Business leader claims homeless people are ‘damaging trade’ in Glasgow city centre

crisis homelessBeggars and rough sleepers in Glasgow city centre are damaging trade and putting shoppers off visiting the city, according to a leading Scottish business figure.

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said there had been an undeniable rise in begging and the number of rough sleepers had risen significantly.

He also claimed that people who set up camp outside shops, cinemas and restaurants and ask for money were harming the inner-city economy and pushing people to visit retail centres on the outskirts instead.

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland said it had recorded a 46% rise in the number of people were at risk of sleeping rough, while agencies in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee have also reported a sharp increase in rough sleepers and people begging in city centres.

Mr Patrick, who was an executive at Scottish Enterprise before joining the chamber, said shoppers and workers should stop giving money to beggars because their generosity was exacerbating the problem.

A Glasgow City Council-funded survey carried out with city businesses found that eight out of ten respondents felt the city was being affected negatively as a result of the growing issue.

Speaking on the issue, Stuart Patrick told The Times: “There is no doubt that begging and rough sleeping have become markedly more visible in the past few months.

“The clear message coming back from our members is that the begging is a disincentive for spending activity and investments in the city.

“Begging is not something that the business community or the general public appreciate. They are not comfortable with it.”

Mr Patrick added that members of the public would be better giving their money to genuine charities such as Big Issue sellers, rather than beggars.

A council spokesperson said: “We are working with partners to address the many complex causes of homelessness and begging in the city centre.”

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