On 27th March Peers debated the Chancellor’s 2014 Budget statement. The Bishop of Chester, Rt Rev Peter Forster, cautioned that if society were to experience renewed growth and prosperity, it should guard against recreating the problems of the past 30 years. He argued for an emphasis on strengthened social institutions, including families, continued commitment to overseas aid, and improved financial education.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, the reason that the Bishops sit on the government side of the Chamber, I am told, is the recognition that the task of government is so difficult that the Government need all the help available to them. Managing the economy in recent years has been an enormously difficult task and we can only express relief and, indeed, gratitude that things seem to be moving on to a more normal plane despite all the challenges ahead, about which the Chancellor himself is fairly candid. Continue reading “Freedom and Responsibility: Budget speech by the Bishop of Chester”
The Bishop of Chester asked Her Majesty’s Government: what is their estimate of the cost of family and relationship breakdown to the welfare budget.
After the Minister’s reply, he followed up with a supplementary question.
Lord Freud: My Lords, I am unable to give an official figure. A number of organisations have produced estimates—for example, the Relationships Foundation, at £45 billion-odd—but there is no consensus. The social security spend on lone parents and collecting child maintenance is just under £9 billion, but we must acknowledge that there are wider societal costs. Government have an important role to play in supporting families and working to ensure stable futures for children.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, if the figure of £45 billion or £46 billion given by the Relationships Foundation is even remotely accurate, that illustrates the cost of family and relational breakdown, which cashes out at about £1,500 each year for each taxpayer in our country. What more do the Government propose to do to support and strengthen family life and relationships in our country, which must somewhere include supporting the institution of marriage? Continue reading “Cost of Family Breakdown: Bishop of Chester Question to Government”
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, having been one of the signatories, along with 26 other Anglican bishops, to the letter that went to the Daily Mirror last week, I am loath to speak too much about amendments to government legislation. However, on this particular occasion, because bereavement support is such a notable part of our business and ministry, I am very bothered about the direction in which the legislation is going. Continue reading “Bishop of Wakefield speaks about bereavement payments during Pensions Bill debate”
On 7th January 2014, Lord Horam asked Her Majesty’s Government what progress is being made with the Troubled Families Programme.
The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that there is a considerable body of research and expertise pointing to the vital importance of relationship support in strengthening families? As there are no specific references to family relationships or positive family dynamics in the progress report, will she ask the Troubled Families programme to prioritise such support in the next phase of its work?
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for greater relationship support in Troubled Families Programme”
“Over the past 12 months in the city of Derby, we have seen a 100% increase in the use of food banks. The point I want to make in this debate is that the shift has moved away from the normal suspects, who are, tragically, homeless people, towards families who are housed, but whose incomes are so low that they cannot feed themselves seven days a week.”
On 31st October 2013, Baroness Prosser led a take-note debate on the current cost of living and its impact on family budgets. The Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in the debate, focusing his remarks on the response of civil society to issues of food poverty in the UK, particularly the role of churches in providing food banks. He also spoke about work and income, questions around lifestyle, and the role of the state.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Prosser, on securing this debate and on setting such a good framework in her introduction. I want to look particularly at the human cost of this issue and at the family budgets of those who are at the sharp end of the struggle in trying to deal with rising living costs. I shall begin with the big picture. Earlier this year I organised a hunger summit in Derby. We looked at food poverty in what we call the developing countries, but we also looked at food poverty in our own city. We took the opportunity to launch a remodelled food bank system to provide a more comprehensive service to meet the growing food poverty that we are finding in our own back yard. That is the context in which we should begin to look at the pressure on family budgets. We were supported by the Fair Share Trust. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Newby, was in the House earlier this week when there was a Question about food waste, and I hope that one of the things we can do with excess food is redirect some of it towards organisations such as the Fair Share Trust so that it can be used to supplement those families whose budgets are so stretched that they cannot afford to eat properly. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby takes part in debate on the cost of living”