2013

Image: Foodbank users need justice more than charity, says church leader The head of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council says that what she wants for Christmas is real justice for people currently reliant on foodbanks. Her comments came in the wake of a Westminster debate on foodbanks, provoked by a petition signed by 142,000 members of the public, in which many MPs on the government side were dismissive towards heart-rending stories of suffering associated with the alarming growth in food poverty across the country. (Ekklesia)   Read More...
Image: Government ignored independent reviewer on incapacity benefit changes

The UK government pushed disabled people from Incapacity Benefit (IB) to the failing new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) system against the wishes of their independent, expert assessor, it has been revealed. Yet by 2010 when the decision was made it was clear, say critics, that there were significant flaws in the process. People with mental health and fluctuating conditions were not being fairly treated and successful appeals against “fit for work” decisions soared to 42 per cent. (Ekklesia)   Read More...

Image: Please sign the welfare assessment petition  Let's get the welfare assessment petition over the line! Welfare changes and cuts are already harming disabled and sick people across the UK. Please sign the WoW e-government petition calling for a cumulative impact assessment. Just over 15,000 more signatories are needed by 12 December to help trigger a parliamentary debate. Read, sign and promote the petition   Read More...
Image: Disabled being hit hardest by the Bedroom Tax in Scotland Disabled and sick people in Scotland are being hit the hardest by Westminster's cruel Bedroom Tax. New figures published by Citizens Advice Scotland shows 80 per cent of the 82,000 in Scotland affected by the damaging tax are disabled. CAS Chief Executive Margaret Lynch commented: "Like so many of the recent welfare reforms, this is a measure that is principally hitting the most vulnerable people in our society, making their difficult situations even worse." (Ekklesia)   Read More...
Image: Prisoners Week 17-24 November Time to Change? is the theme of this year's Prisoners Week  Prisoners Week is an opportunity to reflect on change that leads to better care for all affected by crime and imprisonment. What changes might be needed to support citizens returning from prison? Change is welcomed by some, others are more cautious. It’s tempting to think that everyone else needs to change.   Read More...
Image: EDM 620: Support for People During Reconsideration of Employment and Support Allowance Please ask you MP to sign this Early Day Motion
That this House notes that at present people who apply for employment and support allowance (ESA) and are declared fit for work can ask for this decision to be reconsidered prior to lodging a formal appeal; further notes that at present people can continue to receive ESA at the assessment rate during this period; welcomes the introduction of reconsideration in all cases as of 28 October 2013; expresses concern that people will no longer be able to claim ESA during this period;   Read More...
Image: Benefit cap struggling to meet its aims, CIH research shows The government’s benefit cap will struggle to deliver its objectives of saving taxpayers’ money and encouraging people into work, according to the first major study on the cap’s implementation. The conclusions follow research led by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) into the initial impact of the cap in Haringey – one of four London boroughs chosen by the government to implement the cap early.   Read More...
Image: Church Action on Poverty: Back the Charter to Stop the Payday Loan Rip-off Email your MP
Church Action on Poverty are concerned about the tidal wave of human misery caused by irresponsible lending. The worst single group of irresponsible lenders are the payday loan companies, who rip off millions of people and trap them in spirals of debt. We need proper regulation and enforcement to make this stop. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published new proposals for regulating payday lenders. They are a step in the right direction, but they don’t go far enough.   Read More...
Image: Archbishop urges prayers for Grangemouth workers. Archbishop Leo Cushley has called for prayers for all those affected by the closure threatened Grangemouth plant, situated in his Archdiocese and has urged those “in a position to influence” to work towards “fair outcomes” for all those involved. 
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Image: Challenge Poverty Week 13-19 October The Week is being co-ordinated by the The Poverty Alliance and is centred around the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which takes place annually on 17th October.  Challenge Poverty Week will bring together a wide range of groups and individuals to highlight what is being done to tackle poverty in Scotland and to build momentum for greater action. For more information you can download this paper: Scotland’s 1st Challenge Poverty Week.   
Image: Child Poverty in Britain is Causing 'Social Apartheid' Britain risks 'sleepwalking into a world where inequality becomes so entrenched that our children grow up in a state of social apartheid', according to a leading charity. In a damning report to be published next week, the National Children's Bureau finds that, in many respects, child poverty is now a bigger problem than during the 1960s, when it carried out a seminal study, Born to Fail?. The report compares aspects of children's lives today to data from the Born to Fail? cohort study of 11-year-olds, carried out in 1969. It finds that significantly more children are growing up in relative poverty today - 3.6 million compared with 2 million - and claims that these children suffer "devastating consequences throughout their lives". It adds: 'Today, although there have been some improvements, overall the situation appears to be no better, and in some respects has got worse.'  Guardian 24/08/13
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Image: Wellies in the summer This article on child poverty throughout Scotland was written by Marian Pallister, Justice and Peace Commission member for Argyll and the Isles. The latest figures show that nearly one sixth of children in Argyll and Bute are living in poverty. The article was published in the Scottish Review.   Read More...
Image: Bedroom tax ruling ‘devastating news’ for disabled families The High Court dismissal (30 July) of a legal challenge to the ‘bedroom tax’ will increase the risk of homelessness for disabled families and those with vulnerable children, Shelter is warning. Lawyers acting on behalf of 10 claimants brought the case against the Department for Work and Pensions, supported by evidence from Shelter. The claimants argued that the bedroom tax unfairly discriminates against disabled people by failing to recognise their needs, and that it violates the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act.  The High Court ruled today that the reduction of their housing benefit is legal, on the basis that the Government has made an extra pot of money available to local councils to help those affected by the penalties. However, the claimants, along with Shelter, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Birmingham City Council, argued that this money (known as Discretionary Housing Payments, or DHP) is not enough to meet the need.
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Image: Scotland's wealthiest households are now 273-times better off than the most deprived

