Prior to Channel Four’s ‘Benefits Street’ being aired last night (6 January 2014), the tabloid press had primed its readers, with plenty of articles such as this one from the Daily Express, laden with Iain Duncan Smith-style rhetoric: ‘broken Britain, scroungers, workshy, burden on society’, etcetera.
UK chancellor George Osborne is using divide-and-rule tactics to try to push through further cuts of around £25 billion over two years by 2017-18. This includes £12 billion in social security reductions. The poorest will be worst affected but, if he gets his way, many others currently struggling to cope with sharply rising prices and rents will be hit.
Former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali has criticised a proposed alternative baptism service. This is being piloted in a number of churches before the Church of England decides whether to let it be used more widely. While the church should try to make worship widely accessible, changes that make getting baptised seem less meaningful should be avoided.