On 4th February 2020 the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Baroness Stedman-Scott, repeated a Government statement made in the House of Commons on the extension to the universal credit implementation date. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, can we honour the DWP staff for allowing the BBC in? Many of us look forward to seeing what comes out. They have been very brave; many departments do not do that. I understand that the Minister does listen but some of these things have now been going on since the system’s very inception. Yes, many people at food banks and people who talk locally say that the work coaches are doing a wonderful job. That is great, but it is the most vulnerable who are suffering. Could we please listen to their voice and make some changes very rapidly? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks for rapid changes to universal credit to help most vulnerable”
On 19th June 2019 Baroness Janke asked the Government “what steps they are taking to address the findings of the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published on 22 May”. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:
Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, if the success is so great, why are so many schools in my diocese having to feed children, and why does almost every parish contribute to food banks?
Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks about poverty and foodbanks”
On the 21st February 2018 Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top led a short debate on the question to ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to promote the importance of volunteering”. The Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, spoke in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, let me tell your Lordships about Benwell in the west end of Newcastle. It is one of the most deprived areas in the country, with 37% of children living in poverty. It is home to one of the largest food banks in the UK, which featured in the Ken Loach film, “I, Daniel Blake”.
In his film, Loach deliberately used the real-life food bank volunteers as extras. Kathy, committed volunteer and a reader in her church, featured in the film. Kathy volunteers at the food bank because she knows what it is like to be hungry. She volunteers at the citizens advice bureau because she knows how complicated the benefits system is. She volunteers in the local school because school was one of the few sources of hope in her own difficult childhood.
Continue reading “Bishop of Newcastle praises local volunteers fighting poverty”
On 21st November 2017 the Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, received a written answer to a question on food banks:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Department for Work and Pensions offers any guidance to Jobcentres on whether, and in what circumstances, it is appropriate to signpost or refer their clients to local food banks. Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford asks Government about food bank referrals”
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. 
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 Leeds highlights rocketing number of food bank users in employment”
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 “Bishop of Oxford asks Government about link between benefit delays and food bank use”
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.
The 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 “Queen’s Speech 2016: Bishop of Durham responds on welfare, children and life chances”
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:
The 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.
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.
The 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. 
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.