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Press Release

Big Issue Founder warns £20 Universal Credit uplift must remain in place or the nation will face a “mass homelessness crisis”

Lord John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue, has issued a warning that the Government must act now and stop the cut to Universal Credit in order to prevent a “mass homelessness crisis”.

Today (Tuesday 5 October), Lord John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue, has issued a warning that the Government must act now and stop the cut to Universal Credit in order to prevent a “mass homelessness crisis”.

His warning comes as the Government prepares to scrap the £20 uplift in Universal Credit on Wednesday 6 October. The uplift was put in place in March 2020 to combat the financial hardships of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown.

The cut to Universal Credit is happening just a week after the end of the Government’s Furlough scheme – which has put a million people at risk of losing their jobs and homes. This is on top of the rise in the energy price cap which has pushed hundreds of thousands of households into fuel poverty.

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.

Lord John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue, said: “We have reached the cliff edge of a mass homelessness crisis. 4.3 million people are behind on household bills and 564,000 people are in rent arrears. The end of furlough has already put over a million people not only at risk of losing their jobs, but also their homes. £20 a week could be the difference between affording the rent or becoming homeless.

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“We must act now to support people to stay in their homes – otherwise they will slip into the costly and mentally damaging world of homelessness. Maintaining the £20 uplift is much less costly than the price of homelessness. Then we need to see investment in jobs and training in sustainable industries as part of a longer-term solution.”

To sign the petition and learn more about The Big Issue’s campaign to Stop Mass Homelessness visit www.bigissue.com/stop-mass-homelessness

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