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Bishop of Durham calls for Universal Credit rethink

The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, has said the government must make a "long-term commitment" to making sure Universal Credit would allow recipients to feed themselves and their families properly.

It comes as the system faces criticism from across the political spectrum over accusations that its payment system leaves claimants facing weeks without money and forcing them into "crippling debt".

More than 30 Anglican bishops have backed an End Hunger UK campaign calling for the government to "fix" Universal Credit, with more help and flexibility for new and existing claimants.

Right Reverend Paul Butler

Bishop Paul, the Church lead on welfare issues, said: "We need urgent action to improve the flexibility and support for people on Universal Credit, and a long-term commitment that the social security system will provide enough income for them to afford to feed themselves and their families properly.

"Without such action, we can expect to see more and more people turning to food banks and becoming trapped in poverty.

"The problems we are seeing with Universal Credit at church-run food banks across the country must be resolved before many more people are moved on to the new benefit."

More than 90% of churches support a food bank and almost one in five (19%) run one, either directly or in partnership with another organisation.

The bishop's intervention came as it was claimed that the Department of Work and Pensions was considering making changes to provide more help to new claimants.

Bishop set to retire

The Bishop of Dover has announced he is to retire,

The Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury, is to step down in May 2019, ending his public ministry in a service at Canterbury Cathedral.

The bishop has been in the role since 2010 and took on responsibility for the Channel Islands in 2014.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: "Bishop Trevor has worked hard to foster a culture of generous hospitality to our partners from around the world.”

Church of England
The Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury

Church should keep Amazon stock

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Justin Welby
Getty Images

The Archbishop of Canterbury ruffled feathers when he accused online shopping giant Amazon of "leeching off the taxpayer" - especially as it emerged that the Church of England is a shareholder in the company and doesn't intend to sell its shares.

Maike Currie, investment director at Fidelity International, says that Church of England is right to keep its stock.

"Engagement is key," she says. "You can only drive change from within so engagement is becoming more and more important, it is high on the agenda of investment companies. I do think you achieve more by being in the room."

Announcement due on new Bishop of Truro

Donna Birrell

BBC Radio Cornwall

The new Bishop of Truro is expected to be announced later.

Downing Street is due to name the person who will lead the Church of England in Cornwall at 10:00.

The new bishop will then be introduced to members of the congregation at St Cuby Church in Tregony by the Bishop of St Germans, the Right Reverend Chris Goldsmith, shortly after.

Cornwall has been without its diocesan bishop since the former Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Tim Thornton left a year ago to become the Bishop of Lambeth working as the episcopal chief of staff to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

The new bishop will lead over 300 churches in more than 200 parishes in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and two parishes in Devon.

The Right Reverend Tim Thornton
Lambeth Palace
The last Bishop of Truro was the Right Reverend Tim Thornton who left a year ago