Calling on candidates to make poverty a priority

As Norfolk charity bosses, faith leaders and campaigners, we are calling on all Parliamentary candidates to make ending poverty a top priority if (re)elected on 4 July.

In a joint letter to all Parliamentary candidates across Norfolk, we are highlighting the hardship we see day to day, as people struggle to put food on the table, pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads. These issues are widespread and urgent.

We are urging all candidates to sign our pledge: “If I am elected, I pledge to use my voice as an MP to advocate for changes to our social security system to help end poverty and ensure all residents of Norfolk can thrive.”

Read the full letter below.

Dear Candidate, 

Tackling poverty in Norfolk 

As VCSE leaders, representatives of faith groups and campaigners, we are writing to urge you to make fighting poverty in Norfolk your top priority, if (re)elected on 4 July. 

Everyone in Norfolk should be able to put healthy food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, but for more and more families this is becoming impossible. Every day, we see and support families where parents are skipping meals, children have no beds to sleep in, and where freezing houses build up damp and mould, as people are forced to choose between eating and heating. 

These conditions have long-term impacts and hold people back from securing stable employment, putting down roots in their communities and building a better future for their children. 

These are not isolated incidents but widespread struggles:

  • According to the Citizens Advice ‘National Red Index’, across the UK, more than 5 million people, including 1.5 million children – live in households that are in a negative budget. This means the money coming in does not fully cover the cost of essentials, like food, energy bills, rent or mortgage, and Council Tax. This figure has jumped by more than 54% since the start of the pandemic.  
  • A household with a negative budget inevitably builds up debts, as bills cannot be paid. Norfolk Community Advice Network (NCAN) partners saw a 15% increase in requests for debt advice in 2023-24 compared to the year before.   
  • Norfolk Community Law Service saw a 70% rise in the number of people needing help to access welfare benefits in 2023/24 compared to a year before. It has seen a 71% rise in overall clients in just 4 years.  
  • Welfare benefits are paid at a level that is too low for many people to live on; almost two thirds of households using Trussell Trust foodbanks in Norfolk in 2023-24 were unable to work and were reliant on benefits.
  • Age UK Norwich reports that 91% of clients who turn to the charity for advice are seeking help with income, debt, housing or bills.

Our social security system should act as a safety net for all of us when we need it, but right now, it is not providing the protection it should. Benefits, pensions and the National Living Wage must be paid at rates that reflect the rising cost of living. Instead, long periods without adequate uprating have left Norfolk residents without enough money to pay for the essentials.  

As we approach this upcoming election, addressing poverty in Norfolk must become a top priority for ALL candidates. We invite you, as a prospective Member of Parliament, to commit your support for ending poverty in Norfolk by signing this pledge: “If I am elected, I pledge to use my voice as an MP to advocate for changes to our social security system to help end poverty and ensure all residents of Norfolk can thrive.” We urge you to make the fight against poverty your top priority, and would welcome more information from you about your plans to tackle this if elected. 

To sign the pledge or share detail on your plans, please email  

We look forward to hearing from you.    

Yours sincerely, 

Ben Scarlett, Director, Norfolk Community Advice Network

David Powles, Chief Executive, Norfolk Community Law Service   

Ann Donkin, Chief Executive (Interim), Age UK Norfolk

Dan Skipper, Chief Executive Officer, Age UK Norwich

Michael Newey, Chief Executive, Broadland Housing Group

Peter Rowley, CEO, Care for Carers 

Amy Griffiths, CEO, Citizens Advice Diss, Thetford & District (CADAT)

Rik Martin, CEO, Community Action Norfolk

Jo Howes, CEO, DIAL Great Yarmouth

Ian Bishop, Bishop of Thetford, Diocese of Norwich 

Tammy Giff, Project Manager, Downham Market Foodbank

Ben Reed, CEO, Equal Lives

Julie Chaplin, Project Lead, Hanseatic Union

Anna Heydon, Development Worker, Imagine Norfolk Together

Helen Gilbert, Strategic Project Manager, King’s Lynn Foodbank

Dan Mobbs, Chief Executive, MAP

Idunn Marthinsen, NAP Co-ordinator, Norfolk Advocacy Partnership

Sonja Chilvers, Chief Operating Officer, Norfolk and Waveney Mind

Julie Hunter Jennings, Foodbank Manager, North Norfolk Foodbank

The Very Revd Dr Andrew Braddock, Dean of Norwich, Norwich Cathedral

Sandra McAfee, Grants Manager (Individuals), Norwich Charitable Trusts

Mark Hitchcock, Chief Executive, Norfolk Citizens Advice

Hannah Worsley, Project Manager, Norwich Foodbank

James Francis, Chief Executive Officer, Saffron Housing Trust

Revd Matthew Price, Vicar and Bishops Adviser for Urban and Estates Ministry, St Mary Magdalene Church, Gorleston

Lesley Burdett, Strategic Lead, Shelter Norfolk

Béatrice Humarau, Executive Coordinator, The Bridge Plus+

Lucy Parish, CEO, The Feed

Joanna Stevenson, Area Manager for Norfolk & Suffolk, The Trussell Trust 

Anna Price, Trustee and Centre Manager, Yarmouth and Magdalen Foodbank

John Lee, CEO, YMCA Norfolk

Rebecca White, CEO, Your Own Place CIC