Lord John Bird, Co-Founder of The Big Issue and Member of the House of Lords talks to us about The Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill and how The Big Exchange fits into our future.
Written for The Big Exchange by Lord John Bird, Co-Founder of The Big Issue and Member of the House of Lords.
The Big Exchange, a pioneering investment platform co-founded by the Big Issue, the magazine I founded in 1991, is a recognition that money talks. Every pound you spend or save is a political act. This platform is for those who want to use their savings to invest in a way that means something. It is a perfect example of acting #todayfortomorrow in the interests of our future generations.
Securing the Wellbeing of Future Generations is central to dismantling the root causes of poverty, breaking the cycle of unintended consequences which cause environmental damage and social and economic inequalities, and avoiding the need for future generations of Big Issue vendors. Our Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill, if passed into law, will help tackle threats such as the climate crisis, poverty, pandemics, head on. The Bill has made significant progress this parliamentary term, receiving its Third Reading in the House of Lords in January 2022. It will now progress to the House of Commons, where MPs will have a chance to debate its provisions and the importance of acting today, for tomorrow.
The UK Government and devolved governments in Scotland and Wales have set ambitious targets to achieve a ‘net zero’ economy by 2050, in a much-needed policy of acting today for tomorrow. If we are to achieve these stretching national targets, we need a complete reorientation of investment. Our Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill would help policymakers make joined-up, long-term plans to bring together the economy, society and environment through National Wellbeing Goals. These goals will also provide certainty to British businesses as they set their own business strategies and consider their purpose for the years ahead. Knowing the direction of travel for the next 10, 15, 20 years will ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal: the wellbeing of future generations.
The Government must also ring-fence an “R&D” budget for investment in sustainable, preventative policies which will improve our economic, environmental and social wellbeing over the long term. Investing in good quality, affordable homes, decarbonised public transport and resilient supply chains will be good for our wellbeing, our planet, and our wallets now and in the long term.
Imagine if we all used our money to collectively send a financial message to businesses and governments: we want to be part of the change. In many ways, this is more effective than joining a protest or signing a petition. Money, as I said, talks.
All of us have the opportunity to make an investment in an Individual Savings Account every tax year, and Junior ISAs also give us, as parents, grandparents and godparents, a valuable opportunity to discuss money with our children and grandchildren. How is it made, how is it invested? Can you understand how stock exchanges, businesses, taxes and budgets work? Investing is also a long-term proposition and will help young investors conceptualise “the future”.
People are always astonished when one points out that the vast accumulation of money into the hands of a few is largely due to consumerism. That we buy their stuff, and they accumulate the money we provide into their vast portals of wealth. Investing is key to Levelling Up the economy, and spreading wealth across diverse groups of people, from nurses and bus drivers to artists and authors.
We find ourselves in a completely changed world since Covid-19. There are challenges young people face which have not been experienced in their parents’ or their grandparents’ lifetime. There are also the continual challenges we face with climate change that is not going to go away and are interdependent on the wellbeing of society.
Ultimately, to achieve our goals with The Big Exchange, we need to reach millions across the UK. People can take control of their own money; people’s personal investments can make a positive difference to the world; people’s actions, here and now, can make a lasting difference today for tomorrow’s generations. It is ordinary people across the UK who will make The Big Exchange transformational.
Whatever matters to you most — whether it’s lowering carbon emissions, creating jobs in the green economy, contributing to social housing, developing vaccines, or creating on-line learning tools — by investing through The Big Exchange, you can help to make a difference.
Please remember that when investing, making money is not guaranteed and your capital is at risk. The value of your fund can go down as well as up. Tax treatment depends on an individual’s circumstances and may be subject to change.
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