The Anglican Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has challenged leaders of all political parties to invest in people and public services - in the face of talk of drastic cuts.
Dr Sentamu's remarks came in an article in the News of the World tabloid Sunday newspaper on 3 April 2010, the day before Easter Sunday.
They come as pundits predict that the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown will go to Buckingham Palace tomorrow morning to call the long expected 2010 General Election for 6 May.
The Archbishop, the second most senior clerical figure in the Church of England, wrote: "[I]t worries me when many of our leading politicians talk about cuts to spending, cuts to public services or cuts to our taxes. Did we learn nothing from previous recessions?
He continued: "I am not an economist... but surely the way out of an economic downturn is to INVEST in people - especially the young - as well as in public services. We need strong public services and a state-of-the-art private sector. We need strong industries. We need to build up a country we can be proud of again. Instead, what we have is a society of individuals who embrace a throw-away attitude... Well, I believe the one thing we should never throw on the scrapheap is PEOPLE."
The archbishop added: "If we do not value people, what do we value? Have we not seen what happens when our public sectors suffer extreme cuts? Unemployment rises, communities are devastated and self-esteem evaporates - and not just in the short-term. The effects can be felt for generations. When markets fail the invisible hand of Government must step in."
Dr Sentamu's comments will be welcomed by anti-poverty campaigners, trade unions, social justice advocates and others concerned that while the main parties are prepared to bail out bankers and the very rich in the face of economic crisis, a damaging consensus has emerged that the price must be paid in public services and benefits for the most vulnerable in society.