Westminster commuters ‘paying beggars up to £280 a day’

Beggars in central London are earning up to £280 a day from commuters, Westminster Council said today.

The total monthly handout comes in at £500,000, a council survey revealed. Just under half the 226 commuters questioned said they felt sorry for the beggars.

One-third said they handed over spare change because they felt generous while a quarter gave money to help beggars buy something to eat or find a place to sleep.

The survey also found 14 per cent felt guilty if they walked past a beggar without giving some money. Beggars received £55 a day on average, with some getting as much as £280.

There are 300 beggars in central London, according to Westminster Council, which published the survey as it launched the next stage of its controversial Killing with Kindness campaign urging the public not to give money to beggars but to donate the money to homelessness charities instead.
Councillor Audrey Lewis, cabinet member for protection and licensing at Westminster Council, said the campaign did not aim to discourage people from helping others.

“It is about educating people so that they can make a difference to people’s lives by supporting charities that help the homeless, rather than indirectly funding drug dealers,” she said.

Recent council figures suggested that more than 70 street beggars tested positive for class A drugs after they were arrested and at least 60 per cent were found not to be homeless.

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