Hoorah for the Jubilee

“Is that it?”

“What do you mean, is that it?”

“The Jubilee.  Is it finished?”

“Yes, we’ve had four days of it.”

“I was hoping for something more.  It was good to give thanks and the pageantry and parties were fun.  But I was hoping for a real jubilee.  A re-set, a period of reconciliation and restoration.  Of levelling up, if you like.”

“You mean a ‘Biblical jubilee’ with a blast on a ram’s horn trumpet.  The one that took place every 50 years.  Debts written off and slaves and prisoners freed?”

“Something like that.  I’d like Her Majesty’s Government to announce the immediate cancellation of all debt owed to it by the poorest in society.  Debt often incurred through mistakes made by branches of Her Majesty’s Government.“

“Such as?”

“Debt for things like council tax arrears, benefit advances and sanctions and tax credit overpayments – many of them very old.  These debts, along with other ‘priority debts’ such as rent and energy debts, can be deducted straight from benefits, or from already low wages, taking up to a quarter of a person’s weekly income.  And often for reasons that are not clear to the person in debt.

“Tell me more.”

“Christians Against Poverty tell us that two thirds of people with government-owed debts live below the poverty line, that nearly two million children live in households where debt repayments are being taken from Universal Credit for historic credit muddles, more recent benefit advances and other similar reasons.”

“I see.”

“If I’m managing but my neighbour is so stressed about debt they can’t leave the house, can I be happy?  As the Authorised Version of the Bible has it: ‘Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.’” (Matthew 6:9)

Chris Dawson

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