The 4 July general election: together we can tackle UK poverty

A ballot box
Kiri Adams

Social Policy Manager

With a general election on 4 July, how can we make sure poverty is on every party’s agenda? 

Yesterday at 5pm, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, called the next general election. On Thursday 4 July, people across the UK will head to their closest polling stations to cast their vote, choosing who they would like to represent them locally, and ultimately who will lead the UK. Keep reading this blog to find out how you can join in calling for an end to UK poverty. 

After months of wondering and even guessing when the election would be, this confirmation is both helpful for us — now we have a date to work towards — and sooner than most would have been expecting. I’m sure many public affairs teams had a sleepless night last night getting plans and strategies updated in order to be best prepared for the next few weeks.

What happens between now and the general election on 4 July?

We have now entered the official pre-election period. This is where political parties will outline what they would do if voted into power in July, in their official manifestos’. These manifestos are a set of commitments which can be used to hold parties to account during their time in office.

You might have seen, and joined in with, CAP’s calls for these manifestos to include policies that are aimed at tackling UK poverty. Unfortunately, so far, there’s been little to suggest there will be any mention of poverty in the main party’s papers. Official manifestos have not yet been published, but will likely be released in the coming days. CAP’s Policy and Public Affairs team will be taking time to read through these papers to see what, if anything, is said about poverty.

Putting poverty on the agenda

In the last four years we have been through a pandemic, a war in Europe, as well as experienced a huge rise in the cost of living. Since 2021, the UK has experienced a rise of costs that would be expected in a ten year period. The price of essentials has increased hugely, which has had a disproportionately negative impact on low income households who spend a larger percentage of their income on things like food and energy.

Households on the lowest incomes are struggling more than ever. In 2023, CAP saw a record number of clients trying to survive on a deficit budget (47%). This means almost one in two clients have more going out of their banks each month than they do coming in. We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of clients who have fallen behind with essentials, such as their rent, Council Tax or energy bills. This shows that, right now, incomes are just not enough for people to live on.

So amongst yesterday’s buzz of inflation being brought down to 2.3%, the reality for many low income households is that life is still tough, debt and poverty still has a tight grip and without a seismic change, it’s not going to get any better.

How can I join in?

As Christians, we believe God’s desire for us is not that we might merely survive — he wants us to thrive. As Christians, that’s the transformation we should chase after. A person having just enough’ to live on should never satisfy our hunger for justice. A family living in miserable social isolation, a parent unable to clothe or bathe their children, a couple separated by suicide as the pressure of poverty claimed another victim. All this is happening in our communities every day. Practical, individual support is not enough.

We must speak up and show our leaders that UK poverty must not be ignored any longer.

Over the next few days, more and more Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) will be announced. These are the people who are running for local elections across the UK. Each constituency will have candidates from the main parties, and might have independent candidates or candidates from smaller parties too. These PPCs will be working hard to earn your vote, perhaps by knocking on your door, attending hustings to debate, posting leaflets or other campaign activities.

Just like you, we know that poverty is a key issue that the next UK Government should be addressing. Since it looks unlikely that any of the UK’s major parties will be making any substantive manifesto commitments around poverty, we’re going to be shifting our engagement from the teams creating those manifestos, to your local candidates who will be asking for your vote.

Write to your local Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs)

Over the next few weeks, you will be able to take part in an action to write to the PPCs in your constituency to ask them about poverty. This will help you find out what different parties are planning to do to tackle UK poverty, as well as learn more about the candidates’ own motivation for ending poverty. 

There are many good ideas about how to address the challenges of UK poverty, but as of yet we’ve not seen the growing public will to end poverty translate into the political will to treat it as a top priority.

Within the campaign action that we will be inviting you to take part in, you’ll be able to ask questions about the national or local picture, or ask a question on behalf of people who have their own lived experience of debt and poverty. Here are some examples:

  1. What is your personal motivation for working to see an end to poverty in the UK?

  2. What involvement have you had in this constituency and with local communities’ efforts to support people experiencing poverty?

  3. Will you listen to people with lived experience of poverty, as they offer you their ideas as to how politicians could help?

Be the first to hear how you can write to your PPCs

Join CAP’s campaigning community and be the first to hear how you can write to your local candidates ahead of the general election.