Archbishop asks Government about plans to build communities and affordable housing

On 18th March 2020 Baroness Thornhill asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the results of the Housing Delivery Test, published on 13 February.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, asked a follow-up question:

The Archbishop of Canterbury:  The Question from the noble Baroness, Lady Thornhill, is pertinent. Last year I set up a commission to look at the building of housing and communities. Simply the delivery of more houses does not create better communities. The mere existence of houses is not in itself a virtue. It comes back to fattening the pig, as the noble Baroness put it so well. What powers will the planned legislation give to local authorities to ensure that affordable housing is delivered? The experience is that, although there may be a commitment to it in the early stages of planning, as the process goes on the number of affordable houses diminishes very severely. There is a lack of imagination over the forms of ownership. If we are to have communities, we must have facilities and the capacity to build those communities together. Does the Minister agree with that, and what are the plans?

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Bishop of Leeds pays tribute to churches, faith groups and charities providing floating shelters

On 27th February 2020 the House of Lords heard the repeat of a Government statement on the latest rough sleeping annual statistics for 2019, and the approach of the Government. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am grateful for that Statement and look forward to the review by Dame Louise Casey. Does the Minister agree that many elements of civil society, particularly churches, faith communities and charities, while waiting for this, are out on the streets almost every night? I refer to what we call floating shelters in many parts of the country through the winter months—which can be five months—which skew the figures a bit, because they take people off the streets. There are some excellent examples in my neck of the woods, where the churches host rough sleepers overnight and the mosques provide the curry. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds pays tribute to churches, faith groups and charities providing floating shelters”

Bishop of London asks Government if income instead of market value could be used to define affordability in housing

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, will the Minister say whether the Government are planning to look at different versions of what affordability might mean in relation to housing? I am sure noble Lords know that the West Midlands Combined Authority has been looking at income rather than market value. This has brought house prices within easier reach of more people in lower income brackets. Continue reading “Bishop of London asks Government if income instead of market value could be used to define affordability in housing”

Bishop of Durham on lessons learned from Grenfell Tower tragedy

On 31st October 2019 Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth moved a Motion, “that this House takes note of the Phase 1 report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate, drawing attention to the work of churches and others in supporting the survivors, and the wider issues of neglect within the community.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Whips Office for understanding that my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans cannot speak due to the change of time, and that I have been allowed to speak in his place.

It is important for us to remember that for the bereaved families and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, who have now suffered for so long, the past week has been particularly difficult. The report mentions many contributing factors, including issues of fire safety, communication between emergency services, building regulations and the use of materials. In his introduction, the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, spoke eloquently on all those, and many other noble Lords will be able to speak about them from a position of informed authority.

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Archbishop of Canterbury asks Government to listen to Church commission on housing

19.01.09 abcOn 2nd July 2019 Lord Evans of Watford asked the Government “what steps they are taking to increase the number of homes for social rent”. The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, asked a follow-up question:

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his point about social housing delivery. He is right that it has been a challenge for successive Governments. We have delivered 79,000 social homes since 2010, which, it has to be said, is better than the numbers achieved in the previous nine years. In relation to his point about garden villages, we had previously announced 29 and last week we announced another 19. That is significant. It includes providing a special community village for dementia-friendly housing, which again is very good news, and I hope that that will also feed into the discussions that we are having about modern methods of construction.

The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I welcome very much that last answer. In that connection I declare an interest, in that I have set up a commission to look into the housing crisis and the contribution that can be made by civil society and particularly the Churches. It comprises a former Permanent Secretary and a huge number of significant experts. One of the commission’s earliest priorities is to look at how we create communities rather than simply build houses. That means that there is a need for multipurpose community facilities and for looking at the sociological aspects as well as the mere physical construction. Will the Minister undertake to listen to the representations from that and similar inquiries over the next 18 months to two years?

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Church Commissioners Written Answer: Affordable housing

On 13th June 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Frank Field MP on affordable housing:

Frank Field (Birkenhead):  262248 To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, pursuant to the Answer of 5 June 2019 to Question 259013, how many affordable homes have been built by the Church of England or its agents in each local authority area since 2015; and what the affordable housing requirement is in each of those local authority areas.

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Bishop of Coventry asks about lessons learned from Grenfell Tower tragedy

On 10th June 2019 the House of Lords heard repeated a statement by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, asked a follow-up question:

Coventry171122 bThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I echo the praise that has already been given to the emergency services following both Barking and the Grenfell disaster. I welcome the Statement’s recognition of the power of community and its commitment to a new and stronger partnership between residents and those who serve them, for trust to rebuilt and, in particular, for the council to listen and the community to be heard.

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