Economics

The way an economy is run has a profound effect on culture, societies, the environment. For that reason it is vital that Christians are able to speak on the most pressing economic issues of the day.


More…

  • Write to the Chief Executive of Sainsburys today

    Below are some points that you might like to include in your letter.  But make your letter personal.  Tell Sainsburys how it might affect the way that you would shop if Sainsburys were to undermine the Fairtrade mark in this way.  If your local church is a Fairtrade church or your town a Fairtrade town ...

  • ACTION – Sainsburys and Fairtrade

    Sainsburys have just ceased selling Fairtrade own-brand tea and are threatening to drop the Fairtrade label from all other produce.  A ‘pilot’ project will instead set up a new Sainsbury’s ‘fairly traded’ scheme under terms defined by the company and not accredited by the Fairtrade Foundation.  Other supermarkets could follow suit.  This is a huge ...

  • Benefit Cap cuts to single parents with young children is unlawful says High Court

    The Benefit Cap causes real misery to no good purpose. While I agree with this sentiment it is not mine. It comes from the closing sentence of a High Court judgement which declares unlawful the Government’s policy of capping the benefits of single parents with children under 2 years old. The full judgement is a ...

  • DWP Benefit Cap Announcement : More Leeches please!

    For over 2,000 years medics cut people open or applied leaches to remove blood from people suffering from diseases ranging from cancer to haemorrhoids. With the wrong diagnosis and a dangerous treatment, it is not surprising that the medics didn’t do any good. The practice remained popular because despite the bloodletting some of the patients ...

  • Autumn Statement: Huge planned and unplanned benefit cuts are coming

    There are big benefit cuts coming. The Chancellor’s small but welcome change to Universal Credit Taper rates is a drop in the ocean. The maths is brutally simple. The benefits freeze costs low income families much more than £3.6Bn, the Universal Credit Work Allowance cut will cost £3.2bn, and the Chancellor’s Universal Credit give away ...

  • How does the Benefit Cap Remain so Popular?

    The Benefit Cap – a cap placed on the amount of benefit a family can receive – is an extraordinarily difficult policy to argue against. This is not because it has merits – it is in almost every respect terrible – but because it so beautifully taps into negative beliefs about the benefits system and ...

  • News Release: Churches say Benefit Cap is “damaging” and overwhelmingly targets families with children

    Today the four churches have spoken out about the damage that the Benefit Cap causes and their concern that on Monday 7th November the Cap is being lowered and will eventually affect around 250,000 children. • New Benefit Cap statistics show that 19 out of 20 families whose benefits were cut have children. • Only 14% of ...

  • Post Brexit, the 4-year benefit freeze can no-longer stand

    The cost of living is now rising but Government has frozen the levels of most benefits and tax-credits for the next four years. By doing this the Government has chosen to expose more than 4 million low income families and their 7.5 million children to the full force of rising inflation. In the stable low ...

  • Disability Benefits: Great news but where’s the justice?

    The Work and Pensions Secretary has announced a change in disability benefits that people with chronic diseases that will not improve will no longer be repeatedly tested to see if they have, against all probability, improved. This is unequivocally good news, thousands of people’s quality of life will be improved and the Government will save a great ...

  • In defence of the Living Wage: Morality should have a voice in how much people are paid

    The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has demanded that the proposed rise in the Minimum Wage (now called the National Living Wage for under 25s) be stopped. The underlying rationale is much more worrying than the headline. The IEA’s dismisses democratic or moral arguments about pay in favour of simply letting markets decide. It is ...

  • Troubled Families: Nothing about them, without them, will be for them

    In December 2011, three months after the riots, David Cameron announced that the “Troubled Families Programme” would be rolled out in deprived communities throughout Great Britain. Neither the “troubled families” nor the communities affected had been asked if this program was wanted, needed or was even addressing a real problem. The result was an expensive ...

  • Barclays Challenged on Tax

    Working alongside Christian Aid and other church partners, the Methodist Tax Justice Network hopes to see the Methodist Church become a vigorous voice for change. The following is a press release from the Methodist Tax Justice Network describing its intervention at the Barclay’s AGM in London.  On 28th April Revd David Haslam, the Convenor of the Methodist Tax Justice Network (MTJN) ...

  • 590 suicides: Disability tests damage mental health.

