10 December 2013

Nail the lies about people in poverty, says Archbishop

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, is calling on people to 'stand up for what is right' when people in poverty are accused of being shirkers and skivers, and to offer practical support.

"We are all members of one community," he will say. "We must speak out against the rumours, misrepresentations and prejudice that undermine our solidarity with one another."

The Archbishop will be speaking at the launch of Truth and Lies About Poverty today (Tues 10 Dec) in the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay, a report jointly published by Oxfam Cymru and the Church in Wales.

Truth and Lies About Poverty nails six common myths about people living in poverty with facts and figures, including that 'they' are lazy and don't want to work, and 'they' are on the fiddle. The report was originally published by the Joint Public Issues Team, an alliance of national Churches. The new document has been translated into Welsh for the first time and there is a bilingual summary available. The full report will be available to download from the websites of Oxfam Cymru and the Church in Wales.

Dr Morgan will say, "This report brings together concern for the poor and concern for truth-telling, and reminds us that it is our duty as Christians and as members of society not just to offer practical help, but to stand up for what is right. Only when we have a true understanding of the realities of poverty can we even begin to tackle it and build a more just and successful society for all."

The Revd Jennifer Hurd, Chair of the Methodist Welsh-speaking District, will add: "A recent report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has shown that there is more poverty in working households in Wales than in non working ones. This is especially concerning in rural areas where poverty is often hidden.

"It is really heartening to see churches joining together to challenge Government ministers when they make unpleasant and untrue statements about benefit claimants. I hope that as Christians we can continue to work together to turn the whole 'skiver verses striver' attitude into a positive and compassionate debate about how we can help everyone to reach their full God-given potential."

The launch is hosted and attended by Vaughan Gething AM, the deputy minister for tackling poverty.

Julian Rosser, Head of Oxfam Cymru, will say, "If you relied on Government ministers and certain tabloids for information, you'd think that if people just pulled their socks up and worked hard, there would be no such thing as poverty. 

"The reality is that there are just not enough jobs out there, benefits are under siege from sanctioning and even being in work is no defence against poverty as wages lag behind inflation and zero-hours and short term contracts are on the increase."

He will call on people to come together under the banner of Cuts Watch Cymru and Oxfam Cymru and its partners to challenge encroachments on the welfare state and call for a more equal society.

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