Church Commissioner Questions: Parish Ministry, Coronation, Rural Clergy, and Support over the Winter

On 17th November 2022, MPs put questions in the House of Commons to the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP:

Parish Ministry

Jerome Mayhew MP (Broadlands, Con):

2. What recent discussions he has had with the Church on strengthening its parish ministry.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about energy costs for farming businesses and alternative fuel users

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 17th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Benyon on 31 October (HL2654), what specific provisions the Energy Bill Relief Scheme contains to support farming businesses; and what estimate they have made of the impact of that scheme on farming businesses.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about cold weather payments

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 16th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Stedman-Scott on 27 October (HL2653), on what basis they can provide for the Cold Weather Payment being £25; when they undertook their last review into the appropriateness of that figure; and what assessment they have made of the efficacy of a one-off payment for those eligible for the Cold Weather Payment.

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Bishop of Bristol asks about conditions in the social care system

The Bishop of Bristol asked a question on concerns about fair wages and working conditions in the care sector on 8th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, there are currently more than 160,000 vacancies in the social care sector, and, so often, the work of voluntary carers—relatives—needs the support of the wider social care system. Research from the TUC finds that one in three current care workers is likely to leave in the next few years due to low pay. It is very good to see the Government’s new Made with Care recruitment drive. However, please can the Minister set out what the Government are doing to address the concerns about pay and status in the social care system, particularly given the ongoing cost of living crisis?

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Bishop of St Albans speaks about the challenges facing pensioners and low-income workers

The Bishop of St Albans spoke in a debate on financial stability on 3rd November 2022, focusing on the effects of the current financial situation and cost of living crisis on low-income workers and on pensioners:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, we are living in challenging times, with inflation rates at a 40-year high. Turbulence in the financial markets, with higher interest rates and larger mortgage payments, is adversely affecting people in all walks of society. With the wholesale price of energy and gas increasing due to Putin’s appalling and illegal invasion of Ukraine, it is vital that His Majesty’s Government do all they can to protect renters, those with mortgages and, of course, pensioners.

To put a human face to this debate, I thought it might be worth while just quoting one of a number of emails I have received from communities in my diocese this very week. One person emailed me on Friday: “In my role as chair of a food bank, we are having to make decisions around both frightening increases in demand and a growing decline in donations. This summer, we increased our warehouse capacity to handle food for somewhere around 500 food parcels a day. The problem is in-work poverty which is growing substantially. In the past few weeks, we have been approached by a hospital, a large business, schools and a local council about whether they can refer low-paid staff to us.” He went on: “Apparently, employers are not prepared to talk about the problem of in-work poverty, feeling ashamed. They would like to raise wages and want the best staff welfare but can’t because that would move them into a deficit budget.” The human reality of what we are facing is stark. Unfortunately, the mini-Budget of 23 September made a challenging financial climate much worse.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about support for community warm spaces on the Isle of Man

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 31st October 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the Community Warm Spaces Fund in the Isle of Man; and what plans they have to implement a similar scheme in England and Wales.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about energy and food costs for farmers

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 31st October 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support British farmers (1) with the increasing cost of energy, and (2) to ensure food security.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about cold weather payments

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 27th October 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what plans they have to review the Cold Weather Payment given increased energy costs.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about support for warm hubs

The Bishop of St Albans asked about government support for warm hubs on 20th October 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to support the establishment and maintenance of warm hubs in England.

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Bishop of Oxford speaks about child poverty

On 20th October 2022, the Bishop of Oxford spoke about child poverty during a debate on the cost of living and public wellbeing:

My Lords, I welcome this moving and timely debate and the opportunity to highlight the consequences of the rising cost of living and its impact on well-being. I particularly want to focus on the well-being of children.

Psalm 41 begins with the words, “Blessed are those who consider the poor”—a reminder, if we need one, that the well-being of the whole nation is enhanced or diminished by the way we respond to those most in need. This insight is shared by all the great faith traditions.

So let us consider the poor, especially children caught in poverty and the impact of that on their well-being. The Children’s Society published its Good Childhood Report a few weeks ago. The stats have been quoted already. Some 85% of parents and carers are concerned about how the cost of living crisis will affect their families; that is nearly everybody. A third of families reported that they are already struggling with the costs of school trips and uniforms over the next year. A recent Action for Children survey report found that nearly half of children worry about their family finances—but, of course, many children’s needs are much more basic.

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