The Government is making significant changes to the benefits and tax credits system. This is bringing a great deal of uncertainty and fear for many people under pension age who receives help with everyday living costs from the Government.
The Devon Strategic Partnership has recognised that it wants to support people to know what the impacts are and be able to access advice and information. To this end it mandated the creation of the Welfare Reform Advisory Group which has worked in partnership to study the impacts of the proposed changes and help it can give.
Rethink Sanctions: The Joint Public Issues Team of (the Baptist Union, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church the Church of Scotland) are calling for a full and independent review to ‘Rethink Sanctions’. Sanctions stop benefit payments usually as a result of being late or missing a payment. Research shows these disproportionately affect young people, homeless people, young people leaving care, single parents, those with long term illness and mental health problems.
Myths About Welfare: Government ministers speak of families opting for benefits as a lifestyle choice. Yet the value of benefits have halved relative to average incomes over the last 30 years. This report from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland and the United Reformed Church lays bare six myths about the poor and vulnerable in the UK today.
The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) have produced a range of factsheets to help give people as much information as possible on issues ranging from arrears in rent or utilities payments to advice on dealing with bailiffs, court summons and more. See the CAB website for more information.
We have also put together some lists of links to help and advice for specific issues. The following links provide a wealth of advice and guidance for a range of money and debt related issues:
- The Money Advice Service
- Citizens Advice Bureau Devon
- Credit Union: Savings and Loans Devon leaflet
- Christians Against Poverty (CAP)
- Community Money Advice
CAP run debt advice sessions in various towns in Devon including Barnstaple, Exeter, East Devon, Exmouth, Kingsteignton, South Hams, Torquay and Plymouth.
The National Debtline telephone number is 0808 808 4000. There is also a website at www.nationaldebtline.co.uk
There are currently three Credit Unions in Devon. Savings and Loans Devon leaflet.
Each Credit Union works as a local saving and loans scheme run by local people. They operate service points in many localities, some based in churches. The Diocese of Exeter has invested in each of them.
Between them the three credit unions total approximately 5,000 adult members and 1,000 junior members who are saving over £1.7 million and borrowing just over £1 million.
Plough & Share Credit Union Ltd
Over 35 ‘Service Points’ across Devon and Torbay
The City of Plymouth Credit Union
Serving Plymouth Community and surrounding 20 miles area with 16 collection points including schools.
HOPE (Plymouth) Credit Union Ltd
Serving communities in the City of Plymouth and surrounding districts who live in the Postal Code areas of PL1 to PL21
The Exeter Diocesan Synod members have agreed to support the Living Wage campaign and encourage all its churches and institutions to pay the Living Wage to its staff and employees.
The motion was brought forward by Plymouth city deanery, and supported by Dame Suzi Leather, who spoke to synod about the Plymouth Fairness Commission, which she chaired.
Martyn Goss, Diocesan Director for Church and Society, said, “This is a really encouraging decision which brings the Church of England in Devon to join other churches in Britain who already support the Living Wage campaign. It means in future all jobs associated with the Diocese should be paying at least £7.65 per hour to those it employs, whether in the parishes, schools or church offices.”
The move also supports actions by other employers in Devon and local groups such as the North Devon Living Wage campaign, which experiences some of the lowest pay in the country.
Community Economics and Currencies
One of the reasons the South West often has a poorer economy is because money created in the region is immediately lost to the global financial system (the so-called ‘leaky-bucket syndrome’).
To counteract this, communities can develop mechanisms which encourage more localised circulation and which boost more independent businesses.
One example is the introduction of local currencies:
The development of local community interest companies, cooperatives and social enterprise also demonstrate not for private profit activities with a strong emphasis on community benefit.