Give and take

Head to head Should you give money to beggars? Of course, they need it, says former down-and-out Julian Randal. Never, says Jacob Rees- Mogg, it's just middle-class guilt


"You should give money to beggars basically because they need it. It's better to give them money than have them creeping through your back door and robbing you or doing God knows what. Begging is need-driven, and those needs aren't going to disappear. There's this belief that people are begging because they can't be bothered to work. But who would sit on the street all day out of choice and beg. It's horrible, in the rain and the cold. How people can claim begging is a barrel of laughs and then go back to their warm houses in Surbiton I don't know.

I was at boarding school from the age of seven, at Winchester. The place fucked me up. I was adopted, so I didn't have much sense of who I was anyway. After doing my A-levels I went home to London. But I kept fighting with my mum and after a couple of months I left with a dossbag and lived on the streets and in boarding houses in Winchester. At one time I commuted to work in a hospital kitchen from a church doorstep. I only begged very occasionally. Nobody likes doing it. I used to have a few drinks first.

The tabloids give the impression that beggars earn a packet. The truth is you can always find some mug who'll say, `I earn pounds 300 a day.' But that isn't the reality. I never met anyone who made more than a few pounds. People wonder why they don't just go and get a job at McDonald's. But what do you earn at McDonald's? About pounds 3 an hour. That's about pounds 90 a week after tax. And what is rent in London? You can forget it. People say beggars will only spend the money on booze and drugs. Well, try sleeping on the pavement during winter. Without condoning the use of drugs, they certainly make the street a bit more comfortable.

I've gradually sorted my life out. Two years ago, I got a flat where I live with my girlfriend and her child. I'm now a student at the University of East London doing communication studies. I love it."

Julian Randal is researching homelessness as part of his degree, and writes for the `Big Issue'


"Giving money to beggars does more harm than good. While there are people who are genuinely in need, some are merely going to use the money to buy a bottle of gin, and if he drinks it all he'll be in a very bad way. And even if people are begging because they're needy, it is a voluntary activity because they could apply to the welfare agencies for benefit. The state-provided safety net is not lavish. You don't automatically get a council house; it may be a shelter or a move-on bed and breakfast. But there is a basic safety net that will provide some roof over people's heads.

Obviously people could spend social security on drinks and drugs, but at least they're then within some sort of system that might help them. If you give people a pound or two they collect the pounds to buy drugs, they're completely outside the system. There's nothing they can fall back on. They've got no regular contact with anybody in authority who could even put them in contact with a GP. Giving people money may act as a salve to middle-class consciences but it doesn't solve anything.

It's true I have a privileged background. I went to Eton and Oxford, and then to work at J Rothschild Capital Management. Contacts were certainly a factor, since my father was a non-executive director of the firm. I was fascinated with finance from a very young age. At 11 or 12 I got into the newspapers when I stood up and asked questions at a couple of shareholder meetings. I was by far the youngest person there. The story made the Mail, the Express and the Daily Mirror. I was slightly more greedy then because I charged them for the interviews. I got pounds 50 off the Daily Mail which was an awful lot of money then.

Julian [Randal] is obviously entitled to his views. I know him through mutual friends. He's a very nice chap."

Jacob Rees-Mogg is a fund manager at Lloyd George Management. He was the Conservative candidate for Fife East in the last election

Interviews by Cathy Cooper

i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

    salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

    Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

    Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower