On 29th January 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Tyler of Enfield, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government how they plan to respond to the ten steps to improve social mobility contained in the Sutton Trust’s Mobility Manifesto, published in November 2019, and the recommendations of the Social Mobility Commission’s 2019 State of the Nation report.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Choudrey.
Opportunity, aspiration and education are critical to all having the best chance of being socially mobile. Giving children the best start in life is paramount, so we need more health visitors, better-targeted childcare for those least able to afford it and renewed opportunities for parents to interact with others. Will Her Majesty’s Government commit to a proper national early years strategy with an increased share of future spending?
Church of England schools in my diocese have found it difficult to implement our motto that “no child is left behind” because social mobility is a great challenge exacerbated by a poverty of aspiration. According to the Social Mobility Commission’s survey, less than a third of people living in the north-east think that there are good opportunities in our region.
Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government to invest in early years to improve social mobility”
On the 13th January Baroness Lister of Burtersett asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on low-income families of the four-year freeze in working age and children’s benefits”. the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, in the coming years, the main driver in increasing child poverty will be the two-child limit. Low-income families are particularly detrimentally impacted by this. It is predicted that, by 2023-24, this policy will tip 300,000 children into poverty. What plans do Her Majesty’s Government have to stem the rising child poverty levels caused by current policies, primarily the two-child limit?
Continue reading “Bishop of Durham says impact of two-child limit on some benefits will be rise in child poverty”
On 23rd July 2019 the Government Minister Baroness Buscombe repeated a government statement about Universal Credit. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked some follow-up questions:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for all she said and look back several months to how she involved us and engaged with a group of us in a range of helpful ways. The regulations that have been laid show evidence of the Government having listened. I am deeply grateful for the ongoing engagement with stakeholder groups. However, along with my noble friends who have already spoken, I wish to highlight that this House and the other place, not the stakeholder groups, have to scrutinise the regulations, so to land them on us at this point in a negative form seems quite hard to take, if I am being honest.
Continue reading “Bishop of Durham challenges Government on Universal Credit pilots and two-child limit”
On 16th July 2019 the Home Office Minister Baroness Williams of Trafford repeated a Government statement about domestic abuse. The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, I crave the forbearance of the House. I have two questions; one of my own and one from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, who, due to the adjournment, has had to leave. My question relates to the needs of very vulnerable people, mainly women, on release from prison.
During my visits to our local women’s prison, I have learned that a higher proportion of women in prison than is the case in the general population come from violent and abusive relationships. It is critical that such women and other vulnerable people who have been abused are released into a safe, secure place with secure accommodation. Is the Minister aware that on occasion, due to things such as poor communication between the probation service in prison and the probation service outside prison, things go wrong and, tragically, a woman is released into danger.
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On 27th June 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from the Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Janke, “That this House takes note of the impact of recent benefit changes on vulnerable people.” The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Revd Martin Warner, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Chichester: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Janke, for her introduction to this important debate, which touches on a subject that is the responsibility of us all. We should acknowledge that there have been small though welcome attempts by the current Secretary of State to mitigate some of the injustices that have developed in the benefits system in recent years. But I urge that more radical remedial action is needed. In particular, urgent reconsideration is needed of the impact of the two-child limit—a policy which could eventually affect over 3 million children, pushing more than a million who are already in poverty into deeper material and emotional misery.
The introduction of the two-child limit represented a significant shift in social policy. It broke the long-standing principle, upheld by various Governments of all parties, that entitlement to benefits should be linked to need. In its place, no discernible alternative principle underlies the application of the two-child limit.
Continue reading “Bishop of Chichester calls for “unprincipled and harmful” two-child limit benefits policy to be scrapped”
On 30th April 2019 Baroness Massey of Darwen asked the Government “what plans they have to develop a cross-departmental action plan to address the conclusions and recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child’s assessment of the United Kingdom in 2016, in order to ensure that all public bodies act to protect and promote children’s rights.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the UNCRC states that the best interests of the child must be paramount in all decision making and yet evidence that our Benches are collecting shows that the two-child limit policy is having a substantially negative impact on those families affected by it. In the light of the Government’s obligations under UNCRC, will the Minister undertake to commission independent research into the impact of the two-child limit policy on those families which are affected by it?
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government to investigate effect of two-child limit policy”
On 24th April 2019 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a question he had tabled on the impact of the two-child limit for Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit payments. The exchanges, and the follow-up questions from other Members, are below:
Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit: Two-child Limit
The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what analysis they have made of the impact of the two-child limit on the per-child element of Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit payments on (1) child poverty, and (2) child development, for children under five years old affected by the policy.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Buscombe) (Con): My Lords, the Government are committed to supporting child well-being, and keep the impact of all their policies under review. This policy ensures fairness between those supporting themselves solely through work and those receiving benefits. Isolating the effect of the many individual policies on the income and well-being of children and families is, of course, challenging. Child benefit continues to be paid for all children, as well as an additional amount for any disabled children. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about impact of two-child limit on child development and poverty”