Spending more than £140,000 of taxpayers’ money to support people from central and eastern Europe who end up homeless in the Cambridge region has been criticised by UKIP.
The Government funding will mostly be spent in the city and in Wisbech, where social care charity CRI said there had been “significant increases” in the number of immigrants sleeping rough.
CRI will use the £144,000 grant to help get people from central and eastern Europe into accommodation, to raise awareness of services they are entitled to access, and to support attempts for them to return to their home nations if they wish.
But Peter Burkinshaw, chairman of UKIP in Cambridge, said British money should not be spent on foreigners.
He said: “There’s something going wrong with our immigration procedures.
“I would have thought that, before people were just allowed to come in, they should have some way of knowing where they would be staying and how they would support themselves.
“We should just send them back home. We have got better things to spend our money on – like reducing Government debt.”
Last year 229 people were found sleeping rough in Cambridge, compared to 183 in 2011/12. The News has reported how a Lithuanian carer, Dale Grigeleviciute, was forced to sleep in a bin store in Lensfield Road after she lost her job.
CRI said many central and eastern Europeans who slept rough were not aware of their rights to access welfare and accommodation, often because they do not speak English. The money will fund patrols and welfare centres to help identify and support people.
Vicki Markiewicz, the charity’s deputy director, said the funding would make a big difference in Cambridge.
She said: “We have seen significant increases in the numbers of rough sleepers and those requiring support from central and eastern European countries and, by having workers who can converse in multiple languages, we are able to provide support to get them off the streets and into accommodation.”
Cllr Catherine Smart, the city council’s executive councillor for housing, said people who fall on hard times should not be demonised.
She said: “It is not British to be so callous. People are people, whatever their nationality.
“Many people come here in good faith for jobs, perhaps seasonal jobs, and when that comes to an end, if people are so callous about them, I don’t think that’s either humane or in the British tradition.”
The city council has previously received funding to help eastern Europeans to return to their home countries if they wish to.
The latest funding was part of a £3.5 million handout to 30 projects around the UK.
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