Showing posts with label Welfare Reforms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Welfare Reforms. Show all posts

Monday, 8 April 2013

WHERE IS THE HEART IN THE WELFARE DEBATE?


by Joseph Colman

Over the past few weeks we have witnessed a condensed version over the debate which has rumbled on for decades. It is an argument that always makes me feel uneasy, it never satisfies and I have never felt a home in either ‘camp’.

No matter where you stand politically you cannot deny that for the vast majority the welfare payments received are a serious assistance in helping go towards the day-to-day cost of living in Britain.

Because of this the debate focuses around the question ‘how much is enough’ vs ‘how long is enough’ – both are about securing a system which provides ‘enough’ to those receiving the state welfare. But this, to me, seems such an uninspired place to focus the debate.

This weeks Spectator (6 April) issued an impassioned call to recognise the fact that ‘at no point were fewer than five million working-age people on out-of-work benefits. This was not just a waste of money, but a criminal waste of human potential’.

Something that the Welfare debate misses so often is that many of those talked about abjectly on the copy churning out from Fleet Street and on the paragraphs in hansard is that these are men and women, children and families, who have aspirations and dreams.

For most they are full and brimming with life but for others trapped on welfare there is real genuine need – not just for sustenance but also for relationship. Our needs are more than food to eat and shelter from a storm (no matter how important they are!) we are created for relationship

Joseph Colman

Scion of the famous mustard dynasty,
ice cream salesman, political anorak
Twitter @JosephColman
The relationship we have been created for cannot be filled by ‘stuff’. This is why the church is uniquely placed to breathe truth and life into this dead carcass of a debate. It can say that this is not about money or wealth. It is not about how much you have and how much is enough. It transcends ‘stuff’ and is uniquely about the relationships you hold and the worth that you feel through these relationships. It is about feeling a sense of ownership and belonging to your community and society at large.

What breaks my heart is that waste of human potential.

Human potential can be found in being gainfully employed, accepted in your community and knowing you bring something uniquely valuable and positive to the society you belong to. However I am yet to see the welfare debate couched in these terms.

Perhaps, no matter what party or politics you side with, we can share this common ground of the debate and bring a little bit of perspective and see about an end to this waste of potential.

From time to time, friends will be leaving articles on this blog. It's my site, so you can be sure that I agree with most, if not all what my contributing friends say. If you would like to contribute something, feel free to contact me.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES CAN BE PROUD OF THIS COALITION'S RECORD BUT A LOT MORE STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE


by Colin Bloom
The Prime Minister is getting a shellacking from many Christians this weekend. Yesterday the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey got in early with a few combination shots, and today the Methodists and Baptists decided to mix it up with an ecumenical tag-teaming left foot kicking. Some of the blows were a bit low, but the referees in the broadcast media are seemingly on the side of the Holy minority.

Earlier today I was prompted by a friend to list the Government’s biggest ‘Christian’ achievements. This friend is known to everyone on this site, and he suggested that the increase in faith schools or the .7% of GDP on Overseas Aid as a good start. Pah! There is so much more to list than that.

However, the near universal and visceral rejection of same-sex marriage by the Church has perhaps meant that now anything and everything the Government does, and particularly if it comes from the Prime Minister, is going to be rejected and rubbished without consideration. This would not be fair, and dare I say, it would not be a particularly Christian thing to do either.

The Bible tells us in numerous places to honour and respect and pray for those in Government, for ‘…all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour.’ I would gently remind my Christian brothers and sisters, especially those in the Clergy to spend as much time praying for our politicians (of all parties) and less time attacking them.

So I’ll pick up the challenge our friend has given me; I will list some of the things that I am most proud of as a Christian Conservative, accepting that the critics have probably already made up their minds anyway.

