Left: Jeff Blacker/REX. Right: Diocese of Chelmsford
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'Cruel' and 'tight-fisted' government policies fuelling foodbank misery, bishop claims

Ministers have been accused by a Church of England bishop of harbouring "hard-hearted", "tight-fisted" and "cruel" policies which are driving more families to use foodbanks.

Rt Rev Roger Morris said the fact a growing number of people are reliant on emergency three-day food parcels illustrates "failures" on the part of the Government.

In a strongly-worded speech delivered at a local foodbank on Wednesday, the Bishop of Colchester said: "The food bank, brilliant though it is, is a sign that on the whole we have failed.

 

"We have failed to care for those most in need. We have failed to protect the most vulnerable in society.

"We have failed in our promises to look after all people from the cradle to the grave.

"And our failures as government, as society, as a so-called welfare state are then mopped up by the third sector."

 

The Department for Work and Pensions told Premier is it "wrong" to link a rise in foodbank use to any one cause, claiming the reasons people use foodbanks are "complex".

A spokesperson added: "Since 2010, one million people have been lifted out of absolute poverty and we also know that the best way to help people improve their lives is through employment.

"Since 2010, over 3.3 million more people have moved into work - equating to an extra 1,000 people employed a day on average, every day.

Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

"For those individuals who need extra support, there are a variety of protections in place, such as 100 per cent advances available from day one."

During his speech, Bishop Roger urged the Government to raise benefits and scrap the two-child limit on tax credit and Universal Credit.

The senior Anglican leader also claimed that disability benefit claimants were being treated "as if they do not deserve help" and migrants were being treated "harshly".

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Amid delays incurred by the switch to the new Universal Credit system, he said it was important payments were made "on time". Figures reveal foodbank use has risen disproportionately in areas where the process to roll out Universal Credit has already started.

Bishop Roger added: "Not-for-profit organisations, volunteers and good old-fashioned charity are used to try and repair the gaping holes in the fraying safety net of our benefits system.

"It is ultimately wrong, unjust, inhuman that people should be plunged into such a state of desperation and degradation in the first place."

Click here to listen to Premier's Cara Bentley speaking with Bishop Roger Morris:

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