LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Archbishop William Nolan of Glasgow says it is “immoral” for the government not to raise the level of benefits in line with inflation.

UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has suggested changing the way the government gives out benefits, and will not give assurances that benefit payments will rise with inflation, which is at the highest level since the 1980s.

“We are talking about helping people in the round. It is premature for me to come to a decision on that. But we are absolutely focused on making sure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected through what could be a challenging time,” he said.

In a statement on Sunday, Nolan called on the government to give an assurance that benefits will go up in line with inflation.

“For many decades the UK prided itself on providing a reasonable measure of social security to its citizens who had fallen on rough times – be that through illness, old age, unemployment or poverty,” he said.

“Guaranteeing security for the most vulnerable in society is a sign of a civilized country. The proposal that the poorest people in our midst – those relying on benefits – may see a real terms cut in their already meagre support seems so immoral,” the archbishop continued.

The government of Prime Minister Liz Truss was battered by the markets when it announced plans to cut the highest tax bracket and had to backtrack on the pledge.

The tax cut was part of a “mini-budget” calling for 45 billion pounds ($49 billion) of unfunded tax cuts, coming on top of plans to borrow billions to help shield homes and businesses from soaring energy prices. This has sparked concerns that the new government’s policies would swell government debt and further fuel inflation, which is at 9.9 percent.

“It is essential that Government commit to upgrading benefits to at least keep pace with inflation. The poor must not be sacrificed in an attempt to shore up the Government’s credibility with the markets. Making the poor poorer is not an act of fiscal prudence, it is an act of injustice,” Nolan said.

Nolan’s statement comes a month after England’s Cardinal Vincent Nichols called on Truss to do more to help those affected by the economic crisis.

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“The principle of serving the common good means that the needs of the poorest in society must be given urgent attention. The time for giving priority to factional interests has passed. Today our focus should be on the elderly, families who have the care of children, and all those least able to absorb the huge increases in the cost of living that we face,” the cardinal said.

The bishops of Northern Ireland have also spoken on the issue in a Sept. 27 statement.

“For the poorest in our society, this is an emergency, not a crisis. We call on everyone, from public representatives to parishioners in our parishes, to come together in a spirit of solidarity and active concern for those who are in need among us at this time,” the bishops said.

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