Our public services must be secular
May 11th, 2007
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has responded to the Government’s proposals for welfare reform and has set out its objections to religious organisations as publicly-funded welfare providers.
Drawing on recommendations made in an independent report by David Freud, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has proposed a radical reform of welfare, which would marketise the employment and welfare service, contracting out supply of most welfare services to private and third sector organisations. The DWP has expressed its desire to include religious organisations as new suppliers of welfare.
BHA Public Affairs Officer Naomi Phillips said, ‘We find the Government’s aim to increase greatly the number of religious organisations in the supply of welfare extremely troubling and we think that doing so will be detrimental for both service users and employees. All public services, funded by the tax payer, should be open and accessible to all, and be provided on a non-discriminatory basis. Increasing the number and influence of religious providers in particular will jeopardise these principles.
‘Reform of the welfare and employment service is just one part of the dramatic cross-Departmental reform agenda the Government has planned for nearly all public services, including many health care services, the prison and probation services, social housing, extended schools and child care. These are areas which the BHA will be investigating over the coming months.’
The British Humanist Association (BHA) represents and supports the non-religious and campaigns for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief. It is the largest organisation in the UK working for a secular society.