03 December 2012
Northern Church Leaders Warn Government Over Damaging Cuts
Senior Church leaders across the North of England have warned
the Government that spending cuts and welfare reforms are
undermining the principles of mutual care that are fundamental to a
Their open letter released today, ahead of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, reminds the Prime Minister that the Welfare State was founded on a belief that all people are of equal value. This counters a contemporary political rhetoric which identifies the unemployed as "feckless", or less valuable by virtue of being economically inactive. "For us," they write, "the common good relies on the recognition of the equal worth of all persons and an active aspiration for interdependence."
From Bradford, Wakefield, Sheffield and Leeds across to York, Hull, Grimsby and Lincoln and up to Middlesbrough and Newcastle, the message is the same. Church leaders offer their full support for a Welfare State that exists as a safety net for the poor and as a mechanism for remedying the negative consequences of market capitalism. They go on to affirm: that those with jobs should pay their taxes responsibly; that those without employment should seek work as a civic obligation; and that the Government must pursue full-employment as a policy goal for the Welfare State to function properly.
The list of signatories is headed by Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford, and also includes Rt Revd John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, who speaks for the Church of England on welfare reform in the House of Lords. They conclude by urging the Prime Minister "to achieve a better balance in the UK economy between the South and the North," to enable people in northern communities to deploy and benefit from their skills, thereby enhancing the productivity of the country as a whole.
The open letter is built around the Churches Regional Commission's recent policy paper, Am I My Brother's Keeper? A Christian Overview of Welfare Reform and Cuts in Public Spending - available for download from the CRC website: www. crc-online.org.uk.
- The Churches Regional Commission for Yorkshire and the Humber is a representative ecumenical body for the region's 4500 churches. It exists to challenge economic, social and educational disadvantage and to promote the wellbeing of people in the region. It does this through policy briefings, by equipping churches for social action and by delivering ground-level, faith projects. CRC's work is guided by 15 Commissioners, appointed for their significant expertise in social inclusion, rural issues and interfaith work. CRC is supported by Senior Church Leaders in Yorkshire and the Humber.