A new major report from Oxfam, entitled Our Economy highlights the widening wealth gap in Scotland and calls for a change of economic approach. There is a useful account of some of the leading features of the report and comment here

    

Image: Goal of Economics and Politics is to Serve Humanity ‘In a letter to David Cameron, on the occasion of the G8 Meeting in Belfast, Pope Francis asks that ‘for the theme “to attain its broadest and deepest resonance, it is necessary to ensure that all political and economic activity, whether national or international,” makes reference to humanity. “Indeed, such activity must, on the one hand, enable the maximum expression of freedom and creativity, both individual and collective, while on the other hand it must promote and guarantee their responsible exercise in solidarity, with particular attention to the poorest.”’   Read More...
Image: Archbishop Tartaglia speaks on injustice of benefit reforms Archbishop Tartaglia has written to Iain Duncan Smith to ask him to rethink Government tactics on health benefit reform   Read More...
Image: Speak out about the scandal of hunger in 21st century Britain The benefits system is causing hundreds of thousands of people to go hungry. Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam have launched 'Walking the Breadline', a report which shows that food poverty is growing out of control in the UK. Rising prices, spiralling unemployment, and attacks on our social safety net are having a terrible impact. Half a million people are dependent on emergency food aid. Please take action email your MP
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Image: Can Scottish politicians understand that social justice is about everyone?

‘An interesting recent consideration of politicians’ understanding of the meaning of ‘social justice’ by the political commentator Gerry Hassan which points to a lack of clear ideas.’

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Image: Biggest ever increase in UK foodbank use: 170% rise in numbers turning to foodbanks in last 12 months.  Numbers given emergency food 100,000 higher than anticipated.  UK Foodbank charity The Trussell Trust says this must be a wake-up call to the nation   Read More...
Image: Scrap Trident – Defend Disability Rights Since early in 2010, that the cornerstone of the coalition government’s deficit reduction plan was radical and savage cuts to welfare spending. After announcing initial plans to reduce the benefits bill by £18 billion per year by 2014-15, they have ramped up the anti-welfare rhetoric further this year with the announcement that a further £10 billion is to be cut with a new round of reforms from 2017. What is absent from the government’s announcements on welfare ‘reform’ so far, however, is an analysis of just who it is that stands to lose and how exactly that loss will affect them. To some extent, the sheer complexity of the welfare system has assisted the government in hiding the cumulative impact of the changes.
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Image: Benefit cuts: Monday (1st April) will be the day that defines this government Those on low incomes, after all the vicious talk dismissing them as cheats and idlers, will be hit by an avalanche of cuts
Not many know what is about to happen on Monday: neither those about to be knocked down nor those sailing too high above them to notice. But historians will see it as the day that defines the Cameron government.  An avalanche of benefit cuts will hit the same households over and over, with no official assessment of how far this £18bn reduction will send those who are already poor into beggary. (Polly Toynbee, The Guardian, Thursday 28 March)

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Image: Towards a Just Economic Order: Challenges of Catholic Social Teaching National Conference for the Year of Faith organised by Justice & Peace, SCIAF, Catholic Parliamentary office, and Edinburgh Archdiocesan J&P office
Friday 12th (7.30 – 10pm) and Saturday 13th April (9.30-4.30pm), in St Augustine’s High School Edinburgh. This is an important conference which aims to encourage us all to reflect:
• On the current economic crisis and how it affects us and wider society, especially the poor, the marginalised and the most vulnerable. • What an ethical economic system might look like and what Catholic Social Teaching can offer in its development. • What we individually, and as parish and local communities, can practically do to work for change, for a fairer and more just economic system, locally and globally.   Read More...
Image: New report outlines the potential for UK wealth redistribution New research published by the High Pay Centre think-tank reveals that even a modest level of wealth redistribution could make a substantial difference to the standard of living for low-earners, and would not be greatly missed by those at the top. For example, 10% redistributed from those earning £150k+ (about 0.9% of the population) to the bottom 25% would equate to an average 55p per hour pay rise. (Ekklesia)   Read More...
Image: Shelter warns of 'bedroom tax' effect on temporary accommodation in Scotland

