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UK News

A call for Christians not to get jaded as harsh impact of coronavirus on poor families becomes clearer

by Tola Mbakwe

The Bishop of Durham has called for Christians not to get weary in showing sympathy to families who are struggling financially because of coronavirus. 

A new report from Child Poverty Action Group and the Church of England has found around eight in ten low income families are in a worse financial position than before the pandemic.

More than three-quarters of respondents in a survey of 285 low income families said the pandemic has also affected their ability to pay for food and bills.  

The report, POVERTY IN THE PANDEMIC: The impact of coronavirus on low-income families and children, also revealed nearly six in ten families are struggling to pay for three or more of basic essentials like housing, utilities and child-related costs. 

Rt Rev Paul Butler, who speaks for the Church of England on matters relating to children and families, told Premier Christian News Christians shouldn't let the constant news about the negative impacts of coronavirus make us despondent about addressing the issue. 

"As Christians, we have always had a calling to care for the most vulnerable and those most in need," he said. 

"Jesus was always pointing to those most in need and seeking to serve them. The call to stand for justice, the call to stand up for those most in need never goes away. 

"We have to keep showing God's love, compassion, care and empathy. Perhaps sometimes we need to get on our knees say 'Lord, just fill our hearts with love and care again."

In the report, the Church of England and Child Poverty Action Group call on the Government to increase child benefit by £10 a week and add an extra £10 a week to the child element within Universal Credit and child tax credits. 

They also want free school meals to be extended to all families who are in receipt of Universal Credit or working tax credit, with a view to bringing in universal free school meals for all children in the long term. 

Another recommendation is to abolish the benefit cap, or at least suspend it for the duration of the pandemic.

Bishop Paul added: "I think one of the one of the interesting groups of people who've talked to us in the report is those for whom the whole benefit system is new. They never thought they were going to be going near it. Their reflections on how hard they've found it now that they're inside it are an interesting new insight for all of us about the lack of adequate provision."

Listen to Premier's full interview with Rt Rev Paul Butler here: 

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