Cuts to Kent homelessness support ‘devastating’, says Porchlight charity

Sleeping rough (stock photo)

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

A homelessness charity has described a decision to cut aid to some of the most vulnerable people in society as “devastating”.

Kent Homeless Connect, which provides specialist housing-related care and support for homeless people and those at risk of homelessness, will be decommissioned by Kent County Council (KCC) in September 2022.

Porchlight, one of several organisations who help run the service, says it has been a “lifeline” for thousands of people across the county.

Mike Barrett, Porchlight’s chief executive, opposed the decision made by the Conservative administration during its budget meeting on Thursday.

He said: “With the pandemic and cost of living crisis pushing Kent residents to breaking point, it is needed more than ever. ”

His comments come after an emotionally charged and heated debate at the Kent Showground in Maidstone.

It was revealed that around 6,500 Kent residents are at risk of homelessness, including those with complex needs, such as mental health, drugs and alcohol.

KCC Tories said it was a “difficult” decision made on financial grounds in order to balance its budget amid a “challenging” Covid period.

The county council pays around £5million for the service every 12 months.

Cllr Peter Oakford (Con), KCC’s cabinet member for finance, said: “This has been an area of focus because we know how difficult it is at the moment, but the cost is too high.”

Ongoing talks to transition the running of the support service are being conducted with other district and borough councils.

Cllr Clair Bell (Con), who is KCC’s public health cabinet member, added: “We will work with them on an individual basis to talk about this important work.”

KCC Liberal Democrats submitted an emergency motion to extend KCC’s running of the Kent Homeless Connect service by another six months from September 2022. It comes as demand has grown for the use of the service.

Cllr Anthony Hook (Lib Dem), a KCC opposition leader, said: “This decision will drive hundreds of people onto the streets and put more people at risk.”

Opposition parties, including Labour and the Greens, voiced their fears over the cuts.
Margate county councillor Barry Lewis (Lab) warned that people at risk of homelessness could “fall through the safety net” amid the transition.
After the meeting, Porchlight says it will continue to fight the verdict made as they call for more government aid in the long-term.
Mr Barrett said: “We are doing everything we can to show Kent County Council the human cost of cutting this service.”


  1. And the funding for everything else is sucked in to it … And the Tories who produced this cut is the Tories who were taking back control of the border…hahahahahaha jokers

  2. Funding for the homeless is cut. But thousands of expensive three or four bed houses are being built across the local countryside.
    If it was just a case of building more houses , the problem would soon be solved as there are thousands of places being built , especially in areas where the existing population don’t want them!
    People are homeless because they haven’t got any money at all! Not even enough to put down a deposit on a small, rented room, let alone carry on paying the rent and all the other bills.
    Specialist services will always be needed to get penniless people back into a place of their own. If you have no money, you will never get a place, even the cheapest place in town.
    It’s almost as if the Tories running KCC want to force the homeless to go INTO London where they might stand a chance of help, while attracting the better-off OUT of London to live in all these new houses in the countryside. Thereby ensuring a continuing Tory voting base in Kent.
    As for trying to blame the small number of immigrants who actually succeed in getting into “fortress Britain” by risking their lives in open boats, many of them choose Britain because they already have family and friends to support them here.
    Without that support, few would risk the journey. There is precious little here for them that isn’t available more generously in most other European countries.(Apart from unregulated, low-paid jobs which seem to be a British specialism at the moment. We don’t want all that “red tape” and Health and Safety regulations to protect people ,do we?)
    Anyway, Britain isn’t a poor country. It comes in as the 6th or 7th richest country in the world so it should be straightforward to house all the current residents plus new arrivals. The money is there. But it’s in the wrong hands and there is no pressure on government to get hold of it to use for public benefit. Easier to blame the immigrants and carry on voting for the same old policies.

  3. We’re talking about £5m for a year’s cost for the homeless in Kent. Current cost for putting asylum seekers up in hotels is almost £5m a DAY.

    As a country we have fundamentally lost the plot.

    • Reply to Thanetian Blind.
      I totally agree with you, also they are not fleeing persecution from France. With respect, I think
      Keefogs has also ‘lost the plot’
      We are a small Island for goodness sake.
      Our own people should come first.

  4. It is not being racist to see where the money is going , people come in on boats and receive medical treatment , food , a roof straight away maybe they have to sleep on a floor but they have a roof over their head.
    Perhaps our homeless get a bit of rubber and come in by sea.

  5. Thinking about the comment “sleeping on a mattress in Manston”, are they fed given hot drinks and is the heating free? Also, do they have people making sure that they are treated correctly?
    If you are homeless for whatever reason you get nothing.

    • I understand that last winter, in Thanet, no one who wanted some sort of accommodation was left out on the street.
      There was hot food, showers, medical help available for those who wanted it.

    • So true all what you say , having lived on the streets myself 50 years ago , sleeping in shelters or toilets , going to a chippy asking for cracking to eat as it was free, there was no help for anyone, the only person who could help me was me.

  6. The Tories removing support for homeless people at the same time landlords are selling up and putting families on the street because of Tory regulations. People coming in and buying those properties to let out as Airbnb’s getting around loopholes conveniently left open by Tory administration. We can see where this is going while those rich Tories in charge keep sorting things so they get even richer. ‘Levelling Up’? no way!

  7. Why contrast the help for the homeless with the help for refugees as if we have to make a choice of one or the other?
    Do we scratch our heads and wonder if the bins should be collected more often in Thanet than in Dover? Or if the residents of Maidstone somehow need more libraries than people in Faversham? Or if 40 year-olds with cancer should get more,or less, treatment than 50-year olds?
    The money is there to do all of this. In fact, the current government makes a lot of noise about “levelling up” as if even they realise that there is no value in playing one part of the country against the others.
    Sometimes I wonder at just how gloomy and pessimistic people are getting. Britain takes far fewer refugees than most other Western European countries, yet even these few hardy souls, staggering off open boats on the coast, are seen as too much of a burden.
    Is our economy so weak that we cannot cope with far fewer refugees than France or Spain or Germany? Are our public services so underfunded and enfeebled that we dare not add any more children to the schools or cannot even find homes for everyone?
    What a terrible state of affairs, to be so incapable of carrying out the basics of a civilised society.
    We should tell the government, quick. The last time I looked, they were announcing to the world how strong our economy was performing, and what a great future awaits us. Yet, to hear some people talk, we are almost penniless. Not like the rest of Western Europe at all.
    God help us if they call a war! We’d be abandoning Kiev quicker than Kabul!(And that was really quick!)

  8. I wonder how much (little) all those commenters screaming about the costs of asylum seekers/how this affects currently homeless people (it doesn’t) and how it’s not fair that their on the sleeve racism is called racism, have ever actually done to support homeless people beyond giving them dirty looks and saying they’d spend any money given to them on drugs.. probs norralot.

  9. You cannot speak for other people. I am sure many who have commented have contributed in some way to the homeless.
    Most people I know are concerned about the influx of migrants coming from a safe country, France.
    Asylum seekers should go through the legal process to enter a country.
    As somebody has already pointed out, we are a small Island and do allow many to stay here.
    Speak for yourself and don’t judge others who have made comments YOU do not like.
    How do you know, that the cost of said asylum seekers, does not affect the homeless?
    Do you work in some Government department to make such a sweeping statement?
    And another commentator hiding behind a pseudonym.

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