Row over welfare
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.