Church Commissioners’ Questions – Food Poverty, Rural Church Growth


On the 20th July 2017 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman MP answered two oral questions to the Church Commissioners  in the House of Commons, on food poverty and on growing the rural church. A transcript of the questions and follow-up questions by MPs on other issues, are reproduced below.

The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked

 Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab):  What steps the Church of England is taking to tackle food poverty. [900618] 

Seventy-five per cent. of churches collect food, 38% provide volunteers, 29% help to manage a food bank, and 21% distribute food vouchers. Churches also work in partnership with organisations such as Citizens Advice and Christians Against Poverty to tackle the underlying causes of food poverty.

Continue reading

Bishop of Leeds highlights rocketing number of food bank users in employment


On 13th July 2017,  Lord Bird asked the Government “what steps they are taking to prioritise their focus on the root causes of poverty and disadvantage.” The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev. Nick Baines, asked a question in follow up.

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, does the Minister agree that there is a problem here, in that we want to applaud the employment figures released today but, at the same time, we need to recognise that it is people in employment who are using our food banks, where the numbers have rocketed in the last few years? Therefore, the simple statement that we applaud the rise in employment disguises a deeper problem.

Continue reading

Bishop of Oxford asks Government about link between benefit delays and food bank use


On 9th March 2017 Labour Peer Baroness Sherlock asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on claimants of the time taken between applying for Universal Credit and receiving payments.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, asked a follow up question.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, in the last three months I have visited a large number of food banks across the diocese of Oxford in seemingly affluent communities, building on my experience of food banks in the diocese of Sheffield. All have underlined to me that the most common reason why people access food banks is delay in accessing welfare payments. Continue reading

Queen’s Speech 2016: Bishop of Durham responds on welfare, children and life chances


On 19th May 2016 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the first day of debate on the Queen’s Speech. He focused his response on the Government’s life chances agenda, including poverty, children and welfare reform.

Bp Durham June 2015 bThe Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, the gracious Speech makes several commitments to improving life chances for the most disadvantaged. There is also a renewed commitment,

“to support the development of a Northern Powerhouse”.

It is in welcoming these that I shall make most of my remarks.

Children need the best possible start in life. They need to be loved and cared for above all else. Where this is best found in an adoptive family, seeing this established as well and as quickly as possible is important, so I welcome the proposed measures here and look forward to the details. For some, care ends up as the best loving option. We need to ensure that life chances for those in residential or foster care are as good as for all other children. When the time comes to leave care, it is often traumatic. A move to provide care leavers with a personal adviser until they are 25 is therefore a very welcome proposal. Continue reading

Archbishop of Canterbury asks Government about link between food bank use and benefit changes


On 26th November 2015 Lord Beecham asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the provision of food banks at, and the distribution of food to people in need by, NHS hospitals.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev & Rt Hon Justin Welby, asked a supplementary question:

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: Does the Minister recognise that the comments at the time of the previous Government about there being no link between benefit changes and food banks was significantly challenged at the time and that our experience in Church of England, which is involved in the vast majority of food banks across the country, is that between 35% and 45% of people coming to get support from food banks report that the reason for running out of food is to do with changes to the benefit system and sanctions?

Lord Prior of Brampton:All I can do is repeat what I said before which is that, as Ed Davey said, there is no statistical link, in his view, between the Government’s benefits reforms and the provision of food banks. I think that the issue is much more complex than the most reverend Primate is suggesting.



Church Commissioner written answers: Metal theft, closed churches, food banks


On the 10th of September 2015 Caroline Spelman MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, answered five written questions from members of the House of Commons, about metal theft, closed churches and food banks.

Churches: Blackburn
Caroline SpelmanThe following two were grouped together:
Mr Mark Hendrick (Preston): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, which Church of England churches in the Diocese of Blackburn were subject to metal theft from rooves in (a) 2012, (b) 2013 and (c) 2014; and which such churches were redundant. [8993]
Mr Mark Hendrick (Preston): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, which Church of England churches in the Diocese of Blackburn have been subject to metal theft from roofs in each year since 2012; and which such churches were redundant churches. [8387]

Bishop of St Albans calls on Government to take up recommendations of hunger report

Bishop of St AlbansOn 11th December 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recommendations of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Food Poverty’s recent report, Feeding Britain. A full transcript of the exchange is reproduced below:
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, this report is a serious contribution to an important and wide-ranging debate, which recognises the multiple factors behind demand for emergency food assistance. As a country, we have enough food to go round. We agree that it is wrong that anyone should go hungry at the same time as surplus food is going to waste. There is a moral argument, as well as a sustainability one, to ensure that we make the best use of our resources.

Continue reading