Introducing the Ride Out Recession Alliance

Our brand-new initiative is bringing together big ideas to prevent homelessness and protect jobs in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis

As the coronavirus lockdown loosens its grip, we move to a new fear – unprecedented financial collapse. The World Bank is predicting the worst global recession since the end of World War Two.

Already in the UK the impact is real. There is an acceleration in job losses in industries right across the spectrum – from car manufacture, airline and related networks to hospitality and the media. More than 25,000 jobs have gone in retail alone. The most up-to-date figures say more than 2.8m people have claimed some level of unemployment benefit. Hundreds of thousands are at risk of being evicted or becoming homeless as joblessness grips. A good percentage of the people they believe will be impacted most heavily are from lower-paid and precarious jobs. Quite a few of these are those hailed as heroes in the darkest lockdown days.

If they fall, people will get caught in a poverty trap that will take years to break.

Supported by partners Shelter, Generation Rent, Unilever and The National Skills Agency, RORA will call on the UK Government to implement preventative measures until confidence is restored that the threat of such large-scale homelessness has been averted.

This is an historic opportunity to help many AND to address ingrained, persistent structural inequality that has locked many people out of being socially mobile.

At The Big Issue we are going to do something about this. We will work for those at risk of losing everything.

Since we were established in 1991 we have worked for our vendors. As an organisation we have offered those on the margins of society a hand up, not a handout. The shock of coronavirus has called for a radical rethink.

At The Big Issue we know better than most how utterly destructive homelessness can be. How it can wring everything from people and set them in a financial, mental and emotional hole that may never be properly exited. Therefore, we are committed to stopping people falling into this. We are now increasing our reach. As well as our vendors, we are going to be here for our readers, and anybody else previously doing fine, but now at risk. We want to make sure that coronavirus doesn’t result in a new generation lost to homelessness. Governments in the home nations across Britain have worked, and continue to work, to end rough sleeping. They proved what could be achieved with investment and will. We need to think bigger now.

The Ride Out Recession Alliance plan. Avoid homelessness, create jobs

We will work on behalf of those at risk of, very quickly, becoming homeless and losing their jobs.

Today we set about building the Ride Out Recession Alliance. It is a campaign and a desire to change thinking. We must better the lives of many.

With The Big Issue as the platform and lead facilitator we call on organisations and individuals to join the alliance. We need ideas and tangible plans to get to a position of helping hundreds of thousands avoid homelessness. Already the August 23 date looms. This is when the evictions suspension for renters in England and Wales ends. Laws are in place in Scotland for a similar eviction halt until September 30.

The time will move quickly. So, we must move quickly.

This is what we are calling for

  • The eviction ban not to be lifted until changes are made are made in law to protect renters from eviction due to coronavirus
  • A rescue package to stimulate the economy and provide the homes we need, including a new era of social home building
  • Meaningful job training and Government-sponsored investment in companies to provide decent employment opportunities

We recognise this will be difficult. We understand the costs and challenges. What we are seeking is on a massive scale. And, there are different policies governing Scotland, Wales and England.

Finding the vast sums needed at a time when government spending will fall off the cliff, and local authorities will be seeking every lever they can to raise funds, will be a challenge that none of us have tried to tackle before.

But the cost of supporting people as they fall into homelessness, and the ongoing associated damage to them, and to local economies, will dwarf any costs.

However, the time for hesitation has gone. Organisations including Shelter and Generation Rent have already started work to fight the evictions caused by financial problems that are coming.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive, Shelter, said: “We want to end homelessness for good. So we’re pleased to be working with The Big Issue to stop people losing their homes due to coronavirus now, and to build the case for the next generation of social housing. Decades of failure to build the social homes we need has led to increases in homelessness and too many people living in unsafe accommodation. This includes many heroes of the pandemic, who worked tirelessly to keep this country going.

“But now we have an opportunity for change. We must seize it – and build the quality homes needed for everyone to be safe and secure.”

HELP MAKE RORA ROAR!

What’s your big idea?

We want to bring together a wide range of ideas to set out a plan for the future.

We call on you if you are in politics at a national or local level, from the corridors of Westminster, devolved administrations or councils across the country. If you are part of the third sector, social enterprise movement or tackling issues around homelessness. Business leaders, in the property or finance industry. Environmental campaigners, teachers, librarians, historians, radical thinkers and social mobility advocates.

If you have an idea that could make things better, share it so we can spread the word. We recognise that the Alliance will build coalitions with uncomfortable allies in order to really address the problems that lie ahead. But we must act and we must begin now. Join us. Get in touch at rora@bigissue.com