    The Government’s disability test – the Work Capability Assessment – damages people. Tonight’s Dispatches programme on Channel 4 provided more evidence of how unpleasant disability testing by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) can be. We already know that treating people this way has consequences. There is good evidence that for every 10,000 Work ...

  • After Iain Duncan Smith’s Resignation

    Iain Duncan Smith has resigned. There have been celebrations in some places and tears in others. The media is full of political analysis about how this will affect the internals of the Government and there appears to be a fight underway about how the man will be remembered. Although I have a view I don’t ...

  • The Equality Trust’s Aspiration Tax report

    A guest blog from Tim Stacey a former JPIT intern and author of the Equality Trust report “The Aspiration Tax: How our social security system holds back low-paid workers“. The Aspiration Tax: How our social security system holds back low-paid workers You can tell a lot about a society by those it chooses to help and those ...

  • Download the Public Issues Calendar for 2016

    The Public Issues Calendar dates are available for download. Click the link below to access the important dates to put in your diary for this year. Calendar dates 2016

  • Everyone but the government knows having #Enough money matters

    Poor families have, on average, less money than other people.: Last night the House of Lords agreed with this surprisingly controversial statement. They have insisted that the UK’s child poverty measures continue to include reference to how much money a family has. While this is welcome, most people will be astounded that the Government seriously ...

  • #Enough: Take Action

    Tell your MP you want children to have enough: Click here to send them a message Enough is a report by Church Action on Poverty the Church of Scotland the Baptist Union of Great Britain the Methodist Church the Scottish Episcopal Church the United Reformed Church Quakers in Britain

  • #Enough: Applecart “Employment Dispute”

    We are delighted to support the launch of a new short film series from our friends at Applecart. You may remember their video “Poor People – The Factual Facts” explaining the Truth and Lies campaign with the aid of a mop. The storytelling initiative which combines, “film, music, comedy, drama and songs to rediscover stories for ...

  • Was the Spending Review #enough?

    The Government’s change of mind on cuts to Tax Credits is very welcome. It was intended that many working families would now have received a letter explaining that their income was to be dramatically cut. Those letters will not now be sent however the policy change will only have a temporary effect. The plans for ...

  • One More Card

    Today we launch a campaign for everyone to get involved with. We are simply asking you to send one more Christmas card this year. Each year a family send an average of 68 cards. This December we ask that you send ONE MORE CARD to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith. In ...

  • #Enough: One More Card at Christmas

    Thank you to everyone who sent a Christmas Card to Iain Duncan Smith highlighting the need for every child to have #enough. Christmas is over but the Bill that breaks the link between a families needs and the level of support it can recieve from the benefit system is still moving through Parliament. You can contact ...

  • Taxing the poor – then ignoring them

    George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) speech last Wednesday contained the phrase: “the richest fifth now pay more in taxes than the rest of the country put together”. This is absolutely not true – it is not even close to true, and it is impossible to believe that the Chancellor and his speech writers do not know ...

  • Conflicts and Reconciliation – European Church meeting explores human rights and public issues

    Rachel Lampard and I met with representatives from 25 other church organisations from across Europe in Strasbourg on 16-18 November.  This long-planned meeting had been organised by the Conference of European Churches and the title of the gathering, Conflicts and Reconciliation was sadly prescient for a meeting in France just three days after the Paris ...

  • #Enough: Our Responsibility to meet families’ needs

    Children without enough to meet their basic needs are denied a decent start in life. These children can expect fewer qualifications, lower-paid jobs, more illness and shorter lives than their richer classmates. That is unnecessary and unacceptable. Enough asks that we keep the link between a family’s needs and the support it is offered by the ...

  • Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015

    The Welfare Reform and Work Bill is currently passing through Parliament and will lead to substantial cuts to family incomes – especially lone parents and other families with children. We are particularly concerned that the Bill also seeks to disconnect the basic needs of a family from the benefits it can receive as this has the potential of ...

  • Taking money from the poorest makes them poorer

    Taking money from people on low incomes makes them poorer. Removing income does not make people healthier, create suitable jobs, reduce caring responsibilities, free up time to take on extra work, make rents cheaper, make childcare more affordable or cause employers to pay their staff more than the going rate. The above statement is surprisingly controversial. ...

