Take pressure off poor, Chancellor told

Christians are calling upon the Chancellor to use his Budget to help those hardest hit by the Government's spending cuts.

The Association of Christian Financial Advisers wants George Osborne to reconsider the "bedroom tax", make childcare more affordable for mothers, and take action to reduce the high interest rates on payday loans.

The organisation expressed concern over figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies predicting that the lowest earners will suffer an average fall in income of almost 5 per cent by 2016.

The ACFA's Arwyn Bailey warned carers and the terminally ill would be among those affected by the tax on council house residents with a spare bedroom.

"The Chancellor has an unenviable task in trying to raise government income and spend less. Mr Osborne may need to bite the bullet and increase revenue from his key voters, the traditional middle class, and once again increase taxation on those on the top levels of income," he said.

"Come what may, he should take note of the squeeze on the nation's poorest households and do something to assist them."

The Methodist Church is asking the Chancellor to change the "unjust" rhetoric on poverty and "acknowledge the real hardship of the 13 million people in poverty in the UK".

The Church's policy adviser Paul Morrison said: "Only when the truth is recognised can just and fair policies be made."

The Methodist Church and other Churches recently warned in a report that the image of benefit claimants being lazy and workshy had become a "destructive" myth in Britain.

Marie Trubic, of the United Reformed Church, which collaborated in the report, said that having to receive benefits was "not an easy choice for the lazy, but a lifeline even for families in paid work".

"The truth that needs to be acknowledged is that the majority of children who grow up in poverty are in working households," she said.

"The truth that needs acknowledging is that the majority of the long-term workless are sick and disabled."

Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council, said the creation of a false divide between welfare recipients and taxpayers was encouraging a "destructive culture of 'them and us'".

"For the sake of the trusting, understanding and just society we all wish to live in, this has to stop," she said. "We hope the Chancellor will use the Budget to end myths about poverty."

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