TO continue the theme of John Milne’s recent letters (November 5 & 12) I ask: if democracy works, why does poverty exist? One has to ask that question, as since the UK is touted as “the mother of democracies”, surely after centuries of a caring, sharing society poverty would have been eradicated; yet it is on the increase. Surely the benefits of benevolent governance would increase the health and wellbeing of all its citizens, yet life expectancy is dropping.

Surely democracy would ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth, yet 75 per cent of Scots will die having never owned something as basic as their own home. Surely in a democracy hard-fought social improvements introduced to quash social unrest after two world wars such as the NHS and free education would be treasured and protected, but they are not. Surely a democracy would ensure that those who can work do so for decent wages such that food banks would be unnecessary nor benefit payments.

Surely a democracy wouldn’t need to be forced to concede that children need to be fed every day not just on schooldays. Surely a democracy wouldn’t stand by and watch what to the outsider looks like barely disguised corruption in the corridors of power. Why during a pandemic are the rich becoming richer, why are there at least 4,535 individuals in London each with a net worth greater than $30 million when poverty is on the increase?

But then again our much-vaunted centuries-old democracy only reluctantly allowed all men and women over the age of 21 to vote in 1928 and it was 1969 before the age was dropped to 18. Impending English parliamentary constituency boundary changes and the archaic voting system almost guarantee that Scotland will never have a Westminster government that reflects the wishes of the majority of its citizens.

So ask yourself: “Do we live in a fair country with a functioning system of governance”. The only possible answer is “No”.

David J Crawford, Glasgow G12.

JOHN Milne highlights the issue of poverty and its association with life expectancy. Poverty is a scourge on us all and very harrowing for those who live with it on a daily basis. It was an issue raised in the Scottish Parliament at First Minister's Questions today (November 12) by Bob Doris, who highlighted the introduction of the Child Payment.

This payment was described as the most "ambitious anti-poverty measure currently being undertaken in any part of the UK" and has seen 28,000 applications in the first 48 hour of applications being opened. It is estimated that more than 194,000 children in Scotland could be eligible for this £10 per week benefit, a tremendous help in this time of crisis for so many.

However, MSPs were made aware that this benefit could be eroded by the Westminster Government if the temporary £20 uplift to Universal Credit were ended (it is due to finish in April 2021). All devolved governments of the UK have raised this issue with the Department of Work and Pensions in an effort to have the uplift to Universal Credit. made permanent. The Child Payment’ is a clear demonstration of the Scottish Government's commitment to tackling child poverty with the limited welfare powers that are devolved to Scotland, which currently stands at only 14% of all welfare spend in Scotland.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

WE were surprised to see the letter from John Milne about the Church of Scotland and its commitment to looking after the poor. This is an issue very close to the heart of our people, who support some of the most vulnerable in a variety of different ways across the UK and wider world in Christ's name.

Recently the church backed Challenge Poverty Week and I released a video interview that highlighted two church-backed projects that support homeless people, which sadly includes people with addictions and mental health issues. Recently too, I joined other faith leaders in urging Scotland's two governments to make changes to social security to help people with no/low incomes. From running food banks and delivering meals to our international partnerships and our Priority Areas projects which work within deprived communities, the Church of Scotland is committed to amplifying the voices of people who battle poverty every day.

Climate justice is another issue that the Kirk feels passionately about and last month, the General Assembly instructed the Faith Impact Forum to work with others to develop a strategy for the church to transition both locally and nationally to net zero carbon emissions by 2030. These are just a few examples of the church's deep commitment to people living in poverty, but we could give many more.

Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Edinburgh.

* A LETTER from Robert M Brown (November 11) erroneously suggested that Sainsbury’s intends to cut 35,000 jobs. This should have been 3,500 jobs. The error was introduced at the editing stage, for which we apologise.

Read more: Letters: Shame on Kirk for silence on poverty