Welfare cuts unjust, say four churches

A family The churches say poor people are misrepresented as being lazy

Four churches have joined forces to accuse the government of welfare payment cuts they say are unjust and target society's most vulnerable.

The Easter criticism has come from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, and the Church of Scotland.

They also want to see a change to "a false picture" of the poor as "lazy".

The government said society suffered when people were paid more to be unemployed than to work.

A series of changes to benefits are being made in April - including capping rises on working-age benefits at 1% - which will affect hundreds of thousands of households across the UK.

Ministers say they are necessary to tackle the rising cost to the taxpayer.

Rising costs

The Methodist Church's Paul Morrison explains why his church opposes the changes

But the churches accuse politicians and parts of the media of making the cuts easier to impose by misrepresenting poor people as lazy.

The Methodist Church's public policy adviser, Paul Morrison, said the British public had "come to believe things about the poorest in our society which are just straightforwardly not true.

"The public believes that the major cause of poverty is laziness, yet the majority of people in poverty work. How can that be the case?"

And the Reverend Jonathan Edwards, general secretary of the Baptist Union, said "The one interesting fact I find is that the majority, the rise in poverty over the last decade, has been more amongst those on low income than on those who are unemployed."

The government says it has always been clear that the system is failing people, not the other way around.

The Department for Work and Pensions said in a statement: "It's not fair that benefits claimants can receive higher incomes than families who are in work - in some cases more than double the average household income."

Labour estimates that families will be an average of £891 worse off in the new financial year starting this week because of tax rises and cuts to tax credits and benefits introduced since 2010.

The analysis is based on figures published by the Institute of Fiscal Studies think tank.

'Paying price'

Earlier this month, the Archbishop of Canterbury backed an open letter, signed by 43 of his bishops, criticising plans to limit rises in working-age benefits and some tax credits to 1% for three years.

He said the current system recognised rising costs of food, fuel and housing by giving benefit rises in line with inflation.

"These changes will mean it is children and families who will pay the price for high inflation, rather than the government," he said.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby The Archbishop of Canterbury said Mr Duncan Smith was "a principled expert on welfare"

In response, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told MPs he did not agree that "the way to get children out of poverty is to simply keep transferring more and more money to keep them out of work".

"The reality is what we're having to do is reform a system that became completely out of control under the last government, get people back in work, for being in work is how you get your children out of poverty."

He said the government was doing "the right thing" in bringing in the benefit caps because "people on low and average earnings will realise, at last, that those on benefits will not be able to be paid more in taxes than they themselves earn."

Archbishop Welby later wrote on his blog that he was questioning one aspect of the government's wide-ranging welfare changes, not condemning efforts to make work pay and improve people's livelihoods which he said were, in general, "incredibly brave".

He said Mr Duncan Smith had spent "hard years turning himself into a leading and principled expert on welfare, its effects and shortcomings".

"He is introducing one of the biggest and most thorough reforms of a system that most people admit is shot full of holes, wrong incentives, and incredible complexity."

'Radical redesign'

Other changes to benefits being made in April include:

Grant Shapps: "There's nothing as cruel as a welfare benefits system that traps people into that system"

  • The introduction of a new benefit, the personal independence payment (PIP), to be rolled out across the UK from 8 April to replace disability living allowance (DLA) for people of working age.
  • Less housing benefit from the beginning of April for UK families living in council or housing accommodation judged to be larger than they need. Only those of working age will see reduced payments.
  • A cap from 15 April, in England, Scotland and Wales, on the total amount of benefit working-age people (16-64) can receive

Meanwhile, the government is scaling back some of its plans to test the new Universal Credit, which will gradually - by 2017 - replace five work-based benefits with one benefit, affecting millions of claimants across the UK.

Ministers planned to allow people to make the new claims in four areas of north-west England from April.

But it has emerged that three of the pilots will not start until July.

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps told BBC News the existing system had been "rather a cruel one" because "it costs you more, sometimes, to go to work".

"You ought to be able to go out to work and know you're better off without having to spend an hour-and-a-half in front of a Jobcentre Plus computer trying to do calculations as to whether you'll lose this benefit or that benefit.

"That's what we'll get with Universal Credit and and it means that money that is there can be focused on people who most need it."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 637.


    Totally agree and an interesting fact is---

    "The son of a former Tory Housing Minister and Mrs Thatcher aide during the peak years of right-to-buy owns at least 40 ex-council property

    Other wealthy investors own scores of ex-council properties via offshore holding firms in tax havens in the Channel Islands, the GMB union has found."

  • rate this

    Comment number 636.

    My parents where piss pot poor. At a young age i was taught that if you didnt work you ended up with nothing. I have been working since i was 13, i have always had my own money. Our benefit system is too generous we now reward lazy scum born in this country( and even those not born or new to this contry) with flats/houses and a generous wage sponsored by the government. STOP BENEFITS! FULL STOP!

  • rate this

    Comment number 635.

    There is now so much absolute garbage being written by SWP members on here now this blog should be shut down with immediate effect - they are not at all in touch with reality!