Applying the bedroom tax to tenants placed in homeless temporary accommodation will have a devastating impact, says Shelter Scotland. Alongside the Chartered Institute of housing in Scotland (CIH Scotland) and the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers, the charity has issued a joint letter to Lord Freud, Welfare Reform Minister, urging the Westminster Government to exempt local authority owned temporary accommodation from the under occupation penalties or the so-called 'bedroom tax'. (Ekklesia)



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Image: UN World Day of Social Justice 20 February 2013 is the UN World Day of Social Justice. Its origins, purpose and remit is described as follows: "Social Justice generally means that people should have equal rights and opportunities... There has been a need to promote efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion and unemployment all over the world."  (Ekklesia)   Read More...
Image: Poverty and Homelessness Action Week As Action Week draws to a close, we reflect on how the blame for our economic crisis is being laid on those who are feeling its worst effects. The government and politicians, including the Prime Minister, make the false distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor, the striver and the skiver. Some in the media focus almost entirely on negative stories of those experiencing poverty. The stories of the people who have been made redundant, who have been left with no means of support because of cuts to vital services,  and made homeless because of cuts to housing benefits, are too often marginalised and ignored.
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Image: The blame game must stop: speak out! Every day, people who are struggling to make ends meet are demonised and blamed for their poverty. Politicians and the media use abusive language and images. Scroungers. Skivers. Chavs. Underclass. This language is used to fuel mistrust by contrasting supposed ‘strivers’ with ‘skivers’. It is used to justify cuts to our safety net, which will drive hundreds of thousands of people further into poverty. It dehumanises and degrades people who are already struggling to survive. It adds to the growing gap between rich and poor, by denying a Fair Say to millions of people. If you oppress the poor, you offend the one who made them. (Proverbs 14:31)   Read More...
Image: Thousands of disabled and sick people will be hit by new ESA/WCA changes Hundreds of thousands of disabled and sick people will be wrongly found fit for work and lose vital financial support if government proposals timetabled for 28 January go through, a new analysis finds.  The Employment and Support Allowance (Amendment) Regulations 2012, were tabled at the end of last year but have not been discussed by Parliament. They will reduce entitlement to ESA, meaning that Work Capability Assessments will find even more genuinely sick and disabled people fit for work, says the briefing, which has been complied by a team of professional disabled people.   Read More...
Image: Mythbuster: Tall Tales about Welfare Reform Ben Baumberg, Kate Bell and Declan Gaffney for the website SENSCOT tackle some of the most common welfare myths. Welfare reform is almost inevitably contentious. Answering the question of who should receive how much financial support relies on often competing conceptions of fairness, with rival views about who needs, and who deserves, our help, not to mention the most just and efficient way of providing it. These issues are worth debating – but the current debate is being conducted on shoddy terms. Myths and stereotypes abound.   Read More...
Image: Mythbuster: Tall Tales about Welfare Reform

Ben Baumberg, Kate Bell and Declan Gaffney from the website SENSCOT tackle some of the most common welfare myths. Welfare reform is almost inevitably contentious. Answering the question of who should receive how much financial support relies on often competing conceptions of fairness, with rival views about who needs, and who deserves, our help, not to mention the most just and efficient way of providing it. These issues are worth debating – but the current debate is being conducted on shoddy terms. Myths and stereotypes abound.

  

http://www.senscot.net/view_art.php?viewid=13021   Read More...

Image: Housing costs cause stress and depression for millions, says charity A new YouGov survey from the housing and homelessness charity Shelter has revealed the emotional strain faced by millions of families as they struggle to meet their housing costs. The findings follow on from Shelter's research earlier this month, which showed 7.8 million people are constantly struggling to keep up with their rent or mortgage, an increase of 44 per cent from the same time last year. (Ekklesia)   Read More...
Image: Banks, the state and money: the trillion dollar coin? Why should banks be allowed to create money and lend it to the State, taking interest payments from taxpayers, when the State can create its own interest-free money, ask Bernadette Meaden, reporting on an intriguing suggestion from campaign group Positive Money. (Ekklesia)   Read More...
Image: Untrue that benefits cap protects disabled people, critics point out Government claims that disabled people have been protected in the government's Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill are untrue, say critics of the measure. Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, commented last night: 'This bill doesn't protect disabled people. In fact, it cuts support for the many disabled people who are looking for work.' 'Since the 'emergency Budget' of 2010, £500 million has been taken from the pockets of disabled people, said Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn. (Ekklesia)
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Image: Poverty & Homelessness Action Week – 26 Jan-03 Feb 2013

CAN YOU CAST THE FIRST STONE?  From tenants shipped out of their local authority and to the periphery of cities because their housing benefit does not cover their rent any more, to disabled people threatened to have their benefit cut if they do not engage in work; from vulnerable women and children denied succour as a result of cuts in local services to the unemployed and people on benefits – vulnerable people are increasingly being cast in a negative light by the press, even by politicians.

