Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Workfare Backer John Bird and the Big Issue.

with 23 comments

Workfare Backing Bird at the launch of a Big Society initiative 

The Big Issue claims that its mission is this,

The Big Issue offers people who are homeless the opportunity to earn their own money; a livelihood.

Now its founder, John Bird (MBE) faces a challenge.

Iain Duncan Smith has said the magazine sold by the homeless, the Big Issue, is being used by immigrants to claim benefits.”

Following a speech on welfare policy in Berlin, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith was quoted in the Times newspaper as having referred to the Big Issue magazine while discussing the issue of benefit tourism.

Mr Duncan Smith praised the magazine, saying it was “a brilliant idea by a brilliant individual, who himself was homeless.”

However he added: “But actually what is happening progressively, more and more, is people mostly from southern and eastern Europe have actually ended up being Big Issue sellers and they claim, as self-employed, immediately, tax credits.”

The government also said the new earnings threshold would “help ensure that benefits only go to those who are genuinely working”, and that it was being introduced “as part of the government’s long-term plan to cap welfare and reduce immigration.”

Of the 3,500 vendors currently registered by the Big Issue, 25 per cent are Romanian or Roma, 66 per cent British and the remainder other nationalities.

But the Big Issue says that the average weekly earnings of its vendors are currently £47.10 – well below the minimum earnings threshold to qualify for in-work benefits.

Defending himself founder of the Big Issue said,

The Big Issue was set up to lift people into work and reduce the chance of people in need ever to resort to wrong doing. By giving people a hand-up rather than a hand-out it is providing a real and ongoing cost saving for the taxpayer.”  Channel Four.

Before anybody starts defending the Big Issue remember this.

Here is the reason unemployed activists loath it from the bottom of their hearts,

The best way to defend the benefit system is to remove the rotten part of it. The part that takes able-bodied people and turns them into kids waiting around for the arrival of their pocket money.

And with 85% of our prison system full of people from a workless background, you can see that these kids can get into trouble.

Since 1991 when I set up The Big Issue I have tried to get people back working rather than begging or wrongdoing.

I believe that work, any kind of work, is better than hanging around waiting for something to drop into your lap. As an ex-offender, beggar, rough sleeper and heavy drinker, I can say that it isn’t much of a life.

Yet many well-intentioned liberally minded people defend the right of people to live an often defeated life. A life where their health and mental wellbeing is destroyed. Simply because we give people a handout rather than a hand up.

I have stood against the growing use of benefits that stop people building a life for themselves. Why is it that the amount of people who are on benefit who get to our top colleges is less than 1%? How is it that many of the children whose families are trapped on benefit do poorly at school?

Why? Because benefit does not help them. It is dressed up to look like a social support system but is in fact like a big brick wall built around people who desperately need support to get out of poverty.

The benefit system needs to change. It cannot be an endless alternative to work. It has to come with strings attached. People on benefit must help people in the community who need our help – the old, the disabled and the needy.

So Bird is in favour of Workfare.

He is also in favour of his own nice littler earner.

On television  Bird went so far as to suggest that he was helping stop criminality (that is, amongst Roma migrants) by giving them work.

One might ask what that has to do with homelessness.

Some people think that the main objective of the Big Issue is to sustain its own business.

This is this individual’s political background,

A member of the Workers Revolutionary Party in the 1970s,  in March 2007 he announced his intention to stand for election to the post of Mayor of London as an independent candidate.  In May 2007 he unveiled his election manifesto for the 2008 poll.

In October 2007 he announced that he had decided not to stand for election, and was instead going to launch a movement that was “going to try and do what the CND did over the bomb, but over social injustice.”

In December 2007 he agreed with Westminster Council who declared that they were opposed to the presence of soup kitchens on the streets of London. He said:

We have to stop supplying people with the means of being emergency refugees on the streets… no one has ever got off the streets simply because they’ve been fed a good bowl of soup.[9]

In 2010 he helped to launch the writers website abctales.com

In the early 21st century, Bird became a Social Enterprise Ambassador. Social enterprises use a business to address a social or environmental need. The Social Enterprise Ambassadors programme is led by the Social Enterprise Coalition and is supported by the Office of the Third Sector, part of the UK government’s Cabinet Office.

Bird revealed in 2010 “My guilty secret is that I’m really a working class Tory. There, I’ve said it. I’d love to be a liberal because they’re the nice people but it’s really hard work – I can’t swallow their gullibility and I think their ideas are stupid. I’d love to be someone who wanders around in a kind of Utopian paradise seeing only the good in everybody but I just can’t. I support capital punishment for a start. I know this will destroy my reputation among middle-class liberals but I’m 64 now and I should be able to breathe a bit. Wearing the corsetry of liberalism means that every now and then you have to take it off. Wikipedia.


 Nobody should defend this self-promoting charlatan. 


Written by Andrew Coates

June 6, 2014 at 10:16 am

23 Responses

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  1. There are incidentally people who’ve been selling the Big Issue for years and years and years.

    How does this square up to the claim that “he Big Issue was set up to lift people into work”?

