As the government prepares for its Pre-Budget Report today, three of the UK’s largest Churches have called for priority to be given to job security and protection for the poor.
The Methodist Church, the Baptist Union and the United Reformed Church (URC) have challenged a call made yesterday (8 December) for public sector cuts.
They have criticised the right-of-centre thinktank Reform, which has suggested that jobs should be cut in the National Health Service and the police in order to reduce public borrowing.
The Baptist Union’s Graham Sparkes urged the government to deliver “a Pre-Budget Report that puts people’s welfare before market gains” and insisted that “We cannot just return to business as usual”.
He called for “a system that promotes social justice, international co-operation and environmental sustainability,” adding that, “It will take more than one Pre-Budget Report to achieve this, but we pray that Wednesday’s announcement will take us in the right direction.”
The three churches point out that economic gains over the past decade have not been shared equally as the gap between rich and poor has increased. They cite evidence that this economic inequality has a massive negative impact on social cohesion, solidarity and wellbeing.
“The Government must prioritise maintaining employment and improving opportunities for those on benefits,” insisted Paul Morrison of the Methodist Church.
He said, “Previous recessions have been marked by sustained high unemployment even after economic growth has returned and we must not allow that to happen again. Unemployment is a personal disaster, a social disaster and by taking large numbers of people away from paying tax, an economic disaster.”