WITHOUT "a deep spiritual base in the Christian tradition",
economic growth by itself was "insufficient" for the country's
well-being, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin
Welby, said on Thursday. His remarks came before the Office for
National Statistics' confirmation on Friday that the UK economy
grew by 0.8 per cent over the past financial quarter.
Speaking at a conference, "Blueprint for Better Business", in
central London, Archbishop Welby called for investors to take a
more "holistic" view of business, and for more support for
small-business start-ups. He criticised the "distancing of the
investor from the thing in which they invest".
The Archbishop gave the example of a painter and decorator from
the North East, who had been laid off in the recession of 2008-10,
and took 18 months to secure a £200 loan to start a business.
"After 18 months of unemployment, he managed to get a loan for
the money he needed to start his own painting-and-decorating
business," Archbishop Welby said. "He started it, he paid off the
loan in three weeks, and he has a full order book . . . for about
The painter and decorator now employs three people. "The loan he
needed was £200 to buy a ladder, some paint brushes, and a basic
stock of tools for the job he needed to do," the Archbishop
"What kind of financial-services system do we have in this
country when someone who needs £200, and is going to work their
socks off once they've got it, can't get it for 18 months? What
kind of hope does that give across this country, and how does that
challenge our investment, our financial services, and the use of
the monies we have?"
Archbishop Welby said: "We have to have a financial-services
system that recognises the dignity of that human being, his
integrity, and enables him to take risks, to succeed, and to fail.
"Our financial sector today has the largest sum of money it has
ever had, both as a proportion of GDP and in absolute terms in cash
holdings. Unless financial services and investment begins to look
at a whole view of this country . . . and to challenge the
inability of the economy to care for those on the edge, there is
not a good future."
The Archbishop said that investors and lenders had to move from
an "adversarial" relationship with stakeholders and lenders. This
positioning "ends up with punishment rather than learning and
redevelopment" when things go wrong.
"It's very difficult to do that with small companies, and
therefore we need to look again at our structures, and see how we
can be diversified enough and have enough subsidiarity to be able
to relate to different areas, and not do everything wholesale from
one place, far away from those who need it.
"I know that sounds idealistic, but I also understand from 20
years of working mainly in areas of deprivation that it doesn't
work when you're a long way away.
"We have to ask ourselves: what is the social purpose of
business? What kind of society do we want to be in and want our
children to inherit? And if our financial-services system is not
delivering that kind of investment, then we have to think