Cutting benefits gives people hope and responsibility, says Cameron

David Cameron has said that benefits cuts are bringing “new hope and responsibility” for unemployed people in the UK, and that the government’s welfare reforms are part of a “moral mission”.

In an article in the Telegraph, the Prime Minister hit back at Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, who recently said that “the fact that people are left in destitution was a disgrace”.

In his article, Cameron said that the Archbishop’s criticism was “simply not true”.

Cameron said: “I respect his view but I also disagree with it deeply.”

“Many of the great political questions of our time are also moral questions – we should not be surprised and nor should we be dismissive when members of the clergy make their views known.

“But neither should political leaders be afraid to respond.”

“Our long-term economic plan for Britain is not just about doing what we can afford, it is also about doing what is right.

“Nowhere is that more true than in welfare.”

He added: “Of course, we are in the middle of a long and difficult journey turning our country around.

“That means difficult decisions to get our deficit down, making sure that the debts of this generation are not our children’s to inherit.

“But our welfare reforms go beyond that alone – they are about giving new purpose, new opportunity, new hope – and yes, new responsibility to people who had previously been written off with no chance.

“Seeing these reforms through is at the heart of our long-term economic plan – and it is at the heart too of our social and moral mission in politics today.”

Archbishop Nicholas, responded to say: “I didn’t say the Government’s policies were a disgrace […] I said the fact of people left for weeks on end without any support and therefore having to have recourse to foodbanks in a country as affluent as ours was a disgrace.”

He added: “What I notice in government statements is that they are mostly cast in the future tense: ‘these reforms will achieve this, will achieve that’.

“My concern is to echo the voices that come to me of the circumstances today in which people are left without any support for weeks on end, are hungry, are destitute.

“There must be something wrong with the administration of a system which has that effect on so many people’s lives.”

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