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Faith leaders including Justin Welby call for a cross-party Commission to tackle child Poverty

by Kelly Valencia

Faith leaders from across the UK have sent a letter to the Prime Minister calling for the establishment of a cross-party commission that addresses child poverty.

Last week, Parliament held a vote on extending free school meals, but the Government rejected it. Since then, mounting pressure has been building for Downing Street to reverse its decision. 

Signatories to the letter include the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and groups representing other faiths such as Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.  

The Bishop of Durham, Rt Rev Paul Butler, also signed the letter. He told Premier he praised all community efforts covering for free school meals but says there is a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.

"We are really concerned that what it really shows is that there's a much deeper, longer-term issue around child poverty.

"As faith leaders, together, we recognise this is a massive issue for us as a nation and we want to call for all parties to work together across party political lines, across faith lines, across other social divides to say 'let's tackle the issue of child poverty together.'"

Senior representatives from the major faiths are proposing a cross-party commission to find a long-term solution.

"A commission would be independent of any political party, it would bring all parties around the table together with expertise, it would allow the real stories of families and children who are facing the poverty to express what it's actually like not to have enough money to live on," Bishop Paul added. 

The letter also mentions some immediate recommendations to address the issue. In the medium-term, they would like the increase in Universal Credit to be made permanent and extended to all those on legacy benefits.

Bishop Paul wants to encourage Christians to pray for the Government and for the wellbeing of the country's children. 

"Pray for our government all the time. We should be praying for local government as well who pick up a lot and are having to step in at this stage. But above all, let’s pray for the children of our nation, for their health [and] for their wellbeing in every way."

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