Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent steps the Church of England has taken to promote credit unions.
Sir Tony Baldry: International Credit Union day was on 17 October. The Church of England supported this with a number of initiatives, a total of 41 bishops from 30 dioceses were actively involved, and over 50 credit unions across the country were involved. The Church is also exploring a number of other plans to offer support, including: offering space within churches for credit unions to operate; dioceses and churches opening corporate accounts; and clergy information days and sign-up events to raise awareness about credit unions among church leaders and parishioners.
The Church has developed a long-term plan to support the credit union movement; the first task is to link parish churches to local credit unions to offer support where any is available. The second is to set up an Archbishop’s task force to work with the credit union movement and local banking sector to produce credible alternatives which offer financially responsible products and services. The third is the plan to found the Churches Credit Union. The intention is to offer the benefits of credit union membership to clergy, ministers, trustees and those employed by the Church.
Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, how many food banks are currently supported by the Church of England.
Sir Tony Baldry: The Trussell Trust is the largest provider of food banks across the country with over 400 operational food banks. Of these the Church of England’s parishes are closely involved in running and supporting 100 food banks across the country. In addition many churches operate their own food banks which operate at a local level providing support for people within the local community.
The Church Urban Fund “Hungry No More” surveyed 466 Church of England clergy and found that four in five of their churches were supporting a food bank in one or more ways:
75% of churches surveyed collect food for food banks;
38% of churches surveyed provide volunteers;
21% of churches surveyed help to manage a food bank; and
21% of churches surveyed distribute food vouchers.
The majority of these activities have been running for less than two years, indicating the rapid growth of the food bank network. The Church of England is considering how it can rebalance church-based activity away from emergency crisis support and towards long-term work that tackles the underlying problems. The Church in partnership with Oxfam and the Child Poverty Action Group is conducting joint research to examine the underlying reasons for the rapid growth in the use of food banks and recommend changes in policy and practice that would help to reduce the use of food banks in the longer term.
Via: Parliament UK