Lord Bishop of Derby debates involving the Cabinet Office during the 2019 Parliament

Afghan Resettlement Update

Lord Bishop of Derby Excerpts
Thursday 30th March 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con)
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I shall make two points. First, I draw my noble friend’s attention to the UK-wide fund of £35 million that we are providing to local authorities and others to provide casework teams to support this move from hotels into settled accommodation. They are going to be working together with the Home Office, the DWP and local authorities. The £250 million housing fund is very flexible so it can be used, for example, if you need to knock two houses together to accommodate a family of 10, because some of the Afghan families who have come over are quite extensive.

Secondly, those caseworkers will be sitting in the hotels. As the process starts, individuals will be written to but they will also have caseworkers in the hotels to help them find accommodation. They will be liaising with local authorities and seeking out appropriate accommodation, and in many cases that will include the rented sector. The fund will also be able to help ease things, perhaps to find a deposit to help a family move into rented accommodation.

This is not easy, but we are in a difficult situation and we need to move it forward. That is why we have come forward with this very special package for this very special group under the corralling dynamism of the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

Lord Bishop of Derby Portrait The Lord Bishop of Derby
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My Lords, I share many of the concerns that have been expressed about the routes into this country and the nature, safety and appropriateness of the accommodation for those who make it here—those to whom, as we have already noted, we have a moral obligation to extend sanctuary and welcome in this very particular circumstance.

My question relates to those who do manage to get here and who are settled. Regarding the provision of care offered to those households, I am sure the Minister will agree that the integration into local communities of Afghans who make it here is key to their flourishing and to our benefiting from the extraordinary richness they can offer us. We particularly need to ensure that the women of those households can be locally integrated. Will the Minister therefore assure the House that specific and targeted funding is being made available to Afghan women in their households in order to ensure that they are able safely and appropriately to access the support and resources being made available, such as support for English as a second language, access to education and training and access to health and mental health care for them and their children?

Economy: The Growth Plan 2022

Lord Bishop of Derby Excerpts
Monday 10th October 2022

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Lord Bishop of Derby Portrait The Lord Bishop of Derby
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My Lords, it is a pleasure to join other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Gohir, on her maiden speech, which was delivered with such authority and clarity on matters that are close to my heart as well. I look forward to working with her in the years ahead. It is also a real privilege to pay tribute to my right reverend friend who gave his final reflection from these Benches. I am indebted to him as he has been not only an excellent Convenor of the Lords Spiritual but someone whose example has greatly influenced my ministry over many years.

I declare an interest as vice-chair of the Children’s Society. This afternoon, I want to give voice to the unheard voices that it works with and advocates for, as we take note of the economy and the Government’s growth plan. Last month, the Children’s Society published the 2022 Good Childhood Report, which records that 85% of parents and carers, despite welcome packages of support, are worried about the increase in the cost of living as it affects their ability to care for their children.

I too am concerned about the direct impact of economic policy on children. To ask the lowest-income families to cope with even less seems unthinkable. At a time when so many families are already struggling to put food on the table, a real-terms cut to their income would be catastrophic. Some 4.3 million children in the UK are growing up in poverty and the Children’s Society calculates that not uprating benefits would add another 200,000 to that number.

According to a coalition of national children’s charities, one of the most direct ways of supporting the most vulnerable children would be by increasing child benefit. A £10 increase would help but, given the rate of inflation, an increase of £20 to £25 would be more realistic. On behalf of those charities, I ask the Minister whether His Majesty’s Government might reconsider their position on those benefits to directly support the welfare of children. Jesus, our scripture tells us, put a child at the heart of the kingdom of God and I urge us to do the same in our United Kingdom.

As Bishop of Derby, I am pleased to recognise that Derby is an international centre for skilled engineering and high-tech industry which has brought to the area many highly paid and secure jobs. Some in Derby and Derbyshire will likely benefit from much of the Government’s plan for growth. However, we also face some of the starkest indices of inequality in the country.

I finish with words from Psalm 41:

“Blessed are those who consider the poor and needy; the Lord will deliver them in time of trouble.”

I trust that as we take note of the economy and the Government’s growth plan we will prioritise those who are at the margins of our society to reduce further inequality, especially as it impacts our nation’s most vulnerable children.

Income Equality and Sustainability

Lord Bishop of Derby Excerpts
Wednesday 6th May 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Bishop of Derby Portrait The Lord Bishop of Derby (Maiden Speech)
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My Lords, Jesus said,

“seek first the Kingdom of God”,

and in your Lordships’ House, I have caught glimpses of that kingdom: in the warm welcome, in the kind advice of officers and staff, in the patient support of the Church of England Parliamentary Unit, and in the substance of the work noble Lords do, as today.

In January 2015, I became the first woman consecrated bishop in the Church of England. I take this opportunity to thank my friend, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York for his support and encouragement, and to pay tribute to his integrity and influence. It is true to his priorities that he uses this debate to champion the poor and continue the fight for justice. It was a particular gift to be “called home” a year ago, to serve as Bishop of Derby and I am proud of the ways in which diocesan staff, clergy, schools and congregations have stepped up in these difficult times. Derby and Derbyshire have responded generously to meet the needs of the most vulnerable: they have made known the kingdom of God.

There are common threads running throughout my ministry, including the fight for equal access, inclusion and opportunity; a passion for the arts, culture and sport; and a commitment to children and young people, with particular concern for the most vulnerable and at risk. It is an honour, therefore, to be vice-chair of the Church of England Children’s Society. At this time of national emergency, we know that there is much to be done: to respond to every child; to keep all our children and young people safe; to support the mental health and well-being of our children; and to protect children and families facing increased financial insecurity as a result of this crisis. The inequalities that affect the more than 4 million children in poverty in our country run deep and are systemic, so solutions need to be long-term and sustainable.

When asked about the kingdom of God, Jesus brought a child among them and said,

“of such is the kingdom of heaven”.

I thank noble Lords for their patience in hearing my plea that we put children at the heart of our work for a more just, equitable and sustainable society.