Church report criticises politicians and media over 'poverty stigma'

By staff writers
28 Jan 2013

Church Action on Poverty has launched a shocking new report which exposes the huge harm done by politicians and the media to poor and vulnerable people.

'The blame game must stop' offers a Christian response to the growing stigmatisation of people who are in poverty.

The report features powerful stories, gathered from people on benefits or low wages as part of the recent Greater Manchester Poverty Commission.

People said things like: "I don’t feel like a person any more" ...
"The poor are not listened to", "I feel as if my life is public property", "At the benefits office, they talk to you like you are a piece of dirt."

The latter prejudice will be exposed on a Panorama BBC1 television documentary tonight, which looks at disabled people and benefits.

The new Church Action on Poverty contains some powerful new statistics, gathered by the Free Churches' Joint Public Issues Team, which explode some of the myths used to demonise people experiencing poverty.

The report makes clear recommendations for how everybody - including politicians, journalists and the public - can end this harming blame game, and stop scapegoating the most vulnerable people in our society.

Niall Cooper, National Coordinator of Church Action on Poverty, said: “It is appalling that the UK’s economic crisis and rising levels of poverty are being blamed on those who are actually feeling their worst effects.

"Politicians and the media use abusive language and images, and fuel mistrust by contrasting supposed ‘strivers’ with ‘skivers’. They use this blame game to justify cuts to our safety net, which will drive hundreds of thousands of people further into poverty.

"Christians are called to act when anyone is marginalised or excluded. We urge all Christians to speak out now against this blame game.”

The report is free to download at www.church-poverty.org.uk/stigma. The web page also includes a simple online action which can be used to send a message about stigma to local newspapers.

It is being launched to coincide with the national Poverty & Homelessness Action Week (www.actionweek.org.uk), which is on the theme 'Can you cast the first stone?' in 2013.

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

CAP campaigns in partnership with churches across the UK to 'Close the Gap' between rich and poor, calling for Fair Taxes, fair Pay, Fair Prices and a Fair Say. (See www.church-poverty.org.uk/closethegap)

* Download the full report at www.church-poverty.org.uk/stigma/report/blamegamereport

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