A greater number of people believe residents of Manchester are more generous to beggars than Londoners. Opinion is split on whether London beggars are commuting to Manchester
The media have picked up on the Manchester City Council leader’s recent blog saying “we've had at least one example of somebody commuting from London to beg on our streets” and that “the evidence we have suggests that 80% of street beggars are not homeless”. In an article titled “Homelessness and Street Begging” Council leader Sir Richard Leese argues Mancunians are “a generous lot” but that it is “most likely beneficiaries are the nearest off-licence, drug dealer, or the mysterious people seen dropping some beggars off in the city centre and then picking them up again later in the day”.
First Verdict, the YouGov daily opinion sharing app, finds that people strongly tend to say Mancunians are more generous to beggars than Londoners. The difference between the two is almost 15 to 1. One in five say residents of London and Manchester are equally generous to beggars. When it comes to the issue of whether it’s true or false that beggars are commuting from London to Manchester, opinion is almost evenly split.
One of the things often brought out in any discussion about people begging is: how are we to be sure they are genuine? There have been reports highlighting cases of people often pretending to be beggars or, worse, being forced into begging by organised crime chains. One First Verdict user pointed to his personal experience: “when I was a bank cashier in the 1990’s we had beggars coming in at the end of every day to change their takings into notes before going home to their council houses! I tend not to trust what I see”.
The Manchester City Council leader has announced that in the coming weeks the city officials are to have “a real engagement with generous Manchester people about how their generosity can most benefit people in genuine need, largely by supporting those voluntary organisations best placed to work with people on the street”.
Figures show homelessness is on the rise in the UK over the past years. Interestingly Westminster – the political and cultural centre of the country – has the highest level of rough sleeping in the whole of England.