The Daily Telegraph

Jump in Big Issue sellers blamed on cost of living rise

- By Matthew Field

THE number of sellers on Britain’s streets surged by 10pc last year as the cost of living crisis left more people struggling to make ends meet.

The Big Issue Group, the social enterprise behind the magazine, said the total number of vendors rose by 346 people to 3,642 last year.

Lord Bird, co-founder of The Big Issue, said more people had begun selling the title “given the dire circumstan­ces they are facing”.

He said: “We are very aware that our work is needed more than ever with spiralling living costs, continuing increases in poverty and hardship. The cost of living crisis has hit those at the coalface of poverty the hardest.”

The magazine aims to offer homeless people and those in poverty a chance to supplement their income and provides opportunit­ies for them to find full-time work. Its vendors are self-employed and buy each magazine for £1.75, selling them for £4 and keeping the profit.

The Big Issue Group saw a 34pc increase in sales to 2.2m magazines last year and a 38pc increase in vendor earnings, with each salesman earning just over £1,000 on average last year.

The enterprise has recently expanded cashless payments by providing many vendors with card readers, which has helped to boost sales. Customers can also buy an annual subscripti­on, which provides a vendor with £50.

Launched in 1991 by Lord Bird, who struggled with homelessne­ss after growing up in poverty, The Big Issue is the world’s largest street newspaper. It also operates a recruitmen­t service dedicated to getting homeless people into employment.

The group said 69pc of its new sellers were using the magazine as their main source of income or an additional income source, while 10pc said they were using the work as a springboar­d to a full-time job. In total, 899 people signed up to sell the publicatio­n for the first time.

Official figures show that there was a 26pc jump in the number of rough sleepers on Britain’s streets last autumn, while 100,000 households were staying in temporary accommodat­ion.

Rental evictions surged by 98pc between October and December.

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