Calls for city councillors to back Bishop of Portsmouth over his stance on ‘terrible’ tax credit reforms

Bishop of Portsmouth Christopher Foster
Bishop of Portsmouth Christopher Foster

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COUNCILLORS are being urged to rally behind the Bishop of Portsmouth in his criticism of controversial plans to slash tax credits for working families.

Calls will be made at a council debate tomorrow for everyone to support a speech about the cuts the Right Rev Christopher Foster made in the House of Lords.

Here is a leading figure in the city highlighting how bad this is, and put that in contrast with our elected representatives, who have backed this terrible, terrible decision made by the government.

Portsmouth Labour councillor Aiden Gray

Mr Foster said he was ‘appalled’ by the government’s proposals – which would slash £4.4bn from the welfare bill – and urged ministers to think again.

Peers defeated the government over the plan and Chancellor George Osborne is to draw up measures to support potentially affected families in the autumn statement.

A motion being put forward at the meeting by Lib Dem Hugh Mason and Labour’s Aiden Gray backing Mr Foster also criticises Portsmouth’s MPs Flick Drummond and Penny Mordaunt for not voting down tax credit changes.

And they want the council to vote in favour of the MPs meeting the bishop to understand the ‘realities of life’ low-paid families face.

Cllr Gray said: ‘This is to highlight the comments the bishop has made, which has been really good to see. Here is a leading figure in the city highlighting how bad this is. Put that in contrast with our elected representatives, who have backed this terrible decision made by the government.

‘People need to remember that this is something before the general election David Cameron promised he would not do.’

Gosport councillor Rob Hylands has already warned the cuts would affect 4,600 families in the borough and they would lose on average £750 a year.

Ms Mordaunt, who represents Portsmouth North, said: ‘I had a chat with the bishop before he put his motion down. He was asking for a pause on the tax credit changes and that’s what we’ve got. I have also written to the chancellor to express views of my constituents.’

Ahead of the meeting, protest groups are set to stage rallies for and against the council’s bid to get the door shut on asylum seekers coming to Portsmouth.