British Prime Minister David Cameron has denied the Archbishop of Westminsterís citations that the coalitionís recent welfare changes have plunged the countryís poorest in ëdestitutioní.
Speaking candidly in an interview to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Cameron identified that he ëdeeplyí disagreed with Archbishop Vincent Nichols remarks about the recent benefit cuts in the UK, and argued that they are necessary in order to revamp the complexion of society at present.
The Prime Minister added his belief that the reforms were part of a ëmoral missioní that he has undertaken in order to create a meritocratic society where ëwork paysí and brings ënew hope and responsibilityí to the members of the British public.
Last week, Archbishop Nichols, who is set to ascend to the role of cardinal this weekend, launched a scathing attack on the governmentís series of benefit cuts last year, branding them a ëdisgraceí, and arguing that they are deconstructing the welfare state in far too fast a manner.
Indeed, 2013 saw a multitude of changes to Britainís welfare system, with caps being implemented on the level of benefits that people in employment can receive, and all previous job, house and child related benefits being merged into a single ëuniversal credití initiative that has severely reduced the entitlements that the countryís lowest earners can obtain.
More controversially, the governmentís reduction on the level of benefits that households with a spare bedroom can receive, informally dubbed the ëbedroom taxí, has garnered widespread criticism from people and politicians alike, and has contributed to the huge degree of resentment that many feel at present towards the coalitions welfare programme.
And just this week, the government announced a new change in the welfare entitlements that European immigrants can receive; identifying that all aspiring benefit recipients will have to clearly indicate that they earn over £149 each week in order to qualify to receive welfare funding.
The severity in the degree of cuts that have been made have led many critics of the coalition to argue that they are destroying the foundations beneath the countryís poorest, and are implementing change in hostile financial conditions that people simply cannot cope with.
However, Mr Cameron has rejected this notion, citing that he is simply instigating policy that reflects ëdoing what is rightí.
‘Social and Moral missioní
Mr Cameron did emphasise his awareness that many families are struggling as a result of the programme, but continually highlighted that the measures were necessary in order to complete the economic recovery of the country and the transformation away from reliance on benefits.
“Nowhere is that more true than in welfare. For me the moral case for welfare reform is every bit as important as making the numbers add up,” he said.
“But our welfare reforms go beyond that alone – they are about giving new purpose, new opportunity, new hope – and yes, new responsibility to people who had previously been written off with no chanceî.
“Seeing these reforms through is at the heart of our long-term economic plan – and it is at the heart, too, of our social and moral mission in politics today.”
Whilst one cannot doubt the sincerity in Mr Cameronís ideological remarks, it has to be questioned whether the timing of his welfare reforms are well advised.
In a post-recession era, with the countryís personal debt levels already topping over £1 trillion, many have queried the sensibility of implementing welfare caps on the countryís poorest when so many are struggling financially at this time.
Yes, the country has a minority that has abused the benefits system, and this is an issue that needs to be addressed in order to create a truly meritocratic society. But whether undertaking a radical overhaul of the entire welfare state, over the course of one year, was the right course of action is highly contentious indeed.