Flyers about begging handed out in Sussex have been called ‘irresponsible and nasty’.
A concerned resident sent the flyer to Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, after being handed one in Brighton.
Ms Lucas said the flyers were ‘clearly designed to provoke hostility towards people forced to sleep rough’.
It claims beggars can earn £2,000 a week during the festive season and implies the cash is spent on drugs or alcohol.
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It was designed using a similar logo to Brighton and Hove City Council’s – but the local authority confirmed it was a fake.
A spokesperson for the council said: “The flyer about street begging is irresponsible and nasty and nothing to do with the council. Despite the flyer’s small print which says it’s not associated with or paid for by Brighton & Hove City Council, the misuse of our logo is misleading and a breach of copyright.
“If you’re worried about homelessness or concerned about people sleeping rough in the city, please visit www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/homelessness for advice about what you can do.
“You can also find advice on donating to charities who support people living on the street by searching for Make Change Count on our website.”
Ms Lucas said: “Brighton is facing a housing crisis that is forcing dozens of people to sleep on our streets. No one chooses to spend the night in the cold.
“This leaflet is clearly designed to provoke hostility towards people in desperate need of support. It’s vital we stand together as a community to stop homeless people facing abuse, and that MPs and councillors work across party lines to open the night shelter and help them into safe homes.”
Matt Harrison, director of charity StreetLink, which also features on the flyer, said: This material was not created by, or in partnership with, StreetLink. StreetLink is a service that allows people to take action when they are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping by sending an alert that connects them to local services for support. This leaflet does not promote or reflect that aim.”
Brighton and Hove has the second highest population of rough sleepers in England, with 178 people estimated to be sleeping on the city’s streets at the last count in November last year. Brighton and Hove City Council says there are more than 1,000 people sleeping rough in Brighton and Hove every year.
What does the flyer say?
The flyer said: “Did you know? The average Brighton beggar earns over £200 a day in winter and £100 in summer.
“Thanks to your generosity beggars can even earn £2,000 a week during the festive season,
“This may seem like a lot, but when suffering from addiction little is left for food or basic needs.
“Please give generously to ensure all their needs are met. #Hobofacts.”
Small print on the flyer said: “Information provided by local government services from data and experience obtained during 2018. This flyer is the product of independent charity work and not associated with or paid for by Brighton & Hove City Council.”
Charity Streetlink, which is also featured of the flyer, has been contacted for a comment.