08 December 2009

Prioritise the poor, say Churches ahead of the Pre-Budget Report

Three UK Churches are calling for protection for the poor and job security in a response to think tank Reform's call today to cut public sector jobs.

Ahead of the Government's Pre-Budget Report, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church are challenging the centre-right think tank, which has called for job cuts in the police force and NHS in order to reduce public borrowing.

Paul Morrison, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church said: "The Government must prioritise maintaining employment and improving opportunities for those on benefits. Previous recessions have been marked by sustained high unemployment even after economic growth has returned and we must not allow that to happen again. Unemployment is a personal disaster, a social disaster and by taking large numbers of people away from paying tax, an economic disaster."

Economic gains over the past decade have not been shared equally as the gap between rich and poor has increased. Evidence shows that this economic inequality has a massive negative impact on social cohesion, solidarity and wellbeing. The Churches are calling on the Government to produce a budget that prioritises jobs.

Commenting ahead of the Pre-Budget Report, Frank Kantor, Secretary for Church and Society for the United Reformed Church, said: "The Government's finances are in trouble because tax revenue has decreased dramatically. It is vital that any tax rises or spending cuts do not further shrink the tax base by costing jobs. A return to high and sustainable employment is essential for both society and the economy."

Graham Sparkes, Head of Faith and Unity for the Baptist Union of Great Britain, added: "A Pre-Budget Report that puts people's welfare before market gains is vital. We cannot just return to business as usual - we need a system that promotes social justice, international co-operation and environmental sustainability. It will take more than one Pre-Budget Report to achieve this, but we pray that Wednesday's announcement will take us in the right direction."

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