A controversy over banning soup kitchens could prove particularly toxic for the "big society". Coming so soon after much 'big society tsar has too little time for the role' satire, the big idea could certainly do without another existential credibility controversy, while Steve Hilton seeks to patiently nurse it back to health after Andy Coulson's attempt to kill it with kindness through benign communications neglect.
There is legitimate debate about the role of soup runs in providing help to the most vulnerable. The LSE produced a balanced report on the issues in Westminster. While homeless charities are keen to promote alternative provision, it seems very unlikely that civic voices which are widely trusted would support the ban as a way to do this.
Westminster Council dropped a push for a London-wide soup run ban in 2007, as Ekklesia reports. Critics suggest one foreseeable effect of the current proposals will be to push rough sleepers to other boroughs.
Homelessness will return as a political issue this year - and this may come to be seen as one early skirmish in a much broader policy and political battle. As Next Left has noted before, the Tory-led Coalition government is quietly planning to weaken current statutory homelessness provisions.
Westminster Council has been leading the push on this - lobbying ministers over a series of specific ways in which the government might weaken the legal duties of councils to house the homeless, believing that this will be necessary to handle the fallout from their housing benefit changes.
This is not a discussion that Coalition Ministers are keen to have in public at this stage - and Liberal Democrats with an interest in social housing, such as Simon Hughes, or local government will be put on the spot if and when the plans are unveiled. Lord Freud has publicly suggested that the legal duty to provide "adequate housing" could be redefined, as it may seem rather too strong.
Freud said it could be "quite valuable" to revise the current criteria in place, arguing: "We have found it very difficult to define homelessness in this country. The estimates [of homelessness] go from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands depending on who you are talking to."
"Clearly the common view of homelessness is nothing over one's head at all. The statutory definitions are different to that, and they are adequate housing."
Westminster Council is claiming its proposed bye-laws are motivated only by what is best for the homeless.
You can be pretty sure that the Coalition government will claim the same, when it does produce plans to weaken statutory duties to assist those who are homeless.