In Scotland, the wealthiest 10% of the population own almost 45% of the wealth whilst the least wealthy 50% own 9% of the wealth. This means that Scotland remains one of the most unequal countries in the world.
There is increasing recognition that this sort of inequality gap has a profoundly negative impact on societies and countries.
Over recent years the Church has supported and encouraged a wide range of initiatives designed to tackle social and economic activity, including the work WEvolution, support for credit unions, job clubs and the encouragement of employers, including the Church, to pay the Scottish Living Wage. It has also continued to advocate for Fair Trade and measures which address global as well as national inequality. Each of these represent efforts to imagine the economy differently - where the economy serves people rather than people serving the economy.
Local churches in communities such as Larkhall and Cranhill are providing valuable support to assist people into paid employment opportunities. In other communities, congregations are providing debt advice and access to affordable credit. The Church, through its support of WEvolution and the Poverty Truth Commission, is enabling new and progressive economic and social models for change.
There is not yet clarity on what a new economic paradigm might look like; but there is the recognition that one is needed. The Church locally, nationally and internationally, needs to experiment with new ways of working and learn from these experiences.
Good Money Week
Good Money Week is a campaign to ensure that everyone knows that they have green and ethical options when it comes to their finance and investment decisions.
Good Money Week brings together Advisers, Charities and Churches, Financial Organisations, Faith Groups, NGOS and Community Groups to spread the word about green and ethical investing.
For more information, visit the Good Money Week Website.
Christian Aid Big Shift Campaign
The Christian Aid Big Shift Campaign calls on the UK’s largest high street banks (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and RBS) to ensure that their lending is in line with global climate ambitions. This should involve setting ambitious and measurable targets to increase lending renewable energy projects, while decreasing loans to fossil fuel projects and companies.
Learn more about the Big Shift Campaign
Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility
ECCR works for economic justice, environmental stewardship, and corporate and investor responsibility. ECCR builds awareness of these issues in the Church, links responsible investment and mission and uses international church networks to hear and give voice to the experience of communities impacted by companies' behaviour. Find out more from Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility website.
Whilst there has been a great deal of public debate about the global and corporate consequences of the economic downturn caused by the credit crunch, its long-term effects will most keenly be felt not in headlines and soundbites but in the communities our parishes serve. The Church and Society Council has taken the view that whilst the Church needs to engage in that public debate, resources and support are also greatly needed in parishes and other local ministries, such as chaplaincies, as that is where the community of the faithful that is the Church is most authentically manifested.
Your Faith Your Finance is a website which helps people and churches explore their financial decisions in the light of their Christian faith.
A Right Relationship With Money
The Church of Scotland established a high-powered Commission on the Purposes of Economic Activity, chaired by Professor Charles Munn OBE, in 2010 to look into what had gone wrong with our economic system and to suggest how it might be improved.
It set as its principle task to establish how the Church could "best offer Scottish society a new vision of what might be achievable in the economic, social and community life of the nation" and reported to the General Assembly in May 2012.
The Church is actively engaged with the Credit Union movement, recognises the positive role it plays in Scottish Society and welcomes the growth and development of the Credit Union Sector and the affordable financial products credit unions offer communities and families.
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You can use the links below to find your local credit union:
Churches Mutual Credit Union (CMCU)
The Churches Mutual Credit Union (CMCU) is a collaboration between seven denominational churches in Great Britain.
- The Church of Scotland
- The Church of England
- The Scottish Episcopal Church
- The Methodist Church in Britain
- The Church in Wales
- The United Reform Church
- The Catholic Church in England and Wales and the Catholic Church in Scotland
Membership is initially to clergy and ministers, licensed lay ministers, elders and trustees and employees of churches and church charities, many of whom will be able to transact by payroll deduction.
The CMCU currently offers a Premier Investment Account, a Regular Savings Account, Corporate Savings Account (open to church councils, sessions and presbyteries) and a variety of loans personal loans and car loans. For more information visit the Churches Mutual Credit Union website
Christians Against Poverty
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a national debt counseling charity working through a network of centres based in local churches.
Carnegie UK Affordable Credit Project
The Carnegie UK Affordable Credit project is seeking to bring new solutions to this area with a focus on identifying alternative options to the commercial high cost credit market.
The Affordable Credit Action Group is chaired by the Very Reverend John Chalmers, former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
To read their reports, blogs and current news visit Carnegie UK Trust