01/11/2014 10:30 GMT | Updated 01/11/2014 10:59 GMT

Ed Miliband Gives Money To A Beggar, Is Immediately Accused Of Being A Cheapskate

The excruciating image of Ed Miliband giving money to a beggar, has provoked further ridicule after the Labour leader faced accusations he only forked out a measly two pence.

The Labour leader was on his way to deliver a speech when he passed a woman sat on the street wearing a green scarf over her head.

Faced with hordes of awaiting cameras, Miliband was pictured swiftly turning back to drop some coins into the paper cup she was proffering to passers-by.

The Daily Mail reported that the leader of the opposition "doubled -back" but "appeared to drop just 2p into a cup."

But a Labour spokesman said Miliband donated "a bunch of change" with a total value of around a pound or two.

Yesterday, Miliband's act of generosity in front of the cameras was bitterly undermined by his seriously awkward manner, with critics on Twitter mockingly suggesting he looked concerned that the lady "may have Ebola".

The reaction to this tragically cringe-worthy moment may not come as a surprise to Miliband, who has admitted that he is not very good at photo-ops.

Some questioned how little Miliband had actually stopped to give to the begging woman, as he went to a Shadow Cabinet meeting.

Others defended Miliband's moment of charity, suggesting that Tories like David Cameron would have not given money at all.

Here is what happened in Manchester, in all its unfiltered awkwardness.

Photo gallery Ed Miliband gives money See Gallery

The question of whether to give money to beggars divides opinion, with some homelessness charities urging people not to.

London-based Thames Reach warns it can have "disastrous consequences" if it ends up in the hands of drug dealers and urges people to buy food instead or make a charity donation.

Matt Downie, director of policy at charity Crisis, said giving was "a personal decision" but said political leaders could do "much more" to help the homeless by boosting their legal rights.

"Whether or not people give money to beggars is a personal decision," he said.

"The real issue here is the substantial rise in homelessness in recent years.

"Rather than get the help they need, many homeless people who ask their councils for help are being turned away to sleep on the streets - cold, desperate and forgotten.

"If Ed Miliband and other political leaders want to make a real difference to homelessness, they should review the help that single homeless people get under the law, and we urge the public to sign our No One Turned Away petition."

On its website, Labour-run Manchester City Council asks residents to report instances of street begging - which has been illegal since 1824 - to the police who "will attend to see if the beggar needs any support, and help them get the most appropriate services".