Consultation on how to save £1.5m from housing-related support services launched

The proposal, approved for consultation by the multi-agency Oxfordshire Health Improvement Board, seeks to challenge and engage with stakeholders, including providers and service users, on how relevant services - known collectively as housing related support - could be delivered in the future.

Oxfordshire County Council had subsidised a reduction in central government funding for housing related support for the past four years but decided in February that it could no longer do so.

Proposed investment in Banbury

A tripling of funding to £100,000 for the Cherwell district in the proposal would see many single homeless people there assisted locally in Banbury, rather than in Oxford, which happens currently.

The consultation proposal would see money saved over two years from 2015/16, with a £400,000 annual investment from the county council's Public Health budget towards particular strands of the service, including substance misuse treatment services.

It would also ensure that three Oxford hostels for homeless people - O'Hanlon House, Lucy Faithful House and Simon House - would remain, with the same number of beds available as presently.

Engagement is the key 

Councillor Judith Heathcoat, Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: "The county council and its partners want to continue to engage with as many people and organisations as possible to find the best way to make this required saving.

"This consultation is not about if the money should be saved, as that decision has already been made and I recognise that this is a complex area which will require a significant amount of partnership working.

"The Health Improvement Board has approved the consultation proposal, which would see the currently funded hostels in Oxford remain open with the same amount of beds available as presently, which clearly is a positive thing.

"There would also be a financial investment in Banbury for service users there to receive support locally, rather than in Oxford as they do presently."

Improving outcomes

The consultation concludes on 17 September. All views and responses would then be considered before a final decision on how to make the required saving is made in early autumn by the Health and Wellbeing Board, a body made up of elected representatives from the district and county councils, health and council officials and the chairman of Healthwatch.

Councillor Heathcoat added: "We want to improve outcomes for people whilst achieving best value for money, and we think this can be done by working with the market to provide innovative solutions.

"No decisions would be made by the multi-agency Health and Wellbeing Board about how the £1.5m saving will be made until the consultation has concluded and responses to it have been carefully considered."