Lord Taylor of Warwick

Non-affiliated - Life peer


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Division Votes
Thursday 21st October 2021
Skills and Post-16 Education Bill [HL]
voted Aye
One of 10 Independent Aye votes vs 0 Independent No votes
Tally: Ayes - 180 Noes - 130
Speeches
Thursday 1st July 2021
Channel 4: Funding and Governance

My Lords, the Government are on record as praising the unique public service remit that Channel 4 has, especially for …

Written Answers
Thursday 21st October 2021
London Underground
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Mayor of London about restarting the Night Tube …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
None available
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
None available

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Lord Taylor of Warwick has voted in 120 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
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Debates during the 2019 Parliament

Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.

Sparring Partners
Baroness Barran (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
(10 debate interactions)
Lord Callanan (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
(6 debate interactions)
Lord Greenhalgh (Conservative)
Minister of State (Home Office)
(6 debate interactions)
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Department Debates
Home Office
(7 debate contributions)
Department for Transport
(3 debate contributions)
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Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Lord Taylor of Warwick, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.

MPs who are act as Ministers or Shadow Ministers are generally restricted from performing Commons initiatives other than Urgent Questions.


Lord Taylor of Warwick has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Lord Taylor of Warwick has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Lord Taylor of Warwick has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Lord Taylor of Warwick has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


756 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
4 Other Department Questions
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Vodafone Lost Connections, published in May; and what steps they are taking to ensure that women do not face increased barriers when returning to work.

I welcome the Vodafone report and the work of others to highlight the barriers some carers and parents face when balancing their care and work responsibilities. I met with female employees from Vodafone in May to hear about which initiatives have worked to support them, especially through the pandemic, and what challenges remain.

The Government recognises the vital role unpaid carers and parents play and has put a range of measures in place to help. In our manifesto we committed to extending the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers to one week. The Government has also funded 25 ‘returner programmes’ to support those with caring responsibilities back to work.

As we look to Build Back Better, increasing the take up of remote and flexible working will give more freedom and opportunity to people with caring responsibilities. In April the Government reconvened the Flexible Working Taskforce, tasking them to help employers build on the lessons we have learned through the pandemic to embed more flexible ways of working.

Strong digital connectivity is crucial in supporting more flexible working. This Government’s delivery of national gigabit connectivity means that today, over two in five premises can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in ten in November 2019. By the end of the year, 60% will have access, and by 2025 the Government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage. In rural areas we are investing £5bn to ensure those living in hard-to-reach areas get the gigabit connectivity they deserve.

25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of COVID-19 on racial economic equality.

The Government recognises the challenges of COVID-19 for all groups in society, including the most vulnerable. That is why we announced an unprecedented package of support – including boosts to Universal Credit, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the Kick-start Scheme – helping to protect incomes, jobs, and support those most in need.

HM Treasury’s distributional analysis as of the end of May 2020, shows that these interventions, along with the existing tax and welfare system, have helped reduce income losses faced by working households by up to two-thirds, with the poorest working households protected most (as a proportion of income).

The Treasury, along with other relevant departments, carefully considers the impact of its decisions on those sharing protected characteristics, including at Budgets and other fiscal events, in line with both its legal obligations and with its strong commitment to promoting fairness.

2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the findings from Race on the Agenda's survey, featured in Channel 5's Everyday Racism programme on 25 November, on experiences of racism and, in particular, that 95 per cent of respondents identifying as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic have faced racism or racial prejudice.

This Government is committed to tackling racism and racial prejudice in all its forms. That is why the Prime Minister appointed the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in July, to examine all aspects of continuing racial and ethnic disparities in Britain. The Commission aims to set out a new, positive agenda for change - balancing the needs of individuals, communities and society, maximising opportunities and ensuring fairness for all. It aims to report by the end of the year.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to support BAME communities in response to the findings in their report Disparities in the risk and outcomes from COVID-19, published on 2 June.

The Minister for Equalities is working with the Race Disparity Unit and the Department for Health and Social Care to carry forward work to identify and fill the gaps in PHE’s review; and work across government to take appropriate steps to mitigate disparities identified. The terms of reference for this work, which include quarterly updates to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on progress, were published on GOV.UK on 4 June. The timeframe will be announced in due course.

15th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide financial support for businesses whose checks and paperwork were delayed as a result of preparing for import control deadlines.

The revised timetable for import controls set out in my written statement of 14 September 2021 allows businesses more time to adjust to new processes as they recover from the pandemic which has impacted supply chains across Europe. The nature of the border import controls for which businesses are preparing has not changed, and therefore any time or resource spent by businesses preparing for them will still be of value. The additional time will be used to further businesses' readiness for the introduction of these new requirements.

The Government also continues to support businesses trading with the EU in all sectors of industry, including putting in place additional staffing, comprehensive guidance for businesses and funding infrastructure to ease border processes.

Lord Frost
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
18th Aug 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking (1) to increase emergency mental health support for British army veterans who served in Afghanistan, and (2) to communicate current military decisions regarding Afghanistan to veteran communities.

There has been a step change in veterans’ mental health provision, driven by significant investment. This year £17.8M has been allocated to the Veterans Mental Health Service Op COURAGE and £10M to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to help deliver charitable initiatives supporting veterans’ mental health needs across the United Kingdom. However, we recognise that recent events may have caused distress to some veterans. That is why, last week, an Armed Forces Mental Health summit was held by the Defence and Health Secretaries, bringing together experts to discuss support for those who served and their families. Following the summit, a further £2.7M has been made available to Op Courage to expand services to support those experiencing complex mental and/or physical trauma, or alcohol and substance misuse.

The Government has also engaged members of the Armed Forces community to reinforce that the mission in Afghanistan was of value. Veterans should be in no doubt of the remarkable role they played in serving their country and keeping it safe. They should feel immensely proud of their service. The PM published an open letter to the entire Armed Forces community on 29 August echoing this sentiment.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the level of trade experienced by businesses based in London.

On 13 April, the Office for National Statistics released the latest statistics on EU-UK trade which show a welcome growth in the value of trade with the EU, with goods exports close to the average 2020 level.

The vast majority of traders and hauliers have adapted well, and our focus now is on making sure that any business that is still facing challenges gets the support they need to trade effectively with the EU. We are continuing to monitor and assess the situation, including any potential change in trade patterns.

As the Office for National Statistics notes, it is premature to make any firm judgments on the long term impacts of our new trading relationship with the EU, especially with the pandemic still ongoing.

Lord Frost
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the survey by the British Chamber of Commerce on Brexit, published on 11 February; and what plans they have to allow small businesses to write off additional customs costs as a result of the UK–EU Trade Cooperation Agreement, against their tax bill.

The nature of our new relationship with the EU - outside the Single Market and Customs Union - does mean that there are practical and procedural changes that businesses need to adjust to.


We continue to work closely with sectors across the economy and all parts of the UK to support businesses in adapting to our new trading relationship with the EU and to continue to successfully compete on the global stage. The Government is providing £20 million to support small and medium businesses in adjusting to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU. Ministers across government have been speaking directly to hundreds of businesses large and small across the country, including through the Business Brexit Task Force to develop a shared vision and plan for the future.

Lord Frost
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
24th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the EU about ensuring the continued provision of seasonal jobs in the EU for British citizens after 31 December.

The precise range of activities and documentation that will be needed after the transition period will be subject to negotiations with the EU. But any agreement will be without prejudice to the UK’s future points-based immigration system.

The Government is committed to ensuring that businesses and workers have all the information they need to get ready for 1 January 2021. We will continue to review and update the guidance we have published to help ensure businesses are as prepared as possible for the changes and opportunities the end of the year will bring.

Now is the time for businesses to get ready. They should go to www.GOV.UK/TRANSITION for more details.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they selected Wednesday 13 May as the appropriate day on which unlimited outdoor exercise could resume.

Throughout the period since the Government imposed restrictions due to Coronavirus, people have been encouraged to exercise outdoors, alone or with members of their households. The Government's advice was to limit this to once a day during the early phases.

The Government has developed specific guidance to mitigate transmission risks and communicated that guidance on 11 May, giving people time to understand and prepare for the changes to the regulations and guidance before the measures were implemented on 13 May. We will keep all of these measures under review, as required by the law.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce a COVID-19-related identity card system after lockdown restrictions have been lifted.

The Government has no plans to introduce identity cards.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
10th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to review the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019.

The Government currently has no plans to review the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019, which will commence on 8 April 2020.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
10th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to pause their negotiations with the EU due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Given the latest coronavirus developments, Round 2 of negotiations did not formally start on the 18th March.

We remain in regular contact with the European Commission to explore alternative ways to continue discussions, and will be guided by scientific advice.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
20th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to relocate the House of Lords to York.

The Government has an aspiration that all parts of the United Kingdom should feel connected to politics and indeed to politicians.

We are looking at options to further that objective.

Earl Howe
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
15th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure ethnicity pay gap reporting is mandatory for all large employers by 2023.

The Government is committed to building a fairer Britain and ensuring that equality and opportunity is available for all. That is why my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister established the independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities which published its independent report on March 31st.


We welcome the opportunity to consider the Commission’s findings, and are looking at them in light of the work that has already taken place within government, including the consultation on ethnicity pay reporting. We will be publishing our response to the Commission’s report later this autumn.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to expand the green recovery programmes for rapid job creation; and how they intend to scale investment in line with G7 peers.

Under UK leadership at the G7, we have put Green Recovery from COVID-19 at the top of the international agenda and secured historic commitments such as the first ever ‘net zero G7’, with all countries committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Last November, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which brings together £12 billion of government investment to unlock three times as much private sector investment by 2030; and support up to 250,000 jobs across the UK by 2030.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to give struggling companies the option to convert emergency bounce back loans into Employee Ownership Trusts to support their post-pandemic recovery process.

The Government launched the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) to ensure that the UK’s smallest businesses could access loans of up to £50,000 to help businesses through the pandemic. Under BBLS, no repayments are due from the borrower for the first 12 months of the loan. The Government also covers the first 12 months of interest payments charged to the business by the lender.

We have always been clear that businesses are responsible for repaying any finance they take out. However, we recognise that a diverse range of businesses have taken out Bounce Back Loans and some of these will benefit from more flexibility in making their repayments. That is why the Government introduced the “Pay as You Grow” measures, which allow borrowers to tailor their repayments to their individual circumstances. “Pay as You Grow” provides borrowers with the option to:

  • Extend the length of their loan from six years ten
  • Make interest-only payments for six months, with the option to use this up to three times throughout the loan
  • Pause repayments entirely for up to six months

Borrowers can use these options either individually or in combination with each other. In addition, they have the option to fully repay their loan early and will face no early repayment charges for doing so.

The Government is not currently considering proposals to convert outstanding Bounce Back Loans into equity.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support the redevelopment of retail space to attract consumers back to local high street shops and support their recovery process.

The retail sector remains a key part of the high street and thriving high streets will continue to need a strong physical retail offering. In order to help our high streets recover and flourish, we are:

  • Providing funding that has real impact for high streets across the whole country.
  • Ensuring planning laws help councils to be flexible and make the most of their high streets and take control of vacant property, shops and shopping centres.
  • Giving communities the power to repurpose empty shops and spaces.
  • Making sure businesses are supported as landlords and tenants of high street properties.
Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide local authorities with clarity about their role in achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Officials regularly engage with local leaders on a range of net zero issues, for example through the local energy contact group which last met on 8th July 2021.

Future plans for the role of local authorities in meeting net zero will be outlined in the Net Zero Strategy, which is currently under development and due to be published before COP26.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of increased remote working on employee wellbeing; and what steps they are taking to ensure employers prevent employee burnout.

The Government is aware that the increase in remote working during the pandemic has raised issues relating to employee wellbeing. It is in the interest of both employers and employees to support wellbeing at work and prevent burnout.

The Government is working with the Flexible Working Taskforce – a partnership across business groups, trade unions, charities, and government departments – to provide advice and guidance to support employers who are considering adopting more remote or semi-remote (hybrid) working practices going forwards.

In the short-term, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) – in consultation with the Flexible Working Taskforce – has produced advice on hybrid working to help employers consider whether this could be an option for their workplace and how to fairly introduce it. The advice covers the existing legal and practical issues associated with hybrid working – and includes a section on supporting and managing staff.

In the slightly longer-term, the Flexible Working Taskforce is working on developing best practice guidance for employers, which will include supporting the work-life balance of remote workers.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the survey by People 1st International Future Talent in Hospitality, published in June; and what steps they are taking to assist hospitality students to pursue a career in the industry.

The Department regularly meets with representatives from the hospitality sector to discuss how businesses can recover and build back from the pandemic, including raising the profile of skills and careers in hospitality. We welcome insight from a wide range of sources.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the survey research by the Trade Unions Congress, published on 19 March, which found that one in three black and minority ethnic workers say they have been unfairly turned down for a job; and what plans they have to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting.

The Government is aware of the TUC research which found that a third (33%) of ethnic minority workers say they have been unfairly turned down for a job compared to one in 5 (19%) of white workers. The Government is clear that no one should be discriminated against because of their ethnicity and the Equality Act 2010 makes such discrimination unlawful.


The Government is committed to building a fairer Britain and ensuring that equality and opportunity is available for all. That is why my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister established the independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities which published its independent report on March 31st.


The report includes a specific recommendation in relation to ethnicity pay reporting. We welcome the opportunity to consider the Commission’s findings in relation to this issue,
and are looking at them in light of the work that has already taken place within government, including the consultation on ethnicity pay reporting. We will be publishing our response to the Commission’s report later this summer.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to enhance workers' rights in the gig economy; and what steps they are taking to provide more clarity to businesses over employment status criteria.

The UK has one of the best employment rights records in the world. We have made good progress in bringing forward measures that add flexibility for workers while ensuring the protection of employment rights, such as banning the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

Gig economy workers’ employment rights are determined by their employment status - employee, worker or self-employed. Employees are entitled to all rights (subject to qualifying periods) and have responsibilities towards their employer. So-called “limb (b) workers” are only entitled to some rights such as the National Minimum Wage but have increased flexibility and fewer obligations to their employer. The self-employed generally have no employment rights but have complete flexibility in their work. We believe our three-tiered Employment Status structure provides the right balance for the UK Labour Market.

The Government will continue to work closely with businesses, trade unions and other groups to ensure that any options to clarify Employment Status are effective, preserving the flexibility of the labour market while making it easier to understand for individuals.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Greenpeace UK Training & Tickets: the hidden costs for offshore oil & gas workers, published on 22 June, what steps they are taking to create a training passport scheme to allow offshore workers to transfer their experience between sectors.

The North Sea Transition Deal includes a commitment from industry to create an integrated people and skills plan, with measurable objectives, to support its transition and diversification. This will assess the industry’s future skills, training and standards requirements, and how industry will support and enable the transition of the workforce.

Furthermore, the sector has committed to work to ensure that the workforce’s skills and competencies are mutually recognised across energy sectors enabling easier job transferability. This includes promoting the uptake of relevant existing initiatives, such as the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board Connected Competence scheme and expand these as appropriate.

In order to ensure we have the skilled workforce to deliver net zero, we have launched the Green Jobs Taskforce, working in partnership with business, skills providers, and trade unions, to help us develop plans for new long-term, good quality, green jobs by 2030 and advise on what support is needed for people in transitioning industries.

In addition, the offshore wind sector set out a commitment, in the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, to develop an offshore energy passport (recognised outside the UK) to facilitate job mobility between different sectors. Discussions with training providers is ongoing.

We are powering forward with my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, which will mobilise £12 billion of government investment to support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to improve the understanding of small businesses about energy efficiency schemes.

In line with the Government’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, it is vital to improve the knowledge of small businesses about energy efficiency schemes. There are a range of steps that the Government is taking to do this.

In May we launched the UK Business Climate Hub website, where small businesses can use the hub to find practical tools, resources and advice to understand their emissions and develop a plan to tackle them. The campaign will also provide small businesses with access to some of the UK’s biggest businesses and leading climate experts to support them in taking the simple and practical steps to protect the planet, and the benefits of future-proofing and growing a low carbon business. The campaign also encourages small and micro businesses to commit to cutting their emissions in half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050 or sooner.

Further, BEIS has recently delivered a comprehensive upgrade to the Energy Technology List (ETL) website making it one of the leading sources of truly independent and trustworthy energy efficiency advice available to business. The ETL is a procurement tool that encourages users to specify and procure the most energy-efficient products available on the market. Businesses can have confidence that the energy performance of products are rigorously evaluated before being allowed on the ETL. Using the ETL allows businesses to streamline purchasing decisions, ensuring that efficient options are selected to decrease energy bills and increase green credentials. Going forward, BEIS plans to develop even more SME focused ETL content on the financial and environmental benefits of selecting energy-efficient products. This content will build on the positive feedback that BEIS has received from industry about the new website as demonstrated by the growth in new users that the site is continuing to attract.

In order to increase the uptake of energy efficiency measures, the Government is also developing a new Small Business Energy Efficiency Scheme which will aim to support small and medium sized businesses implement energy efficiency upgrades in their buildings. Following a Call for Evidence on the scheme, a consultation will be published later in 2021.

In order to help SMEs overcome barriers to investing in energy efficiency we launched the Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency innovation competition. The competition offered up to £6m to fund the development of new, innovative market solutions that can provide businesses with tailored energy efficiency advice, as well as simplifying the energy efficiency investment processes through the creation of one-stop-shop platforms.

For additional advice, small businesses may choose to access the Business Support Helpline, or may find the then Department for Energy and Climate Change’s SME guide to energy efficiency useful.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Newable Small Business Confidence Index, published on 15 June 2020; and what steps they are taking to assist small businesses in creating sustainable office environments.

As the world starts to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic, businesses have an opportunity to recover cleaner, rebuild greener and emerge better equipped for the future. Businesses of all sizes can access free support and guidance on accessing the right finance from a range of Government-backed sources: the network of 38 Growth Hubs in England – and equivalent support in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – the Business Support Helpline and the business webpages on GOV.UK.

As part of COP26, through a campaign led by our Net Zero Business Champion my Hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs, small businesses from across the UK are invited to join the green business revolution and commit to becoming more sustainable. By November, the aim is for as many UK small businesses as possible to join the ‘Race to Zero’ – a global effort to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we all generate to zero by 2050.

The first step small businesses can take is to visit our new digital platform and sign up to the globally recognised small business climate commitment. Here small and micro businesses can also get help and advice on how to be greener and save money. The new digital platform is embedded on the existing SME Climate Hub, which is part of the global Race to Zero campaign. Signing up allows businesses to publicly commit to becoming greener, plan the steps they will take to get there, show customers they are serious about climate, and help to start a green business movement.

Taking action on climate change will help businesses to grow, seize new opportunities and adapt against the challenges of a changing planet. Reducing emissions can lower businesses’ running costs, save them money, and attract new customers who want to shop sustainably.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the UK Recruitment Diversity and Inclusion Index, published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and the Association of Professional Staffing Companies on 14 June; and what steps they are taking to support small businesses to report on staff diversity.

Building a fairer economy means ensuring the UK’s organisations reflect the nation’s diversity.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities published its independent report on 31 March 2021. The report is intended to be a roadmap to racial fairness in the UK and sets out 24 recommendations for further action across Government, public bodies and the private sector. This includes recommendations relating to ethnicity pay gap reporting and advancing fairness in the workplace.

We welcome the opportunity to consider the Commission’s findings on this matter, and to consider them in light of the work that has already taken place within government.

The Government is now considering the independent report in detail and assessing the next steps for future government policy.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Henley Business School The Equity Effect, published on 7 June; and what steps they are taking to encourage businesses to have racially diverse workforces.

Building a fairer economy means ensuring the UK’s organisations reflect the nation’s diversity.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities published its independent report on 31 March 2021. The report is intended to be a roadmap to racial fairness in the UK and sets out 24 recommendations for further action across Government, public bodies and the private sector. This includes recommendations relating to ethnicity pay gap reporting and advancing fairness in the workplace.

We welcome the opportunity to consider the Commission’s findings on this matter, and to consider them in light of the work that has already taken place within government.

The Government is now considering the independent report in detail and assessing the next steps for future government policy.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Timewise The Impact of Covid-19 on Part-Time Employees, published in June; and what steps they are taking to support the creation of jobs with flexible working hours.

We are aware of the report. ONS data shows fewer people working part time (7.8 million, 24% of all in employment) in the three months to April 2021, than in the three months to February 2020 (8.6 million, 26% of all in employment). Further information on full-time and part-time working can be found on the ONS website.

The Government is keen to do more to support flexible working in all its forms. In 2019 the Government committed to consult on making flexible working the default unless employers have good reasons not to. The consultation will be published in due course.

My Hon. Friend the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets has also reconvened the Flexible Working Taskforce – a partnership across business groups, trade unions, charities, and government departments – to help inform the Government’s thinking and support employers as we navigate the impact of Covid-19 on future ways of working. Timewise is a valued member of the Taskforce.


The Taskforce has been asked to help take forward what we have learned through the pandemic about flexible ways of working. In the immediate phase, the Taskforce will consider the essential practical and legal issues associated with a return to a workplace and an increase in hybrid working. The Taskforce will move on to provide wider advice on best practice, so that employers are better able to support all forms of flexible working – whether the flexibility relates to the amount, timing or location of work.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the case for a ‘Right to Disconnect’; and if they have made such an assessment, what the impact of such a right would be on employee mental health.

The Government is considering the business practices, opportunities and risks associated with home and “hybrid” working, as some employers choose to embed these new ways of working into organisational business models more permanently. My Hon. Friend the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets has reconvened the Flexible Working Taskforce – a partnership across business groups, trade unions, charities, and government departments – to help inform the Government’s thinking and support employers as we navigate the impact of Covid-19 on future ways of working.


The Taskforce has been asked to help take forward the best of what we have learned through the pandemic about more flexible ways of working as the economy starts to fully open up.

The Taskforce will provide wider advice on best practice, so that employers are better able to support all forms of flexible working – whether the flexibility relates to the amount, timing or location of work. As part of this advice, the Taskforce will consider the issues associated with an employee’s ability to disconnect from work when working remotely and the related mental health considerations.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what additional steps they are taking to support small businesses in filling job vacancies in the hospitality sector.

The Department regularly meets with representatives from across the sector to discuss how it can recover and build back from the pandemic.

We are doing everything we can to support hospitality on its road to recovery. This includes offering generous incentives to employers to recruit staff, with hundreds of young people starting work every day through the Kickstart Scheme. We are providing employers with a hiring incentive for each new apprentice they hire, helping more people across a broad range of industries. We are also investing £126 million in additional support to help create 40,000 more traineeships in England, funding high-quality work placements and training for 16-24-year olds in 2021-22.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent cuts to the construction industry workforce once the furlough scheme ends.

The construction sector will be a key part of the UK’s economic recovery from Covid-19. Construction output has significantly increased since May 2020, with record monthly growth in June 2020, and strong growth continuing into 2021, with £23 billion of large construction contracts awarded for a range of infrastructure, housing and commercial projects. We expect this strong growth to continue during the rest of the year, meaning there is likely to be less of a need for Government support.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is designed to be a temporary measure to support businesses facing severely restricted demand. It has provided significant support to the construction sector, with payments made between 1 November 2020 and 31 March 2021 totalling £1,023m, with 83,000 firms using the CJRS, helping to protect over 200,000 jobs.

The Government continues to work closely with the industry to support its recovery, and to ensure that it can retain and develop the skilled workforce it needs. This includes through an accelerated pipeline of projects worth up to £37 billion, the introduction of a Talent Retention Scheme to help workers move into jobs, and work with the Construction Leadership Council and Construction Industry Training Board to ensure effective support to ensure the construction workforce is equipped with the skills that the industry needs.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure local authorities are issuing Restart Grants within the required timeframe.

The £5 billion Restart Grants scheme announced by my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer on 3 March 2021 are one-off grants to businesses in the non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, personal care and accommodation sectors to support businesses to reopen as covid-19 restrictions are lifted in the coming months.

Throughout the pandemic, BEIS officials have worked closely with Local Authorities to ensure that grants are delivered as quickly as possible, while safeguarding public funds.   As the range of grants available has increased, officials have continued regular briefings with all 314 Local Authorities. Ministers have also held regular conversations with leaders and chief executives.

Officials continue to engage with Local Authorities to ensure compliance to both the scheme rules and wider reporting requirements. We will be releasing data on Restart Grant payments in due course.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to require mandatory climate reporting for small and medium sized businesses.

The Government and regulators have concluded that to accelerate progress on climate risk disclosures, the UK will become the first country in the world to make Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)-aligned disclosures fully mandatory across the economy by 2025, with most requirements coming into force by 2023.

The UK Government recently published a consultation on Mandatory Climate-related Financial Disclosures, which closed on 5 May. The proposal covers larger companies and is consistent with the roadmap towards mandatory and climate related disclosures, and the interim report that was published in November 2020, which noted that the benefits of mandatory disclosures are likely to increase with an organisation’s size.

We will now carefully consider all of the responses to the consultation and a response will be published by the end of the year. BEIS has committed to review the case for expanding the scope of the regulations in 2023.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of companies’ compliance with minimum wage requirements in the (1) hospitality, and (2) leisure, industries; and what steps they are taking to ensure such compliance.

The ONS’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) is the most detailed and comprehensive source of earnings information available in the UK. ASHE provides a proxy measure of both the scale and nature of non-compliance with the relevant statutory minimum wage. In April 2020, we estimate that there were around 38,000 jobs paid below the applicable minimum wage rate and non-compliant with minimum wage legislation in the hospitality sector, and 3,000 in the leisure sector. This excludes individuals who were furloughed, as they would not have been working at that time.

The Government is committed to cracking down on employers who fail to pay the NMW. We are clear that everyone entitled to be paid the minimum wage should receive it. As well as investigating every worker complaint, HMRC also undertake proactive investigations (referred to as targeted enforcement) based on the identification of the risk of non-compliance, and deliver a programme of upstream ‘Promote’ work designed to promote understanding and encourage employer compliance.

We have more than doubled the budget for minimum wage enforcement and compliance, which is now over £27 million annually, up from £13.2 million in 2015/16. There are now over 400 HMRC staff involved in the enforcement of the minimum wage. In 2020/21 HMRC concluded over 2,700 minimum wage investigations, returning more than £16.7m in arrears to over 155,000 workers. Since 2015, the Government has ordered employers to repay £100 million to 1 million workers.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase awareness of government support for small businesses in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy continues to deliver a rolling plan of engagement with UK SMEs, webinars and other events across the spectrum of our sectors to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and the continued support Government is providing to small businesses.

Moreover, through the Growth Hubs, led and governed by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), business advisers can highlight potential sources of support available and increase awareness of government support for small businesses. Demand for Growth Hub services doubled in the first 6 months of COVID-19 impact. LEP’s have self-reported that in the first six months of the financial year 2020-2021 (1/4/20 to 31/10/20) alone, their Growth Hubs have engaged with over 1.63m businesses and individuals; provided direct support to over 147,000 businesses (of which an estimated 6,400 received over 12 hours of high level support); and helped an estimated 3,900 individuals start a business.

The Government’s business advice pages on GOV.UK also provide information and guidance relevant to starting, growing and maintaining a business, as well as their statutory rights and obligations. More detail on the support provided by devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland can also be found online: www.gov.uk/browse/business.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that small businesses can repay government loans over flexible time frames.

We have always been clear that businesses are responsible for repaying any finance they take out. However, we recognise that some borrowers will benefit from additional flexibility with regards to their repayments. That is why we announced the Pay As You Grow measures last year.

Pay As You Grow is designed to provide Bounce Back Loan borrowers more time and flexibility over their repayments by giving them the option to:

  • Extend the length of the loan from six years to ten.
  • Make interest-only payments for six months, with the option to use this up to three times throughout the loan.
  • Take up a six-month repayment holiday. This option is available once during the term of their loan.

Businesses will be able to use these options either individually or in combination with each other. In addition, they have the option to fully repay their loan early and will face no early repayment charges for doing so.

While the Government covers the interest due on Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) loans for the first twelve months of the loan, repayments of capital are required during this period unless the lender chooses to grant additional forbearance measures.

CBILS lenders can extend the repayment period for CBILS facilities where this is needed, to a maximum of 10 years. CBILS term extensions are offered at the discretion of lenders, and for forbearance purposes only.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to make ethnicity pay gap reporting mandatory.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities recently published its independent report which included recommendations in relation to ethnicity pay gap reporting.

We welcome the opportunity to consider the Commission’s findings on this matter, and to consider them in light of the work that has already taken place within government. As well as consulting on ethnicity pay gap reporting, we have met with businesses and representative organisations to understand the barriers towards reporting and what information should be published. We have also run a methodology testing exercise with a broad range of businesses to better understand the complexities outlined in the consultation.

The Government will respond to the Commission’s report in due course.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on staff shortages in the hospitality sector.

We are in regular dialogue with the hospitality sector to understand how business operating models are affected by both leaving the EU and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the BRC's Retail Sales Monitor, published on 11 May; and what steps they are taking to reduce the shop vacancy rate.

In order to mitigate against a rise in the number of vacant units, the Government has introduced a range of measures to protect businesses that are struggling to pay their rent due to Covid-19. The moratorium on commercial landlord’s right to forfeiture for the non-payment of rent (Section 82 Coronavirus Act 2020) is extended to the end of June 2021. Landlords are also prevented from using winding up petitions and statutory demands to pursue rent debt and the use of Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) has also been suspended, both extended until 30 June 2021.

In order to help inform the Government’s strategy to exit these protections, and to gather evidence on the progress of negotiations regarding rent debt between landlords and tenants, a Call for Evidence was launched on 6 April. This closed on 4 May and the Government will make an announcement on future policy ahead of 30 June 2021.

We continue to reduce the financial burden on retailers by providing eligible retail, hospitality, and leisure properties in England with 100% business rates relief until 30 June 2021. This will be followed by 66% business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, capped at £2 million per business for properties that were required to be closed on 5 January 2021, or £105,000 per business for other eligible properties.

We have introduced reforms to the use classes to enable more flexible use of existing buildings. These came into force on 1 September 2020. The use class reform creates a new ‘commercial, business and service’ use class which encompasses a wide range of uses which will attract people to high streets and town centres. This includes offices and other business uses, shops, cafes, gyms and any other uses which are suitable in a town centre. The new class also allows for mixed uses to reflect changing retail and business models. These reforms will help support high streets and town centres as they seek to recover from the economic impact of Covid-19 Businesses will have greater flexibility to change use without planning permission, allowing them to adapt and diversify more quickly to meet changing circumstances.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the survey on the cost of COVID-19 to tradespeople by Simply Business, published on 23 April; and what steps they are taking to support the economic recovery of the construction industry from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. I will correspond directly with the noble Lord.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support small businesses to become more environmentally friendly.

Achieving our net zero goal requires all businesses to take action. In order to drive this forward, my Hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs has been appointed by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister to be the UK’s Net Zero Business Champion ahead of COP26. My Hon. Friend’s role is to encourage UK business to sign up to climate action via the Race to Zero science-based targets initiative, to champion the actions that UK businesses are already taking and to help UK businesses exploit the many opportunities of the transition to a low carbon economy.

By November, the aim is for as many UK small businesses as possible to join the Race to Zero – a global effort to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we all generate to zero by 2050.

Taking action on climate change will help businesses to grow, seize new opportunities and adapt against the challenges of a changing planet. Reducing emissions can lower businesses’ running costs, save them money, and attract new customers who want to shop sustainably.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that employers give as much notice as possible when offering work to employees on zero hours contracts.

In 2019, the Government held a consultation inviting views on policies which aim to tackle some of the challenges associated with non-guaranteed hours. These included proposals on providing reasonable notice of shifts and providing compensation for shifts cancelled at short notice.

We are analysing the results of this consultation, especially in light of the impacts of Covid-19 on the labour market and will respond in due course.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the survey by Nerdwallet on business managers and mental health, published on 24 March; and what steps they are taking to ensure that entrepreneurs have access to mental health support.

The Government recognises the significant impact that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had on both employers and employees, and their mental wellbeing.

In order to highlight available support around mental health for business figures including entrepreneurs, the Government is signposting to resources for businesses and employers, including Mind’s website and the Mental Health at Work toolkit, through GOV.UK. We also continue to work with the Thriving at Work Leadership Council to encourage employers to sign up to the Mental Health at Work (MHAW) commitments and to engage leading Mental Health charities and organisations to better understand issues around SME mental health, financial insecurity for small business owners and the self-employed, and continue to explore what further support may be offered.

We also know how worried people are and we are taking many steps to protect both jobs and the long-term financial future of businesses during the current economic emergency. Throughout this crisis, our priority has been clear: to protect lives and livelihoods. We have introduced an unprecedented and comprehensive package of business support measures to help as many individuals and businesses as possible, which has mitigated some of the worst immediate impacts of COVID-19 on risk factors for poor mental health. This includes measures such as the small business grants, the Coronavirus loan guarantee schemes, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the deferral of VAT and income tax payments, and more. Businesses can also access tailored advice through our Freephone Business Support Helpline, online via the Business Support website or through their local Growth Hubs in England. The Business Support Helpline continues to support business owners with tailored advice and information, and also signposts individuals to mental health support services where appropriate.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support small businesses owners who commit to investing in their businesses in 2021.

The Government aims to make the United Kingdom the best place to start, grow and run a business. Support for small businesses to grow and invest comes on top of the Government’s existing plans to support growth through significant investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation – as set out in ‘Build Back Better – our plan for growth’, published alongside the Budget.

From April 2021 until the end of March 2023, companies can claim 130% capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery investments. The super-deduction is the biggest two-year business tax cut in Modern British history - supporting British enterprise in leading us to the post-pandemic economic recovery. Under the super-deduction, for every pound a company invests, their taxes are cut by up to 25p. The super-deduction cuts the tax bills of companies that invest and the more they invest the less tax they will pay.

In order to help smaller firms improve business practices and productivity we are developing a new world-leading SME management training offer, Help to Grow: Management, aiming to directly upskill 30,000 business leaders helping them realise their potential. The Government will also launch a new online platform where businesses can access impartial advice on software, and a voucher to reduce the costs of buying that software through the Help to Grow: Digital scheme.

Our new Recovery Loan Scheme launched on 6 April, provides additional finance and further support to protect businesses and jobs, ensuring businesses continue to benefit from Government guaranteed finance throughout 2021. The new scheme will enable businesses of any size to continue accessing loans and other kinds of finance from £25,001 up to a maximum of £10 million per business as they grow and recover from Covid-19 related disruption. Invoice and asset finance from £1,000 is also available.

For those starting a new business or for businesses which have been trading for up to 24 months, the Start Up Loans Company provides loans of between £500 to £25,000 at a competitive rate of 6%. In addition to finance, every loan recipient is offered a dedicated mentoring service and access to a free expert business mentor for 12 months to help them with every aspect of setting up a business. The Start Up Loans programme, operated by the British Business Bank, has issued loans to businesses in every Local Authority and UK parliamentary constituency since 2012.

