A major report from the church about myths around poverty…

T&LExecutive Summary….

In 1753 John Wesley, the founder of Methodism  said, “So wickedly, devilishly false is that common  objection, ‘They are poor, only because they are  idle’.” Yet today many churchgoers and members  of the general public alike have come to believe  that the key factors driving poverty in the UK  are the personal failings of the poor – especially  ‘idleness’. How did this come about?

The myths exposed in this report, reinforced  by politicians and the media, are convenient  because they allow the poor to be blamed for  their poverty, and the rest of society to avoid  taking any of the responsibility. Myths hide the  complexity of the true nature of poverty in the  UK. They enable dangerous policies to be imposed  on whole sections of society without their full  consequences being properly examined. This  report aims to highlight some comfortable myths,  show how they have come to prominence and test  them against serious evidence.

Churches have a special interest in speaking  truthfully about poverty. Both the biblical  warnings of the prophets and the example  of Jesus teach us to pay special attention  to the voices of the most vulnerable and  underprivileged. The systematic misrepresentation  of the poorest in society is a  matter of injustice  which all Christians have a responsibility to  challenge.

The report begins with a case study, Troubled  Families and Troubled Statistics, showing how  facts        and evidence were bent to meet the needs  of policymakers. The reputations of society’s most  disadvantaged families became collateral damage  in the rush to defend a new policy. Perhaps we are  not surprised by this but we should be appalled.

The myths challenged are not a comprehensive list  but were chosen because of their prominence in  public debate, and their widespread acceptance.

For a pdf of the full report click here

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