On 22nd October 2020 the House of Lords heard the repeat of a Ministerial statement to MPs on Covid-19. The BIshop of Manchester raised the need for restoration of trust between Ministers and community leaders in Manchester:
The Lord Bishop of Manchester [V]: My Lords, the Greater Manchester tier 3 proposals were the main UK news item across our broadcasting media for at least a week. However, to the best of my knowledge, at no time did senior members of Her Majesty’s Government come to Manchester to meet its people, hear its voices and seek to reach an agreement face to face with our civic leaders. Moreover, yesterday the Manchester Evening News published a story claiming that senior leaders logged into one crucial meeting only to discover that the Government side had set up controls that did not allow members to unmute themselves. It then allegedly used that facility to prevent voices being heard. Continue reading “Bishop of Manchester calls for respect towards local Manchester leaders in covid discussions with Government”
On 29th June Baroness Pinnock asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is their response to reports that five of the largest councils in the United Kingdom may have to issue a notice under section 114 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, as a result of a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a follow up question focusing on local council income in Luton.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, it is not only these five councils who are facing severe challenges. Luton Borough Council in my own diocese, which is one of the most innovative and forward-looking councils in the country, owns Luton Airport. Due to the lockdown, the collapse of this income stream is resulting in a massive hole in the council’s revenue. What conversations have Her Majesty’s Government had with Luton Borough Council? What are the Government intending to do to support Luton?
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about local council income in Luton”
On 4th February 2019 Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town asked the Government “what progress it has made on the design and implementation of the proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund in the light of reports that the Prime Minister is considering providing additional funds to former steel and mining communities and industrial towns.” Responding to the news that the Government would launch the consultation on the single prosperity fund shortly, the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that in the consultation, local community organisations will be assured that they can access the new fund so that local issues really do rise to the surface in use of the funding? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about community organisations access to new shared prosperity fund”
On 24th January 2019 the Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, spoke in a debate tabled by Lord Scriven, “That this House takes note of the ability of local authorities across the United Kingdom to deliver essential services to their communities.”
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I rise with a heavy heart to raise questions concerning the ability of local councils to deliver essential services to their communities. I welcome the prospect of increased short-term government funding but, without that being increased and continued or there being rises in council tax, whatever the rights and wrongs of that, I question whether it will be sufficient to enable councils to meet rising demand, especially in social care. That issue is of immense concern, but others have spoken eloquently about it.
Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester highlights cultural and heritage losses of local council cuts”
On the 30th October 2018 the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, Bishop of Newcastle, spoke in support of the Newcastle Upon Tyne, North Tyneside and Northumberland Combined Authority (Establishment and Functions) Order 2018.
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, I welcome this proposal for a North of Tyne combined authority. I was present when the minded-to agreement was signed and there was a real sense of purposeful energy around the room. I agree with my noble friends Lord Beecham and Lord Shipley who talked about the level of investment that this combined authority will pull in; it is good, but very modest. I hope that nobody, including the Minister, will feel that this is anything like a sufficient answer to the critical lack of investment in the north-east. This development is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a proper level of investment in the north-east economy. Continue reading “Bishop of Newcastle supports creation of North of Tyne Combined Authority”
On the 21st February 2018 Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty’s Government what priority they give to the provision of and funding for local neighbourhood services. The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, asked a follow-up question about the pressures on Local Authority services and social care.
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, in relation to the wider concern about neighbourhood services, we are yet to see the Green Paper on social care outlining plans for improved care for older people in an ageing population. From my own diocese, I am aware of the financial pressures on councils and the pressures that they are facing from the cost of social services for the elderly as they increase. Hampshire County Council expects an additional 1,000 over-85 year-olds every year. What assessment have the Government made of the demands on local social care services in the light of our current ageing population?
Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester asks Government about impact of ageing society on social care costs”
On the 19th December the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith asked a question he had tabled to Government on homelessness:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they plan to take to address increasing homelessness and demand for temporary accommodation.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about support for homeless people”
On 16th October 2017 the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, received written answers to five questions about housing, immigration, the economy and devolution in the north and Yorkshire:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds:
(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of large housing developments with insufficient infrastructure and amenities on community cohesion, social capital, and social inclusion.
(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the level of immigration required, if any, to support the Northern Powerhouse.
(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in addition to their devolution programme for cities, what steps they are taking to promote the rural economy.
(iv) To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, Time for Change: A New Vision for the British Economy, what assessment they have made of the potential for the Northern Powerhouse to restructure the national economy.
(v) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Yorkshire councils’ “coalition of the willing” to secure a single devolution deal for Yorkshire.
Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks Government about economy, infrastructure and devolution in the north and Yorkshire”
Seven bishops signed a letter to the Guardian newspaper, printed on 14th September 2017, voicing concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes. Four of the signatories were Lords Spiritual:
Local welfare assistance schemes are a vital lifeline for people who find themselves in a crisis and without basic essentials, such as food, electricity, or a working oven. It is therefore very worrying that most of these schemes have been cut back considerably in recent years and that 26 local councils have now closed them altogether, including in many areas that we represent (English councils’ local welfare schemes in ‘meltdown’, 12 September). Continue reading “Bishops raise concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes”
On 26th June 2017, a Government statement on the Grenfell Tower fire was repeated in the House of Lords by Lord Bourne. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, responded to the statement by emphasising the importance of learning lessons from the response of faith communities.
Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his comments about the voluntary sector. In the lessons learned exercise, will research be done to understand exactly why the voluntary and faith sector was so good at responding and could organise teams within four hours to distribute things, compared with the local authority response? Will lessons be learned about the why the concerns raised by the residents in the months—indeed, years—beforehand were never listened to, and in the future will tenants be listened to more appropriately? Finally, what can the Government do about the speed of the submission of samples by landlords, which is woefully slow? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham highlights response by faith communities to Grenfell Tower fire”