Bishop of London highlights failings with Windrush Compensation Scheme

On 6th May 2020 the House of Lords debated a Government motion to take note of the Windrush Compensation Scheme. The Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I thank the Minister for allowing this virtual debate. Almost two years ago, the Windrush scandal astounded this country. The hostile environment policy operated by the Home Office was shown to be discriminatory and damaging. It had neglected a critical principle that is foundational to my Christian faith: human dignity.

Process must support people. This needs to apply not only to our migration policy and departments, as clearly set out in the lessons learned review, but to the way we do what we have committed to do, such as the Windrush compensation scheme. From that standpoint, we need to evaluate how accessible the scheme is to those who are trying to rightfully claim underneath it, and that it is a process that honours their human dignity. Continue reading “Bishop of London highlights failings with Windrush Compensation Scheme”

Bishop of Durham asks Government about low earners, in work poverty and universal basic income

On 6th May 2020 the Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion that the Lords “do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, also spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby on her moving maiden speech. I am grateful for all she does to champion the voices of children.

I want to thank Archbishop Sentamu for his leadership in consistently speaking up for racial and social justice. He champions work among young people, notably through the Archbishop of York Youth Trust. He inspires others to do the same.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a dividing experience through its unequal financial impact. The lowest-earning 10% are seven times more likely than high earners to work in a sector which has shut down. Archbishop Sentamu ​champions the real living wage. In-work poverty is compounded by irregular working hours. Such unpredictability means that families cannot easily save to safeguard themselves from unexpected life events. Eighteen per cent of the north-east’s working population experience insecure work. Turn2us found that people on zero-hours contracts expect a £193 drop in monthly income. These workers often provide essential services such as cleaning and delivery, yet face great financial instability. Will Her Majesty’s Government promote Living Hours accreditation? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about low earners, in work poverty and universal basic income”

Archbishop of Canterbury raises economic insecurity of migrants without access to public funds

On 6th May 2020 the Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion that the Lords “do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, also spoke in the debate, highlighting the position of those with no recourse to public funds:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, first, I thank the most reverend Primate for tabling this debate today, as well as for a lifetime’s work of battling inequality. May we continue to benefit from his wisdom and prophetic voice. I also look forward to hearing the maiden speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby.

I wish to highlight the issue of those particularly at risk because they do not have the right to access public funds. Migrants are more likely to be self-employed, in temporary work, or working in industries which have been especially badly hit. They are less likely to own their own homes, risking homelessness if they lose their income. Concerns have been raised that migrants may be compelled to continue working even if they become ill as to stop would be to risk destitution, which puts their and others’ health at risk. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury raises economic insecurity of migrants without access to public funds”

Bishop of Derby maiden speech focuses on welfare of children

On 6th May 2020 the Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion that the Lords “do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Libby Lane, made her maiden speech in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Derby (Maiden Speech): My Lords, Jesus said,

“seek first the Kingdom of God”,​

and in your Lordships’ House, I have caught glimpses of that kingdom: in the warm welcome, in the kind advice of officers and staff, in the patient support of the Church of England Parliamentary Unit, and in the substance of the work noble Lords do, as today.

In January 2015, I became the first woman consecrated bishop in the Church of England. I take this opportunity to thank my friend, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York for his support and encouragement, and to pay tribute to his integrity and influence. It is true to his priorities that he uses this debate to champion the poor and continue the fight for justice. It was a particular gift to be “called home” a year ago, to serve as Bishop of Derby and I am proud of the ways in which diocesan staff, clergy, schools and congregations have stepped up in these difficult times. Derby and Derbyshire have responded generously to meet the needs of the most vulnerable: they have made known the kingdom of God. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby maiden speech focuses on welfare of children”

Archbishop of York leads Lords debate on the case for income equality and sustainability

On 6th May 2020 the Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion that the Lords “do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.” The Archbishop started the debate, and summed up afterwards, referring to many of the speeches made by other Members over the course of nearly three hours. Amongst the other speakers were the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of Durham and Derby. The entire debate can be read in Hansard here, and the Archbishop’s opening and closing speeches are reproduced below:

Income Equality and Sustainability: Motion to Consider

Moved by The Archbishop of York, That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.

The Archbishop of York: My Lords, I am grateful to the Government Chief Whip and the usual channels for granting me this opportunity to move a Motion that is very dear to my heart—thank you. I commend Her Majesty’s Government for their rapid action in the current crisis and, through unprecedented public spending, working to protect jobs and avert millions of redundancies. It is in the light of this recent health emergency that I beseech your Lordships’ House to take note of the case for increasing income equality and sustainability.

