Bishop of St Albans asks Government about impact of the under-occupancy charge on household debt and child poverty

On 30th July 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions on the impact of the under-occupancy charge, on household debt and child poverty.

The questions and answers are reproduced in full below:

Bishop of St Albans

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to mitigate the impact of the under-occupancy charge on household debt.[HL1588]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The removal of the spare room subsidy was a necessary change in order to get the housing benefit bill under control, return fairness to the system and make better use of social housing stock. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about impact of the under-occupancy charge on household debt and child poverty”

Bishop of St Albans calls for Living Wage to help improve youth employment

On 30th July 2014 Baroness Sherlock asks Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to reduce levels of youth unemployment following the recent closure of the youth employment contract incentive scheme. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, a significant part of the problem is that there are some posts suitable for young people, but they are often in parts of the country where accommodation is prohibitively expensive or the cost of commuting simply precludes them from taking those jobs. In the light of that, have Her Majesty’s Government considered embracing the concept of the living wage for all people of working age?

Lord Freud: Obviously we have looked at the living wage. If the figure suggested for the living wage were to be adopted, we would have to consider the impact on unemployment and the particular impact on youngsters, who would be hit worst. The NIESR estimated that adopting the living wage as opposed to the minimum wage would knock 300,000 youngsters out of work.

(via Parliament.uk)

Church and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act – Lords questions

Red BenchesOn 30th July 2014, Conservative Peer Lord Fowler asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they are satisfied with the enactment and operation of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.”

In his follow up question, Lord Fowler raised the situation of clergy who are married to someone of the same sex. A number of other Peers also asked questions relating to the situation in the Church of England.

The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev Steven Croft, set out the Church of England’s position in his own supplementary question and the full transcript of all the exchanges is reproduced below: Continue reading “Church and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act – Lords questions”

Bishop of St Albans Receives Answers to Questions on Social Housing

On 30th July 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions on the social impacts of the under-occupancy charge from the Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud.

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to mitigate the impact of the under-occupancy charge on household debt.[HL1588] 

Lord Freud: The removal of the spare room subsidy was a necessary change in order to get the housing benefit bill under control, return fairness to the system and make better use of social housing stock.

For those that are vulnerable and who may require more time to make the transition to change, the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme administered by local authorities is available. Money management and budgeting and debt advice is also provided by many local authorities and social sector landlords. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans Receives Answers to Questions on Social Housing”

Bishop of Sheffield calls for development of Armed Forces credit union

On 29th July 2014, the Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, co-sponsored and spoke in support of an amendment to the Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill. The amendment, tabled by Lord Kennedy of Southwark, sought to establish a credit union specifically for members of the armed forces and their families. He noted the Church’s own work in setting up the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union, and highlighted the well-developed system of credit unions for service personnel in the United States. He called on the Minister to give an update on the progress made towards the creation of such an institution. Following the debate, Lord Kennedy withdrew his amendment, but indicated that he may bring it back at the Third Reading of the Bill.

14.03.27 Bishop of SheffieldThe Lord Bishop of Sheffield: My Lords, from these Benches I welcome the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and give it our full support. The amendment gives strong support to the setting up of a credit union for the Armed Forces and their families in a similar way in which the church is setting up its own credit union—the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union. The Armed Forces, like the clergy and other groups, need a source of affordable credit for short and long-term needs. As a society we have duty of support and care to our Armed Forces. Recent research in a number of strands shows clearly that the ability to obtain credit at reasonable rates of interest is a vital element in building resilience to poverty and debt across our whole society. The inability to obtain such credit in times of need raises the possibility of falling further into debt, of food and fuel poverty and of a downward spiral. Continue reading “Bishop of Sheffield calls for development of Armed Forces credit union”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about its humanitarian assistance to South Sudan (Written Answer)

On 29th July 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on humanitarian assistance in South Sudan.

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they are supporting the role of churches and other civil society groups in the peace and reconciliation process in South Sudan, and in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Baroness Northover: The UK is one of six donors funding the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Community Security and Arms Control (CSAC) Project, which includes provision of technical support for national and community-level community reconciliation process, including working with faith-based partners. Furthermore, under the Africa Conflict Pool Programmes, the UK is funding civil society organisations to build the capacity of local populations to identify and resolve conflicts that affect them.

Through the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), the UK has supported work by national civil society to provide health, education, food security and livelihood, water and sanitation and mine awareness services for the most vulnerable. In addition, some United Nations agencies supported by the UK (such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP)) work in close collaboration with local partners. To improve basic services the UK funded Girls Education South Sudan (GESS) project is working through Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) in two of South Sudan’s 10 States, and the UK-led Health Pooled Fund (HPF) will support faith-based county hospitals as well as government ones.

(via Parliament.uk)

Vote – Motion to Regret on role of Leader of the House of Lords

On 28th July 2014, two bishops took part in a division of the House of Lords on Crossbench Peer Baroness Boothroyd’s Motion to Regret on the role of the Leader of the House of Lords.

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

Baroness Boothroyd moved that this House welcomes the appointment of Baroness Stowell of Beeston as Leader of the House of Lords, but regrets the decision of the Prime Minister to diminish the standing of the House by failing to make her a full member of the Cabinet; and requests that the Prime Minister reconsiders this decision.

The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster (who also spoke during the debate) and the Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, voted ‘content’ with the motion. No bishop voted ‘not content’.

There were: Contents: 177 | Not Contents: 29 | Result: Government Defeat

(via Parliament.uk)