We have been striking out with our prevention message for some time, and now it’s beginning to really hit home. Our Activist Army scored a victory this week as each of the three biggest UK political parties put prevention at the heart of their strategies to end homelessness.
Across the country, Big Issue readers have been pushing local parliamentary candidates to back early intervention measures that would dismantle poverty and work to end homelessness.
As the parties launched their manifestos this week, we see our voices have been heard.
The Conservative manifesto pledges to “halve rough sleeping over the course of the parliament and eliminate it altogether by 2027” by setting up “a new homelessness reduction taskforce that will focus on prevention and affordable housing”.
This follows a pledge made by the Prime Minister in The Big Issue’s special 25th anniversary edition last year, in which Mrs May announced details of a new £40m funding package aimed at preventing and tackling the causes of homelessness.
Launching their policy platform on May 16, the Labour Party also promised to end rough sleeping, this time “within the next Parliament”. Again echoing The Big Issue’s campaign aims, they said they would “take action to tackle the root causes of homelessness, including safeguarding homeless hostels and other supported housing from crude Conservative cuts to housing benefit”.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell also urged voters to join the Activist Army, in a video for The Big Issue. “The Big Issue is right to put poverty prevention at the heart of this general election,” he said, while promising to work on the basis of our poverty prevention manifesto.
The Big Issue is right to put poverty prevention at the heart of this general election
Last night, the Liberal Democrats also joined the movement to prevent people having to sleep on the UK’s streets. They promised to “end the scandal of rough sleeping by increasing support for homelessness prevention”.
The Big Issue’s campaign is inspired by the fact that money spent now giving opportunities to the poorest saves welfare costs in subsequent years.
Every year, more than £17bn is spent in England and Wales on short-run late intervention. And in Scotland, 40 per cent of public spending is targeted at problems that could have been avoided.
As The Big Issue founder John Bird says: “We believe in a fence at the top of the cliff, not an ambulance at the bottom. We believe in prevention over cure.”