Coffee House

Why church leaders are wrong to attack welfare cuts

31 March 2013

5:00 PM

31 March 2013

5:00 PM

Another day, another welfare row. The practical outworking of the Government’s most controversial idea – that people on welfare should actually be better off in work, continues to spark outrage. Today it is church leaders who line up to try to land punches on Iain Duncan Smith, making an attack on his decision that welfare payments (like the average salary) should not keep pace with inflation.

In leading the biggest package of welfare reform since the first foundation stone of social security was laid by William Beveridge, IDS  is familiar with the poverty lobby’s ongoing shock-and-awe strategy. Yet like so many who have gone before, today’s critics miss the bigger picture.

Undoubtedly there are serious problems with some of the Government’s approaches to reducing the working welfare budget: regional benefit caps would have been fairer; tacking under-occupancy in social housing should have been designed differently; the endless commitment to throwing bungs at rich pensioners and middle class couples is unjustifiable; and many of the imminent measures should have been applied to new claimants only to save some immediate pain.

It is easy to attack and find difficult cases today. Our economy is in a dreadful state and people are struggling to find enough work. But sorting the welfare mess out is something that cannot be delayed any longer. This isn’t about saving money, it’s about saving lives.


After decades of mis-management, millions of people of working age were on the scrapheap throughout the boom years. People were written off as unfit to work with little hope they might one day return. The number of households where no one had ever worked doubled under the previous Government. The working age welfare bill rose to more than £90 billion a year, Housing Benefit to £21 billion. Compare this to transport at £21 billion, public order and safely at £31 billion and defence at £40 billion.

Where was the righteous anger of the poverty lobby when our most vulnerable families were being lost to this quick sand? I’m afraid it was all too quiet from those who claim to care about the poor. It was as if they were wilfully blind to the way the unreformed welfare system was trapping people in poverty.

It is this dependency culture that IDS is trying to tackle. To see beyond the facile argument that compassion can be defined by the size of a welfare cheque. (And its just-as-facile converse: that restraint on welfare payments is automatically cruel and heartless.)

I will gladly organise for any of the church leaders speaking out today to come with the Centre for Social Justice, which I run, to communities beached on welfare. Neighbourhoods where people’s lives have become seemingly purposeless and their aspirations obliterated, often as a result of well-intentioned welfare policies. Communities where some of the two million children growing up in workless households are rapidly losing sight of a future. This is the real tragedy of Britain’s welfare system. It has robbed too many brilliant people of their potential and become a noose around the neck of the British economy. Beveridge has been betrayed. In too many cases his welfare state is now sponsoring the very ‘giant evil’ – idleness – that it was designed to eradicate.

In numerous villages, towns and cities Britain’s churches provide some of the most inspiring and life-changing support to those who need it most. And there is no more worthy a cause for our Christian leaders to adopt than the liberation of the poor. But perhaps one day, through the din of those who pursue a failed status quo on poverty, they will see that burgeoning welfare dependency isn’t the answer, it is part of the problem.

Christian Guy is Managing Director of the Centre for Social Justice.

COFFEE HOUSE UPDATE  It appears that the timing of this – Easter – may have been chosen by the BBC rather than the four church groups. The report that the BBC report refers to was published four weeks ago (pdf) but appears to have been reheated for a slow news day. The Guardian’s version of the story is more honest about the timing, admitting this halfway down.

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Show comments
  • Paul Robson

    “The Church do not cost their demands. ”

    Actually they do.

    One thing I’ve not heard mention in all this caterwauling from the Church is perhaps because most people don’t know it and the Church aren’t going to mention it. I only know it because my mother-in-law is a Priest who is due to retire and I did some research on her behalf.

    The Church themselves are withdrawing their own pensions and benefits as fast as they can – because they can’t afford it. For example, the pension age for a Vicar has been raised to 68 (this happened in 2011). Likewise the pension increases, and the maximum pension have been reduced.

