People in Newcastle are being urged not to give cash to beggars, as part of plans to improve support for homeless and rough sleepers.
The Borough Council are set to approve a new strategy this afternoon (15 January), focusing on prevention and early intervention, and improving access to services.
The document, designed to build on the current strategy covering up to 2021, follows a review of homelessness and housing need in the town after the Government tasked all local authorities with reviewing their strategies.
One of the things it showed was that the number of individuals who sleep rough in Newcastle remain in single figures per night and are very similar to previous years.
The estimate in 2019 was six compared to four in 2018 and five in 2017.
The plan includes improving the Make It Count scheme, where members of the public are encouraged to make donations instead of giving money to beggars.
Cllr. Jill Waring, Cabinet member for community safety and well-being, said: "We do have evidence that some people do just come into the town for the day just to beg and then go home, earning quite a bit of money during the day.
"The Make It Count scheme means people can donate money, and there are tins around Newcastle, and it goes directly to the agencies that help the rough sleepers."
Other measures include improve links with charities and community groups, and ensuring people have access to drug, alcohol and mental health services.
Work will also continue to identify empty properties, that can be brought back into use and accessed by homeless households.
After a successful bid for Government cash, a Rough Sleeper Co-ordinator is now in place, who will help with the authority's aims of identifying new funding opportunities and working with other partners to identify gaps in services.
Cllr. Waring said: “Homelessness is a complex issue that can’t be solved by the council alone which is why we want to create an even stronger network of partnerships and services to help people when they need it most.
"There isn’t one single reason why someone can end up without a home but we know that domestic abuse, relationship breakdowns and private landlords wishing to sell or re-let their private rented homes are common ones in Newcastle.
“Rough sleeping is the most extreme form of homelessness. We’ve seen an increase in the number of people at risk and the number of referrals made to our excellent outreach service. The number of rough sleepers in the borough is low but this is still too many – more must be done to provide appropriate pathways off the streets."