Jubilee Debt Campaign is today relaunching as Debt Justice to continue its work to build power in the hands of people to end unjust debt and demand a fair economy. Debt Justice remains committed to and rooted in the biblical concept of Jubilee and everything it represents – debt cancellation, celebration, hope, restoration, redistribution and justice.
Debt Justice’s campaigns tackle the debt crises in lower income countries where governments are having to choose between paying debts and funding schools and hospitals, and the debt crisis affecting millions of people in the UK following the pandemic and the current rise in the cost of living.
Heidi Chow, Executive Director of Debt Justice, said:
“There has never been a more urgent time to fight for debt justice. The pandemic, climate emergency and surging food and fuel prices are plunging lower income countries into mountains of unpayable debt. Meanwhile millions of households in our communities are being forced into debt just to put food on the table and keep the lights on. Churches up and down the country responded powerfully in the 1990s to campaign for the cancellation of unjust debts and it’s time to see the church respond once again in solidarity and action.”
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said:
“The mounting cost of living crisis will undoubtedly drive more and more people into crippling levels of debt – in a world where debt is coming to seem more and more the normal state of affairs. Our campaign challenges the idea that debt is the natural solution to the effects of poverty and privation. On the contrary, it tightens the grip of privation, disables public services, and prevents people and societies from taking charge of their lives. We are pressing for a radical rethink of all the assumptions that lie behind this situation, in the hope of seeing that future of justice and human dignity which our faith sets before us as our task and calling.”
Jubilee Debt Campaign was founded in 1996 as Jubilee 2000 to campaign for debt cancellation for 52 countries to celebrate the millennium. It took inspiration from the biblical concept of a Jubilee, a periodic time when debts were cancelled. The campaign led to $130 billion of debt being cancelled for 36 countries, but no new mechanisms were created to prevent future debt crises. Debt Justice began campaigning on personal debt in the UK in 2018 in response to growing levels of indebtedness.
Economic shocks since the global financial crisis, including the Covid pandemic, have led to a new wave of debt crises in lower income countries. Debt Justice says that 54 countries around the world are now in debt crisis, with debt payments preventing governments from adequately funding basic needs such as healthcare and education. Debt Justice is campaigning for debt cancellation for countries in debt crisis, including Zambia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Ukraine, and measures to prevent such crises recurring.
In the UK, recent polling by Debt Justice found that 25 million people are now in debt or concerned about falling into debt, as incomes stagnate and living costs rise. The polling also revealed that another 3 million people fear they will be pushed into debt over the next six months. Debt Justice is calling for the government to urgently cancel large amounts of problem debt, widen access to insolvency solutions and implement measures to boost incomes.