Bishops criticise government for 'immoral' economic policy

The Church comes out of its corner
The Church comes out of its corner

By staff

Five bishops have publicly criticised Labour's economic policy with some questioning its morality.

In separate interviews with the Sunday Telegraph, the bishops of Winchester, Carlisle, Durham, Hulme and Manchester also expressed concern over the level of poverty and the state of the family in the country.

Bishop of Hulme Rt Rev Stephen Lowe said he was concerned by the level of debt accumulated by families and said the government's urging of consumers to spend and boost the economy would be counterproductive.

He told the paper: "The government isn't telling people who are already deep in debt to stop overextending themselves, but instead is urging us to spend more.

"That is morally suspect and morally feeble. It is unfair and irresponsible of the government to put pressure on the public to spend in order to revive the economy."

The senior clergyman said such an approach would encourage the same factors that caused economic problems in the first place.

Manchester's bishop Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch expressed similar concerns and accused the government of being "beguiled by money" and "morally corrupt".

Bishop of Durham Rt Rev Tom Wright told the paper that the lot of the poor had not been improved and claimed that the government had assisted the rich more than the poor in the course of the credit crunch.

He told the paper: "Labour made a lot of promises, but a lot of them have vanished into thin air.

"We have not seen a raising of aspirations in the last 13 years, but instead there is a sense of hopelessness. While the rich have got richer, the poor have got poorer.

"When a big bank or car company goes bankrupt, it gets bailed out, but no one seems to be bailing out the ordinary people who are losing their jobs and seeing their savings diminished."

The bishops of Carlisle and Winchester also voiced concerns about the state of the family in society, warning that Labour had not taken sufficient measures to help the poor as it was afraid of alienating voters.

Responding to the criticism, a government spokeswoman said: "The government has a strong record of helping people out of poverty. We have also made record increases in the amount invested in public services over the last decade.

"When times are tough we believe that people should be given more support, not less.

"That is why we are giving real help now to families and businesses during this global economic downturn, to help those affected retrain and get a new job and keep their homes," she added.


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