Archbishop: poor being "left behind"

Thu 15 Jan 2015
By Aaron James

The Archbishop of York says the poor are being "left behind" and whole cities in the UK are being "cast aside".

Dr John Sentamu made the claims in his new book, called 'On Rock or Sand'. It's due to be released next week.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev Justin Welby, former Labour Cabinet Minister Lord Adonis and others have also contributed to the book.

The book says politicians are forwarding a "lie" to the electorate, when they say economic growth will fix Britain's social problems.

The book questions David Cameron's slogan "We're all in this together", saying that "rampant consumerism and individualism" and a culture of "every man for themselves" has "dominated" Britain since Margaret Thatcher became Conservative Prime Minister in 1979.

It also says while London and the South East may be doing well, a lot of the UK is "trapped in apparently inevitable decline."

In a YouTube video introducing his book, Most Revd Sentamu explained that the word "economy" comes from a Greek word meaning "household", which "talks about relationships".

He said: "No one in a household should have too much, where the majority have too a little.

"So a proper household means that things are arranged in such a way that everybody in that household flourishes.

"The economy of Britain seen as a household, means that all of us have got to participate fully... so that all of us can flourish.

"And it will be quite a pity if the powerful, the richest, are the ones that thrive in our household and some are left behind.

Dr John Sentamu has defended the right of the Church to engage in politics. In the book he says it is "essential" for Christians to represent the poor and "speak truth to power".

In 2011, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Rowan Williams drew criticism from the government for making political statements. He accused the coalition of driving through 'radical policies'.

The Treasury appeared to shrug off the Archbishop's claims by maintaining the Government's long term economic plan was working, with claims that more people were in work than ever before and wages were rising faster than inflation.

In a statement to Premier, a spokesman said: "UK income equality is now lower than when this government came into office and the recovery is being felt across the country, with latest data showing the North West seeing the fastest growth per person, and that the North East is seeing the fastest growth in employment.

"We understand that the impact of the great recession is still being felt and so we've moved to cut income tax for 26 million people, frozen fuel duty and frozen council tax. But the job is not done, which is why we must go on working through the plan that is securing a better future across the country."

Listen to Paul Hackwood from the Church Urban Fund having his say on the Archbishop's comments. He spoke to Premier's Marcus Jones on the News Hour:

Watch Dr John Sentamu introducing his book here:

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