THE business boss under fire for controversial comments on begging and homelessness is to spend an evening on Glasgow’s streets as he visits frontline charities.

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of business body Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, sparked outcry after saying street beggars are harming retail and urging the public not to give them food or money.

The remarks were made in response to research by local agency Community Safety Glasgow (CSG), which found one in three firms believe the issue has a serious impact on trade.

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He said members of the public should donate to “legitimate” charities and buy street paper The Big Issue from vendors instead, stating: “There is no doubt that begging and rough sleeping have become markedly more visible in recent months.

“The clear message coming back from our members is that begging is a disincentive for spending activity and investment in the city centre.”

Shelter Scotland was amongst the organisations to criticise Patrick’s comments, with the charity’s Sharon Berrie saying: “The problem is not caused by people giving money. The problem is caused by cuts in funding to vital services.”

Now he is to undertake a fact finding mission on the city’s streets after accepting an invitation from Glasgow Provan MSP Ivan McKee.

Details are yet to be confirmed, but it is understood that the pair will visit frontline groups serving the local homeless community and speak to those affected.

McKee said: “Since being elected last year, homelessness is an issue I’ve focused on, and am doing what I can to help resolve. Politicians and business owners alike need to try to understand how people end up in this situation, and what can be done to help find solutions.

“Not only is it the right thing to do, but an inclusive society benefits all of us. We won’t have the thriving economy we all want to see while our fellow citizens don’t have a roof over their heads.

“Economic growth that leaves behind the poorest people in society is not the type of growth that Scotland needs.”

Patrick told The National: “I have received an invitation from McKee, which I have accepted, to spend time on the streets with him talking to those affected by the begging issue, with a view to finding out what more can be done. We are also continuing our discussions with local charities involved in tackling the issue.”

The CSG survey found more than 800 recorded cases of begging in the city centre in one year.

Responding to the findings in a blog post, Patrick said authorities must overcome “reluctance” from some to accepting help due to the generosity of the public, adding: “There are better ways for the public to help than dropping change into that plastic cup.”

“Begging is not a sure sign of increased homelessness. Almost all begging is done out of desperation, but there are a whole host of issues that bring some of our most vulnerable citizens on to the street.

“Homelessness is only one alongside welfare benefit changes, dependency on alcohol or drugs, family breakdown, ill health and many other personal disasters.”

Yesterday The National revealed how leading homelessness charities are calling for a “holistic” approach to tackling homelessness, including additional mental health support, amidst predictions by Crisis that some forms may rise by 50 per cent in the next 25 years.