Austerity cuts hitting poor more than the rich, Bishop of Stepney warns

The new Bishop of Stepney has lambasted the Government for its austerity measures that would “hit the poor far more than the rich” and cause segregation in society.

The Rt Rev Adrian Newman blamed “the powers that be” for leaning on faith communities to fill the gap in social care in the wake of the banking collapse.

Cuts in social service spending and Housing Benefit was segregating the poor, he told a London Citizens’ pageant last Thursday which had been staged to ‘reclaim the streets’ after the summer riots.

“We cannot go back to where we were before the banks collapsed,” the bishop insisted.

“How many more EDL marches in Whitechapel, how many more riots in Hackney, how many more ‘Occupy London’ protests have to happen before we wake up to the fact that the world has shifted?

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“The effect of the Government reducing public services, increasing public taxes or changes to welfare benefits will be regressive and the pain of austerity will not be equally felt—but hit the poor harder than the rich.”

He added: “The collapse of the banks and the massive reduction in public spending resulting from the ensuing bail-out has pulled the philosophical rug out from under the Big Society’s feet.

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“Suddenly ‘the powers that be’ want to enlist our support in tackling the chronic problems faced by our economy.

“They want more of what faith communities contribute—but at no cost. It’s making bricks without straw.

“Faith communities provide a massive amount of ‘social glue’ to hold together the fabric of our society.”

The bishop was speaking at a candlelight assembly at Hackney of 1,000 supporters of the London Citizens network, who had marched from Whitechapel highlighting places where people who helped make the London of today had once lived or worked.

These included the Whitehapel tenement in Ashfield Street where Tesco supermarket founder Jack Cohen grew up at the turn of the 20th century and the spot near the Blind Beggar where the Salvation Army founder William Booth preached temperance in the 1860s.

London Citizens’ leader Neil Jameson told the Advertiser: “The idea was to take back the streets and reconnect youngsters to civic society.”

The march along Cambridge Heath Road and Mare Street, where some of the worst summer rioting occurred, ended with the Bishop of Stepney addressing the assembly at St John’s Church.

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