Opinion

Activist Army, your time has come

There is new urgency to our campaign as we push the new government to put poverty prevention top of its agenda

Activist Army

The election is finished and now it’s over to you – it’s time for The Big Issue’s Activist Army to step up.

During the campaign, candidates of every stripe and every party leader, pledged their backing to our poverty-dismantling manifesto and John Bird’s call for a Poverty Prevention Unit.

Now, as MPs, old and new, get to business in Westminster, there is new urgency to our campaign as we push the new Government to put poverty prevention top of its agenda.

Preventing people from falling into poverty will save billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money each year

Preventing people from falling into poverty – creating a fence at the top of the cliff – will save billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money spent each year. From health to prisons, unemployment to welfare, the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff has a vast human and financial cost; as much as £78 billion a year.

But if poverty prevention is at the heart public policy in every key department – education and housing, communities and crime, health and social security – the payoffs down the line to society will be massive.

So we want to grow our Activist Army and have you lobby every MP in the UK to make the creation of a Poverty Prevention Unit a top priority.

Here’s how:

Step 1. Identify your MP. Look them up at writetothem.com

Step 2. Phone, email or write explaining why a Poverty Prevention Unit is necessary.

Step 3. Keep the pressure on. Follow-up. Demand a response to your inquiry. They are your voice in the UK Parliament, and if you believe prevention is better than cure, make sure they know it.

Why Poverty Prevention?

The Poverty Prevention Unit would be a purposeful, proactive voice at the heart of government – a team of people making sure ministers making big decisions over housing insecurity, poor health, educational underachievement and other challenges would have to consider prevention at all times.

Plenty of evidence shows how damaging and costly it is to leave people stuck in the cycle of poverty. Dealing with the effects of poverty costs the public purse £78 billion a year, according to recent research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. That’s £1 in every £5 spent on public services, or £1,200 a year for every person in the UK. And the health conditions linked to poverty are the most costly aspect of all, amounting to £29 billion each year.

But it’s not just Westminster that you can make a difference. You can be part of our Poverty Prevention Alliance, mobilising our Activist Army to look out for anyone struggling to get by.

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