Communities are being cruelly broken up by the Bedroom Tax, according to a damning Church of England report. The policy has forced “people to move away from areas where they have roots and informal structures of support”. Meanwhile “harsh” treatment of the poor has seen more people turn to the Church for charity while Prime Minister David Cameron’s flagship idea of “The Big Society” is exposed as a fantasy.
The report, Welfare Reform and the Church, states: “Three years on, we have seen very little of The Big Society in policy or practical terms.” Instead, the voluntary sector has seen government funding cut while donations fall in the economic crisis.
The paper has been drawn up by the Church’s Mission and Public Affairs Council for this weekend’s General Synod. It reserves its strongest flak for the Bedroom Tax — which charges tenants an extra £14 a week for having a spare room — saying it has “destabilised” communities. The cap on housing benefit is also forcing people to move away and the report points out: “In hard times, people rely on their neighbours as much as on the state.”
Labour MP Gareth Thomas, the shadow charities minister, said: “This is damning about the state of charities after three years of David Cameron.” The Department for Work and Pensions said: “Reforms are restoring fairness to the welfare state. We’re making sure work pays while ensuring support for the most vulnerable.”