THE Bishop of Colchester has blamed the country’s benefits system, claiming it is to blame for the continuation of Foodbanks.

The Rt Rev Roger Morris attended Colchester Foodbank’s annual meeting this afternoon. 

He thanked the public for their support, but said change needed to come from higher places.

In his speech at Lion Walk Church, Colchester, he said: “We shouldn’t be here. It is as simple as that.

“The foodbank, brilliant though it is, is a sign that, on the whole, we have failed.

“We have failed to care for those most in need. We have failed to protect the most vulnerable in society.

“And our failures, as Government, as society, as a so-called welfare state, are then mopped up by the third sector not-for-profit organisations.

“Volunteers and good old-fashioned charity are used to try to repair the gaping holes in the fraying safety net of our benefits system.”

He called on the Government to make changes to help the most needy.

He said: “The first thing is not exactly rocket science and it is this - the level of benefits needs to be higher.

“The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found following the 2017 Budget, the poorest ten per cent of working-age households with children were expected to see their income fall by nearly 18 per cent as a result of tax and benefit changes between 2015 and 2020.

“Secondly, scrap the two-child limit. This invidious policy restricts tax credit and universal credit to the first two children in a family.

“By 2021, 640,000 families will have been affected.”

He was one of 60 bishops who signed a letter opposing this policy.

Universal Credit, a single monthly payment which replaces some benefits and tax credits, will be rolled out in Colchester next week. It is paid monthly in arrears.

The Trussell Trust, the umbrella body for foodbanks, found where Universal Credit has been in full roll-out for a year, foodbank use increased by 52 per cent.

Bishop Roger said: “Unless changes are made, the foodbank will be needed more and more in the future and not just for those in a crisis but as an ongoing supplement to the inadequate aid that is offered to those most in need.”

Campbell Robb, chief executive at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, added: “Organisations such as Colchester Foodbank, who embed themselves in their communities, perform a vital role in making sure everyone has somewhere to turn in times of need.

“But we must not accept a society where foodbanks are necessary.

“For the first time in two decades we are experiencing a sustained rise in child and pensioner poverty, low pay and insecure work.

“The time has come for a new national mission to ensure no-one is locked out and left behind in our society.”