    Not only, but also. There is a housing support scheme for retired Priests for those who do not own property. In 2011 this was changed and the eligibility time is increasing from 5 to 15 years going up every year.

    The reason ; they can’t afford to pay them out any more.

    Perhaps the Church should explain what its own pensions scheme is doing so badly if it expects the government to hand out money willy nilly.

  • allymax bruce

    It’s really all about the big fight between the last two great establishments; the government verses the Christian Church !
    It’s a fight for the hearts & minds of the people; the undeserving masses.
    If the government can use psychological warfare, propaganda, and the rule of law to wipe out the Christian Church establishment, then the government establishment will have total control over the people/masses, and will abuse us any way the government wants!
    The Christian Church however, is the only real honest, good, and true establishment; because, we don’t abhor our faith, but we do abhor our politicians !

  • David Lindsay

    Still a shame, literally a shame, about the Salvation Army and workfare. It should have been a signatory to this. It isn’t. For shame.

    Blairites and Heir-to-Blairites, do you still not get it? It’s you. You are the ones who are wrong. The Far Left, clearly unaware of the phrase “owing more to Methodism than to Marx”, is whingeing and whining that these complaints ought to be coming from the Labour front bench, and that argument has great merit. But the idea that they are not doing so because of 20 years of reduced influence, to say the very least, for the Communist Party and the Trotskyist groupuscules would be funny if it were not so sad. Who, of any importance, ever did listen to them?

    Whereas across the political spectrum, including in the Communist Party in its heyday, people of importance did used to listen to the Catholic Church, the Church of England and its sisters elsewhere in the United Kingdom, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union, and for that matter the Salvation Army. If you are no longer listening to them, then, with the exception, up to a point, of the last, they have not moved. You have. Forget “gone Marxist”, blah, blah, blah. It’s not them. It’s you. And it is in fact your way of thinking that is Marxian both in its intellectual origins
    and in its defining paradigm.

  • andagain

    the endless commitment to throwing bungs at rich pensioners and middle class couples is unjustifiable

    Tell that to the Mail and the Telegraph. Apparently welfare is only justifiable when the recipients are comfortably off.

  • Span Ows

    Bravo! And what an appropriate name! You really sound like a Christian guy.

  • believekingdavid

    For those expecting some real hope and change in the leadership of the Church of England under Justin Welby – Dream On! Today he made it quite clear that he is going to offer no hope whatsoever for a church on the rocks. He is going to pursue the same leftist social-activist causes of his predecessors rather than preach the riveting and eye opening gospel of Jesus Christ that would have people on the edge of their seats wanting to know more. But not our Justin. He is not up to it. What a shameful state of affairs.

    As a diligent bible scholar of 45+ years I encourage everyone, whether a Christian or simply someone who can see this world falling apart with no hope at all and the risk of some serious wars coming to open a Bible now and read for yourselves what really is written by God Almighty and Jesus Christ in the Bible rather than be totally led astray by smoke and mirrors in Canterbury and Rome! These two pillars of religious power and influence – Are NOT the church that Jesus Christ founded! Christ’s church was never a great powerful religious/political institution that mesmerizes millions with hocus pocus on a scale unimaginable! Neither teach the truth from God Almighty and Jesus Christ! They follow a host of Christianized pagan traditions, doctrines, dogma and beliefs that are contrary to the words of God Almighty and Jesus Christ in the Bible, such as the totally unscriptural belief of going to Heaven when one dies! Not so explains God Almighty! God and Jesus says anyone who dies remains quite dead on this earth not knowing a thing, as in a sleep – Until Jesus Christ returns to this earth in the lifetime of most people alive right now, at which point He will resurrect everyone whoever died back to life! This is the truth from God! Millions of Christians follow traditions of their church rather than the truth from God and Jesus – Whom they profess to “believe-in” but simply do not, I repeat do not, believe what they say! This is shocking but true! Jesus Christ warned; “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:5. Wake Up!

