Lord Horam asked Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to increase the Pupil Premium for the most disadvantaged primary school children.
The Bishop of Wakefield asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, can the Minister tell us whether the Government are considering ways in which an increase in the pupil premium can be targeted at the forms of deprivation most difficult to address? Rural deprivation, for example, particularly in church schools, is very significant in our part of West Yorkshire, in the Diocese of Wakefield.
Lord Nash: The right reverend Prelate is quite right to point out the problems with rural deprivation; it is similar to coastal deprivation. There are particular schemes that schools follow: mentoring; systemic feedback; much more involvement of parents; early intervention, particularly using the better teachers; and peer tutoring. Much can be learnt from groups like Ark, whose academy in Portsmouth, for instance, which is in a classic coastal town, has improved results in four years from 24% to 68%.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Office of Fair Trading about securing an affordable energy supply for rural households that are off the gas grid.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): Representatives of the Office of Fair Trading attend the Roundtable meetings chaired by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Minister of State for Energy. The Roundtable brings together Government, regulators, advisory and charitable bodies, the fuel supply industry and others to work together to improve the security and affordability of off-grid fuel supply.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the energy companies about reducing the price of electricity paid by households that are not dual fuel customers because they do not have access to the gas grid.
Baroness Verma: DECC Ministers regularly meet with energy supply companies to discuss a range of energy issues. Electricity prices for household consumers are a commercial matter for the companies concerned.
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”
On 22nd January, 2014, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds took part in a short debate, led by Baroness Ford, on increasing the supply of affordable housing, focusing his remarks on delivering housing in rural areas. Continue reading “Bishop of Ripon and Leeds speaks about affordable housing in rural communities”
On 14th January 2014, Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, answered written questions from Tessa Munt MP and Anne McIntosh MP, on the Bishop’s Palace in Wells, and churches in rural areas.
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Tessa Munt: To ask the right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what the reasons are for the Church Commissioners’ decision to purchase alternative accommodation for the Bishop of Bath and Wells.
Sir Tony Baldry: The Church Commissioners have always kept under review the suitability of its houses to meet the needs of a diocesan bishop and facilitate his mission. In the case of the Palace at Wells, the Commissioners concluded that more suitable arrangements could be made for the ministry and living conditions of the new Bishop if he were not to live in the Palace, which is operated by the Palace Trust as a visitor attraction. The Bishop and the Bishop of Taunton will continue to be based and work at the Palace.
Continue reading “BISHOP’S PALACE IN WELLS and Churches in Rural Areas: Church Commissioners’ Written Answers”