Record inequality shows need for a fair society, says Church Action on Poverty

By agency reporter
May 9, 2009

New government figures released on 7 May confirm that progress on fighting poverty in the UK had come to a halt, even before the current recession, says Church Action on Poverty.

The campaigning group is calling on all political parties to take urgent and concerted action to tackle the growing gap between rich and poor.

CAP's National Coordinator, Niall Cooper commented: “These figures are hugely disappointing. Improvements in the levels of UK poverty have stalled and the gap between rich and poor in the UK is now greater than at any point in the last 50 years. This has devastating results for all of us, but especially those living in poverty."

He continued: “We desperately need a commitment to build a fairer society and ensure that the most vulnerable people are not left behind. It is more important than ever for churches and Christians to speak up. We need to tell our politicians it’s time to Get Fair."

Cooper added: “CAP calls on all churches to support the Get Fair Constituency Lobby on 26-27 June, calling on MPs to support policies that will tackle poverty and inequality.”

The new figures show the number of Households Below Average Income (HBAI) in 2007-08, and were released by the Department for Work and Pensions. They reveal that:

In the population as a whole, 11 million people were living in poverty - an increase of 300,000 since 2006.

Since 2006-07, no further progress has been made on reaching the Government’s target of halving child poverty by 2010.

Stephen Timms, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, admitted that the target has effectively been abandoned: "The short-term focus does have to be on maintaining and safeguarding employment." However, the Government claim that they remain committed to the target of eradicating child poverty by 2020.

Poverty among working-age childless adults remained static, and will undoubtedly rise due to the recession. The recession will be especially harsh on unemployed childless younger adults, because out-of-work benefits are lower for the under-25s.

Meanwhile, the number of pensioners in poverty had remained the same. But this is likely to rise due to the recession.


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