The Government continues to provide a range of support and information for small businesses, including on starting and running a business, through our online services on GOV.UK. Support and advice is also available via the Business Support Helpline on FREEPHONE 0800 998 1098, and via the network of 38 local Growth Hubs in England.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to encourage consumers to support independent high street businesses.

We have extended opening hours for retail from 7am to 10pm until the 21st of June 2021, giving people greater flexibility to avoid peak times and easing transport pressures.

In order to support hospitality businesses, the temporary pavement licence provisions introduced in the Business and Planning Act 2020 create a quicker and cheaper process for businesses to obtain a licence to place outdoor furniture, including tables, chairs, and stalls outside their premise. The Government intends to extend the temporary pavement licence provisions for 12 months until September 2022, subject to Parliamentary approval.

In order to make sure that businesses can make the most of the summer, businesses such as pubs and restaurants, including where these premises are in listed buildings, will be allowed to use their land more flexibly to set up marquees and provide more outdoor space for diners as restrictions ease, allowing them to serve more customers and recover from the effects of the pandemic. They can be kept up for the whole summer rather than the 28 days currently permitted.

We are also providing a £56 million Welcome Back Fund which will help councils boost tourism, improve green spaces, and provide more outdoor seating areas, markets, and food stall pop-ups – giving people more safer options to reunite with friends and relatives.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of research by Pennyfreedom, published 14 March; and what steps they are taking to ensure that small businesses receive prompt payments of invoices.

Late payments damage the cashflow of small businesses, which can hold back investment or job creation and, in the worst cases, lead to job losses and business closures.

Action to stop the damaging practice of late payments remains a key priority for Government.

On 16 March, we announced the appointment of Liz Barclay as Small Business Commissioner, who will continue the excellent work of interim Commissioner Philip King in helping small businesses secure the payments owed to them and to galvanise UK businesses behind a new culture of prompt payment.

In October last year, we consulted on new powers for the Commissioner, including the power to order payments, levy fines and open investigations based on third-party information. The responses to the consultation and further proposals will be published in due course.

In January this year, we also announced reforms to the Prompt Payment Code to help build a culture of prompt payment between companies and challenge UK businesses to change their practices and stand by small partners at a critical time for the UK’s economic recovery.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support businesses to incorporate hybrid working arrangements on a long-term basis.

The Government has committed to consult on making flexible working the default unless employers have good reasons not to. The consultation will consider flexible working in all its forms – it is not just about where people work, but also about when they work and the associated number of hours. The consultation will be launched in due course.

In March 2018, the Flexible Working Taskforce – a partnership across business groups, trade unions, charities, and government departments – was set up and ran for a period of 18 months to advise the Government on policies and proposals around flexible working.

Earlier this year, my Hon. Friend the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets wrote to the co-chair of the Taskforce, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), to commission a further 18 months’ work from the Taskforce to help inform the Government’s thinking as we develop the detail of new policies and navigate the impact of Covid-19 on future ways of working.

The Taskforce has been asked to produce advice for employers on “hybrid” and other ways of working within the next six months, which will aim to support businesses in addressing the challenges, issues, and opportunities associated with these new ways of working.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide additional financial support to retail businesses who do not trade online.

Retailers have been able to benefit through an unprecedented support package including loan schemes, grant funding, tax deferrals, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Government will continue to provide eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties in England with 100% business rates relief from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021. This will be followed by 66% business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, capped at £2 million per business for properties that were required to be closed on 5 January 2021, or £105,000 per business for other eligible properties.

We have provided one-off ‘Restart Grants’ of up to £6,000 for non-essential retail premises, expected to benefit over 450,000 non-essential retail businesses.

My Rt hon Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a new ‘Help to Grow’ initiative, providing £520 million to help SMEs recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by adopting digital technologies and providing management training to boost productivity.

The initiative contains two schemes:

  • Help to Grow: Digital – this scheme will be available from the Autumn with small businesses able to access free impartial advice on how technology can boost their performance. Eligible businesses will also be able to get a discount of up to 50% on the costs of approved software, worth up to £5,000. Vouchers are initially expected to be available for software that helps businesses:
    • Build customer relationships and increase sales.
    • Make the most of selling online.
    • Manage their accounts and finances digitally.
  • Help to Grow: Management – this scheme will offer MBA-style management training to SMEs with the aim of increasing innovation and boosting growth.
Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the survey by takepayments, published in February, which found that 30 per cent of small businesses have had to let staff go due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through regular engagement with small and medium-sized businesses, the Government is aware of the issues highlighted by the results of the takepayments survey and recognises the individual impact on those that have lost jobs or had their livelihood affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Plan for Jobs measures announced last year provides significantly expanded employment support, (including extra Work Coaches) to help people who have become newly unemployed, and individuals who have fallen into longer term unemployment, whoever they are and wherever they live.

Further support will be announced shortly. DWP Train and Progress (TaP), a new DWP initiative aimed at increasing access to training opportunities for claimants, will see an extension to the length of time people can receive Universal Credit while undertaking work-focused study.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods across the UK, spending £352 billion on its package of support for affected businesses. This package includes grants, loans, and business rates relief, as well as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which has been used by 1.3 million employers to support 11.2 million jobs at a value of £53.8 billion. The CJRS has been extended to September 2021.

The Budget announced on 3 March 2021 also sets out how it will support a plan for recovery that focusses on backing business, improving skills, and creating jobs. As part of this support, businesses of any size will still be able to access loans and other forms of finance worth up to £10m via the new Recovery Loan Scheme which launched on 6 April, replacing the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans scheme. The Restart Grant supports businesses in the non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, personal care and accommodation sectors with a one-off grant, to reopen safely as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of a recent survey by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Corporate Finance Network, published on 11 March, which found that one in five small business owners are struggling with mental health issues; and what steps they are taking to increase the wellbeing of small business owners.

The Government recognises the significant impact that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had on both employers and employees.

In order to highlight available support around mental health, the Government is signposting to resources for businesses and employers, including Mind’s website and the Mental Health at Work toolkit, through GOV.UK. We also continue to work with the Thriving at Work Leadership Council to encourage employers to sign up to the Mental Health at Work (MHAW) commitments. We also engage leading Mental Health charities and organisations to better understand issues around SME mental health, financial insecurity for small business owners and the self-employed, and we continue to explore what further support may be offered.

We also know how worried people are, and we are taking many steps to protect both jobs and the long-term financial future of businesses during the current economic emergency. Throughout this crisis, our priority has been clear: to protect lives and livelihoods. We have introduced an unprecedented and comprehensive package of business support measures to help as many individuals and businesses as possible, which has mitigated some of the worst immediate impacts of COVID-19 on risk factors for poor mental health. This includes measures such as the small business grants, the Coronavirus loan guarantee schemes, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the deferral of VAT and income tax payments, and more. Businesses can also access tailored advice through our Freephone Business Support Helpline, online via the Business Support website or through their local Growth Hubs in England. The Business Support Helpline continues to support business owners with tailored advice and information, and also signposts individuals to mental health support services where appropriate.

Further measures were also announced by my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Budget that build on the significant support already available as well as set out how current support will evolve and adapt. This includes the extension of the CJRS until September 2021, and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue with a fourth and a fifth grant. The Chancellor announced that a further 600,000 people, many of whom became self-employed in 2019-20, may now be able to claim direct cash grants under SEISS. The Chancellor also announced in the Budget that from 1st April one-off Restart Grants of up to £6,000 for non-essential retail and up to £18,000 for hospitality, leisure, personal care, and accommodation businesses will be available to support them to reopen as Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed.

Businesses and individuals can use our checker tool on GOV.UK to quickly and easily determine whether they are eligible for any further financial support at this time. We will continue to work with colleagues across Government, businesses and other organisations, to ensure the right support is available for employers and employees.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the UK–EU Trade Cooperation Agreement on the amount of revenue raised by UK manufacturers; and what steps they are taking in response any such impact.

The impacts on the UK economy of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement and our global trade deals will not be fully understood until the new processes and procedures are fully embedded. We have secured a Trade Deal that we believe will sustain the success of the UK manufacturing sector with 100% tariff liberalisation, and modern and appropriate rules of origin. This includes Product-Specific Rules of Origin tailored to the needs of UK businesses in manufacturing sectors such as automotive, aluminium, chemicals, machinery and food and drink.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of small businesses which are not eligible for COVID-19 Government grants; and what steps they are taking to reduce that number.

The government engages with a range of stakeholders to understand the reach and scope of the grant support that has been made available. All small business premises that have been mandated in legislation to close are able to access grant support including up to £4,500 per six weeks of closure.

For those small businesses that have not been mandated to close, £2bn of funding via the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) has been made available to Local Authorities to develop business support, including grants, that suits their local area. Local Authorities provide regular data reports on the number and value of grants they are making across all grant schemes available, and this is available on the GOV.UK website.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the British Business Bank Small Business Finance Markets Report 2021, published on 10 March.

The British Business Bank’s Small Business Finance Markets Report makes clear how difficult the last year has been for many small businesses, which is why the Government continues to provide an extensive and generous package of support.

This package of support includes the extended furlough scheme, VAT and business rates relief, loan guarantees and direct cash grants so small businesses are able to keep afloat, protect jobs, and build back better from the pandemic.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that local authorities are correctly issuing grants under the Local Restrictions Support Grants scheme.

The Government is working closely with Local Authorities in England to support the implementation of business grants during the Covid-19 pandemic and monitor the distribution of grant funds. This has included the publication of guidance, webinars and one to one engagement to support Local Authorities in delivering this vital support to businesses. In addition, Ministers from the department have met with Local Authority Leaders and senior officers to discuss grant delivery.

Officials also continue to engage with Local Authorities to ensure compliance to both the scheme rules and wider reporting requirements.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Friends of the Earth An Emergency Plan on Green Jobs for Young People, published on 1 March.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan will support up to 90,000 highly-skilled green jobs across the UK within this Parliament, and up to 250,000 by 2030.

In order to ensure we have the skilled workforce to deliver net zero and our Ten Point Plan, we have launched the Green Jobs Taskforce, working in partnership with business, skills providers, and unions, to help us develop plans for new long-term good quality, green jobs and advise what support is needed for people in transitioning industries.

The Government is investing £2 billion in the Kickstart Scheme, which will create paid, quality 6-month work placements for hundreds of thousands of young people aged 16-24 on Universal Credit. The Kickstart Scheme is aimed specifically at young people deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment. The Scheme provides the opportunity for young people to develop their employability and experience as well as providing a potential route into longer-term employment.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage small and medium-sized businesses to develop sustainability strategies.

Later this year, the UK’s Net Zero Business Champion, my Hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Andrew Griffith MP), will lead the Together for Our Planet (TFOP) Small Business campaign. The campaign, aimed at the UK’s 1.4 million small businesses, will enhance awareness of climate change and net zero, while encouraging them to pledge to take specific actions to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. Examples of the latter might include pledging to switch a commercial van to an electric vehicle, supporting employees to cycle to work or moving to a more local supplier.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sustainability of small and medium-size businesses.

The Government is in regular discussions with businesses and business representative organisations over a range of issues affecting small and medium-sized businesses, including Covid-19. Through this engagement we will continue to monitor the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on SMEs.

In addition, the Government monitors a number of data sources, including ONS business resilience data, and will continue to do so.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the ability of small businesses to repay loans provided by the Government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of 21 February 2021, the Government’s lending schemes have approved over 1.5 million Government-guaranteed loans worth over £72 billion to support cashflow for businesses across the UK affected by Covid-19.

We recognise that some borrowers will benefit from repayment flexibility, and that is why we announced the Pay As You Grow measures, which give Bounce Back Loan borrowers more time and greater flexibility to repay their loans.

We have also enabled lenders to extend the repayment period for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facilities beyond 6 years (up to a maximum of 10 years) where this is needed in connection with the provision of forbearance. CBILS term extensions are offered at the discretion of lenders. This measure is designed to help businesses that would struggle to repay their CBILS facility on their existing terms, by reducing monthly repayments.

The Government continues to enhance its engagement with a broad range of trade and representative bodies, in particular SME networks, to continue to understand the impact of Covid-19 on businesses and the concerns they have.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the working conditions of courier drivers; and what steps they are taking to ensure that such drivers are not paid less than the national minimum wage.

This Government is clear that everyone deserves to be treated fairly at work and rewarded for their contribution to the economy, both in terms of fair pay and fair working conditions. An individual’s entitlement to the minimum wage depends on their employment status and whether they are classed as a worker. We are clear that anyone entitled to be paid the minimum wage should receive it.

We have more than doubled the budget for minimum wage enforcement and compliance, rising to £27.5 million for 20/21, up from £13.2 million in 2015/16. In 2019/20 HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) identified £20.8 million in arrears for over 263,000 workers and issued over just under 1,000 penalties totalling £18.5 million to non-compliant employers.

We would encourage anyone who thinks they are being underpaid to report this. Workers can call the Acas helpline (0300 123 1100) for free, impartial and confidential advice about their rights and entitlements and Acas will pass cases onto HMRC where appropriate. HMRC follows up on every worker complaint it receives, even those which are anonymous.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase COVID-19 financial support to businesses in the wedding industry.

Over the course of the pandemic, the Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support to businesses, including those in the wedding industry, which we keep under regular review.

My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Budget a raft of new measures to further support businesses, including those in the wedding industry. These include:

  • Extension of the Coronavirus Job Support Scheme to the end of September 2021.

  • £5 billion for new Restart Grants.

  • The Government is also providing all Local Authorities in England with an additional £425 million of discretionary business grant funding, on top of the £1.6 billion already allocated.

  • Eligible businesses in hospitality sector will benefit from business rates relief worth over £6 billion in 2021 to 2022.
Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the ability of small businesses to obtain finance from banks that is not underwritten by the government.

The Government continues to engage with UK Finance, the Bank of England, and the wider banking sector, to encourage the flow of finance to UK businesses.

The Government continues to publish free information and advice on business finance outside the business interruption loans – including finance available from a variety of sources such as private funds and investors, and not only those guaranteed by Government. This can be found online on GOV.UK, through the business finance finder, through the network of Growth Hubs in England, and through the free Business Support Helpline.

The Government has provided an unprecedented level of support to protect the UK economy through the COVID-19 pandemic, including through the business interruption loan schemes. The business interruption loans will close on 31 March and the new Recovery Loan Scheme will launch on 6 April and run until 31 December 2021, subject to review.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the survey by Hiscox The Hiscox Business Demystified Survey Challenges for UK SMEs - 2020 and beyond, published on 4 January.

We have noted the Hiscox report and recognise the concerns it highlights that are faced by Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), including access to finance, employee retention, and access to mental health support for employees.

The Government has implemented a range of measures to mitigate the immediate economic impacts of the covid-19 pandemic, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Additionally, as of the end of January 2021, over 12 million people and jobs have been protected to a sum of around £65 billion.

The loan schemes were launched at the beginning of the pandemic, and will close on 31 March 2021. A Successor Loan Scheme will be launched soon after to support additional lending.

We continue to engage with SMEs across the UK both directly and through the Business Representative Organisations such as the FSB, the CBI and Make UK.

Through GOV.UK’s Coronavirus support for business webpages, we are signposting mental health resources for businesses and employers, including Mind’s website and the Mental Health at Work toolkit.

In terms of wider support for businesses as restrictions ease, we continue to encourage businesses to access the free and tailored support available through our core services including GOV.UK, the FREEPHONE Business Support Helpline, and the network of 38 Growth Hubs operating in England.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that private companies retain interest in managing their environmental impact.

Achieving our net zero goal requires all businesses to take action to reduce their emissions, while helping to grow the economy. We are working with our stakeholders to drive the ambitious action needed from UK businesses to help tackle climate change and reduce their impact on the environment.

We are working across government, and with our regulators to drive progress on UK companies disclosing their climate risks in line with the framework provided by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. TCFD can deliver high-quality disclosure on how organisations will manage the material financial risks and opportunities arising from climate change and will improve transparency and encourage better informed pricing and capital allocation.

The eyes of the world will be on the UK as we host the G7 and COP26 in 2021. Business action on climate is vitally important to achieving a successful summit and presidency, and is an excellent opportunity to showcase businesses as global leaders in tackling climate change in the year leading up to COP26.

Our main ask ahead of COP26 in November is for businesses to set ambitious targets and take action to reduce emissions and build resilience, joining the Race to Zero. This sends the strongest signal to markets, supply chains, governments and consumers that businesses are committed to the transition.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk of increased vulnerability of BAME individuals to unfair employment dismissals; and what plans they have to strengthen unfair dismissal legislation.

There are laws in place to ensure fair procedure in redundancy and dismissal matters and to protect against discrimination. Employees who consider that their dismissal was unfair can complain to an employment tribunal, generally subject to a qualifying period of two years of continuous service. If an employee has been unlawfully discriminated against, there is no such qualifying period.

The Government collects data on claims to employment tribunals, but this is not disaggregated by the specific characteristics of the claimant.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the survey by Simply Business, published on 27 January, which found that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of 82 per cent of small business owners; and what steps they are taking in response.

The Government recognises the significant impact that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had on both employers and employees, and their mental wellbeing.

In order to highlight available support around mental health, the Government is signposting to resources for businesses and employers, including Mind’s website and the Mental Health at Work toolkit, through GOV.UK. We also continue to work with the Thriving at Work Leadership Council to encourage employers to sign up to the Mental Health at Work (MHAW) commitments and to engage leading Mental Health charities and organisations to better understand issues around SME mental health, financial insecurity for small business owners and the self-employed, and continue to explore what further support may be offered.

We also know how worried people are and we are taking many steps to protect both jobs and the long-term financial future of businesses during the current economic emergency. Throughout this crisis, our priority has been clear: to protect lives and livelihoods. We have introduced an unprecedented and comprehensive package of business support measures to help as many individuals and businesses as possible, which has mitigated some of the worst immediate impacts of COVID-19 on risk factors for poor mental health. This includes measures such as the small business grants, the Coronavirus loan guarantee schemes, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the deferral of VAT and income tax payments, and more. Businesses can also access tailored advice through our Freephone Business Support Helpline, online via the Business Support website or through their local Growth Hubs in England. The Business Support Helpline continues to support business owners with tailored advice and information, and also signposts individuals to mental health support services where appropriate.

Further measures were also announced by my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer that build on the significant support already available as well as set out how current support will evolve and adapt. This includes the extension of the CJRS until the end of April 2021, the extension of the Coronavirus loan guarantee schemes until 31 March 2021, and the introduction of Pay As You Grow measures, meaning businesses now have the option to repay their Bounce Back Loans over a period of up to ten years. Businesses who also deferred VAT due from 20 March to 30 June 2020 will now have the option to opt-in to a scheme to allow them to pay in smaller instalments up to the end of March 2022, interest free. Businesses and individuals can use our checker tool on GOV.UK to quickly and easily determine whether they are eligible for any further financial support at this time. We will continue to work with colleagues across Government, businesses and other organisations, to ensure the right support is available for employers and employees.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to launch a campaign to encourage consumers to support local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

BEIS and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government are working closely with businesses and Local Authorities for a safe and successful reopening when the health data allows.

We will keep all options under review, exploring all avenues to support local businesses as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support small businesses in equipping remote workers with digital technology.

The Government’s commitment to promoting digital adoption and facilitating digital upskilling includes several initiatives, including:

- Local Digital Skills Partnerships, which currently operate in seven regions across England, working to advance digital inclusion, support small businesses and build regional digital skills capability.

- the Digital Boost platform, which is building a community of digital experts providing one-to-one support to small businesses and charities free of charge to help them improve their digital capability and build an online presence.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of viability of small businesses in London; and what plans they have to provide cash grants to London-based small businesses.

The Government engages continually with business groups and local leaders in London to understand the situation faced by businesses as we take action to tackle Covid-19. Small businesses are clearly vital to the success and draw of London and we are committed to supporting them over the coming months.

More than £1.6bn in grants was paid out to over 111,000 businesses in London in respect of the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund between March and September 2020.

We have also provided additional funding for national and local SME advice and support, with an additional £4m provided to Growth Hubs on top of £2.4m previously announced, this includes the London Growth Hub, which has provided advice on funding and EU Transition to London SMEs.

The Government has offered an unprecedented package of support throughout the pandemic to businesses that have been required by law to close and those which are severely affected by the Covid-19 restrictions.

London business premises that are currently required to be closed may access grants of up to £4,500 per six week period of closure as well as one-off grants of up to £9,000 to help them during this difficult period.

Local Authorities have also been allocated a total of £1.6bn in Additional Restrictions Grant funding which enables them to put in place discretionary support schemes that best suit their local area allowing them to support their wider business community over and above those that are legally required to close.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the compliance of large supermarket companies with minimum wage requirements.

We are clear that everyone who is entitled to the National Minimum Wage should receive it and we will take action where employers have been found to be in breach of the law. In 2019/20, HM Revenue & Customs identified £20.8 million in arrears for over 263,000 workers and issued just under 1,000 penalties totalling £18.5 million to non-compliant employers. In addition, on 31st December 2020 the Government named 139 employers, including 18 retailers, who had failed to pay the minimum wage and owed over £5 million to more than 80,000 workers. This demonstrates our continued commitment to our clear and consistent message that it is never acceptable for employers to short-change their employees.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide (1) financial advisory, and (2) specific mental health, services to people who are self-employed.

Individuals and businesses can access tailored advice through our Freephone Business Support Helpline, online via the Business Support website or through the network of 38 local Growth Hubs in England. Further initiatives include the BEIS-led Small Business Leadership Programme and Peer-to-Peer networks, to help businesses build resilience and grow.

In summer 2018, the British Business Bank also launched a website that offers independent and impartial information on different finance options for scale-up, high growth and potential high growth businesses. The site features infographics and checklists to help businesses get ‘investor ready’ as well as articles and guides from finance providers on how smaller businesses can identify and access finance suited to their growth ambitions. At its heart is the Finance Hub’s Finance Finder, a simple six-step tool that enables smaller business to explore and identify finance options suited to their needs. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the Finance Hub has been updated to clearly signpost the financial support options available for businesses during this period of economic uncertainty.

The Government also recognises the significant impact that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had on both employers and employees, and their mental wellbeing. In order to highlight available support around mental health, the Government is signposting to resources for businesses and employers, including Mind’s website and the Mental Health at Work toolkit, through GOV.UK. We also continue to work with the Thriving at Work Leadership Council to encourage employers to sign up to the Mental Health at Work (MHAW) commitments and to engage leading Mental Health charities and organisations to better understand issues around SME mental health, financial insecurity for small business owners and the self-employed, and continue to explore what further support may be offered.

We are also taking many steps to protect both jobs and the long-term financial future of businesses during the current economic emergency. We have introduced an unprecedented and comprehensive package of business support measures to help as many individuals and businesses as possible, which has mitigated some of the worst immediate impacts of COVID-19 on risk factors for poor mental health. This includes measures such as the small business grants, the Coronavirus loan guarantee schemes, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the deferral of VAT and income tax payments, and more. These measures were designed to be accessible to businesses in most sectors and across the UK.

Further measures were also announced by my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer that build on the significant support already available as well as set out how current support will evolve and adapt. Businesses and individuals can use our checker tool on GOV.UK to quickly and easily determine whether they are eligible for any further financial support at this time.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that employees in the UK have the same standard of legal protection as employees in the EU.

We made sure workers’ rights were protected as the U.K. left the EU and are committed to protecting and enhancing workers’ rights going forward. As an independent, sovereign nation we are now ideally placed to capitalise on the wealth of opportunities available to us. We want to go further than ever before to uphold workers’ rights, support UK businesses and ultimately boost productivity in the UK.

Our high standards have never been dependent on EU membership, and the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation agreement recognises the importance of these employment standards, whilst retaining flexibility for us to tailor our approach to what works for the UK and maintaining our strong levels of protection.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to strengthen the legal employment rights of gig economy workers.

Gig economy workers’ employment rights are determined by their employment status - employee, worker or self-employed.

We want to make it easier for individuals and businesses to understand which employment rights apply to them. The Government is currently considering options to improve clarity around employment status.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to help small businesses manage debt; and what plans they have to introduce employee shared ownership schemes to assist companies to address COVID-19 related debt.

We recognise that a diverse range of businesses have taken out Bounce Back Loans. No repayments are due during the first 12 months of the loan term, giving businesses the space they need to get through this difficult period without needing to worry about repaying these loans in the coming months.

Our ‘Pay as you Grow’ options will allow individual businesses to tailor their repayments to their individual circumstances, to help them repay their loans.

In addition, lenders may offer a term extension to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) borrowers in difficulty, as a forbearance tool, up to a maximum of 10 years, if the lender judges that it would help the borrower to repay their loan.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of skills gaps on employee mental wellbeing.

The Government recognises the significant impact that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had on both employers and employees, and their mental wellbeing. Throughout this crisis, our priority has been clear: to protect lives and livelihoods and we have taken many steps to protect both jobs and the long-term financial future of businesses during the current economic emergency.

The Government has set out a plan for recovery that focusses on backing business, improving skills, and creating jobs. For example, the Plan for Jobs provides new funding to ensure more people will get tailored support to help them find work. This includes launching the £2 billion Kickstart Scheme fund and investing £2.9 billion in the Restart programme over 3 years to support the UK’s labour market. DWP are also doubling the number of jobcentre Work Coaches to provide intensive support for both young people and the newly unemployed.

Further measures include committing £8 million for digital skills boot camps, increasing apprenticeship opportunities, expanding sector-based work academies programme (SWAPs), launching the Job Finding Support Service, and increasing the funding for the Flexible Support Fund by £150 million in Great Britain.

In order to highlight available support around mental health, the Government is also signposting to resources for businesses and employers, including Mind’s website and the Mental Health at Work toolkit, through GOV.UK here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-support-for-business-from-outside-government. We also continue to work with the Thriving at Work Leadership Council to encourage employers to sign up to the Mental Health at Work (MHAW) commitments and to engage leading Mental Health charities and organisations to better understand issues around SME mental health, financial insecurity for small business owners and the self-employed, and continue to explore what further support may be offered.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support employers (1) to maintain, and (2) to increase, the number of graduate recruitment schemes.

Skills and training are vital to our long-term economic growth and recovery from Covid-19 as we build back better across the UK. We are working closely with the Department for Education to ensure that Government support for skills and training is an integral part of our plan for growth.

The Department for Work and Pension’s Kickstart schemeis a £2 billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of high quality roles for 16 to 24 year olds that are receiving Universal Credit. The scheme will include wider employability support for participants to gain experience that will improve their chances of progressing to find long-term, sustainable work.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the funding available for career development programmes aimed at employees aged 16 to 29.

Skills and training are vital to our long-term economic growth and recovery from Covid-19 as we build back better across the UK. We are working closely with the Department for Education to ensure that Government support for skills and training is an integral part of our plan for growth.

The Department for Work and Pension’s Kickstart schemeis a £2 billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of high quality roles for 16 to 24 year olds that are receiving Universal Credit. The scheme will include wider employability support for participants to gain experience that will improve their chances of progressing to find long-term, sustainable work.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recommendation by the Law Society and the Bar Council in its joint paper Immigration priorities for the legal services sector, published in November, that they should seek to "secure an EU-level treaty commitment to Permitted Paid Engagements throughout the entire period of a business visit and in all areas of legal activity".

As part of the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the EU, it is our intention to agree reciprocal measures on permitted activities for short-term business visitors. We want to build on the EU’s precedents with Japan and Canada, where possible and to our mutual benefit. The purpose would be to ‘lock in’ a list of permitted activities that both Parties must allow, without requiring a work permit.

As is normal in EU trade agreements, some Member States may choose to table exceptions to this list, known as ‘reservations.’ Both Parties can, in practice, allow short-term business visitors to carry out more activities than those committed to in an FTA – and this is at the discretion of each of the immigration systems in question. Whether these activities are permitted visa-free is a matter for each individual Member State and the UK respectively.

The EU has not previously agreed with any of its trade partners a route for short-term business visitors to carry out paid or unpaid activities specific to legal professionals, preferring instead to adhere to its precedents on short-term business visitors.

After the transition period ends, for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period, the EU has legislated so that UK nationals will not need a visa when travelling to and within the Schengen Area to undertake a limited range of activities, such as attending business meetings. The types of activities allowed will differ by Member State, and UK nationals should check with their host state before travelling whether the activity they are travelling for requires a visa and/or work permit.

In the UK, EU legal professionals will be able to perform some activities as visitors without the need for a visa. These activities are detailed further on the GOV.UK website.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of construction employment rates; and what plans they have to increase construction apprenticeship schemes.

The Government is committed to supporting apprentices and their employers to continue to build the skills capabilities the UK will need in the long term. On 8 July, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that employers taking on new apprentices will receive an extra £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under 25, or £1500 for new apprentices above that age. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 grants for each 16 to 18-year-old apprentice taken on.

On 1 June, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) published its Industry Recovery Plan. Employment and skills in the construction sector are identified as a priority, and a focus of the ‘Restart’ phase of the Plan is to maximise employment opportunities. Apprenticeships, and how the construction sector maintains and takes on future apprentices, is a crucial part of this, and it is at the forefront of the CLC’s agenda.

The Government has welcomed the Plan and is collaborating with the CLC and industry to ensure that the proposals are implemented.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Centre for Progressive Policy From precarious to prosperous, published on 27 October; and what plans they have to introduce a minimum wage for the self-employed.

This Government is determined to tackle unfair working practices. As announced in the Queens’ Speech, we will bring forward an Employment Bill in due course, to make workplaces fairer, and provide new protections for those in low-paid work and the gig economy.

An individual’s employment rights – such as the right to the National Minimum Wage - are determined by their employment status (employee, worker or self-employed). Employment law doesn’t cover self-employed people in most cases because they are their own boss and are responsible for the success of their own business.

We recently announced an extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to continue to support self-employed individuals who are experiencing reduced demand or cannot trade due to the effect of coronavirus.

We are increasing the overall level of the grant to 80% of trading profits covering November to January for all parts of the UK. This provides equivalent support to the self-employed as we are providing to employees through the government contribution in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

This is £7.3 billion of support to the self-employed through November to January alone, with a further grant to follow covering February to April. This comes on top of £13.7 billion of support for self-employed people so far, one of the most comprehensive and generous support packages for the self-employed anywhere in the world.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what provisions they have put in place for short-term business visits to the EU for legal professionals and barristers once the Brexit transition period ends.

As part of the ongoing Fee Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the EU, it is our intention to agree reciprocal measures on short-term business visitors. The purpose would be to ‘lock in’ a list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors that both Parties must allow, without requiring a work permit. As is normal in EU trade agreements, some Member States may choose to table exceptions to this list, known as ‘reservations’. Note that both Parties may in practice allow more activities than those committed to in the FTA. Whether these activities are permitted visa-free is be a matter for Member States.

The EU has never previously agreed with any of its trade partners a route for short-term business visits specific to legal professionals and barristers. The UK’s overarching approach to temporary entry and stay issues with the EU is to explore building on the EU’s precedents with Canada and Japan. This includes for short-term visitors, where it is mutually beneficial to do so.

After the Transition Period ends, for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period, the EU has legislated so that UK nationals will not need a visa when travelling to and within the Schengen Area to undertake a limited range of activities, such as attending business meetings. The types of activities allowed will differ by Member State, and UK nationals should check with their host state before travelling whether the activity they are travelling for requires a visa and/or work permit.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Learning and Work Institute Crisis in the Capital, published on 27 October; and what steps they are taking to create new jobs in London.

The Government is working closely with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and London Councils to support the London Recovery Plan, mapping employment and skills support to provide a coordinated skills and employment support package across the capital. DWP is also working with the Mayor’s Construction Academy to promote the opportunities in this sector as well as supporting GLA initiatives in the creative sector.

The Flexible Support Fund is available to support the unemployed to get back into work and DWP are working with individual London Boroughs using partnership grants to support initiatives to get people back into work.

We will review the report from the Learning and Work Institute and consider its findings.

Further to this through this Government’s Plan for Jobs, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer set out a plan to support jobs focussing on skills and young people. This includes:

  • A new £2bn Kickstart Scheme to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people aged 16 to 24 claiming Universal Credit across England. Funding is available for six-month job placements will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week – and employers will be able to top this wage up. There is no cap on the number of places available.
  • Recruiting 13,500 work coaches to more than double the number of work coaches across the country - as well as putting in place a package of support to ensure young people have the skills and training to go on to high quality, secure and fulfilling employment.
  • A new payment of £2,000 to employers in London and across England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021. Employers can start claiming for payments from 1 September.
  • £111m is being invested to triple the scale of traineeships: with three times more funding available to providers in 2020-21 to support 30,000 new places. We have also introduced – for the first time - payments of £1,000 per trainee for employers who offer new or additional work placements (up to 10 trainees).
  • Apprenticeship opportunities will also be increased, with more funding for SMEs taking on apprentices, and greater flexibility in how their training is structured – especially in sectors such as construction and creative industries where there are more varied employment patterns.
  • Through the Government’s Local Growth Fund, the London Local Enterprise Action Partnership will deliver approximately 11,649 jobs and apprenticeships in London through the lifetime of the programme (15-21). The Fund will also help upskill 27,106 learners in London.
Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of job loss estimates reported by the New Economics Forum on 21 October; and what plans they have to increase the wage subsidy for businesses accessing COVID-19 economic support.

The Government is committed to ensuring workers across all regions are supported through this difficult time. Since the initial estimates were published by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) on 21 October, the Government has announced further revisions to the Job Support Scheme. The Job Support Scheme Open is at the heart of the Government’s efforts to protect viable jobs in businesses experiencing reduced demand, which was the focus of the New Economics Foundation’s research. The Government has increased the generosity of the scheme, ensuring that more jobs are protected.

Since the 21 October NEF publication, the Government has reduced the minimum hours that must be worked by employees to 20% from 33% and increased the wage subsidy provided by the Government from 33% to 61.67% of unworked time, up to a maximum monthly contribution of £1541.75. Employers must now pay for 5% of unworked time, down from 33%, up to a monthly cap of £125. This will ensure workers receive at least 73% of their salary while on the scheme, up to a salary limit of £3,125.

The New Economics Foundation itself has since said that they “welcome the improvements” the Government have made to the scheme.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to remove barriers to COVID-19 financial support for BAME run businesses.

A diverse and inclusive ecosystem is good for entrepreneurs, companies, investors, and society as a whole and HMG are committed to ensuring people from all backgrounds and regions benefit from the Government’s access to business finance schemes.

All the Government’s finance schemes, including the Future Fund, that were launched to provide support for those affected by Covid-19 are open to eligible businesses run by entrepreneurs from all regions and backgrounds, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) businesses. Government will continue to monitor the implementation and take up of the schemes, working with lenders, the British Business Bank (BBB) and across industry.

The BBB published diversity data for the Future Fund on 22 September 2020, which showed that £427.1m worth of Convertible Loan Agreements have been approved to companies with BAME-only and mixed ethnicity management teams.

The Start Up Loans programme, also operated by the BBB, delivered nearly 77,000 loans overall in the UK, supporting nearly £650m of funding since the programme’s launch in 2012 to the end of September this year. 25% of the total number of these loans was made to BAME-led businesses in the UK.

