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

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

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

Paul Morrison, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church said: "TheGovernment must prioritise maintaining employment and improvingopportunities for those on benefits. Previous recessions have beenmarked by sustained high unemployment even after economic growthhas returned and we must not allow that to happen again.Unemployment is a personal disaster, a social disaster and bytaking large numbers of people away from paying tax, an economicdisaster."

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

Commenting ahead of the Pre-Budget Report, Frank Kantor, Secretaryfor Church and Society for the United Reformed Church, said: "TheGovernment's finances are in trouble because tax revenue hasdecreased dramatically. It is vital that any tax rises or spendingcuts do not further shrink the tax base by costing jobs. A returnto high and sustainable employment is essential for both societyand the economy."

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