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Welby warns on economic growth

25 October 2013

SHUTTERSTOCK

THE latest quarterly GDP figures, due out today, are expected to show that the economic recovery has continued to strengthen. Some analysts predict growth of up to one per cent. But the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that without "a deep spiritual base in the Christian tradition", growth by itself was "insufficient" for the country's well-being.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Archbishop Welby called for a caring society in which the poor benefited from economic success. "A flourishing economy is necessary, but not sufficient," he said. "A healthy society flourishes and distributes economic resources effectively, but also has a deep spiritual base. . . A deep spiritual base in the Christian tradition enables [society] to shape its way of life, and care for each other in accordance with the teachings of Christ."

He welcomed the prospect that a growing economy could produce new jobs, "particularly in areas of historically very long-term unemployment, multi-generational unemployment", and emphasised the importance of affordable housing.

The Nationwide Building Society's monthly Housing Price Index showed that UK house prices increased by 0.9 per cent in September, and were five per cent higher than in September 2012. But it warned that "construction is still running well below what is likely to be required to keep up with demand. . . The risk is that if demand continues to run ahead of supply, affordability may become stretched."

Archbishop Welby's strongest words were directed at the home energy companies that have begun announcing significant rises of about ten per cent in the price of domestic gas and electricity. He said that the energy companies should be "conscious of their social obligations", and "behave with generosity". He said that energy companies that had put up prices had to "justify fully what they are doing", saying that "the impact on people, particularly on low incomes, is going to be really severe.

"I do understand when people feel that this is inexplicable, and I can understand people being angry about it, because having spent years on a low income as a clergyman, I know what it is like when your household budget is blown apart by a significant extra fuel bill, and your anxiety levels become very high. That is the reality of it."

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