'Chuggers' are driving shoppers away from high streets
By Daniel Hunter
Street fundraisers who hassle people into giving their bank details are deterring shoppers from visiting town centres, a survey of local authorities has revealed.
Councils are calling for updated powers to clamp down on so-called 'chuggers' — also known as 'charity muggers' — who congregate in large numbers on busy shopping streets and use aggressive tactics to obtain donations.
A survey carried out by the Local Government Association (LGA) shows that more than two out of three councils (68 per cent) have received complaints about street fundraisers from the public, businesses and other groups including the voluntary sector.
Many chuggers are agency workers employed by major charities. Because they collect bank details rather than cash, they do not have to abide by the rules which apply to volunteers with charity collection tins.
The outdated Charities Act means that local authorities often have little power to regulate them, or intervene if they cause a nuisance to shoppers and businesses.
Several councils have been working with charities to draw up voluntary codes of conduct for fundraisers to follow, which have started to prove successful at minimising problems. However, local authorities need updated powers to act where chuggers persistently cause problems,
According to the LGA's survey of local authorities, almost three in four councils (72 per cent) considered chugging to be a problem in their area, to at least a small extent. More than half (54 per cent) said street fundraisers were putting potential shoppers off visiting their local high street.
Most complaints about chuggers came from residents. Of those councils who had received complaints:
- 81 per cent had received complaints from residents;
- more than half (54 per cent) had received complaints from local business;
- one in five (20 per cent) said complaints had come from the voluntary and community sector, including a handful of other fundraisers.
Nearly one... continued on page two >