Beggars in a major English city are receiving as much as £45,000 a year, a council official has claimed.
Vagrants populating the streets in Nottingham are raking in huge amounts of cash including single donations of up to £100 by revellers while on nights out in the city centre.
Nottingham City Councillors heard the scale of illegal begging had swelled this summer because of the warm weather, adding the problem had become “mind-blowing”.
Kim Pike, the council’s rough sleeping co-ordinator, said despite the generosity shown to some rough sleepers the cash is not enough to break the cycle of homelessness and warned donations could prove harmful.
She said: “People do give a lot of money and it’s dangerous.
“I’ve been speaking to people on the streets and they have been earning £45,000 per year, but they have nothing to show for it. That amount of money could kill them.”
She added: “It’s £2 for a bag of mamba. If people give even £3 for a meal deal, how do they know it’s going to go on that?”
In 2016, an unnamed man was reported to be earning just £12,000 less per year than the prime minister through begging in Wolverhampton.
While just three years prior Simon Wright made headlines when he was banned from begging in London after magistrates heard he was earning up to £52,000-a-year begging in Putney.
Wimbledon Magistrates Court heard Wright positioned himself outside a Natwest branch in the High Street with a hand-written sign that read “homeless and hungry” before returning each night to his £300,000 property in nearby Fulham.
Ms Pike said it was important to distinguish between street beggars and individuals who are genuinely homeless.
She said: “There are two pools of thinking, people tend to think people who beg and rough sleepers are all part of the same group, there is no middle ground and there needs to be. We need to be able to separate that.”
The remarks were echoed by housing charities which stressed street beggars may not necessarily be rough sleepers.
A spokesman for Framework said: “Most of the people we see begging are not homeless and do have somewhere to stay – but that doesn’t mean they don’t have serious problems in their lives or that they don’t need or deserve help.”