Displaying items by tag: UK
The National Health Service has been providing free health care to all UK citizens based on their need for medical care rather than their ability to pay for it since its inception in 1948. This mandate does not extend to social care such as home care and residential care, which is means-tested. There is no overall limit on social care costs so thousands of frail and elderly people have had to sell their homes to pay for residential care. See Only those with savings, homes and assets worth less than £23,250 currently receive free council help with residential care. On 8th September Boris Johnson revealed plans to fund England’s social care and help the NHS recover after the pandemic. Employees, employers and self-employed will pay 1.25p more in the pound for National Insurance from April 2022. It will raise £12bn annually for the NHS and a proportion will be moved into social care over the next three years. Care cost contributions are to be capped at £86,000 from October 2023. If someone has less than £20,000 their care will be free and from £20,000 - £100,000 costs will be subsidised on a sliding scale.
The leader of Wiltshire Council, Richard Clewer, was astounded to learn that there are 1,350 empty Ministry of Defence homes in the county and is calling for some of the properties to be used as temporary housing for Afghan refugees. But he said the MoD ‘have not been terribly easy to talk to about this’ and he was frustrated by the delays. ‘Even setting aside the Afghan issue, to find out there are over 1,300 empty properties in Wiltshire while we are looking at the need to build further housing and have a waiting list, it really is deeply frustrating.’ Devizes MP Danny Kruger has backed the plans and says he has raised the issue with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. ‘Afghans have helped us and we have to help them,’ he said.
Priti Patel is preparing to send back small boats carrying migrants in the Channel despite warnings from the French authorities that it could endanger lives. Border Force staff are being trained to employ ‘turn-around’ tactics at sea. Plans developed for two years would allow UK officers to force small boats back into French waters. It is unclear if the proposals would include taking migrants back to French shores. The proposals have already been rejected by the French government on the grounds that ‘safeguarding human lives at sea takes priority over considerations of nationality, status and migratory policy.’ Border Force will only deploy the tactics, developed in consultation with maritime experts, when they deem it safe to do so. Training is due to conclude this month. Conservative MPs want the home secretary to break international law and send all migrants arriving illegally by boat straight back to France.
An Independent Inquiry found child sexual abuse in most UK religious organisations. Some had no child protection policies in place at all though many had strong safeguarding policies. They examined evidence from 38 religious organisations in England and Wales about ‘known’ prevalence of child sexual abuse. Numbers are unlikely to reflect the full picture. There was blatant hypocrisy and moral failing of religions claiming to teach right from wrong and yet failing to prevent or respond to child sexual abuse. Organisational and cultural barriers to reporting child sexual abuse are numerous, varied and difficult to overcome. These include victim-blaming, an absence of discussion around sex and sexuality, and discouraging external reporting, thus prioritising the organisation’s reputation above the needs of victims of sexual abuse. 250,000 children receive ‘supplementary schooling’ from a faith organisation.
Millions of pupils are returning to classrooms in England and Wales, amid fears of a spike in Covid cases. Most Scottish schools went back in mid-August and since then Scotland’s Covid cases have reached record levels. Pre-term Covid testing is being used to limit infection, but rules on social distancing and face masks have gone. Scientists have warned of a rapid rise in school cases without such measures and experts have not recommended jabs for healthy 12 to 15-year-olds. Ministers want a return to normality, but cases are more than 30 times higher among children compared with last year. Headteachers are hoping for a much smoother term but also want school safety measures to be kept under review. Modified exams have been pledged but there is little detail yet on England's plans. Teachers are asking for more information as they focus on helping pupils recover from the disruption.
Legalising physician-assisted suicide could make the 'right to die' into a 'duty to die' for the most vulnerable. The following are ways to pray for end of life care. Ask God to provide necessary finances, staff and volunteers to the hundreds of UK hospices that offer individual holistic care for people approaching the end of life within a peaceful, compassionate atmosphere. Pray for the God of peace to equip nurses, doctors and all caring for terminally ill patients with everything good for doing His will. Remember vulnerable people who fear about the future and ask God to watch over anyone who is alone, uncared for, neglected or abused. Shine Your light into their lives and send Your saving grace and peace. As political and public pressure mounts, ask God to raise up respected medical experts to campaign against permitting assisted suicide and persuade the professional Colleges to maintain their stance against it. For more prayer points click ‘more’.
