The Church of England vs the spending review

By Ian Dunt

The Archbishop of York has launched a blistering attack on the spending review, saying it “squashes aspiration”.

Dr John Sentamu said volunteering played an important role in British life but that public services deserved reliable funding.

“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!’,” he said.

“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.

But the state “has responsibilities too”, the Archbishop went on.

“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.”

The Archbishop joins a growing chorus of criticism against the spending review, with opposition politicians, pressure groups and think tanks raising concerns about the government’s plans to cut the deficit.