  • rate this

    Comment number 634.

    What will be really interesting over the next few years is to see how an increasingly impoverished middle class react politically. For the bulk (not all) of the middle classes, the Scandinavian high tax/high state spending model is actually to their advantage, especially when they can use their sharp elbows to maximise their own benefit.

    Or they may turn very rightward instead. Who knows?

  • rate this

    Comment number 633.

    As a young, soon to be unemployed person, I was very excited to learn that I could earn twice the average household salary from benefits, and not even have to work!

    On further research, I have found that the method to do this is to find myself a wife and have over 10 children.

    Then, my family of 12 will be able to afford a luxurious 4 bedroom house, and have £4,000 a yr per person to live off!

  • rate this

    Comment number 632.

    ....is that the £26,000 is mostly made up of housing benefit, which often goes to a BTL landlord and pays the landlords mortgage...."

    Yes, just like the lions share of my EARNED wage goes to pay MY mortgage and housing costs.

    It's a tough old life. 26K a year earned is over 30K (tax and all that jazz) and the out of that a working person needs to pay a mortgage too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 631.

    The government are saying people on benefits are earning more than those working but that's not necessarily a reflection on the welfare system failing and I'd say is more to do with the minimum wage not being a working wage, coupled with a major lack of full time employment so many who are working are only part time on minimum wage. Perhaps raising min. wage and creating jobs would benefit more!

  • rate this

    Comment number 630.

    Most of that welfare bill ends up in the pockets of rich landlords.

    If wages weren't so low, people wouldn't need tax credits, which is effectively subsidising big companies that don't pay tax.

    Compared to the 'welfare' bill going to the banks, the amount the poor take is peanuts.

    The poor aren't the problem, it's the greedy rich and the corrupt politicians.

    'all in this together'

  • rate this

    Comment number 629.

    The real trouble we have in this country is that the Property Owning poor (i.e. all those working class people who have got themselves up to their eyeballs in debt with mortgages and loan repayments ) detest the idea that they have ended up "putting themselves" into a worse postion than someone who stayed with their Council or Housing Association as Tenants !....As simple as that !

  • rate this

    Comment number 628.

    Ask them how much it saves. Capping benefit about £245 million or one week cost for our forces in Afganistan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 627.

    Rob I take your point in principal but, "those that can work" - where are the jobs? It's easy to say lazy but, if there's no work, how do you get a job?
    Choosing to have any children, without there being any real chance of work or housing is irresponsible - and that should be made to change, by cutting benefits from now on for 2nd child onwards. Kids won't suffer, as they're not not born yet!

  • rate this

    Comment number 626.

    I am 41 years old worked all my life,my business is on its last legs,heavily in debt,i get no support,its tough cruel world,support yourself,do not rely on others,if you cant afford kids dont have any
    The governments (past and present) and bankers are the culprits,for the world recession,these people totally and utterly corrupt
    They should be locked up in prison

  • rate this

    Comment number 625.

    Everyone knows that churches are evil and right-wing and hate the poor. If they really cared about the poor, they would pay 90% tax on their massive earnings direct to Ed Miliband, instal bloodletting devices to drain their congregation during mass, and convert their pews into wheelchairs and firewood. For equalidee.

  • rate this

    Comment number 624.

    I'll tell you who have got lots of money...churches. Imagine what Jesus would think about the Archbishop and his £70,000 salary, whopping benefits, perks, pension and Lambeth Palace to roll around in. Maybe he should read the passage about the rich man in the temple again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 623.

    Cancel WORKFARE!
    The above allows employers to get FREE labour with NO cost to themselves but with the power to lose the slaves benefits if they do not comply with any unreasonable request. Min 30hrs a week (£2.50ph) paid by the taxpayer! If these companies have enough work to get free slaves then they have enough WORK to actually employ someone.
    Unfortunately GREED rules not compassion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 622.

    Unfortunately the mass media like The Hitler rag and The Sun have brainwashed the stupid into believing all the nations problems are the fault of the poor. The Daily Mail reading baboons are by far the biggest danger to this country's future - uneducated chimps who think they are enlightened fountains of wisdom.


  • rate this

    Comment number 621.

    Firstly, I did not accuse you of milking the system.
    My point was it can be done, it isn't fun but it can be done.
    I find the fact that you neglected to declare a very important part of your story in your first post interesting! Lost all credibility I'm afraid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 620.

    A lot of people seem to be quoting extreme cases reported in the conservtive backing newspapers (that's most of them). They are reported for a reason, so you will assume all people on benefits are like that.

    The companies and individuals hidding tax, and a government that won't cut down on the lost £70 billion doesn't get reported half as often.

  • rate this

    Comment number 619.

    the rich and middleclass borrowed so much money the system collapsed. now the rich and the middleclass blame the innocent for their own greed - the real poor the ones now being attacked couldn't have borrowed any money even if they had wanted too, they'd be refused - those with money knackerd the system - now they're trying to sacrifice the innocent to please their money gods - we must stop this

  • Comment number 618.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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