Levelling Up Bill: Bishop of Carlisle speaks on health inqualities

The House of Lords debated the Levelling Up Bill in its second reading on 17th January 2023. The Bishop of Carlisle spoke in the debate, focusing on health inequalities between the North and South of England:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, in the brief time available, I will address health inequalities between the north of England, where I live, and the south, and their implications for levelling up and regeneration. Health inequalities are defined as avoidable, unfair and systematic differences in health between different groups of people. In 2010, Sir Michael Marmot conducted his celebrated review into such inequalities, in the hope that this might lead to some improvement. Instead, we have seen an increase, rather than a reduction, of such inequalities over the last 12 years. For instance, life expectancy in deprived areas of the north-east is at least five years lower than it is in similar areas here in London. A baby boy born in Blackpool today can expect an additional 17 years of poor health compared with a baby born in Richmond upon Thames. People in all social groups in the north of England, male and female, are consistently less healthy than those in the south, and premature death rates are about 20% higher across all age groups in the north, due not least to lower lifetime chances.

These statistics—there are many more—are a stark reminder that inequalities in health are often closely linked to people’s socioeconomic circumstances. This has been forcefully illustrated by the Covid pandemic, which, in the words of one commentator, exposed “deep fractures of inequality” running across our society. During the first year of the pandemic, the mortality rate was 17% higher in the north than in the south, unemployment was 19% higher and there were significant differences in mental well-being between the north and the south. It is now reckoned that health issues account for about 30% of the gap in productivity between the north and the south.

Continue reading “Levelling Up Bill: Bishop of Carlisle speaks on health inqualities”

Bishop of London urges government to work with faith groups to tackle health inequalities

On 12th January 2022, the House of Lords debated changing mortality rates in the UK in Grand Committee. The Bishop of London spoke in the debate, advocating for greater inclusion of faith groups to aid in tackling health inequalities:

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Sikka, for securing this important debate. I also look forward to hearing from the noble Lord, Lord Evans, in his maiden speech.

The paper at the heart of this debate provides a useful focus, because it highlights one of the worst health outcomes that we have seen in the past 10 years: that of widening inequalities. It is also helpful because, by focusing on the impact of austerity, we begin to see that public health is impacted by many factors besides healthcare access—factors called the social determinants of health. Those include housing, our jobs, our environment, our education and much more. They can be summed up as the opportunities that we have to lead healthy lives. The Heath Foundation noted that 50% of people in the most deprived areas report poor health by the age of 55 to 59, which is more than two decades earlier than in the least deprived areas. It is not just about life expectancy; it is also about healthy life expectancy.

The debate is poignant also because it comes at a time of great strain on the NHS and on social care, and at a time when those other determinants of health are challenging for many of us. We are also at a moment when I hope we are beginning to realise the importance of prevention of ill health, which is essential for the sustainability of our healthcare system.

Continue reading “Bishop of London urges government to work with faith groups to tackle health inequalities”

Bishop of London asks Government how it will tackle social and economic inequalities in response to covid-19

On 26th October 202 the Bishop of London asked a question in the House of Lords that she had tabled, on covid-19 and social and economic inequalities. The exchanges and follow-up questions from other Members are reproduced below:

Lord Bishop of London: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that (1) social, and (2) economic, inequalities are addressed in their plans for economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baroness Penn (Con): My Lords, the Government have taken unprecedented action to keep people in work and to support businesses since the pandemic began. We are committed to carefully considering the social and economic impact of new policies and to tackling inequalities. Initiatives such as the Kickstart Scheme, the Job Support Scheme and enhanced welfare provision continue to support people, particularly those in groups at risk of higher unemployment due to the pandemic.

The Lord Bishop of London [V]: I thank the noble Baroness for her reply. Given the multiple layers of inequality that the pandemic is revealing, can the Minister tell the House whether Her Majesty’s Government will implement the recommendations made in the recent 10-year Marmot review and set up a taskforce that will focus on understanding the social and economic determinants of health from a holistic, society-wide perspective? Continue reading “Bishop of London asks Government how it will tackle social and economic inequalities in response to covid-19”

Bishop of Carlisle asks Government about tackling health inequalities

On Tuesday 15th September 2020 Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked the Government “in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, what plans they have for changes to the NHS long-term plan.” The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, given that the health protection remit of Public Health England is to be subsumed into the new national institute for health protection, can the Minister tell us what steps Her Majesty’s Government will take to ensure that health inequalities are robustly addressed through programmes of health education and promotion, as envisaged in chapter 2 of the NHS Long Term Plan? Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle asks Government about tackling health inequalities”

Trade Bill: Bishop of Blackburn delivers maiden speech in House of Lords

On 8th September 2020 during the House of Lords second reading debate on the Government’s Trade Bill, Rt Revd Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn, delivered his maiden speech. The full text is below:

The Lord Bishop of Blackburn (Maiden Speech): My Lords, I am extremely grateful for the warmth of the welcome that I have received in my Introduction to your House. When I told my elderly father in 2013 that I had been appointed to serve as the next Bishop of Blackburn, many miles away from his home in Sussex, he was very quiet and somewhat disappointed that my wife and I would be living so far away, but then a light came into his eyes and he asked, “Does that mean you may be invited to enter the House of Lords?” When I replied in the affirmative, he said very quickly, “Well, then, that makes it all right.”

I come, first and foremost, as a Christian who will seek opportunity to support the convictions and values foundational to our faith in Jesus Christ, and to draw attention to those many today, around the world, who are persecuted for their faith in him, and then to advocate for the right for all to enjoy freedom of speech and belief, wherever they may live, and to do so in peace.

Continue reading “Trade Bill: Bishop of Blackburn delivers maiden speech in House of Lords”

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:

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