Church leaders voice fears over welfare cuts for needy

Leaders from two of Spalding’s main churches have backed a new report warning that changes to welfare benefits by the Government will hit the most vulnerable hardest.

The Rev Robert Sheard, of Spalding United Reformed Church, and Rev Anthony Walker, minister of Spalding Baptist Church, are both in support of the report jointly produced by four of Britain’s major churches.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty is a 32-page report by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland attacking the Government’s welfare cuts as unjust and based on misconceptions about the poor.

Benefit changes were introduced by the Government on April 1, including a £26,000 cap on the amount a household can claim, a new personal independence payment to replace disability living allowance and a so-called bedroom tax where people with spare bedrooms have their benefits cut.

An extract from the report said: “Collectively we have come to believe things about poverty in the UK which are not grounded in fact.

“We need to develop an understanding of the depth and breadth of UK poverty that is compatible with the evidence available.

“Just as importantly, we need to match the language of public debate with the reality of people’s lives.”

Commenting on the welfare cuts, Mr Walker said: “Realism and compassion need to go hand-in-hand with regard to the Government’s latest benefit changes.

“Realism insofar as we all recognise the necessity of bringing bills down and compassion in that some will genuinely be hit hard, without there being any Government estimates for those who may be affected by two or three of these cuts at once.”

Mr Sheard said: “These welfare changes will affect many of the most vulnerable in our society but the Government seems to be making out that all poor and unemployed people are lazy.”