Primus joins church and charity leaders in call to act on rising poverty

January 5, 2024

In a joint statement released today (Friday, January 5), the Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, joined other Christian leaders and leaders of development agencies Christian Aid, CAFOD and Tearfund – saying that: “the human cost of failing to take action now is too big and too damaging to ignore”.

Signatories are calling on political leaders to set out clear plans to eradicate extreme poverty and halve overall poverty by 2030, in the UK and globally, noting that poverty is “a consequence of political choices and priorities” and with a General Election on the horizon, “this year must mark the beginning of the end for poverty”.

Commenting, Bishop Mark said: “the message I get from churches across Scotland is that poverty, and the worst effects of poverty, are on the rise in our communities and around the world.  Many members the Scottish Episcopal Church are involved in work to tackle poverty at home and abroad, as are many of our ecumenical, interfaith, and secular partners.  We cannot do all we need to do to address this crisis of poverty without political support from all governments.  In a nation as wealthy as the UK, poverty is a political choice.  I am joining this call for political action because Jesus’ words are clear: “I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink” is not an abstract concept – it is central to our faith.”

Christian Aid, the Trussell Trust, Church Action on Poverty and the Joint Public Issues Team of the Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches have released ‘Act on Poverty’ – a six-week resource for church groups to explore the impacts of poverty around the world and in the UK and take action ahead of the General Election. Designed for use during Lent or later in 2024, the resource brings campaigners from the UK and global contexts into dialogue about the differences and similarities between their visions for an end to poverty where they are.

Bishop Mike Royal, General Secretary of Churches Together in England, said: “We want to see action on poverty now, and political leaders need to know our ambition for change. I encourage church communities to come together and share with election candidates why tackling poverty should be a priority.”

You can find the Lent 2024 resources here:

The full statement is printed below:

“We believe that poverty is a scandal, the root causes of which have been neglected by our political leaders in the UK Parliament for too long. As this new year begins, the cost of living scandal is clearly not over for the poorest people in the UK. Around the world, poverty holds too many individuals and communities back from fulfilling their potential.

“But we know that poverty is not inevitable – it’s a consequence of political choices and priorities. With a General Election on the horizon, we call on our political leaders to make tackling poverty a priority. In line with our existing commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, this should include setting out clear plans to eradicate extreme poverty and reduce overall poverty by at least half, in both the UK and globally, by 2030. 

“Whilst our work to tackle poverty in the UK and around the world takes different forms, we are united in our belief that the human cost of failing to take action now is too big and too damaging to ignore. This year must mark the beginning of the end for poverty. 

“Inspired by our faith, we believe in a future where everyone has an equal share in the world’s resources. Where everyone has enough to eat. Where all of us are able to wake up in the morning with hope, opportunities and options for living a fulfilling life. 

“This year, our Churches and Christian charities are committed to putting poverty on the agenda through practical action, prophetic words and courageous campaigning. Our elected politicians need to take responsibility too. Now is the time for action.“

Signed by: 

Most Revd Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Christine Allen, Executive Director of CAFOD

Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford

Niall Cooper, Director of Church Action on Poverty 

Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary, The Baptist Union of Great Britain

Nigel Harris, CEO of Tearfund

Revd Dr Tessa Henry-Robinson, Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church

Emma Jackson, Public Life and Social Justice Group Convener, The Church of Scotland

Revd Gill Newton and Kerry Scarlett, President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference 

Kate Nightingale, Deputy CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society

Commissioners Jenine and Paul Main, Territorial Leaders, The Salvation Army UK and Ireland

Stewart McCulloch, Chief Executive of Christians Against Poverty UK

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain

Bishop Mike Royal, General Secretary, Churches Together in England

Right Revd Mary Stallard, Bishop of Llandaff

Patrick Watt, CEO, Christian Aid