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  1. ITV Report

West Country bishops join benefits campaign

The Right Rev Michael Hill Photo: Barry Batchelor/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Bishop of Bristol and the Bishop of Bath and Wells have signed an open letter criticising government plans to change the benefits system, describing the "deeply disproportionate" effect the change will have on children.

The Rt Rev Michael Hill and the Rt Rev Peter Price Thornton are among 43 others - including the Archbishop of Canterbury - who signed the letter to The Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

The Rightt Rev Peter Price Credit: ITV News West Country

In the letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby has warned that "children and families will pay the price" if plans to change the system go ahead in their current form, The Sunday Telegraph said.

The newspaper said that the move would come as a blow to Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, who is attempting to steer the reforms through Parliament. He has said the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill, which will cap benefit rises at one per cet a year until 2016, is needed to help get spending 'back under control' and create a fairer deal for taxpayers.

Politicians have a clear choice. By protecting children from the effects of this Bill, they can help fulfil their commitment to end child poverty.

– Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby

But the archbishop, who will be formally enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on March 21, said the legislation would remove the protection given to families against the rising cost of living and could push 200,000 children into poverty.

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