The Coming Winter

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9

Bishop Mark is among leaders from faith communities, charities, front-line support organisations and trade unions who signed an open letter to Prime Minister Liz Truss, urging her to “ensure that people on the lowest incomes have enough to live in the months ahead”.

The letter read:

As faith groups, charities, trade unions and front-line organisations we have seen the cost of living emergency escalating not only in the statistics but in the lives of people we meet day to day, in foodbanks, debt centres and in our places of worship. The least well off in our communities are facing the sharpest end of this crisis, and without substantial support will be dragged into destitution.

It is the urgent, moral responsibility of the Prime Minister to ensure that people on the lowest incomes have enough to live in the months ahead. Spiralling costs are affecting everyone, but for those who were already fighting to keep their heads above water this winter’s challenges will be a matter of life and death.

The release of the letter coincided with new analysis from Prof Donald Hirsch, which calculates that despite the Energy Price Guarantee announcement made by the government on 8th September, a family of four receiving Universal Credit will still require an additional £1,391 over the next six months to stay warm and fed. It also came ahead of the government’s fiscal statement issues on 23rd September, when they announced further measures targeted at combatting the rising cost of living, focussed mainly on tax cuts which offer little help for those most in need.

The letter was signed by 52 charity, faith and community leaders, including representatives from The Methodist Church, The Muslim Council of Britain, The Hindu Council UK and Jewish leaders from the across the UK, as well as charities and organisations such as The Food Foundation, the Child Poverty Action Group, Action for Children, The Big Issue and The Trussell Trust.

The letter called for targeted financial support which takes into account family size and need, can be distributed quickly and in amounts large enough to enable families to live decently this winter and beyond.

The signatories argue that

increases in poverty and destitution because of this crisis are not inevitable, if government, business and civil society recognise that this is an emergency and act now”,

and called on the government to use the tools at their disposal to urgently deliver support.

In the meantime, the Food Banks and the St Finnbarr’s Charities Shop need our support as never before, as they do what they can to help plug some of the gap.

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:9-10

James and Simon

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