Churches ask Labour Party conference to tackle poverty

 Churches ask Labour Party conference to tackle poverty

As Gordon Brown prepared to deliver a speech promising "fairness for all", yesterday, church leaders delivered their own message for a fairer society to delegates at the Labour Party Conference.

Leaders of the Free Churches and Christian campaigners held a breakfast meeting with MPs and others, to discuss the GET FAIR campaign to eradicate UK poverty.

The GET FAIR campaign is challenging the Labour Party, and all UK political parties, to make policy commitments that will guarantee adequate incomes, decent homes and neighbourhoods, and equal access to services for all.

Church Action on Poverty National Coordinator Niall Cooper put that message across strongly as a keynote speaker at the meeting. He was joined by Commissioner Betty Matear, the Free Church Moderator, and Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP (minister in the Department of Work and Pensions). Rt Hon Alun Michael MP chaired the discussion.

Niall Cooper said during his speech: "It is the duty of Government to stand up for those least able to pay the price of the coming recession. To protect the vulnerable in times of economic hardship. To promote the Common Good It's time for politicians of all the major parties to wake up to the new economic realities facing millions of people across the UK, and have the courage and boldness of vision to put tackling poverty centre stage."

Other members of the GET FAIR coalition have expressed their support for that message. Kate Wareing, Oxfam's Director for UK poverty, said: "It is completely unacceptable that more than 13 million people live in poverty in the UK ­ the fifth richest country in the world the majority of British people agree. No one should be forced to live in poverty, whether they are a child, adult, or pensioner ­ and whether they are in or out of work. Oxfam calls on politicians of all parties to agree bold measures to tackle poverty."

Church Action on Poverty is a member of GET FAIR, a national campaign calling for an end to poverty in the UK by 2020. It is a coalition of more than 60 children and older people's organisations, refugee and disabled groups, housing groups, faith and community groups already working to alleviate poverty. Find out more at

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