Displaying items by tag: poverty
The World Bank has extended another year of financial aid to Lebanon despite political bickering. Inflation reached 206% in April, Lebanon’s currency dropped yet again last week, and Heart for Lebanon reports shortages of everything from electricity to fuel to bread. Everything costs more, and 78% of the population needs some kind of food assistance to survive. They are becoming more desperate every day. Divisions are deepening among the newly-elected parliament members. Fighting between parties that are for and against Hezbollah is taking priority over much-needed reform. People are looking for answers. They are turning to God in record numbers. Heart for Lebanon and local churches provide food and encouragement to families, showing them the love of Christ before telling them about the love of Christ. Ask God to strengthen and encourage Lebanese believers. They are staying put to care for people in need, instead of leaving the country to benefit themselves.
Britain’s poorest households are expected to see a huge increase in their living costs when energy bills rise this autumn, leading economists have warned. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the fresh surge in gas and electricity bills expected in October could lead to average annual inflation rates of as high as 14% for the poorest tenth of households. The increase in the energy price cap to close to £2,800 is likely to hit poorer families disproportionately because a larger share of their total spending goes on energy. The IFS said the poorest tenth of households typically spend almost three times as much of their budgets on gas and electricity as the richest 10% do.' The Government has responded by announcing specific financial support for low-income households and pensioners, and wider support for all households to pay their energy bills, funded by a windfall tax on energy companies.
Tory MP Lee Anderson has said that poor people use foodbanks because they cannot cook properly; they haven’t got the skills to budget appropriately or do a proper weekly shop, ‘like we did back in the day’. Mr Anderson said he was not ‘being a nasty Tory.’ ‘The point I was making was that there are a lot of people out there who with the right help, the right support, and the right education, would be able to fend for themselves.’ The Trussell Trust foodbank network said, ‘Foodbank need in the UK is about lack of income, not food.’ Mr Anderson’s expenses claim last year was £220,000. The Independent Food Aid Network wrote to the chancellor warning they are close to ‘breaking point’ after an unsustainable surge in demand due to the cost of living crisis.
Kenya is in a world of hurt. Joy Mueller of Kenya Hope says, ‘They look at having no food to feed their families and no money to pay school fees or buy the things they need. For the third year in a row, these poor people are just devastated. First, the pandemic locked everything down, so rural Kenyans couldn’t buy supplies or sell their livestock at the market. Then right on the heels of the pandemic, they got hit with a severe drought. All the water sources dried up; pastureland was gone and animals were dying. For the people here, their animals are their bank accounts. 2022 seemed to be the start of something better when they got some beautiful rain in February. Hope sprang again, but then they were hit by African armyworms. They’re called armyworms because they march across the field eating every green thing in their path.’
Rishi Sunak delivered his mini-Budget against a backdrop of rising fuel, energy and food costs. He cut fuel duty by 5p but resisted calls to scrap April's National Insurance rise of 1.25p in the pound; instead the start threshold will rise from £9,600 to £12,570. He warned the UK's post-pandemic recovery has been blown off course by the war in Ukraine, but he promised an income tax cut in 2024 when the economy would be in better shape. The Office for Budget Responsibility painted a bleak picture of the immediate prospects, saying that living standards are set to take the biggest hit since records began in the 1950s. It said inflation was set to peak at 8.7% at the end of this year and this - combined with rising taxes - will ‘weigh heavily on living standards in the coming twelve months’. The UK's tax burden will be the highest level since the 1940s.
Price increases are making it tougher for households to make ends meet, and unlicensed lenders offer loans to the desperate at astronomical interest rates. Last year the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) researched 3,363 people. One in forty were borrowing from unlicensed lenders. CSJ thinks there are about a million people in England doing this. ‘Overwhelmingly, people borrow when they're desperate. For everyday costs of living, like a gas or electricity bill, or a pram, and then they get exploited by those seeking to extort them for as much money as they can get out of them, offering arbitrary terms, little to no paperwork and an extortionate repayment rate.’ ‘It's just endless,’ one victim said: 'I went from a £150 loan to owing £6,000 in months'. The CSJ report highlights separate data from 1,252 victims, questioned last year by the Illegal Money Lending Team, which prosecutes loan sharks in England. The figures suggest the borrowers are among the poorest in society.
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a Christian debt help charity which is calling on the Government to 'act now' and increase support for those on low incomes with everything at its disposal. They saw calls to their debt helpline rise by 47% this January compared to last year, and requests for emergency fuel vouchers have doubled. CAP said, ‘We, along with many other charities and think-tanks, say that the upgrading of Social Security (the amount benefits and pensions go up in April) needs to be more than planned. Also they could pause deductions to Universal Credit as they did at the beginning of the pandemic. The third thing needed is a cost of living review; the level of social security has not matched the actual cost of living, even for the barest of essentials, for many, many years.’
A Joseph Rowntree Foundation report published on 16 March tells us that as Northern Ireland entered the pandemic, nearly one in five people lived in poverty, including over 100,000 children. 1 in 14 households are in food insecurity, and the recent spike in energy prices, and wider inflation. People in workless families, disabled people, carers, and people in ethnic minority households have much higher poverty rates. So people across Northern Ireland need the new Executive to focus on whether to reverse or partly mitigate the impact of the £20 per week cut to the basic rates of Universal Credit. It could also match benefit up-rating more effectively to the cost of living. A targeted payment, such as the Scottish child payment, would reduce child poverty. The Executive could also consider the role that DLA/PIP can have in helping disabled people into the labour market, including considering how the administration of payments could be redesigned with dignity and poverty reduction at their heart.
The South Africa Council of Churches (SACC) has launched a national indaba (conference with indigenous tribes) to engage interested parties to find solutions to tensions over foreigners living and working in South Africa. Bishop Mpumlwana said they must create ‘a national process towards a stable national environment where the growing lawlessness over non-South Africans can be addressed before it spills into a broader decline of the rule of law, through “justifiable” acts of public frustration.’ He said that deep poverty gnawing at the lives of the economically excluded majority of South Africans is behind murmurings that ‘non-South Africans are stealing our jobs’ and sporadic acts of brutal violence against foreigners. ‘It is a manifestation of the failure of democratic South Africa to achieve the promise of the post-apartheid South Africa. The failure to achieve this causes a mentality that grips poor communities without hope’. he added.
Extreme hunger is causing parents to sell their kidneys to feed their children. Illegal organ trading existed before the Taliban takeover, but the black market exploded when millions more were plunged into poverty after international sanctions. Currently the UN estimates that 24 million people, 59% of the population, are in need of lifesaving humanitarian aid. ‘I had to do it (sell a kidney) for the sake of my children,’ said 32-year-old Nooruddin, ‘I didn’t have any other option. I regret it now.’ He was speaking outside his home, where clothes hang from a tree and a plastic sheet is a window pane. ‘I can no longer work. I’m in pain and I cannot lift anything heavy.’ The practice is so widespread where Nooruddin lives, that it is nicknamed ‘one kidney village’. Children desperately search through litter for food waste, and shops are closed. People have no money to buy things. Mother-of-three Aziza said, ‘If I don’t sell my kidney, I will be forced to sell my one-year-old daughter.’