Here is the letter by church leaders (not just Anglican) submitted to The Daily Mirror:


Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.

Half a million people have visited foodbanks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.

One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children, and even more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards.

We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.

Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.

On March 5th Lent will begin. The Christian tradition has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God.

On March 5th we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain. We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us.

There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support foodbanks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.

We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.

Join us at


Anglican Bishops

  • Stephen Platten, Wakefield
  • David Walker, Manchester
  • Tim Stevens, Leicester
  • Andy John, Bangor
  • Tony Porter, Sherwood
  • Paul Butler, Durham
  • Alan Wilson, Buckingham
  • Alan Smith, St Albans
  • Nick Holtam, Salisbury
  • Tim Thornton, Truro
  • John Pritchard, Oxford
  • Steven Croft, Sheffield
  • Jonathan Gledhill, Lichfield
  • Michael Perham, Gloucester
  • Alastair Redfern, Derby
  • Lee Rayfield, Swindon
  • James Langstaff, Rochester
  • Martin Warner, Chichester
  • Mike Hill, Bristol
  • Martin Wharton, Newcastle
  • Peter Maurice, Taunton
  • Gregory Cameron, St Asaph
  • Peter Burrows, Doncaster
  • Stephen Cottrell, Chelmsford
  • Martyn Snow, Tewkesbury
  • John Holbrook, Brixworth
  • David Urquhart, Birmingham

Methodist Chairs of District

  • Loraine Mellor, Nottingham and Derby
  • John Hellyer, South East
  • Jenny Impey , London
  • Michaela Young, London
  • Stuart Jordan, London
  • Bruce Thompson, Lincolnshire
  • Lionel Osborn, Newcastle Upon Tyne
  • Revd Richard Teal, Cumbria
  • Revd Jim Booth, Liverpool
  • Revd Vernon Marsh. Sheffield

United Reformed Church

  • Paul Whittle, Eastern Synod
  • Simon Walkling, Synod of Wales
  • Richard Church, Northwest Synod


  • Clare Wood, Assistant General Secretary for Quaker Peace and Social Justice
  • Helen Drewery, General Secretary for Quaker Peace and Social Justice



Bishops have better things to do with their time than enter into ideological arguments that serve no purpose other than political point-scoring. To accuse signatory bishops of simplistic or malicious political bias is silly. Whatever their political views – and there is a range of opinion on welfare cuts and their effects – they are in touch with real people in every community of this country. So, when hearing government defences of the ‘moral intent’ of policies that directly affect the communities the churches and their clergy serve, they cannot remain silent about the realities on the ground. They might respect the moral intent – and even agree with it – whilst seeing the devastating consequences of that policy on the people we meet every day. The proliferation of food banks, coupled with the evidence that many, many poorly-paid working people are having to use them in order to feed their family, is a reality that poses a challenge to the moral effectiveness of the said policy.

See the full text here:



  1. I am able to enter in to the historical benefits and social care debate and with that knowledge, I have an acute awareness of the dogmatic manipulations that are taking place in the name of a dubious morality. The first question is define it; the second is, whose morality is it?

    I am agitated and aggrieved when I hear the simplistic political defence of, ‘Food banks are used because they are there’. Soup kitchens were used and are used, because they exist. Why on earth do these ‘masterminds’ (not!) get a platform to express their inanities on behalf of those who are self-serving. These practical aid facilities have developed and exist, because it has been seen that people in our ever more unequal society are struggling to stay alive with the basics of life.

    In the 1980’s at the time of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government, hostels with their help for the homeless, became few and far between, their funding dried up because of central government financial cuts and dogma. When the psychiatric hospitals closed, they and their valuable lands were sold to the best bidder. Community-based replacement never did provide a safe and viable alternative for a swathe of people. Hospital provision, greatly reduced, could no longer provide safe asylum for the types of cases requiring it and the numbers who needed it.

    Just put those two factors together and you get large numbers of single homeless people, many with mental health problems, sleeping on the streets, sleeping rough. They still are highly visible in 2014. Quite a number have found themselves in prison. Our jails have high numbers of mental health cases incarcerated within them, the majority are not in need of major forensic restraint, they are in need of psychiatric care, which, has failed them in the community. Many of them would, in the past, have received care and treatment, which, though it might have been imperfect, would have been in hospitals that could provide an environment that would not have criminalized them. I don’t advocate a return to the old days, I do, though, advocate an understanding of the truth and appropriate decent provision be made for undoing the harm that previous and present dogmatic policies have caused.

    Not all single and homeless people are mentally ill, but being forced to live on the streets is a survival game that can break down the dignity and morale of anyone.

    There is much written about the current difficulties created by the ‘bedroom’ tax’; the need for workers to hold down more than two jobs to try and make ends meet, because they cannot gain full time employment; the abomination of zero hours contracts; fuel poverty and the cost of buying food.

    It is high time that as a nation we stopped allowing low wages, so low that workers cannot live on their hourly rates of pay. Social benefits are supporting employers to suppress wages, the minimum wage does not cover the cost of living. Those people who condemn the poor, (working and not working) for resorting to social benefits; soup kitchens and food banks, who, it goes without saying, are in all likelihood, quite well off, should look at what workers are expected to live on. It is convenient not to acknowledge what tacit hand outs employers are accepting from the State.

    Until wages are at a living rate the working poor will continue to be vilified for being poor. The large employers will yell, they will denounce any attempt to balance out the income of work by distributing it equitably. They will threaten to employ fewer workers and so on. I am sure there would be some bribery, ( called something else) with those who shout loudest. Within the shouting, there would have to be compromise, but it should not be an agreement to pay poverty level wages



    1. I really appreciate this comment and totally agree, and fully back Archbishop Sentamu’s initiative to start paying a living wage to people. Until this happens, these problems will continue and are not going either to get better or to go away. Thanks, Menhir, for a timely and informed response.


    1. I think most of us are prepared to admit that the welfare system has been creaking at the seams and should be overhauled … but what I hate, is the way this government is brutally cracking down on the poorest of the poor who usually don’t know how to protest so they can’t answer back … while at the same time committing the massive injustice of taking away food from poor people while the bankers, who were largely responsible for the mess we’re in, continue to get off scot-free and award themselves more and more bonuses no matter how badly they do their job. There is something seriously morally wrong here … rant, rant, rant 😦


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