Big Issue founder claims that the company is having trouble surviving the current housing crisis.
According to the founder of The Big Issue, the publication narrowly escaped bankruptcy during the pandemic despite the cost of living crisis continuing to hurt sales.
Covid forced the magazine’s leadership to swiftly reassess the social business model because it meant that those who are homeless or long-term unemployed could no longer sell it on the streets for the first time in the publication’s more than 30-year history.
The magazine’s editor-in-chief and crossbench peer in the House of Lords, John Bird, said the publication had to go through “enormous restructuring” recently to survive.
He admitted to the Observer, “We nearly went out of business. “We had to do things like solicit memberships from individuals, collect money, and assist our vendors in any way we could.”
“We were a social business that suffered through the crisis, but we had to be businesslike with it, which is why we’re telling everyone to take a subscription at this time of year since half the money still supports the vendors,” he continued.
In addition to launching subscriptions, the Big Issue Group gave merchants direct financial assistance, grocery store coupons, PPE, more card readers so that sellers could go cashless, and a subsidy program to boost sellers’ magazine profits.
As millions of people across the UK struggle to pay for necessities, the cost of the living problem is now having a greater impact on sales.
Bird stated, “We’re looking at the reality that many of our vendors are having issues and they need support and assistance, and we’re trying to do that.” “A fantastic way to do it is to get people to subscribe and buy the paper.”
The combination of Brexit, Covid, the conflict in Ukraine, and last year’s Conservative leadership upheaval, according to Bird, who was homeless as a youngster, had caused “a kind of shitstorm all coming together.”
He compared the situation to “a sequence of hurricanes that swept Britain in the 1970s.” But now, he continued, “they’re coming together all at once.” And nobody is on the scene to come to our aid.
Bird, who called for a political agreement in the UK, claimed that because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is hurting the country’s poor as well as those in Europe and the US, the UK is in a “war situation.” “My major worry is that there doesn’t seem to be any kind of mature thinking.”
He warned of a rise in homelessness and urged the government to take steps to prevent evictions of rent-paying homes. The organization Crisis projects that there will be 300,000 homeless households this year, a 32% increase from 2020.
According to Bird, the government should help landlords financially in order to prevent rent increases and reduce evictions in addition to offering more financial assistance to people who are having trouble paying for food and energy.
The worst possible addition to that, he said, is if hundreds of thousands of people are rendered homeless. “Then it completely goes off the Richter scale,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m not concerned about people who can’t feed themselves or heat themselves.