New EU families resort to begging WCC says

Chris Gaynor

Romanian families and children have resorted to aggressive begging on the streets because they are unable to support themselves, a London council says.

Westminster City Council's fears came true when seven Romanians were arrested by police for persistent begging. Two children were also caught begging.

Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU on the 1st January 2007.

But under new  laws, local authorities are not obliged to offer support to new EU families including benefits such as income support, shelter and drug treatment services.

The council has slammed the government for failing to recognise the problem up and till now as new families entering the UK find themselves destitute on the streets.

Cabinet member for housing, councillor Angela Harvey, said: 'This is the problem of the government's own making and it it vital they address it urgently rather than leave local councils to deal with the fall out.'

Central Government has invested more than  £300,000 to tackle it with money being sourced from the Home Office and Department for Communities and Local government.

But Ms Harvey is worried that children are being dragged into begging because their families are unable to seek support. She is urging families from the EU accession countries not to come to the UK unless they have the means of supporting themselves.

MP for Westminster Mark Field will be holding an adjournment debate in the House of Commons today to discuss the issue of the homeless from the new EU countries.