The former Coalition government’s austerity measures and overall economic policy hurt the poor in the UK, research from the Evangelical Alliance (EA) has shown.
In a 13-page report called Good news for the poor, part of the EA’s 21st Century Evangelicals series, nearly four out of five evangelicals thought the last government’s economic policy hurt the poor more than the rich. Overall, just 15 per cent of evangelicals said the Coalition’s economic policy worked well to produce a more prosperous future for all, while two-thirds of respondents said welfare reform policies had a negative effect on the sick and disabled. According to the report, there was a high level of concern about poverty among evangelicals, motivated by a belief that God is on the side of the poor.
This has led evangelical Christians to support a more generous welfare budget, the report suggested, with 97 per cent of respondents believing that the Bible teaches we should work for justice for the poor. Some 86 per cent agreed with the statement that we would be judged harshly if we neglected to care for the poor.
Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy at the EA, said, ‘Evangelicals are active in tackling poverty and they are disappointed at the record of the government over the past five years. As ever, we are committed to working with charities and local government to help those in our neediest neighbourhoods’.
He said that evangelicals wanted to see a society that ‘provides opportunities for people to work’ and to have access to the ‘education and training necessary to be able to avoid or escape poverty’.
Dr Landrum added: ‘The government not only needs to value and support the work of churches, it also has a responsibility to make sure that poverty decreases and doesn’t increase in the next five years’.
Speaking after the publication of the report, founder and international director of Christians Against Poverty, John Kirkby, said, ‘We know poverty is a huge concern for the church and we’d warmly welcome any MP, new or re-elected, who wants to learn more about our work and about the people we help’.