28 October 2013

Church leaders criticise Lord Freud’s failure to apologise on government’s behalf

  • "Apologise for misrepresenting the poor," Churches urge government representative

Christian leaders, including the Right Revds Bishops Tim Stevens and Nick Baines, have criticised Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, for failing to apologise on behalf of the government for misrepresenting the poor.

Twelve senior representatives from Churches and Christian organisations in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have written to Lord Freud after he failed to affirm that steps would be taken in order to ensure that the poor would no longer be misrepresented by the government.

"We do not wish to live in a society where personal responsibility is demanded of the vulnerable but is not required of those who exercise power," their letter states. "All people are valued creations of God who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. An essential component of this is to be spoken of truthfully, including benefit claimants."

The Prime Minister David Cameron asked Lord Freud to reply on his behalf to a letter from ten Church denominations based in all four nations of the UK, as well as two major national ecumenical charities. 

The Church leaders' letter dated 6 June expressed concern over government ministers making demonstrably untrue statements stigmatising the most vulnerable in society. However, Lord Freud's reply "neither attempts to answer nor even mentions any of the points raised" in their letter. Church leaders criticised this neglect as "both surprising and disappointing".

April saw some of the most controversial and wide ranging changes to the benefit system in a generation. In March, the Baptist Union of Great Britain; the Church of Scotland; the Methodist Church in Britain and the United Reformed Church launched a report - The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty - confronting the most common myths told about people who are in poverty or in receipt of benefits as well as highlighting some of the most abused statistics.



Read the Churches' letter to the Prime Minister  here.
Read Lord Freud's response here
Read the Churches reply to Lord Freud here

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