THE Bishop of Oxford has hit out at “disastrous” Government cuts in the wake of critical comments by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Rt Rev John Pritchard said the Archbishop was right to speak out in a magazine article – and criticised “draconian” cuts to public services.

Dr Rowan Williams hit the headlines earlier this week when he said health and education reforms had met with “bafflement and indignation” from the public.

Bishop John told the Oxford Mail: “Rowan Williams is not afraid to cause controversy, that is what I love about him.

“He is prepared to put his head on the block, and I back him.

“Rowan Williams has a passion for social justice and it is flowing out of his Christian faith.”

He said: “Any party might have introduced draconian cuts, and that is by and large an economic question which most Christians are not equipped to answer.

“But the effect is pretty disastrous for many communities, including places like Blackbird Leys in Oxford.

“There are cuts of all kinds of social provision, including social care and youth work. Social care is being pared back for vulnerable, housebound people and that is something I very much regret.

“And the unemployment level for 18- to 24-year-olds in the country is high and that can be particularly disillusioning.”

He said: “He would do the same with a Labour government.

“In our role as critical friends, we can set out principles about the poor and social justice, and that is what a responsible Church will always speak about.

“People would be saying ‘Where is the Church?’ if Rowan Williams remained silent. This is not party-political, it is a statement about a particular course of action which is hurting people.”

In his article in the New Statesman magazine, the Archbishop warned of a “quiet resurgence of the seductive language of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor”.

And he said that Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ drive was viewed with “widespread suspicion” as an excuse for cuts.

Mr Cameron said the concept was an “enormous opportunity” for faith leaders to contribute to their community, as well as the State.

He said the Government was acting in a “good and moral fashion” and ministers had to tackle the national deficit.