Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, criticised the Universal Credit scheme, zero-hour contracts, and the recent business practices of online retail giant Amazon in a speech delivered to the Trade Union Council (TUC) in Manchester earlier this month.
Father Welby spoke at the annual meeting of trade unions operating in the United Kingdom. He focused his speech on criticising aggressive corporate management strategies and government policies, including the highly controversial handling of the Universal Credit System. He questioned whether the new system provides fairer benefits to the poor.
Universal Credit was first proposed in 2011 to wide support across all parties in parliament, with the aim of the scheme to streamline the complicated system of benefits for low-income workers and the unemployed into a single payment made every month.
It originally aimed to mix six previously separately handled benefits, including income support, child tax benefits, and housing benefits into a single payment which was believed to drastically reduce organising costs and streamline the processes required to process benefits claims.
Following the many complaints about benefits claimants not receiving their full previous payments or having deductions to their benefits due to the rolling out of Universal Credit, many have called into question whether the scheme has a positive or negative impact on the most vulnerable individuals of Society.
The bulk of Welby’s speech was directed at large multinational companies. He discussed Amazon and their treatment of workers and lowered taxes.
Recently, Amazon gained controversy for reporting an exponential rise in profits but claimed a lower tax bill report, as well as providing most of their workers with a bare-minimum wage widely believed to be insufficient to live on.
The former Oil Company Executive also criticised zero-hour contracts, labelling them as a "reincarnation of an ancient evil".
Hypocrisy from Welby?
Many former Church of England workers were quick to point out that the Church of England has been known to employ people under zero-hour contracts.
This week, it emerged that Gloucester Cathedral posted an advertisement for a zero-hour contract position as a porter on their official site days after the conference.
Similar reports surfaced around Amazon, and it was found that the Church of England invests in the tech giant. The religious organisation also reported a portfolio of over £5 billion acquired tax-free due to the Church's classification as a charity organisation.
Welby closed his speech by wishing for a future government that can run Church-managed foodbanks, empty night shelters, and ‘where money is no longer a tyrant, and justice is seen’.