Layla Moran

Moran: rise in homelessness in Oxfordshire shows why we must scrap Vagrancy Act and better meet housing need

Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, has said that the continued rise in those deemed homeless or at risk of homelessness in Oxfordshire shows that we “need to take a more compassionate approach” to tackling the issue.

Moran has campaigned for the Dickensian Vagrancy Act, which criminalises rough sleeping, to be scrapped, including by introducing a Bill to repeal it in the last Parliament.

The Government figures, released today, show that 19 more households in Q2 2019 (April, May and June) were assessed as homeless or at risk of homelessness (495) compared to Q1 (474) in Oxfordshire.

The Lib Dem MP also raised the issue of local government funding, saying that the Government needs to “put its money where its mouth is” on money to tackle homelessness and build affordable housing.

Layla has emphasised the need for “truly affordable housing” to be prioritised, praising the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils for jointly exploring the potential to create a council-owned housing company to build social homes in the county.

Commenting, Layla said:

“The continuing rise in homeless households shows that this Conservative Government’s approach just isn’t working, and that locally we just aren’t doing enough. It is simply unacceptable.

“We urgently need to take a more compassionate and holistic approach, across government, to tackling this scourge in our area. Given the clear connection between a history of mental health problems and homelessness, any solution must involve better mental health provision.

“That must include scrapping the Dickensian Vagrancy Act, which continues to criminalise rough sleeping for those who fall through the safety net and end up on the streets.

“The local councils in Oxfordshire need to work together to reassess how to meet the unmet housing need of the city, to ensure new homes are truly affordable and don’t unnecessarily encroach on our green belt.

“As Christmas approaches and the weather gets colder, I hope this serves as a wake-up call to the Tories. We can and must do better.”

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