    The greatest event of all time is coming in our lifetime, the return of Jesus Christ to this earth – with hardly a Christian knowing why, when and how He will return! Shocking! Read all Matthew 24 and 25, Luke 21 and Revelation 21 and 22, Isaiah 65:17-21 to know the truth and have your socks knocked off!

    A terrible world war is coming the likes of which has never been witnessed in the history of the world! So bad that unless Jesus did not return and stop it – No One Would Be Left Alive On Earth, Jesus says!

    “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” Matthew 24:21-22

    God’s true church is pictured in Revelation 12 as a pure woman, led by Jesus Christ whose followers “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” They believe ALL what Jesus says! His testimony!

    Compare God’s true church above with a huge religious system “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” Revelation 17:6. A persecuting power of God’s people pictured as a fallen woman in Revelation 17 and 18. This fallen woman is “arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls.” 17:4 “And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” 17:9 “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” 17:18. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Revelation 18:4.

    Stop going to church, stay home, open a Bible and ask God to open your eyes to the truth – and He Will!

    • Daniel Maris

      Can you please hang your anorak up on the coat stand before beginning your rant.

      When Jesus returns I hope you ask him what took him as the New Testament was quite explicit his return would happen within the lifetime of his immediate followers.

  • victor67

    The welfare cuts are not just targeting the unemployed. They are blighting the lives of the disabled, the sick and the mentally ill. ATOS the agency tasked with assessing those fit to work are behaving like the Stasi. The churches are right to speak out against such immoral policies from a bunch of millionares much of whose wealth has been inherited.
    As Archbishop Romero famousely said.
    “If I feed the poor they call me a saint. If I ask why they are poor they call me a communist”

    • starfish

      “ATOS the agency tasked with assessing those fit to work are behaving like the Stasi”
      Ludicrous hyperbole
      Speaking of one of the few who currently contributes over 50% of my income to this government I think these reforms are well overdue
      Restrict help to those who need it rather than those who want it

      • victor67

        But the cuts are not just affecting the “undeserving poor”. You seem to be one of Liam Fox’s ” strivers” Lets hope you never have the misfortunate to develop a serious illness or have an accident where you and your family are at the mercy of like minded spirits.
        I work with some of the above mentioned people and here first hand of the bullying,harrassment and persecution they are now facing by ATOS.
        PS I would not depend on Pricey Critical Illness policies or Insurance schemes as the employ sharp Lawyers who look for loop holes in claims. Comforting thoughts don’t you think?

        • starfish

          So ATOS ‘act like the Stasi’ to ‘some’ – I suspect to many they do not
          They just try to establish need and sort out the chancers – I assume you have no argument against this as they are taking resources away from your people?

          • victor67

            No there not. Thjey are indiscriminately targeting the poor,sick and vulnerable with one goal to get as many off benefits as possible, no matter need or entitlement.
            If they were so effective why are 40% of there decisions overturned on appeal? Costing the tax payer a great deal.

    • dave hall

      You forgot the working poor as well, We have family’s that work that still need the help of food banks, As for blaming people on welfare for all the problems in the economy, It’s just classic right wing Propaganda with a hidden agenda, As for making work pay, well, if anyone thinks a few quid a week extra in work than out is some how worth it, Really, is it!

      The answer is to raise wages, not lower benefits.

  • Hookeslaw

    there is nothing moral about the poor being asked to pay ever more because the costs of benefits goes up. The Brown vision is just to borrow more. Brown was of course ever wearing his ‘son of the manse image’ on his sleeve.

    Bishops care little about an ability to pay.

    • Daniel Maris

      The way out of this mess is to create a work-based society and cut back on welfare dependency. Workfare and workshare are the way forward. We need to reorientate our policy to the real economy and focus on jobs, education and housing. Forget bankers and billionaires – they can look after themselves.

      • starfish

        So let’s allocate housing on the basis of need rather than custom and practice

  • Austin Barry

    “Our economy is in a dreadful state and people are struggling to find enough work.”

