Today the Church of England bishops are making a totally political intervention on welfare reform, writing a letter to the Sunday Telegraph. They are attacking the uprating of many benefits by only 1% for three years after last yearâ€™s 5.5% rise. This is a harsh measure for harsh times to be sure but the workers who pay the taxes to pay these benefits and have seen their income frozen for 4 or 5 years will perhaps be less charitable than the bishops.
The bishops cite a family of four with one earner earning Â£31,200 losing Â£424 a year by 2015 under the changes. The bishops fail to mention that most or all of this will be offset by increases in income tax thresholds. Is it Godly to tell half the story? It is a measure of how bent out of shape our benefits system is that someone on this kind of pay is so ensnared in that system. The poisonous legacy of Gordon Brown’s tax credits. This family should be paying virtually no tax and receiving virtually no benefits instead of being on the dumb tax credit merry-go-round.
Ridiculously the bishops say the change will hit the poorest the hardest with about 60 per cent of the savings coming from the poorest third of households and only 3 per cent will coming from the wealthiest third. They donâ€™t seem to think it is bizarre that any comes from the wealthiest third! It is a benefits system after all. Doing the math 37% comes from the middle third. Aaargh! If the benefits system was properly constructed 100% of the pain would fall on the poorest third surely? But then if it was properly constructed there would no need for these cuts.
The bishops fail to mention God, Jesus or Christianity in their letter. What are they for?
The banking arm of the Church of England, the Church Commissioners for England, is constructed as a charity that holds Â£5 billion in long term investments. If the church was that stressed it could liquidate some of its investments maybe and actually live the Gospels rather than talk politics?
At first glance the Church does not seem to be a sound source of financial advice. For the last year they reported, 2011, their income was Â£148.3 million and their expenditure was Â£242.3 million. With a 63% deficit of their own perhaps we should ignore the bishops?