SCROOGE council chiefs in Scotland’s Capital want to scrap breakfasts for homeless people staying in the city’s B&B’s – just before Christmas.
Edinburgh City Council bosses have sent a letter to the city’s homeless saying they want to save cash – and intend to leave the most important meal of the day off the menu.
Hundreds of vulnerable people currently stay in the city’s bed and breakfasts, but the council say they will pay for their accommodation only from next month.
The authority has now sent a letter to those staying in temporary accommodation, which includes a list of “free food agencies which might be of assistance”.
The move follows the revelation the authority intends to press ahead with plans to spend up to £30,000 on portraits of provosts.
The council have said the letter was sent out in error and that the proposals are still at an early stage.
Homeless people say there could be an increase in the food thefts as the city’s vulnerable steal to eat as a result of such a policy.
And a spokesman for the charity Shelter said the breakfast ban would strip vulnerable people of even more dignity.
There are currently around 300 single people and couples currently in city B&B accommodation.
The letter says: “Because of the financial situation the council is currently facing it can no longer afford to pay for the provision of breakfast when providing ‘bed and breakfast’ temporary accommodation. As of December 12 we will only pay the accommodation charge.”
Tony Winters, 43, who has been homeless for more than two years and stays in a B&B in the city’s Leith area, said: “Why is it that two-thirds of the way through the financial year, before Christmas, they have decided to stop giving breakfast to people who are now going to go out and steal to feed themselves?
“Why have these funds been recalled and what are they going to be used for – tram lines on Princes Street, by any chance?
Mr Winters said the cost of the breakfast – fruit juice, scrambled egg, sausage, beans, toast and coffee – had been calculated at 13p per head per day.
He added: “To a lot of people that one meal gets them by, just and no more.”
Josiah Lockhart, general manager of the Grassmarket Community Project, one of the free food agencies listed, said it had not been consulted.
He said the project, which opens at lunchtimes, had seen a steep rise in demand in the past few months and sometimes had hour-long queues outside.
“We’re not in a position to provide breakfasts,” he said.
Edinburgh’s Labour group leader Andrew burns, said: “This appears to be a truly dreadful decision.”
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “This move by the council strips even more dignity from vulnerable homeless people it has chosen to put up.”
A council spokesman said: “This letter was issued in error as the proposal is currently being consulted on.”
The authority announced earlier this year it would suspend a scheme to pay £15,000 each on artworks of provosts George Grubb and Lesley Hinds.
But it was revealed earlier this week that the pieces are still in the pipeline despite revelations in the summer there was a £400million overspend on the trams.
Campaigners have now blasted Edinburgh Council bosses for failing to completely axe the portrait scheme.
The artwork is to commemorate Lesley Hinds, the city’s Lord Provost between 2003 and 2007, and George Grubb, the current Lord Provost.
A spokesman for Taxpayer Scotland said: “Using taxpayers’ money for monuments and works of art like this always takes money away from the least well off in society and uses it for the benefit of the better off.”