The Department’s Ministerial team is actively engaging with entrepreneurs from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic business communities and has undertaken 10 engagements since March 2020.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they, if any, have to compel major transnational companies to improve working conditions in the UK.

This Government has a proud history of protecting and enhancing workers’ rights.

As announced in the Queens’ Speech, we will be bringing forward an Employment Bill to implement a range of Manifesto commitments.

This legislation will make workplaces fairer, by providing better support for working families, new protections for those in low-paid work and the gig economy, and by encouraging flexible working.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) local authorities in London, and (2) the Greater London Authority, about the ethnicity pay gap in London.

In 2018/19, the Government consulted on options for exploring possibilities for employer-level ethnicity pay reporting. Following the consultation, Government met with businesses and representative organisations to understand the barriers to reporting and explore what information could be published to allow for meaningful action to be taken. It is essential that any reporting is reliable and robust, and that is why last year we also ran a voluntary methodology testing exercise with a broad range of businesses to better understand the complexities outlined in the consultation using real payroll data. The Greater London Authority and Local Government Association were both invited and took part in the methodology testing.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce Who is at risk? Work and automation in the time of COVID-19, published in October.

The Government is currently considering the report and continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the UK labour market.

The £30bn Plan for Jobs announced by my Rt. Hon friend the Chancellor of the Exhequer in July will protect, support and create jobs as part of our response to coronavirus. Among the measures included, we have committed at least £2 billion for a Kickstart Scheme that will directly pay employers to create new jobs for any 16 to 24-year old at risk of long-term unemployment, a further £3bn to support 140,000 green jobs, and trebling the number of sector-based work academy placements in England, in order to provide vocational training and guaranteed interviews for more people, helping them gain the skills needed for the jobs available in their local area.

As announced in the Queens’ Speech, we will be bringing forward an Employment Bill to implement a range of Manifesto commitments. This legislation will ensure that we have an employment framework that keeps pace with the changes in our labour market by providing new protections for those in low-paid work and the gig economy, and by encouraging flexible working. It will balance the needs of both employers and workers, ensuring everyone benefits from flexibility.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide additional financial support to the hospitality sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Winter Economy Plan outlines the additional support the Government is providing to help businesses, including those in the hospitality sector. Measures in the Winter Economy Pan include the Job Support Scheme, extending the VAT cut until 31 March 2021, the New Payment Scheme to allow deferred VAT payments to be spread through the year, extending the application period for government-backed loans and introducing ‘Pay as You Grow’ repayment options. There are also specific measures to support the self-employed, such as the SEISS Grant Extension. Also the Government have introduced measures to support businesses required to close their premises due to tier 3 restrictions. The Job Support Scheme is being expanded and the Government is also increasing the amounts payable under the Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme and changing this scheme so that businesses will be eligible for payments through it after two weeks of being closed due to local restrictions instead of three.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the campaign launched on 1 October by the Confederation of British Industry and others to increase the diversity of racial and ethnic participation in British businesses.

The Government is committed to promoting business leadership diversity and inclusion. Companies should embrace diversity throughout their workforce, including at board level and throughout senior leadership and the talent pipeline.

We work with businesses and business representative bodies to promote diverse boardrooms for FTSE 350 companies, and we support the independent business-led Parker Review which recommends that FTSE 100 companies should have at least one director of colour by the end of 2021 and that FTSE 250 companies also meet this target by the end of 2024.

We welcome the CBI campaign’s reinforcement of the Parker Review’s recommendations.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Learning and Working Institute The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on London’s low paid workers, published in July.

The number of people earning below two-thirds of median hourly pay fell for the sixth consecutive year, falling from 17% or employees in 2018 to 15.5% in 2019, the lowest rate since 1978.

The introduction of the National Living Wage has contributed significantly to this and the Government remains committed to eradicate low pay through the National Living Wage’s target, to reach two-thirds of median earnings by 2024, provided economic conditions allow.

In addition to this, we are aware of the potential impacts that Covid-19 may have on low paid workers. Analysis by HM Treasury shows that Government’s interventions, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, helped reduce the scale of losses for working households by up to two-thirds.

From the 1 November the Job Support Scheme will open and run for 6 months. It is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to covid 19, to help their employees attached to the workforce.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of research from Radboud University Medical Center, Aarhus University and Copenhagen University that suggests sex and gender are not being adequately considered in COVID-19 clinical trials; and what steps they are taking, if any, in response.

Vaccine developers that the Government are working with decide on which specific groups to include in their trials. For instance, the University of Oxford / Astra Zeneca Phase 3 trial includes arms that specifically looks at safety and efficacy of the vaccine in those aged between 56 – 69 and over 70. For the groups that are investigated, researchers are assessing the immune response to the vaccine to find out if there is variation in how well the immune system responds in older people.

In addition to the work that vaccine developers are undertaking, the Government has funded the NHS Registry, developed by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). This national registry is encouraging people who may be disproportionately affected by COVID19, such as older people, older people with underlying health conditions and people from different ethnic groups, to volunteer for clinical trials. This includes supporting the development of communications materials to provide information on taking part in COVID19 vaccine trials via the NIHR website (Be Part of Research).

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide financial support to young people in the services sector.

In his Summer Economic Update, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £1.6bn plan to support jobs focussing on skills and young people whose employment prospects are expected to be disproportionately affected by the economic fallout of Coronavirus.

We have aligned our skills and training offers to priority areas for economic recovery, including the services sector, and we are investing over £500m in a package of support to ensure young people have the skills and training to go on to high quality, secure and fulfilling employment. This includes:

  • A new payment to support organisations that take on new apprentices between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021 - £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and £1,500 for each newly recruited apprentice aged 25 and over.
  • £111m to triple the scale of traineeships: with three times more funding available to providers in 2020-21 to support 30,000 new places.
  • £101m for a brand new offer to give 18 and 19-year-old school and college leavers the opportunity to study high value Level 2 and 3 courses when there are not employment opportunities available to them.
  • £32m over two years to help 269,000 more people receive advice from the National Careers Service.
  • £17m to triple the number of sector-based work academy programme placements in 2020/21, enough funding to support an extra 40,000 job seekers with additional training opportunities and the chance of a job.

We have also launched a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country. Those aged 16-24, claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment, will be eligible. Funding available for each six-month job placement will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week and employers will be able to top this wage up.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recent report by Culture Shift, Maintaining Workplace culture in a rapidly changing environment, published on 11 September.

Remote working is more appropriate for some roles and sectors than others, which is why we have been consistent in making the distinction between those who can and those who cannot work from home as part of our COVID-19 guidance. We also appreciate that the appropriateness of remote working depends on an individual’s personal circumstances and remote working environment.

The Government has committed to consulting on making flexible working the default and we will use this consultation to consider the lessons learned from COVID-19. The consultation will consider flexible working in all its forms – it is not just about where people work, but also when they work and their associated working patterns.

On the report’s wider observations around problematic behaviour in the workplace, the government is already seeking to address these issues. Last year we held a consultation to ensure that laws to protect people from sexual harassment at work are operating effectively – and at the start of this year we ran a nationally-representative survey that will further develop our understanding of the problem and its extent.

We are also supporting the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)’s work to develop a statutory Code of Practice on sexual harassment and harassment in the workplace, which will be based on the technical guidance they published in January.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to create new jobs on low carbon (1) projects, and (2) infrastructure schemes.

The UK has over 460,000 jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chains. By 2030, the UK’s low carbon economy has the potential to grow at up to four times the rate of GDP growth and support up to 2 million jobs.

At my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer’s economic update, the government announced £3 billion of green investment to create thousands of green jobs and upgrade the energy efficiency of domestic and public buildings. The Green Homes Grant could support more than 100,000 green jobs, upgrade more than 600,000 homes across the country, and save households hundreds of pounds a year on their energy bills. The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme will fund shovel-ready projects that could support up to 33,000 green jobs in sectors that will be key to delivering our net zero ambitions.

On 30 June, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister made further announcements in support of green jobs, including a £40 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund to boost local conservation projects and create 3,000 new jobs, and safeguard a further 2,000.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent skills losses in the manufacturing industry when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends.

As at 16th August 2020, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has helped 74,800 manufacturing employers across the UK to furlough just over 1 million jobs, protecting people’s livelihoods. As we re-open the economy, it is right that our focus shifts to getting furloughed employees back to work.

Throughout the Covid-19 outbreak, we have engaged closely with the UK’s manufacturing sectors and their input has helped to shape the Government’s response. This engagement includes a series of recovery roundtables, chaired by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, bringing together businesses, business representative groups (including Make UK), and leading academics. Participants discussed the potential measures needed to support economic recovery and to ensure we have the right skills in place to meet the needs of the manufacturing industry over the next 18 months.

This builds on the Government’s commitment to invest in manufacturing research and developmetn and innovation. For example, we are investing up to £1 billion of additional funding to develop and embed the next generation of cutting-edge automotive technologies through the Automotive Transformation Fund, as well as £1.9 billion up to 2026 for the Aerospace Technology Research programme, helping to secure future jobs in these strategically important sectors.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, if any, to support BAME–led architecture practices and BAME built environment professionals in their plans for the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are continuing to work across Government and with a wide array of stakeholders including the Royal Institute of British Architects, to ensure that diverse voices are heard in the policy making process, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are supporting the construction sector by helping it drive increased investment in skills development, adopt a more strategic and co-ordinated approach to recruitment, and equip workers with the skills they need for the future.

Additionally, the Professional and Business Services Council’s Skills and Inclusion Working Group is engaged on access to skills to support business growth in the industry, as well as considering how to increase social mobility within the sector. The group have convened a sub-group to consider immediate emerging skills issues that have arisen as a result of COVID-19.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take following reports that many black-owned businesses struggle to find investors.

The Government’s access to finance schemes are open to all businesses and BAME-led businesses benefit from them. The Department’s ministerial team is actively engaging with the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) business community on a regular basis to cover multiple issues, including access to finance.

The Future Fund provides government co-investment to innovative businesses. As of 21 June, the Future Fund had approved 252 applications for investment worth £236 million. Companies with BAME only and mixed ethnicity management teams accounted for over 55% of these applications, valued at £118.5m.

The British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme had delivered more than 71,500 loans to entrepreneurs by the end of March 2020, providing more than £586 million of funding. Of these, 20 per cent of the total were to applicants from a BAME background, compared to approximately 15 per cent of the UK’s population who are from a BAME background (2011 census).

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to support women at work who have been affected by employment and risk concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has taken significant steps to protect jobs for all people, whilst minimising the risk of spreading the virus – by encouraging flexible work practices and home working, and through implementing our unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Support Scheme.

We have provided clear Health and Safety guidance to employers, to minimise risk in the workplace. This includes identifying what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus and thinking about who could be at risk (e.g. pregnant women).

As always, equalities legislation requires that employers must not discriminate based on gender or pregnancy and maternity in the workplace – this includes discrimination in regard to decisions around access to furlough and working from home. The same applies to decisions around redundancy. It is breaking the law to discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, sex or disability.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that (1) disabled people, and (2) those who live with a vulnerable person, are being threatened with dismissal if they do not physically return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government is actively monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on the labour market, including the impact on those with disabilities and on other groups. Employers must comply with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that they do not unlawfully discriminate.

The Public Health advice is clear and we expect employers to act accordingly.

Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals have been strongly advised not to work outside the home. They have been asked to take extra care in observing social distancing and should be helped to work from home, either in their current role or in an alternative role.

If clinically vulnerable (but not extremely clinically vulnerable) individuals cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest available on site roles, enabling them to stay 2m away from others. If they have to spend time within 2m of others, the employer should carefully assess whether this involves an acceptable level of risk.

Those living with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals do not need to start shielding themselves, but they should do what they can to carefully follow guidance on staying alert and safe (social distancing).

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to expand the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies to include (1) immunologists, and (2) experts on large scale logistics.

Expert participation varies depending on the subjects being discussed. The Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Chief Medical Officer will decide who or what expertise is needed for each meeting, typically drawing from leading experts from within government and relevant fields of academia and industry.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker what assessment he has made of the impact of the decision to not broadcast the Virtual Proceedings in the House of Lords live online on democratic engagement with the House.

Since the 21 April the House of Lords has conducted virtual sittings of the House, and the broadcasting unit have been developing the necessary infrastructure to enable high quality live broadcast of these proceedings. In the interim period, all virtual sittings were made available online as video or audio files as soon as possible after the proceedings concluded. The Hansard record of proceedings for each virtual sitting has also been made available online from approximately three hours after each sitting. On Tuesday 28 April and Thursday 30 April the virtual sittings of the House were broadcast live on parliamentlive.tv.

As of this week, the House of Lords has begun to use the same system as the House of Commons to enable high-quality live broadcast output via parliamentlive.tv. As well as virtual sittings of the House, House of Lords committees have been continuing to meet remotely, and last week the first virtual evidence sessions with witnesses were broadcast live on parliamentlive.tv. Throughout this period the House Administration has used social media channels to promote democratic engagement and publicise the channels through which members of the public can continue to follow virtual House of Lords proceedings.

23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to relax temporarily Sunday trading hours to prevent overcrowding and allow key workers to purchase shopping at supermarkets.

Supermarkets have developed a range of approaches to accommodate key workers and address overcrowding, within the existing statutory framework. The Government is also temporarily relaxing competition law to allow the retailers to share information and collaborate over the management of supplies and opening hours. The Government is speaking to retailers regularly to ensure supply to key workers and others is maintained.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to meet the energy efficiency targets for housing set out in their Clean Growth Strategy, published in October 2017.

The Clean Growth Strategy set out the aspiration that as many homes as possible will be EPC Band C by 2035 where practical, cost-effective and affordable.

The current iteration of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO3) will upgrade around a million homes for low income and vulnerable households by March 2022. ECO3 and its successor will drive £6 billion of investment between 2018 and 2028 to support energy efficiency improvements. Furthermore, the Manifesto committed to an additional £6.3 billion of public investment to upgrade the energy performance of fuel poor homes and social housing.

In April 2018, we introduced for the first time a minimum energy efficiency standard of EPC Band E for private rented sector properties, with all private rented properties required to meet, or exceed, this standard by 1 April 2020. We will be consulting in due course on options to increase this minimum standard to EPC Band C.

Last year, we launched Simple Energy Advice, a new digital and phoneline service to provide homeowners with impartial and tailored advice on how to cut their energy bills and make their homes greener, as well as information on any available financial support.

We also launched two energy efficiency innovation competitions in summer 2019, both aimed at investigating ways to make energy efficiency cheaper and more accessible for householders. The Whole House Retrofit cost reduction trajectory competition made available £9.4 million of funding for projects which demonstrate the potential to reduce costs for Whole House Retrofit. The Green Home Finance Innovation Fund is making nearly £2 million of funding available for a series of projects to develop innovative green mortgage and other lending products, to improve householder access to green finance to support energy efficiency retrofit.

We have also committed to consult later this year on requirements for lenders to support homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by Carnegie UK Trust Race Inequality in the Workforce, published in February 2020, what assessment they have made of the finding that BAME individuals are more likely to have less stable working lives than their white peers.

For BAME individuals in the UK, employment rates are at a near record high at 66.8%, and the unemployment rate is at its lowest level since 1974 at 5.8%. However, we know that employment rates are still lower than for White individuals and that BAME individuals are more likely to have less stable working patterns. The Government is bringing forward the Employment Bill, legislating for a wide range of reforms to employment law that will improve working conditions in the UK, but particularly for the most vulnerable workers.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, if any, to ensure that UK-based artificial intelligence start-ups are not acquired by dominant market players.

Under the Enterprise Act 2002, consideration of the competition aspects of mergers and takeovers in the UK is handled by the independent Competition and Markets Authority or, in some cases during the Transition Period, the European Commission.

In March last year, the Digital Competition Expert Panel, led by Professor Jason Furman, made a series of recommendations for how the UK’s competition framework can face the challenges posed by digital markets. The Government welcomed this report and is carefully considering the Panel’s recommendations. The Government will respond in due course.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, if any, to ensure that the acquisition of smaller companies by Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft or Google is transparent.

In March last year, the Digital Competition Expert Panel, led by Professor Jason Furman, made a series of recommendations for how the UK’s competition framework can face the challenges posed by digital markets. The Government welcomed this report and is carefully considering the Panel’s recommendations. The Government will respond in due course.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial impact the outbreak of Wuhan coronavirus has had on the technology market.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have made no such assessment.

The Government is closely monitoring developments in relation to potential economic impacts on the UK economy and individual businesses and supply chains.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to encourage greater diversity on executive level boards.

The Government is committed to working with the business community to create more inclusive workplaces from the shop floor to the boardroom.

The Government commissioned and supports the business-led, independent Hampton-Alexander Review which has a 33% target for women on boards and in senior leadership positions across the FTSE350 by close 2020.

Women hold a higher percentage of senior leadership positions than ever before and I am pleased that the FTSE100 have achieved their 33% target ahead of schedule.

Government also fully supports the Parker Review, published in October 2017, which looks at ethnic minority representation on FTSE100 and FTSE250 boards. The review recommends that FTSE100 and 250 boards should have at least one director of colour by 2021 and 2024, respectively. The Government also supports the recently launched Leaders As Change Agents board which is working to increase diversity in critical decision-making roles.

4th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they taking to reduce the thawing of permafrost in the Arctic.

The Government is in no doubt that climate change is one of the greatest global challenges we face, and that action is urgently needed in the UK and across the world. It is clear that we are already seeing the impacts of climate change, with the Arctic among those regions being particularly affected.

We are at the forefront of global action on climate change and we are determined to build on the leadership we have shown to date, notably through our world-leading net zero target set in UK legislation in June last year. We are hosting the crucial COP26 climate negotiations this year, and we are determined to use this conference to promote ambitious action to deliver the transformational change required by the Paris Agreement.

8th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to increase the incentives for firms to comply with paying the National Minimum Wage.

The Government is committed to ensuring employers correctly pay the National Minimum Wage (NMW). We recognise that as the minimum wage increases, so too does the risk of non-compliance. This is why we have doubled the compliance and enforcement budget to £27.4 million for 2019/20, up from £13.2 million in 2015/16. Last year was a record year for NMW enforcement, HMRC identified £24.4 million in minimum wage underpayment for over 220,000 workers.

Our enforcement approach is designed to strike a balance between promoting compliance with the NMW whilst deterring future cases of underpayment. HMRC uses a variety of methods to achieve this, working with employers and workers to raise awareness of NMW rules and, in instances of underpayment, using sanctions to deter future non-compliance.

We regularly review and adapt our approach to address particular issues around non-compliance and will continue to do so.

15th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce loan schemes at libraries for electronic devices to encourage citizens to become more digitally capable.

The provision of public library services in England is a matter for local authorities to determine. The responsibility for libraries in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales rests with the respective devolved administration.

Local authorities in England have a statutory duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. They are responsible for determining the delivery of a modern and efficient library service that meets the requirements of their communities. In considering how best to deliver this statutory duty, each local authority can, if they wish, consider the provision of loaning out electronic devices.

Whilst this is not a matter for the department to require, we understand that the provision of portable devices to lend is something library services are increasingly delivering. We know that at least a quarter of library services in England already provide portable electronic devices for loan, generally targeted to those more likely to be digitally disadvantaged. ​​I learned about an example of this at Manchester Central Library in my visit during Libraries Week.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
6th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of a YouGov survey, published on 25 August, which found that 62 per cent of football fans fear that a player will be racially abused.

There is no place for racism in football, whether in the stands or on social media, or society more widely.

The Government therefore welcomed the Premier League’s “No Room for Racism” Action plan, and the announcement of new enhanced anti-discrimination measures to be implemented in the 2021/22 season, such as league-wide bans for offenders.

The Government’s pioneering Online Safety Bill will make it even tougher for offenders to abuse others, with social media firms facing huge fines if they fail to clamp down on abuse.

There is still more to do though, and we will continue to work with the football authorities to combat racism in the game.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support a defibrillator education programme at all professional sports teams.

First aid skills, including how to administer CPR, are important life skills for everyone. Recent events at UEFA EURO 2020 have demonstrated the immense value of first aid training and access to Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for anyone involved in professional sport.

Sports have a responsibility to make the safety and welfare of players their top priority, including through access to life-saving first aid equipment and relevant training and education. It is for the relevant national governing body or professional league to determine what education programmes may be appropriate for participants and support staff in their sport.

A number of sports do provide relevant education, including football. The Minister for Sport and Tourism welcomed the Premier League’s announcement in June 2021 of their new Defibrillator Fund, which will fund AEDs at thousands of football clubs and facilities across the country. Each grant recipient will be required to have at least one person successfully complete The FA Education’s free online Sudden Cardiac Arrest course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce regulations on social media companies, including mandatory design standards, to increase online safety for services that are used by children.

The draft Online Safety Bill, published in May 2021, will ensure companies design their platforms to be safer for users, and particularly for children. The new laws will apply to companies that allow users to post content online or to interact with each other, which includes social media companies. The draft bill will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny in this session. The Joint Committee that will scrutinise the draft Bill has now been set up, and members from both Houses have now been appointed.

The strongest protections in the legislation are for children. Unless social media companies are able to prove that children are not accessing their service, they will need to conduct a child safety risk assessment and provide safety measures for child users, keeping these under regular review. As part of the risk assessment, companies will need to assess how the design and operation of the service may increase or reduce the risks identified.

The government has also published voluntary Safety by Design guidance in June 2021 that will help companies design safer online services. In addition, the Information Commissioner’s Age Appropriate Design Code, which will come into force in September 2021, will set out specific protections for children’s personal data that companies will need to build in when designing online services likely to be accessed by children.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to negotiate (1) visa-free travel, and (2) Europe-wide work permits, for musicians and crew.

This government recognises the importance of our world leading creative and cultural industries. That is why the UK took an ambitious approach during negotiations with the EU that would have ensured that touring musicians, performers and their support staff did not need work-permits to perform in the EU. Regrettably, our proposals were rejected by the EU, but our door remains open if the EU wants to reconsider its position.

A bespoke visa waiver agreement with the EU would require the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) to be renegotiated. The TCA is the basis of our trading relations with the EU, and this is not going to be renegotiated. Furthermore, the Commission would be likely to argue that any EU-wide visa waiver agreement can only be part of a wider package with a binding non-discrimination clause and a reciprocal visa waiver agreement covering all current and future Member States. This was what the Commission proposed in the negotiations and would be incompatible with our manifesto commitment to retain control of our borders.

Our focus is now on engaging with Member States, who are principally responsible for deciding the rules governing what work UK visitors can undertake in the EU. We have spoken to every Member State, involving British Embassies and DCMS ministers. We have established that musicians and performers do not require visas or work permits for short-term tours in at least 19 out of 27 Member States, including France and Germany.

We are now working closely with individual Member States that do require visas or permits for short-term touring to encourage them to adopt a more flexible approach, in line with the UK’s own rules which allow creative professionals to tour easily here. These countries are Spain, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Malta, Bulgaria, and Romania. We are also still confirming the details of requirements with Cyprus.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by British Future Our Chance to Reconnect, published in March; and what steps they are taking to make it easier for people to volunteer in their local community.

Her Majesty’s Government welcomes the findings of the report and its contribution to our understanding of civil society during the pandemic. As documented, the scale and breadth of the volunteer response over the last year has been remarkable; as the study estimated, 12.4 million people volunteered during the pandemic, 4.6 million of them volunteering for the first time. Government would like to express its gratitude to all those who volunteered for their contributions, whether through continuing or taking up a formal role with an organisation, or national schemes such as the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, or the extraordinary 2.5 million people who undertook local acts of neighbourliness as coordinated through over 4,000 mutual aid groups. Undoubtedly our experience of the pandemic would have been very different without them.

As outlined by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, our approach to the government's role in volunteering is as a steward, enabling further unlocking of the potential within the volunteering sector as we seek to build a volunteering legacy from this challenging time.

To meet this ambition, DCMS is developing policy with a focus on simplifying the routes into volunteering, how volunteering supply and demand can be best matched and leveraging government’s links with the voluntary and community sector for strategic collaboration. Developing solutions to address the barriers facing those who wish to volunteer in their local community will be an integral element of our work.

Beyond this, the Government continues to celebrate and champion extraordinary individuals who volunteer across the United Kingdom through the Prime Minister’s daily Points of Light Awards, and remains committed to promoting the benefits of volunteering both to personal wellbeing and community cohesion.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prepare further financial support packages for the night-time entertainment industry affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

The Government recognises the severe impact the pandemic has had on the night-time entertainment industry.

The Chancellor announced in the 2021 Budget an additional £300 million to support cultural organisations, including businesses in the night industry such as theatres, music venues and nightclubs in England through the Culture Recovery Fund. Nightclubs were eligible for the first and second rounds of Culture Recovery Funding and many organisations were funded, for example, the Ministry of Sound received a grant of almost £1m. To date, over £1.2 billion has been allocated from the Culture Recovery Fund, reaching over 5000 individual organisations and sites.This extra funding means that our total support package for culture during the pandemic is now approaching £2bn.

More generally, the Government will spend over £33 billion supporting those in self-employment during this crisis, among the most generous anywhere in the world. The Government has also provided economic wide support packages which the sector has been able to access including extensions to the furlough scheme, SEISS, and additional business support.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to assist businesses in creating digital identity services.

In 2020 the Government committed to creating a framework of standards, governance, and legislation to enable a UK Digital Identity market. DCMS published a draft Trust Framework in February this year setting out the government’s vision for the rules governing the future use of digital identities. A next iteration is expected to be published this summer. We continue to work on proposals for legislation that will underpin the digital identity market and will consult on these later this year.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce a cancellation insurance scheme for the live events sector.

I refer the Noble Lord to my answer to the Oral Question on Tuesday 27th April 2021 on this issue. A copy of the Hansard record can be found here.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to (1) support the development of social enterprises, and (2) integrate social enterprises into plans to make the UK carbon neutral by 2050.

The Government is committed to developing the innovative and impactful work of social enterprises across the UK. For example:

  • Through the pandemic, the Government provided an unprecedented package of support, including furlough payments, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Bounce Back Loans, and direct funding through the £750 million charities and social enterprise support package.

  • The new social value model presents a significant opportunity to support social enterprises and invest in our people and communities. Developed with stakeholders, including the federation of Small Businesses and Social Enterprise UK, the model ensures social value is explicitly evaluated in all major central government contracts from January 1st 2021.

All individuals and organisations, including social enterprises, have a part to play in helping us to protect the environment. We welcome small businesses from across the UK to join the green business revolution and commit to becoming greener and more sustainable as we work towards our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they plan to have with the Football Supporters'  Association about the potential involvement of English football clubs in the European Super League; and what steps they are taking to ensure that supporters are more involved in the decision-making of English football clubs.

The Government has been vocal in its opposition to the European Super League. The Secretary of State was therefore glad to see the withdrawal of all English teams from the project, which came after the Government had met with multiple stakeholders on the proposals, including The Football Association and Premier League.

The football authorities are best placed to take action on such proposals in the first instance, but the Government continues to stand ready to act if needed.

This is the right result for football fans, clubs and communities across the country. However, these events have demonstrated that now is the right time to launch the fan-led review of football governance which will have fan interests at its heart.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they are planning with (1) the Premier League, and (2) the Football Association, about the potential involvement of English football clubs in the proposed European Super League.

The Government has been vocal in its opposition to the European Super League. The Secretary of State was therefore glad to see the withdrawal of all English teams from the project, which came after the Government had met with multiple stakeholders on the proposals, including The Football Association and Premier League.

The football authorities are best placed to take action on such proposals in the first instance, but the Government continues to stand ready to act if needed.

This is the right result for football fans, clubs and communities across the country. However, these events have demonstrated that now is the right time to launch the fan-led review of football governance which will have fan interests at its heart.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what sanctions, if any, they are considering in response to the potential involvement of English football clubs in the proposed European Super League.

The Government has been vocal in its opposition to the European Super League. The Secretary of State was therefore glad to see the withdrawal of all English teams from the project, which came after the Government had met with multiple stakeholders on the proposals, including The Football Association and Premier League.

The football authorities are best placed to take action on such proposals in the first instance, but the Government continues to stand ready to act if needed.

This is the right result for football fans, clubs and communities across the country. However, these events have demonstrated that now is the right time to launch the fan-led review of football governance which will have fan interests at its heart.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the threat to small businesses from cyber-attacks; and what steps they are taking to support small business to improve their cyber defences.

The government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020 found almost half (46%) of micro and small businesses reported cyber security breaches or attacks in the past 12 months. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) 2020 Annual Review identified an increase in ransomware and phishing attacks over the past year.

The National Cyber Security Strategy sets out the government’s work to protect the UK online and help ensure all organisations, large and small, are effectively managing their cyber risk. The NCSC, working closely with trade bodies, local initiatives, banks and industry partners, provides a range of actionable guidance, training and easy to implement tools to help small businesses improve their cyber security. Last month, the NCSC launched a state-of-the-art tool which creates a personalised ‘Cyber Action Plan’ for small businesses as part of the cross-government Cyber Aware campaign.

DCMS is carrying out a review of business resilience and cyber security to identify what more can be done to build cyber resilience across the economy and increase security in supply chains.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase financial support for social enterprises.

The Government has provided an unprecedented multi billion pound package of support, allowing social enterprises and other civil society organisations, including those at risk of financial hardship, to continue their vital work during the Covid-19 outbreak

The funding includes furlough payments, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and direct funding to the charity and social enterprise sector through the £750m sector support package, £150m release of dormant assets. The impact of the funding will continue beyond the life of the grants with equipment purchased still being used and service adaptations still benefiting people across the country.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that full-fibre broadband is accessible for all small businesses.

In areas not covered by commercial delivery, support to provide full-fibre broadband to premises is currently being provided through schemes including the Superfast Broadband programme, Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) and Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) schemes. LFFN is a challenge funded scheme designed to stimulate commercial investment in full fibre networks across the UK. This programme will be ending in December 2021. RGC will be ending in March 2021, after which any new projects can be developed as part of the public sector hubs element of the new UK Gigabit programme.

The Government’s ambition for digital infrastructure presents opportunities for growth and security in the UK economy. The National Infrastructure Strategy outlines how the Government is working with industry to target a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025 and to go as far as possible beyond this as part of our £5 billion UK Gigabit programme. The 2020 Spending Review set out the timeline for how the first tranche of the £5 billion we have promised will be made available to industry.

Furthermore, as announced on 8 August 2020, to develop an evidence-based strategy to encourage take up of gigabit broadband services by consumers and small businesses, the government asked Which?, CBI and the FSB to convene a Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group. The group has been engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to develop its evidence and solutions. An interim report with the group’s initial findings was published in December 2020, and is expected to publish a final report by Spring 2021 with its recommendations.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they plan to take to tackle racism on social media platforms.

Racism online is completely unacceptable in an open and tolerant society. We must do all we can to tackle it.

The Government is committed to tackling racism, including the spread of racist content online. In December 2020, we published the full government response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, which sets out new expectations on companies to keep their users safe online. Under a new legal duty of care, in-scope companies, including social media, will need to tackle illegal content and activity on their services and take swift and effective action against such material.

Companies providing high-risk, high-reach services will also need to undertake regular assessments of the risk posed to adults by legal but harmful material on their services. These companies will need to set clear terms and conditions which explicitly state what categories of legal but harmful material they accept (and do not accept) on their service. Companies will need to enforce these terms and conditions consistently and transparently and could face enforcement action if they do not. The Online Safety Bill, which will give effect to the regulatory framework, will be ready this year.

The full government response also set out plans to publish an Online Media Literacy Strategy. The Strategy will explore the existing media literacy landscape, and set out the Government’s plans to ensure a coordinated and strategic approach to media literacy education for all citizens. This will support users to make informed and safer decisions online, including taking action against online hate such as racism.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on gender equality within the performing arts sector.

Her Majesty’s Government has not made a specific assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on gender equality within the performing arts sector. However, the Department for Culture, Digital, Media and Sport is committed to working closely with the Governments Equalities Office to improve equality across our sectors, promoting gender equality in the performing arts sector.

All guidance related to the performing arts sector during the COVID-19 pandemic undergoes a PSED (Public Sector Equality Duty) review each time it is updated. We are also duty bound to ensure that we consider impacts of new legislation on people of protected characteristics.

Additionally, we have been working to ensure that diversity is embedded in the Culture Recovery Fund. In the first round of funding, the ALBs making funding decisions looked for a track record of delivering social benefit and welcoming diverse audiences. For the second round of funding, we asked applicants to inform us of their plans to open up access and participation in culture. Organisations in receipt of funding are expected to demonstrate progress in diversity and outreach over the coming years in return for this investment into their futures.

We know that reports, such as that published by Women in Theatre, which brings together some of the major recent research on women in theatre, is looking into gender inequality in the theatre sector. The report can be found here: https://sphinxtheatre.co.uk/new-women-in-theatre-forum-report/

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they plan to have with social media companies about racist abuse of Premier League football players on social media platforms.

Ministers and officials meet regularly with social media companies to discuss online harms. The Culture Secretary and Sports Minister recently led a roundtable discussion with current and former players from the Premier League, English Football League (EFL), Women’s Super League (WSL) and Women’s Championship, which discussed online racist abuse and players’ perspectives on tackling discrimination in the game.

We are clear that the online racist abuse of Premier League football players is unacceptable. We must do all we can to tackle it. We are taking steps through the online harms regulatory framework to ensure that online abuse, whether anonymous or not, is addressed. Under a new legal duty of care, companies will need to remove and limit the spread of illegal content, including illegal online abuse. All companies will need to take swift and effective action against such content.

Companies providing high-risk, high-reach services will also need to undertake regular risk assessments to identify legal but harmful material on their services. These companies will need to set clear terms and conditions which explicitly state what categories of legal but harmful material they accept (and do not accept) on their service. Companies will need to enforce these terms and conditions consistently and transparently and could face enforcement action if they do not. The Online Safety Bill, which will give effect to the regulatory framework, will be ready this year.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) the Football Association, and (2) the Premier League, about the compliance of players with COVID-19 protocols.

The government is glad that elite sport can currently continue safely behind closed doors during this period of national restrictions due to the strict health and safety protocols it can uphold.

Ministers recently met with the Football Association, Premier League and English Football League to discuss the latest health situation in light of the new COVID strain and national restrictions.

Ministers have made the football authorities fully aware of their responsibility to ensure that players and staff act in accordance with government rules and guidance.


Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Football Association about the classification of the Women’s FA Cup as a ‘non elite’ competition.

The Minister for Sport recently met with the Football Association to discuss the Women’s FA Cup and we continue to liaise closely with them to understand this issue.

However, it is up to the respective governing bodies to determine what constitutes the boundary between elite and non-elite within their sports and the classification of such competitions.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the Football Association's Football Leadership Diversity Code since its introduction in October 2020; and what discussions they had with the Football Association about the creation of that Code before it was launched.

