10 Mar 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury criticises benefit changes

2:06 pm on 10 March 2013

The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has backed a group of bishops who have written an open letter criticising British government plans to change the benefits system.

In a letter to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper the 43 bishops said the plan to limit benefit rises will push more children into poverty.

The Church of England bishops called on politicians to protect children and families whom they said were being hit hard by cuts.

In a statement from Lambeth Palace, the Most Reverend Justin Welby said a civilised society had a duty to support the vulnerable, especially when times were hard.

He added that planned changes to the benefits system, which would cap rises in welfare payments to 1% for the next three years, would exact a large price on families who were already battling to make ends meet.

The statement is Dr Welby's first major intervention in political life since he was named in his new role in November, the BBC reports. He is due to be formally enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March.