The Big Issue urges 'Activist Army' of readers to grill general election candidates on poverty prevention

The Big Issue has urged its readers to join an Activist Army which aims to to put poverty prevention on the general election agenda

Editor Paul McNamee said: “We’re calling on readers to challenge their respective candidates to say what they will be doing to address poverty, specifically around health, social care, education, literacy, housing and pay equality.

He added: “We’re pushing a prevention agenda.”

The title then wants readers to let it know where candidates stand so that it can publish details of their stance.

The Big Issue adopts a politically neutral stance on big issues in society, such as poverty prevention, but does press politicians on the importance of such issues.

Figures from the Child Poverty Action Group show poverty affects one in four children in the UK today, with charity Save The Children warning this figure is set to rise unless politicians choose to intervene.

The Big Issue said: “Invest now for a better future. This is not an empty soundbite. It’s a way ahead. Money spent now to help the poorest have opportunity saves welfare costs in subsequent years and allows there to be a route to success for those who were previously locked in.”

Readers are being encouraged to tell the magazine what general election candidates say. Responses will be collated and published.

The Big Issue’s Prevention Manifesto:

“We believe in a fence at the top of the cliff, not an ambulance at the bottom. We believe in prevention over cure.

“More than £17bn a year is spent in England and Wales on short-run late intervention. And in Scotland, 40 per cent of public spending is targeted at problems that could have been avoided.

“We believe prevention should be at the heart of every policy when it comes to poverty.

“Better use of resources will improve the quality of people’s lives, will reduce the need for expensive state services and help safeguard the future.

“We believe in planning for the future and making the most of what you have.

“Investing in people’s lives early on will provide routes out of poverty, into better futures, for the poorest in society.

“We believe in social opportunity, that social enterprises offer a third way to deal with social problems that governments and business can’t always see.

“We want a clear commitment to literacy, with guaranteed funds for local library services.

“We want to see a plan to revolutionise our NHS, with an increased budget for prevention, and a shift to social and community medicine.

“We want social justice for all, with opportunities that give people a hand up out of poverty, into better futures.”

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