The Government welcomed the launch of the Football Association’s ‘Football Leadership Diversity Code’ and believe it will help improve diversity within the game, from the coaching setup to the boardroom, with over 40 clubs signed up so far.

The Government is in regular contact with the Football Association (FA) across a range of matters, however, the responsibility for developing the Code was for the FA.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the English Football League about the impact of the ‘Rooney Rule’ on the racial diversity of football managers.

The Government is in regular contact with the English Football League on a range of issues, including diversity.

Whilst the ‘Rooney Rule’ was not explicitly discussed, actions aimed at improving diversity, and their impact, were discussed in a roundtable with key football stakeholders led by Ministers in November 2020.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to offer additional emergency financial support to non–professional football clubs whose competition participation has been suspended due to restrictions put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sports and physical activity providers and facilities are at the heart of our communities, and play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active.

Government has provided unprecedented support to businesses through tax reliefs, cash grants and employee wage support, which many non-professional clubs have benefited from. This includes the Government’s £100m support fund for local authority leisure centres; Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund which provided £210m directly to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through this pandemic; and the £300m Sports Winter Survival Package which aims to protect the immediate futures of major spectator sports in England over the winter period.

Furthermore, non-professional clubs will be able to access £4.6 billion in new lockdown grants to support businesses and protect jobs which the Chancellor announced on Tuesday 5 January. Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000.

We are continuing to work with sports and physical activity providers, including non-professional football clubs, to understand what they need and how we may be able to support them.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Football Association about increasing racial diversity amongst football managers.

The Government is in regular dialogue with the Football Association (FA) across a range of matters, including diversity. We welcomed the launch of the FA’s ‘Football Leadership Diversity Code’ which is a step in the right direction to ensure English football better represents our modern and diverse society, on and off the pitch. The Code commits clubs to tackling inequality, including hiring targets, across senior leadership positions, broader team operations and coaching roles. The FA has also committed to following this with a version adapted for the National League System and grassroots clubs in Spring 2021.

Ministers discussed the Code with the FA, as well as other matters including tackling discrimination, in a roundtable with key football stakeholders in November 2020.

The Government is also committed to working with all sports to ensure opportunities to progress are open to all, from athletes to administrators, to board members. As an example of this, in July 2020 Sport England and UK Sport announced a joint review of the Code for Sports Governance. The Code sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity required from those who ask for government and National Lottery funding. It currently says that organisations must show a "strong and public commitment" to progressing ethnic diversity. However, it is right to review this to ensure that opportunities to progress are open to all. The Government will be working with UK Sport and Sport England to set new expectations and ensure the sport sector leads by example.

However, there is still progress to be made and the Government will continue to liaise closely with the football authorities on their efforts to improve diversity in the sport.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce a racial diversity threshold for boardrooms of all football organisations.

The Government is in regular dialogue with the Football Association (FA) across a range of matters, including diversity. We welcomed the launch of the FA’s ‘Football Leadership Diversity Code’ which is a step in the right direction to ensure English football better represents our modern and diverse society, on and off the pitch. The Code commits clubs to tackling inequality, including hiring targets, across senior leadership positions, broader team operations and coaching roles. The FA has also committed to following this with a version adapted for the National League System and grassroots clubs in Spring 2021.

Ministers discussed the Code with the FA, as well as other matters including tackling discrimination, in a roundtable with key football stakeholders in November 2020.

The Government is also committed to working with all sports to ensure opportunities to progress are open to all, from athletes to administrators, to board members. As an example of this, in July 2020 Sport England and UK Sport announced a joint review of the Code for Sports Governance. The Code sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity required from those who ask for government and National Lottery funding. It currently says that organisations must show a "strong and public commitment" to progressing ethnic diversity. However, it is right to review this to ensure that opportunities to progress are open to all. The Government will be working with UK Sport and Sport England to set new expectations and ensure the sport sector leads by example.

However, there is still progress to be made and the Government will continue to liaise closely with the football authorities on their efforts to improve diversity in the sport.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support the Football Association in the recruitment of BAME referees in grassroots football.

The Government is in regular dialogue with the Football Association (FA) across a range of matters, including diversity. We welcomed the launch of the FA’s ‘Football Leadership Diversity Code’ which is a step in the right direction to ensure English football better represents our modern and diverse society, on and off the pitch. The Code commits clubs to tackling inequality, including hiring targets, across senior leadership positions, broader team operations and coaching roles. The FA has also committed to following this with a version adapted for the National League System and grassroots clubs in Spring 2021.

Ministers discussed the Code with the FA, as well as other matters including tackling discrimination, in a roundtable with key football stakeholders in November 2020.

The Government is also committed to working with all sports to ensure opportunities to progress are open to all, from athletes to administrators, to board members. As an example of this, in July 2020 Sport England and UK Sport announced a joint review of the Code for Sports Governance. The Code sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity required from those who ask for government and National Lottery funding. It currently says that organisations must show a "strong and public commitment" to progressing ethnic diversity. However, it is right to review this to ensure that opportunities to progress are open to all. The Government will be working with UK Sport and Sport England to set new expectations and ensure the sport sector leads by example.

However, there is still progress to be made and the Government will continue to liaise closely with the football authorities on their efforts to improve diversity in the sport.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Football Association about how that organisation can improve on issues of racial diversity.

The Government welcomed the launch of the Football Association’s (FA) ‘Football Leadership Diversity Code’ to ensure English football better represents our modern and diverse society.

Ministers discussed the Code with the FA, as well as other matters including tackling discrimination, in a football roundtable on 17th November 2020.

There is still more to do, however, and the Government will continue to liaise closely with the football authorities to improve diversity in the sport.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to introduce (1) new business rate relief, and (2) an indemnity insurance scheme, for the events industry.

We are aware that the events and exhibition industry, as well as other sectors, have been severely impacted by Government measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

My Department regularly engages with events stakeholders to assess the issues being faced and to develop means of offering support, including on the issue of insurance provision. The Government is also in continual dialogue with the insurance sector on its response to COVID-19.

We encourage events businesses and suppliers, including those ineligible for schemes related to business rates relief, to explore the Government’s full support package.

Events businesses can access support such as the various government-backed loans, as well as the extended furlough and self-employed support schemes. We are also giving £1.1bn of discretionary funding to Local Authorities to help businesses through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG).

We are continuing to engage with stakeholders, including through the Tourism Industry Council and the Events Industry Senior Leaders Advisory Panel, to monitor the situation facing the events industry.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support self–employed and freelance workers within the live music industry.

Our world-beating live music industry would be nothing without the people who work in it, and we are working hard to help provide financial support to freelancers in this sector.

Over two thirds of eligible people in the cultural sectors have benefitted from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). We’ve supported the self-employed with over £13 billion in grants and the Chancellor has increased the generosity of the scheme from 40% to 80% of people’s profits for November, in order to reflect recent changes to the furlough scheme. This also increases the total level of the grant from 40% to 55% of trading profits for 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2020.

In addition, more businesses will be able to access additional support as deadlines for applications for government-backed loan schemes and the Future Fund have been further extended until 31 January 2021.

The Arts Council England has made £119 million available to individuals, with £23.1 million already distributed and £95.9 million currently available to apply for via open funds.

The £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund will benefit freelancers, because it will invest in organisations and help them to reopen, and restart performances. So far, over £500m has been announced from the Culture Recovery Fund to protect cultural organisations across England, almost a fifth of which has gone to the music sector.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Oct 2020
5G
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to speed up the 5G rollout.

The Government is committed to the delivery of world-class digital infrastructure, including 5G, across the UK. Our ambition is for the majority of the population to have access to a 5G signal by 2027.

All four mobile network operators have now launched 5G networks, with 5G services now available in over 100 towns and cities across the UK. Whilst the vast majority of investment in 5G will be made by industry, the Government is funding the research and trials of 5G networks through the £200 million 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme which invests in targeted projects across the UK to build the commercial case for 5G.

The Government is committed to reducing the barriers to the deployment of mobile infrastructure to help speed up rollout. As part of this, the Government has announced that, subject to a technical consultation, it intends to take forward reforms to the planning system to support the deployment of 5G and extend mobile coverage. The Government also intends to consult on whether changes to the Electronic Communications Code are needed to support these aims.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the BBC about increasing the number of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic leaders within that organisation.

The government is clear that the BBC should be leading the way on both on and off-screen diversity, and the BBC Charter specifically requires the BBC to ensure its organisation and management reflects the diversity of the UK.

The government looks forward to the BBC’s new Diversity and Inclusion Strategy which will be published later this year, and to see how the BBC will work to better serve all diverse audiences across the UK nations and regions in future.

However, the BBC is independent of the government and responsible for decisions on its editorial and operational matters, including those on recruitment and staffing. As the independent regulator of the BBC, it is for Ofcom to hold the BBC to account.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) professional football clubs, and (2) the Police, about sharing data on discrimination within professional football.

Racism or any form of discrimination has no place in football or society.

The Government continues to liaise closely with the football authorities and the Police to combat discrimination and promote collaboration wherever possible.


Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Football Association about increasing diversity among (1) grassroots, and (2) professional, football referees.

We are in regular dialogue with the Football Association (FA) across a range of matters, including diversity. I welcomed the FA’s announcement of a new voluntary code for Equality in Football Leadership, which aims to champion equality in football and tackle all forms of discrimination in the game.

The Government is committed to working with sports to ensure opportunities to progress are open to all, from athletes to administrators, to board members. As an example of this, on 13 July 2020 Sport England and UK Sport announced a joint review of the Code for Sports Governance. The Code sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity required from those who ask for government and National Lottery funding. It currently says that organisations must show a "strong and public commitment" to progressing ethnic diversity. However, it is right to review this to ensure that opportunities to progress are open to all. Government will be working with UK Sport and Sport England to set new expectations and ensure the sport sector leads by example.

It is also important that referees feel safe and supported. That is why I was pleased to see the football authorities commit to improving reporting systems and providing better training and support for referees and stewards last year - including improved CCTV.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to support young BAME journalists.

Racism or any form of discrimination has no place in the media or society.

The media plays a vital role in British society and it has an important responsibility to reflect modern Britain. This can only be achieved through a representative, and diverse workforce.

The government is committed to working together with industry to support greater diversity, and to ensure that everyone regardless of their background should have the same opportunity to go as far as their talents and hard work take them.

In broadcast journalism, Ofcom, who are the independent communications regulator, publish an annual diversity report which provides diversity monitoring data for the main broadcasters and includes information on the diversity initiatives of their news teams. In the print media a number of national newspapers are running diversity schemes. These include the Daily Mail’s Stephen Lawrence Scholarship and BAME internships at the Guardian. The National Council for the Training of Journalists also runs a diversity fund.

The Government does not wish to interfere in any way with editorial freedoms, operations or decision making in news organisations, but we encourage industry to do more to increase diversity in journalism.

DCMS ministers and officials regularly meet with a range of stakeholders to discuss a range of issues and the Government is committed to ensuring that equality and diversity are a key feature in all of our interactions with industry.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, if any, with UK newsrooms about addressing racism.

Racism or any form of discrimination has no place in the media or society.

The media plays a vital role in British society and it has an important responsibility to reflect modern Britain. This can only be achieved through a representative, and diverse workforce.

The government is committed to working together with industry to support greater diversity, and to ensure that everyone regardless of their background should have the same opportunity to go as far as their talents and hard work take them.

In broadcast journalism, Ofcom, who are the independent communications regulator, publish an annual diversity report which provides diversity monitoring data for the main broadcasters and includes information on the diversity initiatives of their news teams. In the print media a number of national newspapers are running diversity schemes. These include the Daily Mail’s Stephen Lawrence Scholarship and BAME internships at the Guardian. The National Council for the Training of Journalists also runs a diversity fund.

The Government does not wish to interfere in any way with editorial freedoms, operations or decision making in news organisations, but we encourage industry to do more to increase diversity in journalism.

DCMS ministers and officials regularly meet with a range of stakeholders to discuss a range of issues and the Government is committed to ensuring that equality and diversity are a key feature in all of our interactions with industry.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Birmingham Organising Committee for the 2022 Commonwealth Games about the diversity of its workforce.

The government is in regular discussions with the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee about equality, inclusivity and the diversity of its workforce. Birmingham 2022 is committed to living up to the Games Partners’ common purpose of being a ‘games for everyone’ and recognises it has work to do to ensure its workforce reflects the rich diversity of the West Midlands. It is developing an initial roadmap to move forward positively on the issue and recently set this out in an open letter which can be found on its website. It is also committed to openness and transparency. More details of its action plan will be made public in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Clive James Race and ethnicity in the UK film industry: an analysis of the BFI diversity standards, published on 15 July.

The Government’s aim is to see a UK cultural and creative sector that is strong, vibrant and inclusive, which can only be achieved through a diverse and representative workforce. We recognise there is still much to be done to improve diversity and inclusion across both the film and wider creative industries workforce and are working with industry - including the BFI and Creative Industries Council - on a range of measures to ensure the sector better reflects the diversity of the UK.

Whilst DCMS has made no assessment of Dr Nwonka’s report, the Diversity Standards are an important part of the BFI’s work, and as an arm’s-length body of DCMS, the department works closely with them to ensure that they are as effective as possible in driving change.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, if any, with (1) Sport England, and (2) UK Sport, about ethnic diversity within elite sports governance.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport talks regularly to both Sport England and UK Sport about all aspects of diversity, including ethnic diversity. It welcomes the joint announcement made by both organisations on 13 July 2020 announcing a review of the Code for Sports Governance. This will include a substantive review of the elements of the Code that support equality, diversity and inclusion, particularly those that focus on the boards of sporting organisations. The aim will be to ensure the greater representation of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, disabled people or people with a long-term health condition, as well as female representation.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, if any, to support BAME–led television organisations during the COVID-19 economic recovery.

The government is committed to supporting our fantastic screen industries, which include BAME-led television organisations, and to working together with industry to support greater diversity. We welcome the work Ofcom has undertaken through their annual diversity reports on broadcasting and we are working with the British Film Institute (BFI), in their role as the Government’s arm’s length body, to improve representation both on and off screen, including through supporting the wider adoption of the BFI’s Diversity Standards which apply to films, online and broadcast television content.

To date, as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic the Government has not provided bespoke support to any one group within the television industry. However, the Government has provided support to the sector as a whole, including the recently announced UK-wide £500 million Film and TV Production Restart Scheme. This will help to get TV and film productions across the country that have been halted or delayed by a lack of insurance to get back up and running, by giving productions the confidence they need that they will be supported if future losses are incurred due to Covid-19. The scheme will directly support up to 40,000 - 50,000 jobs in the film and TV production industry.

Ministers have engaged with the broadcasting sector at regular roundtables to take into account challenges created by the pandemic, including impacts on diversity in broadcasting. We will continue these discussions to assess where Government can further support organisations as we move further into the recovery stage.

More broadly, the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most generous and comprehensive in the world, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the Bounceback Loan Scheme and business rates reliefs. In addition, the Government has adapted the welfare system so that the self-employed can access Universal Credit in full, to help people get quicker and more generous support when they need it most.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support BAME community organisations which have lost heritage funding as a result of the restrictions in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government is fully committed to supporting the heritage sector through the coronavirus crisis. BAME community organisations are able to take advantage of the unprecedented support made available by the Government, including the Job Retention Scheme and a years' business rates holiday. In addition to Government support, Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund have made emergency response packages available, totalling over £50 million, for those organisations most in need.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) the Premier League, (2) the English Football League, and (3) the Professional Footballers' Association, about BAME coaching representation.

The Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage has frequent discussions with football authorities covering a range of issues, including BAME representation in the sport.

The government welcomes steps being taken by the Premier League, English Football League and Professional Footballers’ Association to improve BAME coaching representation, including the recent announcement of a new coach placement scheme aimed at increasing the number of BAME players moving into full-time coaching roles in the professional game.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage greater diversity in UK film and TV.

Encouraging greater diversity in UK film and TV is a priority for government, and from our engagement with the cultural and creative sectors - including a roundtable hosted by my colleague Caroline Dineage on the impact of Covid-19 on diversity in these areas - we recognise that this issue has been under greater scrutiny in recent weeks.

We are working with the British Film Institute (BFI), in their role as the Government’s arm’s length body with responsibility for the sector, to improve representation both on and off screen, including through supporting the wider adoption of the BFI’s world-leading Diversity Standards. In addition, we are seeking to identify and promote best practice; through our sponsorship of the National Film and TV School, we have recently provided an additional £65,000 to support students from diverse backgrounds and we are also engaging with industry to drive change on the ground. In January this year, DCMS launched the ScreenSkills Apprenticeship Pilot with industry partners Netflix and Warner Media. Recruitment will focus on underrepresented groups within the sector and will not consider previous qualifications as a key recruitment criteria - thereby providing opportunities to people from all backgrounds.

We welcome the work Ofcom has undertaken through their annual diversity reports and the work of Project Diamond, an initiative supported by the broadcasters, which captures diversity data and the Creative Industries Council’s recent Diversity Charter. The Government continues to encourage employers to publish diversity data not because they have to but because it is the right thing to do.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Football Association about the number of black football managers.

We are in regular dialogue with the Football Association (FA) across a range of matters, including diversity. I welcome the FA’s recent announcement of a new voluntary code for Equality in Football Leadership, which aims to champion equality in football and tackle all forms of discrimination in the game.

The government is committed to working with sports to ensure opportunities to progress are open to all, from athletes to administrators, to board members. As an example of this, on 11 June 2020 the Minister for Sport announced a review of the Code for Sports Governance. The Code sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity required from those who ask for government and National Lottery funding. It currently says that organisations must show a "strong and public commitment" to progressing ethnic diversity. However, it is right to review this to ensure that opportunities to progress are open to all. Government will be working with UK Sport and Sport England to set new expectations and ensure the sport sector leads by example.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to regulate the use of facial recognition technology to ensure that it is not discriminatory towards people from BAME communities.

Uses of facial recognition technology in the UK, both private and public, are regulated by the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 that set standards for protecting personal data. Organisations have an obligation to ensure that any personal data they hold is accurate and processed in a manner that is lawful, fair and transparent.

Facial images, which constitute 'special category' data for the purposes of the legislation are subject to heightened safeguards and can only be processed if specific conditions in the legislation are met. Processing must be necessary, proportionate and justified. The legislation is enforced by the Information Commissioner's Office, which has shown a willingness to take action against commercial organisations that are acting unlawfully.

To ensure a safe use of facial recognition technology (FRT) in all sectors, the government tasked the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) to produce a Snapshot briefing paper looking at the uses and potential implications of facial recognition technology’s deployment in the UK. The paper was published on 28 May and we are considering its findings. The CDEI are currently working on a review into bias in algorithmic decision-making and will continue to examine the impacts of FRT and algorithms on society and provide recommendations on how to minimise bias.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that commercial facial recognition technology is (1) registered, (2) accurate, and (3) not discriminatory towards people from BAME communities.

Uses of facial recognition technology in the UK, both private and public, are regulated by the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 that set standards for protecting personal data. Organisations have an obligation to ensure that any personal data they hold is accurate and processed in a manner that is lawful, fair and transparent.

Facial images, which constitute 'special category' data for the purposes of the legislation are subject to heightened safeguards and can only be processed if specific conditions in the legislation are met. Processing must be necessary, proportionate and justified. The legislation is enforced by the Information Commissioner's Office, which has shown a willingness to take action against commercial organisations that are acting unlawfully.

To ensure a safe use of facial recognition technology (FRT) in all sectors, the government tasked the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) to produce a Snapshot briefing paper looking at the uses and potential implications of facial recognition technology’s deployment in the UK. The paper was published on 28 May and we are considering its findings. The CDEI are currently working on a review into bias in algorithmic decision-making and will continue to examine the impacts of FRT and algorithms on society and provide recommendations on how to minimise bias.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to promote diversity in football.

It is vital that diversity is promoted in all levels of sport and the Government is committed to doing so.

The Government, through Sport England, is investing £2 million per year into the FA to support their work in ensuring the coaching workforce in football is more representative of wider society. This includes providing bursaries to develop coaching abilities from the grassroots to the elite levels of the game.

Government's sport and physical activity strategy ‘Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation’ has diversity and inclusion at its heart. The Government remains supportive of a number of anti-racism initiatives that work with English football from grassroots to the elite, which include Show Racism the Red Card and Kick it Out.

The Government also supports the steps the football authorities (the FA, the Premier League and the English Football League) have taken during the current season to combat discrimination. This included actions targeted at and around football grounds such as, improving reporting systems, providing better training and support for referees and stewards; and improving the quality of CCTV around stadia.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Football Association about (1) restarting the English Premier League behind closed doors and (2) the timing of matches in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ministers held a productive meeting with the Football Association, alongside the Premier League and English Football League, on 14th May to discuss the latest on their plans for the safe resumption of professional football in June.

The Premier League will only return when it is safe to do so - the health and welfare of players, coaches and staff comes first.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much accommodation they have offered to key workers who want to reduce the risk of giving COVID-19 to their families.

We are working closely with accommodation providers to explore ways in which they can support key workers. My Department is in regular contact with the sector and other Departments to try and help match supply with the demand. We have been proud to see accommodation providers uniting to play their part in COVID-19 response efforts.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to review Huawei's planned involvement in the UK's 5G network.

The Government conducted a comprehensive, evidence-based review into the telecoms supply chain, which was published in July 2019. The final conclusions of the Government’s Telecoms Supply Chain Review in relation to high risk vendors were announced on 28 January and provided the details of the additional steps it will be necessary to take to mitigate the risk from high risk vendors. This announcement made clear the Government’s intention to, over time, reduce our reliance on high risk vendors as market diversification takes place. We want to get to a position where we do not have to use a high risk vendor in our telecoms networks at all.

The conclusions of the Review were based on security analysis from our world-leading cybersecurity experts, and took into account the full range of issues and risks.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure women in football receive equal pay to their male counterparts.

It is important that women and men are recognised and paid equally for doing the same work. I welcome the positive step that has been taken to ensure that all companies in Great Britain with more than 250 employees are required to report their gender pay gap to the Government Equalities Office.

We know there is some work to do to narrow the gender pay gap across the sport sector. If this is to happen progress must continue to be made in the wider culture of sport to ensure women are treated equally to men at all levels. I am pleased to see Lewes FC paving the way by paying their women’s team the same wages as their men’s team and we hope others can look at how they can reduce gender pay gaps.

In order to close the gender pay gap it is also crucial that we provide greater exposure and commercial opportunities. As part of a broader aim to support greater equality of coverage, in September 2019 the government consulted on whether to add women’s equivalents of men’s events currently on the list to both group A and group B categories. The consultation closed on 11 December 2019. The government is now carefully considering the responses in detail and we will respond in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce cyber-harassment fines for (1) the media, and (2) members of the public.

The Online Harms White Paper sets out our plans to establish in law a new duty of care on companies towards their users, overseen by an independent regulator.

We are also ensuring the criminal law is fit for purpose. The Law Commission is conducting the second phase of its review of abusive and offensive online communications. We expect the Law Commission to produce its final report in early 2021.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for introducing legislation to permit the legal ownership of personal data.

The word ‘ownership’ usually implies certain rights over a property such as being able to use it, sell it or give it away, but this is unlikely to be a workable concept in the wide range of circumstances that processing of personal data occurs. Data protection legislation in the UK does, however, impose obligations on data controllers to process personal data lawfully and transparently in a way that individuals would expect. It also gives individuals specific rights in relation to their data. These include rights to seek access to, rectify or erase their data or to object to its continued processing.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to work with the Football Association to ban children under the age of 18 from heading footballs during training, in order to mitigate the possible associated risk of developing brain disease in later life.

Guidance on training and coaching for grassroots sport is a matter for the sport’s National Governing Body. However, we are encouraged to see the Football Associations of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland putting children’s health and wellbeing at the heart of their provision.

It is important that all schools and sports clubs follow guidance on age-appropriate sport participation, and have appropriate measures in place to protect young people from harm, including serious injuries such as concussion.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of Google's decision to move all data about UK users of its services to the US.

Google has announced that it is updating its Terms of Service for UK customers so that Google US, rather than Google Ireland, will now be the service provider and the data controller responsible for UK users’ information.

Data rights laws in the UK will continue to apply to Google's treatment of personal data of UK users, whether UK users are served from Ireland or the US. Google has confirmed that it will continue to apply the GDPR standard of protection for UK users, with no change in its approach to privacy, including how it collects and processes UK users’ information. The UK is committed to high data protection standards and we are confident that data protection laws in the UK provide appropriate protection for users in the UK.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to increase the number of their grants to Ofcom, following the announcement that it will have increased regulatory responsibilities.

As outlined in the Government’s ‘The Online Harms White Paper - Initial consultation response’, published on 12 February 2020, “The White Paper makes clear that in order to recoup both the implementation costs and running costs of the regulator, the government is considering fees, charges or a levy on companies whose services are in scope. This could fund the full range of the regulator’s activity. The government intends the new regulator to become cost neutral to the public sector.” The Government is carrying out extensive analysis on potential funding options taking Ofcom’s existing funding structure into consideration. Full details on the funding mechanism for the Online Harms regulatory regime will be set out in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that loopholes in Google's advertising networks allow companies to target vulnerable groups.

All organisations that process data that contains personal or identifying information about individuals in the UK must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018. The Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations 2003 also imposes certain restrictions on the processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes.

These rules impose strict obligations on organisations to process people’s data fairly and lawfully and to ensure that any data collected is held securely. Organisations must also ensure they have a legal basis for processing data, are clear and transparent about how personal data will be handled, and ensure that the data is processed in a way which individuals would expect. Organisations that fail to comply may be subject to enforcement action by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The ICO are consulting on a draft code of practice on Direct Marking, which is available on the ICO's website.

Last year the government announced its intention to consider how online advertising is regulated in the UK. One of the key aims of this work is to drive transparent and ethical targeting practices for advertising online so that consumers are informed, empowered and can have trust in online advertising. The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation published a Review of online targeting on the 4th February 2020, which explicitly considers the impact of targeting on vulnerable people. This included a number of recommendations which the Government is considering; we will respond to the report by October. In addition, the ICO is currently investigating real time bidding practices within online advertising to ensure they are GDPR compliant.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to regulate the algorithms used by social media companies to promote content.

The Government published the initial response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation on 12 February 2020. This response confirmed that the Government is developing legislation on online harms to introduce a statutory duty of care, overseen and enforced by an independent regulator. This will require social media companies to have appropriate systems and processes in place to deal with harmful content on their services to keep their users safe. As set out in the White Paper, the regulator will have the power to request explanations about the way algorithms operate, where necessary to establish that a company is fulfilling its duty of care. The Government will publish full details of the final policy position in the Spring, ahead of legislation.

On a related topic, the Government noted the Committee for Standards in Public Life's recent report on Artificial Intelligence, and will respond to its recommendations in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to further regulate how social media companies secure information online.

The Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR is in place to ensure that organisations, including social media companies, who collect and use personal data do so lawfully and transparently. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) regulates data protection legislation in the UK. Organisations which fail to comply with the legislation may be the subject of enforcement action.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that technology companies are deliberately slowing down old phone models.

The application of consumer law to specific cases is ultimately a matter for the courts and it is not for Government to take a view on specific cases. However, the Government expects companies to behave fairly towards consumers and they are not allowed to use unfair terms in their standard contracts with consumers. Terms which allow a trader to alter goods or digital content may be potentially unfair when the terms are not sufficiently transparent for the consumer to understand.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to de-criminalise non-payment of the BBC licence fee.

On 5 February, the Government announced an 8 week consultation on whether to proceed with the decriminalisation of TV licence evasion by replacing the criminal sanction with an alternative civil enforcement scheme. The Government believes that it is right to look again at whether the criminal sanction remains appropriate for TV licence fee evasion, given ongoing concerns about whether the criminal sanction is unfair and disproportionate. Following careful consideration of the responses, the Government expects to publish a response by summer 2020.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, if any, to promote diversity in the UK gaming industry.

The government recognises the critical importance of diversity in the video games industry, and the Creative Industries as a whole. We welcome the games industry’s Raise The Game diversity pledge launched on 4 February 2020. The pledge is backed by companies such as Microsoft XBox, Facebook, EA, Jagex and King and the aim is to sign up at least 200 employers by 2021.

This builds on the Creative Industries Council’s Diversity Charter, announced in July 2019, which commits to engaging leaders across the creative industries to champion diversity and inclusion.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
3rd Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to introduce legislation to establish the difference between free speech and false information online.

The UK supports freedom of expression, both as a fundamental right and as an essential enabler of the full range of other human rights protected by UK and international law. The Online Harms White Paper, published in April 2019, outlines our proposals for a new duty of care on companies towards their users, overseen by an independent regulator. The regulator will have a responsibility to protect freedom of expression. Our approach will support more people to access their right to freedom of expression, by reducing the risk of being attacked on the basis of their identity. The counter-disinformation measures proposed in the White Paper are focused on protecting users from harm, not judging what is true or false.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure that Huawei's limited role in the UK's 5G network does not present a security risk.

UK Telecoms operators have been advised by the National Cyber Security Centre - in its guidance published on 29 January - on the steps they need to take in relation to high risk vendors. The guidance also sets out the steps necessary for Huawei, including the important continuing role for the world class Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre and Oversight Board.

In addition, new telecoms security requirements proposed in the Government’s Telecoms Supply Chain Review will raise the height of the security bar and require telecoms operators to design and manage their networks to meet new requirements. They will provide clarity to industry on what is expected in terms of network security and, in turn, improve security across vendors.

27th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with owners of social media platforms about the support they provide to workers who moderate content.

Ministers and officials have regular meetings with social media companies on a range of issues, including support provided to workers who moderate content on their platforms. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the Gov.uk website.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce fines for social media companies who do not actively seek to remove (1) suicide. and (2) self-harm, related posts.

The Online Harms White Paper sets out our plans for world-leading legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. This will make companies more responsible for their users’ safety online, especially children and other vulnerable groups, and will help to build trust in digital markets. The Government will will bring forward legislation to improve internet safety for all, as set out in the Queen’s speech.

The new regulatory framework will place a duty of care on online operators. To fulfil the duty of care, where relevant, companies will be required to take robust action to address harmful content that provides graphic details of suicide methods and self-harming.

The new Online Harms framework will be overseen by an independent regulator which will have effective enforcement powers, including the power to fine operators who do not comply with the new duty of care.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with Instagram about reports that its algorithms cause people with mental illnesses to self-harm.

Ministers and officials have regular meetings with social media platforms such as Instagram on a range of issues, including the use of algorithms to target specific groups. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the GOV.UK website.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce an artificial intelligence ethical regulatory framework after the UK leaves the EU.

The government is committed to harnessing the potential of emerging technology, including artificial intelligence. We recognise the importance of strong ethical frameworks and guidance to ensure the appropriate use of data-driven technologies.

That is why the UK launched the Data Ethics Framework in 2016, a practical guide for the public sector to the appropriate use of data to deliver high quality evidence for policy making and service design, and the first guidance of its kind. The Framework was developed through open collaboration across the government data science community, academia and civil society and is currently being updated to ensure that it remains a world-leading guide on the ethical use of data in the public sector.

The government also established the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation in 2018, to provide independent, expert advice on the measures needed to enable and ensure safe, ethical and innovative uses of artificial intelligence and data-driven technologies. This includes advising on how we address potential gaps in our regulatory landscape, and identifying best practice for the responsible use of data and artificial intelligence through engagement with industry bodies, public service providers and consumers to coordinate world-leading standards and codes of conduct.

The UK already benefits from a world-class regulatory regime, and the Centre will build on this by making sure we understand and respond to the rapidly evolving way in which data is impacting our lives.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce further legislation to ban companies from profiting from other digital companies’ scam advertising or misleading investments.

The government takes fraud very seriously and continues to work closely with industry to close down the vulnerabilities that fraudsters exploit, and ensure members of the public have the information they need to spot a scam and stand up to fraudsters. We set up the Joint Fraud Taskforce to help build a collaborative law enforcement, government and industry response to tackling fraud. Scams can also be reported to Action Fraud and Citizens Advice.

Last year the government announced its intention to review how online advertising is regulated in the UK, looking at how well the current regime is equipped to tackle the challenges posed by developments in online advertising. The announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/jeremy-wrights-statement-on-the-cairncross-review

Currently, advertising in the UK is overseen by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the industry’s independent regulator, which for online advertising enforces the Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) through a system of self-regulation. The CAP Code incorporates all relevant legislation and sets standards for accuracy and honesty to which advertisers must adhere. This system operates independently of government.

With specific regard to online scam advertising, the ASA works with online platforms to have problem advertising taken down, and with other partners, including National Trading Standards, to take action against those who are engaged in fraud. The ASA also works closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to regulate the advertising of legitimate financial products.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Norwegian Consumer Council, Out of Control: How Consumers Are Exploited by the Online Advertising Industry, published on 14 January, which states that a number of mobile applications are violating the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

We are aware of the recent report on the online advertising industry published by the Norwegian Consumer Council. The Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR is in place to ensure that organisations, including advertising companies, who collect and use personal data do so lawfully and transparently. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) regulates data protection legislation in the UK. It is working with the advertising industry to improve compliance with the law and has published the following blogs which urge organisations to review their processes and systems. Organisations which fail to comply with the legislation may be the subject of enforcement action.

https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/news-and-events/blog-advancing-the-adtech-debate-from-a-data-protection-perspective/ 12 February 2019

https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/news-and-events/blog-adtech-fact-finding-forum-shows-consensus-on-need-for-change/ 07 March 2019
Last year the government announced its intention to review how online advertising is regulated in the UK, looking at how well the current regime is equipped to tackle the challenges posed by developments in online advertising.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of Google's "privacy sandbox" technology on market fairness and safety.

Google’s “privacy sandbox” initiative is at an early stage, and the impact of its proposals on consumer outcomes is yet to be seen. The Government is committed to ensuring that the internet and new technologies are safe and secure, and that businesses can compete on a level playing field. We are currently considering how to boost competition and innovation in digital markets, and will continue to assess all external proposals for supporting these aims.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what risk assessment they have conducted of the proposed adoption of Huawei technology for the UK's 5G network infrastructure.

The security of the UK’s telecoms networks is of paramount importance. The Government has undertaken a comprehensive review of the telecoms supply chain to ensure the security and resilience of 5G and fibre in the UK. The Review, published in July, set out the Government’s priorities for the future of telecommunications and proposed the introduction of a new, strengthened security framework for telecoms

The Review also considered the use of high risk vendors in UK telecoms networks. High risk vendors never have been and never will be in the UK’s most sensitive networks. A decision on the use of high risk vendors in the UK telecoms networks will be made in due course following a robust assessment of the risks

The UK is not considering options that would put at risk the UK’s national security or intelligence sharing. The Government continues to work closely with the US and other international partners on the issue of telecoms security.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of remarks by senior officials in the United States that adopting Huawei technology in the UK's 5G network presents a security risk.