    So the Government’s answer? More immigration.

    • Hookeslaw

      Funny – I thought I read only the other day the govt taking more measures against immigration.
      The govt patently does not see the answer as more immigration.
      the whole point behind the measures being attacked by these churches is that the govt want to make work pay more than on benefits.

      • Daniel Maris

        The latest figures we have available indicate there were 500,000 immigrants in ONE year. If you think that’s controlling immigration, that’s for you to say.

    • Daniel Maris

      Quite, if you look at the figures for workless households, it’s pretty clear there is a huge hike in worklessness once the hyper-migration of the first decade of the 2000s takes hold.

    • dave hall

      Oh yer, it’s what all the political elite want, better still if they don’t read or speak any English and don’t know their rights, They can be bounced around in the work place as employers feel like, Manipulation and exploitation is the agenda, A great deal of this go’s on now, Many foreign workers are been paid less than the minimum wage and not just for cowboy Employers either.

  • perdix

    Where were the poverty lobby? They were/are being nicely paid to constantly complain about “unfairness”. Much easier to lobby than to actually go out and help people.

  • Grrr8

    Utterly bizarre article. You make a causal link between the receipt of welfare and “dependency” leading to an unwillingness/ inability to work. This link is presented without a shred of empirical proof. This is economics Fraser Nelson style (and that is not a compliment). Your solution is to remove the crutch, assuming that the dependency (if it exists) goes away. A good parallel would be to take away a cripple’s wheelchair and ask him to walk, as of course the wheelchair has made him complacent/ dependent.

    You maybe a bit more credible if:
    a) you disclosed that CSJ is IDS’ thinktank, ergo you are more his mouthpiece than an independent interlocutor
    b) you were arguing for the money saved from reducing benefits to be invested in “getting back to work” programs: training, child care, grants for clothes/ vehicles/ bus passes etc.

    • Daniel Maris

      Agreed. No criticism of welfare dependency is credible unless you put in place a guaranteed conveyor belt from school, college and unemployment to work.

      That will sort out the sheep and goats immediately.

      • Russell

        Only the USSR achieved ‘guaranteed’ employment (counting cars etc.)

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Forget it, he’s rolling.

    • Hookeslaw

      Labour MP Frank Field agrees with the link.

      Given the wide ranging lefty coalition against the welfare reforms we might expect the govt to get wider support and recognition for its efforts.
      The nutjobs though want to throw the baby out with the bath water.

    • David B

      I think it is well known about IDS link to CSJ. It’s why he got the job in government.

      The link between receipt of benefits and dependence is also called the poverty trap and is accepted by the left. It is well known that welfare reciepents can have effective tax rates of 90% if they start work. This trap needs broken and IDS is the only one with ideas.

      • Grrr8

        Just because something is “accepted” does not make it true. The marginal tax rate statement is correct but I don’t believe anyone has empirical data showing that a change in that marginal rate affects workforce participation. Most of the changes being implemented now will not affect marginal rates. The efficacy of Universal Credit (which is supposed to address this issue) remains to be seen.

        • David B

          There are a lot of “accepted” statements that have no emperical backing – the NHS is the envy of the world being a good example.

          The impact of reducing marginal tax rates on walfare was measured in USA here

          This showed that reducing marginal tax rates increase workforce participation.

          Googling – impact of marginal tax rates on workforce participation

          will provide a lot of other research proving that marginal rates impact on all sorts of workforce participation. But the left hate all of this as it destroys their line of attack on 50p tax rate.

  • Jebediah

    BBC attacking the government? Never. You’re implying the BBC is not impartial.
    As to the church… make more Christians, do your job, your faith is in crisis, stop lecturing politicians when your own management and maintenance is inept.

    • Andy

      Totally agree. The BBC is so impartial nair a Conservative voice is allowed to be heard.

