Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has received a surprising Christmas present - a copy of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
The three Christians who cycled twenty miles through the rain to deliver it say that government policies risk returning Britain to the Victorian condition that the book describes.
After pedalling twenty miles from Manchester in pouring rain, the trio turned up at Osborne's constituency office in Knutsford. They wanted to "warn the Chancellor of the dangers of contempt for those in poverty" after his autumn statement capped benefit increases well below inflation.
The cycle ride and present were the brainchild of Alan Pinch, a Quaker resident of Withington, who dressed as Santa while delivering the book. He was accompanied by Stephen Pennels, a Roman Catholic, and Graham Martin, an Anglican. All three are supporters of Church Action on Poverty.
“It’s a bit of festive fun but our message is serious," said Pinch before the ride began. "Osborne needs to change direction, or risk returning Britain to levels of poverty similar to those in Dickens’ era.”