EVANGELICAL Christians attribute poverty to personal factors
such as family breakdown and addictions, new polling by the
Evangelical Alliance (EA) suggestions.
They are less likely than the general population to want a
reduced welfare budget, none the less.
The survey is based on the responses of 1607 people who
completed a poll in November and described themselves as
Evangelical Christians. Some were members of the EA's
regularly-surveyed panel; others accepted an invitation online.
Asked to choose the top five causes of poverty in the UK, they
were most likely to select: welfare dependency, personal debt,
family breakdown, poor management of household budgets, and
addictions. Three-quarters (75 per cent) gave "laziness" as a
top-five reason. Lack of employment was suggested by 64 per cent;
low pay by 59 per cent.
Good education, strong businesses that offer employment, debt
advice, and preventing family breakup were most likely to be given
as the best ways to tackle poverty. One quarter selected
"government policies to redistribute wealth".
The results suggest a limited faith in the Government's
response. Just 26 per cent agreed that welfare reform was
successful at encouraging more people to go into work. Fifteen per
cent felt that the current economic policy was "working well to
produce a more prosperous future for all".
Two-thirds thought that the welfare reforms were having a
"negative impact on the sick and disabled", and 58 per cent
disagreed with the bedroom tax. Almost half (46 per cent) disagreed
that cutting benefits was a good way to tackle poverty. More than
three-quarters agreed that current economic policy was "hurting the
poor more than the rich".
Fewer than a quarter (22 per cent) thought that the welfare
budget was too high, compared with 46 per cent of the national
population and 47 per cent of weekly C of E churchgoers polled by
YouGov for the Westminster Faith Debates.
They were also less likely than both to agree that the welfare
system had created a dependency culture, and more likely to agree
that most who relied on the system were "victims of circumstances
beyond their control".
The respondents were polled about their own response to poverty
in the past year. Three-quarters (73 per cent) had given to a
charity tackling poverty overseas, and 70 per cent had donated to a
More than half (56 per cent) had given money to someone they
knew personally who was facing poverty; ten per cent had shared a
meal in their home with someone who was "hungry, destitute or
Almost two in five (39 per cent) admitted to feeling guilty for
not helping when they could have done so. Two-thirds agreed that
the UK was "not very good at evangelising and discipling the
poorest sections of society". One quarter (27 per cent) said that
their church had seen people in poverty come to faith.
The respondents were generally affluent: 58 per cent described
themselves as "comfortable with no financial worries", and another
30 per cent were "usually getting by". But 11 per cent had
experienced "serious debt problems".