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Big Issue vendors lead over 11,000 strong call for Prime Minister to End Housing Insecurity in Spring Budget 

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.” 

The need for greater support is becoming increasingly critical, as December inflation figures have shown the cost of living is still rising. Mo Gething, who sells the magazine at the Royal College of Nursing in London and handed in the petition, said: “The Prime Minister has to take action because people are struggling. He needs to increase Universal Credit to reduce fuel poverty.” 

Lord Bird said: “The welfare system we have at the moment unfortunately does not lift people out of poverty. With the level it’s currently set at, Universal Credit is making poverty more entrenched. We ought to be giving people the tools to lift themselves out of poverty, and that starts with having a secure roof over their head. The petition we handed in today is calling for changes that would ensure people can afford to stay in their homes, which would put us on the road to eradicating poverty for good. That’s what I’m in the House of Lords to do, and I’m not stopping until we get there.” 

For more information, visit bigissue.com/campaigns.  

1 Derived from Department for Work and Pensions Stat-Xplore, https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk 

2 Centrepoint, The Youth Homelessness Databank 2022-2023 

3 Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Destitution in the UK 2023 

4 The Times, 21st January 2024, ‘Jeremy Hunt talks up tax cuts in 2024 spring budget’ 

National Vendor Week 2024

A celebration of people who are working their way out of poverty.
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