  • Measuring Poverty by Counting the Faults of the Poor

    The Government is intending to change how it measures child poverty. We will move from counting people’s ability to afford the basics of everyday life to counting a selective and set of personal characteristics which muddle the causes and effects of poverty. The question asked by the proposed measures is not “Are you poor?” it ...

  • #rethinksanctions: Responding to your MP

      Hundreds of people have contacted their MP about Benefit Sanctions, many using our online tool. Some of the replies have been positive. The replies which have been less positive have used a shared set of arguments. Below are the arguments used in support of the sanctions regime and our response to them. We hope this ...

  • Ever been late for a meeting? Did you lose a month’s income?

    With a new Government in place, it’s urgent that we keep up the pressure for a rethink of the unjust benefit sanctions regime which is harming thousands of people. There is a new action you can quickly takle to highlight this injustice and many more stories that underline the need for urgent change. Stories like Audrey’s. Audrey ...

  • Graham’s Story: Another reason to #rethinksanctions

    Today a cross party committee of MP’s called for a complete review of the benefit sanctions system. Their report descibes a system that is broken, one that causes unecessary hardship and hunger to no good effect. In this blog Anna Drew tells Graham’s story a person driven to using foodbanks because of an unjust sanction. Just ...

  • Personal Tax Summary: Redefining the words “Tax”, & “Welfare” while shaming the word “transparency”

    In the story of the widow’s mite the authorities praise the rich man, while the widow, who gives proportionately much more of her money, is shunned. The Personal Tax Summaries due to be sent to 24 million people look like a modern day retelling of that story. By design the Personal Tax Summary ignores the ...

  • The Troubled Families Programme’s original sin

    The birth of the Troubled Families Programme, in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 riots, was tainted by a very great sin. The initial announcement of the programme both misrepresented and insulted the very families the programme was designed to help. The continued defence of these falsehoods overshadows the good work the programme does on ...

  • Changing the law on Child Neglect

    You won’t be surprised to learn that our understanding of child development and the effects of neglect has changed over the past 80 years. You may be surprised to learn that the law around neglect hasn’t. When assessing if a child is suffering neglect the authorities are legally obliged to use a definition enshrined in ...

  • Work won’t cure Child Poverty

    Last week’s report from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission said something much more profound than the simple headline that the Government will not meet its commitments on child poverty. It said that the current focus on getting more parents to work will not lead to the elimination of child poverty as the Government ...

  • Child Poverty, meaningless promises & free holiday for every reader!

    I am prepared to commit to sending every reader of this blog on holiday to a destination of their choice on the strict understanding that it costs me and my friends less than nothing and it causes me no inconvenience whatsoever. While you may feel unimpressed by my offer, you may even feel mislead – I ...

  • Theology and other ways to waste time

    In the second of this week’s blogs on child poverty, Nigel Varndell from The Children’s Society explains why they waste time on theology. According to the story, an American theologian once challenged his student class and his congregation to shout out the first word that came into their mind when he said ‘theology’. The words that ...

  • Why do we Focus Poverty on our Young?

    In the first of this weeks blogs on child povertywe look at why the youngest are also the poorest – and why this trend is set to intensify Children are the age group most likely to live in poverty. Children are the age-group hardest hit by austerity. We now have multiple reputable analyses – including one ...

  • Churches respond to Government’s draft Child Poverty Strategy

    The Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches have responded to the UK Government draft “Child Poverty Strategy”. The Child Poverty Act requires the government to update and publish its plan to end Child Poverty by 2020. This target was agreed by all parties and subsequently enshrined in law, however it now appears extremely unlikely that ...

  • Housing and Debt: how long will the Government continue to throw fuel on the fire?

    The Citizens Advice Bureau has reported that council tax debt was the most common issue for its clients between January and March 2014. The debt charity StepChange has also reported a dramatic increase in clients seeking help due to council tax arrears, from 25,500 to 45,561 between 2012 and 2013. This is bad news, but has not ...

  • Fraud, Error and Public Perception

    The DWP Select Committee has published a report entitled “Fraud and Error in the Benefits System“. It points out that much less money is lost to fraud than to error but that much more attention is given to fraud. It also notes there is a tendency in the press to use numbers for the levels ...

  • Fraud, Error, Taxes and Benefits

    The DWP Select committee has published a report “Fraud and Error in the Benefits System“. The report points out that the public believes that there is much more benefit fraud than there actually is and that reporting often confuses fraud and error – and then calls it all fraud. I have produced some infographics to put ...

