A Lichfield councillor says a new strategy to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping will help prevent a street begging “turf war”.
The Cabinet at Lichfield District Council approved the Housing, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2019-2024 at a meeting earlier this week.
Among the items covered by the document is a proposal to discourage people from giving to people begging in the city centre.
The local authority says a “diverted giving scheme” would be pursued to ensure money people wanted to donate would go to the right people.
Cllr Ashley Yeates, cabinet member for communities and housing, told the meeting:
“There seem to be two types of street beggars.
“There’s those that are doing it and it’s a business where they can earn a lot of cash – they are coming in from across the border and into the city and earning money.
“There are turf wars, would you believe, for certain places to beg.
“Then there are those with complex needs and paying for habits that they have got. We are trying to work with them and we are helping some of them.
“We want to let the public know that every time they are giving they aren’t actually helping the situation.”Cllr Ashley Yeates, Lichfield District Council
“The risk that it goes straight on drugs or alcohol
Cabinet colleague Cllr Angela Lax backed the plan to move residents away from giving money directly to street beggars.
“I very much support this, because it’s making sure the money people want to give to help the homeless is effectively used, rather than the risk that if it just gets thrown into a begging bowl that it goes straight on drugs or alcohol.
“If you want to give make sure you channel it in the right place.”Cllr Angela Lax, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Yeates said a marketing campaign would look to highlight the best ways for people to support rough sleepers and homeless people.
“If residents give to a fund we are looking to create, because we know the charities and community organisations that can and will help these people, we will be able to distribute the money to the best places.
“That then means the money is being used for good rather than being used for a habit or a criminal gang, which is what we’re finding. “Cllr Ashley Yeates, Lichfield District Council
The new strategy can be downloaded from the council’s website.