Statement on poverty and welfare matters from the Area Church Leaders in Covenant together through Churches Together in South Yorkshire, Advent 2016

28th November 2016

Statement on poverty matters from the Area Church Leaders in Covenant together through Churches Together in South Yorkshire (CTSY)

  • Jesus said that the poor will always be with us (Matthew 26:11), but he didn’t add - so that’s all right then ! Our responsibility to people in poverty never goes away.  We are called to comfort those on the margins and challenge the reasons for poverty.
  • The use of sanctions in the benefit system undermine human dignity and foundational Christian principles of justice as they impact hardest on those in greatest need.  The majority of appeals against sanctions are upheld.
  • The Government pledged in the 2015 election to make £12 billion of welfare cuts. The Chancellor has announced various welfare cuts since the Election but these fall well short of £12bn.  
  • In the Queen’s speech at the opening of Parliament in May 2016 there was a commitment to new legislation enact “to tackle some of the deepest social problems in society, and improve life chances”, yet the Government Green Paper on Disability (overturned by the Lords in November) would have had a negative impact on many people.

We  welcome the Chancellor’s promise in the Nov 2016 Autumn Statement that "The government has no plans to introduce further welfare savings measures in this parliament beyond those already announced" but continue to be very concerned about the impact of those already announced.

We will be working to raise our concerns together to advocate for those communities and people in greatest economic need.

We call upon our local and national government to ensure that any policies designed to cut the deficit and re-order the economy should impact least on people who are already disadvantaged. 

We call upon our local churches to pray, reflect and act to combat poverty in the UK, including making themselves more aware of the extent of poverty in their area, joining the End Hunger in the UK campaign.

We will be praying together:

Almighty God,

whose Son Jesus,  became poor for humanity’s sake,

inspire us by your Holy Spirit

to be aware of the impact our decisions have

on the poorest people in South Yorkshire.

May our actions,

as well as our words,

gladden the hearts of people in poverty[1]  in our county,

Amen

Signed:

Rev’d Gill Newton, Chair CTSY,    Chair of Sheffield (Methodist)  District;

Rt. Rev Peter Burrows, Bishop of Doncaster,   (Acting Bishop of  Sheffield);

Rt. Revd Ralph Heskett CSSR, Bishop of Hallam;

Pastor Musa Bako, Provincial Pastor,  Redeemed Christian Church of God;

Major Richard Borrett, Divisional Commander,  Yorkshire South with Humber, Salvation Army;

Rev. Kevin Watson, Moderator, Yorkshire Synod,  United Reformed Church

Rev. Mary Taylor, Regional Minister, Yorkshire  Baptist Association;

Kate Napier, Representative  of Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)


[1] This is an alternative translation of the Hebrew in the phrase of Isaiah 61.1 traditionally translated as ‘good news for the poor’

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