Big Issue founder Lord John Bird has used his return to the House of Lords to draw attention to the end of the evictions ban, which he said could “destroy futures” for thousands of children.
The crossbench peer made the trip to Westminster in person for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown to quiz the government on their plans to protect renters with the eviction ban set to end on August 23.
Lord Bird’s question comes as The Big Issue’s Ride Out Recession Alliance (RORA) battles for the ban to be extended for two years to prevent families hammered by the Covid-19 pandemic from being thrown out of their homes and on to the streets.
I'll be speaking in the @UKHouseofLords at around 12:45pm today, where I'll be contributing in Baroness Massey's Oral Question on social mobility. We must keep families in decent home environments and tackle the educational attainment gap. You can watch at https://t.co/Xoc5ZWSW8D
— John Bird (@johnbirdswords) July 21, 2020
Our founder is the figurehead of RORA, which also graces the front cover of this week’s Big Issue magazine. The alliance is our big plan to bring together people and groups, businesses and local authorities to ensure that government and decision-makers maximise the chances of creating security of work and home.
And that was reflected in Lord Bird’s contribution to today’s Lords proceedings. He asked: “Is the minister aware of the fact that if we do not extend the ban on evictions then we are going to have an enormous amount of social mobility? Children and their parents will have social mobility downwards into poverty, homelessness and into fecklessness. What I would like to see is all the government departments working together to stop the hundreds and thousands of children falling into homelessness and having their future destroyed for them.”
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
Responding on behalf of the government, Baroness Elizabeth Berridge said: “I can assure the noble lord that the Covid-19 recovery is a cross- government priority, of course. In relation to the housing matters, he will be aware that working families’ tax credit was increased to just over an additional £1,000 and there were changes to local housing allowances during this period.”
The Big Issue’s alliance has already joined forces with Unilever, the National Skills Agency, Shelter and Generation Rent, who have warned that homelessness could treble if the eviction ban ends without protection for renters.
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