A church of or just for the poor?
The question of how much churches actually include those in poverty, and challenge the forces that create it, was addressed in Inclusive Church's resource on poverty. Church Action on Poverty is currently looking at 'What does it mean to be a church of and for the poor? And how can we build that church together?' (http://www.church-poverty.org.uk/poorchurch).
In a powerful and thought-provoking talk in July, the Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, Rachel Lampard, warned against trying to 'fix' those who are poor and a 'them' and 'us' approach (http://www.methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/news-releases/stop-trying-to-fix-the-poor-says-methodist-vice-president).
In contrast, CAP's Communications and Supporter Relations Manager has criticised a discussion document published by the Church of England’s House of Bishops, Thinking Afresh About Welfare, for failing to take seriously the views of the poor or findings from research (https://blog.church-poverty.org.uk/2016/06/27/thinking-afresh-but-deaf-to-the-cry-of-the-poor/). The paper itself, by Malcolm Brown, can be found on https://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/home-and-community-affairs/home-affairs-policy/work-and-the-economy/welfare.aspx.
More facts, figures and personal accounts
University of Oxford and University of Chester researchers have worked with West Cheshire Foodbank researchers to produce Still Hungry, a detailed look at the experiences of people using foodbanks (https://westcheshire.foodbank.org.uk/about/ourresearch/stillhungry/).
Joseph Rowntree Foundation research suggests that poverty costs the UK around £78 billion a year (https://www.jrf.org.uk/press/poverty-costs-uk-78-billion-year).
Austerity policies and welfare changes have placed the UK in breach of international human rights standards, the United Nation’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights found (http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/06/un-declares-uk-s-austerity-policies-breach-international-human-rights, https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/koldo-casla-jamie-burton-alice-donald/uk-government-cannot-reconcile-austerity-meas).
According to New Policy Institute research, half the people in the UK who experience poverty are disabled or live with a disabled person (http://npi.org.uk/publications/income-and-poverty/disability-and-poverty/).
Concern has been expressed about the impact of further lowering of the benefit cap on 7 November, with housing consultant Joe Halewood warning that it may lead to mass evictions (https://speye.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/no-job-no-house-begins-7-november/).
One on three working families in the UK could not afford to pay their rent or mortgage for more than a month if they lost their job, according to Shelter (https://england.shelter.org.uk/media/press_releases/articles/one_paycheque_away).
Savi Hensman. IC Trustee