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2012

Image: Act now to stop legal loan sharks ripping people off! After years of campaigning, Parliament finally started to act to protect people on low-incomes by supporting legal controls on the price of credit. But your voice is urgently needed to ensure these changes come into force as quickly as possible. The new Financial Conduct Authority will have the power to cap credit costs when it takes over regulation of the market in 2014. But in the mean time the Office of Fair Trading remain responsible and they should take action promptly to protect borrowers from the extortionate charges made by legal loan sharks. Act now to stop legal loan sharks ripping people off!   Read More...
Image: One million disabled people left vulnerable by Autumn Statement At least one million disabled people are not 'protected' by the autumn budget statement, despite government claims, says Disability Rights UK. "If you listened to the Autumn Statement and thought you heard 'disability benefits are protected' you may wish to know that Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is not protected and will be subject to a 1% increase for the next three years," the coalition points out. (Ekklesia)    Read More...
Image: Government set to cash in on anti-welfare propaganda

The government's further slashing of the welfare system is being justified through a systematic campaign to allege or imply that a huge number of people receiving support are workless, feckless, dishonest and trapped, says Simon Barrow. This message has been reinforced by the Whitehall emphasis on "strivers not skivers" and a huge tabloid-led media assault based on talking-up, exaggerating and distorting stories of "scroungers". But what is the reality behind these stereotypes and who is really being made to pay for austerity? (Ekklesia)



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Image: Capping the cost of credit – a victory 10 years in the making Almost 10 years to the day from Debt on our Doorstep’s lobby of parliament, the Government yesterday announced it has finally agreed to introduce a cap on extortionate cost of payday loans   Read More...
Image: Breakthrough! 11 European countries unite behind a Financial Transaction Tax Things are moving fast in Europe. 11 countries have now written to the European Commission requesting to implement an FTT under the ‘Enhanced Cooperation Procedure’ (ECP). This passes the nine-country threshold needed to initiate the ECP, meaning this group of progressive countries can now move towards implementation. Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia and Slovenia will introduce a broad-based FTT covering shares, bonds and derivatives next year which will raise an estimated €37 billion annually.
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Image: New Course from the Craighead Institute

Integrating Life and Faith Course 2013. Each of the four modules of ILF takes place over two days (Saturday and Sunday) from 9.30 am – 4.30 pm.   Would you welcome an opportunity to deepen your appreciation of God’s presence in your everyday life? Then Integrating Life and Faith may be right for you.

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Image: Close the Gap: Ask your MP to speak out on tax dodging Tax dodging has been in the news again. The scale of tax avoidance by international names such as Facebook, Starbucks and Amazon has been exposed. Some MPs are now calling for a Parliamentary Inquiry into these practices. If we act now, we can get more MPs to join them. This is the next step after the highly successful Tax Bus tour, where 5,000 people visited the bus, calling on Cameron to push this issue on the world stage through the 'Tick for Tax Justice'. Email your MP now, telling them to demand a tax dodging inquiry!   Read More...
An interesting radio broadcast on the place of Catholic Social Teaching in modern politics can be found on the BBC iPlayer. It is useful in giving a secular perspective on the place of CST, particularly on the political left, but including conservative views and the place of CST in business.  Unfortunately, if unsurprisingly with the BBC these days, the context is restricted to England. A far better programme would have resulted from including Scottish applications of CST.
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Image: One in five UK workers paid less than the Living Wage One in five workers in the UK – some 4.82 million people – are paid less than the ‘Living Wage’, new research from accountancy firm KPMG shows today.  In a difficult climate of rising prices and increasing costs of living, the impact is falling hardest on these low paid workers with over four in ten saying that their finances are worse now than they were just one month ago.   Read More...
Image: 16 Days of Action For The Elimination of Violence Against Women 25th November to the 10th of December
For the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence the Scottish Women’s Aid faith communities’ campaign, in collaboration with the Edinburgh Inter Faith Association, will be launching an online exhibition. The 16 Days Campaign provides an opportunity to reflect on what we can do to hold our governments to account and challenge the structures that allow gender-based violence to continue.
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Image: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - 17 October

This year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty will be marked by an event in George Square in Glasgow  between 12pm and 1pm.  The annual event brings together choirs, rappers, poets and musicians to share stories and song. Soup will be available for all that attend.

