Public conflicted about homelessness

October 22, 2013, 8:00 AM GMT+0

The public tend to think the homeless have made bad choices, and are likely to feel annoyed as well as sorry when asked for money by beggars

It was reported last week that the numbers relying on food banks has tripled in a year, as the Red Cross announced that this winter they will collect and distribute food to the needy for the first time since the Second World War.

New research reveals conflicted feelings about the homeless among British adults.

35% say most homeless people have 'probably made bad choices in life that have got them into their situation', while 27% say they may well 'have had a bad start in life and been unfairly treated by society'. 25% think neither and 13% don’t know.

Further controversy over the needy arose this week when an MP reportedly told a one-legged man who asked him for money to “get a job.”

Many Brits (45%) feel annoyed when someone they don’t know tries to ask them for money, while many also feel intimidated (34%), sorry (21%) or guilty (15%).

Older people seem to be firmer in this respect: 49% of over 40s feel annoyed compared to 39% of 18-39 year olds, and only 11% of over 40s feel guilty compared to 32% of 18-39 year olds.

A separate survey for Prospect Magazine finds that attitudes to the generally poverty-stricken are softer, however. The majority (53%) think that only two in ten or fewer living in poverty have themselves to blame, while 35% say the number is more.

The report into the rise of food banks by the Trussell Trust says rising energy prices and cuts to benefits are likely to force more people to choose between “heating and eating” this winter. The Government has taken issue with the report, though, claiming that “three new food banks are opening every week, so it’s not surprising more people are using them.”

Image: Getty

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