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?
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”
On 30th April Baroness Lister of Buttersett asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of the benefit cap on child and family wellbeing since that cap was lowered in 2016-17.'” The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, asked a follow-up question:
The Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, welfare reform was predicated on the principle that work should pay, but that principle is being undermined, not least by the two-child limit. In future, a family with three or more children seeking to avoid the cap by moving into work will find themselves subject to the two-child limit instead. They could end up losing out by going to work. What assessment have the Government made of the impact of this perverse incentive?
On the 23rd January 2018 the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler received a written answer to a question about the impact of the benefit cap on larger families:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many families with three or more children have been affected by the benefit cap in each month since April 2017; how many children were included in each affected family; how many families were (1) lone parent families or (2) two-parent families; and how many of those families had one or more parents in work. [HL4636]
On 16th November 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, led a debate in the House of Lords on the benefit freeze. His opening speech and that of the Minister responding are below. The whole debate can be read here.
“The Lord Bishop of St Albans to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the impact of rising inflation on families affected by the freeze of working age benefits.”
On 22nd February 2017, Lord McKenzie of Luton asked Her Majesty’s Government “what estimate they have made of the extent to which the new lower benefit cap will encourage people into work or to move into smaller homes”. The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a follow up question.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, according to the Government’s own impact assessment nearly a quarter of a million children are affected by the reduced benefit cap, more than two and a half times the number of affected adults. This includes many preschool children in lone-parent families at greater risk of poverty. Given that the prime aim here is to encourage more people into work, will the Minister consider exempting single parents with young children, who would not otherwise be expected to work under the current benefit rules and who rely on familiar social networks and services?