No Jam or Justice in the autumn statement

The incomes of the poorest are hardest hit – by far – whilst the wealthy escape scot free. 

This week’s autumn statement announced further years of pain ahead, as the economy adjusts to the likely impact of Brexit.  An economic policy grounded in social justice might have sought to place the greatest burden on those most able to bear it.  But, yet again, it is the poorest who are being called on to shoulder the greatest pain.

As the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies’ chart below demonstrates, the cumulative impact of tax and benefit reforms are clear and unambiguous.  The incomes of the poorest are hardest hit – by far – whilst the wealthy escape scot free.

ifs-cumulative-impact-of-tax-and-benefit-reforms

Source: https://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/publications/budgets/as2016/as2016_tw.pdf

The freeze on benefits will leave the poorest families around £350 per year worse off, but leave the incomes of middle earners and the wealthiest in society untouched.  Those who are currently only ‘just about managing’ already have bare wallets, bare cupboards, and mounting bills to pay. How can they be expected to take a further £7 out of their weekly budget?

It cannot be right that it is these families who are being asked to make yet another sacrifice, when their wealthier neighbours are not being asked to do likewise. For many it will mean increased debt, worse diets, no chance of a holiday for the forseeable future. For some it will mean a trip to the foodbank.

When, as a nation, will we start to exercise some genuine Christian compassion?

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