Church of England Bishops Challenge Benefits Cuts

Anglican bishops letter: benefit cuts will have ‘deeply disproportionate effect’

The letter from 43 bishops to The Sunday Telegraph arguing benefits cuts will have a “deeply disproportionate” effect on children.

Justin Welby

Lead kindly, Light: Justin Welby will be enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury this month Photo: Geoff Pugh
10:00AM GMT 10 Mar 2013

SIR – Next week, members of the House of Lords will debate the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill.

The Bill will mean that for each of the next three years, most financial support for families will increase by no more than 1 per cent, 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 10 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 per cent of the savings from the uprating cap will come from the poorest third of households. Only 3 per cent 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, which is unacceptable.

Children and families are already being hit hard by cuts to support, including those to tax credits, maternity benefits, and help with housing costs. They cannot afford this further hardship penalty. We are calling on the House of Lords to take action to protect children from the impact of this Bill.

Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester

Rt Rev John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds

Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich

Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham

Rt Rev Richard Frith, Bishop of Hull

Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford

Rt Rev David Rossdale, Bishop of Grimsby

Rt Rev Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans

Rt Rev David Walker, Bishop of Dudley

Rt Rev Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter

Rt Rev Humphrey Southern, Bishop of Repton

Rt Rev Chris Edmondson, Bishop of Bolton

Rt Rev David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham

Rt Rev Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon

Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover

Rt Rev Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney

Rt Rev John Wraw, Bishop of Bradwell

Rt Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle

Rt Rev Peter Burrows, Bishop of Doncaster

Rt Rev Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead

Rt Rev Clive Young, Bishop of Dunwich

Rt Rev Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro

Rt Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield

Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield

Rt Rev John Inge, Bishop of Worcester

Rt Rev Peter Price, Bishop of Bath and Wells

Rt Rev Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely

Rt Rev Alistair Redfern, Bishop of Derby

Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester

Rt Rev James Bell, Bishop of Knaresborough

Rt Rev Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol

Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark

Rt Rev Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Rt Rev John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford

Rt Rev Ian Brackley, Bishop of Dorking

Rt Rev Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Southampton

Rt Rev Stephen Platten, Bishop of Wakefield

Rt Rev David Thomson, Bishop of Huntingdon

Rt Rev John Holbrook, Bishop of Brixworth

Rt Rev Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester

Rt Rev Peter Hancock, Bishop of Basingstoke

Rt Rev Andrew Proud, Bishop of Reading

Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, Bishop of Hereford


This report, from the English newspaper ‘The Telegraph’, signals a hopeful movement towards obtaining Justice for the Poor by the Bishops of the Church of England – under their newly-appointed Archbishop-Elect, ++Justin Welby and his colleague the Archbishop of York, ++Dr. John Sentamu.

Although, constitutionally, because of the Church-State relationship, the names of the two Archbishops’ do not appear on this Letter to the Government; they are both intent on showing their overt support for this pastoral initiative – in the face of probably increasing hardship for children and vulnerable young families – if the Government Measure to cap the benefits of such people is passed under the proposed conditions.

Here is the Church of England – against the advice of some of her critics – sticking her neck out on an issue of great importance to people on the margins of society. This speaks well of the future path of the Church, which is meant to care for such people  – sometimes against the ruling powers-that-be in government.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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