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Archbishop of Canterbury: 'give £10,000 to 25-year-olds'

By Anna MacSwan

The Archbishop of Canterbury has attracted swathes of criticism after being accused of using his position to meddle in politics.

Saying that the UK's economy is "not working" for many, the Most Revd Justin Welby has said 25-year-olds should be given a £10,000 handout to tackle wealth inequality.

He has backed proposals for a £186 billion 'Citizens Wealth Fund' to help young people get on the housing ladder or launch businesses.

Justin Welby
Justin Welby

The grants, floated by the Commission on Social Justice, would be funded by a shake-up of inheritance tax, the sale of state assets such as the Royal Bank of Scotland and income from the Crown Estates.

He said: "Chronically low pay means that a hard day's work no longer keeps people out of poverty: today, a majority of the poor are working families.

"It is particularly hard for young people, so many of whom are set to be poorer than their parents, unable to find secure work and with little prospect of getting on the housing ladder."

Earlier this week, the Archbishop also accused companies such as Amazon of not paying a "real living wage" and "leeching off the taxpayer" in a speech to the Trades Union Congress.

But his comments were criticised after the Church Times revealed the company was among the Church of England's 20 largest investments.

The Commission on Social Justice, of which the Archbishop is a leading member, was set up by the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank.

Its report also argues that the present "living wage" should be increased by £1 an hour to £8.83 for those over 25 and that people on zero-hours contracts should be paid 20% more on top of that figure.

The Archbishop's comments have been criticised by the Taxpayers Alliance.

Spokesman James Price said: "With the tax burden in the UK at a near 50-year high and economic growth sluggish, the last thing Britain needs is this poisonous cocktail of tax hikes that will kill growth and simply pass on costs to those on the lowest incomes.

"Tackling the cost of living means cutting and simplifying taxes, not spraying around ever more taxpayers' cash."

Welby was also accused of straying into politics, with Mark Littlewood, of the Institute of Economic Affairs, arguing in the Times that his comments "seemed to show that the Church of England is going through some sort of metamorphosis from a religious institution to a quasi-socialist campaigning body".

Arguing that the Church of England's own income is boosted by tax reliefs that come with being a charity, he continued: "Why not trial this bold new policy within the Anglican congregation itself?"

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