Queen’s Speech – Bishop of St Albans on planning, building safety and accessibility

On 17th May 2021 the Bishop of St Albans spoke in the third day of debates on the Queen’s Speech in the House of Lords, focusing on the continuing issues of leaseholders facing costs for replacing dangerous cladding, and the new planning Bill.

“My Lords, I too look forward to hearing the maiden speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Coaker and Lord Morse, but I want to start by congratulating the Minister on introducing the leasehold reform Bill.

“Ending ground rents—or, as one person called it recently, the serfdom charge—in new developments is an important and positive reform, and I will welcome this opportunity to be mostly congruent with the Minister, after been being on opposing sides of the Fire Safety Bill. While this is a great victory for future leaseholders, existing leaseholders, particularly those in developments affected by the building and fire safety scandal, nervously await their fate.

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Bishop of Southwark raises housing needs of asylum seekers with disabilities

On 17th December the Bishop of Southwark asked a question during exchanges in the House of Lords on the standard of supported accommodation for those seeking asylum:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark [V]: My Lords, in the light of the recent ruling by the High Court of Justice in London against the Secretary of State, what steps have Her Majesty’s Government taken to review the way in which the Home Office houses asylum seekers with disabilities in order to comply with the judgment of the High Court? The delays in providing accommodation in the cases before the court range from 45 days to nine months.

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Bishop of Carlisle asks about access to Child Trust Funds

On 3rd December 2020 during questions in the Lords on access to Child Trust Funds, the Bishop of Carlisle asked about provision for those who have learning disabilities but may also have life-limiting conditions:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, does the Minister agree that some children with learning disabilities who want to access trust funds might have life-limiting conditions? There might not be much time available for legal processes to be gone through. Can she assure the House that, if such situations have not already been considered, they will be given the attention that they deserve?

Bishop of St Albans asks about targets for disabled-access homes

On 4th November 2020 Baroness Greengross asked the  Government “what steps they are taking to ensure that changes to the planning system will deliver more homes that are accessible for people with disabilities.” The Bishop of St Albans asked a further question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, with regions such as the north-west, the north-east and Yorkshire hosting less than one disabled-access home ​for every 100 homes, and regions such as the West Midlands hosting just over one disabled-access home for every 300 homes, given that 15.2% of the population is elderly and 18% of the population is disabled, is it now time that the Government mandated targets for disabled-access homes rather than simply relying on local authorities? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about targets for disabled-access homes”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about accessible housing for elderly and those with disabilities

On 16th September 2020 Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked the Government “what plans they have to ensure that any changes to the planning system will improve (1) building standards, (2) safety, (3) environmental impacts, and (4) the well-being of residents.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the latest English housing survey reveals that only 9% of our housing stock has key disability accessibility features. Disability in old age is frequent, and with the ONS estimating that one in four people will be aged 65 or over by 2050 it is vital that we cater for what we are going to need.

Although the recently announced government consultation into this issue is welcome, can the Minister confirm that prior to any changes in planning law, the recommendations of this consultation will be fully implemented to ensure that the vulnerable are not left behind? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about accessible housing for elderly and those with disabilities”

Bishop of Carlisle opposes Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations

On 15th June the House of Lords debated the Government’s “Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No. 2) Regulations 2020”. The Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, spoke in support of an amendment to negative the Regulations, highlighting its effects on abortion on grounds of disability. In two subsequent votes, he and other bishops voted against, but the House of Lords passed the Regulations without amendment by large majorities. 

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I support the amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, and will focus on the proposal in Regulation 7 that abortion for disabilities including Down’s syndrome should be available during the first 12 weeks without question or counselling and then potentially through to birth.​

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government for assurances on disability employment and technology

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Bishop of Portsmouth responds to Queen’s Speech – how to build ‘one-nation’

On 9th January 2020, the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the Queen’s Speech debate, about unifying the nation by building on the expansion of the Living Wage and addressing welfare, child poverty, homelessness and help for the disabled: 

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, it is stating the obvious to say that these are turbulent, uncertain times, perhaps the most turbulent in living memory, even when that memory belongs to Members of your Lordships’ House—a particular, special demographic. It is striking in the face of so much that is uncertain and unknown that the Government’s rhetoric is of clarity, confidence, and even dash. However, while the terrain might be new, much of the rhetoric is from an older school. What is novel is from whom it comes. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth responds to Queen’s Speech – how to build ‘one-nation’”

Bishop of London asks if UK is “going backwards” on independent living for disabled people

London1On 24th June 2019 Baroness Campbell of Surbiton asked the Government “what crisis prevention measures are in place to address the difficulties of those working-age disabled adults who have lost the support needed to live independently in the community”. The Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, asked a follow-up question:

Bishop of London: My Lords, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has recently stated that the UK was going backwards in terms of independent living and went on to say that it was a human catastrophe. In the Minister’s view, are we are doing enough to involve disabled people in producing, designing and providing better solutions for independent living?

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Bishop of Ely highlights needs of those with disabilities in reporting abuse

Ely 2On 17th June 2019 Baroness Hussein-Ece asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the adequacy of the support received by people with a disability when they report any form of abuse to appropriate authorities”. The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, it is important to consider also that there are various ways in which people with disability might be prevented from reporting abuse in the first place. In particular, some people with learning difficulties might not understand or recognise that they are being abused psychologically or financially. Does the Minister agree that information regarding abuse needs to be produced in accessible formats, such as easy read, and should ideally be produced in conjunction with people with disability themselves?

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