Christian leaders and charities call for action on rising UK and international poverty

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Volunteers prepare emergency food supplies at a food bank operated by The Trussell Trust(Photo: The Trussell Trust)

A coalition of churches and charities is urging politicians to take urgent action to address growing poverty in the UK and around the world.

With the UK entering a general election year, they say that poverty is “a consequence of political choices and priorities” and that “the human cost of failing to take action now is too big and too damaging to ignore”.

They add that 2024 “must mark the beginning of the end for poverty”. 

The joint statement released on Friday has been signed by senior Christian leaders including the General Secretary of Churches Together in England, the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, and representatives of development agencies Christian Aid, CAFOD and Tearfund.

Christian Aid CEO, Patrick Watt, said, “For millions of people this new year has been marked by poverty and desperation.

“Regardless of the causes of poverty, and whether it’s hitting people internationally or in the UK, the effects are strikingly similar. Partners and churches describe its crushing effect on people’s dignity and life chances, and its damage to the social fabric.

“The choices we make collectively about how to tackle poverty, both domestically and internationally, matter. As we approach a general election, we’re hearing far too little from political parties about their ambition to end poverty, and build the common good.

“We must not let another year slip by while poverty rises. That’s why we’re coming together at this moment, to call for urgent action to address the causes of poverty, here and around the world.”

Christian Aid, the Trussell Trust, Church Action on Poverty and the Joint Public Issues Team of the Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches have released a new six-week resource called ‘Act on Poverty’ to help church groups explore the impacts of poverty around the world and in the UK, and to take action ahead of the general election.

Bishop Mike Royal, General Secretary of Churches Together in England, said: “We want to see action on poverty now, and political leaders need to know our ambition for change. I encourage church communities to come together and share with election candidates why tackling poverty should be a priority.”

Stef Benstead, who contributed to the Act on Poverty resource, said: “We know that it is politically possible to end poverty in any society. God told his people that if they followed the laws he gave them for running their country, there would be no poor people among them.

“That was a time without major technological advancement, yet it was still held to be possible for everyone to have a stable home and sufficient means to access food, clothing, other essentials, and social participation.

“According to the prophets, poverty occurred because there was injustice and a failure by the leaders of the country to enact policies that guaranteed a minimum living standard for everyone. Christians across the UK and the world should have the confidence to call on our leaders, in the name of God, to act now to end poverty.”

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