      • telemachus

        And yet it is run by a Tory ex-Chairman and promotes partisan Tory interviewers like Neil, Paris and Brandreth.

        • Span Ows

          LOL, truly pathetic

    • Hookeslaw

      I am happy for the church to look after my immortal soul – it needs it. Otherwise it should limit itself to rendering to Caesar only that which is Caesar’s.

      • Daniel Maris

        Well Caesar now runs a democracy and one should render him your opinion as well as your taxes.

        • Hookeslaw

          The Church do not cost their demands. The church are not a political party.
          The issue is not one of money it is one of responsibility.

  • petermorris

    It’s about saving lives????? How can taking money away from poor people who have to choose between heating and eating and now even a roof over their heads going to save lives? Moron!

  • Daniel Maris

    The bedroom tax is plain wrong. It will undermine family life. Many grandparents are the glue that holds a family together through various crises. It is important for them to have a spare room for grandchildren to sleep in.

    There is no reason why there shouldn’t be incentives to vacate e.g. a cash bonus or rent credit. A tax in all but name is not right.

    • HJ777

      There is no bedroom tax.

      It makes little sense to pay people housing benefit AND provide them with subsidised housing.

      • Daniel Maris

        Little sense? Are you trying to claim the housing itself is subsidised. Might have been true in the 50s and 60s. Not true now for council housing. The costs of building them were covered long time ago. Until very recently the costs of housing were covered by rents through ring-fencing. Now, it’s possible the rents are subsidising other parts of council services.

        • HJ777

          Of course it’s subsidised. Are you suggesting that council housing rents are at market levels?

      • Hookeslaw

        The issue is a simple one.
        If a family have housing benefits for 3 bedrooms when they have say 2 children, then as times go by and children leave home then the benefit they receive should only be for 1 or 2 bedrooms. You can take your choice about what that should be.
        But why should the taxpayer pay benefits which would not be applicable if the claim was a fresh one. Benefits which add to the problem of finding and providing suitable accommodation in the first place.

        The issue is one of the clearest cut ones that anyone could imagine. But benefits are a charity – no matter how worthy, they are dependent on the ability of the giver to pay. We have a massive deficit courtesy of a govt that oversaw a massive increase in benefits.

        • Daniel Maris

          This is the Tory Party’s problem. You are just about what passes for a thinking Tory here Hookeslaw and even you can’t see what a vote-losing dog’s mess of a policy it is.

          1. For many families the alternative has to be to move out of their area, there being no magical “1 or 2 bed” houses available. So people in London wanting to escape the tax will have to move to Birmingham.

          2. It will affect people most at the end of their working lives. This will be their reward for their working lives: to be kicked out of their own homes; to be denied the right to enjoy the simple joys of family life such as having the grandchildren over; and to see some welfare-dependent single mother with three children by three different fathers who has never worked coming to take over their family house or alternatively some unemployed asylum seeker granted leave to remain.

          Another Great Conservative Policy courtesy of Grant Shapps (strings pulled by Gideon Osborne).

          • Starfish

            1. Housing benefit is for housing not to permit continued living in a certain area

            2.Kicked out is highly emotive. It is not ‘their’ home – they have been given it, subsidised or free, by the state on the basis of NEED not preference, and their continued occupation prevents households with genuine NEED from occupying it

            Got it?

          • 2trueblue

            If you have worked all your life and your situation changes you rethink what you can afford and often people have to ‘downsize’. Not always what they wish to do, but a reality. Why should it not apply all round? It is life. Get a life. It is a common problem all round. It happens for those in the private rented sector, and those who own their own houses. Why should those who pay their way be the only ones ‘to have to cut their cloth….’. I don’t hear anyone championing their case.

        • HJ777

          I could not agree more.

      • Makroon

        How many bedrooms does Bob Crow have in his council gaff ?

        • HJ777

          He probably had two knocked into one in order to accommodate his stomach.

    • alexsandr

      doesnt apply to pensioners.

