Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese claims that some homeless people are commuting from London to Manchester in order to capitalise on the more ‘generous’ nature of northerners. The claim comes following a research project undertaken by the council, which supposedly revealed that 80% of the homeless in Manchester are not actually without homes.
Richard Leese has urged people to donate to homeless organisations and charities instead of giving money to individual beggars, as he stated that the money provided could source “individual drug and alcohol habits”. The council is becoming increasingly conscious of homeless people’s means of surviving in relation to their actual situation. Manchester City Council has begun their efforts to limit exploitation of public services by banning homeless people from utilising the City Library and its facilities.
Begging is not a crime so police have been limited in their options to investigate people begging for cash. Although changes to anti- social behaviour laws mean that they can ban people from begging in certain areas.
Sir Richard Leese conceded, “Homelessness is a serious issue” but he also remarked “Plonking tents in the city centre is not a way of dealing with homelessness- although in reality many of the tent occupiers are not homeless”.
Rishi Lancaster, who constructed the homeless project ‘Coffee4Craig’ in Salford in memory of her brother, who was found dead in 2013 after sleeping rough, has reinforced Mr. Leese’s comments. She said “I have seen people with homes out on the streets begging and people taking advantage of charities and organisations in order to get free stuff”.
However local homeless man Ryan McPhee, who recently helped to set up The Ark homeless shelter, which was dismantled by authorities on Oxford Road, has dismissed the claims of Leese and has implied that they are preposterous. He said, “A dozen people were living there and all but one was homeless. Mr. Leese’s comments aren’t true at all. People beg because they need money for food”.
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