The Church of England is launching an easy-to-use interactive online resource for working out a household spending budget, emphasising that Christian faith encourages a philosophy of "enough", rather than seeking consolation from over-spending.
The initiative is timed to coincide with the Chancellor of the Exchequer's forthcoming announcement of changes to taxation, benefits and spending in the 2008 Budget on Wednesday 12 March.
With average household debt in the UK at £8,985 (excluding mortgages), according to Credit Action, the move is an addition to the Church of England’s national Matter of Life and Debt campaign.
Launched in January 2008, the campaign offers "common sense advice and resources so that householders can make sense of the amount of debt they are in, and then seek assistance from a registered debt adviser if necessary."
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, chair of the Church of England’s Stewardship Committee, supports the Matter of Life and Debt initiative.
He says: "While many of us will take an interest in the Budget to see what changes the Chancellor introduces, the most important budget for most of us is the one we work out for our own household spending. Christianity affirms that we need to take care over our spending. We need to avoid the dangers of debt. We also need to ensure that people do not take advantage of those in debt. This initiative runs alongside our concern about the exploitation of people in debt in our society.”
So that householders can work out their own household budget, the Matter of Life and Debt website pages at www.cofe.anglican.org/debt now feature an easy-to-use, interactive, downloadable Excel spreadsheet - which totals up income and spending, and allows householders to make adjustments until they are balancing their budget.
The resource - which can be used in church services or as part of a talk on money and making ends meet - also displays simple-to-follow money-saving tips when users fill in boxes. There are links to specially written prayers for guidance for those working out a household budget, at www.cofe.anglican.org/prayers.
Dr John Preston, the Church of England’s Resources and Stewardship Officer, and co-author of the Matter of Life and Debt resources, said: “The Budget affects how much we earn, how much tax we pay, and how much we have left to spend, so it is an ideal time to work out a household budget. It is right for the Church of England to speak out on the issue of consumer debt, as money, wealth and possessions are mentioned in the Bible more than 2,400 times."
The downloadable Excel file and other useful resources and information can be found on the Matter of Life and Debt pages of the Church of England website at www.cofe.anglican.org/debt.