07 June 2013

Bishops and Church leaders call on Government ministers to apologise

* 11 Churches, 4 nations, 1 message

An alliance of Churches representing Christians from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland has written to the Prime Minister asking for an apology on behalf of the Government for misrepresenting the poor.   

Church leaders, including the Right Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, and the Right Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford, pointed out that in recent weeks senior members of the Government have given out misleading and inaccurate information about people on benefits. Outlining the inaccuracies, they asked for them to be corrected and for an apology to be offered to those who were misrepresented.

"We are concerned that these inaccuracies paint some of the most vulnerable in our society in an unfavourable light, stigmatising those who need the support of the benefits system," the letter states. "No political or financial imperative can be given to make this acceptable."

April saw some of the most controversial and wide ranging changes to the benefit system in a generation. In their letter, Church leaders, including the leaders of the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church, said that while they hold no common view on welfare reform, they all share the belief that that those in receipt of benefits are loved and valuable. 

"What unites us is the belief that the debate around these reforms should be based on truthful information," they write. "We ask you, as Prime Minister and as leader of the Conservative Party, to ensure that the record is put straight, and that statistics are no longer manipulated in a way which stigmatises the poorest in our society."  


  1. The full text of the letterto the Prime Minister is available here.
  2. Appendix oneto the letter to the Prime Minister is available here.
  3. Appendix twoto the letter to the Prime Minister is available here.
  4. A separate letter from a number of the signatories was published in the Daily Telegraph today.
  5. Read a blogpost by Paul Morrison, Policy Adviser to the Methodist Church, on the issues raised in the letter to the Prime Minister.
  6. The signatories to the letter to the Prime Minister are: 
  • The Revd Stephen Keyworth, The Baptist Union of Great Britain
  • The Right Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford
  • Niall Cooper, National Coordinator, Church Action on Poverty
  • Alison Gelder, Chief Executive of Housing Justice
  • The Revd R. Kenneth Lindsay, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland
  • The Right Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester
  • The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin, President of the Methodist Conference
  • The Revd Robert Hopcroft, Chairman of the Moravian Church in Great Britain and Ireland
  • Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
  • The Revd Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church and Society Council, the Church of Scotland
  • The Very Revd Ian D Barcroft, Convener, Church in Society Committee, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • The Revd Roberta Rominger, General Secretary of the United Reformed Church
  • The Revd Carol Wardman, Bishops' Adviser for Church and Society, the Church in Wales


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