Budget ignores the plight of the poorest, say Christians

By staff writers
March 23, 2011

Today’s Budget announcement will do nothing to help the poor and vulnerable people who are about to suffer the worst effects of the government’s programme of cuts, says Church Action on Poverty.

Niall Cooper, coordinator of the national Christian charity, commented: “George Osborne has completely failed to acknowledge the genuine hardship that millions of people in this country are now facing. The Budget speech did not make a single mention of people in poverty, or of the huge cuts which are about to affect the benefits system."

He added: "The Government has not kept its promise to protect the poorest and most vulnerable from the impact of its spending cuts."

"In today’s Budget, George Osborne chose to focus on tax breaks and other measures designed to benefit businesses. There were no measures to protect people in poverty, and no serious commitment to make wealthy individuals or corporations pay a fairer share of the cost of reducing the deficit,” said Cooper.

Some key points arising from the Budget and the government's economic strategy which concern Church Action on Poverty include:

· From April 2011, the poorest and most vulnerable in society will be worst affected by the £18 billion cut to welfare and housing benefits. These cuts – the largest in living memory - dwarf any of the so-called ‘good news’ measures announced in today’s Budget.

· The Office of Budget Responsibility has accepted that unemployment is rising further and faster than it predicted only nine months ago, forcing yet more people below the poverty line.

· Changes in the personal tax allowance make no difference at all to people who are unemployed or earn less than £7,000 a year.

· Half of the poorest people in the UK do not own cars and will not benefit from the reduction in fuel duty.

· George Osborne’s commitment to reclaim money being lost to tax evasion is not backed up with spending commitments or detailed plans. The amount he aims to recover (£1bn) is a tiny fraction of the £42bn being lost each year to tax evasion.

· Reforms to legacies will allow the wealthiest people in the UK to avoid paying inheritance tax if they leave money to a charity. This could mean, for example, that millionaires can dodge some of their taxes by giving money to elite public schools.

Church Action on Poverty is a national ecumenical Christian charity, committed to tackling poverty in the UK. It operates in partnership with churches and with people in poverty themselves to find solutions - locally, nationally and globally.

More information on CAP here: www.church-poverty.org.uk

Reporting and comment on the Budget 2011 from Ekklesia can be found here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/Budget2011

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