Budget draws mixed response from Christians

|PIC1|While the Methodist Church has welcomed measures in Chancellor Alistair Darling’s spring budget to help the unemployed, Christian Aid says the Government has wasted an opportunity to lead the world on climate change.

The measures in today’s budget pledge to help young people under the age of 25 who have been unemployed for more than a year to find work or training. They also commit the Government to improving back to work services and Jobcentre Plus.

“It is vital to create opportunities that afford young people choice over their long-term prospects as well as fulfilling their personal aspirations,” said Mike Seaton, Director of the Methodist Church’s Children and Youth Team.

“We look forward to seeing the detail of how this will be implemented and recognise that this could offer new and exciting opportunities not just for young people but for employers.

“Faith-based voluntary sector organisations, such as the Methodist Church, have much to offer and we would want to encourage and assist the Government in the development of this initiative.”

The Government’s first ever carbon budget broke new ground by including legally binding caps on greenhouse gas emissions.

Paul Morrison, Methodist Church Policy Adviser, said: “The aim of reducing greenhouse gasses and increasing our renewable energy output must be applauded.

“We look to the Government to ensure the effectiveness of new schemes to boost renewable energy production and exploit environmentally friendly technologies.”

Christian Aid dismissed the budget as a “wasted opportunity” to lead the world on climate change and criticised the Government for showing a “disappointing lack of ambition and leadership”.

“Producing the first national carbon budget in the world was a huge opportunity for the UK to prove its determination to tackle climate change and provide leadership for other rich countries,” said the agency’s climate policy expert Dr Alison Doig.

“But that opportunity has been wasted. Cutting emissions by 34 per cent by 2020 will fail to prevent dangerous global warming from devastating the lives of people in developing countries, who are least responsible for this crisis.”

Christian Aid expressed delight, however, at the decision to protect the UK’s aid budget, which it had feared was under threat.

Dr David McNair, Christian Aid’s Senior Adviser on Economic Justice, said: “The Government deserves credit for continuing to meet its responsibilities on aid, in the face of the cuts made by several other EU countries.

“While the financial crisis has had severe effects here, it has been far worse for millions of already poor people around the world, who literally do not have enough to eat.”