Benefit cuts to change behaviour are unpopular, ineffective and immoral, say Churches

  • Majority of UK adults believe benefits should be high enough tocover families' basic costs
  • Video: Why "enough"matters
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Major UK Churches are warning that the Government'sWelfare Reform and Work Bill marks a dangerous shift away from acore principle of the Welfare State and will make poor people evenpoorer.

A YouGov survey commissioned by the Churcheshas also revealed that 61% of UK adults believe that welfarebenefits should be set at a level that allows families withchildren to cover their basic costs. In contrast, only25% of thosepolled said they thought that benefits should be set deliberatelylow to encourage families to find work or get morework.

The Churches'  report reveals thatthe Benefit Cap, which reduces families' benefits by an average ofover £3,500 per year, has only resulted in 4.7% of familiesfinding work. However, 46% of families affected by the Capexperienced increasing problems with rent arrears. This is despitethe Government's claims that reducing the amount of benefits peopleare entitled to is an effective way of moving people into work. 

"No child should be left without enough in order tomotivate their parents," said Paul Morrison, Public Issues PolicyAdviser for the Methodist Church and author of the report. "Ifchildren live in a family which doesn't have enough money they aremore likely to die young, do worse at school, and experience worsehealth. Many of these families are already in work and working veryhard. Any policy that claims that taking £1,000 from a family willenhance the life-chances of its children, as the Bill does, is notonly supremely questionable but morally flawed."

The report, entitled "Enough: Our responsibility tomeet families' needs", has been published by the Baptist Union,Church Action on Poverty, the Church of Scotland, the MethodistChurch, Quakers in Britain, the Scottish Episcopal Church and theUnited Reformed Church, who together represent more than 840,000people in Britain.

It highlights how the Bill threatens to undermine afounding principle of the welfare state: namely, that the amountfamilies receive in benefits should be sufficient to meet theirbasic needs. The Churches say the Bill will break the link betweenwhat people need and the amount of support they can receive.Families with children will be hardest hit by this change.

"Fairness to the taxpayer should not beachieved at the expense of unfairness to children," MrMorrison continued. "As Christians we believe all people are madein God's image. We do not believe that we should ever deliberatelydeprive a person, a family, a child of enough to thrive or tofulfill their God-given potential. We are asking that the welfarestate holds to its founding principles, and seeks to provide enoughso that every child can have the best chance in life."

People will soon be able to find out how different groups willbe affected by the Welfare Reform and Work Bill online here. TheChurches are asking people to pray, to read and share the reportand writeto their MPs.


  1. Paul Morrison is available for interview - contact TobyFairclough  via email or on 0207 467 5208.
  2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGovPlc. Total sample size was 1,595 adults. Fieldwork was undertakenbetween 21st - 23rd October 2015. The survey was carried outonline. The figures have been weighted and are representative ofall GB adults (aged 18+).