The security of the UK’s telecoms networks is of paramount importance. The Government has undertaken a comprehensive review of the telecoms supply chain to ensure the security and resilience of 5G and fibre in the UK. The Review, published in July, set out the Government’s priorities for the future of telecommunications and proposed the introduction of a new, strengthened security framework for telecoms

The Review also considered the use of high risk vendors in UK telecoms networks. High risk vendors never have been and never will be in the UK’s most sensitive networks. A decision on the use of high risk vendors in the UK telecoms networks will be made in due course following a robust assessment of the risks

The UK is not considering options that would put at risk the UK’s national security or intelligence sharing. The Government continues to work closely with the US and other international partners on the issue of telecoms security.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to work with the Football Association to combat racism in football.

Racism or any form of discrimination has no place in football or society, and we must confront this vile behaviour.

Together with the Minister for Sport, I met with the FA last week and discussed their action on discrimination. Whilst progress has been made, there is still more to do and we will be calling in all the footballing authorities for a further update about their work on this important issue.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the dangers that may arise from Facebook not strengthening regulation of political advertisements.

The Government regularly engages with social media platforms, including Facebook, on a number of issues. Whilst we welcome existing steps taken by platforms to take more responsibility for the content on their platforms, we are clear that these steps do not go far enough to protect users online.

The Online Harms White Paper sets out our plans for world-leading legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. This will make companies more responsible for their users’ safety online, especially children and other vulnerable groups, and will help to build trust in digital markets.

The Online Harms White Paper proposes that under the new regulatory framework for online safety, companies could be required to improve transparency of political advertising, in line with requirements in electoral law. The Cabinet Office is also considering this issue as part of the Defending Democracy programme, which has been set up to protect and secure UK democratic processes and strengthen the integrity of UK elections. Last year, the Government announced a review into online advertising, which will consider the extent to which the current regulatory regime is equipped to tackle the challenges posed by rapid technological developments in advertising. Further details will be set out in due course.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce tougher advertising legislation for celebrities who do not clearly state that their social media posts include branded items which are part of an advertising partnership.

Last year the government announced its intention to review how online advertising is regulated in the UK, looking at how well the current regime is equipped to tackle the challenges posed by developments in online advertising. The announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/jeremy-wrights-statement-on-the-cairncross-review

Currently, advertising in the UK is overseen by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the industry’s independent regulator, which for online advertising enforces the Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) through a system of self-regulation. The CAP Code incorporates all relevant legislation, including consumer protection legislation, and sets standards for accuracy and honesty to which advertisers must adhere. This system operates independently of government.

The remit of the ASA extends to the online promotion of products by celebrities, if the celebrity has been paid (including payment in kind) by an advertiser, and the advertiser exerts some form of editorial control over the resulting content. To guarantee compliance with the CAP Code in such cases, advertisers must ensure that endorsements are genuine, claims are accurate and advertising is clearly identified as such. The products themselves must also adhere to relevant regulation and standards.

If the advertiser does not exert some form of editorial control over the resulting content, consumer protection legislation still applies and is enforced instead by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA works closely with the ASA in this area, and expects such content to clearly identify any commercial relationship and to have regard to the CAP Code.

The Competition and Markets Authority recently investigated social media endorsements by influencers / celebrities to ensure that they were being clear to their followers, resulting in influencers / celebrities changing their practices. They also published a guide to help influencers and those working with them to understand how to comply with UK consumer protection law. Separately to this work, but complementary to the government's review of online advertising, the CMA is conducting a market study of online platforms and digital advertising, and published an interim report in December which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-lifts-the-lid-on-digital-giants

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether social media platforms are adequately monitored for harmful and illegal content.

We published the Online Harms White Paper in April last year, setting out plans for world-leading legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.

Our proposals would establish a new statutory duty of care on companies towards their users, overseen by an independent regulator. The duty of care will ensure companies have appropriate systems and processes in place to deal with harmful content on their services to keep their users safe.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support technology start-ups.

As outlined in our Digital Strategy, the Government’s ambition is to ensure the UK is the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business.

To support access to finance, the Government has introduced a new £2.5 billion British Patient Capital programme, which is expected to attract a further £5 billion in private investment. This will support UK companies with high growth potential to access the long-term investment they need to grow and internationalise.

To continue to attract international talent, the Government has: doubled the number of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas to 2,000; taken doctors and nurses out of the Tier 2 visa cap, increasing the number of skilled worker visas available to other sectors, including tech; and launched the new Start-Up and Innovator visa routes for entrepreneurs. In addition, the Government has committed to introducing a new 2 year visa route for individuals who graduate from UK higher education providers.

The Government continues to fund Tech Nation, supporting their work to accelerate the growth of the digital tech sector across the country. Tech Nation deliver growth programmes for the sector aimed at stages across the business lifecycle, with programme alumni including Monzo, Deliveroo and Funding Circle. In the past year, Tech Nation have started sector-specific growth programmes in AI and Cyber, in addition to their FinTech programme. In 2019, Tech Nation's growth programmes supported 649 tech companies. Tech Nation have a regional network of 11 Entrepreneur Engagement Managers (EEMs) working across the UK to support entrepreneurs, startups and scaleups to access their programmes and networks.

Finally, at London Tech Week 2019, the PM launched a study into the competitiveness of the UK Tech Sector. Reporting later this year, the study will identify key opportunities and support mechanisms to further accelerate business growth in the digital tech sector.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to introduce legislation to ban deepfake videos which promote misinformation.

The Government recognises the potential challenges artificial intelligence and digitally manipulated content such as deepfakes may pose and we are considering these issues carefully as part of work to tackle online manipulation and disinformation.

The Online Harms White Paper sets out our plans for world-leading legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. We intend to establish in law a new duty of care on companies towards their users, overseen by an independent regulator. Ahead of the implementation of the new regulatory framework, we continue to work closely with companies to encourage them to take early action to address disinformation and online manipulation on their platforms. Platforms continue to make progress in this area and we welcome these efforts.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the interim report by the Competition and Markets Authority Online platforms and digital advertising, published on 18 December, in particular the consideration that online platforms should allow users to turn off personalised advertisements.

Digital services are an important part of everyday life. It is vital that we ensure they work for everyone and can harness the incredible benefits of digital technologies, protect consumers while encouraging trust, and foster innovation across the economy. The government is currently considering how to boost competition and innovation in digital markets, including those funded through online advertising. Last year the government announced its intention to review how online advertising is regulated in the UK, which will assess the extent to which the current regulatory regime is equipped to tackle the challenges posed by rapid technological developments seen in online advertising.

The government is grateful to the CMA for their work to date on the interim report from their market study into Online Platforms and Digital Advertising. The CMA’s final market study report will set out findings and may make recommendations to the government. We look forward to these recommendations.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by United for All Ages Together in the 2020s, published on 7 January; and what action, if any, they plan to take in response.

The Government has made no formal assessment of this report. I thank the Noble Lord, however, for bringing this to our attention. I agree there is a need for government to work closely with civil society in many areas, including age inequality. These issues are cross-cutting and require input from many parts of government. DCMS is playing its part in this work, as set out in the government’s Civil Society Strategy and ‘A Connected Society: A strategy for tackling loneliness’.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to introduce further regulation in regard to the online promotion of products by celebrities.

Last year the government announced its intention to review how online advertising is regulated in the UK, looking at how well the current regime is equipped to tackle the challenges posed by developments in online advertising. The announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/jeremy-wrights-statement-on-the-cairncross-review.

Currently, advertising in the UK is overseen by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the industry’s independent regulator, which for online advertising enforces the Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) through a system of self-regulation. The CAP Code incorporates all relevant legislation, including consumer protection legislation, and sets standards for accuracy and honesty to which advertisers must adhere. This system operates independently of government.

The remit of the ASA extends to the online promotion of products by celebrities, if the celebrity has been paid (including payment in kind) by an advertiser, and the advertiser exerts some form of editorial control over the resulting content. To guarantee compliance with the CAP Code in such cases, advertisers must ensure that endorsements are genuine, claims are accurate and advertising is clearly identified as such. The products themselves must also adhere to relevant regulation and standards.

If the advertiser does not exert some form of editorial control over the resulting content, consumer protection legislation still applies and is enforced instead by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA works closely with the ASA in this area, and expects such content to clearly identify any commercial relationship and to have regard to the CAP Code.

The Competition and Markets Authority recently investigated social media endorsements by influencers / celebrities to ensure that they were being clear to their followers, resulting in influencers / celebrities changing their practices. They also published a guide to help influencers and those working with them to understand how to comply with UK consumer protection law. Separately to this work, but complementary to the government's review of online advertising, the CMA is conducting a market study of online platforms and digital advertising, and published an interim report in December which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-lifts-the-lid-on-digital-giants.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reform the apprenticeship levy and use part of the levy funds to support pre-apprenticeship programmes to help young people at school build confidence.

The apprenticeships levy was created to support the uptake and delivery of high-quality apprenticeships, allowing employers to make a long-term, sustainable investment in the skills they need, and has been set at a level to fund this employer demand. The department currently has no plans to review what apprenticeship levy funds can be spent on.

As part of the government’s Plan for Jobs, we are providing a range of support and funding to help prepare young people for the world of work. The department is investing £126 million in the 2021/22 academic year to support the largest ever expansion of traineeships and we continue to rollout T Levels.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide more special educational needs and disability (SEND) support to schools.

Our ambition is for every child and young person to have access to a world-class education that sets them up for life, regardless of the challenges they face.

The government is making a major investment in education, and this includes increasing high needs funding for children and young people with more complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by £780 million, or 9.6%, in the 2022-23 financial year. This will follow an increase of more than £1.5 billion over the previous two years and will bring the total high needs budget to £8.9 billion, an increase of over a third since 2019-20. We have also provided, so far, more than £3 billion to support children, including those with SEND, to catch up with their learning.

More generally, it is also providing over £42 million in the 2021-22 financial year to: continue funding projects to support children and young people with SEND and their families; strengthen local area performance; and ensure that they have a voice in the development of SEND services, and information and advice. This includes £27.3 million to support over 60,000 low-income families with children and young people with disabilities or serious illnesses; £2 million funding to continue to equip the workforce to delivery high quality teaching to children and young with SEND through the Whole School SEND consortium; and £600,000 funding to the Autism Education Trust to provide a hub of guidance and resources to support families, teachers and other professionals.

The government is carrying out a review of the SEND system, which includes looking at the support available in mainstream schools for children with SEND. The review is looking at how to ensure support across all education settings is consistent, high quality and joined up across health and care. Proposals for consultation will be published as soon as possible.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to expand Free School Meal eligibility (1) to all children aged seven to 18 in households earning £20,000 per annum or less after benefits, and (2) to children that are undocumented or living in households as part of the no recourse to public funds immigration system.

Under this government, eligibility for free school meals (FSM) has been extended several times and to more groups of children than any other government over the past half a century. We think it is important that FSM support is targeted at those that need it most. FSM is an integral part of our provision for families on low incomes, and our wider actions to promote social mobility. The government is considering the recommendations in the National Food Strategy and will respond in due course.

We are currently working with departments across government to evaluate access to FSM for families with no recourse to public funds. In the meantime, the existing temporary extension of eligibility will continue until a decision on long-term eligibility is made. Guidance on this extension can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/guidance-for-the-temporary-extension-of-free-school-meals-eligibility-to-nrpf-groups.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce cybersecurity education to Key Stage 1 children in order to educate them on tech literacy and online safety.

The introduction of e-safety content in key stage 1 reflects the fact that children are increasingly accessing the internet from a young age. As part of the computing curriculum, pupils are taught the fundamental principles of e-safety and cyber security. These fundamental principles include how to use technology safely and respectfully, how to keep personal information private, recognise unacceptable behaviour, and identify a range of ways to report concerns about content or contact on the internet or other online technologies. Cybersecurity knowledge is then developed right through a pupil’s time in school, with progression in content throughout each key stage to reflect the different and escalating risks that children face throughout life.

To support the delivery of computing in schools, the department launched the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) in November 2018, which is backed by £84 million of government funding, to ensure teachers have the knowledge and expertise to deliver all aspects of the computing curriculum with confidence at each key stage, including e-safety and cyber security. As part of their core offer, the NCCE are delivering online courses on cyber security and a range of resources on e-safety for each key stage. This includes a unit of learning on being a competent, confident and respectful user of IT for key stage 1 pupils.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the University College London report  Addressing Extremism Through the Classroom, published on 7 September; and what steps are they taking to provide schools with the training and tools to teach pupils how to reject extremist views.

Officials in the Department for Education have reviewed the report with interest and are engaged with the research team at University College London.

The government is committed to supporting the education sector to equip pupils and staff to understand the risks associated with terrorism and develop the knowledge and skills to be able to challenge extremist arguments. The ‘School Snapshot Survey: Winter 2017’ report indicated that 98% of leaders and teachers were confident that their school effectively teaches the values of respect and tolerance of those from different backgrounds, and that 94% of teachers were confident in their responsibilities to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

Our ‘Educate Against Hate’ website provides teachers, school leaders and parents with the information, guidance and support they need to challenge radical views and keep their children safe, including from online extremist influences. The School Snapshot Survey: Winter 2017, published in 2018, highlights that 85% of school leaders and teachers that used Educate Against Hate thought it helped them to understand how to raise a concern. Additionally, 82% felt it helped them to identify signs of radicalisation and 79% stated it helped them promote mutual respect tolerance and understanding of those with different faiths.

The department continues to identify and produce high-quality resources to assist teachers to build pupils’ resilience to extremist ideologies. This includes hosting resources from the charity ‘Since 9/11’, who the department has worked with to develop teaching materials ahead of the 20th anniversary of September 11th attacks.

The department works closely with and supports the network of Prevent Education Officers based in local authorities, who play an important role in supporting schools. This network provides support and guidance to schools, develops bespoke lesson resources, and provides training to school staff, empowering teachers to approach extremism in the classroom. These practitioners help to inform the development of policy and practice nationally.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to engage with professional and statutory regulatory bodies to determine how degree apprenticeship proposals are implemented.

This is a matter for the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. I have asked its Chief Executive, Jennifer Coupland, to write to the noble Lord and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses when it is available.

21st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of funding cuts to the high cost subsidy for creative arts courses at universities on the viability of these courses; and what steps they are taking to ensure equal access to creative arts courses in all educational settings.

In January 2021, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education asked the Office for Students to reform the Strategic Priorities Grant for the academic year 2021/22 in order to ensure value for money and to support strategic priorities across the sector as well as disadvantaged students and under-represented groups.

The Office for Students ran a consultation on this matter and has recently published its conclusions. The responses to the consultation were carefully analysed, and the issues raised were considered by both the Office for Students and the Secretary of State in reaching their respective decisions about the allocation of the Strategic Priorities Grant in 2021/22.

These reforms include the reallocation of high-cost subject funding, which is one element of the Strategic Priorities Grant, towards the provision of high-cost subjects which support the NHS and wider healthcare policy, high-cost science, technology and engineering subjects, and subjects meeting specific labour market needs. As a result, the total funding for high-cost subjects such as medicine and engineering is 12% (£81 million) higher than last year. The high-cost subject funding rate for arts and music courses will be set at £121.50 in 2021/22 – the fall from 2020/21 is equivalent to a reduction of around 1% in combined funding (on a per-student basis) from a £9,250 tuition fee and Office for Students grant funding.

The government continues to value arts and social science subjects. High-quality provision in a range of subjects is critical for our workforce and our public services, as well as being intellectually rewarding and culturally enriching for those studying them and wider society.

As part of the same reform programme, we have asked the Office for Students to invest an additional £10 million in our world-leading specialist providers, many of which specialise in arts provision. We want to ensure that such providers receive additional support, and that grant funding is used effectively to support students.

The Office for Students continually monitors and assesses financial health in the higher education sector, working closely with any provider that shows increased risk of financial difficulties. The latest Office for Students report on the financial sustainability of higher education providers in England showed that the overall financial position of universities, colleges, and other higher education providers registered with the Office for Students across the higher education sector remains sound, with reasonable financial resilience.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
20th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to improve access to STEM training and resources for both (1) employed, and (2) unemployed individuals.

The noble Lord is aware that this government recognises the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and Technical Education. Our many existing reforms aimed at boosting technical education include the introduction of employer-led standards in apprenticeships; launching T levels; growing the higher-level technical qualifications market; establishing Institutes of Technology across the country; and focusing Skills Bootcamps and Free Courses for Jobs on sectors that are key to the economy such as engineering, construction and digital. We also support those who do not have the required level of maths qualifications through the requirement for 16-18 year olds to continue to study maths as part of their programmes, an entitlement for adults and embedding maths in apprenticeships and traineeships.


19th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Education Policy Institute The cost of high-quality professional development for teachers in England, published on 15 July; and what steps are they taking to improve the quality of existing CPD training that teachers participate in.

The department would like to thank the Education Policy Institute for the report ‘The cost of high-quality professional development for teachers in England’. Supporting our teachers with the highest quality training and professional development is the best way in which we can improve pupil outcomes, with evidence showing that expert teaching can have a disproportionately strong impact on those from disadvantaged backgrounds or those who have fallen behind. That is why the government has made the training, support and professional development we provide for our teachers central to our levelling up agenda and a key part of our plan to deal with the disruption that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused to schools.

To this effect, the government is creating a world-class teacher development system, building from initial teacher training (ITT), through to early career support, specialisation and onto school leadership. At each phase, teachers will have access to high-quality training and professional development underpinned by the best available evidence. This will create a golden thread of support that teachers can draw on at every stage of their careers.

As part of the department’s plans to boost education recovery, the package of measures we announced on 2 June included an investment of £253 million to expand our reforms to teacher development to give 500,000 school teachers the opportunity to access world-leading training appropriate for whatever point they are at in their career. This funding includes £184 million for a reformed suite of National Professional Qualifications which will provide training and support for teachers and school leaders at all levels, from those who want to develop expertise in high quality teaching practice, such as behaviour management, to those leading multiple schools across trusts.

From September 2021, the government is also funding an entitlement for all early career teachers in England to access high quality professional development and support through the Early Career Framework (ECF) reforms. Under the reforms, new teachers will benefit from a longer induction period of two years, replacing the previous one-year induction processes. This means they will have more time to access structured support and to develop their expertise and confidence. The funding available will give every school who wants it access to a Department for Education funded training provider who will design and deliver a comprehensive programme of face-to-face and online training as part of the new statutory induction for early career teachers. The ECF reforms will be backed by over £130 million a year in funding when fully rolled out.

The reforms the department is making to the professional development teachers can access, which also includes the introduction of the ITT Core Content Framework, will root teacher development in the same consistent evidence-based understanding of what works. This will create a thread of high-quality support, training, and development through the entirety of a teacher’s career.

13th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide training for school staff on work-based assistive technology; and what assessment they have made of how such technology can support disabled students.

The department funded training in assistive technology in financial year 2020-21 via the EdTech Demonstrator Programme. National Star College launched a special education need and disabilities (SEND) Hub, which included training on ways assistive technology could be used by teachers, leaders and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCos) to support all pupils. Materials from these training sessions to support teachers and ensure their practice is inclusive to all learners, can still be accessed through the SEND Hub website and the EdTech Demonstrator website.

The success of this programme is informing our next steps in relation to supporting teachers, leaders and SENCos with assistive technology, including a proposed pilot training programme for school staff for financial year 2021-22.

The department published a rapid literature review on assistive technology in education in July 2020, which found strong evidence of the positive impact of specific types of assistive technology (for example to improve communication) and recommended training for teachers and other staff on the use, assessment and evaluation of assistive technology.

7th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to create a national framework of minimum standards of support for children with special educational needs and disabilities in mainstream schools.

The government is carrying out a review of the special educational needs and disabilities system, which includes looking at the support available in mainstream schools for children with special educational needs and disabilities. The review is looking at how to ensure support across all education settings is consistent, high quality and joined up across health and care.

It is also considering measures to make sure that money is being spent fairly, efficiently, and effectively, and that the support available to children and young people is sustainable in the future.

This cross-government review is being led by the Department for Education, working closely with other government departments, partners in education and with children, young people, and their families.

7th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by London First Central Government's Role in Helping London Drive Recovery, published in May; and what plans they have to create a London Apprenticeship Fund targeted at small firms affected by COVID-19 to restart apprenticeship growth in the capital.

We welcome the report’s focus on the importance of business-led skills programmes in responding to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Through our Plan for Jobs, we are supporting businesses to create employment opportunities and develop their skills bases as we build back better from COVID-19.

We are committed to supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the country, including in London, to benefit from the high-quality training that apprenticeships offer. In the first half of the 2020/21 academic year (August to January), there were 18,400 apprenticeship starts in London.

For the 2021/22 financial year, funding available for investment in apprenticeships in England is £2.5 billion, double that spent in the 2010/11 financial year. As well as funding new apprenticeships in levy-paying employers, income from the levy is used to fund new apprenticeships in employers that do not pay the levy. These SMEs continue to be able to access funding for 95% of apprenticeship training and assessment costs, and can now reserve funding for up to 10 new apprenticeship starts in the 2021/22 financial year.

SMEs can also benefit from further funding through the receipt of levy transfers from larger employers who are able to transfer up to 25% of their annual levy funds. In August 2021, we will introduce a new online service to help levy paying employers pledge funds for transfer and find SMEs to receive their transfer. This will allow large employers to make greater use of their levy funds to support apprenticeships in their supply chains and help meet local and regional skills needs.

To further help businesses offer apprenticeships as new employment opportunities, we have increased our cash incentive payments to £3,000 for every apprentice they hire as a new employee from 1 April until 30 September 2021.

Given this existing commitment to supporting apprenticeships in SMEs, we have no plans to introduce a London apprenticeship growth fund.

6th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by London First Central Government's Role in Helping London Drive Recovery, published in May; and what plans they have to introduce a London Careers Service to provide tailored and flexible support to (1) young Londoners transitioning from education to employment, and (2) adults who have been displaced as a result of the pandemic.

We are investing over £100 million in the 2021/22 financial year to help young people and adults access high quality careers provision through The Careers and Enterprise Company and the National Careers Service. This includes additional funding of £32 million announced as part of the government's Plan for Jobs for the National Careers Service up to March 2022. This additional investment will support delivery of individual careers advice to help 269,000 more people (over 500,000 people in total), whose jobs or learning have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Through the Careers Hubs programme, The Careers and Enterprise Company is putting in place a national programme of support and coordination that will help all schools and colleges to deliver the Gatsby benchmarks of Good Career Guidance. Careers Hubs have played a vital role supporting young people to transition from school to the next phase of their lives, by delivering local careers events and developing resources.

We have no plans to delegate the careers budget for young people or adults at this time. We will continue to work with local and combined authorities to ensure that local priorities are fed into the provision of careers advice, so that it is employer-led, integrated, and meets local needs.

30th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the ability of local authorities to sufficiently support special educational needs students.

We are committed to ensuring greater stability of services for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) as we enter the recovery phase following the COVID-19 outbreak.

We aim to have clear oversight of local areas’ performance in delivering SEND services – including those that had weaknesses before the COVID-19 outbreak, and those that are struggling to respond to the challenges that the COVID-19 outbreak has brought. With this in mind, in April Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) re-started their programme of revisits to areas where SEND services need to improve and a Written Statement of Action was required. Full inspections recommenced in June.

We are working closely with Ofsted, the CQC, our professional advisory service and our delivery support partners to identify, support and intervene effectively and early in under-performing areas.

We recognise the need to strengthen accountability in the SEND system. That is why the Department for Education, with the support of the Department for Health and Social Care, has commissioned Ofsted and the CQC to develop a new area SEND inspection framework, which will launch after the existing inspection cycle has finished.

Learning from the published assessment of the current approach, the new framework will include a greater focus on the experience of children and young people with SEND and their families, and give more prominence to the quality, integration and commissioning of education, health and care services. The new framework will also take into account the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on services and on children, young people and families.

30th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the early careers survey by Prospects, Work experience during a crisis, published in May; and what plans they have to offer incentives to businesses to employ work experience students.

We are aware that because of the global COVID-19 pandemic 2021 graduates have had increased periods of online learning, resulting in fewer opportunities to gain work experience, which are experiences that traditionally help students to develop employability skills.

We have worked closely with the Quality Assurance Agency, professional bodies and the Office for Students (OfS) to ensure that students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow them to make progress in their lives and careers. We also welcome the innovative ways that universities have developed to ensure that students still receive valuable experience (for example, through simulations and virtual practice).

We recognise the importance of real-life work experience to complement training, and a number of our skills policies link skills training to jobs. Apprenticeships are jobs with training, and we are currently offering employers £3,000 as an incentive to take on new apprentices. New T Levels are a high-quality equivalent to A levels and include an industry placement with an employer. We are currently supporting the largest-ever expansion of traineeships, which is a skills development programme that includes a work placement. We are offering £1,000 incentive payments for employers offering traineeship work placements.

To provide additional support, we have developed the ‘Graduate employment and skills guide’, which was published on 10 May on the OfS’s website: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/for-students/student-outcomes-and-employability/graduate-employment-and-skills-guide/apply-for-jobs/. We have also worked with Universities UK to develop a Sector Statement of Support, which was published on 10 May on their website. The statement outlines what HE providers and the government are doing to support graduates, and it encourages graduates to take advantage of the support and resources available.

We have also engaged with higher education providers to produce a collection of graduate employability case-studies. Published on the provider-facing pages of the OfS website, these case-studies showcase the breadth of innovative work and range of new measures that university and college careers services have introduced to support final-year students and recent graduates as they move from university to graduate life.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
29th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all businesses have the required funding to carry out sufficient on course training for apprenticeships.

The government is committed to supporting employers of all sizes to offer apprenticeships. In the 2021-22 financial year, we are making available £2.5 billion to support apprenticeships in all employers, double what was spent in the 2010-11 financial year.

To support businesses in offering apprenticeships, we have increased the incentive payments to £3,000 for each new apprentice they hire as a new employee between 1 April and 30 September 2021, as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs. These incentive payments are in addition to the £1,000 employers already receive for hiring an apprentice aged 16 to 18, or under 25 for those with an education, health and care plan. In addition, we pay 100% of the training costs for employers with fewer than 50 employees when they take on certain apprentices, including 16 to 18 year olds.

We recognise the enormous value that small and medium-sized enterprises contribute to the UK economy. Smaller employers that do not pay the levy continue to be able to access funding for 95% of apprenticeship training and assessment costs, and can reserve funding for up to 10 new apprenticeship starts in the 2021-22 financial year.

29th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that persistently absent school pupils receive targeted educational support programmes.

Good attendance at school is vital for pupils’ education, wellbeing and development. We recognise that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused particular challenges for some children who are at risk of disengaging from education. We have been clear throughout this period that schools should identify these pupils and develop plans to re-engage them.

Our £3 billion investment in education recovery includes over £900 million that schools can use as they see best to support the children who have been most impacted. We are also working closely with specific local authorities and schools to support strong school attendance, including through providing best practice advice and guidance. In addition, the Supporting Families programme continues to provide targeted help to families where attendance issues are a significant concern.

28th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by New Schools Network and Onward Lost Learning: Why we need to Level Up Education, published on 25 June; and what plans they have to offer teachers a fixed stipend to work in schools in areas of underperformance.

The department would like to thank New Schools Network and Onward for their report ‘Lost Learning: Why we need to Level Up Education’. The government will be responding to the report’s recommendations and conclusions in due course.

Levelling Up is at the heart of the government’s agenda to build back better after the COVID-19 outbreak and to deliver for citizens across the UK. The government will publish a landmark Levelling Up White Paper later this year, setting out new policy interventions to improve livelihoods and opportunity in all parts of the UK.

The department is currently piloting several retention payment schemes for teachers, including early career payments, teacher student loan reimbursement, and the mathematics and physics teacher retention payments. These schemes are targeted towards disadvantaged areas to encourage teachers to work in schools in these areas. The department is conducting evaluations to assess the effect of these pilot schemes, and we will consider our future retention offer in light of the evaluation findings.

23rd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made the report by the Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research at the University of Birmingham Lost in Transition? The post-school experiences of young people with vision impairment, published on 18 June; and what steps they are taking to ensure that all educational institutions are accessible for those with visual impairments.

HM government believes it is important that students with disabilities receive the appropriate level of support wherever and whatever they choose to study, and is committed to ensuring that they all receive the support they need to enable them to study alongside their fellow students on an equal basis.

The Equality Act 2010 sets out the legal obligations that schools, early years providers, post-16 institutions, local authorities, and others have towards children and young people with disabilities.

All schools have duties under the Equality Act 2010 towards individual children and young people with disabilities. They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services, to prevent them being put at a substantial disadvantage.

Schools must publish accessibility plans and local authorities must publish accessibility strategies setting out how they plan to increase access for pupils with disabilities to the curriculum, the physical environment, and information. These duties are anticipatory – they require thought to be given in advance to what children and young people with disabilities might require and what adjustments might need to be made to prevent that disadvantage.

The government expects all higher education (HE) providers to fulfil their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 to be making reasonable adjustments for all higher education students with disabilities

Wherever possible, students with disabilities should expect to have their needs met through inclusive learning practices and individual reasonable adjustments made by their HE providers.

In terms of funding, the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is available in addition to the standard support package to help students with the additional costs they may face in higher education because of their disability.

DSA is not means-tested and does not have to be repaid. It is available to full-time and part-time students at undergraduate and postgraduate level, alongside support available from HE providers, and in line with the recommendations of the student’s DSA Needs Assessment.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to review whether apprenticeship standards are fit for purpose to contribute to the net zero economy.

The Green Apprenticeship Advisory Panel (GAAP) was convened by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) in January 2021 to ensure the right skills are in place for the future workforce to deliver the green technology shift the UK needs. It works closely with the Green Jobs Taskforce set up by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the department to ensure that all actions are aligned. The GAAP is supported by the green apprenticeship advisory community by providing sector-specific expertise when required.

We have already identified 15 occupations directly aligned to the green economy, including Ecologist, Arborist and Environmental Practitioner, as well as a further 29 that are supportive of the green economy, including some in the digital, Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and project management spheres.

The Institute is prioritising the development of green apprenticeship standards, mapping green jobs to current standards and working with employers where an occupational gap is identified to ensure standards are available and are responsive to employer need. We will continue to ensure apprenticeships support new and emerging occupations and that employers in the green economy can benefit from apprenticeships.

22nd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the National Foundation for Educational Research Putting Apprenticeships to Work for Young People, published on 16 June; and what steps they are taking to increase apprenticeship course start rates outside of London.

The government recognises the challenges that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused for young people who are looking to enter the labour market and to small-medium enterprises (SMEs) who want to recruit an apprentice, as highlighted in the National Foundation for Education Research report. Through our Plan for Jobs, we are committed to providing young people with the tools they need to begin and progress in their careers. We are supporting businesses across the country to meet their skills needs, now and in the future.

Through our apprenticeship support and knowledge programme, we are promoting apprenticeships in schools across the country and providing free resources and interventions to encourage young people to undertake an apprenticeship.

We are supporting the largest-ever expansion of traineeships to ensure that more young people have access to high-quality training to develop the skills, experience, and confidence to obtain an apprenticeship. We have started to deliver the first-ever occupational traineeships developed alongside trade bodies and employers in construction and rail engineering. We will continue to create more occupational traineeship opportunities in the adult care sector over the summer. These occupational traineeships will be aligned to apprenticeship standards and will significantly increase opportunities for young people to progress into apprenticeships or other employment. To support employers who are offering traineeship placements we have extended the £1,000 incentive payment until July 2022.

The Kickstart Scheme is investing £2 billion to create hundreds of thousands of high quality 6 month work placements for eligible 16–24 year olds. We are working with the Department for Work and Pensions to support young people on Kickstart placements to progress to apprenticeships where this is right for them and their employers.

SMEs will play a key role in increasing apprenticeship opportunities for young people as we rebuild from the effects of COVID-19. As of 1 April, all new apprenticeship starts will be through the apprenticeship service. This will give SMEs more control over their apprenticeship choices and give them the ability to reserve funds before choosing the provider that best meets their needs. In August, we will also introduce a new online service to help levy paying employers find SMEs to transfer their levy funds to support apprenticeships in their supply chains and help to meet local and regional skills needs.

We have seen more employers across the country recruiting apprentices outside of London. Since May 2010, there have been over 578,980 more apprenticeship starts in the North of England (North East, North West & Yorkshire) than London and South East. We continue to encourage employers of all sizes across England to take on new apprentices by increasing the incentive payment to £3,000 for every new apprentice they hire until 31 September 2021.

21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to implement personal financial education into the UK curriculum.

Economic and financial education are important parts of a broad and balanced curriculum and provide the essential knowledge to ensure that young people are prepared to manage their money well, make sound financial decisions and know where to seek further information when needed.

Financial education forms part of the citizenship National Curriculum which can be taught at all Key Stages and is compulsory at Key Stages 3 and 4: https://www.gov.uk/national-curriculum. Financial education ensures that pupils are taught the functions and uses of money, the importance of personal budgeting, money management and managing financial risk. At secondary school, pupils are taught about income and expenditure, credit and debt, insurance, savings and pensions, financial products and services, and how public money is raised and spent.

The Department works closely with the Money and Pensions Service and other stakeholders, such as Her Majesty’s Treasury, to consider what can be discovered from other sector initiatives and whether there is scope to provide further support for the teaching of financial education in schools.

16th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Office for National Statistics Graduates Report Graduates’ labour market outcomes during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: occupational switches and skill mismatch, published on 8 March; and what assessment have they made of the finding that over 25 per cent of employed graduates are employed in unskilled or low-skilled roles.

The government understands that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on students graduating this year, and we recognise that some graduates may face particular challenges gaining employment because of the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the UK labour market and economy. Students have responded to the pandemic with formidable resilience and motivation, demonstrating a clear ability to adapt and to learn at pace at a challenging time.

As part of the government’s Skills Recovery Package Plan for Jobs, we are investing an additional £32 million in the National Careers Service up to March 2022. This investment will support delivery of individual careers advice for over 500,000 people whose jobs or learning have been affected by the pandemic (by the end of the 2021/22 financial year). This represents an increase of 22%.

Recent findings from the Office for National Statistics’ Graduates Report has highlighted that there is a higher proportion of graduates who have switched occupation as a result of the pandemic. We have worked with a range of institutions across the higher education sector to understand what more we can do to support graduates who are looking to enter the labour market at this challenging time. We have also worked closely with the Quality Assurance Agency, professional bodies, and the Office for Students to ensure students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work, and allow them to progress in life.

To provide additional support, we have developed the ‘Graduate employment and skills guide’, aimed at students who are about to graduate, which was published on 10 May on the Office for Students’ website. The guide directs graduates to public, private, and voluntary sector opportunities to help them build employability skills, gain work experience, or enter the labour market, as well as providing links to further study options and resources on graduate mental health and wellbeing.

We have also worked with Universities UK to develop a Sector Statement of Support, which was published on 10 May 2021 on Universities UK’s website. The statement outlines what higher education providers and the government are doing to support graduates and encourages graduates to take advantage of the support and resources available.

We have also engaged with higher education providers to produce a collection of graduate employability case studies. Published on the provider-facing pages of the Office for Students’ website, these case studies showcase the breadth of innovative work and range of new measures that university and college careers services have introduced to support final-year students and recent graduates as they transition from university to graduate life.

