Churches and charities from all four nations of the UK, have come together to write to the Prime Minister to ask that government ministers cease to say untrue things about those in poverty.
UPDATED: A summary of the letter has also been published in the Daily Telegraph.
Number-10-downing-streetThe Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland, alongside the lead Church of England Bishop on welfare issues in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Bradford, the Church in Wales, the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Quakers, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Moravian Church and the two leading ecumenical Christian charities tackling poverty issues – Housing Justice and Church Action on Poverty – have come together to write this letter because of a common and simple belief: truth is important, and truth about those in poverty has been lacking.
The letter highlights three instances in April alone where government ministers made statements which were demonstrably untrue. The common thread between these statements was that, in support of the Government’s welfare reforms, they painted many of those who claim benefits in a negative light. The letter gives a detailed explanation of the untruths and highlights a tiny proportion of the damaging, stigmatising and misleading news coverage prompted by the statements.
This apparent pattern of misleading statements and occasional straightforward untruths cannot continue. Saying untrue things which unjustly present sick and disabled people as dishonest and lazy, cannot be acceptable if we are to live in a decent society. Many may agree with the policies being defended – but surely no-one can agree with backing them up with untruths?
It is core to Christian belief that we are all loved and valued creations of God – and all deserve to be treated with dignity. We have asked the Prime Minister to ensure that those who were misrepresented receive an apology and that the pattern of misleading statements ceases. We hope that can be the beginning of a new debate about poverty which is grounded in both reality and respect.