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.
“When we stigmatise the poor, the unemployed and the vulnerable, we have succumbed to blaming them for their position. However, although some people stigmatise welfare claimants, many others show enormous human and social solidarity by volunteering to help them.”
On 6th November 2014, Labour Peer the Rt Hon. the Lord Whitty led a take-note debate in the House of Lords on the cumulative effects of Government economic, public spending and regulatory policies on low income and vulnerable consumers. The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, spoke in the debate. He focused his remarks on the rise in the use of food banks across his diocese, and the need for a sustained response to help reduce the use of food banks, including investment in nutrition programmes and reducing the number of delays to welfare payments. He praised those who volunteer and support food banks and other charitable responses, and cautioned some of the language used to describe those who use food banks and other forms of support.
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, for securing this debate, which I enter in no partisan spirit but hope to contribute some reflections from local experience in Norwich of those on low incomes in our city.
It was more than five years ago that I was first approached to become patron of the Norwich food bank, a relatively early one to be established. Its work informs a good deal of what I want to say. The necessity for it was identified before the previous general election as a result of the recession. Suddenly, people who thought themselves reasonably secure were worried. Those who were already insecure became highly vulnerable. That was all very noticeable within our church communities on the housing estates in Norwich, especially in the areas of greatest social deprivation. Continue reading “Bishop of Norwich calls for stronger response to tackle growth of food bank use”
“I worry enormously that in our society we fall too easily into a tendency to demonise and victimise and fall between us and them… I suggest that there is clear evidence that our society is struggling to understand itself as a society today, and not enough evidence on the value of justice for all members of our society” – Bishop of Truro, 16/10/14
On 16th October 2014, the House of Lords debated a motion in the name of Baroness Tyler of Enfield, “that this House takes note of Her Majesty’s Government’s Social Justice strategy.” The Bishop of Truro gave the following speech:
The Lord Bishop of Truro: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, for initiating this debate and congratulate her on her very clear and comprehensive introduction to this very important topic. I am also very grateful to be speaking in a debate when my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ely is going to make his maiden speech. If it were not presumably against the protocols of this House, I would like to congratulate him on doing so before he has done it. However, knowing him as I do, I think that that is probably very dangerous. Continue reading “Lords debates social justice – speech by Bishop of Truro”
On 17th July 2014, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, answered a number of questions on the floor of the House of Commons, during the monthly Church Commissioner Questions slot. He answered questions on food banks, church and cathedral repairs, human trafficking and women bishops. He also answered a written question on Church Commissioners ICT. A full transcript of the session is reproduced below:
Hugh Bayley (York Central) (Lab): What support the Church of England is giving to food banks.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): Four in five of the Church of England’s 13,000 parish churches are supporting local food banks. Continue reading “Church Commissioners – Oral and Written Questions”
On Friday 4th April 2014 the Archbishop of Canterbury took questions from callers to LBC’s James O’Brien radio show. Topics covered included same-sex marriage, the nature of God, climate change, economics and investments, female bishops, welfare reform and relations within the Anglican Communion. A transcript is below. The full recording can also be heard here.
Update: On 6th April the Archbishop gave a joint interview to BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme, with Cardinal Vincent Nichols. In it he was asked to expand on the final answer he gave during the LBC interview. The Sunday Programme recording can be heard here (27 mins 55 secs in)
In the House of Lords on 20th March 2014 Lord Beecham asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what assessment they have made of the number and role of food banks in the United Kingdom.’
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, research by Citizens Advice shows that the main reason people are referred to food banks is delay in the payment of benefits and benefit sanctions; anecdotally, this is also the church’s own experience from its involvement in the many food banks it helps to run across the country. Will the Minister tell us whether the Government are persuaded by this evidence and, if they are not, will he share with us what plans they have to carry out their own research into the reasons leading so many people to seek food aid?
Lord De Mauley: My Lords, I very much acknowledge the right reverend Prelate’s question. While it is right to expect that claimants who are able to look for or prepare for work should do so, a sanction will never be imposed if a claimant has good reason for failing to meet requirements. If claimants demonstrate that they cannot buy essential items, including food, as a result of their sanction, they can claim a hardship payment. No claimant should ever have to go without essentials as a result of a sanction.