Why do people need to beg?

There seems to be a growing number of people begging or selling the Big Issue outside supermarkets in Kings Heath and occasionally I am also stopped and asked for money.  It upsets me to see people resorting to such means of survival and no more so than when I recently encountered a young woman outside Sainsbury’s.  Let’s call her Sarah.  She told me that she was unable to claim benefits because she had no address.  However Jobcentre Plus confirmed that someone without an address is not prevented from claiming benefit.

So was Sarah lying to me or was she turned away by untrained, uninformed staff?  Below is the information provided by Jobcentre Plus.  I would welcome any information about people’s experience with this system.  I have never seen any outreach workers talking to people begging in King’s Heath so feel obliged to pay the “Big Society” surcharge on my shopping by buying extra food to give to people like Sarah – and this is before the latest cuts start to bite.

Sarah should either telephone the Contact Centre on 08000556688 to initiate a new claim to benefit, or if she does not have access to a telephone, visit Kings Heath Library and make a new claim on line. If neither of these options suits her circumstances then she should go to Kings Heath Jobcentre Plus Office and inform the Floor Manager that she is a person without address and request assistance. The Floor Manager will then arrange a vulnerable person’s interview and the customer may make the new claim from Kings Heath Jobcentre.

Someone without an address is not prevented from claiming benefits – however if they wish to claim JSA they may be required to sign on daily to prove that they are still in the area and still available for work. They would need to request being paid by Personal Issue at the Jobcentre if they cannot provide a Bank/Post Office or Credit Union account. If they do not have a correspondence address they can in the short term request their benefit letters be sent to them C/O the Jobcentre or local Post Office.

There are a number of organisations that offer assistance to the Homeless, some of which have outreach workers in Kings Heath, ANAWIM/Salvation Army/Big Issue. A woman begging in Kings Heath would be identified as vulnerable and I would expect an approach by one of these agencies would have been made.  Midland Heart Homeless Services Centre in Bradford Street Digbeth would help with making a new claim, as would SIFA Fireside Allcock Street Digbeth.

There is no indication if Sarah has Recourse to Public Funds and the Right to Abide and Work in the UK. If she is a failed asylum seeker or person whose Leave to Remain has expired she will not be entitled to claim benefit. If the individual is from the Accession 2 or 8 states there may be issues of entitlement governed by Habitual Residency Tests. These may also apply to other migrants from EU States.

However If she is selling the Big Issue the earnings may be too high to qualify for benefit.
If she is not fit for work and needs to claim Employment Support Allowance she will require a valid sick note for the duration of the claim. She still needs to telephone the Contact Centre on the above number to make a claim for this benefit  

One Reply to “Why do people need to beg?”

  1. Often, for people who are struggling like this lady, (‘Sarah’), the repeated hoops they are sent to jump through are simply further evidence of how hopeless and cruel their situation is. People who are so destitute, disenfranchised and despondent will not feel ‘supported’ nor will they feel positive or ‘motivated’ if they are just sent once more onto the endless ‘merry-go-round’ of government bureaucracy.
    Frequently, those who ‘beg’ have, by definition, already been ‘failed’ by those who were appropriately placed to make possible a viable, life-affirming environment for them; further goose chases can simply evoke further cycles of hope, frustration and despair.
    Many are just not able to fight so hard simply to get basic sustenance; hence the increasing number of suicides.

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