THE Bishop of Burnley has joined leading churchmen in condemning David Cameron’s welfare reforms.

Yesterday 27 Anglican bishops and 16 other senior clergy accuse the Tory-led coalition of creating hardship and hunger.

In an open letter, they said the Prime Minister has a ‘moral duty’ to act on the growing ‘national crisis’ of people going hungry.

The intervention, organised by the ‘End Hunger Fast’ campaign, followed Britain’s leading Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nichols branding the government’s benefit cuts as a ‘disgrace’.

Mr Cameron responded by saying the reforms were a ‘moral mission’ and gave people ‘hope’.

Signatories of the letter include the Anglican Bishop of Manchester David Walker, North-West United Reformed Church moderator Richard Church, leading methodists and Quakers.

Neither the Bishop of Blackburn Julian Henderson nor his Burnley deputy John Goddard signed but church sources said they would have if asked.

The letter says: “Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.

“We must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system.”

Bishop Goddard said last night: “The question of welfare reform I believe to be essential, but as I stated at General Synod the whole of the system being reformed needs to have clearly in mind the protection of the most vulnerable.

“The loss of income to families on the breadline in our most deprived areas in East Lancashire is crippling.”

For his visit to Blackburn when his appointment was announced in March last year, Bishop Henderson chose Blackburn Foodbank.

He said then: ““Each food bank is a sign of the struggle it is for some people to get through the next week.”