Letter: Hooray for the honest beggar

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The Independent Online
Sir: If Tony Blair is serious about wanting to get homeless people off the streets ("Blair wants beggars off the streets", 2 January), the first place for him to start is to pledge that a Labour government will overturn the restrictions on Housing Benefit announced in the recent Budget. Without a pledge to prevent homelessness, Mr Blair's words are meaningless.

As for begging, it is important to distinguish between a minority who demand money with menaces and the majority who beg peacefully. Begging is an honest transaction, far more honest that, say, campaigning in a general election. No one forces you to part with your money, nor do beggars lie about hidden tax increases in order to get your support. Give me an honest beggar any day.