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Image: Cuts throwing young onto the scrap heap YOUNG people in Scotland are bearing the brunt of sweeping welfare cuts, so much so many are in danger of becoming abandoned by the system.  Charities this week have said UK Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to cut housing benefit to under 25s would result in increased homelessness and unemployment amongst young people.  It also came as a new report from the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunity Committee concluded that young homeless people
in Scotland are being failed by support services, leaving them vulnerable and isolated from mainstream society. (Robert Armour Third Force News)
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Image: National Ethical Investment Week  14 - 20 October 2012 With public interest in ethical finance at an all-time high, churches and faith groups are being urged to use this autumn’s National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW) to spread the word about green and ethical savings, investments and other financial products. Now in its fifth year, NEIW’s 2012 Churches’ Action Guide offers practical information to help raise awareness and worship materials.   Read More...
Image: 11 European Countries Sign Up to a  Robin Hood Tax 11 European countries did something incredible. They pledged their support for a Robin Hood Tax. Now, they can work together in taking the next step in making the tax happen – via ‘enhanced co-operation’ in the European Union. Those 11 countries – Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain - should be very proud.
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Image: Have you ticked for tax justice yet? - Tax dodging hurts the poor The Tax Justice Bus Tour of Britain and Ireland to bring people together in a bid to end the injustice of tax dodging at home and abroad. Everywhere it goes, it's starting conversations with MPs, councillors, comedians, campaigners, church leaders and anyone else who wants to get on board. The message to them all is simple: it's time for tax justice, at home and overseas.
The're asking everyone to add their own ticks to a petition for tax justice, which will be handed to David Cameron in October.  Add your own tick online, even if you can't catch the Bus yourself.   Read More...
Image: Poetic Justice: an evening of poetry, story and song Part of the Edinburgh World Justice Festival and organised by the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh Justice & Peace office and The Lauriston Jesuit Centre. A cabaret style evening with poets, singers and storytellers sharing their songs, stories and poems inspired by justice and injustice! Come along to be entertained, inspired and reinvigorated for the work of justice and peace! £5 ticket price includes admission and a glass of wine. Thurs 11 Oct, 7:30pm, Lauriston Hall, 28 Lauriston Street Edinburgh.   
Image: Poverty Truth Commission The Poverty Truth Commission have been asked to be a part of the Scottish Government's Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill Reference Group. The Poverty Truth Commission has been a two year project bringing together some of Scotland's civic leaders with people at the sharp end of poverty. They have worked together to discover the truths about poverty, and explore real solutions to it.   Read More...
Image: Welfare reform - the threat behind the incentive Scottish Churches Housing Action, Seminar followed by their AGM, 28 Sept, 2102. Edinburgh City Chambers
The Westminster Coalition says benefits reforms are creating a fairer system that will help claimants into work and protect the most vulnerable – while saving taxpayers’ money. Scottish Churches Housing Action says they will make people homeless, setting back the last 10 years’ progress in Scotland.    Read More...
Image: Lack of affordable housing puts young lives 'on hold' One in five 31-44 year olds who do not have children are delaying starting a family because of the lack of affordable housing. More than one in four (26 per cent) of those who decided to wait say they have been doing so for five years or more. The figures, revealed in a YouGov survey commissioned by the housing and homelessness charity Shelter, represent a 63 per cent increase since 2009. (Ekklesia)
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Image: Barclays makes £500m betting on food crisis Outrage as bank revealed to be major speculator while millions face starvation. Barclays has made as much as half a billion pounds in two years from speculating on food staples such as wheat and soya, prompting allegations that banks are profiting handsomely from the global food crisis. Barclays is the UK bank with the greatest involvement in food commodity trading and is one of the three biggest global players, along with the US banking giants Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, research from the World Development Movement points out.  Tom Bawden, Indpendent, 1/9/12.
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Image: Tax Justice Bus Tour 2012 Seven weeks, 50 towns and cities across Britain and Ireland, one goal: Tax justice for the poorest communities locally and globally
This autumn, Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty are joining forces to take the campaign for Tax Justice on the road, with a seven-week Tax Justice Bus Tour. Find out when the bus will be visiting Scotland   Read More...
Atos, the company that conducts Work Capability Assessments (WCA) for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), is sponsoring the Paralympics. The irony of this is almost beyond words.
A company causing fear and distress to countless disabled people is attempting to improve its image by associating itself with the achievements of other disabled people, says Bernadette Meaden. (Ekklesia)
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Image: Make Fruit Fair: Last call for supermarkets to stop abusing their buyer power at EU level!!   Following the excellent news that the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill will be introduced in the UK, Make Fruit Fair would like to ask for you help with their final push to 'Stop Supermarkets abusing their buyer power' at EU level. The international reach of many retail chains means that wider EU measures are needed to ensure fair practices for workers, small producers and consumers.  Please promote thr petition for European regulation of supermarket buyer power.   Read More...
Image: Minimum wage now worth less The national minimum wage is now worth less than it was in 2004 and a higher rate should be introduced for workers aged 25 and over, according to a new report. The Resolution Foundation, an independent think-tank, found that the recently announced increase from £6.08 to £6.19 this October will leave the minimum wage 6 per cent below its 2009 peak in real terms because it has been rising by less than inflation. Andrew Grice, Indpendent, 17/04/12   Read More...
Image: 3rd Scottish Assembly for Tackling Poverty

