The UK Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill will make some of poorest families in Britain even poorer, a coalition of major Churches has warned.
A survey by YouGov, commissioned by the Churches for a new report, reveals that 61% of the general public believe benefits should be set at a high enough level to cover basic living costs.
Only 25% said benefits should be set deliberately low to ‘encourage’ people into work.
The report also reveals that the controversial Benefit Cap is not having the intended effect of encouraging people into work, with only 4.7% of people affected by the changes moving into employment.
Meanwhile, nearly half (46%) of affected households reported increased problems with rent arrears, despite the Government’s claims that slashing benefits would motivate people into finding a job or increasing their working hours.
Paul Morrison, Public Issues Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church and author of the report, said: “No child should be left without enough in order to motivate their parents.
“If children live in a family which doesn’t have enough money they are more likely to die young, do worse at school, and experience worse health.
Commenting on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill and the Government’s proposed cuts to tax credits, Mr Morrison said: “Many of these families are already in work and working very hard.
“Any policy that claims that taking £1,000 from a family will enhance the life-chances of its children, as the Bill does, is not only supremely questionable but morally flawed.”
The report, entitled “Enough: Our responsibility to meet families’ needs”, has been published by the Baptist Union, Church Action on Poverty, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, Quakers in Britain, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the United Reformed Church.
Between them, they represent more than 840,000 people across Britain.
The Churches say the Welfare Reform and Work Bill risks undermining the founding principles of the welfare state, breaking the link between what children need to survive and the amount of support their families are given.
Families with children will suffer the most from the proposed £4.4bn cut to tax credits, the churches say.
“Fairness to the taxpayer should not be achieved at the expense of unfairness to children,” Mr Morrison said.
“”As Christians we believe all people are made in God’s image. We do not believe that we should ever deliberately deprive a person, a family, a child of enough to thrive or to fulfill their God-given potential.
“We are asking that the welfare state holds to its founding principles, and seeks to provide enough so that every child can have the best chance in life.”
The Churches are asking people to raise the issue of welfare cuts with their MPs, urging them to protect children from the worst effects of the changes.