public funds.

Why is it on the agenda?

For the Panel to note and comment on how the council deals with and supports people sleeping rough.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Cllr Mike Rowley, Board Member for Housing;

·         Ossi Mosley, Rough Sleeping & Single Homelessness Manager.



Additional documents:


The Rough Sleeping & Single Homelessness Manager said that the number of rough sleepers in the city was currently high (186 individuals had slept rough during September to December 2016) and that rough sleepers tended to have high needs.  Rough sleeping was not illegal or banned but the Council’s view was that sleeping rough was dangerous and harmful to individuals.  An assertive outreach team totalling 10 people were commissioned to support and engage rough sleepers, undertake an initial assessment and provide options for accommodation, which could include private rented accommodation, family, the homelessness pathway or contacting other areas where rough sleepers had a local connection.  It was recognised that this model did not work for all rough sleepers so the Council had commissioned small specialist projects totalling 10 beds to provide accommodation and intensive support to entrenched rough sleepers and those with multiple complex needs.  The Council funded a lot of services in the city but there were particular challenges around individuals who refused to engage, those who were not eligible for services (e.g. because they had no recourse to public funds), those did not wish to leave the city and those who continued to sleep rough despite having access to accommodation.


The Panel raised concerns about people sleeping in tents including people whose tents had been slashed.  The Rough Sleeping & Single Homelessness Manager said that the Council did not issue tents and that these people should speak to the outreach team.  This team visited all the places where people were known to be sleeping rough, either late at night or early in the morning.  The police and day services were all aware of the work of the outreach team and how to refer people to them. 


The Panel questioned whether clear guidance was provided to recipients and providers on how the local connection rules were applied and what peoples’ rights were.  The Panel heard that these rules flowed from the Council’s Allocations Policy which had been agreed by full Council but that the homelessness pathway was less stringent than the Allocations Policy.


The Panel asked about a group of people sleeping at Osney power station who had recently moved there from a former car showroom site on Iffley Road, and how the Council was engaging with them.  The Head of Housing said that the Council had made efforts to engage with this group but had been refused.  Because of this the Council had no way of verifying whether these people were from Oxford and had previously been sleeping rough in the City.  The Panel questioned whether the assertive outreach model may be too intrusive and pushy to be effective with groups such as this.  The Panel commented that some rough sleepers had agency and a voice and could potentially provide useful feedback to the Council.  The Head of Housing said that dialogue was key but that the model was deliberately assertive because the Council believed that sleeping rough was bad for people.


The Panel questioned how the repatriation process worked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 86