This year, all three of the biblical autumn feasts (Leviticus 23:23-43) take place in September. The Feast of Trumpets on 6-7 September is followed by the Day of Atonement on 15-16 September and the Feast of Tabernacles on 20-27 September. Among much else, Tabernacles is a 'harvest festival', celebrating the ‘ingathering’ of the summer harvest (Exodus 23:16). Just as the spring feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost) were fulfilled at Jesus’ first coming and by the sending of the Holy Spirit, so the autumn feasts will be fulfilled by His return, the gathering of His people to meet Him, the redemption of Israel, and the Messianic Age. As we celebrate this year’s harvest, both from the fields and of those who have been added to His Kingdom, give thanks that God is working His purpose out and that the time draws ever nearer when ‘the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’ (Hab. 2:14).
Feedback from the recent G7 Prayer Summit, written by IPC Senior Advisor - Brian Mills:
The G7 is a gathering of heads of State from some of the world's most wealthy nations. From 10th to 13th June, they met in the UK (the host country) in a most beautiful seaside location in the county of Cornwall in the far South-West of England.
Why was this important? Well, since the Coronavirus pandemic began eighteen months ago, it has been one of the first face-to-face gathering of any of the world leaders. Decisions taken there are likely to influence the planet in multiple ways for years to come.
At this summit, the prime areas for discussion were flagged as - a global response to the pandemic, the economy, climate change and security issues. Each of these had to some extent been looked at in detail in advance by the respective Governments' ministers responsible. So, at the summit corporate commitments were made, some of which have been announced, some probably will never be!
At previous similar summits over the past 25 years, there had been a gathering of praying people from the different nations somewhere in the vicinity of the summit. This year, because of the Covid restrictions in place within the UK, this was deemed not possible.
So why pray about political decisions? Firstly, Scripture informs us that "petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." In other words, the advance of God's kingdom is directly related to our praying for those in authority.
We are also aware that, whenever the kings of the earth come together, so do the principalities and powers arraigned against us and Christ. Some want Satan to rule this world. We don't. So it is imperative for us to pray, in order that Satan doesn't have His way, but rather that the kingdom of God is advanced throughout the world. Christ is king over all the earth.
This year a Global G7 Prayer Summit came together in a way that was different from anything attempted before, and on a scale that was global. For each of the four days there was an online "virtual" season of prayer for 12 hours a day, led by prayer leaders mostly from within the UK, but with some significant help from elsewhere, and participation from many nations.
Many of those involved had little experience of praying about global issues, so for some it was a steep learning curve. A total of approximately 500 people participated in hour-long slots during the 48 hours of prayer – some multiple times – during the four days.
A few prayed through the night in their country. All of this was coordinated by the World Prayer Centre team in Birmingham, England, to whom a big "thank you" is due. Their expertise and previous experience in this kind of summit was pivotal.
But it all began in Cornwall. For the past five months a group of church and ministry leaders have been meeting weekly online to pray, at the invitation of the local MP who was responsible for hosting this prestigious gathering in his Parliamentary constituency.
Throughout that time he has seen how prayer, in relation to the issues as they emerged, had been answered.
Consistently we had prayed for the presence of God, Father, Son and Spirit to be experienced.
That these world leaders would become aware of the God of creation, as they looked at the incredible beauty of His creation; or the needs of the poorer nations and peoples as they considered the way to combat poverty and the pandemic.
In addition, God had led several groups to walk and pray, do on-site prayer in various locations, and to join together to pray. Teams of young people engaged creatively. The churches in the area had mounted a witness, with crosses erected in the streets, with rubbish nailed to them! And on the Sunday beforehand, an online prayer evening brought together over 200 Christians in Cornwall from many expressions of church – hosted by the MP!
Contact was made with a team of chaplains to the more than 5,000 police who had been drafted into the area to look after security issues. They testified that it was a mostly peaceful summit. None of the anticipated violence and trouble materialised. Instead the police were welcomed, blessed practically and spiritually and went home with glowing reports of their time in Cornwall. The word "open heaven" was mentioned a number of times – both in prayer and in the response of those on the streets.
The Prayer summit leadership had in advance set up connections with people on the ground who could provide information for prayer as and when necessary.
The Prayer Summit itself was interspersed with worship, led prayer, declarations, Scripture, break-out rooms, simultaneous audible prayer.
We had consistently prayed "Your kingdom come...Your will be done....On earth, as it is in Heaven...." We had declared an "open heaven" over the area – and so it proved to be – naturally and spiritually. So we praise God for the answers.
This theme continued throughout the summit.