      • Hookeslaw

        Typical ignorance all round.

        • Daniel Maris

          Well you are clearly ignorant of the fact that the average grandparent
          is under 50. (Reported by the Telegraph in 2005).

          • Hookeslaw

            I’m not replying to huxley

      • tom w huxley

        On some of these estates there are, sadly, grandparents in their thirties.

      • Daniel Maris

        Since when have only pensioners been grandparents? Especially among manual labourers, grandparents can easily be in their 40s.

        Showing your inbuilt class bias there mate.

        • alexsandr

          i am still working and a grandparent.

    • Hookeslaw

      its not a tax – you undermine yourself with your own words.

  • HJ777

    “The number of households where no one had ever worked doubled under the previous Government.”

    Can this really be true? If so, it is deeply shocking. Can you provide a source for this claim please?

    • Fraser Nelson

      Policy Exchange

      • HJ777

        Fraser – A search for that claim on the Policy Exchange web site turned up no answers. In any case, Policy Exchange would not have been the original source of the data.

        I am not suggesting that it is untrue, but there is always a danger than unsubstantiated, and possibly wrong, claims become ‘urban truths’ if we don’t know where the data came from.

        • megamurph

          ONS Statistics are here:

          They show that in 1997 there were 184,000 households where no member had ever worked. By 2010 that figure was 351,000.

          • HJ777

            Thank you!

            • Daniel Maris

              He forgot to mention that a year later under the Tories and Lib Dems it had risen to over 360,000.

              • HJ777

                and by last year had fallen to 340,000.

                It takes a while to turn round a supertanker.

                • Daniel Maris

                  Well if you are playing that game, under Labour 11 out of 13 years they bettered that figure.

                  The Tories/Lib Dems hardly have anything to crow about so far. If they have achieved say a 30% decrease as oppose to something like a 3% reduction , after a 3% rise they might have something more to trumpet.

                • HJ777

                  There was an inexorable increase under Labour.

                  Your argument is like saying that Labour were more fiscally responsible because they ran a lower deficit during most of their term of office. The issue is not the current level but the direction of change.

              • megamurph

                Why would you assume I’m a he? Genuine question.

                • Daniel Maris

                  Sounds a bit masculine. 🙂 Most women don’t apply the adjective “mega” to themselves. Apologies.

                • Span Ows

                  Megan?…just saying

      • dave hall

        Is this the same people that Advise the Tories on policy’s like welfare, If so, It’s a Neocon right wing Think tank.

  • alexsandr

    mebbe they should melt down the gold chalices, and sell off some of the real estate they sit on and help the poor instead of bleating for us to pay.

  • In2minds

    Church leaders – This might be their big weekend but I for one will, as usual, ignore them.

  • Rhoda Klapp4

    The thing about Christians helping the poor is that Christians ought to DO IT, not merely lobby that everybody’s money be taken from them to help, well, God knows who, helpless and helping themselves alike. All the while absolving them of any Christian duty not to be a burden on the community. The church knows what to do. And it is not to lobby the rest of us.

    • Daniel Maris

      Come on, be fair – committed Christians do far more to help poor people than do the rest of the population (and that’s included some other religious groups I might add). They have earned the right to comment.

      • Russell

        Let’s have a close look at church leaders. How much did the church spend on parading a new pope amongst thousands of men dressed in expensive silly frocks and hats? How much did the CoE spend on the acclaiming of the new Archbishop surrounded by thousands of men dressed in expensive silly frocks and hats?
        Maybe they would be listened to if they suffered some cuts and gave the money to the really poor (not the people arriving at food banks in their cars to load up with free shopping).

        • Hookeslaw

          I don’t know about the Pope, but I doubt the Archbishop ceremony cots too much – the C of E gets its money by squeezing its parishes. This probably accounts for the Church’s opinion that money grows on trees.

          The recent outburst by the ex Archbishop was nasty and disgraceful.

