Cuts make Kent rough sleepers 'invisible' says charity

Porchlight at the Kent County Show Porchlight's stand at the Kent County Show helps bring its work to the attention of the public

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Increasing numbers of rough sleepers in Kent are not getting help because funding cuts have reduced the number of outreach workers, a charity has said.

Porchlight said county council funding to go on to the streets to find rough sleepers was down from £1m to £275,000.

"It's a massive hit. The numbers are on the increase but we can't get to them," said chief executive Mike Barrett.

Kent County Council said it was still funding homeless support but Porchlight had lost out in a tendering process.

The council said it was still spending more than £2.5m per year on support and outreach services.

'No longer visible'

Mr Barrett said Porchlight once had a team of 28 workers but it had now been cut to four funded by the local authority and two funded by the charity itself.

Last year the Kent-wide charity helped 550 rough sleepers with accommodation and finding work.

"The numbers are likely to be higher than we are registering because they are no longer visible," said Mr Barrett.

"Kent County Council... have got to find another £330m worth of cuts this year.

"I don't think they can do much about it but we are totally reliant now on other sources of income.

"Their (rough sleepers') situation will deteriorate, their health will deteriorate and they will cost more to help in the longer term," he said.

Kent County Council said: "Following competitive tendering processes, the county council and its partners contract with a number of not-for-profit organisations to support people who are vulnerable and homeless or rough sleeping, including the service for entrenched rough sleepers that Porchlight runs on our behalf."

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