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Opinion

As we welcome the New Year, we mustn't lose hope

The only thing certain this New Year is uncertainty. But The Big Issue will still be here, working to help people out of poverty

2023 spelled out in fireworks

What will happen next is hard to predict

There is one growth industry for the New Year. There is a straightforward way to massive earnings. It looks so lucrative I’m stunned train staff and nurses and ambulance drivers and those folk at the Quorn
factory
haven’t put down their placards and got into it. 

All they need to do is explain why Harry and Meghan are terrible people. That’s it. Go large on it. Detail that the pair of them are tearing at the very fabric of all that binds us. Get incandescent. There are some news outlets who will pay top dollar for this. In fact, this could be the way to a high-wage economy, the sort of means of breaking that stagnation cycle that the misunderstood Liz Truss had in mind. If EVERYBODY currently working for minimum wage, or supplementing income through benefits, got into this, imagine the bright future.  

Also, the angry heat generated could help protect against need to pay for energy in cold homes. It’s beautiful. This is such a win-win we’re only a moment or two away from it becoming a serious suggestion. Because the answers to how to sort things in 2023, really, properly sort things, are not readily to hand. 

It’s not clear if that’s because trying to read the runes and detail the future is such a ludicrous game – we’ve had three Prime Ministers since this time last year. And four Chancellors of the Exchequer. One of them is now PM. At one point my dog Toastie was in line for the job. When he needs food, he rattles his bowl, when he’s had enough he lies down; he’s as good on supply and demand economic models as any human or beast. 

Is the problem really because we’re stuck in the middle between ideology and progress? Are the Conservative government unable to resolve industrial disputes because they lack the knowhow, or because they are intent on breaking the strikers, running down the clock and forging a new system that means all the condition changes that we’ve been warned will be ushered in will come? It feels like we stand on the edge of a major change. What happens in the next number of weeks will go a long way to constructing society as we see it for a generation. 

It would be really straightforward if some seer could lay it out. But even that clairvoyant octopus is a distant memory. There are simple things that would make life better for those most in need – and that is a growing volume. Hugely increase free school dinner provision. Bring back the £20 uplift in Universal Credit. Allow asylum seekers to work rather than locking them away.   

These are not new radical suggestions. But it’s uncertain if any will be delivered. There is one certainty for the New Year. In 2023, The Big Issue will continue working to provide the widest range of opportunities we can. These will come through selling the magazine. The men and women who earn their living through trading The Big Issue to keep more on every sale. 

We will continue to develop Big Issue Recruit and support more and more people who face barriers joining the labour force. And Big Issue Invest will keep helping organisations grow for the greater good. 

The last year has been difficult, and curious. We look to the New Year with hope. Because we must. 

Paul McNamee is editor of the Big IssueRead more of his columns here. Follow him on Twitter

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.

To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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