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Thursday, March 30, 2017
UK churches publish alternative budget to tackle poverty
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¬†Church Action on Poverty has just published an alternative budget, which calls for a £9.5 billion programme to tackle poverty and promote social justice between rich and poor in the UK. With government figures due out today expected to confirm that it has failed to hit its target for reducing child poverty, the churches say it is clear that more radical action to tackle poverty is required. Niall Cooper, CAP's national coordinator said: "In spite of Gordon Brown's best efforts to date, over 13 million people, including one in three children, are still forced to live in poverty, in what continues to be the fourth wealthiest nation on the planet. CAP's alternative budget shows that with boldness and imagination, and the active involvement of people living in poverty, we can put an end to the scandal of poverty amidst prosperity. Our Christian faith demands nothing less. "The government's failure to lift more than a million children out of poverty in Labour's first four years in office is deeply embarrassing for Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. In last year's budget, the chancellor promised to lift 1.2million children out of poverty during Labour,s first term in office (1997-2001). Figures published tomorrow are likely to confirm that Government has failed to meet its target." Highlights of CAP's budget include: *A Minimum Income Standard, to indicate the minimum income that would ensure that every household in the UK was able to live with dignity and fully participate in society. *Restoring the link between the state pension and average earnings. *Boosting the National Minimum Wage to £5.80, and a Tax Credit to replace housing benefit and job seeker's allowance, to ensure that work really is a route out of poverty. *Putting communities at the centre of regeneration, by empowering communities to act for themselves and direct how mainstream budgets and services are run. *A programme to create 40,000 new jobs in areas of continuing high unemployment, linked to meeting existing social needs within the area. *Paying for these through abolishing the upper earnings limit for National Insurance contributions and a higher 50% tax rate for those earning over £100,000 a year. CAP's alternative budget was put together by a team of CAP staff and grassroots members with first-hand experience of poverty. It explores the question of what would the budget look like if it was put together by people with firsthand experience of poverty, rather than people with experience of affluence. It has been described as "modest and eminently feasible," by the economics editor of the Guardian, Larry Elliot. One of the participants involved in CAP's Grassroots Budget group said: "Poverty affects a large sector of society, which is left largely ignored. In the UK, we have a 'God helps those who help themselves' mentality. If it doesn't directly affect us, then we don't want to know. As a country we do not like to admit that Great Britain isn't great for all. It's why we are so supportive of overseas crises and only consider our own problems when the underworld spills over into suburbia. We, the Great British public are more concerned with the welfare of pets and wild animals than we are of our own society." For more information visit:
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