jQuery Slider

You are here

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby hungry for end to suffering

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby hungry for end to suffering
The plight of the poor in England is not a game - it's deadly serious

By Paul Routledge
Dec 11, 2014

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, says we must not play political games with the plight of the poor.

Hang on a minute, Most Rev.

You started the controversy over poverty and empty kids' bellies.

You said "Hunger stalks large parts of our country."

You were more shocked by scenes at a British foodbank than the suffering in African refugee camps and you backed calls to end over-hasty "sanctioning" of benefits that leaves claimants penniless.

And rightly so. This is not a game. It's deadly serious.

We live in the fourth-richest country in the world. It is a scandal that ­foodbanks have to cope with more than a million requests for help in the fifth year of a Tory-led government that thinks the poor are responsible for their poverty.

Conservative peer Baroness Jenkin of Kennington said: "The poor don't know how to cook."

And this hoity-toity comment came from a woman member of the parliamentary group that published Feeding Britain, a call for more public investment in foodbanks.

If that's what she thinks, what must the rest of them think?

It's no use asking odious Iain Duncan Smith, the wealthy Work and Pensions Secretary whose ministerial career is thankfully drawing to a close. He rejects any link between his benefits regime and the staggering rise in foodbanks.

He's at it again, dismissing Labour's attempt to raise the issue as "the same old rubbish". Pontius Pilate, or what?

Christmas is less than two weeks away. Imagine what it must be like to be told today that your benefits are stopped because you failed to make a meeting, even if you had a valid reason.

Maybe you don't need to imagine it because it really has just happened to you, and you're flat broke.

And the only way for your kids to eat is to swallow your pride and ask for aid at the nearest foodbank.

This isn't a game. Claimants who lose their jobs, or get put on shorter hours, or fall sick, or suffer personal or marital breakdown could be forced to wait until the New Year before they can access the benefits to which they are entitled.

Feeding Britain lambasted the DWP for needless delays and urged that no one should have to wait more than five days to have a claim ­processed.

It also demanded an end to the colossal waste of millions of tonnes of food destroyed by supermarkets and food producers. And it called for an end to "rip-off" companies charging higher prices to the poor.

Iain Duncan Scrooge is largely ­indifferent. Why should he worry? He goes home every night to a luxury mansion and a rich wife.

He raised one little finger, giving fresh guidance to Jobcentre Plus staff to advise hungry people how to ask for emergency payments. That's how much he cares.

But he should read the latest OECD report which found growing inequality between middle class people and the very poorest slows economic growth.

In Britain, widening income disparities have knocked six to nine percentage points off growth over the last 20 years.

So, it makes more sense for those without money to have some.

But you try telling the Tories that -- even at Christmas.


Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top