On the 13th January Baroness Lister of Burtersett asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on low-income families of the four-year freeze in working age and children’s benefits”. the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, in the coming years, the main driver in increasing child poverty will be the two-child limit. Low-income families are particularly detrimentally impacted by this. It is predicted that, by 2023-24, this policy will tip 300,000 children into poverty. What plans do Her Majesty’s Government have to stem the rising child poverty levels caused by current policies, primarily the two-child limit?
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On the 7th January the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke during the second day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, on the topics of child poverty, climate change sustainable development and immigration:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, initially I want to note how little reference there is in the gracious Speech to the needs of children, except in the realm of education. There is nothing about children’s first 1,000 days, nor any firm commitment to tackle the iniquity of child poverty. How we treat children speaks volumes for where our priorities lie. Could the Minister please comment on this omission?
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On 23rd July 2019 Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab) asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on children of the no recourse to public funds immigration condition”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, research by the Children’s Society shows that this particular group of children is more likely to experience absolute poverty, homelessness and greater levels of domestic violence. Despite the significant evidence about the damage that poverty, destitution and abuse can have on children’s outcomes, the Home Office has not yet made public how many children are subject to these NRPF [no recourse to public funds] conditions on their families’ leave to remain. Will the Minister commit to making these figures publicly available?
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On 9th July 2019 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, led a debate in the House of Lords on the question to Government, “what assessment they have made of Project 17’s report Not Seen, Not Heard: Children’s experiences of the hostile environment”:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I am delighted to introduce this debate on Project 17’s report, Not seen, Not heard. In doing so, I draw attention to my interests as listed on the register and, in particular, to the research support I receive from the Good Faith Partnership’s RAMP project on immigration policy.
In this report, Project 17 highlights the way that vulnerable families and children are trapped between overstretched local authorities and punitive immigration controls. As with the ongoing harm caused by the two-child limit, it seems that cost-cutting and punitive notions of control are prioritised over the flourishing and protection of families. We need a radical change of direction away from seeing vulnerable children as a burden. Like many in this Chamber, I believe that a policy built on the gift and voices of children is not a naive aspiration but the very definition of good policy.
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On 27th June 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from the Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Janke, “That this House takes note of the impact of recent benefit changes on vulnerable people.” The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Revd Martin Warner, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Chichester: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Janke, for her introduction to this important debate, which touches on a subject that is the responsibility of us all. We should acknowledge that there have been small though welcome attempts by the current Secretary of State to mitigate some of the injustices that have developed in the benefits system in recent years. But I urge that more radical remedial action is needed. In particular, urgent reconsideration is needed of the impact of the two-child limit—a policy which could eventually affect over 3 million children, pushing more than a million who are already in poverty into deeper material and emotional misery.
The introduction of the two-child limit represented a significant shift in social policy. It broke the long-standing principle, upheld by various Governments of all parties, that entitlement to benefits should be linked to need. In its place, no discernible alternative principle underlies the application of the two-child limit.
Continue reading “Bishop of Chichester calls for “unprincipled and harmful” two-child limit benefits policy to be scrapped”
On 19th June 2019 Baroness Janke asked the Government “what steps they are taking to address the findings of the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published on 22 May”. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:
Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, if the success is so great, why are so many schools in my diocese having to feed children, and why does almost every parish contribute to food banks?
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On 21st May 2019 Baroness Janke asked the Government “what steps they are taking to address the concerns raised by teachers in, and the findings of, the survey on child poverty published by the National Education Union on 14 April.” The Bishop of Winchester, Rt Revd Tim Dakin, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, in a recent poll of teachers in England, 46% reported that holiday hunger had increased over the last three years. In my diocese, in Southampton alone 37% of children—many of whom are in working families—are living in relative poverty; that is, below the 60% median income line. Despite what she has already said, can the Minister give assurances that the Government will commit to reviewing their policies to reverse the rise in child poverty?
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