The cost-of-living crisis will impact everyone, but everyone will not experience poverty, or destitution.

These are headlines from regional webinars hosted by the Learning Network, Church at the (economic) Margins and Paul Morrison (Policy Advisor, Joint Public Issues Team) over the last six months:

Poverty is in all sectors of society even though traditionally it has been seen to be in ‘poor’ communities, this means it is often hidden.

Cymru Wales learning network region
Church at the (economic) Margins is not a new initiative, it is at the heart of the gospel, and Christian discipleship. Jesus was very clear that to abandon people experiencing poverty, is to abandon the gospel. The God for All vision for Church at the (economic) Margins is to nurture new Christian communities amongst people who are economically marginalised.

Before the covid pandemic over 14.5 million people in the UK were experiencing poverty. The pandemic affected everyone, but for people who were already struggling financially, their situation quickly worsened.

Dave and Sharon have two young children and three very low-income jobs between them, Dave has two part-time jobs to support the family, they had stopped going to the foodbank when Sharon began her part-time job. In the pandemic two of their jobs came to an end with no opportunity for further work. Not only did they need to rely on the foodbank again, but they were also forced into debt as they waited for benefits to begin.

Dave and Sharon are sadly part of the 60% of people who are working, and in poverty. As the cost-of-living crisis emerges, they are really worried. They have no reserves to fall back on, and somehow will have to find the 20% of their income needed to meet their energy bills. They are deeply afraid, the impact on their physical and mental health is obvious. A sense of shame overwhelms Dave whenever he speaks of the challenges his family face.

Imagine a church community, where it is okay to be honest about your struggles. A community where people experiencing poverty are affirmed, valued, and recognised. A community where friendships were created, and the good news of God’s transforming love and justice proclaimed. This is the vision for Church at the (economic) Margins.

The cost-of-living crisis will impact everyone, but everyone will not experience poverty, or destitution. 

What does God require of us as a church? If poverty contradicts the will of God, and we believe it does, then we will need to do things differently. This will be costly, and not just financially, giving up our ways of doing things, letting go of power, and sharing power are vital to the nurturing of diverse and inclusive communities. People experiencing poverty, may of course, be within our existing church communities, but too ashamed to tell anyone.

How can we create spaces for people to be vulnerable about their circumstances? Church at the (economic) Margins is an invitation to share the good news of the gospel. 

Find out more here:  Discover Church at the Margins.

Further reflections rom the Joint Public Issues Team: 'The Cost of Living Crisis'.

?UMBRACO_MACRO macroAlias="quote" quote="Accountants PWC estimate that over the course of this year the poorest fifth of households will see a fall in their disposable incomes of between £1,300 and £1,600." cite="" box="1" / ?UMBRACO_MACRO macroAlias="quote" quote="Between April 2020 and September 2021, the number of people reporting difficulty paying bills doubled to 15 million." cite="" box="1" / ?UMBRACO_MACRO macroAlias="quote" quote="it is important to note that by choosing to spend £18 billion in the way that the Government has, £2 in every £3 goes to families in the top half of the income spectrum. The spending package has been described as “targeted” – but the best description of that targeting is “broad with a focus on upper middle earners”." cite="" box="1" / ?UMBRACO_MACRO macroAlias="quote" quote="The decision to increase benefits by only 3.1% (the September 2021 inflation rate) rather than the April 2022 inflation rate of 7% is estimated by the Office for Budget Responsibility to represent a £12.5 billion real terms cut in benefits. This alone will more than wipe out the benefits from the government’s support package for most low-income families." cite="" box="1" /