Social Justice

Budget 2017: 'We're missing the bigger picture,' says John Bird

Responding to the Chancellor's Autumn Budget, the Big Issue founder says the government must do more to prevent poverty

Lord John Bird welcomed parts of this year’s Budget, but also warned the government against “missing the bigger picture” of poverty prevention.

The Big Issue’s founder urged the government to “weave prevention into the work of every policy and every department.”

Bird welcomed the extra support for vulnerable renters at risk of homelessness and the Housing First pilot schemes to provide rough sleepers with accommodation, but urged communities secretary Sajid Javid to now “go further.”

“Housing First can’t be the flagship policy if it’s not combined with an all-out effort to treat people’s inner demons; to cure their mental issues for good,” he said.

“Otherwise we’re just treading water – and in the long-term, all we’re doing is moving people from hostel, to A&E, to prison, to the streets.”

Where’s the extra cash to treat rough sleepers’ mental health?

Although Chancellor Philip Hammond set aside an extra £350 million to help the NHS through the winter, there were no measures to boost the early intervention needed to prevent health problems, and no mention of the need to improve mental health services for homeless people or society at large.

“Where’s the extra cash to treat rough sleepers’ mental health?” asked Bird. “Will that form part of the cross-government strategy to eliminate rough sleeping by 2027?”

Lord John Bird also welcomed the fact The Big Issue’s fair access to credit campaign made it into the Chancellor’s Budget. The government will introduce a “Rent Recognition Challenge,” inviting companies to find new ways to include rental payment history in people’s mortgage assessments and credit scores.

“It’s a first step, and I’m looking forward to learning which additional policies are on the way – policies that could go so much further in offering fair access to more affordable credit to those who have the least,” said Bird.

He continues to push forward his own Creditworthiness Assessment Bill in the House of Lords – legislation aimed at helping millions of renters get fair access to credit.

Our 2020 Impact Report

The Big Issue has given more than £1 million support to Big Issue vendors struggling due to the lockdown restrictions. To mark the significant milestone, we have published an impact report, documenting the seismic shift the organisation has undergone in the past 12 months.

View Report

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.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices
energy bills
Energy bills

Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices

Abuse survivor tried to take her own life after years-long battle with DWP over disability benefits
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
Department for Work and Pensions

Abuse survivor tried to take her own life after years-long battle with DWP over disability benefits

Poverty costs the UK billions each year. Politicians must commit to ending it this general election
Trussell Trust food banks
General election 2024

Poverty costs the UK billions each year. Politicians must commit to ending it this general election

DWP under investigation over treatment of ill and disabled people after deaths of benefit claimants
Department for Work and Pensions

DWP under investigation over treatment of ill and disabled people after deaths of benefit claimants

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know