Cardinal-designate Nichols has told in an interview: “People do understand that we do need to tighten our belts and be much more responsible and careful in public expenditure.
“But I think what is happening is two things: one is that the basic safety net that was there to guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution has actually been torn apart.
“It no longer exists and that is a real, real dramatic crisis.
“And the second is that, in this context, the administration of social assistance, I am told, has become more and more punitive. So if applicants don’t get it right then they have to wait for 10 days, for two weeks with nothing – with nothing.
He has added: “For a country of our affluence, that quite frankly is a disgrace.”
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions has responded to the attack through the claim that the previous benefits system was “trapping” the very people it was designed to help.
The spokesperson has said: “Our welfare reforms will transform the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities with universal credit making three million households better off and lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.
“It’s wrong to talk of removing a safety net when we’re spending £94bn a year on working age benefits and the welfare system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed so they can meet their basic needs.”
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