Scottish religious leaders unite to demand an end to the ‘body blow’ of poverty

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FAITH Scottish leaders have called on governments to come together to help those living in poverty.

Nine of the country’s top religious leaders issued a joint statement demanding action, saying allowing more people to fall into poverty “goes against everything we stand for as a society.”

The Church of Scotland moderator also described the “body blow” of cuts in universal credit, rising energy bills and food prices having a profound effect on already struggling Scots, and said reiterated its calls on the Scottish government to immediately overtake the Scottish Child. Payment, rather than doing it throughout the next legislature.

READ MORE: Opinion: Benefit cuts and rising cost of living are tragic, but it doesn’t have to be like this

He added that the Chancellor must consider wiping debts accumulated during the pandemic from those struggling the most, with a so-called jubilee payment.

The joint statement, signed by representatives of the Muslim Council of Scotland, the Catholic Church, Quakers and the Sikh community, among others, comes at the start of Challenge Poverty Week this week.

It also comes amid warnings that the UK government’s decision to slash the £ 20 increase in universal credit will plunge thousands of households further below the poverty line, as energy prices rise and demand increases. companies inflate the costs of goods and services due to supply chain issues.

In addition to calling for direct action to fight poverty, religious leaders say that climate change and the fight against global warming are also a key element in helping the poor and that the two crises are “linked”.

The letter states: “In Scotland, too many people currently live with the constant pressure of poverty, including one in four children.

“It goes against everything we stand for as a society. We need everyone with power and influence to take action to increase incomes and lower the cost of living.

“By doing this, we can stem the rising tide of poverty. ”

He continues: “Our experience serving communities in Scotland and hearing the stories of our international partners reminds us of the urgent need to work for a vision of a world where hunger, poverty and the exploitation of creation are eliminated. .

“Action is needed to strengthen communities, protect people living in poverty and whose voices are too often ignored, and mitigate the worst effects of global warming.

“We also recognize that these crises are intertwined and that it is people trapped in poverty who bear the greatest impacts of climate change.

“In the face of the challenges ahead, faith groups in Scotland share the hope of a Scotland free from the grip of poverty and responding to the climate crisis with the urgency it demands.

“This urgency must go hand in hand with our sense of compassion. ”

It was signed by Omar Afzal of the Muslim Council of Scotland; Lord Jim Wallace, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland; Bishop William Nolan, Chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission of Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Conference of Catholic Bishops; Elizabeth Allen, General Assembly Clerk for Scotland, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers); the Reverend Neil MacMillan, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland; the Reverend Paul Whittle, Moderator of the United Reformed Church of Scotland; the Reverend Thomas R. Wilson, President of the Congregational Federation in Scotland; Nicola Livingston – President of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities and Charandeep Singh of Sikhs in Scotland.

They argue that the pandemic, current cost-of-living crises and climate change mean ‘now is the time to act’ and add: ‘By acting boldly we can rethink our economy and our public services so that they are support climate mitigation efforts. emergency, while freeing people from poverty.

“We call on all levels of government to use all the powers at their disposal to address the most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges we face.

“Now is the time to act, urgently, to build a green economy that helps create a more just and poverty-free Scotland. ”

Writing exclusively in the Herald on Sunday, Church of Scotland moderator Jim Wallace also urged government leaders to be bold in their ambitions to tackle climate change and reshape public services, way to reduce the burden of poverty.

He said: “If we are to be bold enough to rethink our economy and our public services to alleviate the climate emergency, it can certainly go hand in hand with an overhaul that can fight poverty. ”

Lord Wallace also said Holyrood’s ministers should be ‘backed’ in plans to ‘explore a guaranteed minimum income’, adding: ‘There is no shortage of ideas. What we would like to see is urgent action to meet the challenge. ”

Campaigners have warned for months that a “perfect storm” of rising energy prices, labor shortages and problems with the supply chain would result in more people living in below the poverty line, or simply struggling to meet daily household costs.

Boris Johnson, in his speech at the Conservative Party conference last week, insisted that the solution to the problem was to crack down on immigration to create a “highly skilled, high-wage” economy.

However, the companies fought back, saying his comments showed he had no idea of ​​the situation on the ground and felt blamed for the current labor shortage issues.

Labor leader Keir Starmer on Friday sought to capitalize on the growing divide between Mr Johnson and the business world, saying; “In a week where UK businesses are looking to government for solutions to the current supply chain chaos and growing shortage crisis, Boris Johnson has resorted to form – refusing to assume its responsibilities, offering only jokes and slogans. ”

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