Bishop of Durham asks Government about low earners, in work poverty and universal basic income

On 6th May 2020 the Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion that the Lords “do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, also spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby on her moving maiden speech. I am grateful for all she does to champion the voices of children.

I want to thank Archbishop Sentamu for his leadership in consistently speaking up for racial and social justice. He champions work among young people, notably through the Archbishop of York Youth Trust. He inspires others to do the same.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a dividing experience through its unequal financial impact. The lowest-earning 10% are seven times more likely than high earners to work in a sector which has shut down. Archbishop Sentamu ​champions the real living wage. In-work poverty is compounded by irregular working hours. Such unpredictability means that families cannot easily save to safeguard themselves from unexpected life events. Eighteen per cent of the north-east’s working population experience insecure work. Turn2us found that people on zero-hours contracts expect a £193 drop in monthly income. These workers often provide essential services such as cleaning and delivery, yet face great financial instability. Will Her Majesty’s Government promote Living Hours accreditation? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about low earners, in work poverty and universal basic income”

Archbishop of York leads Lords debate on the case for income equality and sustainability

On 6th May 2020 the Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion that the Lords “do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.” The Archbishop started the debate, and summed up afterwards, referring to many of the speeches made by other Members over the course of nearly three hours. Amongst the other speakers were the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of Durham and Derby. The entire debate can be read in Hansard here, and the Archbishop’s opening and closing speeches are reproduced below:

Income Equality and Sustainability: Motion to Consider

Moved by The Archbishop of York, That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.

The Archbishop of York: My Lords, I am grateful to the Government Chief Whip and the usual channels for granting me this opportunity to move a Motion that is very dear to my heart—thank you. I commend Her Majesty’s Government for their rapid action in the current crisis and, through unprecedented public spending, working to protect jobs and avert millions of redundancies. It is in the light of this recent health emergency that I beseech your Lordships’ House to take note of the case for increasing income equality and sustainability.

Last Thursday, the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, opened a Question for Short Debate on Covid-19 and people living in poverty. I believe that what we are doing today has the potential to make a lasting difference. As Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, said:

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

As long ago as 28 April 1909, Winston Churchill, then president of the Board of Trade, gave a speech in the other place in which he said:

“It is a serious national evil that any class of His Majesty’s subjects should receive less than a living wage in return for their utmost exertions.”—[Official Report, Commons, 28/4/1909; col. 388]

Not much has changed since. That principle remains as strong as ever in our national life. Continue reading “Archbishop of York leads Lords debate on the case for income equality and sustainability”

Bishop of Portsmouth asks about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund

On 22nd May the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd  Christopher Foster, received written answers to three questions about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. 

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they intend to publish the consultation on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth asks about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund”

Archbishop asks government about income inequality

york-170117-bOn 31st January 2018, Baroness Lister asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘whether they have a policy goal to reduce income inequality; and if so, what is their strategy for achieving that goal.’ The Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, asked a follow-up question: 

The Archbishop of York:  My Lords, does the noble Lord agree with Wilkinson and Pickett in The Spirit Level that equal societies, in terms of income, are much happier societies and that income inequality leads people not to be happy? Does he further agree that being in work does not mean that you have income equality? We have a lot of hard-pressed families on poverty wages, hence the food banks. What are the Government going to do to create this income equality, where we can all become happier people? Continue reading “Archbishop asks government about income inequality”

Bishop of Salisbury calls for Social Mobility Commission to focus on common good

On 4th December 2017 the House of Lords heard a Government statement repeated on the Social Mobility Commission chaired by Alan Milburn, whose board had announced their resignations that day. The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, asked a follow up question:

Archbishop: British society deserves an economy rooted in the common good

On 5th September 2017 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, published an article in the Financial Times, about the need to address economic inequality. The Archbishop is a member of the IPPR thinktank’s Commission on Economic Justice, whose interim report can be seen here. The text of the article is below.

Britain stands at a moment of significant economic uncertainty; a watershed moment where we need to make fundamental choices about the sort of economy we need for the way we want to live. Continue reading “Archbishop: British society deserves an economy rooted in the common good”

Bishop of Derby speaks on tackling poverty and powerlessness

On 14th July 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Bird, “That this House takes note of the case for tackling the causes of poverty in the United Kingdom”. The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate and his remarks are below. The Bishop of St Albans’ speech in the same debate can be seen here.

