Northern Church Leaders Warn Government Over Damaging Cuts

Senior Church leaders across the North of England have warnedthe Government that spending cuts and welfare reforms areundermining the principles of mutual care that are fundamental to agood society.

Their open letter released today, ahead of the Chancellor's AutumnStatement, reminds the Prime Minister that the Welfare State wasfounded on a belief that all people are of equal value. Thiscounters a contemporary political rhetoric which identifies theunemployed as "feckless", or less valuable by virtue of beingeconomically inactive. "For us," they write, "the common goodrelies on the recognition of the equal worth of all persons and anactive 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 supportfor a Welfare State that exists as a safety net for the poor and asa mechanism for remedying the negative consequences of marketcapitalism. They go on to affirm: that those with jobs should paytheir taxes responsibly; that those without employment should seekwork as a civic obligation; and that the Government must pursuefull-employment as a policy goal for the Welfare State to functionproperly.

The list of signatories is headed by Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishopof Bradford, and also includes Rt Revd John Packer, Bishop of Riponand Leeds, who speaks for the Church of England on welfare reformin the House of Lords. They conclude by urging the Prime Minister"to achieve a better balance in the UK economy between the Southand the North," to enable people in northern communities to deployand benefit from their skills, thereby enhancing the productivityof the country as a whole.

The open letter is built around the Churches Regional Commission'srecent policy paper, Am I My Brother's Keeper? A Christian Overviewof Welfare Reform and Cuts in Public Spending - available fordownload from the CRC website: www. crc-online.org.uk. 




  • The Churches Regional Commission for Yorkshire and the Humberis a representative ecumenical body for the region's 4500 churches.It exists to challenge economic, social and educationaldisadvantage and to promote the wellbeing of people in the region.It does this through policy briefings, by equipping churches forsocial action and by delivering ground-level, faith projects. CRC'swork is guided by 15 Commissioners, appointed for their significantexpertise in social inclusion, rural issues and interfaith work.CRC is supported by Senior Church Leaders in Yorkshire and theHumber.