Hiding in Plain View: New Year Message 2017

Poverty is many things. Poverty is hiding in plain view. Poverty is people. Not.. ‘them’. Us. Just a few lines from one of the poems written by a group of people with direct experience of poverty and professional writers as part of our Powerlines project.

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The Salford NICE group, formed to challenge the stigma of poverty in 2014

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No Jam or Justice in the autumn statement

The incomes of the poorest are hardest hit – by far – whilst the wealthy escape scot free. 

This week’s autumn statement announced further years of pain ahead, as the economy adjusts to the likely impact of Brexit.  An economic policy grounded in social justice might have sought to place the greatest burden on those most able to bear it.  But, yet again, it is the poorest who are being called on to shoulder the greatest pain. Continue reading

An open letter to the new Prime Minister: Join with us in tackling Foodbank Britain

Dear Prime Minister

The litmus for your One Nation Premiership will be your ability to reach out and tackle foodbank Britain. 

Teresa MayThe vison you set out on the steps of Number 10 for a Premiership committed to social justice and One Nation compassionate Conservatism was bold. The challenge of uniting a country divided by inequalities of health, life expectancy and opportunity is great.

But to achieve your goal of uniting the country, you will have to reach out far beyond struggling middle Britain of working families with mortgages and anxieties over getting their kids into a good  school.

The past few years have been marked by the growth of foodbank Britain. Of families in and out of work struggling to put food on the table; of children turning up at school hungry and returning to school after summer holidays without the benefit of free school meals, poorly fed, with their educational attainment and life chances diminished as a result. Of families being forced to turn to foodbanks as a result of delays, errors and missing benefit cheques and over-zealously applied benefit sanctions.

Under David Cameron’s premiership, the Government sadly failed to grasp the nettle of Foodbank Britain. At times the Government gave the impression of being in denial about the scale or the problem, that problems with the benefits system had any role in exacerbating the problem or that the Government more generally had any role in seeking to address it.  At others, it seemed to simply want to pass the buck to hard pressed teams of volunteers struggling to fill the gap by handing out emergency food parcels.

As a One Nation Prime Minister you can and must do better. You have a fantastic opportunity to reach out to the tens of thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of people at the sharp end of foodbank Britain.

Nothing would demonstrate better that your Government is for everyone, than by setting a goal of halving the numbers needing to go to foodbanks by 2020.  Nothing would demonstrate your qualities of moral and political leadership, than by committing Government to work with civil society, business and others to develop a coherent plan for achieving this.

You could start by challenging each of your new Cabinet colleagues in charge of a Department which has a stake in the issue – DWP, Health, Education, DEFRA, DCLG – to step up to the plate, and to come up with a plan for how they can help put an end to Foodbank Britain.

You can rest assured that if you give the lead, civil society, faith groups and the countless organisations involved in addressing these issues on the ground across the country, are ready and waiting.

Join with us. Work with us. Together we can end hunger within out shores.

Niall Cooper
Director
Church Action on Poverty

 

Taxing times and Panamanian papers

The Panama Papers have caused quite a stir. A huge leak has lifted the lid on how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth. The files were leaked from one of the world’s most secretive law firm in Panama. Great investigate journalism makes for uncomfortable reading. And, as Channel 4 News presenter John Snow reminds us, the UK “actually harbours the largest tax avoidance havens in the world…. I think the ordinary punter is only just beginning to discover about tax avoidance’.

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‘Tax dodging hurts the poor’ : The key message from Church Action on Poverty and Christian Aid’s Tax Justice Bus tour in 2013

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Who should bear the burden of austerity?

What does it mean to be One Nation? In an age of austerity, what does it mean to say “We are all in this together?” To what extent should Government protect the poorest and weakest from further cuts to benefits? Iain Duncan Smith’s shock resignation from the Government last week has put these questions into sharp relief.

Call on the Chancellor to rethink tax cuts for the wealthy!

This week, MPs are debating the budget and considering a serious rethink. If we act fast, we can get them to drop unfair tax cuts for the wealthy, rather than finding new ways to cut benefits for the poorest. Please use our simple e-action to contact your MP here

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Names not numbers

What is it like to live in poverty? No, what is it really like to live in poverty? How does it feel? What does it do to your sense of dignity and self-worth? How does it feel when you can’t afford the school uniform? What does it do to you to be treated as a number not a person?

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These are some of the questions explored by the Scottish Poverty Truth Commission, whose latest report, ‘Names not numbers’ was published last month. A Poverty Truth Commission is radical in its simplicity, and simple in its message:’Nothing about us without us is for us.’

A group of people – some with firsthand experience of living with poverty and others with positions of power and influence in politics, public service and the arts, who met together regularly and on an equal basis over 18 months. The process involved learning what it means to listen deeply and having the courage to speak out. The stories heard and shared are powerful in the way they change those involved.

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Fairforyou: An affordable alternative to Brighthouse

Today sees the launch of Fairforyou – a new not-for-profit lending company, offering furniture and white goods at vastly cheaper prices than Brighthouse and other existing high cost lenders.

According to our independent cost comparison below, buying a Hotpoint fridge freezer will cost £584 from Fairforyou, compared with £1,326 from Brighthouse – an astonishing total cost saving of £742.

best buys FEB 2016

Fair for You aims to provide transparent and affordable credit for essential household items to families who do not have access to mainstream finance.  Established in 2015, Fair for You has carried out extensive market research among lower income households to develop affordable, flexible and responsible credit to meet their needs. Importantly, loans can be repaid early, with no penalty; customers are encouraged to overpay, which many do; and there are no added fees for missed payments. If Fair for You’s credit checks show affordability is an issue, applicants are encouraged to seek debt advice. Continue reading