Ahead of the Autumn Statement today (23 November 2016), Church leaders are calling for the chancellor to not allow higher than expected inflation to further erode the value of benefits.
The Joint Public Issues Team of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church are calling for assurances that families will be protected from the expected rise in inflation.
Most working age benefits are frozen in cash terms for the next four years, allowing their value to be eroded by inflation year on year. This will cut the level of the support available to more than 4 million families containing at least 7.5 million children.
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 a result of the fall in the value of the pound.
The Rev Dr Richard Frazer, Convener of the Church and 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 Rev 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."
* The Joint Public Issues Team combines the expertise of the Baptist Union, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church in the area of public issues, representing more than 800,000 people in the UK
* Joint Public Issues Team http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/