Politics

Prime Minister Theresa May backs The Big Issue prevention plan

Ahead of polling day, Theresa May has pledged to back The Big Issue's prevention strategy, which puts prevention at the heart of social justice

Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May has written exclusively in this week’s Big Issue, committing herself to The Big Issue’s prevention strategy.

The Big Issue believes that the only REAL way to break the poverty cycle is to prevent it taking hold. Rather than funnel ever-decreasing resources at social problems once they’ve grown, we should prevent them from happening in the first place – a sentiment the Prime Minister is very much in agreement with.

“This election is the most important this country has faced in my lifetime,” she says. “Now more than ever, we need strong and stable leadership to deliver the right Brexit deal for Britain.

“But this election must take us through Brexit and beyond too. We must take this opportunity to create the country we want to live in. A country where everyone plays by the same rules and where every person can go as far as their talents and hard work can take them. A country where the giant challenges facing our country are confronted, not ducked. And a country where government steps up, not back – standing up for the weak and standing up to the strong.

There is only one way that we are going to address enduring social divisions – by putting prevention at the heart of our approach

“Because at the heart of my manifesto is a belief in the good that government can do. And I believe that there is much more good that government can do to help the vulnerable and to address longstanding social injustices such as homelessness.

“As I wrote in the Big Issue last year, there is only one way that we are ever going to address these enduring social divisions in the long term – by putting prevention at the heart of our approach. If we continue to focus on the symptoms or immediate consequences of issues like homelessness, we will fail. We must instead understand the complex issues that contribute to people becoming homeless in the first place – including domestic abuse, mental illness, problem debt and housing insecurity – and tackle them early to prevent people from suffering further and becoming harder to help.

“We have already made a good start. In April, I was proud to vote for the landmark Homelessness Reduction Act, whose purpose, in the words of this magazine’s founder, Lord Bird, created “a legal mechanism for embracing that beautiful word; ‘prevention’. This Act places a legal duty on councils to give all people, not just priority cases, support to resolve their homelessness alongside measures to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. As our manifesto makes clear, we will implement it in full – ensuring that local authorities take seriously their duties and have the resources they need to provide the right support.

I was proud to vote for the Homelessness Reduction Act, whose purpose – in Lord Bird’s words – is to “embrace that beautiful word, ‘prevention’

“But if I am elected Prime Minister on the June 8, my government will go further.

“We will introduce a new Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill to consolidate existing prevention and protection orders and create a new domestic violence and abuse commissioner to stand up for victims and survivors.

“To help those trapped in problem debt, we will introduce a new Breathing Space period of up to six weeks, to provide them with legal protection from interest charges and enforcement action and give them time and space to structure their debts and agree a manageable repayment plan

“We will tackle the housing issues which so often lead to homelessness, by piloting a new Housing First model to rapidly place people who are homeless in stable, affordable housing, alongside support services to prevent them returning to homelessness. We will also make sure that those fleeing abuse in their home have a safe place to live by reviewing the funding for refuges and ensuring that victims who have lifetime tenancies and flee violence are able to secure a new lifetime tenancy automatically.

“And we will tackle the burning injustice that people with mental health issues experience when they find there is not enough help at hand. That’s why I will replace the outdated Mental Health Act with a new mental health treatment bill which has parity of esteem and capacity at its heart. We will improve prevention in the workplace, changing health and safety and discrimination laws to take better account of mental illness. And we will invest in training in every school, so that teachers and staff are better able to identify and respond to mental illness early.

“This work will be marshalled by a new Homelessness Reduction Taskforce, working across government and focusing on prevention. Its aim will be nothing less than to halve rough sleeping over the course of the parliament and to eliminate it altogether by 2027.

It is only by intervening before problems become engrained, that we will prevent people becoming more vulnerable and more difficult to help

“It is only by tackling these complex issues early and by intervening before problems become engrained, that we will prevent people becoming more vulnerable and more difficult to help. This is the good that government can do. If I am elected, I am determined to deliver it.”

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.

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