Britain becoming Europe's "moral poor man": report

A Cambridge University report commissioned by the European Catholic Caritas agencies has warned that Britain could become Europe's "moral poor man" because of policies that ignore the needs of the poorly paid migrant workers who help keep the nation's inflation rate down.

"While the (British) Treasury seeks 180,000 migrants a year to hit its inflation targets, the UK was the only European Union government not to mention migrants in their national anti-poverty strategy recently submitted to the European Commission in Brussels," Francis Davis, a co-author of the report "Europe and Poverty - A Christian Response", told Ecumenical News International.

The report described this as "an appalling omission".

"If migrants, mainly from Eastern Europe, are at the heart of the British economy, surely the time has come to place their needs at the heart of a new welfare strategy," Davis, who is director of the Centre for Faith in Society at the Von Huegel Institute, said.

Davis said low wages of between 2 to 4 British pounds ($A5 to $A10) an hour paid to immigrants - many of them nurses attached to the National Health Service - is "a national scandal".

Each year, EU member states present strategies to deal with poverty to the European Commission.

In January, the Catholic welfare arms that make up Caritas Europa commissioned the Von Huegel Institute to interview researchers in each of the EU's 27 countries about anti-poverty strategies. Caritas Europa is the EU's largest grouping of faith-based social welfare agencies.

The flow of migrants from Eastern Europe who seek work in Britain has risen, with more than 20,000 a month registering for the first time in 2006 with the government. Local councils have expressed concern about the impact of such migration on public services, including medical and housing amenities.

"The social services of the Catholic Church are being stretched to the limit," said Davis.

Britain could become Europe's 'moral poor man', says report (Ecumenical News International, 15/3/07)
Europe's National Social Inclusion Strategies (Caritas Europe, 28/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Europa
Von Hugel Institute

15 Mar 2007

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