There is widespread ignorance or denial of the reality of poverty in the UK today. But although we are the world's sixth richest country, the Government's own figures show that 20% of us - 13 million people - still live in poverty. We are also one of the world's most unfair developed countries; the gap between rich and poor has been growing for over 40 years.
To be poor in a rich country is, all too often, to be powerless, stigmatised and excluded. People on low incomes are treated differently from their wealthier neighbours in all kinds of ways.
The video below, by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, gives a good overview of the nature of poverty in the UK today:
Church Action on Poverty was founded in 1982 as a Christian response to rising poverty and unemployment. Today, all of our activities aim to Close the Gap between rich and poor, and in particular to work for a fairer society in four key areas:
The lowest earners currently pay a higher rate of tax than the wealthiest - and rich people and companies often avoid paying much of the tax they owe. We campaign alongside partners like Christian Aid to ensure that rich people and companies pay their fair share, reducing the need for public spending cuts which hit the poorest hardest.
The highest-paid people in the UK continue to see annual increases in their income, while record numbers of people remain in poverty despite being in work. We campaign for a Living Wage, and call for fairer ratios between high and low pay.
The poorest people pay the most for essential goods and services like food, fuel and finance. This 'Poverty Premium' costs the average low-income family £1,300 every year. We campaign to make all companies charge Fair Prices, and we promote more affordable alternatives.
Poor people and communities lack a say in decisions which affect them, while wealthy unaccountable corporations have too much power. We empower people from deprived communities to make their voices heard.