300 campaigners, policy makers and activists attended the 3rd Scottish Assembly for Tackling Poverty held on 15th and 16th of March 2012. Delegates heard from a range of speakers and participated in a number of evidence sessions aimed at finding new ways to tackle poverty. Videos and interviews from the event are available   

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The first Annual Report of the Child Poverty Strategy was laid in the Scottish Parliament on 22 March. The report highlights some of the key measures taken by the Scottish Government since the publication of the Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland in March 2011, and references some of the activity that will be taken forward across the 3 year span of the strategy.
 
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Image: Scotland's Poverty Truth Commission

The Poverty Truth Commission has been a two-year project bringing together some of Scotland’s civic leaders with people at the sharp end of poverty. They have worked together to discover the truths about poverty, and to explore real solutions to it. Our motto, taken from post-apartheid South Africa, is: "nothing about us without us is for us". We believe that  poverty will never be truly addressed until those who experience it firsthand are at the heart of the process. The Poverty Truth Commission has been a groundbreaking experiment in social policy thinking, based on the premise that people living at the harsh end of poverty should have a defining voice in seeking genuine solutions in public life and in governance.



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Image: There's still time to email your MP about Fair Taxes before the Budget! You still have time to make sure your MP understands how important it is that we take action for Fair Taxes. If enough MPs speak out, there is a real chance that next week's Budget could put in place a 'General Anti-Avoidance Rule' (GAAR). This would prevent wealthy individuals and companies from using contrived financial structures to shield themselves from their tax bills. The poorest pay more of their income in tax than the richest. An effective General Anti-Avoidance Rule will not solve that injustice, but it is an essential first step. 369 have emailed their MPs so far about this. Please join them - take two minutes to email your MP
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Image: Close the Gap: Email your MP - make sure the Budget includes action on tax avoidance! In the UK there is a multi-billion pound industry whose aim is to find clever ways for its wealthy customers to avoid paying tax. The industry is legal, thriving, and denies UK tax-payers at least £25 billion each year. That is more than the amount the Government is trying to cut from the benefits bill - which means that tax avoidance amounts to robbing people in poverty. This is why we are campaigning for Fair Taxes.  Please take two minutes to email your MP now and ask them to support calls for a 'General Anti-Avoidance Rule'.
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The government has lost a record eighth vote in the House of Lords over its plans to severely cut and restructure the British welfare system. An amendment to the Welfare Reform Bill, overturning a move to cut payments to specific council tenants with one spare bedroom, was carried by ten votes. The bill is now due to go back before the House of Commons, with the government defiant but a huge swathe of political popular and public opinion - including charities and others making up Mr Cameron's 'Big Society' - wishing to see significant changes. Source Ekklesia

 

 

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The House of Commons debated the Welfare Reform Bill for the last time on 1 February 2012 following a record seventh defeat for the government in the House of Lords.  The coalition has a 70-seat majority at Westminster and the Prime Minister and his colleagues are determined to ignore the massive weight of opinion against them from parliamentarians of all parties, charities, churches, medical professionals, people living with disability and poverty, children's advocates, academics, researchers, community organisations, faith groups, public figures and many thousands of constituents who have been lobbying their MPs. (Ekklesia)   Read More...
A recent statement of the Bishops of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE)  discusses options for the management of the EU rooted in Catholic Social Teaching. A European Community of Solidarity and Responsibility is a significant document  for consideration at a time when Europeans face difficult choices.   Read More...
In his 2012 message to the Vatican’s diplomatic corps, Pope Benedict said said that environmental protection and the connection between fighting poverty and fighting climate change are important areas for the promotion of integral human development   Read More...
Buoyed by a stunning victory in the House of Lords, disabled rights activists and their supporters are pledging to step up the campaign for welfare justice. Now Labour MP John McDonnell has tabled a Parliamentary Question asking for a statement from the Government in response to the 'Responsible Reform' report (also known as the Spartacus report) produced by disabled people themselves. This exposes what critics calls the 'sham' official consultation on Disability Living Allowance (DLA).   Read More...
Study refutes claim that foreign nationals are depriving British-born workers of jobs. There is no link between rising immigration and rising unemployment, independent economists have found - contradicting persistent claims from anti-immigration activists and politicians that an influx of foreign nationals into the UK in recent years has led to more British-born workers on the dole.
Ben Chu, Independent, 10/10/12   Read More...
Image: Poverty & Homelessness Action Week.  28 January – 5 February 2012 - Breaking Barriers Our world is filled with barriers between people. Barriers that prevent us from understanding one another. They are created by unfair benefits rules and inadequate wages. By the stigma attached to being poor or homeless. And by the growing gap between the richest and poorest people in our society. Churches and community projects can break these barriers. They can challenge prejudice, enable excluded people to live full lives, and build a fairer world. Work with us in Poverty & Homelessness Action Week 2012 to break the barriers that trap people in poverty and homelessness.
Let’s have a cup of tea day! for Scottish Churches Housing Action...during Action Week   Read More...

