Bishop of St Albans highlights mental health link to poverty, and raises deprivation in rural areas

On 14th December 2017 Lord Bird asked Her Majesty’s Government “what plans they have to address the root causes of poverty and disadvantage in the United Kingdom.” In the short debate on the question, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke about the link between poverty and mental health, and also the need for action on rural deprivation:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for this debate. I want to make just a couple of points in the time I have.

Plenty of statistics have been bandied around today, and I can quote even more: 14 million people, by some counts, are living in poverty in this country, including 4 million children. The trouble with those and other statistics is that they hide the individual lives they represent: for example, the three men, whom many of us have seen, in sleeping bags in Westminster Tube station as I came in at 8 am yesterday morning; or Joe—not his real name—whom I met this morning in St Peter’s Street in St Albans as I went out to get my morning paper. There has been a visible increase in the number of people on our streets in places such as St Albans over recent months. I have got to know a number of them, and this morning, knowing I was coming in for this debate, I thought I had to sit and talk to Joe just for a minute. I felt I could not in all conscience come and speak on a subject such as this without actually finding out his name and just a little about his story. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans highlights mental health link to poverty, and raises deprivation in rural areas”

Bishop of Carlisle – strong, stable family relationships help to address root causes of poverty and disadvantage

On 14th December 2017 Lord Bird asked Her Majesty’s Government “what plans they have to address the root causes of poverty and disadvantage in the United Kingdom.” In the short debate on the question, the Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, spoke about the importance of stable family life as an antidote to the causes of poverty.

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for securing this debate. As we have just heard, poverty cannot be ​measured simply in economic terms. It affects every area of a person’s life and, as a recent Demos report put it:

“The first step towards tackling poverty is understanding it better”.

Where better to begin than with its causes, about which I would like to make just two observations? Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle – strong, stable family relationships help to address root causes of poverty and disadvantage”

Autumn Budget 2017 – response from Bishop of Birmingham

Press release from the Church of England website:

Responding today (22nd November 2017) to the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget Statement, the Bishop of Birmingham, Rt. Revd David Urquhart, Convenor of the Lords Spiritual, said:

“The Chancellor’s Budget has gone some way to deal with the immediate problems facing our economy, housing and NHS, but it could have gone much further to help the many at the sharp end struggling to get by.

“Across the country churches support and are in touch with those who experience poverty or financial difficulty as a result of low pay, illness, or debt. The Budget statement provided an opportunity to make a difference to the lives of the most disadvantaged at a time when the cost of living is rising. The country faces substantial financial challenges and the growth forecast downgrades are worrying. But whilst the Chancellor has limited room for manoeuvre, there is more that could have been done to alleviate the situation of those who are struggling to manage. Deficit reduction is important, but should be achieved in ways that promote fairness, generosity, and sustainability. Bishops frequently raise these issues in the House of Lords and in meetings with ministers, and will continue to do so. Continue reading “Autumn Budget 2017 – response from Bishop of Birmingham”

Bishop of Coventry asks about role of schools in helping disadvantaged families

On 22nd November 2017 Lord Lennie asked Her Majesty’s Government “what action they have taken to address the concerns raised in the Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation report published in November 2016.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, on my visits to primary schools in Coventry in Warwickshire, I am often struck by head teachers in poorer areas telling me that they cannot help their children without also helping the families, who often face very complex issues. The Minister referred to the opportunity areas. Can he confirm that there is a plan to involve parents and guardians in that work of uplift and that there will be help for head teachers in that task? Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks about role of schools in helping disadvantaged families”

Bishop of St Albans calls for end to freeze on working age benefits, to help children and families

On 16th November 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, led a debate in the House of Lords on the benefit freeze. His opening speech and that of the Minister responding are below. The whole debate can be read here.

“The Lord Bishop of St Albans to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the impact of rising inflation on families affected by the freeze of working age benefits.”

Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, we are at risk of failing a substantial number of children and some of the most needy people of this country. If a society is to be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable, then unless we are prepared to put aside party difference and make common purpose in addressing inequalities in our system of social security, we will surely be found wanting. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for end to freeze on working age benefits, to help children and families”

Bishop of Durham calls for urgent changes to “flawed system” of universal credit

On 16th November 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Hollis of Heigham “That this House takes note of the impact of Universal Credit on claimants.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, on securing this debate and on her introduction.

Universal credit originally set out to simplify a fragmented, complex system and to reduce poverty through the simple, noble philosophy of making work pay. While it still has the potential to transform this ​broken system, its current shape risks undermining these two core objectives for the neediest in the nation and thus failing British families. Almost every week, I receive heart-breaking stories about how the transition to UC is devastating the lives of claimants. What does the five or six-week waiting period, which is often longer, actually look like for a family or single parent with young children? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham calls for urgent changes to “flawed system” of universal credit”

Bishop of Durham asks about impact of cost of living increase and benefits freeze on families

On 2nd November 2017 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received two written answers to questions about income related benefits:

The Lord Bishop of Durham:

(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the impact of the changing cost of living on incomes, particularly for those in receipt of income-related benefits.

(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the impact that the four-year freeze on income-related benefits will have on family budgets in England and Wales. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks about impact of cost of living increase and benefits freeze on families”