Coronavirus: Archbishop Justin Welby says austerity would be catastrophic

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Justin Welby

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PA Media

The Archbishop of Canterbury warned of public spending cuts after the coronavirus “would be catastrophic”.

The Right Reverend Justin Welby called on politicians to be “brave and courageous” as they sought to cope with the economic and social consequences of the blockage.

In response to soaring public debt, he said that “starting austerity again would be the most terrible mistake.”

Estimates suggest the crisis could cost up to £ 298 billion this fiscal year.

The Office for Budget Responsibility, which keeps tabs on public spending, has estimated the final bill from April 2020 to April 2021.

The Prime Minister reportedly told conservative backbench MPs on Friday that it was “out of the question” to cut public sector wages.

Boris Johnson previously insisted that the costs of the crisis would not mean a new round of austerity, saying, “It certainly will not be part of our approach. “

Welby, who worked as an oil executive before being ordained, spoke to the BBC before Mental Health Awareness Week.

He called on government ministers to invest in mental health services and to create a royal commission on social care.

“The cost of borrowing is the lowest it has ever been in our history. Spending money on mental health will have a positive rate of return, “he said.

“We can do it now in a way that we never could [before]. We must be brave and courageous to define our vision of what society will be. “

He continued: “It is not because we are in the midst of a crisis that we cannot have a vision of a future where justice and justice are the cornerstones of our common life.

“So we fund mental health; we have a commission of inquiry into what we learn from this – not to blame, but to learn; we have a royal commission on how we take care of social care. “


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Media captionBBC Andrew Marr asked the Archbishop what it was like to deliver an Easter sermon from his kitchen

Welby spoke openly about his own mental health issues. He revealed that he had depression last year on a Thought for the Day program broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today program and said separately that he was taking antidepressants.

Speaking this week to BBC religion editor Martin Bashir, he described “an overwhelming feeling that the world is becoming more and more difficult and dark.”

Explaining how his own mental health affected his behavior, he said, “You turn a lot on yourself. You become, frankly, narcissistic. And when you have good friends or family who detect it, they can say “that it’s not an idea to talk to someone”. What I have done. “

He added, “There’s nothing pathetic about it. It’s no more pathetic than being sick in any other way. And we just have to overcome that. “

Both of the Archbishop’s parents were alcoholics and he said his childhood was “disturbing” and “chaotic”. Later, while working in business, her seven-month-old daughter Joanna died in a car accident.

“As we will see as the recession sets in, loss, grief and anxiety are traumas. And the trauma must be crossed. You can’t just do it with the stiff upper lip. “

He said the whole country “must fast” and that it caused “enormous suffering” to many.

When asked how he hoped Britain would recover from the coronavirus crisis, he replied, “We are not doing it with austerity. We don’t do it with class fights. We do this with the community and the common good. And we are not afraid to spend money that will produce a better society. ”

The Archbishop has chosen to take up a theme running through his book “Dethroning Mammon” published four years ago: that wealth is not an idol to be venerated but an asset to be deployed for the benefit of all.

He is likely to infuriate some politicians who will reject his remarks as irresponsible and do not recognize the harmful effect of large deficits.

But he does have a particular glimpse of the impact of austerity – the Church of England educating one in five elementary school students, running a large number of food banks and engaging in a series of social projects aimed at supporting disadvantaged young and old people. and disadvantaged areas of the country.

This is why he believes that the burden of rebuilding Britain after the pandemic should not “fall on the shoulders of those who already show up at food banks”.

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