Gloucester City Council is under fire after posters emerged around the city urging the public not to give money to homeless people. The sign read:

“Are you really helping Homeless people? In some cases, the people you see sleeping rough are not homeless. They are in accommodation, receiving support and benefits”.

It also read:

“Think before you give - change is more than coins.”

The poster, which shows a man begging for change, instead encourages the public to call a local Streetlink team or give money to an established homeless charity.

These posters have angered many in the community, with the local Labour branch calling for the posters to be taken down. A statement by the local Labour party read:

"We are absolutely disgusted by these posters and the Tories should be ashamed they have allowed them to go up… the posters imply that homeless people are not genuine but trying to con people out of money”.

The statement also believed these posters are effectively demonising one of the most vulnerable groups of people in British society.

Members of the public also took to social media to hit out against the posters, with many feeling that it stigmatises homeless people.

The nasty party

The Tories have been trying hard to get rid of their 'nasty party' image ever since the 2002 Conservative Party conference. However, in the statement released by Labour, it said, “clearly the nasty party is alive and kicking in Gloucester”.

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This backlash comes shortly after a separate incident in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Tory council leader Simon Dudley wrote to Thames Valley police, asking them to use their police powers to outlaw “aggressive begging” in the town centre before the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on 19 May 2018.

Facing mounting opposition Mr Dudley later withdrew his comments, stating on BBC Radio Berkshire that he was referring to “anti-social behaviour” instead of homelessness.

A wider problem

Instead of being isolated incidents, these recent events are proving there is a bigger problem at hand: the attitude towards homelessness, perceived not only within the Conservative Party but also wider society.

It is clear there is suspicion of homeless people, with some believing they are not genuinely 'homeless' or may be begging for drugs and alcohol instead of basic necessities.

However, statistics from the UK national charity for single homeless people Crisis shows that rough sleeping is forecast to rise by 76 percent in the next decade unless the government takes action to tackle it.

Therefore, it is clear that conversations around how we treat our homeless people need to be addressed, as well as the underlying issues that cause people to become homeless in the first place. Surely this is a much better, long-term solution than simply ignoring them or clearing then on?