David Cameron challenged to live on minimum wage and volunteer at food bank to understand impact of Tory welfare cuts

A letter urging the PM to 'understand the cost' of his policies has gone viral

David Cameron is facing calls to experience the “human cost” of his party’s looming welfare cuts by meeting disabled benefit claimants, volunteering at a food bank and living on the minimum wage.

He has been challenged in an open letter written by a vicar in Manchester, which has been shared more than 75,000 times since it was posted on Facebook on Saturday.

Rev Mike Walsh, from the United Reformed Church, wrote that although the Tories won a working majority in Parliament, the party does not “command a majority of the British people”.

“Although our political views are very much at odds on many issues, I'm willing to believe that you are a good man, as sure of your ideals as I am of mine, and believe your plan is what's best for us all,” he wrote.

“You said today that you will govern for the whole country and bring back together that which has clearly fractured. I hope you will.”

Rev Walsh wrote that the 63 per cent of voters who did not support the Conservatives were not all part of the “loony left”, nationalists or extremists, but merely “scared”.

He continued: “Scared of what your policies will do to our communities and families. Scared of what will happen to our health service and our schools.

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Iain Duncan Smith will oversee the welfare changes

“Scared of losing our family homes for the sake of a few quid saving from the bedroom tax, or not being able to heat our home and have enough left to buy food.”

Iain Duncan Smith, who implemented many of the Coalition’s most controversial policies, has been made Work and Pensions Secretary again for the latest round of cuts.

His first five years in the job were marked by deep issues with the roll-out of Universal Credit system and anger over changes to disability payments

Another £12 billion of reductions to the welfare budget are yet to come.

Rev Walsh wrote that although he agreed that work was the best way out of poverty and no one able to work should be supported indefinitely by the state, Tory policies did not take into account the “social and human cost” of cuts.

“The country isn't a business, it's its people. All its people,” he said. “And you are everyone's Prime Minister whether we voted for you or not.”

The vicar listed suggestions of how the Mr Cameron could understand the impact of his policies, including meeting people on zero hours contracts and those hit by the “bedroom tax”.

He challenged Mr Cameron to meet disabled welfare claimants in Liverpool and families living in poverty in Newcastle, volunteer at a food bank or try living on the minimum wage himself.

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Nearly a million people were helped by food banks in 2013-14

“Then, Prime Minister, you might begin to understand the cost of your policies from the other side, to see people as more than their net contribution to the economy, or as deliberate drains on the system,” he wrote.

“If you do that, then maybe you can heal some of the fractures in our society. Without this I just don't believe you can see just how crucial these issues are.”

Rev Walsh said he had been left “deeply moved, humbled, weeping and inspired” by the huge response to his letter, which was also sent directly to Downing Street.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister has not yet responded to The Independent’s request for  a comment.

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