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Bishop of Carlisle to lead Cumbrian commission on welfare reform

The Bishop of Carlisle is to lead a county wide investigation into the effects of the central Government Welfare Reforms.


The Bishop of Carlisle, The Rt Rev'd James Newcome, is to chair the Cumbrian Commission on Welfare ReformThe Rt Rev’d James Newcome will chair a county Commission which will review the impact of current and proposed Welfare Reforms.

The Commission has been established at the request of the Cumbria Leaders Board which is made up of key public and third sector leaders in the county.

Evidence from charities, community organizations and individuals will be collected over the coming months.

Bishop James, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop on healthcare, said: “This is a vitally important body of work and one which I’m sure will demonstrate directly the frontline impact of welfare reforms.

“It’s our Christian duty to ensure all in society are cared for and protected and that any reforms do not unfairly penalise people.

“I would urge anyone who has concerns to register those with the Commission through the proper channels. This will allow us to feed back to the relevant authorities all of our findings.”

As part of the Commission’s schedule four special hearings are to take place across Cumbria to enable people to give evidence.

They will take place on:

4th February – Barrow in Furness
10th March – Shap
18th March – Carlisle
12th May – Whitehaven

The Commission will also look to collect a body of evidence including written reports and case studies from organisations as well as direct testimony; all offered with full anonymity for participants.

The Commission has three main objectives; to understand the impact of welfare reform in the county, to respond with ways to minimize the impact and to publish and promote their recommendations.

In particular the Commission will focus on changes to ‘in work’ benefits and the impact on families, changes to the way in which benefits are assessed, changes that impact on young people particularly around employment issues, changes relating to housing benefit, changes to support to individuals with disabilities and issues around rurality and digital and physical access to information and claims

The Commission will feed back findings and recommendations to the Third Sector Network and Cumbria Leaders Board.

Bishop James added: “We are asking charities, churches and community organisations to firstly provide any information or reports currently available on the impacts on their service users.

“Secondly we would like organisations to nominate and support clients to attend and give evidence to the Commission. And thirdly we want to interview representatives of organisations helping people.”

The Commission’s findings will be reported in June 2014.

Notes for editors

The Commission is composed of the following people:
Chair - James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle
Susie Bagot, Chair, Francis C Scott Charitable Trust
Tim Cartmell, retired solicitor and trustee Cumbria Community Foundation
Caroline Hoggarth, Head, Greengate Infants School, Barrow in Furness
Frank Peck, Professor, University of Cumbria
Willie Slavin, retired Junior School Head and Chair Howgill Family Centre

The Commissioners are being supported by Andy Beeforth (Chief Executive Cumbria Community Foundation/Deputy Chair Cumbria 3rd Sector Network) and Claire Killeen (Policy Adviser, Cumbria County Council). In addition Helen Boothroyd, Social Responsibility Development Officer for Churches Together in Cumbria, is providing specific links with the churches. Stuart Pate, independent consultant, will collate the findings. The work is linked to the County Welfare Reform Task group.

For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Officer, on 07984 927434, 01228 560079 or at

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