Bishop of Portsmouth asks Government about child poverty, two-child limit and benefit support

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On 7th April 2017 the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, received three written answers from Government about levels of child poverty, the two-child limit and benefit support:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the impact of the recent increase in inflation on the number of children in poverty; and what plans they have for protecting low income families against the rising cost of basic essentials. Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about future of Motability

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stalbans190117On 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 Newcastle calls for substantial review of use of benefit sanctions

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Newcastle 2On 30th November 2016 Baroness Lister of Burtersett asked Her Majesty’s Government: “whether, in the light of the public debate around the film “I, Daniel Blake”, they plan to set up a review of the treatment of claimants in the social security system.” The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, given that the National Audit Office has today said that there is limited evidence that benefit sanctions work but rather that they result in “hardship, hunger and depression”, can the Minister update the House as to whether Her Majesty’s Government will now commit to a substantial review of the use and implementation of sanctions?”

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Bishop of Derby: participants in Fit for Work Scheme are assets with gifts and contributions to make

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On 19 October 2016 Lord Luce led a short debate in the House of Lords on a question: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made with the Fit for Work scheme in enabling those with long-term health problems like chronic pain to return to or stay in work.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, made a speech:

Derby 191115cThe Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Luce, for introducing this debate with his characteristic mastery of the territory, context and issues.

I shall look at the progress of the Fit for Work scheme. As the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, hinted, there has been a lot of negativity. I remember that when it was first introduced the press called it a test about whether people were fit for work. There have been pilots and a lot of chunter about the slow development of the rollout. We need to remember that it is a huge shift for the medical professional, employers and employees, and we need to encourage the Government to look carefully at the rollout to see what can be learned as it unfolds. As the noble Lord, Lord Fink, mentioned, there may be issues about how small businesses can access this opportunity. Continue reading

Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendments on reporting on apprenticeships

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On 14th December 2015 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill in its third day of Committee. 

The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in support of amendments that would require the government to provide a more thorough reporting on the take-up of apprenticeships. The amendments were withdrawn after debate.


14.06.10 Bishop of Durham 5The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, in the north-east I get to see apprentices in the car industry, the subsea industry, traditional industries such as stonemasonry, farming, and all kinds of sectors in schools. It is brilliant to be able to see them face to face, to meet them and talk to them. There are brilliant apprenticeships and we need to grow them. Therefore, the 3 million target is fantastic, but I have to say that where the Bill refers to,

“information about the progress made in the reporting period towards the apprenticeships target”,

which is simply the figure of 3 million, that does not give the information about the types of apprenticeship that there are. Continue reading

Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports amendments on reporting of disability employment gap

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On 14th December 2015 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill in its third day of Committee. 

The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith spoke in support of two amendments that would require the government to report annually on progress towards halving the disability employment gap. The amendments were withdrawn after the debate.


StAlbans171115The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I rise briefly to support Amendment 65 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, and Amendment 67 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Surbiton, which would legislate for a disability employment gap reporting obligation. Continue reading

Welfare Reform Bill – Bishop of Portsmouth tables amendment about impact on families and faith communities of two-child limit

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On Monday 7th December, the House of Lords debated the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill during its first day of Committee. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke to an amendment he had tabled to require Government to assess the impact of the proposed two-child limit for new claimants on families and faith communities. His speeches opening and closing the debate on his amendment are included below, along with an extract of the Minister’s reply. The full debate, including speeches by other Members, can be seen at: Parliament.uk

BishPortsspeechtaxcreditsThe Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I tabled Amendment 21 to highlight the impact of this measure on different faith communities who share our concerns with this part of the Bill in particular. Noble Lords who attended the special briefing we organised two weeks ago will have heard Chaya Spitz, chief executive of the Interlink Foundation, speak passionately about the implications for the Orthodox Jewish community that she represents and is a member of. For her community, larger families are the norm and the central pivot around which everything else revolves. There is a positive, faith-based imperative to have children, to create the next generation in service of God. There is also a commonly held conscientious objection to the use of artificial contraception, except in prescribed circumstances, and to abortion, except in rare circumstances. By limiting financial support to the first two children, this policy is making a judgment that touches on deeply personal and strongly held religious and cultural beliefs about the family, and that threatens the viability of whole faith communities.

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