The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales have issued a statement about the cost of living crisis with a number of requests for the Government to consider. In his recent message for World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis urges us all not to turn our face from anyone who is poor. Parishioners are invited to take action to share the Bishops’ statement with their local MP to ensure that poverty does not go unaddressed.
“Since our last statement on the cost-of-living crisis, issued by our Department for Social Justice, some aspects of the crisis have eased while other problems have emerged. The persistence of social and economic difficulties for many has led us to issue a new public statement.
We understand the complex challenges facing Government as a result of war, an ageing population and the fracturing of families. However, the ‘preferential option for the poor’ must be at the forefront of the Government’s priorities. This principle requires that social and economic policies are scrutinised for their impact on the poor: “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God” (Proverbs 14:31).
Recent events have further exposed the fact that too many people live in a position where they lack financial security and risk falling into a spiral of poverty and debt. Ahead of the Government’s 2023 Autumn Statement, the Department for Social Justice urges the Government to consider seriously policies to address these problems, whilst not neglecting our obligations to aid poorer countries or to reduce carbon emissions.
The Catholic Church recognises that the promotion of the common good is the responsibility of all individuals and institutions in society. We commend the wonderful work of Catholic schools and charities that have responded to the cost-of-living crisis. Schools and charities have supported families, welcomed migrants and extended solidarity to our brothers and sisters in faraway countries who are similarly suffering at the present time. We also applaud the work of parish communities which, in a spirit of solidarity and true to the mission of the Church, must always be open to those who are in particular need of social, material and spiritual support at this time. Those in need of our support can, in turn, enrich the community with their own special gifts.
We offer our prayers for all who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and for those with the opportunity and responsibility to help them.
In this statement, we recognise that the cost-of-living crisis is multi-faceted and requires actions at a range of levels, including Government, civil society and the Church. However, with the Government’s Autumn Statement imminent, we are making the following specific requests of the Government:
- The taxation system should treat justly those with family, child-rearing and other caring responsibilities.
- The Government should examine with urgency and seriousness how policies relating to the provision of housing can reduce costs for families and ensure that families can have a stable and decent home. Housing costs today are at their highest levels relative to incomes since the 1870s.
- The Government should not neglect the need for a just transition to greener energy but should also consider carefully how different sections of society bear the costs.
- The world’s poorest people should not be further victims of the cost-of-living crisis in our own country. The Government should return to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid.
- Welfare benefits should be fully uprated to reflect increases in the cost of living, with priority being given to families with children.
- The two-child cap on universal credit payments should be removed or, at the very least, suspended pending a review of its impact.”
Bishop Richard Moth
Chair, Department for Social Justice
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales