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Forgive Us Our Debts

Forgive Us Our Debts

This report examines personal, corporate, and public debt in the UK within a moral framework. (2019)

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“Forgive us our debts”: lending and borrowing as if relationships matter is a partnership project between Theos and St Paul’s Institute

Over 16 million people in the UK have less than £100 in savings. Personal debt is now at 90% of GDP. Debt is clearly a serious economic issue – but it is also a profoundly moral one. How should we distribute the risks and responsibilities inherent in debt? How should we treat people with severe debt problems? Should there be limits on borrowing and rates of interest? 

This report draws on the wealth of Christian thought on the subject to highlight the moral and relational dimensions of debt and suggest practical ways to address some of its problematic aspects at the personal, corporate, and public levels in the UK today. 

The authors: 

Nathan Mladin is a Researcher at Theos. He holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from Queen’s University Belfast, and is the author of several Theos publications, including the chapter on Václav Havel in The Mighty and the Almighty: How Political Leaders do God. 

Barbara Ridpath spent most of her career in finance. Until recently, she was Director of St Paul’s Institute at St Paul’s Cathedral, which works on issues of ethics in finance. She is currently combining her industry knowledge with Christian ethics to re–think how finance can serve people, community, and the common good.

A summary of recommendations can be found here. 

To accompany the launch of this report, Theos commissioned YouGov to conduct polling intended to gauge public attitudes to debt. The full data tables can be found here.

This two minute animation captures the key themes of the project:

Image by Montri Thipsorn under a Shutterstock licence.

Nathan Mladin

Nathan Mladin

Nathan joined Theos in 2016. He holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from Queen’s University Belfast and is the author of several publications, including the Theos reports Data and Dignity: Why Privacy Matters in the Digital Age, Religious London: Faith in a Global City (with Paul Bickley), and ‘Forgive Us Our Debts’: lending and borrowing as if relationships matter (with Barbara Ridpath).

Watch, listen to or read more from Nathan Mladin

Britain, Debt, Economy, Ethics, Government


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