Migrant workers are being paid in drink or are having significant portions of their pay deducted for accommodation or food by “unscrupulous employers”, Community Care has learned.
A professional who works with the communities said there was a “significant problem” in parts of Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Yorkshire.
The source said foreign workers were proving to be especially vulnerable to exploitation during the recession, though there are few statistics.
The difficulty is that most have no entitlement to social security benefits and work has dried up.
An added problem is that many towns and cities, such as Peterborough or Boston, have little experience of rough sleepers, and there is little voluntary sector help of the sort found in London.
The source said: “These people are outside the system but, as the recession has got worse, more people from eastern Europe have become homeless and on the fringes.
“As a result, some of the homeless people are being approached by unscrupulous individuals to work for them and are paid very small amounts of money or cash in kind or in alcohol.
“People are deducted large amounts of money to pay for accommodation and in some cases food, which doesn’t reflect the costs of these items, so people are working for hours and their take-home pay is pitiful.”
More follows later