On 8th January 2019 the House of Lords heard the repeat of a Government statement on delaying the timetable for a full rollout of Universal Credit. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a clarificatory question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the time that she has given to a number of us. The session that we had at the DWP was very informative and helpful, and I thank her for it. However, I am still confused as to why, when we met the Minister, we were told that these regulations had to be dealt with before Christmas, yet we are still not clear exactly what regulations we will be asked to debate. Can she please clarify that? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks for clarity on Universal Credit regulations”
On 12th December 2018 the Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, received a written answer to a question on hardship and the impact on debt & health in Universal Credit pilot areas:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking (1) to address hardship caused in Universal Credit pilot areas, and (2) to ensure that the same impacts on debt and health are not caused by the future roll-out of Universal Credit. Continue reading “Bishop of Newcastle asks about steps to reduce hardship in Universal Credit areas”
On 17th May 2018 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received a written answer to three questions he had tabled on Universal Credit:
Lord Bishop of Durham:
(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many families claiming Universal Credit incur childcare costs above £760.42 per month for one child or £1303.57 for two or more children.
(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that the maximum amount of childcare costs supported through Universal Credit reflects the cost of full-time childcare for children under three.
(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effect on childcare providers of payment in arrears of Universal Credit. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about childcare costs and Universal Credit”
The following letter, expressing concern about the consequences of the two-child limit policy for children and families was signed by sixty bishops (including nineteen Lords Spiritual) and representatives from other denominations and faiths. It appeared in The Times newspaper on 6th April 2018.
The publication of the letter coincided with the release of a report from the End Child Poverty Coalition assessing the impact of the policy, which was introduced in April 2017. The accompanying press release from the Coalition can be accessed here, and the Church of England’s media notice is available here.
The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, published a blog on the Church of England’s website on the same day, the full text of which is also reproduced below.
Two-child limit on Universal Credit
Sir, Today the “two-child limit” policy, which restricts tax credit and universal credit to the first two children in a family, has been in place for a year. The policy is making it harder for parents to achieve a stable and resilient family life. By 2021, 640,000 families will have been affected. Most are low-earning working families, most have three children and some will have made decisions about family size when they were able to support children through earnings alone, but later claimed tax credits or universal credit after bereavement, redundancy, separation, disability, illness or simply low pay. Continue reading “Bishops highlight consequences of the two-child limit in letter to The Times and blog post”
On 20th March, a vote took place on a Regret Motion tabled by Labour’s Lord Bassam of Brighton to Regulations changing entitlement to free school meals. The Bishop of Portsmouth took part. His speech in the debate is here. Continue reading “Votes: Changes to Free School Meals Entitlements”
On 20th March 2018 the House of Lords debated the motion ‘that this House regrets Her Majesty’s Government bringing forward changes in entitlement to free school meals through the Free School Lunches and Milk, and School and Early Years Finance (Amendments Relating to Universal Credit) (England) Regulations 2018 which will undermine work incentives in Universal Credit and leave up to a million poor children unable to claim free school meals; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government not to implement the Regulations until a full poverty impact assessment has been completed and considered by both Houses, and not before six months has elapsed (SI 2018/148). The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, it normally gives me great pleasure to speak in your Lordships’ house, but this evening I speak with some sorrow. I am hoping that the proposals made by the Government—involving, I am sure, the Treasury, the Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions—are perhaps the result of the complexity of those interlocking interests and have inadvertently left what surely cannot be intended. The consequences of this policy run counter to everything that the Government have said about the principle of universal credit, which I and many others have supported. If the consequences are unintended then I shall be delighted and relieved to hear the Minister say so.
Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth warns of cliff-edge consequences for poor families, of changes to free school meal rules”
On 14th March 2018, Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the effect on Universal Credit work incentives of the recently announced proposals for passporting family entitlement to free school meals.” The Lord Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, we have years of clear evidence that tackling child hunger improves outcomes at school and improves achievement and social mobility. What assessment have the Government made of the impact of these proposals on child hunger and on our investment in our children’s futures?
Continue reading “Bishop of Newcastle asks Government about proposals to tackle child hunger”