I.               We are unashamed to ‘do God.’ Let’s never forget that the previous administration famously said they ‘didn’t do God’ and this one has said very firmly that they do.
II.              We are even prepared to go further, and say that we are a ‘Christian Country.’ Whether it was Baroness Warsi when she, as British Muslim, told the former Pope that the United Kingdom was a Christian Country, or whether it is the PM in numerous speeches – unlike the previous Government we are clear. This is a Christian Country.
III.            Church run social action projects have been given significant funds via groups like the Church Urban Fund or the Cinnamon Network, so that Christian charities like Foodbank, Christians Against Poverty, Street Pastors and others flourish. The Big Society might not be fashionable on the left, but this Government is putting real resources into it.
IV.           Micro Grants from the DCLG to churches to go and ‘Love their Neighbours’ – did this happen before? No.
V.            Commitment to the Developing World by keeping our promises on Aid and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). Increasing investment to build up both infrastructure and to meet the needs of those in absolute poverty and suffering around the world. Not popular with many, but the right and Christian thing to do.
VI.           Giving powers of competence to Local Authorities so that they can keep on saying prayers before Council Meetings. Thank you Eric Pickles, one in the eye for the aggressive secularists.
VII.         The PM hosting Easter Receptions for Christian Leaders, every year since getting elected in 2010 (not done before).
VIII.        The PM giving Easter Messages and Christmas Messages that are filled with messages about Jesus (not done before).
IX.           The growth in faith schools, and the freedom for churches to start their own schools if they want.
X.             Michael Gove giving every secondary school in the country a copy of the King James Bible on the 400th Anniversary of its publication.
XI.           The brilliant work of the Foreign Secretary William Hague and his Ministerial Team including Alastair Burt on fighting against the persecution of Christians around the world.
XII.          The work being done to create a greener United Kingdom, looking after the planet God has given us.
XIII.        The significant steps that have been taken to end modern day slavery. Some has been done, but there is a great deal more to do.
XIV.       The attempt to set people free from the over-powerful and dead hand of the state. Encouraging people to work (1 Thessalonians 4)!
XV.        Significant work being done in Prisons, where groups like the William Wilberforce Trust (Alpha for Prisons) have been funded to help reduce recidivism and turn prisoners lives around.
XVI.       The appointment of a specific Minister for Faiths (Baroness Warsi) – not been done before.

And there is more…

On top of all of the above, the Conservatives are probably the only one of the main political parties that would protect the Established Church – can you see the Lib Dem’s or Labour doing this?

Everything I have listed above will attract criticism, and I am not pretending that either enough has been done, or that everything that has been done has been done well. I am just trying to bring a bit of balance. Considering the alternatives the record isn’t as bad as most Christian leaders are making out. In summary, a lot of good has been done, there is still a lot more to do.

So before the usual suspects put their left boot in again, perhaps they might want to reflect on how the country was brought to its financial and moral knees, and give a bit more credit to a Government that it trying to get us on our own feet again.

(This article was published on ConservativeHome today)

UNBALANCED COVERAGE OF WELFARE REFORM

by Colin Bloom

The polls are all suggesting that the Iain Duncan-Smith's welfare reforms are not only extremely popular with the British people, but that the British public would like the Coalition to go further in reducing the size of welfare spending.

These are popular measures with the vast majority of the public, but to the broadcast media you might be forgiven in thinking that everyone was against them.

This weekend neither Sky News, nor the BBC have given balanced coverage of this debate. They have given far too much airtime to people against the cuts and not enough to, if the polls are to be believed, the majority view which is these measures are sadly necessary.

Do the BBC and others have such low regard for Her Majesty's Opposition that they feel they have to do their job for them?

Earlier today the Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps upbraided a BBC reporter who kept using the term 'Bedroom Tax' for swallowing the language of the left and doing the Labour Party's job for them. I hope this more dynamic, robust approach continues when challenging journalists who are at best lazy or at worse politically biased.

The magic money tree doesn't exist, we need to reduce the size of Government spending and these are facts that the broadcast media have ignored this weekend.