Bishops warn of 'unjust' reforms

 

Eighteen Church of England bishops have criticised the Government's welfare reforms.

In a letter to The Observer, they wrote that they felt "compelled to speak for children" in response to a planned £500-a-week benefits cap for families as part of the Welfare Reform Bill.

The bishops are concerned that the policy will leave children facing "severe poverty and potentially homelessness".

They are supporting a series of amendments to the Bill - set to be debated in the House of Lords tomorrow - which have been tabled by the Bishop of Leeds and Ripon, John Packer and drawn up with the help of the Children's Society.

According to The Observer their message has been backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York.

Bishop Packer told the newspaper: "I think it is the care for children which is particularly important to me in this whole debate about welfare and about the way in which people are treated in our society."

The Children's Society has warned that a cap on the total benefits households can claim could make more than 80,000 children homeless and push many thousands more into poverty.

It has proposed that the bill should be altered to remove child benefit from household income for the purposes of calculating the level of the cap.

The charity also put forward the option of removing certain vulnerable groups from the cap, and providing a grace period for newly unemployed families.

The bishops wrote: "The Church of England has a commitment and moral obligation to speak up for those who have no voice.

"As such, we feel compelled to speak for children who might be faced with severe poverty and potentially homelessness, as a result of the choices or circumstances of their parents. Such an impact is profoundly unjust."

The letter was signed by the bishops of Bath and Wells, Blackburn, Bristol, Chichester, Derby, Exeter, Gloucester, Guildford, Leicester, Lichfield, London, Manchester, Norwich, Oxford, Ripon and Leeds, St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "It simply isn't fair that households on out-of-work benefits can receive a greater income from the state than the average working household gets in wages.

"This is why we have proposed a benefit cap of around £500 per week for couple and single parent households - that's the equivalent of a salary of £35,000 a year before tax.

"Many working-age families with adults in work cannot afford to live in central London, for example, and it is not right for the taxpayer to subsidise households on out-of-work benefits who do."

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said: "We support the principle of a benefit cap, because a life on benefits should not be seen as an option for those who can work.

"But we've been saying for months that the method the Tory-led Government is proposing for introducing a benefits cap is so badly thought through that it risks putting up the benefits bill by putting up the costs of homelessness - with a massive impact on our country's children.

"When a change like this could end up costing more than it saves, it's time to go back to the drawing board."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Senior Sales Broker - OTE £100,000

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportuni...

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor