Archbishops Call For Vulnerable To Be Protected In Welfare Benefit Up-rating Bill
Saturday 9th March 2013The Archbishop of York has backed calls made by the Children’s Society for the Government to protect vulnerable people as the Welfare Benefit Up-rating Bill is debated in Parliament.
The Bill will mean that for each of the next three years, most financial support for families will increase by no more than 1%, regardless of how much prices rise.
This is a change that will have a deeply disproportionate impact on families with children, pushing 200,000 children into poverty. A third of all households will be affected by the Bill, but nearly nine out of ten families with children will be hit.
These are children and families from all walks of life. The Children’s Society calculates that a single parent with two children, working on an average wage as a nurse would lose £424 a year by 2015.
A couple with three children and one earner, on an average wage as a corporal in the British Army, would lose £552 a year by 2015.
However, the change will hit the poorest the hardest. About 60% of the savings from the uprating cap will come from the poorest third of households. Only 3% will come from the wealthiest third.
If prices rise faster than expected, children and families will no longer have any protection against this. This transfers the risk of high inflation rates from the Treasury to children and families.
Children and families are already being hit hard by cuts to support including to Tax Credits, maternity benefits, and help with housing costs.
The Children’s Society are calling on Members of the House of Lords to take action to protect children from the impact of this Bill.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said:
“As one of the Presidents of the Children’s Society, I support the work this fantastic organisation is doing to ensure that children and families in the UK get the support they need not only to survive but also to flourish.
“I hope that the Government will listen to the concerns being raised on the impact the changes to the Welfare Benefit Up-rating Bill could have on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society – our children.
“We need to ensure that children, the most vulnerable, are protected from these changes which currently would have a negative effect on 9 out of 10 families with children.
“I understand that 60% of savings from the up-rating cap would come from the poorest third of households – with only 3% from the wealthiest households. That cannot be right.
“In difficult times it is right as a nation, committed to justice and fairness, that we protect those that are most in need. You can judge how healthy a society is by how it treats the vulnerable. Even in tough economic times we have a duty and responsibility to care for those who are struggling. Short-term cuts to benefits and support structures will do nothing to strengthen and grow our communities in the long-term. We need to ask, will these cuts leads to the flourishing of those who currently benefit from such funding?”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, 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. The current benefits system does that, by ensuring that the support struggling families receive rises with inflation.
“The Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill will remove this protection from rising costs of living for working and non-working families alike; families who are already facing a daily battle to make ends meet. These changes will mean it is children and families who will pay the price for high inflation, rather than the government.
“The government estimates this measure alone will push 200,000 more children into poverty. Politicians have a clear choice. By protecting children from the effects of this bill, they can help fulfil their commitment to end child poverty.”
So far 43 Bishops have signed an open letter backing The Children’s Society campaign (the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are prevented from signing open letters or backing campaigns by convention).
+John Packer, Ripon and Leeds
+Tim Stevens, Leicester
+Paul Butler, Southwell and Nottingham
+Richard Frith, Hull
+Nick Baines, Bradford
+David Rossdale, Grimsby
+Alan Smith, St Albans
+David Walker, Dudley
+Michael Langrish, Exeter
+Humphrey Southern, Repton
+Graham James, Norwich
+Chris Edmondson, Bolton
+David Urquhart, Birmingham
+Jonathan Clark, Croydon
+Trevor Willmott, Dover
+ Adrian Newman, Stepney
+John Wraw, Bradwell
+James Newcome, Carlisle
+Peter Burrows, Doncaster
+Keith Sinclair, Birkenhead
+Clive Young, Dunwich
+Tim Thornton, Truro
+Steven Croft, Sheffield
+Jonathan Gledhill, Lichfield
+John Inge, Worcester
+Peter Price, Bath and Wells
+Stephen Conway, Ely
+Alistair Redfern, Derby
+James Langstaff, Rochester
+James Bell, Knaresborough
+Mike Hill, Bristol
+Christopher Chessun, Southwark
+ Nigel Stock, St Edmundsbury and Ipswich
+John Pritchard, Oxford
+Ian Brackley, Dorking
+Jonathan Frost, Southampton
+Stephen Platten, Wakefield
+David Thomson, Huntingdon
+John Holbrook, Brixworth
+Tim Dakin, Winchester
+Peter Hancock, Basingstoke
+Andrew Proud, Reading
+Anthony Priddis, Hereford