Where securing work is challenging, graduates may be able to access financial support. Graduates can apply for Universal Credit immediately after finishing a degree, and they can check their eligibility at https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/eligibility.

The government wants every student to know that, when they undertake a higher education course, they can be confident that it has a strong chance of improving their life outcomes. A key element to assessing the quality of higher education courses is ensuring that graduates are achieving outcomes consistent with the higher education courses that they have completed. Our landmark Skills and Post-16 Education Bill makes clear the power of the Office for Students to enforce minimum expectations of student outcomes for universities, helping them to tackle low-quality provision and drive up standards. This is central to the approach taken by the Office for Students, which is currently consulting on setting minimum numerical baselines that providers will be expected to reach. We welcome that consultation and we expect it to lead to results.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
16th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that skills training programmes in emerging job markets are accessible for unemployed individuals.

The ‘Skills for Jobs’ white paper, published in January 2021, sets out our blueprint to reform post-16 education and training. It is focused on giving people the skills they need, in a way that suits them, so they can get jobs in sectors the economy needs and boost this country’s productivity.

We are supporting the largest-ever expansion of traineeships, providing funding for an additional 30,000 places in the 2020/21 academic year and a further 43,000 in the 2021/22 academic year, to ensure that more young people, with little or no work experience, have access to high-quality training. This includes providing £1,000 incentive payments for employers offering work placements. We are introducing occupational traineeships which are aligned to apprenticeship standards and will significantly increase the opportunities for young people to progress into apprenticeships or other employment.

We are also committed to supporting more people to benefit from the high-quality training that apprenticeships offer across a range of sectors, including those at the start of their career or those looking to retrain. To help employers offer new apprenticeships, employers can claim £3,000 for each apprentice they take on as a new employee. We are also working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to enable Kickstart placements to turn into apprenticeships where that is the best option. We have also made a special provision to allow employers taking on ‘Kickstarters’ as apprentices to be eligible for the incentive payment, supporting a pathway between the schemes.

The Adult Education Budget (AEB) fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3. This will support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning. This includes fully funded statutory entitlements in English and maths, up to and including level 2, fully funded first full level 2 and/or level 3 for learners aged 19 to 23 and fully funded specified digital skills qualifications, up to and including level 1. Unemployed individuals can benefit from the four statutory entitlements within the AEB. We continue to provide fully funded training up to Level 2 for unemployed people aged 19 and over through the AEB.

Led by DWP, sector based work academy programmes (SWAPs) help employers with immediate and future employment needs by upskilling job seekers to fill locally identified vacancies. SWAPs will enable unemployed individuals to acquire the skills needed for local jobs. We remain committed to supporting DWP with training placements for the planned increase in the number of SWAP starts, during the 2021/22 financial year.

From 1 April 2021, the government is supporting any adult who does not have A-levels or equivalent qualifications, to access almost 400 fully funded level 3 courses, with Free Courses for Jobs. The qualifications on offer range from engineering to social care to conservation, supporting adults to gain skills sought by employers.

Skills Bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. Skills Bootcamps are available to adults aged 19 and over, who are in work or recently unemployed. People claiming Universal Credit are now able to access a greater range of these courses following an extension to the length of time they can attend work-focused study. The DWP has extended the length of time Universal Credit claimants can spend on full-time training from up to 8 weeks to up to 12 weeks throughout the UK, and up to 16 weeks in England for the purpose of attending Skills Bootcamps. This increase opens up a significant range of training opportunities for people claiming Universal Credit, including many courses which have been introduced as part of the Free Courses for Jobs offer. This will allow unemployed adults access to more training options and provide a better chance of finding work, while continuing to receive the support they need.

15th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the higher technical education provider growth fund is accessible to all (1) colleges, and (2) universities.

The Higher Technical Education Provider Growth Fund is open to both Further and Higher Education providers, including independent providers and Institutes of Technology, who meet the eligibility criteria. We are not targeting a particular geographical spread nor provider type, but encouraging applications from providers who are in a strong position to deliver Digital Higher Technical Qualifications from September 2022 onwards and construction and health and science from September 2023.

When we launched the Growth Fund, we targeted our communications at both colleges and universities to raise awareness and promote this opportunity. Ahead of the application window closing on 9 July, we will be engaging further with all provider types to promote and encourage applications.

15th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to include social media awareness and training in the national curriculum.

The department is committed to supporting schools to deliver high quality teaching of Relationships, Sex Education and Health Education (RSHE), which includes teaching about online safety and social media awareness and is compulsory in all state-funded schools in England.

Health Education includes specific content about online safety and pupils should be taught rules and principles for keeping safe online. This will include how to recognise risks, harmful content and contact, how to report issues and who to report them to. Pupils should have a strong understanding of how data is generated, collected, shared and used online, for example, how personal data is captured on social media or understanding the way that businesses may exploit the data available to them.

As with all curriculum teaching, schools have the flexibility to tailor their teaching to specific cohorts and to the needs of their pupils. A full breakdown of content can be found in the RSHE statutory guidance and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education.

To further support this, the department has published ‘teaching online safety in school’ which highlights potentials harms and risks and suggests how they might be addressed through the curriculum. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teaching-online-safety-in-schools.

Guidance is available for parents and carers of primary and secondary age pupils. Schools and parents can use to help them with teaching about relationships and health education. This guidance can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-sex-and-health-education-guides-for-schools.

The new RSHE subjects complement the embedded computing curriculum which covers the principles of online safety at all key stages, including teaching on how to use technology safely, responsibly, respectfully and securely, how to keep personal information private, and where to go for help and support, where pupils have concerns about content or contact on the internet or other online technologies.

14th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide subsidised skills training courses for small businesses.

The government recognises the enormous value that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute to the UK economy. The department offers a variety of skills provision to ensure individuals are equipped with the skills that businesses need, including 16-19 funding, the adult education budget (AEB) and apprenticeships. Funding for the AEB and 16-19 provision is allocated to providers, including colleges, higher education institutions, training organisations, local authorities and employers who receive Education and Skills Funding Agency-funded provision from us, to deliver education and training to learners.

We will continue to work closely with all employers, including SMEs, to support learners to gain the skills that they need for work. Skills bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving eligible adults the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. We have already introduced Skills Bootcamps in 6 local areas, and we are investing a further £43 million from the National Skills Fund to expand them across England. Skills bootcamps are led by employers who work together with providers to deliver the skills that are most needed locally. We are also exploring how this model can be used for different sized organisations, including SMEs.

Led by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), sector-based work academy programmes (SWAPs) help employers with immediate and future employment needs by upskilling job seekers to fill locally identified vacancies. We remain committed to supporting DWP with training placements for the planned increase in the number of SWAP starts, during the financial year 2021-22.

We are also committed to supporting SMEs to benefit from the high-quality training that apprenticeships offer. In the 2021-22 financial year, the funding available for investment in apprenticeships in England is £2.5 billion, which is double what was spent in the 2010-11 financial year. This includes funding for employers that do not pay the levy, who will continue to be able to access funding for 95% of apprenticeship training and assessment costs. In addition, we pay 100% of the training costs for employers with fewer than 50 employees when they take on certain apprentices, including 16 to 18-year-olds. SMEs can reserve funding for up to 10 new apprenticeship starts in the 2021-22 financial year.

As announced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy this June, small businesses will be able to access a 12 week-programme delivered by leading business schools across the UK, accredited by the Small Business Charter. ‘Help to Grow: Management’ will combine a practical curriculum, with one-to-one support from a business mentor, peer-learning sessions and an alumni network. Designed to be manageable alongside full-time work, this programme will support small business leaders to develop their strategic skills with key modules covering financial management, innovation and digital adoption. By the end of the programme, participants will develop a tailored business growth plan to lead their business to its full potential. 30,000 places will be available over 3 years. The programme is 90% subsidised by the government – participants will be charged £750.

9th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that mental health first aid training is rolled out in primary school settings.

We recognise how important it is to equip education staff with the skills and tools that they need to understand and respond to the mental health needs of their students. We remain committed to ensuring school staff, pupils and all education settings, including primary schools, can access the wellbeing and mental health support they need in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have made sure that schools have access to a range of training over the last year so that teachers understand the issues that pupils are facing as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and how to support their pupils. In particular, our Wellbeing for Education Return programme supported over 15,000 schools and colleges by funding expert advisers in every local authority, to give access to free training, support and resources for education staff.

We are committed to supporting all schools to deliver Relationships, Sex and Health Education, which includes a range of specific teaching requirements on mental health and wellbeing. We prioritised the publication of the mental wellbeing teacher training module in July last year to help improve the confidence of subject leads and teachers in delivering mental wellbeing as part of the new curriculum and to plan lessons to help their pupils with recovery.

Earlier this year, we convened a Mental Health in Education Action Group. Through this group, we are working to build on what we are already doing to help education settings put in place the right support for children and young people’s mental wellbeing at this critical time. This is being backed by the Youth Mental Health Ambassador, Dr Alex George.

We recently announced more than £17 million to build on mental health support already available in education settings, with up to 7,800 schools and colleges in England offered funding worth £9.5 million to train a senior mental health lead from their staff in the next academic year. This is part of the government’s commitment to offer this training to all state schools and colleges by 2025. The training will equip senior mental health leads with the knowledge to develop or introduce a holistic approach to wellbeing and mental health in their setting and to implement effective processes for ensuring that pupils and students with mental health problems receive appropriate support. As part of this recent announcement, we also provided £7 million in additional funding for local authorities to deliver the Wellbeing for Education Recovery programme, which builds on Wellbeing for Education Return to provide local expert advice to schools with navigating local support to find the right support for their pupils.

26th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with universities in England about the support they can provide to improve the employment prospects of graduates.

The government understands that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on students graduating this year, and we recognise that a number of graduates face particular challenges gaining employment due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the UK labour market and economy.

The government is doing all it can to help people who are at the start of their career journey. As part of the government’s Skills Recovery Package Plan for Jobs, we are investing an additional £32 million in the National Careers Service up to March 2022. This investment will support delivery of individual careers advice for over 500,000 people whose jobs or learning have been affected by the pandemic (by the end of the 2021/22 financial year). This represents an increase of 22%.

To provide additional support, we have developed the Graduate Employment and Skills Guide, which was published on 10 May on the Office for Students (OfS) website. The guide directs graduates to public, private, and voluntary sector opportunities to help them build employability skills, gain work experience, or enter the labour market, as well as providing links to further study options and resources on graduate mental health and wellbeing. The guide will also help graduates to recognise the valuable skills they have developed at university.

We have also engaged with Higher Education providers to produce a collection of Graduate Employability Case Studies. These case studies are published on the OfS website and demonstrate the breadth of innovative work and range of new measures university and college careers services have introduced to support final-year students and recent graduates as they move from university to graduate life.

Content on the National Careers Service website to support graduates includes information on graduate schemes and internships, sector-specific work experience, virtual work experience, virtual recruitment fairs, volunteering, developing soft skills, finding job vacancies, writing a CV and application form, telephone and video interviews, psychometric testing, using LinkedIn, gap years, and considering further study. On 29 September 2020, we added additional courses to the Skills Toolkit covering digital, numeracy, and employability skills. The new content includes a range of courses to develop ‘work readiness’ skills that employers value in their new recruits.

Where securing work is challenging, graduates may be able to access financial support. Graduates can apply for Universal Credit immediately after finishing a degree and can check their eligibility at https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/eligibility.

We have worked with a range of institutions across the sector to understand what more we can do to support graduates who are looking to secure employment at this challenging time and ensure students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value and reflect their hard work.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
24th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of a recent report by The Sutton Trust, 'Fairness First: Social Mobility, Covid and Education Recovery' published in May; and what plans they have to increase the funds for the early years pupil premium.

The government are carefully monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on children’s wellbeing, learning and development, including in the early years. We note the report published by the Sutton Trust.

On 2 June 2021, we announced a £1.4 billion education recovery package, which includes a £153 million investment in evidence-based professional development for early years practitioners, including through new programmes focusing on key areas such as speech and language development for the youngest children. This brings the total investment announced for education recovery for early years, schools, and colleges to over £3 billion since June 2020. The government has committed to an ambitious, long-term education recovery plan. We will continue to consider the effect that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on education and wellbeing, and what further action is needed to address this.

19th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to limit the entry requirements for level two apprenticeships.

High-quality apprenticeships at level 2 are an important part of our programme, supporting people from all backgrounds to gain the skills they need to begin or progress in their career. To help employers offer new apprenticeships at all levels, employers can claim £3,000 for each apprentice they take on as a new employee until 30 September 2021, as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs.

Although it is for employers to decide which apprenticeships they offer and when, and any specific entry requirements, we encourage employers to open up apprenticeship opportunities to a wide group of potential applicants. To remove barriers to entry for prospective apprentices, we are clear to employers that we will fund apprentices without English and maths to achieve Functional Skills qualifications during their apprenticeship.

Our Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network of over 85 employers promotes best practice in recruiting and supporting apprentices from less advantaged backgrounds to diversify their workforce. In addition, our Apprenticeships Support and Knowledge programme supports schools across England to provide students with information on apprenticeships.

Through our Plan for Jobs, we are also providing a range of support to help young people access high-quality training to develop the skills, experience, and confidence to obtain an apprenticeship. We are supporting the largest-ever expansion of traineeships to help young people who are not yet ready for an apprenticeship, providing funding for an additional 30,000 places in the 2020/21 academic year. We are also working with the Department for Work and Pensions to enable Kickstart placements to turn into apprenticeships where that is the right thing for the employer and the young person. We have made a special provision to allow employers taking on ‘Kickstarters’ as apprentices to be eligible for the incentive payment, supporting a pathway between the schemes.

18th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase collaboration between universities and technology companies regarding digital skills training.

The Institutes of Technology programme, backed by £290 million of taxpayer funding from Her Majesty's Government, is helping to increase collaboration between universities and technology companies in the delivery of key science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, including digital skills training. Institutes of Technology have universities and employers at the heart of their leadership. Many of the 12 Institutes of Technology that we have already announced are specialising in digital skills, involving major employers such as Microsoft. We plan to establish a comprehensive network of 20 Institutes of Technology nationwide and launched a 'wave 2' competition in October 2020 open to all regions of the country currently without an Institute of Technology. We will announce the outcome of the competition later this year.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
18th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Education Policy Institute Education recovery and resilience in England, published on 14 May, what assessment they have made of the benefit of allowing students the option to retake an academic year, in cases of extreme learning loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The degree of time away from school will be considered when schools are planning their support for pupils to catch up on lost education and development. The department does not anticipate that all pupils will need to repeat a school year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In exceptional circumstances it remains possible for headteachers to agree to a pupil repeating a school year if they think it is appropriate.

In June 2021 we announced £1.4 billion of additional funding for education recovery.  This is in addition to the £1.7 billion already committed bringing total investment announced for education recovery over the past year to over £3 billion.

The package provides an additional £1.4 billion to support children aged 2 to 19 in schools, colleges and early years. This will provide an additional £1 billion for tutoring, which will allow us to provide up to 100 million hours of tuition for 5 to 19 year olds by 2024, targeting disadvantaged children and key subjects such as mathematics and English. We are also making available an extra £400 million to help provide 500,000 teacher training opportunities across the country, alongside professional development for early years practitioners.

In addition, schools or colleges will be able to offer students in year 13 a repeat year where they have been particularly badly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Funding for this will be met from existing departmental budgets.

This is the third major recovery intervention in the past year and comes on top of to the £1.7 billion already announced to support recovery to date. This package provides additional investment, building on the almost £550 million already announced for small group tuition, £200 million for secondary schools to deliver face to face summer schools this summer, a £650 million universal catch up premium for schools this year and a £302 million recovery premium next year.

This package is the next step towards recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. We are also launching a review of the evidence on extending the school and college day, to conclude in time for the Spending Review, alongside continuing to monitor how effectively pupils are catching up.

12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce the amount of unspent apprenticeship levy funds.

The apprenticeship levy is an important part of our reforms to apprenticeships, which are vital for our economic recovery. As well as funding new apprenticeships for levy-paying employers, income from the levy is used to fund new apprenticeships for employers that do not pay the levy, as well as existing apprentices that started in previous years. Levy-paying employers have 24 months in which to spend the funds available to them before they begin to expire on a rolling, month-by-month basis. Expired apprenticeship levy funds are not lost but are used to support apprenticeships in smaller employers and to cover the ongoing costs of apprentices already in training.

We continue to improve apprenticeships and to make it easier for employers to make full use of their levy funds. Levy-paying employers can transfer up to 25% of their annual funds to help support apprenticeship starts in their supply chain or to meet local skills needs. As announced at the Spending Review by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we are improving the apprenticeship levy transfer process so that, from August 2021, employers who pay the levy will be able to pledge funds for transfer to other employers, including small-medium enterprises (SMEs), supported by a new online service to match levy payers with SMEs.

In addition, we are making apprenticeships more flexible so that they better meet the needs of employers from all sectors. We continue to support employers by encouraging greater use of innovative apprenticeship training models, such as the front-loading of off-the-job training. We are also developing accelerated apprenticeships so that apprentices with substantial prior learning (e.g. T Level graduates) can complete an apprenticeship more quickly.

We are also introducing a £7 million fund from July 2021 to help employers in England set up and expand flexi-job apprenticeship schemes, enabling people to work across multiple projects with different employers and benefit from the high-quality long-term training that an apprenticeship provides. We are consulting with employers to seek views on our vision and on how flexi-job apprenticeship schemes can support the growth of apprenticeships in certain sectors and professions.

11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the National Tutoring Programme targets financially disadvantaged pupils.

The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) is currently available for schools during the 2020-21 academic year. Schools can access tuition support from approved Tuition Partners. For further information, schools can visit the NTP website: https://nationaltutoring.org.uk/.

The NTP is a key part of the government’s COVID-19 catch-up response and provides additional, targeted tuition support to disadvantaged children and young people who have been hardest hit from disruption to their education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Our delivery partner, the Education Endowment Foundation, has provided a guide to schools to ensure that they can make the most of the provision: https://nationaltutoring.org.uk/resources.

The programme is intended to support disadvantaged children who are eligible for pupil premium funding, but we recognise that the COVID-19 outbreak has affected many children's lives in many ways and there are different indicators of disadvantage to take into consideration. That is why teachers and head teachers have the flexibility to exercise their professional judgement to identify the pupils most likely to benefit from additional support. In addition to the support offered by Tuition Partners, we have placed over 1,000 Academic Mentors directly into some of our most disadvantaged schools to provide in-house tuition.

The Tuition Partners offer a good blend of national and regional providers that can offer support to schools across all regions in England. The programme ensures that support has been particularly targeted to regions with the largest numbers of disadvantaged pupils and in regions where access to tutoring has historically been low.

We continue to engage directly with head teachers, local networks of schools and national stakeholders to ensure that NTP support reaches as many disadvantaged pupils as possible.

28th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase the (1) quality, and (2) quantity, of continuing professional development training for teachers.

Due to shortage of time, it has not been possible to answer this question before the end of the Session. The Minister will write to the Member in due course.

28th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend the apprenticeship levy repayment timeframe to cover the duration of the period for which COVID-19 restrictions are in effect.

Due to shortage of time, it has not been possible to answer this question before the end of the Session. The Minister will write to the Member in due course.

27th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to include financial education into the national curriculum.

Due to shortage of time, it has not been possible to answer this question before the end of the Session. The Minister will write to the Member in due course.

27th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to allow workers without qualifications in the hospitality and tourism sector to qualify for free level 3 courses.

From 1 April, the government is supporting any adult who does not have A levels or equivalent qualifications to access almost 400 fully funded level 3 courses as part of free courses for jobs.

Adults working in the hospitality and tourism sector, who do not already have level 3 qualifications, are eligible to take up this offer. They can gain skills that are valuable across multiple sectors, including in hospitality and tourism, such as business management, accountancy or digital skills.

We are keeping the list of qualifications and the sector subject areas in scope under review to ensure that they adapt to the changing needs of the economy.

Qualifications not included in this offer will still be eligible for Advanced Learner Loans. Advanced Learner Loans are income-contingent loans that provide extensive coverage of regulated qualifications at level 3 to level 6, helping to meet the up-front tuition fees.

26th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Education Policy Institute Analysis paper: preliminary research findings on education recovery, published on 20 April; and what steps they are taking to ensure that educational recovery funding includes early years settings.

Due to shortage of time, it has not been possible to answer this question before the end of the Session. The Minister will write to the Member in due course.

26th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce an employment support scheme for recent university graduates.

The government recognises that a number of graduates will face particular challenges gaining employment due to the ongoing, adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UK labour market and economy.

Our economic priority is to protect jobs and livelihoods, which is why the government has put unprecedented measures in place to protect businesses and jobs. Our extensive support through the furlough scheme, which has been extended to September 2021, the Jobs Support Scheme, grants, loans, and tax cuts has protected thousands of businesses and millions of people.

The government is doing all it can to help people who are at the start of their career journey. As part of the government’s skills recovery package ‘Plan for Jobs’, we are investing an additional £32 million in the National Careers Service up to March 2022. By the end of financial year 2021-22, this investment will support delivery of individual careers advice for over 500,000 people whose jobs or education have been affected by the pandemic. This represents an increase of 22%. The Service has introduced a range of new initiatives to continue to support all customers, working with a wide range of partners to offer careers guidance activities designed to support employers, furloughed workers, graduates, students, those who have recently lost their jobs, and anyone whose career path has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Content on the National Careers Service website to support graduates includes information on graduate schemes and internships, sector-specific work experience, virtual work experience, virtual recruitment fairs, volunteering, developing soft skills, finding job vacancies, writing a CV and application form, telephone and video interviews, psychometric testing, using LinkedIn, gap years, and considering further study. On 29 September 2020, we added additional courses to the Skills Toolkit, covering digital, numeracy, and employability skills. The new content includes a range of courses to develop ‘work readiness’ skills that employers value in their new recruits.

The Department for Work and Pensions is aiming to have a nationwide network of 27,000 Work Coaches in place by the end of March 2021 to support jobseekers and match them with employers who are recruiting.

Many higher education providers have developed new and innovative ways to support students and graduates who are looking to continue their studies or to prepare for employment. The Department for Education is working with Universities UK, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, the Institute of Student Employers, the Office for Students, and the sector to understand what more we can do to support graduates who are looking to enter the labour market or continue their studies at this challenging time.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
21st Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of a delayed return to in-person attendance at universities on the mental health of students.

We recognise that many students are facing additional mental health challenges due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Protecting the wellbeing of higher education students is vital, and it is important that students can continue to access the mental health and wellbeing support that they need, both whilst learning remotely and when they return to in-person teaching.

We expect higher education providers to continue to support their students, which has included making support services accessible from a distance and reaching out to those students who are likely to be more vulnerable. We encourage students to stay in touch with their provider’s student support and welfare teams, as these services are likely to continue to be an important source of support.

My hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, has engaged with universities on this issue and has written to Vice Chancellors on numerous occasions, outlining that student welfare should remain a priority. She has also convened a working group of representatives from the higher education and health sectors specifically to address the current and pressing issues that students are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

My hon. Friends, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families and the Minister of State for Universities, have also convened a Mental Health in Education Action Group. The group will drive action to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people as they return to educational settings and will provide enhanced support for transitions between educational settings in the autumn.

We have worked with the Office for Students (OfS) to provide Student Space, which has been funded by up to £3 million by the OfS. Student Space is a mental health and wellbeing platform designed to bridge any gaps in support for students arising from this unprecedented situation. It is designed to work alongside existing services and provides dedicated, one-to-one telephone, text, and web chat facilities as well as a collaborative online platform providing vital mental health and wellbeing resources. The platform has been extended to cover the whole 2020/21 academic year.

We have also worked with the OfS to clarify that universities and other higher education providers can draw upon existing funding from the student premium to increase their hardship funds for students. We have made an additional £85 million of student hardship funding available to higher education providers in the 2020/21 academic year. Furthermore, we have asked the OfS to allocate £15 million towards student mental health in 2021/22, through proposed reforms to Strategic Priorities grant funding, to help address the challenges to student mental health posed by the transition to university, given the increasing demand for mental health services. This will target those students in greatest need of such services, including vulnerable groups and hard-to-reach students.

As part of the mental health recovery action plan, the government has provided an additional £13 million to ensure that young adults aged 18 to 25, including university students, are supported with tailored mental health services.

Students struggling with their mental health can also access support via online resources from the NHS, Public Health England via the Every Mind Matters website and the mental health charity Mind: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/ and https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/student-mental-health-during-coronavirus/.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
20th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address the reported digital learning divide; and what plans they have to increase funding for technology within schools.

As part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. To date, over 1.29 million laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities and further education providers.

The department has also partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children to have online access as well as delivering 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home.

We are building on the foundations of the department’s significant investment in technology and exploring future options, which we will set out in due course.

20th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that BAME communities receive apprenticeship outreach information.

Apprenticeships benefit people of all ages and backgrounds, and we want to ensure that more people from underrepresented backgrounds can undertake them, particularly those that offer higher wage returns and progression opportunities.

We are working with some of the country’s most influential employers through our Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network, which consists of over 85 employers, to promote best practice in recruiting and supporting apprentices from diverse backgrounds. We are building on this work to ensure that we continue to see an improved representation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds starting apprenticeships, especially in sectors that carry historic under-representation. The Network will report during National Apprenticeship Week 2022 on how to better reach out to target communities and improve on-programme retention.

To increase the outreach of information of apprenticeships to students of all backgrounds, we are promoting apprenticeships in schools through our Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge programme. This free service provides schools and teachers with resources and interventions to help better educate young people about apprenticeships.

The department is co-funding, along with the Home Office, a series of activity delivered by the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation. This work includes supporting young people, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds, into level 3 advanced technical digital apprenticeships using the Foundation’s extensive network of contacts and partners. The Careers and Enterprise Company supports schools and colleges to connect with employers so that young people have opportunities to explore all available options. These interactions aim to increase their knowledge of a range of career possibilities and training options, including apprenticeships. We committed in our Skills for Jobs white paper to improve the careers information available to young people and adults by updating the National Careers Service website to bring together all information on learning and careers routes available, such as apprenticeships. We will introduce interactive careers maps, which will show the occupations and careers options that technical or higher technical options can open the door to.

The Baker Clause requires all maintained schools and academies to publish a policy statement setting out opportunities for providers of technical education – including taught courses and apprenticeships – to visit schools to talk to all year 8 to 13 pupils, and to make sure the statement is followed. In the Skills for Jobs white paper, we committed to introduce a 3-point-plan to enforce the Baker Clause. We will consult shortly on proposals to strengthen the legislation. Subject to the outcome of the consultation, we plan to introduce these changes alongside tougher formal action against non-compliance and making government-funded careers support for schools conditional on Baker Clause compliance.

20th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of (1) the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, and (2) the COVID-19 pandemic, on demand for primary school places.

Between 2010 and 2020, the primary school population grew 17%. The latest national pupil projections show the primary population being projected to decrease steadily throughout the next period.

It is too early to know what impact the COVID-19 outbreak or the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) may have on demand for primary school places. National offer day for primary school entry in September 2021 was on 16 April 2021 and application preference data is currently being collected from schools and local authorities for publication in June 2021. This will be the first application data collected following the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the COVID-19 outbreak.

The School Capacity Survey 2021 will take place later in the year. This will ask local authorities for pupil forecasts for the next five years. This year, additional guidance has been provided to help local authorities take account of EU Exit and COVID-19 effects, such as migration. Our advisors work closely with local authorities using this data to address capacity shortfalls and surpluses in schools.

19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of current teacher workload on future retention rates.

The government recognises the pressure that teachers and leaders in schools and colleges are under and is enormously grateful to them for their continued efforts, resilience, and service throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

The department is committed to ensuring that we continue to attract, retain and develop the high-quality teachers we need to teach the next generation. We are continuing the delivery of the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, published in January 2019. This includes commitments to reduce teacher workload, improve continuing professional development, and promote greater opportunities for flexible working.

The department recognises that workload is consistently cited as one of the main reasons given by teachers for leaving the profession. We have taken action to address teacher workload, working with the profession, to tackle longstanding issues as well as the current challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have published a range of resources to help reduce unnecessary workload. For example, the successful school workload reduction toolkit, which helps leaders identify and tackle the drivers of unnecessary workload. The toolkit is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/reducing-school-workload.

We have seen encouraging examples of schools identifying and addressing workload challenges by using the toolkit, as shown in the report of a project run by the department and the Education Development Trust, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reducing-teacher-workload-education-development-trust-report.

The department is continuing to work with teaching unions, teachers, and Ofsted to challenge and remove unhelpful practices that create unnecessary workload, to support the school recovery period.

14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reduce school class sizes once restrictions in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic have been lifted.

The government has no plans to alter legislation on class sizes. Evidence does not show that smaller classes in the junior and secondary phases of education have an impact on attainment outcomes. Research has shown that smaller class sizes in the early years of school have a modest positive impact on attainment and behaviour. As such, legislation limits the size of an infant class to 30 pupils per teacher. Whilst there are limited exceptions to this rule, the average size of an infant class is 26.9 – well below the statutory limit.

The average size of all primary classes, including for infants, remains stable at 27.0 pupils, despite an increase of almost 800,000 pupils in the system since 2010.

There is no statutory limit to the size of secondary classes. It is up to secondary schools to decide on the organisation of such classes based on local needs and circumstances, ensuring they are consistent with raising attainment and helping pupils to achieve their potential. Average secondary class size remains low at only 22.0 pupils.

14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the briefing paper by the UCL Institute of Education The darkest hour? New evidence of the learning experiences, well-being and expectations of youth during the third national lockdown in the UK, published on 2 April; and what steps they are taking to increase the acquisition of work skills through education.

Education Recovery

Many young people have lost a significant amount of learning during the COVID-19 outbreak. We recognise the importance of supporting this group of young people to help them catch up. This is especially critical for those young people moving from school into further education. We introduced catch-up funding to support those disadvantaged 16-19 students whose studies have been disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak, allocating up to £96 million to provide small group tutoring activity. We have extended this with further investment of £102 million into the 2021/22 academic year.

We are investing a further £102 million to continue the 16-19 Tuition Fund in the 2021/22 academic year. As a result, hundreds of thousands of young people will be eligible for valuable tuition to help them recover lost learning caused by COVID-19-related disruption. Within the eligible cohort, providers will have discretion to target those students who need support most. As further evidence emerges, we will consider if refinements to eligibility for future funding are needed to maximise its value and impact in providing catch-up support for 16-19 students.

Wellbeing & Disadvantage

Further education (FE) providers provide mental health support to students in their wrap around, pastoral offer. This includes a number of initiatives supported by the Department for Education, including the ‘Wellbeing for Education Return’ - an £8 million scheme funding expert advisers and training in every local authority area to support wellbeing recovery as children and young people returned to school and FE from September 2020 and the £5.4million College Collaboration Fund helping colleges to develop new ways to support student and staff mental health and wellbeing, details of which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/college-collaboration-fund-ccf-projects/resources-college-collaboration-fund-ccf.

As part of the £350 million tutoring support funding announced in June 2020, we made available a one-off, ring-fenced 16-19 Tuition Fund of up to £96 million for the academic year 2020/21.  The 16-19 Tuition Fund is specifically for FE and sixth form colleges, school sixth forms and other providers of 16-19 education, to support disadvantaged students.

Skills

The ‘Skills for Jobs’ White Paper, published in January 2021, sets out our blueprint to reform post-16 education and training. It is focused on giving people the skills they need, in a way that suits them, so they can get great jobs in sectors the economy needs and boost this country’s productivity.

A range of provision is already available for young people aged 16 to 24 to equip them with the skills and experience they need to progress, including Traineeships, which provide unemployed young people with employability training, work experience and English and Maths.

We have also launched T Levels, which are a high-quality technical alternative to A levels. With longer teaching hours and a meaningful industry placement of minimum 45 days, employer-designed T Levels will be excellent preparation for skilled work or further training.

We recognise the vital role that further education plays in supporting our labour market and productivity, as well preparing young people for higher education.

Through the Plan for Jobs, we are investing £1.6 billion to scale up employment support schemes and training to ensure young people have the skills and training to go on to high quality, secure and fulfilling employment. This funding is delivering real change on the ground, including through the new Kickstart scheme providing six-month jobs for young people furthest from the labour market, incentive payments for employers taking on new apprentices; the largest ever expansion in Traineeships; and considerable growth in the number of sector-based work academy programme placements to enable unemployed individuals to acquire the skills needed for local jobs.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has announced £375 million for the National Skills Fund at Spending Review in November 2020. This includes £95 million funding for a new level 3 adult offer and £43 million for Skills Bootcamps, as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee. Currently, adults between the ages of 19 to 23 are eligible for full funding for their first full level 3, which is equivalent to an advanced technical certificate or diploma, or two full A levels. From April 2021 any adult aged 24 and over who is looking to achieve their first full level 3 will be able to access a fully funded course which will give them new skills and greater prospects in the labour market.

We have also introduced Skills Bootcamps, which are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. Skills Bootcamps have the potential to transform the skills landscape for adults and employers. Skills Bootcamps are open to all adults aged 19 or over, who are either in work or recently unemployed.

Higher Education

For students in higher education (HE), following the review announced in the Roadmap of when all higher education students can return to in-person teaching, the government confirms that remaining students on non-practical courses should return to in-person teaching alongside step 3 of the Roadmap which will be no earlier than 17 May.

We understand the difficulty that this further delay will create for students and their families, as well as providers and staff both financially and in terms of mental wellbeing. The government is making a further £15 million of additional student hardship funding available for this academic year 2020/21.

In total we have made an additional £85 million of funding available for student hardship. This is on top of the £256 million of government funded student premium funding already available to HE providers to draw on towards student hardship funds for this academic year 2020/21. Alongside this, we have worked with the Office for Students to launch the online mental health platform Student Space, worth up to £3 million, in addition to the £15 million we have asked them to allocate to student mental health initiatives next year.

Education and skills lie at the heart of our national mission as we recover from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. It is critical, not only for this generation of young people, but also for the economic and social health of the nation.

13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of a potential extension of the academic year on the mental health of (1) staff, and (2) pupils.

The government recognises the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted on mental health and is committed to supporting children’s and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during this period. Schools can already use their additional funding from the COVID-19 catch-up package for pastoral support for mental wellbeing where pupils need it. We have also set up Wellbeing for Education Return, an £8 million scheme funding expert advisers and training in every local authority area to support education staff to respond to the emotional and mental health pressures.

The government has appointed Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner to oversee the long-term plan. Sir Kevan will engage with parents, pupils and teachers to develop this proposal and review how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact the COVID-19 outbreak has had on education. We are considering all options to address lost education, including time in education, to ensure the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is addressed as comprehensively as possible. In doing so, we are mindful of the need to manage teacher workload, and staff and pupil mental health, whilst also examining the benefits of change.

The department will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on pupils and staff and their needs to help target support across the system effectively.

12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that secondary schools are equipped to help new pupils with basic literacy.

