As charities launch their annual drive to help the homeless at Christmas, Westminster Council in central London is pursuing plans to ban soup kitchens from its streets...
The founder of the Big Issue magazine John Bird, who spent years living rough, also believes that soup runs keep people on the streets.
"We wouldn't want to feed our dogs on the streets. There would be an outcry if there was a law that came out tomorrow, saying everyone had to feed their dogs on the streets. But we feed our homeless people on the streets. It is barbaric."
There’s no law making it compulsory to feed people on the streets. And if there ever was a law which made it illegal to feed dogs on the street, people would wonder what the hell all that was about. So what the hell is it about?
A government drive to reduce homelessness has helped bring down the numbers sleeping rough by around two thirds...
Well, no. People on the streets are only counted as sleepers if they’re “clearly bedded down in the open” - rather than dossing down in a derelict building, say - only if they happen to be horizontal when the survey team meets them and only in city centres. Also:
“The count teams are advised to stay away from anywhere they feel to be risky – but it’s exactly those places where homeless people are most likely to be. Every aspect of the guidelines is a way of not counting. In fact I’m amazed the figures contain anyone at all.
Central government funding for local authorities on this issue measures success by these head counts; and this money is channeled through charities and other voluntary agencies. It’s embarrassing if someone turns up with a hot meal and attracts all the uncounted and may have serious funding related repercussions. So no soup for you, dosser.