Church of England will retain Amazon shares despite Archbishop comments

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has come under fire after it emerged the Church of England invests in Amazon.

Welby levelled an attack at the online retailing giant this week during a speech to the Trades Union Congress in Manchester, accusing Amazon of contributing little to society in the way of taxes or salaries.

“They don’t pay a real living wage, so the taxpayer must support their workers with benefits,” he said.

“And having leeched off the taxpayer once they don’t pay for our defence, for security, for stability, for justice, health, equality, education,” Welby added.

Despite the criticism, Church commissioners stated Amazon was of the Church of England’s 20 most valuable equity holdings in their annual 2017 report.

The CoE said in a statement that by remaining a shareholder the Church could have greater influence in Amazon’s future direction.

“We have previously been on the record that we consider aggressive tax avoidance or abusive tax arrangements to be both a business risk and an ethical issue,” a spokesperson said.

“As with other issues, we take the view that it is more effective to be in the room with these companies seeking change as an active shareholder than speaking from the sidelines.”

Following the Archbishop’s speech, Amazon has stated that it paid “all taxes required in the UK and every country where we operate”.

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