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Home  >  News  >  General Assembly Makes Windfall Tax Call

News

General Assembly Makes Windfall Tax Call

Tuesday May 24 2022

The Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convener of the Faith Impact Forum


The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland this morning called on the UK government to levy a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to address the fuel poverty crisis in the UK, and to grant no further licenses for new fossil fuel exploration or extraction.

Both new sections were proposed by the Rev Mike Goss, who said: “We cannot drop the ball or lose sight of the urgent need to tackle climate change. We need to limit global heating to 1.5degC, and we are very close to the point where not doing anything more will be too late… we need then to prevent fossil fuel and exploration continuing to grow.

“But we also need to recognise our energy industries have been doing extremely well out of the current crisis, while fuel poverty is becoming a real crisis, particularly for the poorest in our society. The sheer scale of money flowing into these energy companies is far beyond what they anticipated this year. We need to redistribute these huge profits that have been made in the last few months.”

The Forum was also instructed to ‘work with Priority Areas and with partner organisations on advocacy and practical action to address the growing crisis of fuel poverty and energy insecurity’, although convener, the Rev Dr Susan Brown, said that they were already doing that.

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In her speech, Dr Brown said: “…where Jesus is, is in the hungry, the homeless, in the poor and the misunderstood. Jesus is in the unshed tears of fleeing women. He is in the furrowed brows of families deeply worried about rising costs of living. Jesus is in the hurt felt by those whom others reject. He is in the fear of those who live amid violence: whether in their home or on the streets. He is in the despair of those caught in the cycle of addiction. He is in the numbness of those who have lost hope and in the anger of those who are victims of laws and practices which harm instead of protect.”

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The Faith Impact Forum also introduced work on a Jewish-Christian glossary intended to aid understanding between the two faiths.

The Assembly was addressed by Rabbi David Mason (above), who is working with the Faith Impact Forum on the glossary. He praised the Church for its commitment to interfaith work, and said the glossary offered a way that the two communities can express passionate opinions without offending each other. “Harmony doesn’t mean we will agree, it means we will disagree well. There is no attempt to change the other, just to understand the other in a deeper way.”

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Earlier, the Assembly was shown a video introducing some of the work of the Faith Action Plan, which brings together the work of the Faith Impact and Faith Nurture Forums into one team.

The convener of the Assembly Trustees, the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, said the plan was ‘a way of joining the dots across all of the work that we as a church are trying to do. Something, that for years we have been singularly unsuccessful at achieving’.

Dave Kendall, the Church’s Chief Officer, said that the structure at the central church when he started in 2019 had ‘repetition, duplication, omissions, major silos and uncertainty about what really mattered’. He said that progress had been made, including a ‘significant reduction of the national spending and transforming towards having a flexible staff team in the Faith Action area working across all parts of the plan’.

He added: “Is the Faith Action Plan the answer to all our ills? Certainly not – for a start off it needs detailed, constrained work programmes to be agreed that will hit the major goals that are agreed by the General Assembly, Assembly Trustees and the Forums. This is where we move from the high level goals of the Faith Action Plan to the detailed proposals which deliver it through the Faith Action Programme being guided and facilitated by (the Rev Dr) Scott Shackleton (head of Faith Action Programme since May 2021) in the new single leadership role, where before there were several, that we introduced in 2021.

“Finally, what we have to do goes way beyond this. We are a £100 million pound plus a year charity that needs to have the right safety culture, values, behaviours, financial controls, accountability, governance processes and very important support services working only on the things that will help us at national, regional and particularly local levels. This is the journey we are on with a sharp focus on meeting our Presbytery and local congregational needs.”


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