Religious leaders denounce British government’s welfare cuts

27 Bishops of the Church of England along with leaders of the Methodist, Reformed and Quaker churches have published an open letter in the Daily Mirror addressed to Prime Minister David Cameron denouncing the government’s welfare policy.

Feb 19, 2014

Sir,

Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry. Half a million people have visited food banks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.

One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children , and ever more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards. 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 who’s wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.

Yet beyond even this 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 cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.

On March 5th Lent will begin. The Christian tradition has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God. On March 5th we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain. We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us.

There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support food banks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.

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.

Yours

Anglican Bishops

Stephen Platten, Wakefield

David Walker, Manchester

Tim Stevens, Leicester

Andy John, Bangor

Tony Porter, Sherwood

Paul Butler, Durham

Alan Wilson, Buckingham

Alan Smith, St Albans

Nick Holtam, Salisbury

Tim Thornton, Truro

John Pritchard, Oxford

Steven Croft, Sheffield

Jonathan Gledhill, Lichfield

Michael Perham, Gloucester

Alastair Redfern, Derby

Lee Rayfield, Swindon

James Langstaff, Rochester

Martin Warner, Chichester

Mike Hill, Bristol

Martin Wharton, Newcastle

Peter Maurice, Taunton

Gregory Cameron, St Asaph

Peter Burrows, Doncaster

Stephen Cottrell, Chelmsford

Martyn Snow, Tewkesbury

John Holbrook, Brixworth

David Urquhart, Birmingham

Methodist Chairs of District

Loraine Mellor, Nottingham and Derby

John Hellyer, South East

Jenny Impey , London

Michaela Young, London

Stuart Jordan, London

Bruce Thompson, Lincolnshire

Lionel Osborn, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Revd Richard Teal, Cumbria

Revd Jim Booth, Liverpool

Revd Vernon Marsh. Sheffield

United Reform Church

Paul Whittle, Eastern Synod

Simon Walkling, Synod of Wales

Richard Church, Northwest Synod

Quakers

Clare Wood, Assistant General Secretary for Quaker Peace and Social Justice

Helen Drewery, General Secretary for Quaker Peace and Social Justice

 

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