The government is committed to continuing to raise literacy standards, particularly those of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. English is fundamental to education and provides the knowledge and skills pupils need to communicate with others, both in school and in the wider world. English provides opportunities for pupils to develop these key communication skills through work on spoken language, reading and writing.

English is a core subject of the National Curriculum and is a requirement from age 5 to 16. The National Curriculum was revised, and programmes of study came into effect from September 2014. The programmes of study are designed to ensure that all pupils acquire a wide vocabulary, a good understanding of grammar, and proper knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading and writing. Further information on the National Curriculum can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study.

The English Language GCSE provides all students with robust foundations in reading and good written English, and with the language and literary skills which are required for further study and work. The English Literature GCSE rewards students for engaging with a wider range of literature at a deeper level.

To further support English attainment at the end of secondary school, all students aged 16-19 on study programmes of 150 hours or more who do not hold a GCSE grade 4 or above in English are required to continue to study, this is called the Condition of Funding and further information on this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/16-to-19-funding-maths-and-english-condition-of-funding#:~:text=The%20qualifications%20that%20meet%20the,and%20'stepping%20stone'%20qualifications.&text=From%20academic%20year%202019%20to,GCSE%20grade%209%20to%204. Students with a prior attainment of grade 2 or below can study a level 2 Functional Skills or a GCSE. Those with a grade 3 must study GCSEs only. Achievement in level 2 English is also an exit requirement in T Levels and apprenticeships.

To support the work of schools in delivering remote education, Oak National Academy was very quickly brought together by over 40 teachers, their schools and other education organisations. The Department has made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy both for the summer term of the academic year 2019/20, and then for the 2020/21 academic year, to provide video lessons in a broad range of subjects, including English for 5- to 16-year-olds. Further details on Oak National Academy can be found here: https://www.thenational.academy/.

Furthermore, the £1 billion catch-up funding announced in June 2020 included a new £350 million National Tutoring Programme (NTP) which provides additional, targeted support for those children and young people who have been hardest hit from disruption to their education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The NTP is an ambitious scheme that will increase access to high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged children and young people. NTP provision will continue for another academic year (2021/22) and we expect the programme to continue supporting those pupils that need the most help to catch up. Further details on the NTP can be found here: https://nationaltutoring.org.uk/.


In addition, as part of a wider recovery package to support children and young people of all ages in catching up on missed learning and development due to the COVID-19 outbreak, £200 million will be made available to secondary schools to deliver face-to-face summer schools this year. Schools are free to identify the pupils most in need of a summer school, although we recommend a focus on incoming Year 7 pupils. Pupils leaving primary school this year may have missed a significant proportion of Key Stage 2 face-to-face teaching and therefore missed valuable preparation for secondary education. They are likely to need additional support with English, for example, to make it easier for them to access the secondary curriculum. A summer school gives an opportunity to offer that face-to-face support before they start a new school, but also offers an important opportunity to support pupils’ wellbeing. Further details on summer schools can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/kick-start-for-summer-school-and-activities.

24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what schemes are available to students on vocational courses to assist them in gaining employment.

The ‘Skills for Jobs’ white paper, published in January 2021, sets out our blueprint to reform post-16 education and training. It is focused on giving people the skills they need, in a way that suits them, so they can get great jobs in sectors the economy needs and boost this country’s productivity.

Building on the success of our flagship apprenticeships programme, we are putting employers at the heart of the system so education and training meets their needs. By 2030, almost all technical courses will be on employer-led standards, ensuring that the education and training people receive are directly linked to the skills needed for jobs.

A range of provision is already available for young people aged 16 to 24 to equip them with the skills and experience they need to progress, including Traineeships, which provide unemployed young people with employability training, work experience, English and maths.

We have also launched T Levels, which are a high quality technical alternative to A levels. With longer teaching hours and a meaningful industry placement of minimum 45 days, employer-designed T Levels will be excellent preparation for skilled work or further training.

In July 2020, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a £500 million package of support to ensure young people can access the training, and develop the skills they will need to go on to high-quality, secure, and fulfilling employment including: incentive payments for employers to take on apprentices; tripling the number of Traineeships; and an additional £17 million in the 2020/21 financial year to support an increase in the number of sector-based work academy programme placements. This additional funding will enable unemployed individuals acquire the skills needed for local jobs.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer also announced £375 million for the National Skills Fund in the Spending Review in November 2020. This includes £95 million funding for a new level 3 adult offer which includes over 400 technical and vocational courses available from 1 April 2021 and £43 million for Skills Bootcamps, as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

Previously, only adults between the ages of 19 to 23 were eligible for full funding for their first full level 3, which is equivalent to an advanced technical certificate or diploma, or two full A levels. From April 2021, any adult aged 24 and over who is looking to achieve their first full level 3 is now able to access a fully funded course which will give them new skills and greater prospects in the labour market

We have also introduced Skills Bootcamps, which are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. Skills Bootcamps have the potential to transform the skills landscape for adults and employers. Skills Bootcamps are open to all adults aged 19 or over, who are either in work or recently unemployed.

24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to expand the capacity of the National Tutoring Programme.

In summer 2020, as part of the initial £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package, we announced the £350 million National Tutoring Programme (NTP) to help tackle the impact of lost teaching time. As schools continue to face unprecedented challenges, the NTP has been designed to help ease the burden on teachers and school leaders and support them in helping those pupils who have missed out the most.

To date, since its launch in November 2020, over 155,000 pupils and 4,000 schools have enrolled for tuition support with the NTP Tuition Partners. Over 20,000 tutors are now supporting pupils across England and our aim is to provide tuition to over 250,000 pupils this academic year. This is in addition to placing over 1,000 Academic Mentors in our most disadvantaged schools to provide tuition to pupils that need the most help to catch-up.

The NTP ensures that additional support has been allocated to regions with the largest numbers of disadvantaged pupils, and in regions where access to tutoring has historically been lower. The Tuition Partners offer a good blend of national and regional providers, which can offer support to schools across all regions in England.

We are extending the programme further to provide tuition in the next academic year. This will help us continue to deliver high quality tutoring, which will benefit even more disadvantaged pupils. In February 2021, the government announced a further allocation of £83 million to assist in expanding the 2021/22 programme. The new funding enables the NTP to reach hundreds of thousands more disadvantaged pupils in the next academic year. We are currently undertaking a procurement process for a delivery partner for next year’s programme.

23rd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with universities regarding (1) the technical skills, and (2) the employability, of graduates; and what steps they are taking to increase practical work experience opportunities for young people.

Since the announcement of our Higher Technical Education reforms in July 2020, we have engaged with a number of universities. Whilst we want to see further education colleges expanding their higher technical provision, we also want universities to offer more higher technical qualifications or apprenticeships, which are a more focused and better targeted route for students, employers, and the economy.

Many universities are already delivering higher, level 6 plus, and degree apprenticeships. We regularly engage with the higher education sector, including via higher education provider representative bodies, to encourage more universities to work with employers to deliver apprenticeship training wherever there is employer need.

We recognise that a number of education leavers will face challenges gaining employment due to the ongoing adverse impact on the UK labour market and economy of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government is doing all it can to help people who are at the start of their career journey. The Department for Work and Pensions has successfully recruited over 13,500 new work coaches by end of March 2021. This will ensure that high quality work search support is available to those who need it. The Office for Students’ Local Graduates competition has awarded £5.6 million to 16 projects across England to help graduates into local employment opportunities.

As part of the government’s Skills Recovery package plan for jobs announced on 8 July 2020, we are investing an additional £32 million in the National Careers Service up to March 2022. This investment will provide individual careers advice for 269,000 more people whose jobs or learning have been affected by COVID-19.

The Skills Toolkit has free courses to help graduates to learn new skills, including general skills that apply to all sectors and more specialised skills. In September 2020 we added additional courses to The Skills Toolkit with new content including a range of courses to develop ‘work readiness’ skills that employers report they value in their new recruits.

The Department for Education is working with Universities UK, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, the Institute of Student Employers, the Office for Students, and the sector to understand what more we can do to support graduates who are looking to enter the labour market or continue their studies at this challenging time. The Office for Students’ Local Graduates competition has awarded £5.6 million to 16 projects across England to help local graduates into local employment opportunities.

Work experience is important for getting into any career. The careers statutory guidance makes it clear that schools should offer work placements, work experience and other employer-based activities as part of their careers strategy for year 8-13 pupils and that secondary schools should offer every young person at least seven encounters with employers during their education.

We are providing valuable support to schools and colleges to provide work experience through The Careers and Enterprise Company, which has been given the task of increasing access to work experience for young people. Guidance around work experience can also be found on the National Careers Service website.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that children with special educational needs in disadvantaged areas receive the required support.

Our ambition is for every child, no matter what challenges they face, to have access to a world-class education that sets them up for life. Supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is a priority for us, especially at this time.

The cross-government SEND Review is looking at ways to improve the SEND system across the country, including how to ensure better outcomes for children and young people with SEND. Our ambition is to publish proposals for public consultation in the spring.

We have already announced a major investment in special needs education, including an additional £730 million for those children and young people with high needs in the 2021-22 financial year, coming on top of the additional £780 million in the 2020-21 financial year, which means high needs budgets will have grown by over £1.5 billion, nearly a quarter, in just 2 years. The funding formula used for allocations of high needs funding includes factors designed to target more funding to disadvantaged areas.

We are also supporting local SEND services. On 10 February 2021, we announced over £42 million of funding for projects to support children and young people with SEND in financial year 2021-22. This investment will ensure that specialist organisations around the country can continue their work to help strengthen local area performance, support families and provide practical support to schools and colleges. It will strengthen participation of parents and young people in the SEND system – ensuring they have a voice in designing policies and services and have access to high quality information, advice and support. It includes £27.3 million specifically to support families on low incomes raising children with disabilities or serious illnesses.

Finally, we recognise that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a particular impact on children and young people. We are committed to helping all pupils, including those with SEND, make up learning lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Sir Kevan Collins has been appointed as the Education Recovery Commissioner and is considering how schools and the system can more effectively target resources and support at pupils in greatest need. This includes £1.7 billion in funding to support education recovery. In June 2020 we announced a £1 billion catch-up package including a National Tutoring Programme and a Catch-up Premium for this academic year, and in February 2021 we committed to further funding of £700 million to fund summer schools, expansion of our tutoring programmes and a Recovery Premium for next academic year. Funding will support pupils across early years settings, schools, and colleges.

23rd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that local skills improvement plans will meet the skills gaps in each local authority.

Business representative organisations will be given the leading role in developing Local Skills Improvement Plans in trailblazer areas, informed by key stakeholders such as local authorities, so that they provide credible and evidence-based assessments of local skills gaps and priorities. The plans will bring colleges and other providers together to agree how skills gaps can best be filled, and our Strategic Development Funding will support colleges and other providers to do this in trailblazer local areas.

It is our intention to legislate to put the employer leadership of Local Skills Improvement Plans on a statutory footing, strengthening the voice of employers in local skills systems across the country. We will also consult on introducing new accountability structures to underpin their delivery.

22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Learning and Work Institute Disconnected? Exploring the digital skills gap, published on 22 March; and what steps they are taking to encourage more young people to enrol in further education IT courses.

Computing provides individuals with the knowledge and expertise to access the digital skills of the future.

This government wants every child in England to have access to a world-class computing education. That is why we created the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) in 2019, backed by £84 million of government funding, to improve the quality of computing teaching in England and drive-up participation to the computer science GCSE and A level. Since the NCCE’s creation, nearly 30,000 teachers have engaged with the programme.

The computer science GCSE was taken by over 77,000 pupils in 2019 and, from 2013 to 2019, was one of the fastest growing GCSE subjects. We recognise that some pupils who would previously have chosen to study information and communications technology (ICT), may not choose to study computer science due to the fundamental differences in content. In 2019, over 48,000 pupils took a level 2 ICT Technical Award, which are high quality equivalents to the computer science GCSE and are included in school performance tables.

The department is reviewing post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below, including ICT and digital qualifications, to ensure that every qualification approved for public funding has a distinct purpose, is high quality and supports progression to positive outcomes. Our aim is for clearer qualifications choices for young people and adults.

For 16 to 18 year olds, we are introducing T Levels as a new, high quality technical education route. T Levels in digital production, design and development are now being taught and will be followed by T Levels in digital support services and digital business services, from September this year.

For adults (19+) with no or low digital skills, we have introduced a legal entitlement to study new Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQs) at entry level and level 1 for free. EDSQs are a new qualification type, based on new national standards for essential digital skills, which will provide adults with the digital skills needed for life and work. We also continue to support the provision of basic digital skills training for adults in community learning settings through the Adult Education Budget.

Employers have continued to recognise the value apprentices bring to their businesses. Starts in the ICT sector subject area have increased per academic year from 15,470 in 2016/17 to 21,110 in 2018/19. In 2019/20, there were 18,230 starts.

In higher education, computer science degrees saw the largest percentage increase in new entrants at 7%, alongside Medicine and Dentistry and Business and Administrative Studies.

Outside of the education system, the department has invested £2.5 billion to deliver the National Skills Fund. As part of this, Skills Bootcamps are being delivered, which are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving adults aged 19 and over the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. In September 2020, bootcamps launched in 4 areas, initially focusing on digital skills such as software development, digital marketing and data analytics. Registrations opened in December 2020 for more bootcamps in three regions, and from April 2021, we are investing a further £43 million to extend further in England. These bootcamps will cover digital skills and technical skills training.

From April 2021, any adult aged 24 and over, looking to achieve a first full level 3 will be able to access a fully funded course, which will give them new skills and greater prospects in the labour market.

We will target this on subject areas that have strong outcomes at level 3 linked to labour market need, including a range of qualifications that are valuable across the economy in multiple sectors, such as digital skills, accountancy, and business skills.

17th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce the attainment gap between ethnic minority university students and other university students.

It is more crucial than ever before that we tap into the brilliant talent that our country has to offer, and make sure that university places are available to all who are qualified by ability and attainment to pursue them and who wish to do so.

All higher education providers wishing to charge higher levels fees must have an access and participation plan agreed by the Office for Students (OfS), the regulator for higher education. These plans set out how they will support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-represented groups, including students from ethnic minority backgrounds, to access, participate, and succeed in higher education and to progress from it.

On 11 March the OfS published the access and participation data dashboard, which is used to identify gaps in access, continuation, attainment, and progression at English providers delivering undergraduate provision by different student characteristics. This is available here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/data-and-analysis/access-and-participation-data-dashboard/.

A breakdown of attainment rates by ethnicity, comparing 2015/16 and 2019/20, is below. (Degree attainment in the 2019/20 academic year may have been affected by the pandemic as many providers adopted no-detriment policies for their students.)

Students achieving a first or upper-second class degree by ethnicity

English higher education providers

Academic years 2015/16 and 2019/20

Percentage achieving a first or upper-second class degree

Ethnicity

2015/16

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

2019/20

Asian

67.9%

70.6%

71.9%

71.4%

78.8%

Black

55.2%

57.3%

58.9%

60.1%

68.2%

Mixed

73.4%

75.3%

78.0%

77.4%

83.0%

Other

66.4%

68.1%

68.8%

67.9%

76.6%

White

79.9%

81.1%

82.0%

82.2%

86.6%

All ethnicities

75.8%

77.3%

78.3%

78.2%

83.4%

Source: Office for Students Access and Participation Dashboard

The OfS has set itself and the higher education sector targets to address longstanding inequalities, including to eliminate the gap in degree outcomes between white and black students.

Prior attainment is a key determinant of participation in higher education. This is why we are asking universities to take on a more direct role in raising attainment in schools, reaching out to people from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds to raise aspirations in schools.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
17th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the number of apprentices for which small businesses who do not pay the apprenticeship levy can claim cash incentives.

The government recognises the enormous value that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute to the UK economy. SMEs will play a key role as we look to rebuild from the effects of COVID-19, and to increase opportunities for young people to embark on apprenticeships.

In 2021-22 financial year, we are making available £2.5 billion to support apprenticeships in all employers, including employers that do not pay the levy who will continue to be able to reserve funding for 95% of apprenticeship training and assessment costs. From 1 April all SMEs arranging new apprenticeship starts will do so through the apprenticeship service, as levy payers do now, giving them more control over their apprenticeship choices and the ability to reserve funds before choosing the provider that best meets their needs.

From 1 April, all non-levy employer reservation levels will be reset to zero, enabling each employer who does not pay the levy to make up to 10 new reservations to fund new starts in the 2021-22 financial year. As part of the government's Plan for Jobs, we have increased the incentive payments to £3,000, meaning that employers who do not pay the levy will be able to reserve funds and claim incentive payments for up to 10 new apprentices hired between 1 April and 30 September 2021.

In 2020-21 financial year, funds transferred from employers who pay the levy to other employers are not included when measuring the number of reservations that smaller employers can make, so further incentive payments could be claimed for apprentices being funded through a transfer. From August 2021, levy-paying employers will be able to create a pledge of funds that they would like to make available for transfer. In August, we will also introduce a new online service to match levy payers with SMEs that share their business priorities allowing levy payers to support apprenticeships in their supply chains and help to meet local and regional skills needs.

16th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase the number of disabled people undertaking higher education courses.

Her Majesty's Government is committed to ensuring that all students with disabilities receive the support they need to enable them to study alongside their fellow students on an equal basis.

It is more important than ever that we tap into the brilliant talent that our country has to offer, and make sure that university places are available to all who are qualified by their academic ability and attainment to pursue them if they wish to do so.

Higher education providers wishing to charge higher levels fees (£9,250) must have an access and participation plan agreed by the Office for Students (OfS).

These plans set out how they will support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-represented groups – including students with disabilities – to access, to participate and succeed in higher education, and to progress from it. This includes setting targets where the provider identifies the inequalities that it intends to address.

The OfS has set itself and the sector a number of long-term target measures to reduce inequalities, including eliminating the gap in degree outcomes between students with and without disabilities.

The government expects all higher education providers to fulfil their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 to be making reasonable adjustments for all higher education students with disabilities.

Wherever possible, students with disabilities should expect to have their needs met through inclusive learning practices, and to have individual reasonable adjustments made by their higher education provider.

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is available to help students with the additional costs they may face because of their disability. It is not means-tested and does not have to be repaid. From the academic year 2021/22, eligible students will be able to access up to £25,000 a year in DSA support, with DSA-funded travel costs uncapped.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
16th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide environmental training to primary and secondary school teachers to ensure they are equipped to teach sustainable development.

The curriculum already includes a great deal about environmental and sustainability issues. From primary onwards, there is coverage of environmental matters in both the science and geography curricula. Under the key stage 2 non-statutory guidance for citizenship, pupils are taught about the wider world and the interdependence of communities within it. Pupils are taught that resources can be allocated in different ways and that these economic choices affect individuals, communities and the sustainability of the environment.

As the national curriculum is a framework setting out the content of what the department expects schools to cover in each subject, teachers have the flexibility and freedom to determine how they deliver the content in the way that best meets the needs of their pupils. They can choose to cover particular topics in greater depth if they wish and as knowledge of sustainability develops, teachers can adapt their school curricula for these subjects.

The department has made £4.84 million available for the Oak National Academy, both for the summer term of the 2019-20 academic year and for the 2020-21 academic year, to provide teachers with video lessons in a broad range of subjects for Reception up to year 11. These lessons and their accompanying resources include coverage of the environment, climate change and wider sustainability topics. To supplement their teaching, schools have access to a variety of resources on the teaching of science and geography.

10th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to include artificial intelligence awareness in the education curriculum.

The computing curriculum, introduced in 2014, aims to ensure that all pupils understand the fundamental principles of computer science, information technology and digital literacy.

As set out in the programme of study for the computing curriculum, computing has deep links with mathematics, science, and design and technology, and provides insights into both natural and artificial systems. The core of computing is computer science, in which pupils are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Further detail about the curriculum content is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-computing-programmes-of-study.

The curriculum was deliberately designed to avoid over prescription, and reduce the risk of the content becoming outdated, given the speed of development of digital skills and technological advance. Programming, algorithms, and the use of information technology, are taught to pupils in key stage 3, which provide the foundations for pupils to acquire further knowledge about artificial intelligence (AI).

This government wants every child in England to receive a world class computing education. That is why we created the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE), backed by £84 million of government funding, to improve the quality of computing teaching. The NCCE have created 500 hours of free, high quality teacher resources, which align to the computing curriculum. This includes a unit of learning on AI which is taught to year 8 pupils.

10th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support educational institutions in protecting themselves from cyber threats.

Education settings rely heavily on IT and online services to function. They also hold large amounts of sensitive personal data on pupils, parents and staff. All this and more needs to be kept safe and secure. Education settings are directly responsible for their own levels of security and data protection and need to ensure they have the appropriate security protections in place to safeguard their systems, data, staff and students. The department encourages all leadership in education to ensure institutional resilience, by taking proactive steps and following advice and guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the Department for Education.

The department has been working closely with the NCSC on developing updated advice and guidance to give leadership the best quality advice, such as advice for governors and trustees which is now included in the governors handbook. Furthermore, the department is developing a self-assessment tool for schools on cyber security for the next academic year, which will help highlight areas of potential weakness and what steps can be taken to mitigate cyber security risks.

The department will continue to work closely with the National Technical Authorities in this space to ensure that we provide targeted threat briefing to the education sector when issues emerge, as was done in September 2020 following a number of ransomware incidents in the education sector.

9th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to include funding for companies to train employees at further education colleges in the Apprenticeship Levy scheme.

In the 2021-22 financial year, funding available for investment in apprenticeships in England is £2.5 billion, double what was spent in 2010-11. Employers can use this funding for the training and assessment of apprentices and can choose a training provider from our Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers, which may be a further education college, to deliver the high-quality training they need.

From 1 April 2021, all small to medium-sized enterprises arranging new apprenticeship starts will do so through the apprenticeship service, as levy payers do now. This will give them more control over their apprenticeship choices and the ability to reserve funds before choosing the provider that best meets their needs.

9th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps, if any, they are taking to ensure that mental health literacy is part of all post 16 education programmes.

Further education (FE) providers provide mental health support to their students in their wrap around, pastoral offer. This includes several initiatives supported by the department. For example, the department set up the ‘Wellbeing for Education Return’ scheme, an £8 million scheme funding expert advisers and training in every local authority area to support wellbeing recovery as children and young people returned to school and FE from September 2020.

Some of the colleges funded through the £5.4 million College Collaboration Fund (CCF) are developing new ways to support student and staff mental health and wellbeing, including the ‘Let’s Chat’ programme developed by Weston College. Further information on the CCF is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/college-collaboration-fund-ccf-projects/resources-college-collaboration-fund-ccf. Once developed, these resources will be available to all further education providers online.

More recently we have announced a £79 million boost to children and young people’s mental health support, including through Mental Health Support Teams. The support teams – which provide early intervention on mental health and emotional wellbeing issues in schools and colleges – will grow from the 59 set up by last March to around 400 by April 2023, supporting nearly 3 million children and young people. This increase means that millions of children and young people will have access to significantly expanded mental health services.

We also know that some FE providers are creating their own innovative programmes to support student and staff mental health. The Sheffield College have rolled out their Uniheads mental health platform, which helps students develop good mental health knowledge and skills, build mental fitness and address poor mental health.

8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of a longer school day on the mental health of students.

The government is committed to helping all children and young people catch up on education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. In January 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, committed to work with parents, teachers, pupils and education providers to develop a long-term plan to help pupils make up their education over the course of this Parliament.

We have also appointed Sir Kevan Collins as the Education Recovery Commissioner to advise on this broader plan and we will say more on this in due course. The objectives of the Education Recovery Commissioner, as outlined in the terms of reference, are to advise on the design and implementation of potential interventions that will help students catch up education lost due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The terms of reference for the Education Recovery Commissioner are published here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/960070/Terms_of_reference.pdf#:~:text=Education%20Recovery%20Commissioner%3A%20role%20specification%20and%20terms%20of,approach%20for%20education%20recovery%2C%20with%20a%20particular%20focus.

The government is also committed to supporting children’s and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during this period. Schools can use their additional funding from the catch-up package for pastoral support for mental wellbeing where pupils need it.

We have also set up ‘Wellbeing for Education Return’, an £8 million scheme funding expert advisers and training in every local authority area to support education staff to respond to the emotional and mental health pressures some children and young people may be feeling because of COVID-19. Over 90% of local authority areas in England have reported that they are delivering additional training and support into local schools and further education providers because of this funding.

8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of remote learning on the attainment gap between students at state and private schools.

School and college teachers and leaders have made tremendous efforts to provide high-quality remote education to pupils and students throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

During the period of national restrictions, all primary schools, secondary schools and further education colleges in England were expected to provide remote education for the majority of their pupils and students. From 8 March 2021, schools affected by the remote education temporary continuity direction are still required to provide remote education for pupils where their attendance would be contrary to government guidance or legislation around COVID-19: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/remote-education-temporary-continuity-direction-explanatory-note. This includes, for example, where such guidance means that a class, group, or small number of pupils need to self-isolate or that clinically extremely vulnerable children need to shield.

Independent schools (not including academies) are not all covered by the remote education temporary continuity direction, however they have been expected to meet the Independent School Standards in full at all times. This includes the requirement to meet all of the education requirements set out in part 1 of the Independent School Standards.

We have commissioned an independent research and assessment agency (Renaissance Learning) to provide a baseline assessment of catch-up needs for pupils in schools in England and monitor progress over the course of the year to help us target support across the system.

The department’s research on lost education has produced interim findings based on more than 400,000 Renaissance Learning reading and maths assessments taken in the first autumn half-term of 2020-21, published here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pupils-progress-in-the-2020-to-2021-academic-year-interim-report.

The research shows that, in autumn 2020, pupils in years 3 to 9 were between 1.6 and 2 months behind their expected level in reading, and pupils in years 3 to 7 were around 3 months behind their expected level in maths, underlining the need for the targeted support announced. The study does not analyse differences in independent school pupils’ and state school pupils’ attainment.

The government is committed to helping all children and young people make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. As an immediate step, we have made available £1.7 billion in funding to support education recovery for pupils across early years settings, schools and colleges.

We have also appointed Sir Kevan Collins as the Education Recovery Commissioner to advise on the approach of education recovery and the development of a long-term plan to help pupils make up their education over the course of this Parliament.

8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the retention of school headteachers is improved.

Retaining the best headteachers is vital to improving pupil outcomes and delivering an excellent education for all children.

In order to provide leaders with the best evidence-based training and the support they need to be successful, we are reforming 3 existing National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) in senior leadership, headship and executive leadership.

To further support those taking an NPQ in Headship, we are also offering a tailored support package for new headteachers in their first 2 years of headship when they are at their least experienced and most at risk of leaving the profession. Improving understanding of what works in schools and of what great leadership looks like will support school leaders in feeling well equipped to deal with challenges while helping to reduce the workload burden.

8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide additional financial support to outdoor educational centres.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods across the UK, and support businesses and public services. The government has provided over £280 billion through small business grants, COVID-19 loan guarantee schemes, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), deferral of VAT and income tax payments, and more. The measures introduced have been designed to be accessible to businesses in most sectors and across the UK.

In January 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced an extension to the deadline for applications of the Bounce Back Loan scheme and other loan schemes until 31 March 2021. Further measures were announced in the Budget 2021 on 3 March including the extension of the CJRS until the end of September 2021, and increased support for the self-employed through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grants, with a fifth grant available from July 2021, and the Recovery Loans Scheme launching to make finance available to help businesses of all sizes through the next stage of recovery. More details of the scheme will be announced in due course.

The government will continue to work closely with local authorities, businesses, business representative organisations, and the financial services sector to monitor the implementation of current support and understand whether there is additional need.

The government encourages businesses who are unable to access support or who are unsure of the support available to access free tailored advice through the Business Support Helpline via the Business Support website at: www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline or through local Growth Hubs in England: www.lepnetwork.net/local-growth-hub-contacts. Businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can access business support through the devolved governments.

2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Education Policy Institute, Measuring the disadvantage gap in 16–19 education, published on 1 March; and what steps they are taking to reduce the A-Level attainment gap of disadvantaged students.

Promoting good educational outcomes for disadvantaged children and young people is a key priority for the government. We carefully consider evidence that helps to achieve this and will take note of the findings of this report by the Education Policy Institute.

This report concludes that, while there is a gap in attainment between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged young people by age 16, this gap widens further in 16-19 education. We already have specific initiatives to support the attainment of disadvantaged children and young people at each stage and will continue to seek to improve the effectiveness of these policies.

The national funding formula (NFF) for schools provides significant extra funding for schools that have more pupils with additional needs, using measures of deprivation and low prior attainment. Through the NFF in financial year 2021-22 we will provide a total of £6.4 billion targeted at schools with higher numbers of pupils with additional needs, including deprivation.

Since 2011 we have also been providing extra funding - £2.4 billion this financial year alone - through the pupil premium for school leaders to narrow the disadvantage attainment gap for young people before they turn 16 and enter college or sixth form.

The NFF for 16-19 year olds includes extra funding for disadvantaged students which is provided to institutions specifically for students with low prior attainment, or who live in the most disadvantaged areas. In academic year 2020/2021, we have allocated over £530 million to enable colleges, schools and other providers to support, attract and retain disadvantaged 16 to 19 year olds and to support students with special education needs and disabilities. We show separately how well disadvantaged students are achieving at 16-19 in published school and college performance data, to encourage a focus on helping these young people make the best possible progress.

We encourage schools and colleges to use the most effective approaches to support the attainment of disadvantaged young people and set up the Education Endowment Foundation to gather and disseminate evidence on this.

10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the ability of universities to deliver adequate technical skills training.

The government intends to transform technical education and training, which will have a pivotal role in building back better.

As a key part of this, we want to invest in and increase the take-up of approved higher technical qualifications to meet the skills needs of the economy. Higher education providers, further education colleges, and independent training providers will all have a role to play in this. Last year we published reforms which aim to make higher technical education a more high-quality, prestigious, and popular choice – and those reforms are now well underway. In the recent Skills for Jobs White Paper, we built on these reforms, committing to stimulate the provision of high-quality higher technical education as we work towards making it as easy to get a student finance loan for an approved higher technical qualification as it is for a full-length degree. The details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pioneering-reforms-to-boost-skills-and-jobs.

In order to be registered with the Office for Students, the independent regulator of higher education in England, higher education providers are required to meet a minimum set of requirements which are designed to ensure that all students receive a high-quality academic experience, that students’ interests are protected, and that students’ qualifications hold their value over time.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase participation rates of people from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities in apprenticeship programmes.

Apprenticeships benefit people of all ages and backgrounds, and we want to ensure that more people from underrepresented backgrounds can undertake them, particularly those that offer higher wage returns and progression opportunities.

We are pleased to have seen positive outcomes in the representation of people from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background in apprenticeships, with a particular increase in the proportion of higher-level apprenticeship starts. In the 2019/20 academic year apprentices from BAME backgrounds accounted for 13.3% starts compared to 12.5% starts in 2018/19. At higher levels, level 4 and above, BAME representation exceeds the national working age population, sitting at 16% for 2019/20 academic year.

During National Apprenticeship Week 2021, we announced the new chair of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network, my hon. Friend, the Member for Great Grimsby, Lia Nici, who will be responsible for setting and shaping the network’s objectives, working alongside the department.

The network champions apprenticeships and diversity amongst employers and encourages people from underrepresented groups, including those with disabilities, women and people from BAME backgrounds, to consider apprenticeships. It currently has 88 members including Channel 4, Siemens Plc, Lloyds Banking Group and several NHS Trusts.

We are building on this work to ensure that we continue to see improved representation of people from BAME backgrounds starting apprenticeships, especially in sectors that carry historic under-representation. We will work closely with these sectors to understand why this is the case, and to co-develop targeted solutions. We will also be working extensively with employers, with a particular focus on small to medium sized businesses, to understand what barriers they face in taking on apprentices and how they can support apprentices from different backgrounds. We will also be working closely with BAME representative groups to further understand how to retain and support progress for people from BAME backgrounds.

To encourage those from underrepresented groups to consider apprenticeships, we are promoting apprenticeships in schools across England through our Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge programme. This free service provides schools and teachers with resources and interventions to help better educate young people about apprenticeships and traineeships.

10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend National Skills Fund allocations beyond July 2021.

We are investing £375 million in the financial year 2021-22 for the National Skills Fund, as announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the Spending Review in November 2020. This includes £95 million funding for a new level 3 adult offer and £43 million for Skills Bootcamps.

The new level 3 adult offer will support any adult aged 24 and over who wants to achieve their first full level 3 qualification – equivalent to two A levels, or an advanced technical certificate or diploma – to access around 400 fully funded courses. This offer will be available from April 2021.

Funding for this national offer will be delivered to providers via the Adult Education Budget process. It will be administered through the Education Skills Funding Agency for residents of non-devolved areas, and by Mayoral Combined Authorities and the Greater London Authority for residents in those areas.

Adult funding allocations for the academic year starting August 2021, for providers funded through a grant funding agreement, are expected to be issued by the end of March 2021 and will include the National Skills Fund level 3 adult offer for learners resident in non-devolved areas. For providers who do not receive an up-front allocation funding for April 2021 to July 2021, arrangements about how to access this funding will be included in the 2021-22 funding and performance management rules (when published in the spring).

To access funding from August 2021 onwards, Independent Learning Providers with a contract for service and providers that wish to bid for a contract for service to supplement any grant funding can submit a bid under the Education and Skills Funding Agency tender which was launched on 5 February 2021 and closes on 22 March 2021. It will award Adult Education Budget contracts for services for the delivery of education and training, and will also include the level 3 adult offer, to learners resident in non-devolved areas. The contracts will start on 1 August 2021 and run for the 2021-22 academic year.

We plan to consult on the future of the National Skills Fund in spring 2021 to ensure that the fund helps adults learn valuable skills and prepares them for the economy of the future.

9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants Mind the Skills Gap, published on 2 December 2020.

'Mind the Skills Gap', published on 2 December 2020 by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), provides a helpful snapshot of some skills and training issues that employers face as a result of COVID-19.

The timing of this report is useful in aiding our understanding of business and employee behaviours and perspectives on skills and training, especially with regard to how they may have altered in the last 12 months as a result of COVID-19.

The report shows that the proportion of employers providing training and professional development for their staff has remained broadly stable since we gathered similar information in the Employer Skills Survey 2019, though a greater number reported identifying skills gaps, potentially as a result of COVID-19 altering business requirements and practices.

It is unclear whether this difference is solely due to the impacts of COVID-19 or is a result of the more focused scope of the CIMA survey. It covers 1023 small and medium-sized businesses (10-249 staff employed), whereas the Employer Skills Survey engages with 70,000 employers of all sizes across England.

The next wave of the Employer Skills Survey is this year, which will provide an updated and more detailed understanding of skills needs and investment and training behaviour. In addition, the Skills for Jobs white paper sets out reforms to post-16 technical education and training to support people to develop the skills needed to get good jobs and improve national productivity.

9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Sutton Trust Learning in Lockdown, published in January; and what steps they are taking to assist schools in targeting resources to disadvantaged children.

