Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Bishop of Bradford backs protest over benefit changes
9:00am Monday 11th March 2013 in News
The Bishop of Bradford is among 43 Bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, who have written an open letter condemning Government plans to change the benefits system, saying it will have a “deeply disproportionate” effect on children.
The letter, signed by the Right Reverend Nick Baines, has warned that 200,000 children will be pushed into poverty if plans to change the system go ahead in their current form.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, who is attempting to steer the reforms through Parliament, said the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill, which will cap benefit rises at one per cent a year until 2016, is needed to help get spending “back under control” and create a fairer deal for taxpayers. But in the letter the Bishops have called on the House of Lords to take for action to “protect children from the impact of this Bill” when the proposed legislation is debated this week.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, who will be enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on March 21, said the legislation would remove the protection given to families against the rising cost of living.
He said: “As a civilised society, we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need.
“When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever, not disappear or diminish.
“It is essential that we have a welfare system that responds to need and recognises the rising costs of food, fuel and housing.”
In response, a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “In difficult economic times we’ve protected the incomes of pensioners and disabled people, and most working age benefits will continue to increase one per cent.
“This was a tough decision but it’s one that will help keep the welfare bill sustainable in the longer term.
“By raising the personal allowance threshold, we've lifted two million people out of tax altogether, clearly benefiting people on a low income.”
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said Labour would go ahead with a benefits increase linked to inflation this year, which would be paid for by restricting pensions tax relief on high earners.
She said new mothers would lose £180 a year as a result of the one per cent cap.
Miss Cooper said: “I think it is pretty simple on Mother’s Day to say that the Government should help mums not millionaires.
“They are cutting taxes for millionaires and yet they are taking away money from mums at a time when they really want to be able to stay at home with their new-borns.”