Poverty in the UK
Recent decades have seen increasing inequalities in wealth and quality of life between different parts of the United Kingdom, and different areas of our cities. Austerity has not been suffered equally by all, but has hit hardest those already vulnerable as a result of government changes to the welfare tax and benefit system and as local councils have been unable to fund previous levels of welfare support. Increasing use of foodbanks notably by working families this summer testifies to the reality of hunger for working families and children.
Close links exist between poverty, mental illness, addiction, and crime. The roll-out of Universal Credit is already reducing family incomes and further planned roll-outs in major cities this autumn will have a further impact on the lives of many. The advent of Brexit will also impact on poverty in ways that are at present difficult to predict.
How to respond?
How are these issues to be addressed, so that the fair distribution of wealth advances the common good, the weak are protected, and the deprived are no longer humiliated?
Many in Churches are actively assisting at food banks and collecting emergency food and clothing contributions but there is a danger that the basic work of questioning real causes and developing strategies to tackle poverty locally and nationally is neglected or awaits future political initiatives.
In December 2017 the Institute held a one-day conference on Christians and the Care Economy co-sponsored with CEME (the Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics) which looked at the North-South divide, but also at the spiritual resources offered by the Evangelical Anglican and the Catholic traditions. Click here for a report and list of speakers.
In 2019 the Institute will host a series of seminars of invited specialists and practitioners by to focus on how we connect immediate supportive responses with the need for longer-term fairer policies to tackle poverty. Held at an inner city community centre (New Wortley) in Leeds, recognised as actively engaged on these issues, the four seminars will focus on:
- The role of charitable community support.
- The impact of current policies in practice
- Developing credible and fairer policies
- Developing a new partnership culture of tackling poverty together locally and nationally.