DWP’s response to Archbishop Vincent Nichols ‘seriously misleading’

• Welfare reform is set to be the driving force behindincreasing child poverty for the next decade

The response of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) toArchbishop Vincent Nichol's criticism of welfarereform has come under fire from Churches today.

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, Methodist Church and UnitedReformed Church say that the DWP's response to the Archbishop ismisleading and only shows a carefully selected 'airbrushed' pictureof UK welfare reform.

The DWP states that 3 million households will be better off becauseof Universal Credit, but it neglects to mention that its ownfigures also state that over the long term 2.8 million familieswill be worse off under the new system. Universal Credit is onlyone part of the welfare reform programme. Analysis by the Instituteof Fiscal Studies shows conclusively that, taken together, the raftof tax and benefit changes that make up welfare reform willincrease the levels of both child and working age poverty.

"The DWP's response to the Archbishop's criticism is seriouslymisleading and disappointing," said Paul Morrison, Public IssuesPolicy Adviser and author of The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths aboutpoverty. "The DWP states that Universal Credit will lifthundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. However, theother changes that are part of welfare reform are likely to pushthese children straight back down again. Indeed, welfare reform isthe driving force behind the predicted increases in both relativeand absolute poverty in families with children over the nextdecade.

"People are entitled to take different views on the merits ofwelfare reform, but they should be given a clear and fair pictureof the reality. The British public deserve better than the diet ofhalf-truths and skewed statistics they are currently beingfed."