09 July 2020

Why we need a new vision for an economy where everyone can flourish

Paul Morrison, Policy Adviser on poverty, responds to the Chancellor's announcement on 8th July, A Plan for Jobs.

The Chancellor’s budget update yesterday focused on building employment. The scale of the challenge ahead is huge, and an emergency response is welcome and necessary. But if we genuinely want this crisis to be a turning point, where we build an economy that puts the wellbeing of all people and the planet at the centre, much more radical changes are needed.

The number of children needing help from foodbanks has doubled since the coronavirus crisis began. There is an irony that these families, who need food the most, will be excluded from the government’s largest ever subsidised food programme announced this week.

Our economy is designed in a way that creates many such ironies where the greatest help and opportunity if offered to those who need it least. This budget statement with big tax cuts and grants for those with enough money to buy houses falls into some of these same traps.

As Churches, we long for the flourishing of all people and the wellbeing of the planet. But an economy obsessed with ever increasing property and share prices is standing in the way. The pursuit of economic growth and ever-increasing consumption is increasingly leaving many behind and our planet is being gravely damaged in the process. Simply patching up the economy after the crisis and carrying on should not be an option - but this statement has left us on that trajectory.

It is irrefutable that climate change is an emergency that demands immediate action. The measures introduced by the Chancellor to improve energy efficiency and create more green jobs are a welcome start. But it is not yet clear if measures of the scale necessary are being planned.

The chancellor may have judged that this was not have been the time for radical measures. But the Autumn budget certainly is.

There is a movement of people across the UK and beyond who are working towards this kind of transformation, where our economy can serve the wellbeing of all people and the planet. Communities and businesses are already working to move from simply reducing their environmental impact to having a positive effect on their environment. Some are even moving from a goal of ever-increasing market wealth to providing both decent employment alongside sustainable products and services.

We urge the Government to be courageous, to join in with this vision and to use the enormous levers of government spending, regulation and monetary policy to point our economy in a new direction, where all people are offered the chance to thrive.

Ends

More information on how the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Baptist Union are responding to the economic challenges thrown up by coronavirus is here.

Listen to Paul speaking about the Chancellor's announcement on UCB Radio here.

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