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REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
UK News

'A matter of life and death': Christian leaders say gov't has a 'moral responsibility' to help the poorest as mini-budget revealed

by Tola Mbakwe

The heads of the Church in Wales, the Methodist Church in Britain and the Scottish Episcopal Church are among over 50 Christian, faith and charity leaders who have written an open letter to the Prime Minister saying she has a 'moral responsibility' to increase support for the poorest households.

The Archbishop of Wales, Most Rev Andrew John, the President of the Methodist Conference, Rev Graham Thompson and Most Rev Mark Strange of the Scottish Episcopal Church are among the signatories who say that many people face being dragged into destitution unless substantial support is put in place now.

The letter says that the least well-off in our communities are facing the sharpest end of this crisis and that without urgent support, this winter will be a “matter of life and death” for those who are already fighting to keep their heads above water.

Although the letter welcomes the Energy Price Guarantee which was announced on 8th September and which will cap energy bills for a typical household to £2500, it says the support hasn't gone far enough.

Other signatories include Emma Revie, CEO of the Christian foodbank network the Trussell Trust, Niall Cooper, Director of Church Action on Poverty and Alison Garnham CEO of the Child Poverty Action Group.

The letter comes the Chancellor set out the biggest tax-cutting plan for the country's finances for half a century on Friday.

He's abolished the top rate of income tax for the very highest earners and is bringing forward a cut to the basic rate to 19p in the pound to April.

Mr Kwasi Kwarteng said the moves are key parts of driving-up growth.

However, Tim Cairns, senior policy officer at Christian charity CARE said the Chancellor could have done a lot more to help the vulnerable.

“I think it's disappointing that the Chancellor did nothing really to help low income families throughout the United Kingdom,” he told Premier.

“There are a lot of measures that he could have brought in, in and around personal tax allowance, in and around child tax credits, in and around the high income child benefit cap. He could have done several things that would have been very small changes that would have actually had a big effect for families who are going to be struggling through the winter.”

Mr Kwarteng also confirmed reports of an end to the cap on bankers' bonuses, and Liz Truss's promises to reverse the national insurance rise, along with dumping the upcoming hike to corporation tax.

There were also cuts to stamp-duty, while planned levy rises on alcohol are being cancelled.

Sarah Edwards is the executive director of ECCR, which heads the Church Action for Tax Justice campaign.

She told Premier the Chancellor took a big risk and time will only tell if it will work.

“The poorest are facing a really bleak winter with the cost of living scandal, and the cost, not just of energy, but of food and of other basics that we all need to survive.

“We would have liked to see a windfall tax on energy suppliers. That's something that the UN General Secretary has called for all wealthy countries to do.

“More in terms of the burden of taxation, we are calling for a wealth tax. So that would be a tax on the very, very wealthiest in society, which would help make society fairer, and help pay for support for families through this winter, help pay for public services like the NHS that are still reeling from the pandemic. And we would also like to have seen that rather than this scrapping of the bankers bonus cap.”

The pound's sunk to a fresh 37 year low against the dollar following the announcement in the House of Commons.

Sterling dropped more than 2 per cent in the hours after the mini-budget to around £1.10

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