          • starfish

            Church makes money from its extensive land and share portfolios
            How about sharing that around a bit?

          • David B

            They also practice a very effective tax avoidance strategy

        • WillyTheFish

          “… people arriving at food banks in their cars to load up with free shopping”

          I haven’t seen evidence of such people at the food-bank run by the churches in the city where I live. Applicants have to be referred by one of the social agencies, are restricted to three days worth of food and restricted to three visits. It is a very necessary emergency service, run and stocked by volunteers. It is designed not to be ‘a lifestyle choice’.

          Do you have any evidence for the abuse that you claim, or are you just dealing in small minded (frankly rather nasty) stereotypes?

          • Russell

            An obese couple were shown recently on Sky News waddling over to their car (a 4 year old Fiesta) outside a food bank in Liverpool loading up their bags of free shopping about two weeks ago.

            • LorraineDorset

              Lots of poor people are over weight as they can only afford unhealthy cheap processed food.

              • HJ777

                Processed food is more expensive, not cheaper.

                It is easy to eat cheaply and healthily if you avoid wasting your money on processed rubbish.

                • LorraineDorset

                  You obviously have not had to shop on a budget. Fresh fruit, veg and meat are much more expensive. Post on here healthy whole grain bread that is cheaper than processed white. Or the fresh ingredients for a family meal comparing to a genuine value range processed alternative from a supermarket.

                • HJ777

                  Pure nonsense. I know more about shopping on a budget than you ever will.

                  I’m just about to have lunch – soup I’ve made from onion, celery, red lentils and a tin of tomatoes. Total cost around 70p, serving four – and very filling.

                  The sliced 800g wholemeal loaf I bought yesterday from LIDL cost 50p.

                • 2trueblue

                  Spot on. That is just what is missing, people do not know how to put a meal together.

                • HJ777

                  I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised to hear someone claim that “lots of poor people are overweight as they can only afford cheap processed food”. It just shows not only that some people don’t know how to prepare good food from basic inexpensive ingredients, but that they don’t think it’s possible and that they really think that processed junk is cheaper.

                  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised given the ‘special offers’ for junk food I regularly get through my door – all of it twice the price (at least) of making a meal yourself.

              • Russell

                And obviously so poor they can only afford to run a car?

            • WillyTheFish

              One isolated allegation from Sky News that just happens to reinforce your unpleasant prejudices without any proof or any indication that there is systematic abuse.

              Food banks are a response to real need. Your crude, smug prejudices are an insult to both the people who run the food banks and those who are unfortunate enough to need their help.

      • 2trueblue

        Where were the leaders of the Church during the 13yrs when teenage pregnacies grew at an alarming rate and Liebores answer was to hand out flats to the young single mothers thus fanning the problem? Drink amongst the young was another great success by Liebore, 24hr drinking. We saw/see young people so drunk that one thanks God that no one we know are amongst those stoned, etc in the gutter as they pile out of night clubs, etc. I fail to remember the Church leaders doing their duty during that time condemning what was happening in our society.

        The Church needs to look at where it can intervene to prevent further generations from falling down the plug hole of poverty. Poverty is not just about money, it is about standards in all areas and taking responsibility for ourselves and looking after those in need around us. The BBC know nothing about responsibility, measured messages and thinking things through. We saw that when the truth about Saville unfolded.

        The Church has a role in society and it needs to engage with people and not just take a populist view, and take cheap shots at the current government. The attendance shows that they are not doing their job.

    • Edward Balls

      The Church has a spiritual and moral duty to require us all to behave ethically in all our actions.

      As such it is absolutely necessary for the Church to remind politicians and those who elected them of their duties to the poor and needy.

      Actions to redress the very clear inequalities in our broken society have a moral imperative.

      • Portendorfer

        At Easter I was heartened to hear this Christian message.
        If only Oil Man Welby had had the courage to say all this yesterday from the pulpit.

        • Russell

          Everything the oily man preaches can be clearly seen being read from a script.

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