On 8th November 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Kirkwood to regret the changes to the benefit cap introduced by the Government and taking effect that week. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, supported the motion:
Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope: That this House regrets that the Government have not, in advance of the entry into force of the Benefit Cap (Housing Benefit and Universal Credit) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/909), made additional support available to those individuals affected by the benefit cap to find work.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, we have heard a number of impressive figures and statistics this evening. It seems to me that the principle underlying all this is that you can save money with one hand but you will pay it out with another. According to End Child Poverty statistics released this month, we have 3.5 million children living in poverty in the United Kingdom in the 21st century. In some regions, up to 47% of children are living in poverty. In my own diocese, in the Bradford local authority area, 32.7% of children are living in poverty after housing costs. The national average is 29%. In Leeds Central, it is 41.8%. If children are living in housing and food poverty—as we know they are from food banks and all the other stuff we see on the ground in our cities, towns and rural areas—then we will end up paying out through the National Health Service and in other ways for the consequences of what children do not have at present. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds calls on Government to protect children from effects of reduction in benefit cap”
On 14th July 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Bird, “That this House takes note of the case for tackling the causes of poverty in the United Kingdom”. The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate and his remarks are below. The Bishop of St Albans’ speech in the same debate can be seen here.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for introducing this important issue of tackling the causes of poverty. We learn from the briefing notes that the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, makes it clear in her textbook that it is almost impossible to define poverty. That is part of the complexity with which we have to wrestle because, as poverty is relative, it is very hard to design appropriate responses.
In my trade, we have two phrases: we talk about the poor and about the poor in spirit. The word for spirit means power, and I want to look at to what extent to be poor and in poverty means to be lacking in power—the kind of power that allows you to feel good about yourself and to have security of work, security of a living place and security of contributing to society. How do we bless people with a sense of power over their lives, for themselves and those around them, and to make a contribution to society? Continue reading “Bishop of Derby speaks on tackling poverty and powerlessness”
On 6th July 2016 the House of Lords continued to consider the Government’s Children and Social Work Bill in Committee. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, sponsored and moved an amendment on data collection on factors underlying child maltreatment. The amendment was withdrawn following debate. The Bishop said:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, in moving this amendment I should explain that I speak on behalf of the noble Baroness, Lady Lister of Burtersett, who has done the bulk of the work on this amendment. She is unable to be present today and sends her apologies.
Amendment 99 would require the Secretary of State to report to Parliament within six months of Royal Assent on ways of implementing the World Health Organization’s recommendation in the European Report on Preventing Child Maltreatment regarding improved data collection for monitoring and evaluation. The recommendation points to the,
“urgent need for reliable and valid data”,
on, among other things, “socioeconomic factors”, reflecting the earlier statement in the report that:
“Child maltreatment is linked to variations in socioeconomic means”.
Continue reading “Children and Social Work Bill 2016: Bishop of Durham moves amendment about data on child maltreatment”
On 29th February 2016, the House of Lords considered changes made in the House of Commons to the Government’s Welfare and Work Reform Bill. Earlier, MPs had voted to reject an amendment to the Bill tabled by the Bishop of Durham and passed by the House of Lords, which made it a duty of the Secretary of State to report annually on income measures of child poverty. In its place Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, tabled an alternative Government amendment in the Lords, to require government to annually publish the child poverty income measures, without requiring a report to be laid before Parliament. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, both welcomed this concession by Government. Lord Freud’s speech introducing that amendment can be seen here. The Bishop of Durham’s response can be seen here.The Bishop of Portsmouth’s response is below, in which he also pressed the Minister on points he had made at earlier stages about the two-child limit and impact on those who are bereaved or fleeing domestic violence.
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I, too, am grateful for the Government’s decision to publish under obligation the three HBAI low-income measures, along with the further measure of children in persistent poverty. In welcoming this response to the clear wish of the House, I will not detain the House with my commentary on the tortuous routes to this wise and welcome decision, tempting though that is; we are in Lent and bidden not to succumb to temptation. As we have so powerfully and carefully considered in this House the plight particularly of children in poverty, I recall that the Minister said that he expected the Government to come under further pressure—I paraphrase—and I do not want to disappoint him. Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Portsmouth welcomes child poverty proposals and presses Government on two-child limit”
On 29th February 2016, the House of Lords considered changes made in the House of Commons to the Government’s Welfare and Work Reform Bill. Earlier, MPs had voted to reject an amendment to the Bill tabled by the Bishop of Durham and passed by the House of Lords, which made it a duty of the Secretary of State to report annually on income measures of child poverty. In its place Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, tabled an alternative Government amendment in the Lords, to require government to annually publish the child poverty income measures, without requiring a report to be laid before Parliament. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, both welcomed this concession by Government. Lord Freud’s speech introducing that amendment can be seen here. The Bishop of Durham’s response is below. The Bishop of Portsmouth’s response can be seen here.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, throughout our debates on the Bill, we have all consistently expressed our desire to see child poverty in our nation reduced and, ultimately, eradicated. We have different views about how this might best be achieved, and about the impact the Bill will have. I continue to have deep concerns about its impact. I fear that it will lead to more children and families being poor. Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Durham welcomes commitment to publish child poverty data”
On 25th January 2016, the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, led a debate on an amendment he had tabled to the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill. The amendment, at the Bill’s Report Stage, sought to ensure that Government would continue to use income as part of its measurement for child poverty.The amendment was supported by the Labour and Liberal Democrat frontbench and by a crossbench Peer. The Bishop put the amendment to a vote, which the House passed by 290 to 198. His speech and others from the debate are below.
Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Durham passes amendment to Bill on measurement of child poverty”
On the 14th May 2013 Lord Dubs asked the Government a question about child poverty, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart asked a supplementary question regarding the ways in which the Government could close the gap.
Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham questions Government over Child Poverty figures”