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World News

Christians can use recession to call for policies which enable people to flourish says money expert

by Donna Birrell

News that the UK is now officially in recession is a call for Christians to work for an economic policy that enables people to flourish, according to the executive director of a Christian organisation.

Sarah Edwards from Just Money Movement was speaking after figures from the Office for National Statistics  showed that in the final three months of 2023 the economy contracted by 0.3 per cent, largely because of a slowdown in manufacturing and construction.

The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said low growth is "not a surprise" - but the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Prime Minister has failed to change what he described as 14 years of Tory economic decline.

Edwards told Premier: “There are consequences for all of us, we know we're still in the cost of living crisis, inflation has come down slightly, but that doesn't mean prices have come down, it means they're rising less quickly. So people are still struggling to make ends meet.

“If you think about Christian values of caring for our neighbours, particularly the most vulnerable, looking after those who are in need, caring for the created world as well, we're really in trouble. And we need to address some of the fundamental issues that mean that we are having an economy that isn't allowing people to flourish.

“Churches are doing wonderful work up and down the country to respond to the cost of living crisis in terms of food banks, and warm spaces, and night shelters, and all kinds of really important things. But there's that famous quote from Desmond Tutu, that if you're pulling people out of the river, at some point, you need to go upstream and find out why they're falling in. That is about some of these root causes around the economy that are driving people into destitution.

“It can feel very overwhelming. But let's start with our faith, with what it might mean to follow Christ in the economy. What might it look like to express values of compassion and mercy and humility? Let’s be that prophetic voice that the Church is called to be, to speak out for changes to the tax system, the way that banks operate, so that we can have a greener, fairer world.“

In response to the figures, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: "High inflation is the single biggest barrier to growth which is why halving it has been our top priority. While interest rates are high - so the Bank of England can bring inflation down - low growth is not a surprise.

"But there are signs the British economy is turning a corner; forecasters agree that growth will strengthen over the next few years, wages are rising faster than prices, mortgage rates are down and unemployment remains low. Although times are still tough for many families, we must stick to the plan - cutting taxes on work and business to build a stronger economy."

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