Jeremy Corbyn: “Poverty is not inevitable. We can prevent it”

The Big Issue has challenged party leaders to put poverty prevention at the heart of government. All have agreed, and here Jeremy Corbyn explains how Labour would do this

The Big Issue believes that there must be a focus on ending poverty in Britain. And the only REAL way to break the poverty cycle is to work to prevent it taking hold. It’s why we need a real shift, to a new, systematic strategy of prevention. 

Led by Big Issue founder Lord John Bird, we’re pushing for a Poverty Prevention Unit to keep the spotlight on poverty. The £78bn plus that governments spend every year on the consequences of poverty would be much better targeted by prevention.

We’ve challenged every major party leader in Britain to back our call for a non-partisan unit, which would put poverty prevention right at the heart of national decision-making. A team of people who would keep ministers’ feet to the fire, and ensure this BIGGEST ISSUE can’t be kicked into the long grass.

All party leaders are in agreement on this. Here, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responds to The Big Issue’s prevention plan

Jeremy Corbyn:

“A Labour government will not measure our success by the number of millionaires that live here, but by the absence of poverty in our country.

As a government you have the responsibility to ensure that everyone shares in the prosperity that we produce together. The grotesque levels of inequality show this government has failed.

The UK is the sixth richest country in the world, yet we have four million children who are forced to live in poverty

The UK is the sixth richest country in the world, and yet we have four million children who are forced to live in poverty, as are over four million disabled people. Last Christmas, 120,000 children were living in temporary accommodation without a home to call their own. These are appalling figures, and shame the Conservative government.

What is more, since the Conservatives came into office, there are now 300,000 more pensioners in poverty. And yet, instead of helping those pensioners, the Tories are now planning to take away their winter fuel allowance, end the triple lock on pensions and having run down social care, now left millions of pensioners uncertain about their own home.

The Big Issue interviews Jeremy Corbyn:

You cannot justify cuts for older people by saying it’s unfair on the young.

Instead of setting people against each other, leaving some in lavish wealth, and others in crippling hardship, we should come together as a society to ensure that no one goes without. That is how we can bring about positive change and ensure that everyone has the best opportunities in life.

A more equal society is a fairer society, and that benefits everybody. That is why we are offering bold change to transform society for the better.

We will invest in our beloved NHS to ensure that everybody – rich or poor – can access world-class healthcare. This will include giving mental health the same respect as physical health, keeping A&Es open, and bringing down ever-growing waiting lists. Instead of continuing the Conservatives’ cuts, Labour will care for the NHS and care for everybody’s wellbeing, regardless of their wealth.

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Labour will create a National Education Service to ensure no one is held back from achieving their potential. Not only will we offer free university education, we will end fees for adult education so everyone is given a chance to develop new skills throughout their life.

Instead of building grammar schools which only benefit a few at the top of society, we will build inclusive schools to recognise all of our children’s talents and give them all the best start in life.

In a civilised society, we simply cannot continue with more and more people sleeping in doorways

Since the Conservatives came into office in 2010, the number of homeless people has more than doubled. This is utterly shameful. Labour will fight homelessness and set out a national plan to end rough sleeping. In a civilised society, we simply cannot continue with more and more people sleeping in doorways.

That is why we are committing to building one million homes by 2020, half of which will be either council or housing association homes for genuinely affordable rent or sale. This will help ensure that everybody has a roof over their head, and a home that they can be proud of.

In addition, we will also boost the wages of the six million people earning less than the living wage. We will ensure that by 2020, no one is earning less than £10 an hour. Our country does not have to be as unequal as it is now. Poverty is not inevitable, we can prevent it.

But it takes a government prepared to build homes, to regulate the labour market, to invest in education and skills.

That can only happen if you vote for a Labour government on June 8 that will work for the many, not the few.”

The Big Issue has asked for YOU to help us hold political leaders to account – to become part of our Activist Army and challenge MPs to back The Big Issue’s prevention manifesto.