Bishop of Rochester asks Government to address needs of most disadvantaged in Coronavirus response strategy

On 28th July Baroness Neville-Rolfe asked Her Majesty’s Government “further to the paper by Professor David Miles, Mike Stead and Dr Adrian Heald Living with COVID-19: balancing costs against benefits in the face of the virus, published on 26 June, what plans they have to ensure that in the future fuller account is taken of the economic costs of any measures adopted to address the COVID-19 pandemic such as lockdowns.” The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question, focusing on those affected by the benefit cap and those housed in the private rented sector.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, this is a complex matter, because economic, social and other community matters often go hand in hand. It is clear that many who have in these circumstances been bearing economic burdens are among those who are also the most socially disadvantaged. Bearing in mind the context of the forthcoming spending review, can the Minister give an assurance that the Government will take care to address the needs of such groups, including, for example, those affected by the benefit cap and those housed in the private rented sector, where repossession cases come before the courts again from later in August?

Baroness Penn: My Lords, I will not anticipate the spending review at this stage, but I can reassure noble Lords that analysis done of action taken by the Government until the end of May has shown that those interventions, alongside the existing tax and welfare system, have helped to reduce the loss of income of working households by up to two-thirds. The poorest households have received the most support as a proportion of their income. These measures have included, as noble Lords will know, the increase in the standard allowance of universal credit by £1,400 a year on top of existing uprating measures.


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