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The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham has been a lead figure in the House of Lords this month in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill and also in contributions Child Refugees and Living with Difference.

Transcripts from the Official Hansard Public Records follow.

27 January 2016

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I would like to tell two stories that illustrate why I believe two of these exemptions are important.

A good friend of mine and his wife were unable to have children, and they put themselves forward as adoptive parents. They went through the rigorous process—this was a few years ago—and with great pride entered a room with several of us who had our own children and presented a piece of paper that said, “I have been authorised to become a parent in a way that none of you ever have”. This was a great joy. They were then asked if they would take three children, because those children had been born to the same mother and had experienced serious abuse living in a home with addiction. The absolute conviction of all concerned was that it was vital that these three children remained together. We, as a society, asked them to care for those children. They took up that responsibility and have exercised it for many years. They have, on our behalf, saved an enormous amount of money through those children not going into care. Also, a much longer-term point is that those children are healthy, well-educated and will be fantastic contributors to society. That is one of the reasons why adoption needs to be exempted.

The second story is of another two friends. When their first child was born, they had to come to terms with a severe disability. They had a second child who was fine and healthy. They chose to have a third child. That child also turned out to be disabled. Under the current proposals, without the exemptions they would not be given any support for that child other than the extra disability support. These are the children and the families we are dealing with in considering these exemptions. I sincerely hope, like others, that the Minister has had time really to consider such situations and has better news for us.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I support Amendment 51 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Best. I am speaking partly on behalf of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester, who spoke on this matter in Committee.

Prior to being the Bishop of Durham I was the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, and I had the privilege of working closely with Framework, which provides much supported housing across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire. Andrew Redfern is its incredibly impressive chief executive, and I quote him:

“We house more than 1,200 of the most vulnerable people in the communities we serve. They include rough sleepers, people with mental health, drug and alcohol problems, care leavers, young mothers and people with multiple and complex needs”.

He goes on to say:

“The exemption of specified accommodation from the 1% rent cut will offer some breathing space—a fighting chance to save what has survived the various rounds of local authority de-commissioning. If specified accommodation is not exempted, we will lose about half of our current provision over the next four years. Homelessness and rough sleeping will continue to increase”.

I am delighted to hear that the Minister has proposals that will be good news to Framework and many other providers, and I look forward to conveying it to them.

 

Transcripts of early interactions can be viewed by following these links:

25 January 2016

18 January 2016

 

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