UK Cardinal-designate Nichols leads welfare reform campaign

UK Cardinal designate Nichols

UK Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols has launched an attack against the British Prime Minister over welfare cuts and has been backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, reports The Tablet.

In an interview last weekend, Cardinal-designate Nichols said the basic safety net that was there to guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution had been 'torn apart,' often leaving people with nothing for days if they failed to fill a form in correctly.

'I am entirely with him,' Archbishop Welby told The Tablet during a press conference at Lambeth Palace yesterday. He added that the Church of England was well placed to judge the impact of welfare cuts because it connected with people on the ground through its priests and churches.

Yesterday morning the Daily Mirror published a letter from 27 Church of England bishops – almost half the total – as well as Methodist, United Reform Church and and Quaker leaders, denouncing the cuts and warning that they had created 'a national crisis.'

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, responded almost immediately, telling a food bank volunteer who called in to the London-based radio station LBC 97.3FM that the Cardinal-designate’s comments were 'an exaggeration.'

In addition, the Prime Minister David Cameron was accused of misquoting welfare statistics in an article he wrote for the Daily Telegraph yesterday refuting Cardinal-designate Nichols’ comments and claiming that the Government’s welfare reform was part of a 'moral mission' that would give 'new hope.'

But Paul Morrison, author of The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty, a 2013 report commissioned by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church, criticised the Prime Minister for misunderstanding welfare statistics.

Mr Morrison said that while the Prime Minister said almost a million and a half people spent the last decade out of work, all bar 1,000 of those were sick or carers. And of those people claiming 'unlimited amounts of housing benefit,' in 2010 only 0.01 per cent of households received more than £40,000 in housing benefit and more than half of housing benefit claims were for less than £4,000.

FULL STORY Archbishop of Canterbury backs Cardinal-designate Nichols in welfare reform row (The Tablet)

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