  • Budget 2014 Roundup

    Alcohol The government has turned its back on minimum alcohol pricing, choosing instead to ban the selling of alcohol at a price that is lower than the cost. The Budget also cut 1p off a pint of beer and duty of cider and spirits has been frozen, with the alcohol duty escalator being scrapped. More information ...

  • Call upon our savings to fight poverty and inequality

    Guest blog by Lisa Nathan – ShareAction Looking within the UK’s largest companies provides a snapshot of the striking inequality nationwide. While executives are earning staggering figures in bonuses, within the same firm the workers on the bottom end of the pay-scale often do not receive even the Living Wage – £7.65 or £8.80 in London. The ...

  • Freud, Foodbanks and Deliberate Ignorance

    Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform, has again been asked for an explanation of the extraordinary rise in Foodbanks use. Remarkably he managed to produce another implausible answer which also contradicted his two previous contradictory and implausible answers. He stated to the House of Lords: “..clearly nobody goes to a food bank willingly. However, it ...

  • New Liturgy for Lent 2014

    The West Midlands Joint Public Issues Team has produced a liturgy for Lent 2014. These liturgies are short worship inserts suitable to be used in Lent 2014 but adaptable for other occasions with the aim of encouraging and enabling discussions.  They are aimed at encouraging congregations to reflect on the kind of society they would like to ...

  • DWP Disability Benefit press releases “unfit for work”

    The DWP estimates that the level of Incapacity Benefit fraud is less that 0.3% – the lowest of any means tested benefit. Disability benefits have always had a low level of fraud but I have never seen a DWP press release mentioning this – not even a tweet from the increasingly vigorous @dwppressoffice. Less surprisingly ...

  • Dear MPs: Benefits Street is not social science

    When the Chancellor last year talked of people with “closed blinds…sleeping off a life on benefits”, I joked that he had mistaken the series “Shameless” for a documentary. “Benefits Street” now gives us the opportunity to watch “Shameless” but using carefully selected real people. This is depressingly standard #liesaboutpoverty; some newspapers do it every day. ...

  • Housing Policy Resolutions for 2014: Hope and Frustration

    Happy New Year to all our readers! What kind of New Year’s resolutions might help the UK to stem the still-worsening housing crisis? The answer to this question is both frustrating and potentially encouraging. Housing professionals have been saying for several years that on the current trajectory, housing will become increasingly unaffordable, leading to rising homelessness, ...

  • Truth about Poverty please Mr Cameron – Again

    In June a large coalition of ten churches and two major charities from all four nations of the UK wrote to David Cameron. They asked that three stigmatising and untrue statements made by Government ministers be corrected. The letter received in response was extraordinary in its inadequacy. Together the churches have asked the Government to do better. The Government reply, ...

  • Benefit Cap: Abandoning those in greatest need

    Today the final stage of the Benefit Cap roll-out starts. The 40 Local Authorities hardest hit by the Cap will begin to cut families benefits. The Cap is being presented “as fair to the taxpayer”, yet is seven times more likely to affect a child than an adult – it is exquisitely unfair to impoverished ...

  • Freud on Foodbanks: Need is not increasing.

    A foodbank as seen from inside Lord Freud’s head is a very strange place indeed. When asked about foodbanks in the Lords last week he made a number of admirably athletic semantic twists and turns, before applying an utterly inappropriate economic theory. The worrying thing is that Lord Freud has been Minister for Welfare Reform while ...

  • Irresponsible Lending

    The three churches have a long history of concern for vulnerable people being exploited by unscrupulous lenders; indeed the first Methodist Building was both a meeting house and a Loan dispensary to help people escape from loan sharks. We have responded to an OFT consultation which seeks to set regulations as to what lenders need to ...

  • The Global Economic Crisis

    The economic crisis is expected to hit developing countries causing a loss of jobs, export revenues and reduced government spending on health and education. The Department for International Development is producing a new White Paper this year. The Baptist Union, Methodist Church, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and the United Reformed Church submitted a joint ...

  • Review: Masters of Money on Keynes

    If you, like members of the Joint Public Issues Team, are prone to ponder such things as the power of the markets, Government spending or the velocity of money circulation, you could do far worse than tune into the BBC2 series ‘Masters of Money. ’ Presented by Stephanie Flanders, the three programmes examine some of ...

