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?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back