CAP: Government must do more to protect vulnerable from financial crisis

Church Action on Poverty has said that some aspects of the Government’s Pre-Budget Report would help people hit hardest by the current financial crisis, but warned that more still needs to be done.

The report released by Chancellor Alastair Darling on Monday included VAT cuts, added protection for mortgage holders against repossession, and a modest improvement in benefit rates, measures CAP said were “welcome”.

The group warned, however, that more still needed to be done to ensure that the most vulnerable in society were protected from the impact of the financial crisis.

CAP spokesperson Liam Purcell welcomed the new rate for the top one per cent of earners and a tax increase for the top 10 per cent, saying it was “good news that taxes are being made fairer”.

“But more must be done to address the growing gap between rich and poor, which is as large now as it was in Dickens’ time,” he continued.

“Changes in tax and VAT rates are welcome, but more targeted measures would do more to protect the most vulnerable. The Government has now committed itself legally to eradicating child poverty – but there is no sign of the increase in child tax credits which could make this dream a reality,” he said.

Mr Purcell said a cap on rises in fuel prices would help stop more elderly people from falling into fuel poverty over the winter.

Whilst he welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement that £15 million would be invested into debt advice services, he said that more people could be saved from falling into the debt trap in the first place if the Government placed a cap on the “extortionate” interest rates charged by doorstop lending companies.

“A Bill is currently passing through Parliament which proposes such a cap, and we urge all MPs to support it,” said Mr Purcell.

He added, “At CAP, we believe in the unique value of each person made in the image of God. We welcome the valuable help offered by the Government in this Pre-Budget Report. But we urge them to do more to ensure that the most vulnerable people in society are not left behind in this time of crisis.”

CAP is a founder member of the Get Fair coalition of charities calling on the Government to eradicate poverty in the UK by 2020.