There are two things which have made me cross about the budget this week: - Taxes and Poverty - Environmental Justice
Taxes and Poverty I never thought I'd see a conservative government increase the tax on their main voter base, on the middle classes; but they have and my social media seems to suggest that there's a fair amount of anger about it. People are complaining about being taxed more on their high salaries, taxed more on their comfortable pensions, taxed by as much as an extra £10 a week if their incomes are over £50,000. Putting that in context, that's only an extra 1% tax. I am happy to pay an extra 1% on tax on our income and savings. I am happy to restrict our family belts a bit if it means that those who are literally on or below the bread line are lifted out of poverty. I want to live in a country where no one lives in poverty. I want to pay my way to ensure that every disabled person lives in dignity, to ensure that every child has enough food to eat, to ensure that everyone who is ill can heat their homes and access medical care. I want to live in a country where no one is left behind. In fact I want to live in a world where that is true, but right now it isn't even possible in the UK. However.... I have grave concerns that the very poorest, especially those unable to work due to illness and disability or lack of education and opportunity, will still not be supported. The lack of increase in benefits for those out of work means that the poorest in society will be hit ever harder as the cost of living increases. Poverty levels will increase. I write this having been brought up in, and still very much a part of, the UK middle class. I write this knowing that I had all the benefits of living in the catchment of a good school and not having to pay my way through university. I write this having never wondered whether I could feed my child. I am lucky; all of us who grew up or are living in the middle class are lucky. That doesn't mean we don't work hard, but it does mean we are lucky. I haven't earned anything in the last 15 years - my ministry is completely voluntary and any money I make is donated to charity - I am lucky enough to be able to follow this calling on my life. I am lucky. I wish luck came into life less than it does and I will keep giving what I can to help those less lucky - can't we all do the same?
Environmental Justice We're less than a week from the start of COP26, hosted in Glasgow to make plans to combat climate change. And yet the UK budget is reducing the cost of flying. Yes you read that right, it will be cheaper to fly after this budget. Apparently this is to correct an anomaly but seriously, how about correcting the anomaly by increasing the cost of the huge carbon load of flying. How about making trains cheaper? And that's not all, the freeze on fuel duty has been retained. And yes I know it's unbelievably expensive to drive our cars right now, but how about we encourage less travel or more car sharing or more public transport use or more working from home (now we've proved it works really well for lots of people). There were some positive investments, but taking the budget as a whole I find it hard to know how the UK can ask any countries with less wealth to make big changes. Why aren't we taxing the rich more and funding climate initiatives? Why aren't we leading the way? We in the richest nations of the world need to step up and make the changes needed to reduce the impact of climate justice on the world. But because it's not us who will really feel the impact, because it's the poorest people who will suffer the most, we just don't seem to care enough. Of course many people do care. I do, though I feel pretty useless in the face of the challenge. Whilst our Government continues to do almost nothing about climate issues I'm grateful that there are brave people in the world who are willing to be arrested to make sure serious issues of the planet are highlighted. I know these things aren't popular, I know they cause problems for key workers and that's dangerous, but I'm conflicted because on the other hand, at least these protestors are doing something, are drawing attention to how urgent the needs for environmental change are. And me, well I'll keep writing and painting and praying and sharing and sending emails to politicians. I hope my little part of the effort will do something. Will you join me in doing a little something?