On 30th October 2017 Baroness Lister of Burtersett asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is their assessment of the impact of the benefit rate freeze, in the light of the higher rate of inflation than that anticipated in the original impact assessment.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, does the Minister agree that incentivising people back into work and supporting the poorest in our society, including children, are not mutually exclusive? Will she comment on the ways of doing the second alongside the first? Will she also set out the Government’s plans to remedy the current situation, in which the poorest of the poor are falling further behind? Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford says poorest of poor falling behind, asks Government to act”
On 30th October 2017 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received a written answer to a question on Universal Credit:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on 9 October (HC Deb, col 4), whether they will publish the evidence supporting his statement that the roll-out of Universal Credit will mean that 250,000 more people will be in work. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks for evidence for employment claims about Universal Credit”
Seven bishops signed a letter to the Guardian newspaper, printed on 14th September 2017, voicing concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes. Four of the signatories were Lords Spiritual:
Local welfare assistance schemes are a vital lifeline for people who find themselves in a crisis and without basic essentials, such as food, electricity, or a working oven. It is therefore very worrying that most of these schemes have been cut back considerably in recent years and that 26 local councils have now closed them altogether, including in many areas that we represent (English councils’ local welfare schemes in ‘meltdown’, 12 September). Continue reading “Bishops raise concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes”
On 26th April 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer from the Government about bereavement support payments:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government why, when determining the length of time for which Bereavement Support Payments would be paid, they considered 18 months a suitable timeframe for bereavement support. [HL6803] Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about bereavement support payments”
On 24th April 2017, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, received written answers to two questions on Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit:
The Lord Bishop of Durham:
(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many families will be affected by the introduction of the two-child limit on Child Tax Credit and the child element of Universal Credit in (1) 2017–18, (2) 2018–19, and (3) 2019–20. [HL6344]
(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what projections they have made of the effect of introducing the two-child limit on Child Tax Credits and the child element of Universal Credit on the number of children in poverty, according to the income-based measures used in the official Households Below Average Income statistics. [HL6345] Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about number of affected and poverty impact of two-child limit on benefits”
On 6th April 2017 Baroness Altmann asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they will reconsider changes to bereavement benefits for parents with dependent children.” The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow up question. The Bishop had been amongst the signatories of a letter from all sides of the House calling on the Government to reconsider its proposals.
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I too signed the letter to the Secretary of State. I fully accept that the system needed reform, but those of us who spend a lot of time looking after people in bereavement know that a widowed parent may sometimes have to spend several years giving considerable extra time, attention and care to the children. In practice, that may necessitate working only part-time for a number of years while children are still at home. Previously in this House there was an assurance that income-related benefits would be there to support such parents, but under universal credit that is not so simple. Can the Minister reassure us that bereaved parents will not be subject to the in-work conditionality requirements that apply under universal credit? Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough raises concerns about changes to bereavement benefits for parents of children”
On the 30th March 2017 Baroness Thomas of Winchester asked the Government ‘what steps they are taking to support independent living for disabled people of working age’. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a further question relating to the Motability scheme.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Motability scheme is a crucial element for getting people back into work, yet about 50,000 people have lost out on it. What is particularly worrying is that the vast majority of appeals are upheld, by which time those concerned have lost the vehicle and then have to get it again. It is costing a lot of time and money. Would Her Majesty’s Government consider having a scheme whereby people do not lose the vehicle until the end of the appeal process? This would make much more sense where the appeal is upheld. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about future of Motability”
On 27th March 2017, two votes took place on a Statutory Instrument introducing changes to the regulations governing Personal Independence Payments. The Bishop of Winchester took part in both divisions.
Continue reading “Votes: Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017”
On 9th March 2017 Labour Peer Baroness Sherlock asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on claimants of the time taken between applying for Universal Credit and receiving payments.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, asked a follow up question.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, in the last three months I have visited a large number of food banks across the diocese of Oxford in seemingly affluent communities, building on my experience of food banks in the diocese of Sheffield. All have underlined to me that the most common reason why people access food banks is delay in accessing welfare payments. Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford asks Government about link between benefit delays and food bank use”
On 21st December 2016 Lord Farmer led a short debate in the Lords, to ask Her Majesty’s Government “what progress they are making in rolling out Universal Credit, and what assessment they have made of its impact”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, took part in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, for this important debate. On behalf of these Benches, I take the opportunity to thank the Minister for his very considerable contribution, drive and service to this House, and wish him well as he leaves the Front Bench.
I think it is true to say that very few in this House disagree with the stated aims of universal credit—to simplify the benefits system and ensure that work always pays. However, I also suspect that there are quite a few of us in this House and, indeed, on these Benches, who fear that on occasion Her Majesty’s Government may have lost sight of that aim. Indeed, it seems that successive cuts to the welfare budget have been prioritised as an easy way of balancing the Government’s finances. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans on importance of welfare system that leaves no one hungry”