Bishop Paul speaks on the Debate on the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.

House of Lords [6/5/20] via


My Lords, I congratulate it is a privilege to the right reverend Bishop of Derby on her moving maiden speech. I am grateful for all she does to champion the voices of children.

I want to thank Archbishop Sentamu for his leadership in consistently speaking up for racial and social justice. He champions work amongst young people, notably through the Archbishop of York’s Youth Trust. He inspires others to do the same.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a dividing experience through its unequal financial impact. The lowest-earning 10% are 7 times more likely than high earners to work in a sector which has shut down.[1] Archbishop Sentamu champions the living wage; in-work poverty is compounded by irregular working hours too. This unpredictability means families cannot easily save to safeguard themselves from unexpected life events. 18% of the North East’s working population experience insecure work. Turn2Us found that people on 0 hour contracts expect to see a £193 drop in monthly income.[2] These workers often provide essential services like cleaning and delivery, yet face great financial instability. So, will HMG promote Living Hours accreditation?

Under 25’s are 2 and a half times as likely to work in a sector which has now shut down; youth unemployment could rise to 2 million.[3] Long term unemployed young people go on to earn less and are likelier to be unemployed in the future. What plans does HMG have to protect young people in the labour market from the detrimental impact of the coronavirus crisis?

This crisis highlights the need for a fairer all round taxation system in which those on middle and higher incomes, of all ages, contribute more to paying the long term costs. I hope too we will explore a universal basic income system, not simply dismiss it. If we believe in a living wage then benefit levels also should not leave families unable to pay for essential items like food and bills, particularly in the wake of a global pandemic that will exacerbate income inequality.

So will HMG do everything possible to create increased sustainable income equality, and thus create a more just society?

[1] IFS-




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