Bishop of Leeds asks about two child benefit cap

The Bishop of Leeds asked a question on the purpose of the two child benefit cap on 18th April 2023, during a debate on universal credit reform:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, could the Minister remind the House what the point of the two-child limit is and what its impact is on the provision of essentials?

Viscount Younger of Leckie (Con): The House will be very aware of this subject, which does keep cropping up. The House will be aware that, since 6 April 2017, families have been able to claim support for up to two children and there may be further entitlement for other children if they were born before 6 April 2017 or if an exception applies. As the right reverend Prelate will know, there are a number of exceptions, including any child in a household who is adopted, any child living long-term with friends or family or who would otherwise be at risk of entering the care system.

Hansard

Universal Credit (Removal of Two Child Limit) Bill: Bishop of Durham moves to pass bill

On 24th March 2023, the Bishop of Durham moved that his Universal Credit (Removal of Two Child Limit) Bill should pass through the House of Lords in its third reading. The Bill was approved and passed to the House of Commons.

Motion

Moved by

The Lord Bishop of Durham: That the Bill do now pass.

My Lords, I request your Lordships’ patience for a few minutes as I make a few remarks. I express my deep gratitude to all those who have supported this Private Member’s Bill and the effort to remove the two-child limit. I thank those across all Benches who have contributed during the passage of the Bill. I particularly thank the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott, who, for much of the time I sought to highlight the wrong of the two-child limit, was the Minister who had to respond. She was always willing to engage and debate with me. We did not reach agreement, but I publicly thank her for the way that she worked with me.

I recognise particularly the work of the Child Poverty Action Group, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the North East Child Poverty Commission, and their staff, who have provided valuable support and encouragement throughout this process. I publicly thank my two parliamentary assistants who have worked with me on the Bill, Emily King and Becky Plummer. They have been superb. I also thank Kim Johnson MP, who has agreed to take the Bill forward in the other place, and many other MPs who have already promised their support.

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Bishop of Durham asks about universal credit and free school meals

The Bishop of Durham received the following written answers on 23rd March 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Durham asked His Majesty’s Government, further to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Trussell Trust report An Essentials Guarantee: Reforming Universal Credit to ensure we can all afford the essentials in hard times, published on 27 February, what assessment they made of the recommendation contained in that report to “introduce an Essentials Guarantee” to ensure those on Universal Credit are not going without essential items.

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Bishop of Durham asks about prevention of debts for universal credit recipients

The Bishop of Durham received the following written answer on 21st March 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Durham asked His Majesty’s Government, further to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report An Essentials Guarantee: Reforming Universal Credit to ensure we can all afford the essentials in hard times, published on 27 February, which found that “95 per cent of people on Universal Credit facing debt deductions are going without essentials”, what steps they are taking to prevent debt from being (1) generated, and (2) sustained, in the social security system.

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Bishop of Chelmsford asks about debt management process for universal credit recipients

The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question on reform to debt management for universal credit recipients during a debate on food banks and the rise in poverty on 9th January 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, given the data published by the Trussell Trust in December which revealed that 57% of people referred to food banks who are in receipt of universal credit face government deductions from their or their partner’s benefits income, could the Minister outline what steps the Government will take to reform the debt management process for universal credit?

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Bishop of Durham asks about Help to Save scheme

The Bishop of Durham received the following written answer on 19th December 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Durham asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the potential impact of expanding the Help to Save scheme to all Universal Credit claimants and broadening points of access to include credit unions and other providers of low-cost credit.

Lord Harlech (Con): Help to Save aims to support individuals to kickstart a regular, long-term savings habit and build a rainy-day savings fund by providing a generous government bonus on savings over four years.

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Bishop of Chelmsford asks about extending access to free school meals

The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question on extending free school meals to all children from families in receipt of universal credit on 13th December 2022, during a debate on free school meals funding and decision making power:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, building on the question the noble Lord has just asked, research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that out of 3.9 million children living in relative poverty in the UK, only 2.3 million receive free school meals. Can the Minister say whether the Government intend to extend free school meals to all children from families receiving universal credit?

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Bishop of Durham’s Bill to remove the two-child limit for universal credit passes to next stages

The Bishop of Durham tabled a motion for his Universal Credit (Removal of Two Child Limit) Bill to be discharged from the committee stage on 26th October 2022. No amendments had been tabled by other Members to the Bill, so it passed Committee Stage and proceeds to its final Lords stage, Third Reading:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: That the order of commitment be discharged.

My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Unless, therefore, any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.

Motion agreed.

Hansard

Bishop of Durham asks about debts and universal credit

The Bishop of Durham received the following written answers on 5th September 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Durham asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effect of government debt deductions on Universal Credit recipients’ ability to afford essential items; and what steps they are taking to prevent debt deductions contributing to destitution as the cost of living increases.

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Queen’s Speech: Bishop of Durham speaks on the cost of living

On 17th May 2022, the House of Lords debated the Queen’s Speech. The Bishop of Durham spoke in the debate, regarding the cost of living and the two child limit on universal credit:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I declare my interests as chair of the National Society and co-chair of the Archbishops’ Commission on Families and Households.

A key question for evaluating the legislative agenda laid out in the gracious Speech is: are we, as a nation, prioritising the holistic well-being of all our children? I welcome the forthcoming Schools Bill. I pay tribute to the Secretary of State’s approach in constructively working with us to enable churches to have confidence in moving towards a system where all schools can be in a strong academy trust, maintaining their own ethos. The whole system must provide an education not solely pursuing the ends of maths and literacy but enabling children to be the best people they can be and to contribute to transforming the schools in which we live.

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