Bishop of Durham highlights North East exporting prowess and need for Living Wage

The Right Rev Paul Butler also used the occasion to ask that more is done to help young people in the region find work

The new Bishop of Durham Paul Butler at Durham cathedral
The Bishop of Durham Paul Butler at Durham cathedral

The Bishop of Durham celebrated the region’s export prowess when he made his maiden speech in the House of Lords.

The Right Revd, Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, praised the North East during his speech yesterday, quoting its £14bn worth of exports, but stressed deprived parts of the region should be on the Government’s agenda.

He said: “It is a wonderful area in which to serve and I am proud to do so. But I have to add, 30% of the parishes in which I serve are in the 10% of the most deprived parishes in England. That’s the kind of level of poverty that we have to tackle in the North East.”

The Bishop also talked of his hopes for the young people in the North East.

He said: “I am both inspired by them but also deeply concerned. In school and in colleges I talk with young people who tell me of their concern that they are worried that they will never work.

“They see their older siblings and older friends not finding meaningful work they really want to pursue, struggling to find work of any kind let alone in the areas they would like to pursue.

“For some hope and aspiration have already gone long before school or college have ended. They have been told that their value and contribution to the world is in work and the economic contribution; they have been told a lie.”

He added: “There is much concern in my region that apprenticeships are established in a way that ensures they really do turn into long term jobs. Small and medium size businesses, often family ones, need greater encouragement to take the leap of taking on apprentices; for it is this sector that is really going to create the new jobs that we need.”

Talking about getting tougher on firms not paying the minimum wage he said: “Whilst the minimum wage proposals are welcome, I hope that longer term more serious consideration will be given to implementing the Living Wage.

“It was my privilege to announce the new national Living Wage in Nottingham last autumn. I look forward to the forthcoming report of the Living Wage commission and hope it will be taken deeply seriously.

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