TWO of the county’s biggest homeless providers are facing closure after their funding was slashed.

More than 200 beds for the homeless will go when Simon House Hostel in Oxford and Julian Housing – based in Oxford and Abingdon – are ‘decommissioned’ by April 2018, Oxfordshire County Council announced yesterday.

It comes after Government cuts of £1.5m for homeless support, which the county and district councils say will mean the loss of nearly 150 beds across the county overall by 2018/19.

Julian Housing, run by Oxford Homeless Pathways, manages about 150 beds including Edith Kempson House in Littlemore, while Simon House in Paradise Street has room for 52 people.

Simon House will be decommissioned over 12 months, while Julian Housing will see its beds dispersed across Oxford City after a six month period.

Yesterday, the county council and all five districts signed a joint agreement which they say provides a ‘realistic solution despite difficult circumstances’.

The package of measures to help homeless people over three years is worth £2.94m, but by 2019 it will only be enough to pay for 141 beds – down from 286.

Oxford City Council deputy leader Ed Turner said the local authority would do its best to keep supporting homeless people.

He said: “We are not planning to reduce funding, unlike the county council. We are deeply disappointed that the county has reduced its funding but we are trying to make the best of a bad situation.

“We are deeply concerned by the number of rough sleepers in the city.”

District councillors insist without the cash pledge, which sees districts and county working together with Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group, provision for homeless people in the county would all but stop in some areas.

The £2.94m over three years will fund a 56-bed hostel in Oxford with allocated spaces for people from other parts of the county and between 42 and 50 beds across the city.

It will also support 13 beds in the Cherwell district, 14 in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse and six in West Oxfordshire.

South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council have contributed about £215,000.

South Oxfordshire council leader John Cotton said: “Without this intervention it is certain that there would no longer be any local provision in South Oxfordshire.

“This clearly demonstrates our commitment to those most vulnerable in society, putting a roof over their heads and enabling them to get back on their feet.”

Oxford Homeless Pathways did not respond for comment.

The Oxford Times:

EVERY fortnight the volunteers at the Asian Cultural Centre in Manzil Way, East Oxford, provide a meal for the homeless.

But Shabnam Sabir, who helps cook up the feasts, said she was worried about the loss of funding for Simon House Hostel and Julian Housing.

She said: “When Lucy Faithfull House closed it was quite devastating and a lot of people ended up on the streets.

“Now this is going to add to that pressure.

“This is not what developed countries should be doing.

“We are there to serve people but that is not how it should be.

“We can only provide them with a temporary solution, they need adequate services and provisions in place.

“We can only provide a lending hand, but they need more than that.”

Businesswoman Cathy Dunbabin has spent the past few weeks collecting coats to donate to homeless people in the city.

The mum-of-two from Cassington said it was important that more people gave up their time to help those suffering from homelessness.

She said: “We need to be leading by example.

“We have perhaps all been guilty of just being a bit embarrassed by seeing homeless people and not knowing what to do to help.

“It is a bigger issue than ever.

“After I started collecting coats I had so many people contact me saying they would love to do more.

“I just do not think people know where to go and how they can help.

“It needs to be made as easy as possible.

“Anything that can be done to galvanise more support is a good thing.”

Ms Dunbabin aims to complete her Coats for Christmas initiative by Monday, December 5, and said the majority of donations need to be coats for men.