David Cameron has defended the government's welfare changes in the face of criticism from the head of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales, insisting they were part of his "moral mission" for the country. {jcomments on}

The prime minister said claims by the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, that recent changes to the benefits system had left many people facing hunger and destitution were "simply not true".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Cameron said the changes were not just about "making the numbers add up", but were intended to bring new hope to people who had previously been written off by the system.

"Our long-term economic plan for Britain is not just about doing what we can afford, it is also about doing what is right," he wrote. "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."

Cameron said that while the church was entitled to speak out on political issues, he did not accept the archbishop's claim that the system was becoming increasingly punitive and that the situation in which many people now found themselves was "a disgrace".

Read the full story in The Guardian


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