Last Thursday, the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, opened a Question for Short Debate on Covid-19 and people living in poverty. I believe that what we are doing today has the potential to make a lasting difference. As Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, said:

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

As long ago as 28 April 1909, Winston Churchill, then president of the Board of Trade, gave a speech in the other place in which he said:

“It is a serious national evil that any class of His Majesty’s subjects should receive less than a living wage in return for their utmost exertions.”—[Official Report, Commons, 28/4/1909; col. 388]

Not much has changed since. That principle remains as strong as ever in our national life. Continue reading “Archbishop of York leads Lords debate on the case for income equality and sustainability”

Bishop of Durham: Covid-19 crisis has amplified child poverty, we should suspend benefit cap and two-child limit

On 30th April 2020 in a virtual sitting the House of Lords debated a Motion in the name of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the number of people who will be (1) living in poverty, or (2) unable to meet their basic needs, as a result of COVID-19; and what steps they are taking to support such people.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate:

 

The Lord Bishop of Durham:  My Lords, the Covid-19 crisis has amplified child poverty. The welcome measures that raised UC and increased LHA show that radical government action is possible, but they have highlighted two policies as unfair. The first is the two-child limit. Recent events demonstrate life’s unpredictability. It exposes the flawed view of how the two-child limit policy was set up. Children should not be penalised for changing circumstances. Up to 60,000 families may find themselves affected in the coming weeks. Next week, the Church of England and CPAG will publish a report exploring the policy’s impact on these families. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham: Covid-19 crisis has amplified child poverty, we should suspend benefit cap and two-child limit”

Bishop of St Albans suggests gift aid reform to ease coronavirus burden on charities

In a virtual sitting of the House of Lords on 30th April 2020 a debate was held on a motion from Lord Addington, “that the Virtual Proceedings do consider the fundraising and organisational challenges faced by the charitable and voluntary sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, took part in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, at the very time when we need every charity in the country to be mobilised and deployed, many are teetering on a cliff edge. I have been very struck by the range of charities that have sent me briefing notes: St John Ambulance, Barnardo’s, the MS Society, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Scouts, Refugee, Cancer Research UK and the Rainbow Trust, to name but a few. I am sure that other Lords have heard from many others.

Over the years, as the Government have, rightly, raised standards in safeguarding, health and safety, and training, charities have had to employ people to meet those requirements. Now, as income from fundraising activities and charity shops, as well as rental income, has dried up, they are furloughing the very staff who are needed to oversee volunteers. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans suggests gift aid reform to ease coronavirus burden on charities”

Bishop of Gloucester raises impact on female offenders and children of coronavirus in prisons

On 23rd April 2020 the House of Lords held a debate in its virtual proceedings, on a question from Lord German, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the prison population and offender rehabilitation programmes.” The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, took part in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I echo what has been said already. I draw attention to my interests in the register, particularly the fact that I am president of the Nelson Trust. I will make just a few points.

The Secretary of State has argued that the public would not accept the early release of certain categories of prisoners. The Government need to be clearer with the public about the risks in a pandemic to prisoners, key workers and their families. The potential risk of low-level, non-violent offenders being released on licence is far outweighed by the risk of inaction and delay. Will the Government commit to put into the public domain as soon as possible substantial and transparent information about how the release programme is working and publish daily statistics about coronavirus in prison, including the impact on staff and those in custody?

Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester raises impact on female offenders and children of coronavirus in prisons”

Archbishop of Canterbury responds to Home Office Windrush Lessons Report

On 19th March 2020 the Home Secretary made a statement on the publication of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. The statement was repeated in the House of Lords and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, responded:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, the publication of this Statement is very welcome indeed. The heartfelt nature of the apology was notable.​

I have a couple of questions about the recommendations to put to the noble Baroness. First, one of the historic failures of the Church of England—in many ways as bad as the hostile environment—was the terrible reception that we gave the Windrush generation, the vast majority of whom were Anglicans, when they came here. They were often turned away from Church of England churches, or were given a very weak welcome or no welcome at all. As a result, they went off and formed their own churches, which have flourished much better than ours. We would be so much stronger had we behaved correctly. I have apologised for that, and I continue to do so and see the wickedness of our actions. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury responds to Home Office Windrush Lessons Report”

Bishop of Rochester responds to Chancellor’s Budget Statement

On 18th March 2020 the House of Lords debated the Budget Statement made the previous week by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester:  My Lords, as many have already observed, this Budget comes in extraordinarily unusual circumstances, and in relation to the issues around Covid-19, subsequent to the Budget announcement, the Chancellor has brought forward a number of measures which have been largely well received, and no doubt others will need to follow. While voluntary action in our communities will form much of the day-to-day response to those who are the most vulnerable and potentially isolated across our nation, the sustaining of public services and of businesses is vital for both our social and economic well-being; other speakers have already begun to address some of those issues.​

Following the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury is always a risky business, and other noble Lords have already spoken with considerable knowledge of these matters, so I shall focus my remarks on one or two specific issues and areas which were already matters of concern, and where that concern is perhaps greater because of the circumstances in which we now find ourselves.

On children and young people, I hugely welcome the long-overdue extension of higher-rate housing benefit for care leavers until the age of 25, thus giving stability in their accommodation beyond their 22nd birthday. This is something that the Church of England organisation the Children’s Society and other charities have campaigned for over some time, and it is most welcome. Also welcome is the £2.5 million for research on family hubs. However, what is not in the provisions of the Budget or subsequent provisions is sufficient funding to address the urgent need for every child to achieve a good start in life, and that is becoming more urgent in the light of the current circumstances. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester responds to Chancellor’s Budget Statement”