Justin Welby hits out at 'evil' gig economy and tax-avoiding companies

  • Video report by ITV News political correspondent Libby Wiener

Justin Welby has hit out at the gig economy, zero-hours contracts and firms like Amazon for paying "almost nothing" in taxes.

The Archbishop of Canterbury received a standing ovation at the TUC Congress in Manchester where he also called for the rollout of Universal Credit to be halted, saying it has left people worse off.

In his speech, Mr Welby said the living wage should be higher.

Speaking of the so-called gig economy and zero-hours contracts, he said they were "nothing new", adding: "It is the reincarnation of an ancient evil."

In a question and answer session after his speech, the archbishop was asked for his view on the Government's flagship welfare reform of Universal Credit.

"It was supposed to make it simpler and more efficient. It has not done that. It has left too many people worse off, putting them at risk of hunger, debt, rent arrears and food banks," he said.

"When Universal Credit comes into a local area the number of people going to food banks goes up.

"What is clear is if they cannot get it right they need to stop rolling it out."

The archbishop won applause from delegates for a section of his speech devoted to tax.

Welby described the gig economy as an 'ancient evil'.

He said: "Not paying taxes speaks of the absence of commitment to our shared humanity, to solidarity and justice. If you earn money from a community, you should pay your share of tax to that community.

"I was in business, and I know that, within limits, it's right and proper for people to arrange their tax affairs, and for companies to do so.

"But when vast companies like Amazon, and other online traders, the new industries, can get away with paying almost nothing in tax, there is something wrong with the tax system."

An Amazon spokesperson said: "We pay all taxes required in the UK and every country where we operate."