Bishops condemn benefits reforms

Twenty-seven Church of England bishops have signed a letter condemning the coalition government's benefits reforms, which they say have forced people into food and fuel poverty.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, published in the Daily Mirror to mark the beginning of Lent, the bishops  – along with 16 representatives of other Churches – said that too many people were having to choose between 'heat or eat' as a result of 'cut backs and failures in the benefit system'.

Key quotes

  • 'Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.'
  • 'We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must "heat or eat" each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30 per cent in just five years.'
  • 'We must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.'
  • 'There is an acute moral imperative to act... We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.'

Source: Letter to Daily Mirror, 19 February 2104
LinksLetter | BBC report | Daily Mail report | Telegraph report (1) | Telegraph report (2)

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Publication date: 
Feb 19 2014