- 11 updates
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who will be formally enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on March 21, has condemned the Government's plan to change the benefit system.
Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has told ITV News that Government plans to change the benefits system is about "fairness", in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's warning that "children and families will pay the price".
Mr Duncan Smith said: "This is about fairness. People who are paying taxes, working very hard, have hardly seen any increases in their salary, and yet under the last government, the welfare bill rose by some 60 per cent to £200 billion.
"That means they had to pay for that under their taxes, which is simply not fair.
"That same system trapped huge numbers in dependency, dependent on the state, unable, unwilling to work. What is either moral or fair about that. That is my challenge to the bishops".
The Archbishop of Canterbury has made his first foray into politics with his comments on benefit changes to The Sunday Telegraph.
ITV News' Sejal Karia looks at whether this political intervention is a surprise:
Former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown told ITV News the Archbishop of Canterbury's voice "should be listened to" but added it was important to tackle the deficit.
The archbishop, who will be formally enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on March 21, said: "As a civilised society, we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need. When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever, not disappear or diminish.
"It is essential that we have a welfare system that responds to need and recognises the rising costs of food, fuel and housing. The current benefits system does that, by ensuring that the support struggling families receive rises with inflation.
"These changes will mean it is children and families who will pay the price for high inflation, rather than the government."
He added: "Politicians have a clear choice. By protecting children from the effects of this Bill, they can help fulfil their commitment to end child poverty."
The letter, which was sent from 43 bishops including the Archbishop of Canterbury to The Sunday Telegraph, added that "the change will hit the poorest the hardest."
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has warned that "children and families will pay the price" if plans to change the benefit system go ahead in their current form, The Sunday Telegraph said.
The Most Rev Welby and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, have backed the letter.