Updated Friday morning
Today’s (Thursday’s) Daily Mirror carries this article by Jason Beattie: 27 bishops slam David Cameron’s welfare reforms as creating a national crisis in unprecedented attack.
The bishops (and other church leaders) have sent this letter to the Daily Mirror.
Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.
Half a million people have visited foodbanks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.
One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children, and even more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards.
We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.
Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.
On March 5th Lent will begin. The Christian tradition has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God.
On March 5th we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain. We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us.
There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support foodbanks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.
We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.
Join us at www.endhungerfast.co.uk.
It is signed by 27 Anglican bishops (25 Church of England and two Church in Wales), ten Methodist chairs of districts, three United Reformed Church Moderators and two Quakers.
There is already a lot of online news and comment.
Keith Perry Bishops condemn Government welfare reforms
Matthew Holehouse Clegg hits back at bishops: We spend billions and billions on welfare
Benedict Brogan Church vs State: is David Cameron facing a crusade?
John Bingham and Matthew Holehouse Welby: churches know what they are talking about in benefits warning
Nicholas Watt Bishops blame David Cameron for food bank crisis
Steve Richards Comment is free It’s no wonder David Cameron has alienated the church
Andrew Brown Christian conservatism takes radical position against welfare cuts
Channel 4 News Heat or eat? Church of England bishops’ hunger plea
Financial Times Editorial Britain’s bishops deserve a hearing
Adam Withnall The Independent Britain faces food poverty ‘national crisis’ because of Government welfare reforms, bishops warn
Nick Baines blogs Bashing the bishops
Tim Wyatt Church Times Empty plates: campaigners ask Christians to go hungry
The End Hunger Fast campaign issued this press release: Church leaders call national fast for UK’s hungry as “End Hunger Fast” campaign planned for Lent. The copy of the open letter on their website has slightly fewer signatures than the copy in the Daily Mirror, which may explain the discrepancies in the number of bishops quoted in the press articles.
Helen Warrell and Jim Pickard Financial Times Clergy preach to Cameron on benefit reform
Editorial Food poverty: government in denial
Patrick Butler Families turn to food banks as last resort ‘not because they are free’
Charlotte Leslie MP The Telegraph Haven’t the Bishops heard? Charity begins at home
Tamara Cohen and Steve Doughty What hunger crisis? Bishops are so wrong on welfare, says Clegg: Deputy PM reacts angrily to claim ‘safety net’ has been removed
Editorial Preaching the sermon according to Labour
Simon Heffer Will the Church ever learn there is nothing moral about welfare dependency?