As Challenge Poverty Week draws to a close, Scotland’s faith leaders have issued a joint statement calling on the UK and Scottish Governments to make changes to the social security system to stem the rising tide of poverty.
In the statement, issued today, senior representatives from Scotland’s major faith groups urged both Westminster and Holyrood to take action “that would reflect the care, compassion and support shown by people across the country into changes that would make a real difference to families and individuals living in the grip of poverty.”
They call for specific reforms to the social security system to “boost the incomes of those most in need”.
The signatories included The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Chief Imam of Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Galloway, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Sensei at Cloud Water Zen Centre (Buddhist community), Chair of the Methodist Church in Scotland, Moderator-Elect of the National Synod of Scotland of the United Reformed Church and the representative of Sikhs in Scotland on the Scottish Religious Leaders Forum.
The leaders urge the UK Government to end the Benefit Cap and the two-child limit and retain the temporary increase in the Universal Credit basic allowance.
This comes as last month 50 children’s charities, food bank providers, housing organisations, benefit and debt advisors, disability groups, and others wrote to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, urging him not to withdraw this essential lifeline. Modelling by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that scrapping the temporary increase would drive 700,000 more people into poverty across the UK, while a further 500,000 of those already living in poverty would be living below 50 per cent of the poverty line.
The statement also calls on the Scottish Government to “play its role” by increasing the Carers Allowance Supplement. It goes on, “This would recognise that carers are often locked into poverty, and in response to the additional financial pressures placed on them by the pandemic.”
“By boosting the incomes of people struggling to stay afloat, our Governments can relieve the pressure and stress that so many are now experiencing. We encourage those in power to listen to people who are affected by poverty now and take the steps we need to begin to redesign our social security to provide the support that everyone one needs.”
Responding to the statement, Peter Kelly, Director of Poverty Alliance said:
“The pandemic has shown us how much we want to look after each other. But it’s also highlighted the gaps in our system of social protection.
“This intervention from Scotland’s faith leaders is a welcome contribution to the mounting calls on both the UK and Scottish Governments to fix our social security system so it acts as a lifeline to help people stay afloat.
“Even before the Covid-19 crisis, one in five people in Scotland were living in poverty. Without urgent action, this can only be expected to get worse.”