Britain faces food poverty ‘national crisis’ because of Government welfare reforms, bishops warn
According to group of 27 Anglican church leaders, ‘punitive’ cutbacks leave too many people choosing between food and heating
Failures in the benefits system and a “punitive” set of Government cutbacks to welfare have left Britain with a food poverty “national crisis”, according to a group of church leaders.
In an open letter condemning David Cameron’s benefit reforms, 27 Anglican bishops said ministers had a moral duty to do more to protect those having to choose between “heating or eating”.
The bishops, who included those of Oxford, Gloucester, Newcastle and Manchester, pointed to figures showing that 5,500 people were admitted to hospital for malnutrition in the UK last year, while records show half a million were forced to visit food banks.
In the letter, marking the beginning of Lent on 5 March and published in the Daily Mirror, the bishops said the figures were unacceptable for “the world’s seventh largest economy”.
They wrote: “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 food banks have been put in that situation by cutbacks to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.”
They added: “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.”
Responding to the bishops' calls, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said: “This letter should be a wake-up call to David Cameron.
“His Government's policies are making life harder for families with a cost-of-living crisis making workers £1,600 worse off and the bedroom tax forcing hundreds of thousands to food bank.
“This Tory-led Government's welfare reforms have penalised, rather than helped, those doing the right thing.”
The letter was signed by 27 of the Church of England’s 59 bishops, alongside 16 other faith leaders including the Quakers and Methodists.
It comes as part of the End Hunger Fast campaign, also supported by the Trussell Trust, which calls for a national day of fasting “ in sympathy with the half a million hungry Britons”.
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Harrison Ford plane crash: Actor will make full recovery thanks to 'beautifully executed' landing
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Oxford whistleblower's attempt to protect young victim of a sadistic gang went unheeded
How Homer Simpson discovered the Higgs boson over a decade before scientists
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A long-established, technology rich ...
£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This growing digital marketing ...