Archbishop damns Cam; CHURCH LEADER BLASTS TORY WAR ON POOR.
THE new Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday condemned Government cuts that will hurt "poor and vulnerable" children.
In a move which angered ministers, the Most Rev Justin Welby joined 43 other bishops to denounce benefit changes.
They said children and families will "pay the price" of the plan to cap payment rises at 1% - far less than inflation.
The move puts the former oil executive Archbishop directly at odds with fellow Old Etonian David Cameron, before he has even been formally enthroned.
The bishops urged the House of Lords to block the Conservative-led legislation when peers debate it this week.
In an open letter to Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, the bishops - including the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu - said the Welfare Up-rating Bill will have a "deeply disproportionate" impact on children.
The Children's Society says a couple with two children, where one parent earns PS600 a week, would lose PS424 a year by 2015. Campaigners say 200,000 children could be pushed into poverty.
The Rev Welby, who will be enthroned next week, said a civilised society had a duty to support the vulnerable. "When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever," he said. "It is essential we have a welfare system that responds to need and recognises the rising costs of food, fuel and housing.
"The current system does that, by ensuring that the support struggling families receive rises with inflation. These changes will mean children and families will pay the price for high inflation." The Rt Rev David Walker, Bishop of Dudley, added: "It is a bad test of a country's fairness that it rewards the wealthy and makes the poorest take the heat."
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne backed the bishops' letter.
But angry Mr Duncan Smith hit back and said: "Simply increasing benefits isn't the answer to tackling poverty, the last decade has shown that."
Voice of the Mirror: Page 8 ARCH RIVALS NAME: JUSTIN WELBY, 57 JOB: Archbishop of Canterbury EDUCATION: Eton College and Cambridge FORMER JOB: Executive for an oil firm. BEST KNOWN FOR: Holiness and spirituality. WHAT HE SAYS: "As a civilised society, we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need."
NAME: DAVID CAMERON, 46 JOB: Prime Minister EDUCATION: Eton College & Oxford FORMER JOB: Snake oil salesman for Carlton TV.
BEST KNOWN FOR: Smoothness and slipperiness.
WHAT HE SAYS: "We have to get on top of the welfare bill."
ATTACK J Archbishop
CUTS PLAN J PM Cameron