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Vicar hits out at Government 'attack on poor'
A ROW has broken out between a Wyre Forest vicar and the district’s MP after the cleric launched a scathing attack on the Government.
Rev Eva McIntyre, vicar of Stourport, said the coalition was “shameless” and had “forgotten the most fundamental principles of the gospel”, claiming leaders were “getting away with targeting the poorest”.
Conservative MP Mark Garnier defended the administration, saying “whenever difficult decisions are made it will affect certain people” and encouraged critics to “look at the wider picture”.
In a strongly-worded letter sent to The Shuttle, Ms McIntyre said: “We in the churches are organising foodbanks while they cut benefits.
“There’s no support for the mansion tax from Conservatives yet they think it’s acceptable to penalise the poor, taxing spare rooms via their benefits. It seems people’s rights diminish in direct proportion with their bank balances.”
She described the Government’s decision to contract Atos Healthcare to assess people claiming disability benefits as “throwing the good money after bad”.
“To say everyone has to take a share in the budget cuts and to then pick on those it perceives to be least able to fight back is cowardly in the extreme,” she added.
In response, Mr Garnier said Ms McIntyre served her community “well, with a sense of compassion” but she was “peddling a hard left, Labour line”.
He said she would be the “first person to complain” if a mansion tax was introduced where a “widow living on their own with a pension was suddenly asked to fund a new tax which did not reflect their disposable income”.
“I am amazed she thinks foodbanks are a bad thing – if anything, they are a sign of Christianity and charity,” he added. “It is tragic we need them but it shows Wyre Forest has a very strong community spirit.”
He said benefits were being capped at £500 a week which was “more than Wyre Forest’s average household income”.
“Eva does not say how she is going to solve Labour’s deficit crisis,” he added. “It’s easy to say we should spend more money – what money?”
He said “everyone in politics” wanted to do the best for their community but the Conservatives wanted to help people help themselves rather than provide a “shortterm fix” which would see people become “dependent on the state”.
The attack follows criticism of the Government by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Most Rev Justin Welby warned children and families would “pay the price” for benefit cuts.
Ms McIntyre said she would pray for the Government.