‘Rishi’s Removals’ van roams streets of Westminster as Big Issue Group launches campaign with support of the7stars calling on UK government to End Housing Insecurity for millions of low-income renters

In September Big Issue Group (BIG) has challenged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ‘End Housing Insecurity Now’.

BIG partnered with the7stars creative agency and staged a headline- grabbing stunt, where a van bearing the branding of ‘Rishi’s Removals’ drove up to Palace Gate at Westminster, London, in an effort to highlight the launch of a campaign calling for rights for renters and home owners in the UK.

To launch the campaign, aimed at ensuring the 9 million low-income UK renters[1] can stay in their homes in the face of crippling bills, the organisation has driven a van bearing the text ‘Rishi’s Removals – Driving families out of their homes’ around some of Westminster’s key landmarks.

The mocked-up removals van, which the7stars agency created and executed, pulled up at Palace Gate, Westminster, in order to make clear the key issue the Prime Minister needs to address, as he prepares for his first PMQs since the summer recess.

UK renters are facing a barrage of cost increases, when it comes to food, fuel and rent and those who are receiving Universal credit and Housing Benefit are being driven into debt and homelessness, just to afford the basics.

Research suggests that 242,000[2] households are now experiencing the worst forms of homelessness, including sleeping on the streets, sofa surfing and living in temporary accommodation such as hostels and B&Bs. This is up by a third since 2020.  The organisation is calling for urgent action to prevent even more people falling into the various forms of homelessness.

The organisation’s ‘End Housing Insecurity Now’ campaign is calling on Rishi Sunak to implement three policies to ensure the 9 million low-income renters in the UK can stay in their homes and fulfil their potential: 

  1. Unfreeze Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates (currently fixed at 2018-19 rental prices)[2]. 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. 
  2. Reform Universal Credit to ensure everyone can afford the essentials. BIG is backing the call for an ‘Essentials Guarantee’[3]  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.
  3. 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 are one 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[4] promises to be the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in a generation.

Zoe Hayward CMO of the Big Issue Group, said: “”Sadly, we at the Big Issue are witnessing the strain of renters across the UK trying to make ends meet.  In 2022, 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. Our ‘End Housing Insecurity Now’ campaign is calling for the urgent policy changes we need the government to make, to ensure those on the lowest incomes can afford to stay in their homes. We would like to thank the team at the7stars for their creativity and commitment to delivering this eye-catching stunt to highlight the governments inaction and call for people to sign our petition to make change”

Mark Robinson, Creative Director at the7stars, said: “9 million is an unacceptable number of vulnerable renters who deserve protection and the right to a roof over their head. We partnered with the team at the Big Issue Group because we believe their ‘End Housing Insecurity Now’ campaign will push for the government policy changes that are so urgently needed.”

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.

“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.”

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

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