- Unfreeze Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates (currently fixed at 2018-19 rental prices). While rents have been going up, Housing Benefit payments have not. Those on the lowest incomes have been left to make up the shortfall, by cutting back on essentials, or falling into debt. A rise will make sure Housing Benefit payments keep up with local rent costs and are calculated to cover the cheapest 30% of private rents.
- Reform Universal Credit to ensure everyone can afford the essentials. BIG is backing the call for an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ to set a basic standard of living. The amount needed should increase from £86 to at least £120 a week for a single adult and from £135 to £200 for a couple.
- Bring forward the Renters Reform Bill and end no-fault evictions for good, to finally put renters in the private sector on a sure footing. Still now private landlords in England can evict their tenants without a reason. These no-fault evictions areone of the leading drivers of homelessness. In the last year, nearly 25,000 people were made homeless by Section 21 evictions. The Renters Reform Bill promises to be the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in a generation.
Lord Bird, Founder of the Big Issue Group, said: ““Renters are facing the biggest housing crisis in a generation, and if the Government don’t take urgent action urgently, it’ll become a homelessness crisis.
“Skyrocketing rents are forcing millions of those on the lowest incomes to forgo essentials like food and heating to keep a roof over their head. Those in the private rented sector face the added threat of unregulated no-fault evictions driving families out of their homes every day.
“Sadly, we at the Big Issue, are witnessing the strain of making ends meet amongst our vendors. In2022, we supported 144 vendors to find, access and maintain a secure home and supported 170 vendors to maximise income, take action on debts, and access financial services. We are investing in organisations to tackle the housing crisis at a local level. We have managed to do a lot but we need the government to take action too.
“We’ve been waiting for the Renters Reform Bill to end no-fault evictions and fulfil the Government’s manifesto commitment for coming up to four years now. It’s time to end the delays. Now that Parliament has returned, we must get this Bill on the statute books and make sure the provisions in it for ending damaging no-fault evictions are watertight.
“Anything less will be a betrayal of this country’s millions of renters.”
Iain Porter, Senior Policy Adviser, from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “The Prime Minister can’t guarantee everyone a secure home without ensuring everyone can afford the essentials which is why we think it’s so important to back this campaign.
“We know that one of the reasons why people can’t get all the essentials they need like food, hygiene products or warm showers, is because they have to prioritise their soaring housing costs. The simple fact is that Universal Credit falls far short of what’s needed to cover all these essentials. It’s undignified that the Government is willing to leave people in these circumstances.
“We hope ministers understand that they can’t fix the dire state of housing without looking at this problem in the round.”
Helen Barnard Director of Policy, Research and Impact at Trussell Trust, said: “The national housing crisis and the shortfall in Universal Credit are huge drivers of food bank need. No one should have to experience poverty and hunger. If we are to end the need for food banks, we need a social security system that’s accessible, easy to navigate and ensures that people’s core needs are met.
“That’s why we are calling on the government to enshrine in law an ‘Essentials Guarantee’, to make sure the basic rate of Universal Credit is based on an assessment of what people actually need.
“Change is possible, but it must be focused on long-term solutions and tackle the systemic issues that push people into poverty. We all need peace of mind that no matter what happens to us – whether we lose our job, become unwell, or face a family tragedy – we will be protected.”
The campaign will also highlight the work BIG is doing to give thousands of people at the sharp end of poverty access to secure housing in the UK, so that they can fulfil their potential. Through the investments made via Big Issue Invest into organisations giving thousands of people in the UK access to secure housing. To BIG’s work as a ‘social advisor’ to ensure social impact is at the heart of investment decisions, with a focus on affordable housing. To the work of BIG’s frontline service team, who support Big Issue vendors and Big Issue Recruit candidates to access the basics, such as secure housing.
To sign the Big Issue Group’s ‘End Housing Insecurity Now’ petition and urge the Prime Minister to ensure people can stay in their homes: http://www.bigissue.com/campaigns/ask-the-government-to-end-housing-insecurity-now
 Derived from DWP Stat-Xplore at https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/
Government must raise housing benefit as crisis deepens for private renters, JRF
Call for a landmark change in Universal Credit so people can afford the essentials, JRF
Households facing homelessness highest since records began, Crisis England