Conservatives have 'squandered' opportunity for fairer benefits system

By agency reporter
October 5, 2009

Church Action on Poverty has said it is 'extremely disappointed' by the Conservative party’s 'harsh statements' about benefit policies.

The church group says that the reforms the Conservatives are proposing would penalise some of the most vulnerable groups in society and make things even harder during a time of economic hardship.

The Conservative plans unveiled today would reduce the income of thousands of people currently claiming incapacity benefit by £25 a week, and force them to take whatever work was available.

Niall Cooper, Church Action on Poverty’s National Coordinator commented: “These plans are not only an attack on some of the most vulnerable people in society; they also represent a terrible wasted opportunity.

"The Centre for Social Justice, a Tory think-tank, recently put forward some excellent proposals for welfare reform, which could have made a real difference to some of the poorest people in society. The Conservative party has chosen to ignore those proposals completely.

“Even more appalling is the response from the Labour party: that they were planning to cut incapacity benefit and coerce people into work in just the same way. It seems our politicians are competing to see who can target the nastiest policies at the most vulnerable groups of people. This is particularly frightening and hard to understand in a time when all of us are facing increased economic hardship, and there are fewer and fewer jobs available.

“A growing number of people – including the Centre for Social Justice and others within the Conservative party – are saying that they want to see a fairer society, not a crueller one. We hope that all our political parties will listen to those voices, and stop attacking people on low incomes.”

Church Action on Poverty is a national Christian social justice charity, committed to tackling poverty in the UK.

It works in partnership with churches and with people in poverty themselves to find solutions to poverty, locally, nationally and globally.

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