THE Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, is one of 27 bishops who have signed an open letter condemning the Government’s “punitive” welfare reforms which they say have forced people into food and fuel poverty.

In an open letter to mark the beginning of Lent on March 5, the bishops said that too many people were having to choose between “heat or eat” over “cutbacks and failures in the benefit system”.

They said that politicians have a “moral imperative” to do more to control food price hikes and to make sure the welfare system offered the poor an essential safety net from hunger.