Published: 18:47, 20 November 2020
| Updated: 12:45, 23 November 2020
Porchlight is raising concerns about Kent County Council's budget consultation process, which ends on Tuesday.
The homelessness and mental health charity said that homeless and vulnerable people across Kent could be affected by cuts next year, which would have devastating consequences.
In the online consultation, the county council asks respondents: "If you had to remove £1 from one of the services areas, please tell us where you would remove your £1 from?"
One of the options given is social support: homelessness, drug and alcohol, domestic abuse, mental health and loneliness services all fall under this category.
Porchlight said that the economic impacts of Covid are having a devastating effect on the poorest and most vulnerable people in our communities and the services that support them are needed more than ever.
The charity currently depends on Kent County Council funding to support thousands of people who are affected by homelessness, who experience mental health issues or who have been cut off from the community. Last year 62% of its income came from the county council.
Its chief executive Mike Barrett said: "Thousands of Kent households are turning to organisations like Porchlight for help because they are facing desperate decisions on a daily basis."
"People are so frightened because they don’t know how they’re going to get through this.”
He said: "We understand that Kent County Council is facing enormous financial challenges because of coronavirus, but any potential cuts in social support services will have devastating consequences.
"Now is the time to ensure that people who are already struggling to get by are not pushed further into poverty by this crisis.”
The charity said that vulnerable people who benefit from social support would struggle to have their say in the consultation.
Mr Barrett said: "Many don’t have access to the internet and lockdown measures mean they can’t use libraries or community centres to go online."
Porhlight is urging Kent County Council to discuss the potential impact of funding cuts before any final decisions are made.
KCC's budget consultation can be found here.