Archbishop attacks spending cuts
The Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) is the swinging axe that follows the cuddly blanket and soothing words of 'The Big Society', the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has said.
In the aftermath of the cuts announced by Chancellor George Osborne, he warned: "You do not escape an economic downturn by cutting investment and by squashing aspirations."
And in a reference to Prime Minister David Cameron's "Big Society" idea, designed to advance "people power", he said: "A man asked me recently: 'What do you think of the Big Society?' So I told him: 'The Big Society? The church has been doing it for over 2,000 years!'"
The Archbishop added: "There is nothing new in a set of Government policies that looks to encourage individuals and voluntary groups to be enabled, to be engaged within our community, to care for one another.
"The Church of England knows all about volunteering. More people do unpaid work for church groups than any other organisation. Churchgoers contribute 23.2 million hours' voluntary service each month in their local communities.
"The Church of England alone provides activities outside church worship in the local community for over half a million children and young people aged under 16 years, and 38,000 young people aged 16 to 25 years. Over 136,000 volunteers run activity groups for young people which are sponsored by the Church of England."
The Church understands the importance of volunteering, but we must not forget that the state "has responsibilities too", he said.
"There is a reason we pay our taxes. Whilst it is easy to pretend that much of our hard-earned cash goes to fund expense-fiddling MPs, disreputable casino-style banks or mad politically correct quangos for do-gooders - actually we should expect the state to run and fund strong public services, with our money.
"How to raise that money is another question. I am not an economist, and I am not a politician, but to cut investment to vital public services, and to withdraw investment from communities, is madness.
"You do not escape an economic downturn by cutting investment and by squashing aspirations."