Peter Burrows, Bishop of Doncaster, column: Cuts hitting most deprived can’t be right

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne outside No 11 Downing Street, London, before delivering the Budget Statement in the House of Commons. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 8, 2015. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne outside No 11 Downing Street, London, before delivering the Budget Statement in the House of Commons. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 8, 2015. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
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We all know how important it is to listen and how difficult it is to do.

Listening is a skill of critical significance. Listening involves more than just hearing the words others speak.

It is an active process by which we make sense of things and respond appropriately to what we hear.

Listening involves five stages – receiving, understanding, evaluating, remembering and responding.

Engaging with all five stages of the listening process lets us best gather information we need from around us.

We need to practice ‘active listening’ which involves confirming what the listener heard and the understanding of both parties. It shows sincerity; it takes nothing for granted and reduces misunderstanding and conflicts. It strengthens cooperation and understanding.

Many of us will have had the experience of speaking to someone and know they are not paying attention.

That can be annoying and frustrating. These feelings make genuine communication difficult.

Even if 85 per cent of communication is non-verbal, hearing what someone is really saying is important, the old adage that God gave us two ears and only one mouth shows how important listening skills are.

It must be frustrating for those already living in poverty and low wages to feel their voice is not being listened to following the budget.

Even expert organisations such as the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Oxfam, Save the Children, appear to be ignored or their views sidelined because it does not cohere with what the government want the public to hear and believe. It is not unusual for successive governments to ask for reports and then ignore what is being said.

Following last week’s budget, the IFS said there would be more losers than winners in the budget and three million households would be £1,000 a year worse off as a result of tax credits, with low incomes workers hit hardest. I saw other figures indicating those earning over £75,000 a year would be no worse off. It would seem once again those already hardest hit are hit hardest.

I am delighted the minimum wage is to rise, although only for those over 25. I recognise this will put some employers in some difficulty, but it is generally agreed cutting the amount workers can earn before benefits begin will impact on the poorest.

It cannot be right in a fair society we constantly appear to pick on the most deprived and vulnerable.

We should ask the government to listen to the stories being told and the experts who have worked out the financial if not the welfare implication of the changes proposed, rather than these being dismissed and rejected by senior politicians