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Christians urged to be 'mindful' of community needs as report shows people cutting back on food to pay rent

by Ruth Sax

Homelessness charity Crisis has warned that the shortfall in Housing Benefit could leave some families struggling and is calling on the Government to increase investment in housing benefit.

Families across Britain will be forced to sacrifice a "huge proportion" of their grocery shopping so they can pay the rent, a homelessness charity has claimed.

Crisis has published figures which it says show the amount of money people have to forego on their food shop - because the amount of housing benefit they receive does not cover the real cost of their rent.

Its data claims that there are huge swathes of England where the housing benefit shortfall is at least a quarter of the national average weekly food shop - which is £59 for a small family. 

Natalie Williams from Jubilee+ a Christian charity equipping churches to help people in poverty told Premier she is "not surprised" by these findings.

"It is something that we see across the country, many people are having to make very difficult decisions about what they spend their money on."

Williams said there is a "perfect storm" and a "real range of issues" causing people to be trapped or pushed in to poverty, including; "the cost of living increasing, wages stagnate and benefits frozen.

"It will take a really robust and well-rounded set of policies to tackle poverty in our nation at the moment, otherwise, it is going to keep getting worse across all these different areas," Williams added.

She told Premier how Christians could take action: "I think we need to be really mindful of what's going on in our own communities. I think it starts there. It starts with looking around you, talking to people, your neighbours, people who live in particularly the deprived parts of your community, talking to local decision makers and getting involved in churches and charities.

"As Christians, we are followers of Jesus; our churches should be doing good by our communities…we cannot just sit back and hope it works itself out. I think we really need to start getting involved and ask, is there more that we can do, and then actually getting on and doing it."

The homelessness charity is calling on the Government to increase investment in housing benefit.

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