Homeless should get £400m left on dormant Oyster cards, says mayoral candidate

Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London Siobhan Benita (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London Siobhan Benita (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

A LONDON mayoral candidate wants the £400 million of unused Oyster card credit to go to the homeless this Christmas.

Liberal Democrat Siobhan Benita has urged Londoners to donate dormant cards with small amounts to charities for rough sleepers.

Calling on London mayor Sadiq Khan to release the money, Benita said it would have a real impact on “vulnerable people’s lives over the festive period and beyond.”

Benita, who has urged Khan to adopt her ‘#OystersForChristmas campaign’, believes it could raise millions for homeless charities.

She said: “It’s shocking that the number of rough sleepers in London has surged to a record high, with around 22 new people now sleeping on the streets for the first time each day.

“It’s shameful that London accounts for over a quarter of the total number of people sleeping rough in England. After nearly a full term as Mayor, Sadiq Khan’s rough sleeping strategy has clearly failed.”

She has vowed to establish a new unit to address homelessness and rough sleeping if she wins next year.

Transport for London (TfL) recently revealed that at the end of September that it was sitting on £400 million in accounts that have not been used for 12 months.

TfL’s chief technology officer Shashi Verma said customers can already donate their old Oyster cards to the Railway Children via charity boxes at Heathrow Airport, Kings Cross and Liverpool St.

“Over the last decade, this has helped raise more than £218K for the Railway Children, an international children’s charity who work with street children in India, East Africa and the UK,” Verma was quoted as saying.

“We are currently looking to expand the scheme with boxes at a number of additional sites across our network, as well as see whether there are additional options of allowing customer to donate to the Railway Children charity via Oyster refunds in the future.”