Shelter Scotland argues homelessness problem stems from cuts to vital services
STEWART PATRICK, chief business executive of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce (GCC), has been condemned by the charity Shelter Scotland for his recent remarks on homelessness in Glasgow.
Patrick, a former senior commercial director of Scottish Enterprise, said in the Times newspaper that begging and sleeping rough are a “disincentive for spending activity” in Glasgow, where city centre shopping is a major part of the city’s economy.
Patrick continued that “there is no doubt that begging and rough sleeping have become markedly more visible in recent months.
“Begging is not something that the business community or the general public appreciate. They are not comfortable with it.” Stewart Patrick, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
“The clear message coming back from our members is that begging is a disincentive for spending activity and investment in the city centre. Begging is not something that the business community or the general public appreciate. They are not comfortable with it.”
Patrick also commented that if members of the public gave their money to “legitimate charities” and sellers of the Big Issue magazine instead of the homeless themselves, it would “remove the incentive” to sleep on the streets.
However, Patrick’s sentiments did not find much agreement amongst Scottish’s charities and homelessness campaigners.
“The problem is not caused by people giving money. The problem is caused by cuts in funding to vital services.” Sharon Berrie, Shelter Scotland
Speaking on Reporting Scotland last night, Sharon Berrie, Glasgow community hub manager for Shelter Scotland, said: “The problem is not caused by people giving money. The problem is caused by cuts in funding to vital services.
“And yeah, there are services out there – we should be asking why people aren’t using them, and we need to ask people with lived experience what their needs are, what services are needed, before we say, ‘Oh, it can be solved by stopping giving people money.’”
Liz McAreavey, Mr Patrick’s counterpart at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce (ECC), also responded.
Speaking to the Scotsman newspaper, he said: “There is no doubt that begging is a problem in Edinburgh and throughout the country, for business and for our wider society. Therefore, the best way to tackle it is to focus on and address wider issues around education, poverty and education in Scotland.”
In 2016-17, 34,100 homeless applications were made to local councils. There are roughly 34,000 empty long-term private sector homes in Scotland.
Community Safety Glasgow, a partnership between Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland, found in a recent report that over 800 cases of begging in the city centre had been recorded in the past year. In July, CSG conducted a survey of business owners and found that 36% were affected by begging, with a quarter of firms complaining of weekly customer complaints as a result.
Shelter Scotland has recorded a recent 46 per cent rise in the number of people at risk of homelessness, while similar agencies in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen have reportedly also seen increases in inner-city begging and rough sleeping. According to Scottish Government statistics, in 2016-17, 34,100 homeless applications were made to local councils. There are roughly 34,000 empty long-term private sector homes in Scotland.
Picture courtesy of Rui Duarte
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