Actions against 'fake' beggars blighting Walsall
Beggars who take advantage of kind Walsall people have again been warned “we know where you live” by council bosses.
Walsall Council’s scrutiny overview committee discussed the town’s draft housing strategy at a meeting on Tuesday, with the authority’s success in helping homeless people being recognised.
But members said the issue of “fake” beggars blighting areas, most notably the town centre, was still causing concerns.
Council leader Mike Bird said people “sat on their backsides” earning up to £100 a day because it was now a way of life.
He added they were encouraging generous folk to donate to alternative giving charities to ensure their money went to those who really need it.
This is not the first time Councillor Bird has spoken out on the issue and has repeatedly called for action on offenders who intimidate visitors to the borough.
Housing officers told the committee that enforcement teams have been carrying out proactive work with individuals which had brought some success in stopping them begging in the area.
Councillor Bird said: “There are people on the streets of Walsall that are beggars and not homeless. What we are looking to do is encourage alternative giving.
“If the generous people of Walsall want to give to the people who are begging on the streets, tell them to give it to the people who actually look after the homeless.
“They are not there because they are homeless. They are there because it’s a way of life, earning £80-£100 a day sitting on their backsides because they’ve got used to it.
“I’m sorry but the people of Walsall need to know. These people are not homeless. We know where they all live.”
The report said that a number of initiatives in Walsall such as the night shelter, specialist support for sex workers and vulnerable women and the flagship Housing First scheme had supported dozens of homeless people.
Since Housing First was launched in Walsall in November 2017, 41 people have been supported and rehoused and the authority has a target of 88 by April 2021.
The draft housing strategy for the next five years is expected to be approved by cabinet members next week.