David Cameron has insisted Tory welfare reforms were part of his “moral mission” for the country after criticism from the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.
The Prime Minister said claims by the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, that recent changes to the benefits system had left many facing hunger and destitution were “simply not true”.
He wrote: “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. For me the moral case for welfare reform is every bit as important as making the numbers add up.”
Mr Cameron said that while the church was entitled to speak out on political issues, he did not accept the Archbishop’s claim that the system was becoming increasingly “punitive” and that the situation many people now found themselves was “a disgrace”.
“Of course, we are in the middle of a long and difficult journey turning our country around,” Mr Cameron said, adding: “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.”
The Archbishop, defended his comments, saying that he had been “inundated” with messages of support and noting that Government statements always justified policies by saying things would be better in the future.