ROUGH sleepers are displaying a sign saying people can donate money by contactless card payments.

Passersby were shocked when they saw two people lying on top of several duvets with the propped-up cardboard sign.

It said: “Please help us. We need around 20-30 pound for both of us to get a bed and shower at least once a week.

“No change, no probs, pay by card.

“Yes, we accept contactless.”

The rough sleepers were in London Road, Brighton, on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.

A passerby said: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw the sign.

“I don’t know where they would have got hold of the machine or how they would make it work.

“I know at some events they link them to smart phones so maybe that is how they do it.

“But if they are asking for money then how did they pay for it?”

A Government report from 2018 found that Brighton and Hove had the second highest number of rough sleepers in the UK.

A total of 178 people were recorded, compared with Westminster’s 217.

But Andy Winter, chief executive of homeless charity Brighton Housing Trust, said the use of a card machine to collect money on the streets was “not a problem of homelessness”.

He said: “This is just a more sophisticated way of asking people for money and it is not done by members of the homeless community.

“People do not need money to book into hostels, no hostel in Brighton charges upfront.

“Begging is not to do with homelessness.

“This is not a homeless problem, it’s to do with addiction.”

Mr Winter pointed to an interview with The Argus in March in which he said people giving money to beggars are fuelling the drug and alcohol addictions of those on the streets.

He said: “Begging feeds addictions. Those who give money to beggars are at best helping to sustain addictions and rough sleeping.

“At worst, it provides the means to acquire drugs that could kill them. People who give money can be conned.

“A sign that says someone needs £20 to book into a hostel is a great begging pitch, but it is untrue.”

He argued that, with the number of charities in Brighton and Hove working to help the homeless, nobody should go hungry on the streets of Brighton.

Mr Winter also said the city could be a very profitable place for begging as residents were particularly generous and tolerant.

He told a story of a time in 2018 when he spoke to a rough sleeper in the city who revealed he had been begging for three hours and had made nearly £50.

He told Mr Winter he would not be using the money to book accommodation but to help him “get off his head”.