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World News

Faith leaders ask Rishi Sunak for bolder solutions to the cost of living crisis ahead of Spring Budget

by Kelly Valencia

Faith leaders and religious organisations have urged politicians to show leadership and "take bolder action" to tackle "the structural causes" of the cost of living crisis ahead of Wednesday's Spring Budget.

In an open letter, 40 signatories urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer, to provide more support on energy bills and consider a "moral re-evaluation" of the tax system.

"Although we come from different faiths, we share a common belief that we must look after those most in need and do what we can to provide hope in dark times. Faith communities across the country are putting these values into practice, providing food, warmth, and companionship for those who need it most.

"But charity, and the kindness of strangers, cannot fix the scale of the crisis we are seeing unfolding in our country. These are structural economic issues which have been building up for many years, and only clear vision and sustained political will can provide a solution," the letter reads.

The letter, coordinated by the Stop the Squeeze campaign, a coalition of over 50 civil society groups, including Oxfam, Save the Children and Christians Against Poverty, urges the government to raise taxes on those who can afford to pay in order to fund additional support.

Sarah Edwards, executive director at Just Money and one of the organisations backing the letter, told Premier Christian News she thinks there must be big changes to how the government raises and spends public money.

"The tax system at the moment is really weighted towards taxes on income, rather than taxes on wealth. So taxes on things like investments and rents and inheritance are actually taxed much more lightly than taxes on income. And that means effectively that the wealthiest people are effectively paying proportionately much less tax than ordinary working people. And this is in a context of increasing inequality.

"We've got a record number of billionaires in the UK, since the pandemic. We'd like to see a wealth tax. And we'd like to see a redressing of that balance in taxes and on things like rents and inheritance and investments to equalise those levels of taxes with taxes on income."

For Edwards, the letter's proposals are underpinned by Christian morals.

"These are moral values that many people across society can agree with. But yeah, they include Christian moral values, we serve a God of love, a God who calls us to love our neighbour to care for the most vulnerable, a God of justice. And so as Christians, we should be looking for our leaders, our faith leaders, and our political leaders to take action to really put those moral values into practice."

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver the Spring Budget on 15th March.

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