Joint Churches speak out on NAO report: Rolling out Universal Credit

15 June 2018

A benefit system which drives families into debt and leaves people hungry is a failing benefit system” say Churches

Speaking on behalf of the Baptist Union, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church, Paul Morrison commented on the release of the National Audit Office (NAO) report, Rolling out Universal Credit, saying,

“Churches have repeatedly expressed concerns about Universal Credit and the damaging effects it is having on communities. The NAO’s findings are deeply concerning but not a surprise.” [1]

The NAO report states that that Universal Credit is not value for money, failing to meet its financial objectives. Most importantly it is the first official document to take seriously the concerns of claimants and acknowledge the problems they are facing.

Churches around the country are supporting people who are affected by Universal Credit. It is clear that lives are being damaged by Universal Credit.

Paul explained:

“I met a single mum at a parent and toddlers’ group in West London. She cried when she told me about her experience of Universal Credit. She is worse off, struggling to make ends meet and as a result has to stop her childcare course at college.
“The policy that cut her benefits was intended to “incentivise work”. In reality it made her life more difficult and closed down her opportunities. Her story is sadly unexceptional.
“Half of people receiving Universal Credit report going into debt. This is the result of delayed, inadequate, and irregular payments. It makes budgeting impossible and can make debt inevitable. The DWP’s own figures show that 4 in 10 people reported serious financial difficulties, whilst 1 in 10 waited more than 11 weeks for payment. In Universal Credit areas foodbank use went up 52% [2], whereas in other areas it was 13%. The case is incontrovertible. Universal Credit is failing, and the poorest are suffering the consequences.
“A benefit system which drives families into debt and leaves them hungry is a failing benefit system.
“Universal Credit was designed by people who were highly literate, with access to computers and a full bank account. As soon as the system met people who didn’t fit this model it began to fail.
“Until the voice of those who use the benefit system is listened to and valued, Universal Credit will continue to cause harm to the communities it is meant to serve.”

The Churches call on the Government to:

  • halt the roll-out of Universal Credit
  • commission independent research into the effects of Universal Credit
  • engage with the people who use the system to design an approach that meets their needs.

[1] Churches detailed briefing on Universal Credit


Paul Goodliff March 2018 187 K

New CTE General Secretary appointed

Press Release for immediate distribution 20th March 2018
The Revd Dr Paul Goodliff has been appointed as the new General Secretary of Churches Together in England.

Speaking of his appointment, Paul says, ‘At a time of renewed commitment to the ecumenical process, with a more missional focus to the work as Churches Together in England, I am looking forward immensely to participating in this new chapter of the ecumenical life in England. It is a privilege to be able to offer some leadership to this process, as together CTE serves the churches of this land. I hope to prayerfully encourage the whole church of Jesus Christ to ‘move in the Spirit as we are called to transformative discipleship’, to echo the theme of the very recent WCC Commission for World Mission and Evangelism Conference held in Arusha, Tanzania, and which I attended as a delegate.’

Paul continued, ‘As the ecumenical movement in England embraces the mission of God to make Christ known in word and deed, I am certain we discover more of what that that transformative discipleship means together than when we do so alone, always trusting in the gracious enabling of the Holy Spirit’.

The Convenor of CTE’s Board of Trustees, the Revd Ruth Bottoms, said ‘I am delighted that we have been able to appoint someone who has a breadth of ecumenical experience. Paul is an able communicator and has a passion for enabling the churches to engage together as they seek to bear witness to Christ in our nation. I look forward to working alongside him’.

Dr Goodliff will take up his appointment in September. This follows the retirement of the present General Secretary, the Revd Dr David Cornick, who says, ‘It is very good news indeed that the leadership of CTE will be in such capable hands as the churches of England build on their excellent relationships and reflect on ways in which they can collaborate in mission together.’


Paul is presently co-minister of Abingdon Baptist Church, having served previously as General Superintendent of the Baptist Union’s Central Area, and then as the Baptist Union’s Head of Ministry. He is well known as a lecturer and is the author of books on pastoral care, the theology and psychology of shame, and most recently, a study of ministerial formation and virtue ethics, Shaped for Service (2017). Widely experienced ecumenically, Paul has been a member of the WCC-Pentecostal Joint Consultative Group since 2000.

Link to Paul’s full biography

Press Release 20th March 2018