2011

The online prayer calendar for Poverty & Homelessness Action Week 2012 has been released.  Visit the Action Week site to follow day-by-day, and explore the barriers that people face – barriers of Housing Benefit; silence; lack of support; stigma; inadequate housing supply; low pay; rough sleeping; and unjust taxation.  All these and more combine to prevent people in poverty and experiencing homelessness from full participation in 21st-century life.   Read More...
'Social theologian Fr Donal Dorr has an interesting perspective on the background and legacy of the Synod document 'Justice in the World' on its 40th anniversary'   Read More...
An amendment to the Welfare Reform Bill to protect the benefits of disabled children once Universal Credit is introduced has been defeated in the House of Lords. Three amendments were defeated altogether, as government supporters pushed ahead with their plan to make the poor and vulnerable pay for what critics say is the excess and failure of their allies in the City. The amendment was defeated by a very small margin (187 votes to 189), the closest vote seen so far - something which has given some encouragement to disabled rights campaigners over upcoming struggles.    Read More...
The Welfare Reform Bill is the biggest change to the welfare state for sixty years. It contains proposals and benefit cuts that threaten the wellbeing of children, women and disabled people. The House of Lords begins its Report Stage on the Bill today. This is when crucial votes will happen on the most controversial parts of the Bill. The votes will continue into January. Please take action by emailing at least one Lord   Read More...
'If you want to do something more than go with the flow of Christmas consumerism you could do worse than visit the CASC-Aid site for 50/50 giving. It gives ideas fort a radical redistribution of Christmas spending.'   Read More...
Image: World AIDS Day Two prayers for World AIDS day takes place on the 1st of December.   Read More...
A joint report published by the Children's Commissioner's for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland has warned that the Government's spending cuts as well as welfare reforms could push many families and children into poverty.The Commissioners expressed fears that the most vulnerable in society are facing disproportionate hardship.   
On November 8th, following Ethical Consumer's article on the ethics at outsourcing companies, a new Early Day Motion asking the Government to exclude companies with operations in tax havens from bidding for public service contracts was placed before the UK Parliament. The Motion has six sponsors: Caroline Lucas (Green), Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru)), George Andrew (LibDem), Alan Meale (Lab), Adrian Sanders (Lib Dem) and Mike Weir (SNP).   Read More...
Church Action on Poverty says it is "delighted" at the first success of their campaign to 'Close the Gap' between rich and poor through fairer taxes. The government announced earlier this week that it is to close a tax loophole that has allowed retailers to avoid paying VAT by sending goods from subsidiaries in the Channel Islands. Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) will not apply to goods sent from the Channel Islands to the UK from 1 April.   Read More...
Representatives from 15 faith traditions gathered at the Sacred Land Celebration in Assisi, Italy from 31 October to 2 November 2011 for the launch of the Green Pilgrimage Network, organised by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) in association with the World Wildlife Fund(WWF).   Read More...
The Pontifical Council for Justice & Peace has just published a document about Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in a way that Responds to the Needs of all Peoples. It contains a good history of recent economics as seen through Catholic Social Teaching and would make an excellent basis for discussion by J&P groups old and new. The document can be read in under half an hour and gives a good non technical grounding to consider the present economic crisis.   Read More...
17 October
This day is marked annually in George Square at the site of the ATD Fourth World stone, one of a number around the world. This year's event is being organised by Bridging the Gap, supported in this by Givin' It Laldie, a community music project and Poverty Alliance plus other interested individuals. It will take place in George Square on Monday 17 October 1-2pm   
Saturday 1 October 2011
'WORK AND SOCIAL JUSTICE' Renfield St Stephens Centre, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4JP Registration from 10.30.  Finishes 3.45. Speakers:
• Professor Greg Philo, research director of Glasgow University Media Unit
• Geraldine Donnelly and Susan Cassidy of Communitas
• Tim Duffy of Justice and Peace   Read More...
THE number of children being brought up in Scottish households where no adults are working has increased. Under-16s living in homes without adults with paid jobs rose to 145,000 (15.8 per cent of all under-16s) this year from 141,000 (15.3 per cent) last year.   Read More...
Please ask your MP to complete the poverty survey!
Ask your MP to complete the poverty survey To mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October) this year, the All-Party Parliamntary Group on Poverty are launching a survey of MPs and peers. They want to identify the key areas policy-makers should be focussng on to address the long-standing problems of poverty and social exclusion in the UK.   Read More...
Have you pledged to 'Close the Gap' yet?
This month Church Action on Poverty are calling on you to speak out about legal loan sharks where you live as thousands of low-income families are being charged 500% APR for credit.   Read More...
Scottish Churches Housing Action looks to historic target – and beyond
Scottish Churches Housing Action announced details of a seminar on 30 September 2011 to bring housing professionals and activists together to assess progress towards the Scottish Government's target of an entitlement to a home for almost all homeless people by 2012.   Read More...
The Bishop of Aberdeen and the Bishop of Menevia have issued their joint message for Sea Sunday on 10th July
The Bishops urge all to support the vital work of the Apostleship of the Sea. 90% of world trade is transported by ship, however the life of a modern seafarer can be dangerous and lonely. They may spend up to a year at a time away from home, separated from their family and loved ones, often working in harsh conditions.   Read More...
Please sign the petition, calling for action to share ownership and wealth in a co-operative way.
Church action on Poverty are working in partership with Co-operatives UK to promote this year's Co-operatives Fortnight. Co-operatives UK share Church Action on Poverty's concern at the scale of the growing gap between rich and poor. They're using Co-operatives Fortnight this year to call for action to narrow the gap, by sharing wealth and ownership in a co-operative way. They want 100,000 people to sign a petition calling for action.   Read More...
Since the recession hit, a third of families are now spending more each month than they have coming into their households. Four in 10 Britons are worried about their debt, five million are permanently overdrawn, and 22% will carry a credit card debt throughout 2011. The payday lending industry and other legal loan sharks are taking advantage of a lack of access to credit faced by many of these consumers as they try to make ends meet, lending them money on which they charge interest rates up to 4,000% or more.   Read More...
Government 'Big Society' rhetoric is toothless and may be used to wash ministerial hands of responsibility for the impact of spending cuts, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster warns. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, spiritual head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said he backed an expansion of voluntary and community engagement, but not at the expense of proper societal and governmental responsibility.   Read More...
Closing Gathering 16 april 2011
The Closing Gathering of the Poverty Truth Commission took place on Saturday afternoon in front of an audience of more than 350 people. A full copy of the report is now available on line   Read More...

