Election Briefing: Poverty

The cost of living is a top election issue, yet the increasing wealth divide and extent of poverty have not really figured in election debates. In this Religion Media Centre briefing, Theos Think Tank pointed to data that indicated the majority of Christians are concerned about the growing wealth divide and want income inequality addressed. And 88 per cent of Christians are dismayed at the cost of living crisis.

Many speakers agreed that poverty has not been given the emphasis it deserves in this election campaign, a feeling particularly strong among Christian charities which described “deep poverty” in society, with people unable to find enough support to even afford the essentials.

There were discussions about taxation, around how it has been portrayed in the campaign as an evil to be guarded against, rather than a passport for the common good. And there was some blue-sky thinking, as people said the current model of state support with charities picking up the pieces showed the system had failed and there was a need for a root-and-branch approach to social inequality in the future. Chaired by Mick Ord, our speakers were:

  • Paul Morrison, Joint Public Issues Team, representing several free churches
  • Phil Callaghan, Trussell Trust Network Church Engagement Manager North West
  • Gareth McNab, Christians against Poverty director of external affairs
  • Hannah Fremont-Brown, anti-poverty movement
  • Mudaser Ali from the Muslim Charities Forum
  • Stephen Bediako, social entrepreneur
  • Bishop Mike Royal, Gen Sec of Churches Together in England, on tax as a blessing
  • Josh Nicholson, senior researcher at the Centre for Social Justice
  • Bartek Staniszewski, senior research fellow at Bright Blue think tank
  • George Lapshynov, researcher at Theos Think Tank

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