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Faith leaders call on politicians to eliminate poverty at home and abroad  

05 January 2024


Rishi Sunak visits Woodland View Primary School, in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, on Thursday

Rishi Sunak visits Woodland View Primary School, in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, on Thursday

FAITH leaders have released an open letter calling on poiticians to make tackling home and overseas poverty a priority in this General Election year.

The letter, signed by church leaders and leading figures at the Christian development agencies Tearfund, Christian Aid, and CAFOD, says that the human cost of failing to take action now is “too big and too damaging to ignore”.

The causes of poverty, it says, “have been neglected by our political leaders in the UK parliament for too long. . . As this new year begins, the cost of living scandal is clearly not over for the poorest people in the UK. Around the world, poverty holds too many individuals and communities back from fulfilling their potential.

“But we know that poverty is not inevitable — it’s a consequence of political choices and priorities. With a General Election on the horizon, we call on our political leaders to make tackling poverty a priority. In line with our existing commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, this should include setting out clear plans to eradicate extreme poverty and reduce overall poverty by at least half, in both the UK and globally, by 2030.”

The signatories include the Moderator of the United Reformed Church, the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, bishops of the Church in Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the General Secretary of Churches Together in England, Bishop Mike Royal. They have made a commitment to “practical action, prophetic words and courageous campaigning” this year to bring about change.

A six-week resource, Act on Poverty, has been put together for Lent, helping church groups to explore the impact of poverty. It brings together contributions from poverty campaigners from the UK and around the world.

The chief executive of Christian Aid, Patrick Watt, said: “As we approach a General Election, we’re hearing far too little from political parties about their ambition to end poverty, and build the common good. We must not let another year slip by while poverty rises. That’s why we’re coming together at this moment, to call for urgent action to address the causes of poverty, here and around the world.”

Bishop Royal said that Christians should put pressure on their election candidates to pledge to tackle poverty.

Manifesto commitments would be measured against the priority of reducing poverty at home and overseas, and eradicating extreme poverty, the signatories said.

The Prime Minister said on Thursday that his “working assumption” is that there will be a General Election “in the second half of this year”.


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