So what of the future? Well, there are many other gatherings of world leaders occurring regularly. Maybe God will lead you, wherever you are, to plan or be part of initiatives to pray throughout such summits - for the leaders and the decisions they make to be in accordance with God's agenda and purpose for this planet, and not man's.
More info on the G7 Prayer Summit, videos and Prayer Resources: www.g7prayersummit.org
We can be thankful that trade between the UK and EU partially recovered in February, after a steep drop following Brexit. However, exports were still below last year's levels and imports from the EU had seen a weaker recovery. Figures show the UK economy grew by 0.4% in February, but the economy was still 7.8% smaller than a year earlier, before the impact of the pandemic. The Federation of Small Businesses said overall sales had dropped by £2.5bn, and its members needed more help. Chairman Mike Cherry said: ‘UK exports have tumbled since the end of the Brexit transition period. International sales are way down on where they were at this time last year. A fifth of small exporters have halted sales to the EU temporarily, and some have already given up on selling into the bloc on a permanent basis.’
Report on Nigeria to UK Parliament
“The incessant killing is more dangerous than Coronavirus” …The words of a community leader in central Nigeria – after coronavirus had reached his country – after an April attack in which nine people died, including a pregnant woman and her three year old.
His reaction is one of several testimonies – frequently harrowing to read, let alone to have experienced – that feature in an Inquiry into the scale of death and destruction caused by conflict occurring along the Christian-Muslim faultline running across the ‘Middle Belt’ of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.
The Inquiry is published today, 15 June, by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Freedom of Religion or Belief of the UK Parliament; it has been taking evidence since autumn 2018.
(However, since the Coronavirus pandemic, violence appears to have grown even as international media have been otherwise occupied).
“APPG members have been alarmed by the dramatic and escalating violence in Nigeria characterised as the farmer-herder conflict. This violence has manifested along ideological lines, as the herders are predominantly ethnic Fulani Muslims and the farmers are predominantly Christians. There has been significant debate about what factors are driving and exacerbating this crisis. Therefore, the APPG launched a parliamentary inquiry to help develop a nuanced understanding of the drivers of violence”.
The resulting report ‘Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?’ points out that the violence has claimed the lives of thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands more. It has caused untold human and economic devastation and heightened existing ethno-religious tensions. “The [age old farmer-herder] conflict has evolved from spontaneous reactions to provocations and now to deadlier planned attacks” it quotes the International Crisis Group as saying.
Despite the scale of the violence, the conflict is much less well known internationally than the 10 year long Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed over 30,000 lives (112 Chibok girls are still ‘missing’ after 6 years) and now its offshoot Islamic State West African Province’s (ISWAP) atrocities. These also feature in the APPG report and appear to have escalated in recent weeks and months. (In the latest Boko Haram-linked incidents this past week, over a hundred have died and hundreds more been injured; a UN humanitarian hub and a police station were reported burned down).
However, this APPG report echoes the Global Terrorist Index (GTI) 2019 by the Institute for Economics and Peace, which indicates that the primary driver of the increase in violence in sub-Saharan Africa is a rise in activity in Nigeria attributed, not to Boko Haram, ISWAP or Ansar ul Islam, but to Fulani militant extremists. In 2018, it appears Fulani extremists were responsible for the majority of terror-related deaths in Nigeria.
Its geographical footprint is also larger, with conflict manifesting in more States. According to global NGO, Search for Common Ground (SfCG), “between 1 January 2019 and 1 January 2020, inter-communal violence represented the most severe threat to civilian lives in Nigeria.”
In his report for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office a year ago, the Bishop of Truro concluded “the religious dimension is a significantly exacerbating factor” in clashes between farmers and herders and “targeted violence against Christian communities in the context of worship suggests that religion plays a key part.”
The Nigerian Government’s attempts to resolve the ethno-religious conflict have been ineffective; there seems to be no end in sight. The long-term consequences of failure to reduce the violence are severe, says the Inquiry: “There is the enormous cost in terms of human lives but there is also the potential for economic collapse, famine, further mass displacement of civilians and even more conflict, as the two major religious groups in the country become increasingly polarised”.
Pray: that the perpetrators of these atrocities will be brought to justice.
Pray: for the victims and families of these terrorist attacks.
Pray: for a breakthrough in the efforts of the Nigerian government to broker lasting peace in the region.
Pray: that the world community will come together to bring about pressure on the Nigerian politicians to deal with the situation at all levels.
Pray: against the powers of darkness that they will be overcome IJN.