“I cannot rest content for as long as there are those without somewhere to call home and, more sharply, without security in relation to the shelter over their head” – Bishop of Rochester, 5/6/14
In the second response to the Queen’s Speech by the Lords Spiritual, Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester delivered a maiden speech about housing. Welcoming some of the provisions in the Queen’s Speech about new home building, the Bishop voiced concern about supply and affordability and raised the work of Housing Justice and the Faith in Affordable Housing project.
Hear an interview with the Bishop about his maiden speech and his thoughts on joining the House of Lords here
The Lord Bishop of Rochester (Maiden Speech): My Lords, I thought that your Lordships might welcome a maiden speech as a kind of interlude in the midst of today’s business. I am most grateful for the welcome that I have received in your Lordships’ House since my introduction on, of all auspicious days, April Fools’ Day. I am particularly grateful for the courtesy, kindness and helpfulness shown by the Lord Speaker, Black Rod, the Clerk of the Parliaments and their staff. Continue reading “Maiden speech of the Bishop of Rochester: Housing and the Queen’s Speech”
On 12th May 2014, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, received answers to three written questions on benefits, electricity and housing.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the financial impact on people on low incomes of uprating most cash benefits and tax credits by one per cent from April 2013 rather than in line with inflation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): For 2013/14, the main rates of working-age benefits, statutory payments and tax credits were up-rated by one per cent in the Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2013. The Welfare Benefits Up-rating Act 2013 provided for the one per cent increase to apply for 2014/15 and 2015/16. Both of these were accompanied by Impact Assessments.
As part of his ongoing public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010 to monitor impacts on “protected groups”, the Secretary of State continues to monitor the impacts of the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Act 2013 in light of any changes to the underlying rate of inflation. The underlying rate of inflation for increases in 2014/15 is similar to that forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility and used in the Impact Assessment. It is therefore likely that the impacts on affected households will be broadly similar to those detailed in the Impact Assessment.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans receives answers to written questions on benefits, electricity and housing”
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)
Continue reading “Archbishop’s phone-in on LBC radio: transcript”
During the committee stage of the Government’s Immigration Bill in the Lords on 12th March 2014, the Bishop of Newcastle drew attention to the potential impact of measures in clause 16 that require nationality checks on potential tenants by private landlords. The Bishop asked the Minister whether the need for private landlords to have regard to a code of practice was in itself robust enough to prevent discrimination against migrants or those of foreign name or appearance.
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, perhaps I may also ask for some clarification. One of my concerns about this part of the Bill is that many landlords will simply not rent to anyone who seems to be foreign or who does not hold a British passport for fear of getting it wrong and being fined. I am afraid that that will inadvertently result in further racial discrimination and provide a charter for those unscrupulous landlords who are racist.
In response to the consultation, the Government accepted that the new rules might provoke landlords to discriminate against people they perceive to be foreign rather than to conduct proper checks. They also recognised the risk that vulnerable people might be impacted. So, in relation to the code of practice and the associated guidance which will make it clear that the checks do not allow landlords to act in a manner inconsistent with the UK’s equality legislation, is that in itself sufficient? It simply requires landlords to read the code and adhere to it without any redress at all if they do not. Continue reading “Immigration Bill – Bishop of Newcastle raises concern about potential for discrimination by landlords”
The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Lord Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question relating to the underoccupancy charge and its impact on tenants. The Bishop asked about tenants in the North of England and Wales who believed they would be unable to pay their rent in full due to the introduction of the new charge for an empty bedroom. Lord Freud responded to say during the transition the Government were making available adequate funds for discretionary housing payments.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effect of the underoccupancy charge on tenants.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans seeks clarification on underoccupancy charge contingency plans”
Baroness Quin asked Her Majesty’s Government what recent discussions they have had with local authorities about the costs associated with implementing the underoccupancy charge.
The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, as affordable rental properties in rural areas are in such shortage, will the Government extend the scheme, which currently applies only to the 21 most sparsely populated districts, and allow more local authorities to use discretionary housing payments to help retain more couples and families in their homes?
Lord Freud: My Lords, that is exactly what the discretionary housing payment is for. It is for local authorities to take decisions, based on their local knowledge, so that they get the funds to the right people. The emerging signs are that we will not spend all the discretionary housing payments this year. I am, however, making sure that a substantial amount of discretionary housing payment goes out next year, for which the total figure will be £165 million.
Written Questions answered on 24th January, 2014:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to mitigate the additional cost of heating for rural households not on the gas grid.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The Government believes that domestic consumers living off the mains gas-grid should have access to secure and affordable fuel supplies to heat their homes.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans receives answers to written questions on energy policy and housing benefit”