Today, Wednesday 31st January, magazine vendors spearheading the Big Issue’s campaign to End Housing Insecurity Now handed a petition to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street which has been signed by 11,910 members of the public.
The petitioners, who were joined by Big Issue founder and crossbench peer Lord Bird, are calling for better financial entitlements for the 9 million renters living in poverty in the UK.1
Right now, a new young person faces the threat of homelessness every four minutes,2 while the most recent figures show that 3.8 million people experienced destitution in 2022.3 To make sure everyone can afford a safe home, Big Issue campaigners are calling on the Prime Minister to take action in the upcoming Spring Budget, and increase Universal Credit to £120 a week for a single adult and £200 for a couple, and permanently set Local Housing Allowance rates at 30% of market rents.
The popularity of the petition confirms the steadfast support for welfare spending among the British public. This was quantified in a recent YouGov poll showing that 62 per cent of voters want the government to prioritize public spending over cutting taxes4.
André Rostant, who sells The Big Issue on Carnaby Street in London and took the petition to Downing Street, explained the rationale behind the policies. He said: “In the 21st century, we have enough resources, and enough technology, and enough wealth that nobody should be in insecure housing or homeless. The changes we’re calling for today are a measure to alleviate some of the causes of homelessness, but we also need structural change in the housing distribution system.”
The petition has incited an outpouring of public support. Jane Durham, who sells The Big Issue in Vauxhall and was present at Downing Street, said: “Everybody I spoke to on my pitch signed it, or said they were going to. People are really for it, they think the situation at the moment is disgusting. A lot of people are losing their homes, or they are locked in temporary housing, even with children, because Universal Credit is not enough. They can’t even afford to heat their homes, I hear it all the time. Then once you’re homeless, you’re passed from pillar to post and nobody wants to know, they turn a blind eye.”