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"Protect poorest from inflation rise"

The Joint Public Issues Team called for assurances from the Government that families hit by the benefits freeze will be protected from the expected rise in inflation ahead of the Autumn Statement

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Update: Huge planned and unplanned benefit cuts are coming JPIT's Paul Morrison blogs on the Autumn Statement

With most working age benefits being frozen in cash terms for the next four years, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church have stated that the poorest families are exposed to full force of rising inflation. 

In a statement they said the freeze will cut the level of the support available to more than four million families containing at least 7.5 million children. They have called for chancellor Phillip Hammond to not allow higher than expected inflation to further erode the value of benefits.

Rachel Lampard, Vice President of the Methodist Conference, said, 'The benefits freeze is putting the poorest in the way of economic harm. In January, when Parliament voted to freeze benefits, inflation was low, stable and predicted to remain low. Today the economic outlook is very different.

'Rising inflation will mean 7.5 million children will be hit by cuts harder and faster than was ever intended. It is time this huge cut was brought under control.'

The Bank of England predicts that the prices of basic goods such as food will be the first to rise as result of the fall in the value of the pound.

The Revd Dr Richard Frazer, Convener of the Church & Society Council of the Church of Scotland said, 'Keeping a family fed takes up more and more of low income family budgets.

'Many parents are already going without to ensure their children are fed. The cost of food is rising and more and more do not have enough to eat. A decent welfare system must ensure that is not the case. Benefits need to keep pace with the rise of food costs.'

The Revd Stephen Keyworth, Faith and Society Team Leader of the Baptist Union of Great Britain said, 'There are already record numbers of people seeking emergency help from foodbanks and church run night shelters are seeing increasing demand.

'If the benefit system is to do its job of supporting families through difficult times there must be a link between the price of food and shelter and the value of benefits.

'The alternative is more hunger and more ill health. We must not let people’s God-given potential to be allowed to go to waste because of poverty.'

Baptist Times, 21/11/2016
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