THE IRISHMAN who founded the Big Issue has hit back at a British minister who said the magazine is being used by eastern Europeans as a back-door route to benefits.
John Bird said Iain Duncan Smith was wrong to claim this week that “more and more” people are registering as homeless vendors of the Big Issue so they can declare themselves self-employed and claim tax credits.
The Work and Pensions Secretary, who was answering questions after giving a speech in Berlin, added that there are growing concerns about the abuse of in-work benefits.
But Mr Bird, who was born into a poor London-Irish family and raised in an orphanage, pointed the finger of blame back at the British minister.
“The flaws which IDS has highlighted were inherent in a benefits system created by the Government and, to that extent, the problem is the Government’s and not one of The Big Issue’s making,” he said.
The social entrepreneur added: “If the Government feels that the rules applying to in-work and out-of-work benefits need changing then they need to look at that carefully.
“But in the meantime, it is wrong to promote the idea that The Big Issue is doing anything nefarious or harmful in adding to a problem which is not of its making.”