Bishops raise concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes

Seven bishops signed a letter to the Guardian newspaper, printed on 14th September 2017, voicing concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes. Four of the signatories were Lords Spiritual:

Local welfare assistance schemes are a vital lifeline for people who find themselves in a crisis and without basic essentials, such as food, electricity, or a working oven. It is therefore very worrying that most of these schemes have been cut back considerably in recent years and that 26 local councils have now closed them altogether, including in many areas that we represent (English councils’ local welfare schemes in ‘meltdown’, 12 September).

The Grenfell Tower disaster exposed failings in the local authority’s response to a large-scale emergency. The stories in the report by the Centre for Responsible Credit demonstrate the human cost of failing to respond to the smaller-scale emergencies that hit countless individuals and families every day, due to ill-health, the loss of a job, the breakdown of a relationship, or a spell of homelessness.

Food banks, Citizens Advice offices, and other voluntary sector organisations play an important role in supporting people in crisis, but they are under enormous pressure due to rising demand and funding cuts. This responsibility must be shared with central and local government, who have a moral duty to ensure there is an adequate safety net to stop people from becoming destitute.

Paul Butler
Bishop of Durham

Pete Broadbent
Bishop of Willesden and acting bishop of London

Alan Smith
Bishop of St Albans

Christopher Foster
Bishop of Portsmouth

Stephen Cottrell
Bishop of Chelmsford

Martyn Snow
Bishop of Leicester

Michael Ipgrave
Bishop of Lichfield

(via The Guardian)