Norwich Bishop calls for welfare reform review
The Bishop of Norwich has called on the government to re-think planned welfare reforms which he warned could leave families homeless by forcing them to choose between rent or food.
Bishop Graham James (pictured right) was one of 18 Church of England bishops who signed a letter to a national newspaper criticising the coalition’s Welfare Reform Bill which includes a planned £500-a-week benefits cap for families.
The bishops - also including the bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich the Rt Rev Nigel Stock, expressed concern that the policy would leave children facing “severe poverty and potentially homelessness” and has been supported by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Bishop Graham told the EDP he felt moved to sign the letter, in which the bishops said the church had a “moral obligation to speak up for those with no voice”, because of wider economic factors.
He said: “It’s because the unemployment figures this week demonstrate just how many people who want a job can’t find one. The benefit cap, of course, is being introduced to ensure there isn’t an incentive to remain on benefits rather than work but it’s the way it’s being introduced which can penalise children in large families. A large family could quickly have to choose between rent and food and become homeless and the cost to society would be much larger.”
The policy was defended by the Department for Work and Pensions. A spokesman said: “It simply isn’t fair that households on out-of-work benefits can receive a greater income from the state than the average working household gets in wages.
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