Displaying items by tag: United Kingdom
Christian climate activists have been protesting at Church House, Westminster, to highlight the Church of England's strategy of continuing to invest in fossil fuels. They also left handprints of fake blood and oil on the walls of offices of BAE Systems, Britain's arms manufacturer, to protest against their policy of supplying weaponry to conflicts; this increases the vulnerability of people living on the front lines of climate change. These actions follow the conclusion of COP27, which is being widely criticised for the presence of representatives from oil and gas companies. The activists believe the Church should show moral leadership in rejecting profits from investments in companies that continue to fuel climate suffering. Also, behind government decisions to double down on fossil fuel development (sign off new oil exploration licences and allow big energy companies to rake in record profits) lies a network of companies and organisations which are profiting from this destructive path.
Police are texting 70,000 people, warning them that they may have been victims of a banking scam in the UK's biggest anti-fraud operation. The Met have charged a Londoner with running an international service of fake phone calls to victims, who have lost thousands of pounds. Detectives only have victims' phone numbers and are asking people to act if they receive their messages. Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said the proactive counter-fraud investigations involved ‘industrialised fraud’. There could be 200,000 UK victims of fraudsters pretending to be a bank and warning of suspicious activity on their accounts. A London address is the centre of fraud on a global scale. Police have the numbers of victims but not their names and addresses. Genuine messages from police were sent on 24 or 25 November, directing victims to register at the Police Action Fraud website. Texts on any other day should be regarded as fraudulent.
A femicide census of men’s fatal violence against women during 2019 and 2020 found that, overall, men are killing one woman every three days in the UK. Between 8% and 12% of these killings were by strangers; all other femicide was by men who were current or former partners. These killings by a person known to the woman revealed appalling police failings. The organisation Counting Dead Women reported that the number of women killed by a male in 2021 is higher than the numbers in 2019 and 2020. They say this may increase when they receive responses to their FOI requests to the police. It remains unknown what is behind the increase, but the organisation will be paying close attention to intimate partner femicides and the role of separation. Despite acres of news coverage, politicians' statements, and tweaks to the laws, the femicide figures remain unchanged.
Bishop Paul Mason, the lead bishop for safeguarding in the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has defended the seal of the confessional even when a priest may hear disclosures of abuse. He said this after the biannual plenary meeting of bishops where a report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) recommended that failure to report a disclosure of child sexual abuse should be a criminal offence, including disclosures made in the confessional. Bishop Mason said that it’s an extremely sensitive and difficult area, and IICSA noted that they didn’t come across priests who have described having had a paedophile in the Confessional. Bishop Paul said if we do have contact with these people, we have an opportunity to turn their lives around and report themselves to the authorities.
From Passion for the Nation: ‘“Lift up your eyes and look at the fields; they are already white for harvest” (John 4:35). We thank You, Father God, for every promise given to us for revival and awakening, and for those who have already come to know You. We thank You, Lord, for anointing us to preach good tidings to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and open the prison to those who are bound (Isaiah 61:1). We pray for a new season of evangelism, and for your people to see what You see. Raise up those who will speak to individuals and the crowds, and strategic evangelistic programmes. In this Christmas season, we pray God’s word will be spoken with boldness and clarity, sensitivity and wisdom, and the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be heard. We speak the revelation of Jesus into the lives of individuals, families, communities and cultures.’
After a coroner ruled the death of toddler Awaab Ishak was caused by exposure to mould at his home, housing secretary Michael Gove said that tens of thousands of homes are ‘not in the state they should be in’. The government has now stripped the housing association involved, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), of £1m in expected funding. Mr Gove said, ‘We are not giving money to organisations that are operating incompetently.’ Two-year-old Awaab died from a respiratory condition caused by the social housing he was living in. His family repeatedly raised concerns about mould with RBH, but no action was taken. Mr Gove said the Government ‘should have moved faster’ to improve things for social housing tenants in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire. Legislation in 2023 would give additional powers to housing authorities and ensure the voices of tenants were ‘heard more clearly’.
Scotland's first national school strike since the 1980s has taken place, with a one-day walkout over pay by teaching staff at primary and secondary schools, and also at many council nurseries. A revised pay offer was rejected. Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said that the employers’ offer was fair, with rises up to 6.85% for the lowest-paid. Finding the money to give unions a 10% pay rise would mean some very hard choices for councils and the Scottish government. Teachers said they are asking for 10% to keep salaries in line with inflation - currently 11%. They are feeling the squeeze from this cost-of-living crisis. They think that they are working way beyond their 35-hour week, and the long holiday comes nowhere near making up for the amount of working hours put into the job. Many work during the holidays preparing for the next term. They find their job stressful, and feel the pay isn't fit for purpose.
After a wild few months in the UK economy, the Government wants to raise more money to cover a big black hole in its accounts. Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, has said everyone must pay more tax. Meanwhile, a group of economists have questioned whether the ‘black hole’ in public finances must be filled with austerity and tax rises. They said that the £50bn hole entirely disappears if debts are calculated differently. When Rishi Sunak was chancellor two years ago, he used a different accountancy rule to arrive at a government debt figure. Changing it back to what it was before the 2021 Autumn Statement completely removes the black hole, according to the economists' analysis, and will put government debt back on a sustainable footing. Pray for Jeremy Hunt and all members of the treasury to be wise regardless of the accountancy rules they choose to follow.
The Chancellor announced targeted payments to help with the cost of living. The national wage will jump from £9.50 to £10.42 an hour from April; help for energy bills will be extended, but less generous. There will be cost of living support for pensioners, the disabled, and those on low incomes. Means-tested benefits, including Universal Credit, and pensions will rise in line with inflation. Social sector rent rises will be capped at 7% in the next financial year. However, the cap on social care costs due next October will be delayed by two years. A ‘temporary’ 45% tax on companies generating electricity will be applied from January, and windfall taxes on oil and gas company’s profits will increase from 25% to 35% and extend until 2028. The NHS budget will increase in each of the next two years by an extra £3.3bn, and schools will receive £2.3bn extra in 2023 and 2024.
Birmingham City Council issued a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to deter people from gathering outside an abortion clinic with placards and pictures to protect patients from being harassed and intimidated when entering. 40 Days for Life Birmingham are concerned as the order makes it illegal to pray outside the clinic. They are taking the council to court, saying, ‘Through this action, we are not asking anyone to agree with what we believe; others have the right to disagree. We ask for justice, despite our different beliefs. It is disproportionate and unnecessary to ban prayer connected to abortion in an area near a Catholic church and to ban the words “baby” or “mum” in text or imagery.’ The PSPO comes after the Government voted for nationwide ‘buffer zones’ outside abortion clinics. Anyone breaching them faces up to six months in jail for a first offence and up to two years for several offences.