Press Release

Big Issue Group launches campaign demanding long-term solutions to protect future generations and break the cycle of poverty

After a tumultuous past few years, which has seen a number of crises and with 14.5m people (more than one in five people) in the UK living in poverty and with this number predicted to rise by 1.3m by 2023, the campaign is calling upon the Government to break this cycle. 

Lord Bird - Big Futures campaign. Image Credit: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Lord Bird - Big Futures campaign. Image Credit: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

  • Big Futures campaign is calling for affordable housing, the end of in-work poverty and millions of green jobs
  • An open letter has been sent to the Government demanding action be taken on the three asks
  • Signatories include: Jack Monroe, Kwajo Tweneboa, Lord Jeffrey Archer, Lord David Blunkett, Marsha de Cordova MP, John McDonnell MP, Peter Aldous MP, the RSPB, the National Education Union and many more

Today (Monday, 31st October) Big Issue Group (BIG) has launched the Big Futures campaign, which is calling on the Government to break the cycle of poverty and create long-term solutions for future generations.

The Big Issue Group supports the crucial emergency measures being called for to ease the current cost-of-living crisis. However, Big Futures wants new decision-makers to go further and put in place a plan and policies to break this cycle of crises and poverty for good. The campaign is calling on the Government to deal with the root causes, to ensure that future generations don’t have to tackle the same issues we are facing today, or worse.

After a tumultuous past few years, which has seen a number of crises and with 14.5m people (more than one in five people) in the UK living in poverty[1] and with this number predicted to rise by 1.3m by 2023, the campaign is calling upon the Government to break this cycle. 

Long term, prevention focused solutions are needed to meet the biggest issues faced in the UK today – the housing crisis, low wages and the climate crisis. Dealing with these issues will help the UK to protect the environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing of future generations. 

Currently, almost two thirds of young people fear for their generation’s future[2]. The campaign’s immediate asks for the UK Government are to implement three policies, which BIG believes will begin to create the stability and opportunity needed for millions of people living in poverty in the UK:

  1. create decent and affordable homes for all
  2. end the low-wage economy and invest in young people
  3. build a greener economy and create millions of well-paid green jobs

The campaign asks are supported by several high profile individuals and organisations, who have also signed an open letter from the Big Futures campaign which has been sent to the new Prime Minister, demanding the Government take immediate action on Big Futures three asks.

The supporters and signees of the open letter include: Jack Monroe, Kwajo Tweneboa, Lord Jeffrey Archer, Lord David Blunkett, Marsha de Cordova MP, John McDonnell MP, Peter Aldous MP, Roman Kzarnic, Adrian Ramsay & Carla Denyer the Co-leaders of the Green Party of England and Wales, Baroness Sue Garden, Ian Paisley MP, Lord John Shipley, Fuel Poverty Action, the National Education Union, Women’s Budget Group, Carnegie UK, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), British Medical Association and many more.

The campaign asserts that, in order to create decent and affordable homes for all, the Government must commit to building tens of thousands more affordable homes each year, reform planning legislation so that unused buildings must be used for residential purposes, and improving the rights of renters, by capping rents, ending unfair evictions and clearing rent arrears.

It must also implement a Housing First Approach for people who are homeless and living with multiple needs, so that everyone can access a stable home regardless of their circumstances.

The campaign also calls on the Government to end the low wage economy and invest in young people. It specifically asks the Government to commit to a plan to achieve £15 an hour minimum wage for all workers over the age of 18. It also asks that they implement a Future Skills Scheme, upskilling and reskilling young people and members of the UK’s workforce who are in jobs that are vulnerable to disruption by crises or in currently left-behind communities.

And finally, Big Futures asks that the Government must commit to: creating millions of well-paid, green jobs, by investing public money into green infrastructure and the care economy.

There must also be a just transition to the green economy, which means supporting a net zero and climate resilient economy in a way that delivers fairness and tackles inequality and injustice.

Lord Bird, Founder of Big Issue Group and crossbench peer, said: “Young people and future generations deserve a fair shot at life. Together, we can build a better future. If you didn’t sign up to an uncertain future for all, sign up to our campaign and open letter today.”

Kwajo Tweneboa, housing campaigner, said: “It’s clear now more than ever why affordable housing is needed. With the rate of homelessness and hidden homelessness rising as well as the cost of rentals. Things are becoming more and more expensive. There are over 1 million people on the waiting list for a social home and it’s growing at a faster rate than the Government are building. Everyone deserves access to a safe home in this country. When housing collapses it’s social housing we will depend on. Lets not wait for that disaster to happen and start treating affordable and social homes with the priority it deserves and has needed for decades.”

Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretaries of the National Education Union, said: “Poverty is a political choice. The Prime Minister has an opportunity to act to reverse the damage done over the last decade and put in place long-term solutions to alleviate the burden on families. There are already almost 4 million children living in poverty and as the cost of living crisis deepens this figure will only get worse. Families are struggling to make ends meet and school staff are supporting more and more pupils who are coming to school hungry, cold or tired.

“The Government needs to act to help families and children in the short term, but also put in place solutions that tackle the root causes of poverty. Decades of falling wages, underinvestment in housing and neglect of the environment are compounding the current crisis and must be addressed if we are to build a better future. Action must be taken to safeguard the future for the next generation.”

Big Futures adheres to the same long termism, prevention focused policies of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill[3], which has long been championed by BIG, and is currently being put through Parliament by  BIG Founder and crossbench peer, Lord Bird and Conservative MP for Barrow and Furness, Simon Fell.

Additionally, if you are aged between 16-30 years old, please do write to us to let us know what you think the Government needs to do to support future generations, by emailing us at: big.futures@bigissue.com

You can join the action today, go to our website and sign our open letter to demand a better future: www.bigissue.com/campaigns/big-futures


[1] https://www.jrf.org.uk/data/overall-uk-poverty-rates

[2] https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/about-the-trust/news-views/class-of-covid-report

[3] https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/2869

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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