Tory MP Lee Anderson – of 30p food bank fame – has pledged to never give money to the homeless again after he was given the chance to donate via chip and pin by one person in London.
Commenting on a Daily Telegraph front page documenting Rishi Sunak’s clampdown on beggars, the MP for Ashfield – who has just landed a £100k GB News gig – expressed his shock that those living on the streets have been given assistance to cope in an increasingly cashless society.
“I was in London & was when approached by a man who appeared to be down on his luck,” the deputy Tory chair explained.
“He asked for money but I had no cash. He then whipped out a chip and pin machine & told me I could use a card. I will not give money out ever again on the streets.”
Charities have expressed disappointment in the Government’s plan to tackle anti-social behaviour, calling it a “further criminalisation of vulnerable people”.
Part of the proposals include targeting beggars causing a “nuisance” on Britain’s streets.
The Government’s plan, published on Monday, states an intention to introduce new powers to prohibit organised begging “which is often facilitated by criminal gangs to obtain cash for illicit activity” as well as begging “where it is causing a public nuisance” with examples given including by a cashpoint, in a shop doorway or on public transport.
It also suggests new powers for the police and local authorities could be brought in in relation to rough sleeping “and other street activity where it is causing a public nuisance, such as by obstruction of doorways and pavements, and to clear the debris, tents and paraphernalia that can blight an area”.
The document says “those genuinely homeless and with complex needs” would be “directed to appropriate support”.
But Homeless Link, the national membership body for frontline homelessness services, called the plan a “backwards step” which undermines its commitment to ending rough sleeping in this parliament.
Fiona Colley, director of social change, said: “Homelessness is not a crime. When the Government committed to repealing the Vagrancy Act it was done with an understanding that people sleeping on our streets need to be supported not criminalised.
“Therefore, we are extremely disappointed to see that this new plan will result in further criminalisation of vulnerable people, rather than offering the constructive solutions that work in helping people off the streets for good.
“The measures proposed, including enforcement or risk of removal of belongings, will create distrust, pushing people away from the services and support they need.
“It could be a young person who’s recently left the care system, a woman who has fled an abusive partner or someone who couldn’t keep up with rising rents.
“Regardless, this plan is a backwards step undermining the Government’s own commitment to ending rough sleeping in this parliament.”
Related: Lee Anderson backs calls to move jobless to the countryside to pick crops