Churches concerned over child poverty measure

Four Churches have criticised Government proposals to change the way child poverty is measured in the UK.

The Government ended a consultation on Friday into plans to introduce a new "multi-dimensional measure of poverty" that would include employment, family stability, education and income.

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, Church of Scotland, Methodist Church and United Reformed Church said the proposals were "confused".

They questioned the Government's focus on worklessness as a measure of poverty when the majority of families in poverty are working.

Stephen Keyworth, faith and society leader for the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said excluding or diminishing the experience of low-paid families from a measure of poverty would be a "serious failing".

"Such people work tough jobs, often with unsocial hours. We agree that is vital to measure things such as unemployment and disability," he said.

"These things can help us understand British society and the place of poverty within it. However, these factors combined make for a very bad measure of child poverty. Only robust, well-evidenced indicators of poverty should be used to measure child poverty."

The four Churches are due to publish a major report next month confronting the "comfortable myths" about poverty.

"Poverty is not just an issue facing the poor – it's a societal problem and one that shames us all," added Marie Trubic, of the United Reformed Church.

"As Christians we believe that we all have a duty to take responsibility for the injustices that have become embedded in the society we have built.

"We should not simply accept the status quo and blame the poor for their circumstances. Instead, we must find new ways to build a fairer future for all."