Contact details for candidates in the Scottish election and initial responses to the survey on Trident have been added to the Scotland’s for Peace website 

Churches vote Being responsible Christians requires us to assess the candidates who are standing for election and to do this in light of the values of the Gospel. The aim of this website is to assist Christians in that task by making known the policy positions of parties and by drawing attention to important teachings of Christianity

Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office

Compare the Parties

Hustings Guidance

Stop Climat Chaos Scotland - A manifesto for climate action 2011 Scottish Parliament elections

  

Say Church Action on Poverty
George Osborne has completely failed to acknowledge the genuine hardship that millions of people in this country are now facing. The Budget speech did not make a single mention of people in poverty, or of the huge cuts which are about to affect the benefits system. The Government has not kept its promise to protect the poorest and most vulnerable from the impact of its spending cuts   Read More...
Planning an Election Meeting   Read More...
In a landmark case human rights activists hope will reduce a culture of impunity for sex crimes in the beleaguered central African country, a military court has convicted a lieutenant colonel in the Congolese army to 20 years' imprisonment for mass rapes committed on New Year's Day. Simon Akam, Independent, Tuesday, 22 February 2011   Read More...
Email Chris Huhne now
Help Stop the UK Poverty Rip-Off
If you think that poorer families - who are paying the poverty premium - should get the automatic rebate, take one minute to tell Chris Huhne now   Read More...
Email your MP today to stop legal loan sharks
There is a debate in Parliament on Thursday 3 February about consumer credit regulation. Britain is unusual in that we do not have a law capping the total cost of credit companies can charge. This debate is an opportunity to start changing that - and you can help.
  Read More...
Image: Poverty and Homelessness Action Week Poverty & Homelessness Action Week 2011 will run from 29 January to 6 February. 30 January is Homelessness Sunday and 6 February is Poverty Action Sunday. Raise your voice and make sure that everyone is counted!   Read More...