  • Libor, Economics and the Temptation To Deceive Ourselves

    The Housing Minister Grant Shapps has identified this week’s scandal of the fixing of the London inter-bank landing rate (Libor) as one of the possible causes of rising home repossessions. Even though there is a political agenda to Shapps’ comment – based on the unproven suspicion that the Bank of England and the previous Labour ...

  • BASEL III: The problem with applying the same rules to everyone and everything

    Since the onset of this great financial crisis, and the mighty crunch of the nation’s credit supply, bashing bankers has been much in vogue. Many commentators have railed against the flaws of fractional reserve banking, its fiat money, its irresponsible lending, and its obscene encouragement of unrelenting all-consuming greed.  Criticisms which are not without some ...

  • Government’s new Poverty Measures, and Tax Avoidance – 21 June 2012

    This week the Government announced that it was proposing to change the way that poverty is measured, moving from a measure of income to measures of characteristics which the Government believes cause poverty.  The Baptist Union, Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church expressed concerns about this move.  Read the media release and a further Briefing on changes ...

  • £4 billion of unintended consequences?

    When a government solves one problem, it often unintentionally creates another. So it is with the reform of the rules on taxing Controlled Foreign Companies. (CFCs are overseas companies, controlled by UK residents, which pay less than three quarters of the tax on their income that they would have paid had they been based in the ...

  • Time for a Euro-zone FTT is NOW!

    The deepening financial/sovereign debt crisis in a number of Euro-zone countries now poses a real threat to economic recovery and social stability across the entire EU region and beyond. This issue will be the key subject of discussion at the meeting of G8 leaders in Camp David over the next two days where President Obama will ...

  • On markets, morality and an Euro-zone FTT

    Critique of unregulated markets The gathering storm clouds over Europe which Mervyn King said are moving towards the UK threatening economic and political chaos in their path should serve as a long-overdue wake-up call for all of us! Triggered by the negative reaction of the financial markets to the recent elections in France and Greece, the ...

  • George Osborne, taxation and Casablanca

    “I was shocked to see that some of the very wealthiest people in the country have organised their tax affairs so that they were regularly paying virtually no income tax.” Rt Hon George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 10 April 2012. “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” Captain Renault, Casablanca, 1942  If ...

  • Sitting up and taking notice of economic injustice

    Two very important things happened last night that are very closely related. Protestors were dragged from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral as they protested against economic injustice. Many within Occupy claimed that financial institutions were deliberately defrauding the rest of society for their own profit and that this was immoral and should be stopped. Meanwhile ...

  • Faith leaders ask for the government to protect children.

    The Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Churches signed the following letter calling for the household benefit cap to exclude child benefit: As leaders of faith communities, we are often the first to see the impact of changes in Government policy as it impacts our congregations and the communities in which we work. We are deeply concerned ...

  • Occupy LSX and Corporate Greed!

    Forget the Big Society (or Big State for that matter), its the Big Market that is still calling the shots! Research conducted by Incomes Data Services (IDS) into directors pay released on Friday reveals that FTSE 100 directors have seen total earnings increase by as average of 49% in the last financial year, and are now ...

  • Reflections on Riots and Finacial Markets

    Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God – Mt 5: 9 It is precisely at a time like this that we need to be reminded of the values of God’s just and peaceful rule which Jesus expounds as blessings – poverty, mourning, meekness, righteous desire, mercy, purity of heart and ...

  • The Budget – Bad for the Poor but Good for Donkeys.

    As expected the Chancellor did almost nothing in the budget. The July 2010 budget plotted the course and we all wait to see where it will take us. Already the statistics show that where we will end up is a place where the poorest are much worse off, where the services which the poorest rely on ...

  • Epiphany and bankers’ bonuses – a revelation of grace and greed!

    Epiphany is the season in the Church calendar when we reflect on God’s revelation of grace to humanity in the person of Jesus Christ by his baptism at the hands of John the Baptist in the River Jordan and the commencement of his public ministry! In some Christian circles it also celebrates the arrival of ...

  • 1.4 billion reasons

    Yesterday Steve and I attended the UK Churches’ launch of the Global Poverty Project (GPP) at St Paul’s Cathedral. GPP is an initiative which started in Australia and is now spreading around the world. It is designed to help raise awareness and encourage action to eliminate extreme poverty and support the Millennium Development Goals. The event was ...