More cash is welcome – but not the whole answer

The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, delivered his 11th (and probably his last) Budget today.  It contained very little that was of surprise – mroe investment in environmental initiatives, harsher penalties against heavier polluters, and greater investment in schools and hospitals.  It is good to see that the importance of caring for our planet and providing better public services were high on the agenda.

I was also very pleased to note the extra investment that was pledged to help tackle child poverty, through education, training and family tax allowances and benefits.  There will also be new funding for community organisations and a drive to increase take-up of the Gift Aid scheme.

There is a growing recognition that poverty is still a harsh reality for many children in Britain, not just in terms of money or possessions, but poverty of aspiration, of identity, or civic poverty.

While extra money will help to tackle all these, a cash injection on its own is just not enough.  We need a new, more participative approach to citizenship and community.  The government needs to recognise the role of the church and other faith groups in building a better world, while the church needs to re-capture it vision as an agency for social change.

I’ve explored these thoughts in more detail here.

I’d love to know what you think….

5 comments

  1. Hi,
    I agree that recognition of faith based groups as those who can impact society for the better is well overdue. Actually I work for one, which is funded by government (fccbf) and soon by local government, so I have a vested interest here.
    I would love the government to encourage that more, and feel that the recent funds, though inspired by the fear of extremism, will go a long way, as govn’t see the results of it, to convincing them of the benefits.
    I understand though that faith communities and groups also have to prove themselves, to show that we are in it for the right reasons, even if our motives and many and varied (a jumbled mass of mixed motives as Adrian Plass puts it), and that we can manage both funds and programmes eficiently.
    Thankfully, even just in Birmingham and the Black Country, I know of many examples where that it true…
    I’m delighted by the increase in the working families tax credit limit, and tax credits, which will do so much good for parents on low incomes. As you say though – povery is not simply financial.
    Steve

  2. As a born again Christian I find it hard to accept that what God calls abhorrent your organisation seems to infer that we are expected to take the word of a government bill that will ultimately prevent Christians from standing up against the secular world who will most certainly try to enforce their views on sodomy.
    How can we trust a government who have pushed through their own agenda in a most devious way on Monday and to ultimately hide the ‘bad news’ of the House of Lords vote on Budget Day?
    I cannot hide behind your view that because Jesus encouraged unconditional love and service – with which we Christians would agree – that he would not have spoken out against this Bill. After all why did he reveal himself to Saul on the road to Damascus and choose him to spread the Good News about Him. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 1, he writes quite clearly what should be taught about the homosexual act. Jesus was Paul’s teacher and that is good enough for me.
    I feel that Christians should not be so naïve as to trust the word of those who do not know the scriptures or choose to ignore them.

  3. ‘A cash injection on its own is just not enough’. I thoroughly agree but to regenerate communities and civic participation, a government is not enough either. The point is that neither money nor government will solve the problem of individualistic materialism on their own,although investment can help and government can lead. Social contracts, welfare states, identity and participative citizenship can only be based on shared existing values. We no longer have that basis. I think the Church would do well to ponder what it can do about that as well as heping people in immediate need.

  4. Thanks for the comments. I agree that government, money, or indeed action on its own is not enough.
    True transformation must start on the inside and work out and it must be holisitc – spiritual, material, social, economic etc.
    I think our attempts to help people work within the SOR’s is perfectly in keeping with our Christian identity and ethos and is not at all incongruous with the life and example of Christ
    I think the issue of the budget, poverty and the recognition of the valuable contribution of faith communities and churches is also vital – that is why I am convinced that we need a welfare system that recongises the contributions of the voluntary and faith communities more fully and seeks to partner with them from beginning to end.
    John, I think you have a much narrower understanding of the preaching of the gospel and the commitment of the church to mission than I have. We serve people because it is right, not simply because of an alterior motive, no matter how noble that alterior motive might be. To love and serve someone unconditionally is to do so without a hidden agenda. After all, love with a hidden agenda is not love at all, just manipulation

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