    Andrew Coates

    June 6, 2014 at 11:39 am

  2. The Big Issue keeps people below even a subsistence level of living.

    Didn’t Mr Bird nick the idea for his crappy magazine from Anita Roddick’s husband, in the USA?


    June 6, 2014 at 11:57 am

  3. Inspired by Street News apparently: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Issue

    And it is utter cack, as you say.

    Why would anybody buy it except out of a sense of compassion?

    Andrew Coates

    June 6, 2014 at 12:02 pm

  4. Well that says it all really, someone who thinks it’s OK to kill people. When a person thinks legal murder is OK how can they pretend they are concerned about the public good? openly supporting the worst atrocity a human being can commit!


    June 6, 2014 at 6:30 pm

  5. Dystopian 35 Hours a Week Supervised Jobsearch for Jobseeker’s Allowance Pilot.


    jj joop

    June 7, 2014 at 11:49 am

    • ‘Scheme provider’? More public money for crappy outsourcers?


      June 7, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    • Why don’t they just put in the Workhouse picking okam?

      This pilot is fucking prison!

      Andrew Coates

      June 7, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      • It’s seems to be just like the old New Deal where they packed as many people into a room as they could and just left them to rot.

        jj joop

        June 7, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      • Having quickly scanned through this piece of legislation, it would appear that to qualify for this so-called scheme you have to have not participated in the Work Programme; where the claimant is not taking sufficiently effective steps to secure employment: for example, failing to secure job interviews. It would also appear that you can be sampled at random as well, which will probably be by some over-zealous adviser who doesn’t like the look of you.


        jj joop

        June 7, 2014 at 4:04 pm

  6. For someone who has been homeless and drunk, John Bird has not made the connection that derision, abuse, punishment and deprivation cause more to slip off the edge and end up homeless and drunk or worse. He’s a naïve, evangelising, inverted snob.


    June 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    • He’s another Saint Bono – a conceited know-it-all with no time for anyone doesn’t agree with him.

      jj joop

      June 7, 2014 at 3:38 pm

  7. Off Topic:

    Just a Thought.

    If a government hands out contracts to private providers, how many of those government MP’s have stakes in private providers, and how many of those have stakes in mobile phone companies, MP’s included?

    i.e. tracking benefit claimants movements at any one time – ditch the smart phones and go back to a non GPS trackable digital phone – like I’ve done.

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    June 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    • Or if you are aware your been tracked, reset the phone to factory settings and chuck it on a train that’s going up to Scotland or even better, chuck it on the eurotrain to Paris.

      Obi Wan Kenobi

      June 7, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    • GSM mobiles (without GPS) have always trackable to a few 10s of meters especially in a built up area. The only answer is to switch it off.

      Another Fine Mess

      June 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      • Mine’s normally off. Although triangulation is an effictive way of targeting a transmission location whithin a 10 meter area – easy to do with all the call towers, but hard to enact without a court order to target an individual number.

        Obi Wan Kenobi

        June 7, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      • Yes, they’d need court order in theory. But if you have access to the victims phone to you can do it yourself for a price. http://www.traceamobile.co.uk

        Another Fine Mess

        June 7, 2014 at 4:16 pm

  8. Had enough:

    I am sick and tired of poititians who weren’t elected telling the people of this country (inc. benefiits claimants) what they should and shouldn’t be doing – remember they are supposed to work for you and the best interests of Great Britain, the electorate.

    Iain Duncan Schmidt seem to think he now controls everything that benefit claimant does – Think again you piece of filth.

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    June 7, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    • Same here, these days I spend a lot more time trying to keep up with the weekly ‘rules changes’ or other traps they keep trying to set, than I do applying for actual vacancies. They’re making people who’ve worked for years now unemployable, and destroying the UK.

      Another Fine Mess

      June 7, 2014 at 4:04 pm

  9. The problem with uk today is there are laws for the rich and for the poor unfortunately the industrial tribunal no longer cater for the poor slave who has been thrown off jobseekers allowance and have to accept the worse working conditions since 1940s ex zero hrs contract no proper contract,job description,And is also told when the slave can sit down for 5 min and eat his food.He then has to fight for his pay and thanks to this government now has to pay a fee to take his employer to the industrial tribunal.His private details are kept by the jobcentre and is never signed off the system propley these people are not held to account.There is no justice for the poor minimum wage slaves they have to provide there own via assaults on jobcentre staff. A4 e elephant and castle, cdg maximus work program provider can all rot as far as I am concerned these are the uk main poverty pimmps.


    June 8, 2014 at 7:38 am

    • Private sector providers = Pimp culture

      jj joop

      June 8, 2014 at 9:06 am

  10. By Selling The Big Issue. You Are Classed As Self Employes!

    Big Issue

    June 8, 2014 at 9:36 am

    • This is a thought that I have had myself. I have heard a rumour that there was once and could still be somewhere on Universal Jobmatch an advertisement for an ”’INDEPENDENT MEDIA DISTRIBUTION AGENT”’. Turned out this was selling the Big Issue on behalf of somebody else. Don’t know how true this is but it would come as no surprise to any of us.

      mr northolt

      July 1, 2014 at 1:27 pm

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