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2023-03-15T104836Z_363536328_RC2AUZ9XOVYZ_RTRMADP_3_BRITAIN-BUDGET header.JPG
World News

Christians call out Budget's failure to protect the poor

by Heather Preston

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has set out his budget, promising to grow the economy by helping people back into work.

Jeremy Hunt told MP's the UK economy will avoid a recession in 2023 - with the rate of inflation falling from nearly 11 per cent to under 3 per cent by the end of the year. 

The Budget will provide every child over the age of nine months in England with 30 hours of free care a week in households which are eligible and more money will be set aside for nurseries with an aim that by 2026 more mums and dads should be able to drop their kids off at schools between 8am and 6pm.

Other measures include scrapping the cap on the amount workers can accumulate in pensions savings over their lifetime before having to pay extra tax and a £20,000 rise to the tax-free yearly allowance for pension pots.

The energy price guarantee is to be fixed until June, capping average energy bills to £2,500 and the 5p cut to fuel duty will remain frozen for another year.

But Labour says the Budget simply continues to paper over the cracks of 13 years of economic failure, with party leader Sir Keir Starmer calling the governments plans "short-term sticking plaster" solutions.

Christian Labour MP Alex Cunningham tells Premier the budget "lacks ambition" to tackle the cost of living crisis and support those in need.

"There are some positive measures in the budget but there is nothing there really to start dealing with rising poverty.

"We need to see much more done for people at the bottom end of the income line. Whether they are in work or out of work. We need to see a situation where people can get more value out of the money that they do earn.

"But above all we need the government to take measures on ensuring that food supplies are improved - we have already seen prices rise as there has been shortages - so we have to tackle all those things in order to drive down inflation and that people get better benefit out of the money they have.

"There isn't any real substance there. A number of the measures will kick in not this year, maybe next year but most likely the year after. I think that's a great sadness that that opportunity hasn't been taken to do more today rather than waiting for measures to come into place."

Latest data from the Office for National Statics reveals that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of adults in Great Britain are borrowing more money or using more credit, according to the latest Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

In response to the rising cost of living, two-thirds (66 per cent) of adults reported they are spending less on non-essentials while one in three adults (32 per cent) are struggling with rent or mortgage payments.

Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church, Paul Morrison told Premier that the Budget's number one priority should be to support the poor.

"People are experiencing destitution in the UK.

"Destitution should not happen in a country as wealthy as ours."

Meanwhile, relief charity Christian Aid says the Budget fails to provide adequate support for those suffering internationally. It has called on the government to release new resources to boost international aid, "starting by getting private creditors such as the big banks to cancel the debt of countries on the frontline of these crises.”

Chief of UK Advocacy at Christian Aid Sophie Powell said: "Not only has the aid pot been stunted and raided by other government departments, but it has also lost its focus on tackling poverty and its causes."

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