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A right to dignity and respect

As leader in this territory of The Salvation Army, which a number of you will know to be a Christian church as well as a faith-based charity that provides extensive support services to many marginalised groups through our programmes in social services and our congregations, I am concerned by the contents of a letter, signed by representatives from a group of churches, part of which was published in The Daily Telegraph today (Friday 7 June 2013).

The research cited and matters raised are causes for concern and, indeed, action. In a letter to the Prime Minister, I have asked that these claims be investigated and either substantiate and that he explain the rationale behind the Government’s position on the issues raised or demonstrate their inaccuracy.

I have chosen not to sign the letter on behalf of The Salvation Army as the research is not our own. However, I strongly endorse the Christian values underpinning the contents of, and motivation behind, the letter. With the signatories, I passionately believe that everyone has the right to be treated with dignity whatever their circumstances, and that disadvantaged people are given such respect as well as access to the practical, social and spiritual support they need to realise their God-given potential.

I am convinced that any negative portrayal of poorer people, whether overtly expressed or implied, will lead to further marginalisation of the most vulnerable in our society. This is not only undesirable, it is unacceptable, and I have expressed these concerns in my letter.