Bishop of Durham asks Government about community organisations access to new shared prosperity fund

On 4th February 2019 Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town asked the Government “what progress it has made on the design and implementation of the proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund in the light of reports that the Prime Minister is considering providing additional funds to former steel and mining communities and industrial towns.”  Responding to the news that the Government would launch the consultation on the single prosperity fund shortly, the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that in the consultation, local community organisations will be assured that they can access the new fund so that local issues really do rise to the surface in use of the funding? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about community organisations access to new shared prosperity fund”

Church Commissioners Written Answer – charitable donations

On 27th November 2018 the Second Church Estates Commissioner answered a written question about charitable donations:

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment the Church Commissioners have made of trends in the level of demand for charitable donations since 2010. Continue reading “Church Commissioners Written Answer – charitable donations”

Bishop of Durham highlights work of faith-based charities and role of volunteers

On Tuesday 16th January 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Pitkeathley “That this House takes note of the Report from the Select Committee on Charities Stronger charities for a stronger society (Session 2016-17, HL Paper 133).” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I draw notice to my charitable interests as listed in the House register.

This insightful report rightly stresses that we live in a time when charities provide an ever-greater volume and range of social provision in our society. Therefore, their role must be thoughtfully recognised and supported by the Government. I am proud of the role that the Church of England and all UK faith groups play in this provision. As examples, we run food banks, advice drop-ins, youth clubs and practical skills and jobs training, support the elderly and offer legal support to asylum seekers. According to New Philanthropy Capital, more than a quarter of charities in Great Britain have an association with faith and many people of faith help in the full range of charities. The significance of faith as a motivator for charitable action should never be underestimated. The particular needs and challenges that the Church and other faith-based charities face must be considered and taken seriously in any coherent strategy for the long-term flourishing of UK charities. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham highlights work of faith-based charities and role of volunteers”

Bishop of Rochester on the role of churches, voluntary and community groups in building the common good

On 11th June 2015 the Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke during the House of Lords debate on the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter for the 2015 General Election. The text is below and the speeches of others in the debate can be read here

Bishop of RochesterThe Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans for initiating this debate, and the opportunity to reflect on the House of Bishops’ pastoral letter, which, although issued in the context of an election, was written in the hope that it would provide an ongoing stimulus to thinking and reflecting on the shape of our society and the kind of society that we wish to be. Not least, it will provide something of a challenge to the churches, to which it is primarily addressed, but to others also, to discover afresh something that is a treasure and very much part of our story. Reference has been made to Magna Carta, and as Bishop of Rochester I would be remiss not to remind noble Lords of the existence of the Textus Roffensis, which predates the Magna Carta, although it is not quite so long, and which also merits celebration. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester on the role of churches, voluntary and community groups in building the common good”

Bishop of St Albans leads debate on civil society, the common good and the Bishops’ General Election pastoral letter

“I am convinced that there is urgent work to be done to establish a new politics that seeks the common good. Indeed, I am keen that we will be able to explore the forms that such an approach to politics might take and the role that churches, charities and voluntary organisations, and indeed all intermediate institutions, can play in moving us in that direction.” – Bishop of St Albans, 11/6/15

On the 11th June 2015 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, led a House of Lords debate on the pastoral letter of the House of Bishops for the General Election of 2015. The debate was titled:

‘That this House takes note of the role played by civil society, in the light of the pastoral letter from the Church of England’s House of Bishops, Who is my neighbour?’

The Bishop’s speech is below in full, along with his closing remarks and links to the speeches of the other 16 participants.The speech and subsequent debate can also be watched here.

Bishop St Albans June 2015The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, there is much in our nation for which we can be profoundly grateful. Next week, as we mark 800 years since the sealing of Magna Carta, we give thanks for the long, yet sometimes tortuous, path that has led us to becoming a modern democracy. That moment was if not the birth then perhaps at least the conception of civil society at the beginning of a long gestation.

Last month, we celebrated 70 years of peace since the end of the Second World War, by which time civil society as we know it today was coming of age. As a nation, we have experienced extraordinary levels of economic growth over recent decades. Life expectancy has increased significantly and, importantly for this debate, in many communities in our nations, civil society is still strong and thriving. I for one am immensely grateful to be living in modern Britain and do not want to give any time to sentimental talk about a bygone era that probably never existed. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans leads debate on civil society, the common good and the Bishops’ General Election pastoral letter”

Bishop of Derby speaks of unique contribution of the voluntary sector to society

“We do not look just to our neighbours but to strangers. We are not just interested in economic viability but in what is morally right. That is where the energy of the charity sector comes from, and why there is that great British tradition we have heard of—not because it is economically efficient but because it is morally right” – Bishop of Derby, 26.6.14

On 26th June 2014, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in Baroness Scott of Needham Market’s take note debate on the role played by the voluntary and charitable sectors. He spoke of the distinctive nature of the voluntary and charitable sectors, how they can learn from the world of business but must not simply become businesses, and how they must be afforded the freedom and flexibility to deliver their own unique contribution to communities.

Bishop of Derby

The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness and her party for securing this debate. We talk in a context in which certainly many of the charities and voluntary and faith groups that I am involved with are in crisis, with rising demand and costs and reduced funding. That context is the ending of the welfare state. I remind the House that when the welfare state was conceived, Sidney and Beatrice Webb saw it as having three charity and voluntary work purposes: to meet basic needs, to bring people into association with each other, and to create partnership and participation. Of course, the welfare state became totally focused on meeting basic needs rather than on the richer political ecology of dignifying people, associating with them and bringing them into partnership. Many of us in the charitable and voluntary sector have got drawn into that game of meeting basic needs through projects. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby speaks of unique contribution of the voluntary sector to society”

The Bishop of St Albans takes part in debate on the Charity Commission

During a debate on the effectiveness of the Charity Commission, the Bishop of St Albans welcomed the Government’s decision to extend exempted charity status to churches and similar charities by a further seven years but raised concerns about the capacity to register exempted organisations when they reach the registration threshold. He called on the Government to ensure that funding was maintained to ensure the Charity Commission could provide high-quality advice and support to charities and sought a specific assurance from the Minister that the Transparency of Lobbying Act would not affect a church’s ability to host hustings and similar events.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I will not reiterate what has already been said about the levels of underfunding of the Charity Commission. There is great concern that the vital work that is going on needs proper support if we are going to develop this very important sector in our country. A number of noble Lords have spoken about the need for proper resourcing.

I want to comment briefly on the group of charities that are described by the Charity Commission as excepted charities. These include not just churches and chapels but charities that provide premises for some types of schools and Scout and Guide groups, and charitable service funds of the Armed Forces. It is very significant and helpful that Her Majesty’s Government have decided to extend exception from registration for a further seven years beyond 31 March 2014. It is unclear whether there are any plans afoot for an orderly transition to registration in the lead-up to 2021. Of course, to some extent inflation will reduce the number of excepted organisations and other charities as they reach that £100,000 registration threshold, but unless some queuing system is agreed in advance, at the end of the seven-year extension there is a real possibility of a logjam. Continue reading “The Bishop of St Albans takes part in debate on the Charity Commission”