The ‘politics’ of discipleship

My letter in this week’s Church Times

Dear Editor,

I refer to your report on Lord Carey’s article in the Daily Mail (Bishops were wrong to defy Government, 27 January), where he reflected on his life as a child in a humble 1940s council estate in Dagenham. He says that his father was a low-paid hospital porter and his mother stayed at home to care for himself and his four siblings. In other words, he had a secure upbringing in a low cost home. Contrast this with a similar large family, receiving benefits, in London or the south east, where adequate secure affordable housing is scarce and most of their income passes straight to the hands of private landlords. At least the comparative family with a modest earned income, that Lord Carey and the government refer to, will have the cushion of the additional universal child benefit, preventing them falling into serious poverty, or even homelessness.

Sometimes I wish the length of Lord Carey’s column reflected the depth of his understanding.

Yours sincerely

Not anticipating a response.

My letter to my MP on the main issue

Dear Robert Smith,

I am very concerned about the impact of proposed cuts and changes in welfare impacting on poor, sick, disabled, jobless and vulnerable
people.

It does not take much effort to expose some myths behind the official ‘facts’. Proving once again the old adage about ‘lies, damned lies and statistics.’ I suspect that many currently hardworking, taxpaying people are going to find themselves experiencing this welfare cap in the coming year. They may lose their job and home, have move away from family and friends, probably into temporary accommodation where they may be at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords [I speak from experience]. I wonder how many of those mouthing negative and abusive comments, in the slipstream of the Prime Minister’s populist stance about ‘facing up to the facts’ and ‘fairness to working people,’ have ever experienced such hardship.

Estimates are that around 67,000 people, rising to 75,000 in 2014 will find themselves in this difficult place; and the number of children who will be affected could be up to 220,000. Yet the estimated welfare budget saving is put at 0.1 per cent and as Eric Pickles’ private secretary helpfully pointed out to the Prime Minister’s PS, this ‘does not take account of the additional costs to local authorities (through homelessness and temporary accommodation). In fact we think it is likely that the policy as it stands will generate a net cost.’ I expect that you will be aware of the correspondence.

Charities and churches have cautioned that the current proposals will significantly increase homelessness and there is concern for working people receiving state support as well unemployed families. Low pay, joblessness and poverty are linked rather than separable and it is hard to escape the criticism of ‘divide and rule’ rhetoric, classifying people into the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor”.

This policy needs to be substantially rethought and I trust that the House of Commons will not be pressured into reversing the House of
Lords amendment yesterday.

Yours sincerely,

He has promised a response which I am looking forward to having checked his recent voting record on the matter.

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