The response of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to Archbishop Vincent Nichol's criticism of welfare reform has come under fire from the Free Churches.
The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church say that the DWP's response to the Archbishop is misleading and only shows a carefully selected 'airbrushed' picture of UK welfare reform.
The DWP's failures in professional standards have been raised by a wide range of people recently, including the Christian think-tank Ekklesia.
The DWP has stated that 3 million households will be better off because of Universal Credit, but it neglects to mention that its own figures also state that over the long term 2.8 million families will be worse off under the new system. Universal Credit is only one part of the welfare reform programme. Analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies shows conclusively that, taken together, the raft of tax and benefit changes that make up welfare reform will increase the levels of both child and working age poverty.
"The DWP's response to the Archbishop's criticism is seriously misleading and disappointing," said Paul Morrison, Public Issues Policy Adviser and author of The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty.
"The DWP states that Universal Credit will lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. However, the other changes that are part of welfare reform are likely to push these children straight back down again. Indeed, welfare reform is the driving force behind the predicted increases in both relative and absolute poverty in families with children over the next decade.
"People are entitled to take different views on the merits of welfare reform, but they should be given a clear and fair picture of the reality. The British public deserve better than the diet of half-truths and skewed statistics they are currently being fed."
* DWP: public servant or propaganda vehicle? http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20051
* More on benefit and welfare issues from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/benefits