Reality not myths, Mr Osborne

•  Government warned against stigmatising people inpoverty
•  Austerity has made the poor poorer
•  Quantitative easing has made the wealthy richer

Three of Britain's largest Churches have urged Chancellor GeorgeOsborne to show respect for the poorest in his Autumn Statementtomorrow.

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, Methodist Church and UnitedReformed Church have expressed growing concern over the negativeportrayal of the poorest by the Government. The Chancellor inflated benefit fraud figures in the 2010 ComprehensiveSpending Review, and the Churches are concerned about the use oflanguage which increasingly appears to blame the poor forpoverty. 

"We need to guard against justifying welfare cuts by portrayingthose on benefits as being undeserving or worse," said PaulMorrison, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church. "In the run upto this statement Mr Osborne has spoken of families 'with theircurtains closed sleeping off a life on benefits,' implying welfarecuts primarily target an undeserving poor. This is a far cry fromreality."

The majority of welfare payments support elderly people. Of themoney spent on working age people, those receiving most support arein work and need top-up benefits, followed by the sick anddisabled. Despite the fact that unemployed people face a harshlabour market, Job Seeker's Allowance is less than 3% of thewelfare budget - much less than the £10 billion in cuts beingsought. This is the reality the Churches are urging the Chancellorto face up to.

"Welfare claimants deserve to be spoken of with respect," addedStephen Keyworth, Head of Faith and Unity for the Baptist Union ofGreat Britain. "It is unacceptable to remove money from peoplealready living on a knife edge and justify that by using misleadingstories and statistics. The least people deserve is an honestacknowledgement of the truth of their lives. As Christians webelieve that everyone is of equal worth."

The Churches argue that the Government's policy of austerity hashit the incomes of the poorest hardest while the other majoreconomic policy, quantitative easing, has increased the wealth ofthe richest in society.

"There is clear evidence that the Government's twin polices ofausterity and quantitative easing have made the poor poorer and therich richer[1]," said Marie Trubic, the United Reformed Church'sSpokesperson on Public Issues. "Poorer families with children havebeen the biggest losers by far. The Chancellor needs to publiclyacknowledge the real hardship that ordinary people are facingbecause of Government decisions."

1. Distributional Analysis Bank of England paper (Para 16 andChart 4)
2. More welfare data can be found in this research from theNuffield Foundation: Impact of modelled tax and benefit reforms: 2011-2014.