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Politics

Jeremy Hunt's Autumn Statement will push more into poverty, says Big Issue founder John Bird

"The policies announced will only serve to push even more people into poverty and worse, onto the streets," said Big Issue founder Lord John Bird

Lord John Bird

Lord John Bird, founder of the Big Issue

The government’s Autumn Statement will push more people into poverty and onto the streets, Big Issue founder Lord John Bird has warned.

Jeremy Hunt’s budget centred around £55bn in tax rises and spending cuts in a bid to “balance the nation’s books”.

But Lord Bird warned that a return to austerity would destroy opportunity and pass the burden onto future generations, saying: “I am deeply concerned by the Chancellor’s statement today, the policies announced will only serve to push even more people into poverty and worse, onto the streets. We break the cycle of poverty and injustice now, not perpetuate it.

“The economic policies of the last ten years have failed our country. We currently have 14 million people living in poverty, and one in three children living in poverty, with many more facing being plunged into need.”

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Rents for social housing tenants will increase by 7 per cent, and the national living wage will increase to £10.42, Hunt said. Benefits and state pensions will rise in line with inflation, by 10.1 per cent. While these were billed as keeping in line with inflation, new figures released by the Office for National Statistics released yesterday found inflation for food was as high as 16 per cent and energy bills at more than 25 per cent, both of which hit poorer households harder.

The energy price cap for a typical household will also rise to £3,000 from April.

Bird added: “Austerity is too expensive for this country, not just in terms of the human cost, but financially. The last austerity destroyed generational opportunity. Balancing the books in the short-term means passing the debt on to future generations and destroying the hope of current generations.”

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“This country needs to act now and invest in putting a safety net around people to stop them falling into poverty and homelessness. Nobody should be having to choose between feeding their children, keeping the house warm or paying the rent.

“We need better-paid, more sustainable jobs, affordable and decent housing, and better rights for renter. By committing to programs and policies that genuinely work for everyone, we can finally cut the throat of poverty and usher in a new era of shared economic prosperity. You can also demand better for this country, by signing our open letter to the Government.

Read more of the Big Issue’s coverage of inflation and the Autumn Statement:

Big Issue Group’s #BigFutures is calling for investment in decent and affordable housing, ending the low wage economy, and millions of green jobs. The last 10 years of austerity and cuts to public services have failed to deliver better living standards for people in this country. Sign the open letter and demand a better future. 

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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