Press Release

Big Issue Founder responds to news 688 people died on the streets last year, warning “if we don’t take action now, we are set to lose far more lives”

Lord John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue, has responded to data released by the Office of National Statistics, reporting that 688 people tragically lost their lives on the streets in England and Wales in 2020. 

Lord John Bird

Lord John Bird, founder of the Big Issue

Today (Wednesday, 1 December) Lord John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue, has responded to data released by the Office of National Statistics, reporting that 688 people tragically lost their lives on the streets in England and Wales in 2020. 

The Big Issue Founder and crossbench peer has warned that “if we don’t take action now, we are set to lose far more lives on the street” and is calling again on the Government to Stop Mass Homelessness.

Lord Bird and The Big Issue launched a ‘Stop Mass Homelessness Campaign’ in July 2021 in response to the threat of an avalanche of newly homeless households this autumn.

To prevent an influx of newly homeless households, The Big Issue has three key asks of the Government:

  • Pay off the £360 million in rent arrears and provide additional support to help those unable to pay their rent or mortgage due to Covid-19.
  • Put an end to no fault evictions.
  • Provide jobs and training in sustainable industries.

The Big Issue also recently released data showing that if the Government does not take action to address the full £360 million in rent arrears now it could cost them an extra £2,234,025,000 on top of that later.

Lord John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue, said:“688 people lost their lives on the streets last year, that’s 688 too many. If we don’t take action now, we are set to lose far more lives on the streets. 

“The rise in fuel prices, the end of furlough, the cut to Universal Credit and the lift of the eviction ban have posed a very grave danger to everyday families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet.

“That is why we are calling on the Government to Stop Mass Homelessness with three key asks. Take action on the £360 million in rent arrears and provide additional support to help those unable to pay their rent or mortgage, put an end to no fault evictions, and provide jobs and training in sustainable industries. We cannot leave people to die, we are the sixth richest country in the world, we can and must do better.

“It’s not just the Government that can save lives, you can too. It’s cold out there and our high streets are quieter than before. Please buy a copy of the magazine or a subscription from your local Big Issue vendor. It might mean the difference between them having a roof over their head or not this Winter.”

Please go out and support Big Issue vendors this winter by buying a copy of the magazine or a subscription from your local vendor so they receive 50% of the net profits. Alternatively, you can make a donation to The Big Issue Foundation. Visit: www.bigissue.com/bigwish

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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