Two questions for Salisbury MP John Glen concerning the government’s misuse of benefits and poverty statistics

Listening to Britain’s Churches – Salisbury
Conservative Christian Fellowship
Friday, 21 February 2014 from 18:30 to 21:00 (GMT)
Fisherton Street, United Kingdom
(Panel includes Salisbury MP, John Glen and Wiltshire councillor for Salisbury St Francis and Stratford, Mary Douglas.)

The Conservative Christian Fellowship are holding a ‘Question Time style’ event in Salisbury this Friday – here are some suggestions for possible questions:

Two questions for John Glen MP:

  1. Do you agree with the grave concerns about Government misuse of benefit statistics expressed by an alliance of churches representing Christians from England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland.   Please see their letter to Mr Cameron here: http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/146264932?access_key=key-1p73vebysw54vko13cvp&allow_share=true&escape=false&view_mode=scroll
  2. Do you agree with four major British Churches that  David Cameron is factually wrong and misleading on poverty. Please see a summary of their comments here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20188

Here are some extracts from the above sources:

“Mr Cameron repeats tired and discredited numbers which paint an inaccurate picture of ‘welfare dependent’ families spending years on benefits and receiving huge amounts of money,”

“In the piece, dated 19 February 2014, Mr Cameron claims that the number of workless households doubled over the last decade, when ONS data shows that they increased from 3.7 million in 1997 to 3.9 million in 2010, not 7.4 million as his claim would suggest.”

“At the very least, the most vulnerable deserve to be spoken of truthfully and with respect. We ask you, as Prime Minister and as leader of the Conservative Party, to ensure that the record is put straight, and that statistics are no longer manipulated in a way which stigmatises the poorest in our society. We promise to support you in efforts to ensure that debates on poverty are rooted in fact and not on assertion.”

Further References:

Truth and lies about poverty, benefits and welfare | Ekklesia – http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/18086

The selective untruths exposed in the report are:
1. ‘They’ are lazy and don’t want to work.
2. ‘They’ are addicted to drink and drugs.
3. ‘They’ are not really poor – they just don’t manage their money properly.
4. ‘They’ are on the fiddle.
5. ‘They’ have an easy life.
6. ‘They’ caused the deficit.

A few more questions for Mr Glen: http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=1789

Addendum: (Not directly related to the misuse of statistics but relevant background): Twenty Six bishops criticise the government’s welfare reforms:

Here is their letter submitted to The Daily Mirror:

Sir,

Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.

Half a million people have visited foodbanks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.

One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children, and even more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards.

We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.

Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.

On March 5th Lent will begin. The Christian tradition has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God.

On March 5th we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain. We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us.

There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support foodbanks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.

We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.

Join us at www.endhungerfast.co.uk.

Yours

Anglican Bishops

  • Stephen Platten, Wakefield
  • David Walker, Manchester
  • Tim Stevens, Leicester
  • Andy John, Bangor
  • Tony Porter, Sherwood
  • Paul Butler, Durham
  • Alan Wilson, Buckingham
  • Alan Smith, St Albans
  • Nick Holtam, Salisbury
  • Tim Thornton, Truro
  • John Pritchard, Oxford
  • Steven Croft, Sheffield
  • Jonathan Gledhill, Lichfield
  • Michael Perham, Gloucester
  • Alastair Redfern, Derby
  • Lee Rayfield, Swindon
  • James Langstaff, Rochester
  • Martin Warner, Chichester
  • Mike Hill, Bristol
  • Martin Wharton, Newcastle
  • Peter Maurice, Taunton
  • Gregory Cameron, St Asaph
  • Peter Burrows, Doncaster
  • Stephen Cottrell, Chelmsford
  • Martyn Snow, Tewkesbury
  • John Holbrook, Brixworth

Methodist Chairs of District

  • Loraine Mellor, Nottingham and Derby
  • John Hellyer, South East
  • Jenny Impey , London
  • Michaela Young, London
  • Stuart Jordan, London
  • Bruce Thompson, Lincolnshire
  • Lionel Osborn, Newcastle Upon Tyne
  • Revd Richard Teal, Cumbria
  • Revd Jim Booth, Liverpool
  • Revd Vernon Marsh. Sheffield
  • Revd Richard Church, NE Synod
  • United Reform Church
  • Paul Whittle, Eastern Synod
  • Simon Walkling, Synod of Wales

Quakers

  • Clare Wood, Assistant General Secretary for Quaker Peace and Social Justice
  • Helen Drewery, General Secretary for Quaker Peace and Social Justice

 

UPDATE (22nd Feb 2014)

Dr Rowan Williams: Food bank users are not scroungers and this isn’t a hiccup – it’s a serious crisis: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/dr-rowan-williams-food-bank-3168067

 

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