Published: 18:59, 25 February 2021
| Updated: 19:01, 25 February 2021
There are fears the number of people sleeping rough in Kent could increase when the furlough scheme ends.
Figures released by the government today reveal 104 people slept rough on a single night last year.
Sean Cullinane works for Emmaus Dover and is worried about a spike in homelessness after the pandemic
This shows a 55 percent drop on the numbers released in 2018, where 233 people were sleeping rough.
But homeless charities have warned there is a crisis brewing and have predicted a rise in figures when the furlough scheme ends.
The furlough scheme allows employees to claim 80 percent of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
It is due to come to an end on April 30, but there is growing speculation the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, could announce an extension in next week's Budget.
Sean Cullinane, who used to be homeless and now works for homeless charity Emmaus Dover, said nobody in the country should be sleeping rough.
But he fears there could be a crisis in Kent when the government withdraws its support - leading to a rise in figures.
"We believe a big problem is going to be a new rise in evictions because there are hundreds of thousands of people who are in rent arrears," he said.
"The problem now is when furlough ends and landlords can go back to evicting what they term ‘bad tenants’, nationally hundreds of thousands of people are going to be put in a position where they can’t afford to pay their arrears. So what is going to happen to them?"
He welcomed the drop in figures released today, but has called for measures to be put in place to assist people who could face eviction when the furlough scheme ends.
The districts of Ashford and Tunbridge Wells were the only two areas not to record any rough sleepers.
But Canterbury and Thanet had the joint-highest, with 24 people in each area without a home or shelter to sleep at night.
Folkestone and Hythe recorded the second highest figure with 12 people, followed by Gravesham (11), Dover (seven), Sevenoaks (six) and Tonbridge and Malling (six).