Derby 191115cThe Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for introducing this important issue of tackling the causes of poverty. We learn from the briefing notes that the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, makes it clear in her textbook that it is almost impossible to define poverty. That is part of the complexity with which we have to wrestle because, as poverty is relative, it is very hard to design appropriate responses.

In my trade, we have two phrases: we talk about the poor and about the poor in spirit. The word for spirit means power, and I want to look at to what extent to be poor and in poverty means to be lacking in power—the kind of power that allows you to feel good about yourself and to have security of work, security of a living place and security of contributing to society. How do we bless people with a sense of power over their lives, for themselves and those around them, and to make a contribution to society? Continue reading “Bishop of Derby speaks on tackling poverty and powerlessness”

Archbishop of Canterbury on the future for the United Kingdom after the EU Referendum

On 5th July 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion “That this House takes note of the outcome of the European Union referendum.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd & Rt Hon Justin Welby, spoke in the debate. His speech is below in full, followed by extracts from the speeches of other Peers. 

2ABCEUdebateThe Archbishop of Canterbury:  My Lords, the events of the past two weeks have led to some of the most traumatic and dynamic changes that we have known. The course of the campaign was robust—as it properly should be on such great issues—but at times veered over the line on both sides: it was not merely robust but unacceptable. Through such comments were created cracks in the thin crust of the politeness and tolerance of our society, through which, since the referendum, we have seen an outwelling of poison and hatred that I cannot remember in this country for very many years. It is essential, not only for this House but for the leaders of both sides and throughout our society, to challenge the attacks, xenophobia and racism that seem to have been felt acceptable, at least for a while.

Just over a week ago, at Lambeth Palace, at the breaking of the fast of Ramadan, I shared an iftar with the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the Chief Rabbi. There were more than 100 young people of every faith and of no faith there. That sense of hope and energy for the future carried us through the rest of the week. It is there and we can reach for it. If, however, we are to thicken the crust through which the cracks have come, if we are to move to a place where we are not yet speaking of reconciliation but beginning to get on a path where in future healing and reconciliation will begin to happen, we need to beware. St Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, says to them at one point:

“Love one another, cease to tear at one another, lest at the end you consume one another”.

We are in danger of doing that in the way that our politics is developing at the moment. If we are to tackle that, we have to put in place some fundamental issues to be capable of creating the agile, flexible, creative, entrepreneurial and exciting society—full of the common good and of solidarity and love for one another—which is the only way that this country will flourish and prosper for all its citizens in the world outside the European Union of the future. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury on the future for the United Kingdom after the EU Referendum”

Archbishop of York: ‘working poor’ “a stain on the conscience of this country”

On 25th June 2014, Labour Peer Baroness Thornton asked Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to address any fall in wages of women in the United Kingdom. The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu,asked a supplementary question:

Archbishop of YorkThe Archbishop of York: My Lords, the Living Wage Commission published its final report yesterday. It makes it clear that people in the care industry are paid very poorly—and the majority happen to be women. Will the Government take a reality check and recognise that people in the care professions are paid poorly? Will they make sure that, in terms of procurement, local authorities encourage those in the care profession to pay at least the living wage, which we wanted to be voluntary and not compulsory? If that does not happen, concern about women being paid poorly will continue. It is a stain on the conscience of this country that people work hard and are still in poverty.

Baroness Northover: I read the report of the most reverend Primate’s commission with enormous interest. I note that he has just said that he is looking for a voluntary approach rather than regulation, but he challenges responsible employers to pay a fair wage. He is right to identify the difference in pay between men and women.

(via Parliament.uk)

Maiden speech by the Bishop of Portsmouth – Higher Education

On 9th April 2014 the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Rev Christopher Foster, gave his maiden speech in a House of Lords debate to take note of Higher Education in the UK.

14.04.09 Portsmouth maiden speech 1

Bishop Christopher focused his remarks on his diocese, the important role of Portsmouth University, access for international students and on local economic disadvantage. His speech in full is below: Continue reading “Maiden speech by the Bishop of Portsmouth – Higher Education”