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Church of England faces fresh clash with ministers over welfare reform

By John Bingham, Telegraph

The Church of England is facing a fresh clash with the Coalition over welfare reform after publishing a new report accusing ministers of acting as if they were deliberately trying to “destabilise” society.

In a highly critical analysis of the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s overhaul of the benefits system, the established Church questions the “moral” case for such reforms in a time of austerity.

The poor and vulnerable, it claims, are bearing a “disproportionate share of the burden” from recession yet being “squeezed” ever tighter by the Government – while the rich are allowed to escape “largely unscathed”.

At the same time the Government has deliberately stoked up rhetoric characterising benefit claimants as “scroungers” and workers as “strivers” to gain “political capital”, it insists.

The comments come in a policy paper prepared for members of the Church’s General Synod which meets in York in two weeks time, where welfare will be one of the main items on the agenda alongside the Church’s difficulties over women bishops.

It comes three months after a bitter confrontation between the Government and Church when 43 bishops, backed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, wrote to The Sunday Telegraph voicing concern over welfare reform.

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