The Government’s Pre-Budget Report announced some measures which will help those hit hardest by the economic crisis. But more needs to be done, says the campaigning group Church Action on Poverty (CAP).
Chancellor Alastair Darling’s Report yesterday included a number of announcements which are welcomed by CAP and by others who are concerned about the UK’s growing levels of poverty and inequality. Welcome measures include a drop in VAT, added protection for mortgage holders against repossession, and a modest improvement in benefit rates. But campaigners feel that more must be done to protect the most vulnerable people in society from the effects of the economic crisis.
Church Action on Poverty spokesperson Liam Purcell commented: “It is good news that taxes are being made fairer, with a new top rate for the top 1% of earners, and an increase for those in the top 10%. But more must be done to address the growing gap between rich and poor, which is as large now as it was in Dickens’ time.
He continued: “Changes in tax and VAT rates are welcome, but more targeted measures would do more to protect the most vulnerable. The Government has now committed itself legally to eradicating child poverty – but there is no sign of the increase in child tax credits which could make this dream a reality.
Purcell added: “Similarly, we need a cap on rises in fuel prices to prevent more of the nation’s older people falling into fuel poverty this winter. And Mr Darling has announced £15 million of funding for debt advice services – but more people could be saved from the debt trap in the first place, if the Government placed a cap on the extortionate interest rates charged by doorstep lending companies. A bill is currently passing through Parliament which proposes such a cap, and we urge all MPs to support it.
“At CAP, we believe in the unique value of each person made in the image of God. We welcome the valuable help offered by the Government in this Pre Budget Report. But we urge them to do more to ensure that the most vulnerable people in society are not left behind in this time of crisis.”
As a founder member of the Get Fair Coalition, Church Action on Poverty is calling on all political parties to commit to a range of policies that would eradicate UK poverty by 2020. Some proposed policies include increased investment in social housing, and revisions to benefits and the Minimum Wage so that they rise in line with average earnings.