The head of the Church of England said the church and housing associations should work together in neighbourhoods that the government has washed its hands of in a speech at the NHF conference today.
Justin Welby said the idea that some areas around the country were in irreversible decline was a ‘ridiculous deterministic belief’.
He also challenged the government’s cuts programme, saying austerity was only ever good when it was ‘voluntary’.
‘Is austerity good? Only when it is voluntary,’ he told delegates at the National Housing Federation’s annual conference today.
‘Imposed austerity is not a good thing. If I choose to fast during Lent, that’s great. If someone says “you can’t have any food, you’re in Lent”, that’s less good.’
The Archbishop suggested it was the job of social landlords and church organisations to rejuvenate poor areas where austerity cuts meant they had little or no hope of government support.
‘I do know that we have the space and the challenge because the government – though necessity or choice – has withdrawn, or is forced to withdraw from some of the areas…
‘[Let us] renew the passion for community and regeneration to challenge the determinism that says communities are just in endless decline.’