Row over wel­fare

The Church of England - - NEWS -

A RE­PLY by the Depart­ment of Work and Pen­sions to the in­ter­view with Arch­bishop Vin­cent Ni­chols in the Daily Tele­graph in which the Arch­bishop ac­cused the Govern­ment of leav­ing people in ‘des­ti­tu­tion’ and branded wel­fare re­form as a ‘dis­grace’ has it­self pro­voked a vig­or­ous re­sponse from the Churches.

In a joint state­ment the Bap­tists, Methodists and United Re­formed Churches ac­cuse the DWP of giv­ing a care­fully selected ‘air­brushed’ pic­ture of wel­fare re­form.

The DWP says that 3 mil­lion will be bet­ter off be­cause of uni­ver­sal credit but the Churches point out it fails to ad­mit that its own cal­cu­la­tions show that 2.8 mil­lion will be worse off in the new sys­tem.

The three Churches ar­gue that anal­y­sis by the In­sti­tute of Fis­cal Stud­ies shows con­clu­sively that taken to­gether the changes will in­crease the lev­els of both child and work­ing age poverty.

Paul Mor­ri­son, Pub­lic Is­sues Pol­icy Ad­viser to the Methodist Church, de­scribes the DWP’s re­ply to the Arch­bishop as ‘dis­ap­point­ing and mis­lead­ing’.

“The DWP states that Uni­ver­sal Credit will lift hun­dreds of thou­sands of chil­dren out of poverty,” said Mor­ri­son. “How­ever, the other changes that are part of wel­fare re­form are likely to push these chil­dren straight back down again. In­deed wel­fare re­form is the driv­ing force be­hind the prac­ti­cal in­creases in both rel­a­tive and ab­so­lute poverty in fam­i­lies with chil­dren over the next decade.

“People are en­ti­tled to take dif­fer­ent views on the mer­its of wel­fare re­form, but they should give a clear and fair pic­ture of the re­al­ity. The Bri­tish pub­lic de­serve bet­ter than the diet of half-truths and skewed sta­tis­tics they are cur­rently be­ing fed.”

With Labour re­luc­tant to swim against pub­lic opin­ion that shows sup­port for wel­fare cuts, the Churches are emerg­ing as the main op­po­si­tion to the Govern­ment on this ques­tion.

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