The government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people.

The data for the Sutton Trust report was collected at the start of the new term. Since then, the department has substantially increased delivery of devices to support vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils with remote learning. Already since the start of this scheme, over one million laptops and tablets have been delivered to schools, academy trusts, local authorities and further education providers to date.

We have also partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online as well as delivering over 60,000 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home and buying more for issues.

Where remote education is needed and pupils continue to experience barriers to digital remote education, we expect schools to work to overcome these barriers. This could include distributing school-owned laptops or supplementing digital provision with different forms of remote education such as printed resources or textbooks. This should be supplemented with other forms of communication to keep pupils and students on track or answer questions about work.

We have introduced a new £350 million National Tutoring Programme for disadvantaged pupils and students. This will increase access to high quality tuition for disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people, helping to accelerate their academic progress and tackling the attainment gap between them and their peers.

As part of the National Tutoring Programme, schools in the most disadvantaged areas are being supported to employ in-house Academic Mentors to provide tuition to their pupils. During this period of national restrictions, as members of school staff, we expect mentors to continue providing tuition support to pupils in line with their school's policies.

8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that there is equitable access to BTEC qualifications.

The department is reviewing post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below, to ensure that every qualification approved for public funding has a distinct purpose, is high quality and supports progression to positive outcomes. BTECs are in the scope of this review.

We have recently consulted on the groups of qualifications we propose should be approved for funding at level 3 alongside A levels and T Levels. This includes qualifications that can be taken alongside or as alternative to A levels, where A levels alone do not cover all the skills, knowledge and understanding needed for every student to thrive at higher education, and technical qualifications where they provide competence in occupations not covered by T Levels. The consultation closed on 31 January 2021 and we are carefully considering all the responses. We will publish a response in due course. This consultation can be found here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/post-16-qualifications-review-team/review-of-post-16-qualifications-at-level-3/.

No decisions have been made about the future of particular qualifications. We have published an Equality Impact Assessment alongside our review that is available here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/post-16-qualifications-review-team/review-of-post-16-qualifications-at-level-3/supporting_documents/Impact%20Assessment%20%20Review%20of%20post16%20qualifications%20at%20level%203_.pdf).

We also want to improve study at level 2 and below, to ensure that students have clear pathways to good outcomes. We published a call for evidence seeking views on post-16 study and qualifications at level 2 and below, which closed on 14 February 2021, and we will set out further proposals in 2021. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/post-16-study-at-level-2-and-below-call-for-evidence.

8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to introduce regional bodies for the delivery of vocational education to local communities.

The government does not plan to introduce new regional bodies for the delivery of vocational education to local communities.

As we set out in our recent ‘Skills for Jobs’ white paper, we will introduce new Local Skills Improvement Plans, led by business representative organisations, starting with a small number of areas in 2021. Mayoral combined authorities will be consulted in the development of Local Skills Improvement Plans and will continue to operate within the devolved skills powers given to them.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide local authorities with increased control over Local Skills Improvement Plans.

The purpose of Local Skills Improvement Plans is to put employers firmly at the centre of local skills systems, working in partnership with colleges and other providers and informed by key stakeholders such as local authorities, to shape technical skills provision so that it better supports the local economy and boosts this country’s productivity. Mayoral Combined Authorities play a vital role across their local skills system and will be consulted in the development of Local Skills Improvement Plans.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase apprenticeship opportunities in the clean energy industry.

Apprenticeships will be more important than ever in helping businesses in all sectors to recruit the right people and develop the skills they need to recover and grow.

To help employers offer new apprenticeships, as part of government's Plan for Jobs, they are now able to claim £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, and £1,500 for new apprentices aged 25 and over. As set out by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the Spending Review, we have extended the eligibility period for these incentives until 31 March 2021, continuing our support for employers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Apprenticeship standards developed by the energy industry include Community Energy Specialist, Power Engineer, Junior Energy Manager and Duel Fuel Smart Meter Installer. A full list of standards can be found here: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/. The number of starts on these standards can also be found here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/permalink/9a3c580e-cb78-4331-a055-5d147b4e1ff0.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) has convened a Green Apprenticeships Advisory Panel to guide the Institute in encouraging trailblazers to align apprenticeships to net zero and wider sustainability objectives. The group comprises of employers with a strong footprint in the clean energy industry and introduces them to other crucial stakeholders to help identify which apprenticeships currently directly support the green agenda and which apprenticeships may need refocusing.

The Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy launched the Green Jobs Taskforce on 12 November 2020 to help the UK build back greener and deliver the skilled workforce needed to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Working with employers and relevant stakeholders, the taskforce will develop an action plan to support 2 million good quality, green jobs and the skills needed by 2030, and so support the UK to transition to a net zero economy and deliver a green recovery. Details of the taskforce can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-government-launches-taskforce-to-support-drive-for-2-million-green-jobs-by-2030.

1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce "portable" apprenticeships.

We are committed to ensuring that sectors where flexible working practices are commonplace, including short periods of project-based employment, are able to make full use of apprenticeships.

As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, set out in his speech on 29 September 2020, we want more apprenticeships to be transferable from company to company. During 2021-22, we will test approaches to supporting apprenticeships in these industries, including in construction and the creative industries, and will also consider the role that sectoral apprenticeship agencies might play.

26th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to allow teacher assessed grades for apprenticeships.

End Point Assessment (EPA) is a key element of our reforms to enhance the quality of apprenticeships, ensuring apprentices are able to evidence they are occupationally competent via an independent assessment. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has introduced flexibilities for EPAs, including remote assessment where practicable, 12 week extensions to the time limit for completion, and relaxation of the order in which elements of the EPA can be taken, in order to mitigate the effects of disruption caused by COVID-19 to EPAs.

Following the introduction of National Restrictions on 6 January, EPAs should now take place remotely wherever possible and all EPA flexibilities will be extended until at least 31 August. EPAs contain a range of assessment methods, many of which can continue safely, subject to the apprentice having completed all of their learning and being ready for assessment.

Assessments can continue in colleges, training providers’ premises, assessment venues and workplaces where they cannot be conducted remotely and where providers and assessment organisations judge it right and safe to do so. Further information is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/950845/Apprenticeship_response_to_COVID-19_FINAL.pdf#page=28&zoom=100,69,640.

We continue to review the flexibilities in place to ensure high-quality assessment can continue allowing apprentices to undertake their assessments despite current operating constraints. Our intention is to safeguard the quality of apprenticeships, and EPAs are an integral part of that.

26th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to create a single online portal for advertising (1) apprenticeships, and (2) work experience.

Apprenticeship opportunities in England can be found on the ‘Find an apprenticeship’ (FAA) service on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship. Employers can use the ‘recruit an apprentice’ service to advertise on FAA; we encourage employers to use this to maximise engagement with their vacancies. Prospective apprentices can search for vacancies on FAA and create an account to manage their applications and get alerts about new apprenticeships.

We publish figures for monthly apprenticeship vacancies reported on the FAA website here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/apprenticeships-and-traineeships. Between October and December 2020, employers advertised over 21,000 apprenticeship vacancies on the FAA website.

Traineeship opportunities in England can be found on the ‘Find a traineeship’ service on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/find-traineeship. Providers can advertise traineeships on 'Find a traineeship' and young people can use the service to search and apply for the right opportunities for them.

We are enhancing the National Careers Service website to become a single source of government-assured careers information for young people and adults. The revamped website will bring together all the learning and careers routes available to people, along with improved content on work experience, the job market, and applying for roles. The website will also offer personalised content recommendations for users, access to local and regional careers information and advice for specific groups, including parents, school pupils and the unemployed. The Careers & Enterprise Company, who deliver support to schools and colleges to provide work experience, will ensure the site is used as part of careers education for young people. The National Careers Service website can be found here: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/.

20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide practical support for employers to ensure racial and ethnic diversity amongst their Higher Level apprentices.

Apprenticeships benefit people of all ages and backgrounds, and we want to ensure that more people from underrepresented backgrounds can undertake them, particularly those that offer higher wage returns and progression opportunities. We are pleased to have seen positive outcomes in the representation of people from a BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) background in apprenticeships, with a particular increase in the proportion of higher-level apprenticeship starts. In the 2019/20 academic year, 15.5% of higher apprenticeship starts were by those from BAME backgrounds, compared to 12.1% in the 2014/15 academic year.

We have worked with some of the country’s most influential employers through our Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network to promote best practice in recruiting and supporting apprentices from diverse backgrounds. We are building on this work to ensure that we continue to see improved representation of BAME people starting apprenticeships, especially in sectors that carry historic under-representation. We will work closely with these sectors to understand why this is the case, and to co-develop targeted solutions. We will also be working extensively with employers, with a particular focus on SMEs, to understand what barriers they face in taking on apprentices and how they can support apprentices from different backgrounds.

18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to help universities provide digital technology to financially disadvantaged students.

My hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, and departmental officials are aware of the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic may have on some students. Officials are working with the sector to continue to monitor the situation.

The government’s expectations are very clear: universities should maintain the quality and quantity of tuition and seek to ensure that all students regardless of their background have the resources to study remotely. The Office of Students (OfS) has made it clear that all higher education providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and standards, which set out requirements to ensure that courses are high quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes, and that standards are protected.

Higher education providers must also continue to comply with their legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010, ensuring that education and learning is accessible to all students. When making changes to the delivery of their courses, providers need to consider how to support all students, particularly the most vulnerable, to achieve successful academic and professional outcomes.

The government has already worked closely with the OfS to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students affected by the pandemic. Providers are able to use the funding, worth around £256 million for academic year 2020/21, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment. We are also currently making available up to £20 million of hardship funding to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students.

The government has also invested over £400 million to help provide laptop computers and electronic tablets for disadvantaged children and young people so that they can access education and social care services remotely. As part of this, we have provided devices for care-leavers, including those who may be studying at university.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
13th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage private companies to provide digital resources to apprentices.

We are committed to supporting apprentices and employers to safely continue with, and complete, their programmes during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Following the announcement of a new national lockdown on 4 January 2021, employers and training providers must ensure that training takes place remotely. Face to face training can continue for vulnerable young apprentices, which includes 16 to 18 year olds who may have difficulty engaging with remote training at home due to a lack of devices or connectivity. It can also continue in employers’ COVID-secure settings where it is essential for workers to attend their workplace, and where it is safe and practical to do so. Employers are responsible for providing their employees, including apprentices, with the tools they need to work remotely and should support apprentices with the digital resources they need to also continue their apprenticeships training remotely.

To support businesses during this time, we have extended the incentive payments for employers of up to £2000 for each new apprentice they hire until the end of March 2021. Employers can use this funding to help meet any of the costs associated with supporting a new apprentice in the workplace, including providing laptops and other resources for learning.

12th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development COVID-19 and the youth labour market, published in December 2020; and what steps they are taking to raise awareness of traineeships.

This government recognises the challenges currently faced by young people looking to enter the labour market, as highlighted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s report. Through our Plan for Jobs, we are committed to providing young people with the tools they need to begin and progress in their careers and are supporting businesses across the country to meet their skills needs, now and in the future.

Apprenticeships will be more important than ever in helping businesses to recruit the right people and develop the skills they need to recover and grow. We have extended the incentive payments for employers of up to £2000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25 until the end of March 2021. It is encouraging that employers continue to see the value apprentices can bring to their businesses; as of 1 December employers had claimed incentive payments for over 11,000 apprentices.

The Kickstart scheme is investing £2 billion to create hundreds of thousands of high quality 6 month work placements for eligible 16–24 year olds. We are working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to support young people on Kickstart placements to progress to apprenticeships where this is right for them and their employers. To support this, we have ensured that employers taking on an apprentice who has previously been on the Kickstart scheme are eligible for the incentive payments.

In addition, we are working on the largest ever expansion of traineeships and have introduced £1000 incentive payments for employers who offer traineeship work placements to support this. We are taking a number of steps to raise awareness of traineeships among young people, employers, and providers. We have created a new online collection of free resources for schools including fact sheets, case studies and a guide for teachers. We are working with stakeholders, including the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, and youth focused organisations to raise awareness amongst providers and young people. We are also working with the National Careers Service and DWP to ensure that young people understand the different options available to them and are supported on the right path, and with major employers and sector bodies to develop new pipelines to apprenticeships opportunities.

16th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that education inspection bodies focus on skills provision when inspecting education providers.

This is a matter for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman. I have asked her to write to the peer and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

16th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide additional support to outdoor education centres.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods across the UK, support businesses, and public services. The Government has spent over £280 billion to do so.

This includes small business grants, the coronavirus loan guarantee schemes, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the deferral of VAT and income tax payments, and more. The measures introduced have been designed to be accessible to businesses in most sectors and across the UK.

Further measures have been announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that build on the significant support already available as well as set out how current support will evolve and adapt. These include the extension of the CJRS until the end of April 2021, the extension of the deadline for applications for the Bounce Back Loan scheme and other loan schemes until 31 March 2021, and increased support for the self-employed through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grants.

Furthermore, businesses in England that are forced to close due to national or local restrictions will be able to claim up to £3,000 per month. Local authorities in England will also receive one-off funding of £1.1 billion to support businesses more broadly over the coming months as a key part of local economies.

Further support for businesses was announced on 5 January 2021: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/46-billion-in-new-lockdown-grants-to-support-businesses-and-protect-jobs.

The Government will continue to work closely with local authorities, businesses, business representative organisations, and the financial services sector to monitor the implementation of current support and understand whether there is additional need. Businesses can also access tailored advice through the Business Support Helpline (FREEPHONE 0800 998 1098), via the Business Support website at: www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline or through their local Growth Hubs in England.

15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what additional support they plan to provide to children with disabilities and special educational needs who are isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), teachers are best placed to know how their needs can be most effectively met to ensure that they continue to make progress, even if they are not able to attend school due to following COVID-19 guidance and the law. The requirement for schools to use their ‘best endeavours’ to meet the special educational needs of their pupils remains in place.

Schools should work collaboratively with families, putting in place adjustments so that pupils with SEND can successfully access remote education alongside their peers. This expectation is set out in guidance for schools, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

To provide greater clarity, we have published a temporary continuity direction, which makes clear that schools have a duty to provide remote education for state-funded school-age pupils, including those with SEND, where they are unable to attend school due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This came into effect on 22 October 2020. An explanatory note is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/923539/Remote_Education_Temporary_Continuity_Direction_-__Explanatory_Note.pdf.

Where a child or young person has an Education, Health and Care Plan, it remains the duty of the local authority, and any health commissioning bodies, to secure or arrange any special educational and health care provision specified in the plan. We recognise that it may become very difficult to do so in certain circumstances, including where the child or young person is self-isolating. In these circumstances, decisions on how provision can be delivered should be taken on a case-by-case basis, informed by the factors relevant to the individual case. This includes, for example, the types of services that the child or young person can access remotely, such as online teaching and remote therapy sessions.

To support the hard work of schools in delivering remote education, we have made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy to provide video lessons in a broad range of subjects for reception up to year 11. Specialist content for pupils with SEND is also available. This covers communication and language, numeracy, creative arts, independent living, physical development and early development learning. Additionally, Oak offers therapy-based lessons and resources across occupational, physical, sensory, and speech and language therapy.

As part of over £195 million invested to support access to remote education and online social care, over 340,000 laptops and tablets are being made available this term to support disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11, whose face-to-face education may be disrupted.

This supplements over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers, which have already been delivered during the summer term. Schools, trusts, and local authorities are responsible for distributing the laptops and tablets and are best placed to know which children and young people need access to a device.

Schools are expected to lend these laptops and tablets to disadvantaged pupils who would not otherwise be able to access remote education in years 3 to 11, including those with SEND. Schools will also be able to order laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children across all year groups who are shielding as a result of official or medical advice, all year groups who attend a hospital school that is required to close, and those completing their key stage 4 at a further education college that is required to close.

The department has announced £37.3 million for the Family Fund this year to support over 75,000 families on low incomes raising children with disabilities or serious illnesses. This includes £10 million to specifically address needs arising from the COVID-19 outbreak.

15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce digital skills programmes targeted at unemployed elderly people.

The government recognises the importance of digital skills for employability and participation in society. This is why we introduced a legal entitlement in August 2020 for adults with no or low digital skills to study new Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQs) at entry level and level 1 for free. The digital entitlement mirrors the existing legal entitlements for English and maths and will provide adults with the digital skills needed for life and work. EDSQs are a new qualification type, based on new national standards for essential digital skills, designed to meet the diverse needs of adults with no or low digital skills. We also continue to support the provision of basic digital skills training for?adults in community learning settings through the Adult Education Budget.

In April 2020, we launched The Skills Toolkit, which packages up over 70 free, high quality courses from everyday maths and essential digital skills, to digital marketing and coding.

We have also introduced the Skills Bootcamps, which are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving adults aged 19 and over the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. In September 2020, these were launched in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool City Region (including Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral). They were initially focused on digital skills such as software development, digital marketing and data analytics. They will be extended to West Yorkshire, Devon, Somerset, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire in the new year. The bootcamps provide the valuable skills that employers need and are linked to job opportunities.

From April 2021, we will be investing a further £43 million through the National Skills Fund to extend Skills Bootcamps further in England. These bootcamps will cover not only digital skills but also technical skills training including welding, engineering and construction.

As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, from April 2021 any adult aged 24 and over looking to achieve their first level 3 (which is equivalent to a technical certificate or diploma, or two full A levels) will be able to access a fully funded course. The offer includes a range of qualifications that are valuable across the economy in multiple sectors including digital skills.

From early 2021, to support older people to find work and build the skills they need to get into work, the Jobcentre Plus will provide a new online one-to-one job finding support service to those who have been unemployed for up to 13 weeks to increase their chances of finding employment.

We have launched Local Digital Skills Partnerships (DSPs) in seven trailblazer regions across England. Local DSPs bring together cross-sector regional and national partners to work collaboratively to upskill the current workforce, advance digital inclusion, and build thriving regional economies. Local DSPs have been playing an important role in the response to COVID-19, collaborating with local organisations and national partners to help individuals and businesses build digital skills and resilience, and support vulnerable groups gain access to digital devices and connectivity.

We have also delivered a £400,000 Digital Inclusion Innovation Fund to help older and disabled people acquire digital skills. The three pilots aimed to help ensure that ‘what works’ on digital inclusion is identified, replicated and scaled. One of the pilots, run by the Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service in West Essex, has designed ‘smart homes’ where more ‘tech savvy’ older homeowners are trained by ‘digital boomers’ on how to use the technology that is added to their homes. This allows these older people to showcase how to use the technology within their own homes to their peers before they have their own homes made into a smart home. A full independent evaluation will be published soon to share learnings from this fund.

14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase recruitment of (1) Black, (2) Asian, and (3) other ethnic minority, teachers.

We recognise the importance of having a diverse teaching workforce. It enriches our schools, benefits our teachers and supports more diverse role models for our young people.

The department is building and rolling out a new application service for initial teacher training (ITT). ‘Apply for teacher training’ has been designed and extensively tested with a diverse range of potential applicants, to ensure it helps remove barriers to potentially great teachers applying for ITT courses. ‘Apply for teacher training’ is currently in public beta, running alongside the existing application service for teacher training: https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-teacher-training. As we roll the service out further, we will continue to develop and test interventions to support people from diverse backgrounds to become teachers.

The department’s ‘Teaching – Every Lesson Shapes A Life’ recruitment campaign is targeted at audiences of students, recent graduates and potential career changers inclusive of all ethnicities, and we take every effort to ensure that our advertising is fully reflective of this across the full range of marketing materials we use.

Our two most recent TV advertisements reflect the diversity of the profession, featuring teachers from black, Asian and ethnic minorities (BAME) in both primary and secondary settings. We also feature BAME teachers across the rest of our campaign, including in newspapers, email communications, printed information materials, on the internet and across social media, which helps us to achieve this balance overall.

14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to improve the mental health and wellbeing of teachers.

The government recognises the pressure that head teachers and teachers are under. We thank them for all that they have done, and continue to do, to educate and support children and young people as we respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Last year, the government set up an expert advisory group to advise on the wellbeing of staff in schools and colleges. The group’s recommendations were accepted by ministers and published in June 2020. They can be accessed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/890547/Nick_Gibb_letter_to_EAG.pdf.

As a result, the department has made a range of commitments to support the wellbeing of teachers and other education professionals in schools and colleges. These include the creation of a wellbeing charter for the teaching sector. The charter will help create an open culture around wellbeing and mental health, breaking down stigma, and will include a range of commitments by the government, and for employers in schools and colleges, to promote and protect staff wellbeing.

The department also took rapid action to help support the mental health needs of school leaders, by funding a pilot, led by Education Support, to provide online peer-support and telephone supervision from experts to school leaders. This service will run until March 2021.

Alongside this, the government has invested millions in mental health charities and in support for teachers. This includes £8 million on a training programme run by experts to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on pupils, parents, and staff. Through the ‘Wellbeing for Education Return’ training programme, we are supporting staff in schools and colleges to respond to the additional pressures some children and young people may be feeling as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as any anxieties they, or their teachers, may be experiencing. Further information on this programme can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/8m-programme-to-boost-pupil-and-teacher-wellbeing.

14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of road congestion resulting from disruption linked to the end of the transition period for the UK’s departure from the EU on the ability of schools in affected areas to open.

We are working with the Department for Transport to understand the impact travel disruption may have on schools following the end of the transition period. We are working closely with stakeholders, including Kent County Council, to support their planning for any potential disruption and ensure contingency plans are in place. Schools should remain open wherever it is possible and safe to do so.

14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the rights of local communities to make decisions on the design and delivery of skills development programmes.

We have devolved approximately 50% of the Adult Education Budget to 7 Mayoral Combined Authorities and the Greater London Authority, enabling those regions to have more control over design and development of adult skills and training programmes so that they meet better local needs.

We will set out our future plans for post-16 education providers in the Further Education White Paper, which is soon to be published. As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education set out earlier this year, this will give colleges a lead role in developing skills in their areas – through working with small, local businesses to support the introduction of new technology and processes and offering training in emerging skills, with high quality qualifications based on employer-led standards, they will drive an ambitious agenda that responds to local economic need.

9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to invest in post-16 education hubs for (1) specialist, and (2) minority, provision.

We welcome the Association of College’s recent report on post-16 provision, 'The impact of competition in post-16 education & training', and note the proposals for longer-term reform to the sector, including class size targets, a single commissioning and regulatory process, and education hubs.

We will set out our future plans for post-16 education providers in the soon to be published Further Education White Paper.

In developing our proposals for the White Paper, we have engaged extensively with the Association and other representative bodies and look forward to continuing to do so over the coming months. In the meantime, we are most grateful for the work they have done, and we share their commitment to reform to improve post-16 education.

9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to include hospitality on the level 3 Lifetime Skills Guarantee qualification list.

The new Level 3 adult offer forms part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which also includes Skills Bootcamps, implementing the Lifelong Loan Entitlement and wider work around improving quality and access to apprenticeships.

The sector subject areas included in the Level 3 adult offer reflect those that align most strongly with strategic skills priorities, meet the labour market needs, and offer the strongest wage outcomes at Level 3. While the course list does not feature any sector-specific hospitality qualifications, it includes a range of qualifications that are valuable across the economy in most sectors, including digital, business management, accounting, and finance.

We have engaged with employers, education providers, industry bodies, Mayoral Combined Authorities and the Greater London Authority to ensure that we are delivering the skills that will best support the economy across the nation and help adults to advance their careers in the current labour market.

We will keep the list of qualifications and the Sector Subject Areas in scope under review to ensure they adapt to the changing needs of the economy, ensuring we deliver an effective offer for adults and employers.

Qualifications not included in this offer will still be eligible for Advanced Learner Loans, which support many thousands of adults a year to access high-quality provision.

The Plan for Jobs, announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in July, also introduces a package of measures to support jobs across the country, give businesses more confidence to retrain and hire, and provide people with the skills and tools they need to get better jobs.

The government plans to consult on the National Skills Fund in spring 2021 to ensure that we develop a fund that helps adults learn valuable skills and prepares them for the economy of the future.

9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide additional emergency funding for student counselling and wellbeing services.

Protecting student and staff wellbeing is vital – these are difficult times and it is important that students can still access the mental health and wellbeing support they need. We recognise that many students may be facing additional mental health challenges because of the disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is for higher education providers as autonomous bodies to identify and address the needs of their student body and decide what support to put in place. Throughout the pandemic, my hon Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, has asked that providers continue to support their students. This has included making services accessible from a distance, and we encourage students to stay in touch with their provider’s student support and welfare teams as these services are likely to continue to be an important source of assistance. Many providers have bolstered their existing mental health services and adapted delivery mechanisms, including contacting students who may be more vulnerable. Staff at universities and colleges responded quickly to the need to transform mental health and wellbeing services, showing great resourcefulness and good practice.

My hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, wrote to Vice-Chancellors in October outlining that student welfare should remain a priority and has convened a working group of representatives from the higher education and health sectors specifically to address the current and pressing issues that students are facing during the pandemic.

The government has worked closely with the Office for Students (OfS) to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students affected by COVID-19. Providers are able to use the funding – worth around £256 million for the 2020/21 academic year – towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment and mental health support.

My hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, announced in December that we will also be making available up to £20 million of hardship funding on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students.

We have also worked with the OfS to provide Student Space, which has been funded by up to £3 million by the OfS. Student Space is a mental health and wellbeing platform which aims to bridge any gaps in support for students arising from this unprecedented situation and is designed to work alongside existing services. Ensuring students have access to quality mental health support is a top priority, which is why we asked the OfS to look at extending the platform. We are delighted they have been able to extend the platform to support students for the whole 2020/21 academic year.

In addition, over £9 million has been provided by the government to leading mental health charities to help them expand and reach those most in need. Students struggling with their mental health can also access support via online resources from the NHS and Public Health England via the ‘Better Health – Every Mind Matters’ website, and mental health charities such as Mind.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
8th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with independent apprenticeship providers about improving the quality of apprenticeship training.

We have made apprenticeships longer and better, with more off-the-job training and proper assessment at the end. All new learners starting an apprenticeship from 1 August 2020 must now start on a high-quality, employer-designed standard. Each apprentice will undertake rigorous and independent end-point assessment to ensure they can perform in the occupation they have been trained in and can demonstrate the duties, and requirements set out in the occupational standard.

We continue to work closely with providers, employers, and sector bodies to improve the quality of apprenticeship training. Ofsted inspections and visits give providers public judgements about the quality of their teaching and learning. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is in contact with independent training providers as part of its normal contract management process, which includes discussing the quality of providers’ training (apprenticeships and other provision) and, where necessary, taking action where risks to quality are identified.

ESFA officials also have regular contact with senior figures in the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) to discuss emerging priorities around high-quality training, and test future policy ideas with some of their members to shape the impact and benefits of new initiatives before they are launched.

We will continue to work with employers, training providers, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and its Quality Alliance of key stakeholders, including AELP, to help boost apprenticeship quality and make sure more people get the skills they need to get ahead.

8th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the mental health of pupils of their update to the guidance on remote education expectations advising that teachers should check in on self-isolating pupils on a weekly, rather than a daily, basis.

The government has reviewed remote education guidance and published updated expectations to provide further clarity for schools, colleges, parents and pupils.

Where a class, group or a small number of pupils need to self-isolate, or local restrictions require pupils to remain at home, we expect schools to have the capacity to offer immediate remote education.

Primary schools are expected to provide a minimum of three hours a day of remote education on average across the school cohort, with secondary schools expected to provide at least four hours worth per day for pupils. The number of hours set has been carefully considered and was informed by the department’s work with schools.

Schools will be expected to check and provide feedback on pupils’ work at least weekly. Schools will also be expected to have systems for checking, at least weekly, whether pupils are engaging with their work, and inform parents immediately where engagement is a concern.

In the spring term, the department will also ask schools to set out details of their remote provision on their websites, so that parents can better understand their school’s remote education offer.

8th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to create a single post-16 education commissioning and regulatory process.

We welcome the Association of College’s recent report on post-16 provision, 'The impact of competition in post-16 education & training', and note the proposals for longer-term reform to the sector, including class size targets, a single commissioning and regulatory process, and education hubs.

We will set out our future plans for post-16 education providers in the soon to be published Further Education White Paper.

In developing our proposals for the White Paper, we have engaged extensively with the Association and other representative bodies and look forward to continuing to do so over the coming months. In the meantime, we are most grateful for the work they have done, and we share their commitment to reform to improve post-16 education.

8th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce (1) minimum, and (2) average, class size targets for post-16 education providers.

We welcome the Association of College’s recent report on post-16 provision, 'The impact of competition in post-16 education & training', and note the proposals for longer-term reform to the sector, including class size targets, a single commissioning and regulatory process, and education hubs.

We will set out our future plans for post-16 education providers in the soon to be published Further Education White Paper.

In developing our proposals for the White Paper, we have engaged extensively with the Association and other representative bodies and look forward to continuing to do so over the coming months. In the meantime, we are most grateful for the work they have done, and we share their commitment to reform to improve post-16 education.

7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that secondary school teacher recruitment meets targets in all STEM subjects.

It is a top priority of the government to ensure we continue to attract, retain, and develop high quality teachers to inspire the next generation. The department is making progress in delivering the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, which we published in January 2019:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/786856/DFE_Teacher_Retention_Strategy_Report.pdf. This includes commitments to reduce teacher workload, improve continuing professional development, and offer greater opportunities for flexible working.

Recruitment to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects remains challenging. Despite this challenge, 7,066 trainees were recruited to teacher training this academic year (2020/21) in a STEM subject, compared to 5,865 last year (2019/20), which is an increase of 1,201.

We know there is further to go to ensure teaching continues to be an attractive proposition. The department recognises that graduates in STEM subjects often attract the highest salaries outside teaching, which is why we are offering £24,000 tax-free bursaries for trainee teachers in chemistry, computing, mathematics, and physics. We are also offering prestigious scholarship schemes in partnership with professional bodies for chemistry, computing, mathematics, and physics, where trainee teachers receive £26,000 tax-free and a package of tailored support provided by the professional body.

We are also piloting several retention payment schemes for STEM teachers, including Early-Career Payments, Teachers’ Student Loan Reimbursement and the Mathematics and Physics Teacher Retention Payments Pilot. We are conducting full evaluations to assess the impact of each of these pilots, and we will consider our future retention offer in light of the evaluation findings.

7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial sustainability of the further education and skills sector.

A recent National Audit Office report on the financial sustainability of colleges in England found that 65% of colleges had good or better financial health in academic year 2018/19, up from 61% in academic year 2013/14. Early analysis by the department suggests our programme of Area Reviews helped bring this improvement about. Over the same period, quality remained high, with 82% of further education (FE) Colleges rated good or better by Ofsted in both 2019 and 2014.

The 2020 Spending Review provided £291 million in financial year 2021/22 to ensure that core FE funding for 16 to 19-year-olds is maintained in real terms per learner. This is in addition to the £400 million that the government provided from September this year, the biggest injection of new money into 16 to 19 education in a single year since 2010.

We continue to monitor the financial health of the FE sector. Financial forecasts for the current year were submitted by colleges in July, and updated cashflow projections were provided in November. We are receiving further submissions throughout the 2020/21 academic year.

Any colleges facing issues with financial sustainability due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak can access relevant support.

7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of report by the Incorporated Society of Musicians The heart of the school is missing, published on 6 December; and what plans they have to increase music provision in (1) primary, and (2) secondary, schools.

Music and the arts are vital parts of children and young people’s education, and the Department remains committed to making sure all children have access to a high-quality music education. The Department has invested nearly £500 million of central programme funding between 2016 and 2020 on a diverse portfolio of music and arts education programmes.

In January, the Department announced a further £80 million investment in Music Education Hubs for financial year 2020-21 to ensure all children, whatever their background, have access to a high-quality music education.

The guidance for school opening is clear that all schools are expected to teach an ambitious and broad curriculum in all subjects, including music. The guidance also includes detailed advice on how to teach music safely given the additional risk of infection, including when singing and playing wind or brass instruments.

The Department notes that the survey underpinning the report was conducted in the first four weeks of the autumn term, during an unprecedented time for schools as they opened fully to all pupils. During this period, schools will have been busy implementing a wide range of measures, such as the extra measures to teach music safely.

Through close partnership working between the Department and Arts Council England, there are strong indications that more schools have been engaging with Music Education Hubs over the course of this term and are teaching music as part of their curriculum.

1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase basic digital skills education programmes for adults.

The government recognises the importance of digital skills for employability and participation in society. This is why we introduced a legal entitlement in August 2020 so adults with no or low digital skills have the opportunity to undertake new digital qualifications free of charge. This new entitlement mirrors the existing legal entitlements for English and maths and will provide adults with the digital skills needed for life and work.

The digital entitlement is supported by new Essential Digital Skills qualifications (EDSQs) at entry level and level 1. EDSQs are a new qualification type, based on new national standards for essential digital skills, designed to meet the diverse needs of adults with no or low digital skills.

The new digital skills entitlement, and our wider reforms, will ensure that only digital skills qualifications based on the new national standards will be approved for funding up to level 1, providing learners with high quality qualifications that equip them with the full range of essential digital skills needed for life, work and further study.

In April 2020, we launched The Skills Toolkit, which consists of over 70 free, high quality courses from everyday maths and essential digital skills, to digital marketing and coding.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, has also announced a series of Skills Bootcamps which will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and linked to real job opportunities, such as digital skills. These will help adults to land jobs, and employers to fill much-needed vacancies. In September 2020, these were introduced in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Lancashire, and Liverpool City Region, initially focusing on digital skills such as software development, digital marketing, and data analytics.

1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to remove barriers to higher education for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils.

The Office for Students (OfS), the regulator for higher education (HE) in England, identifies people from Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller backgrounds as people who are likely to experience issues in accessing, and successfully participating, in HE. As such, they asked HE providers to consider the needs of this group in their Access and Participation Plans for 2021-2024/25. These plans are designed to support all students from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-represented groups to enter and succeed in HE, and all HE providers charging higher level tuition fees must have a plan agreed by the OfS.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
30th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of secondary school absence rates on pupil attainment.

The department has published a report on the link between absence and attainment at Key Stage 4, available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/absence-and-attainment-at-key-stages-2-and-4-2013-to-2014. The report found that as overall absence levels increase the average percentage of pupils achieving different levels of attainment at the end of KS4 decreases. The relevance of the findings to COVID-19 non-attendance is unclear as pupils who are absent from school as needing to self-isolate should have access to some online education, but this will vary across subjects, schools, and pupils.

We have commissioned an independent research and assessment agency to provide a baseline assessment of catch-up needs for pupils in schools in England and monitor progress over the course of the year to help us target support across the system, which is currently ongoing.

30th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the quantity of school inspections on teacher mental wellbeing.

We recognise the pressure that teachers and leaders are under and are enormously grateful to them for their efforts, resilience, and service to our country’s children and young people as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ofsted inspections are carried out on a proportionate basis, with more regular visits to schools that are rated as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’. Ofsted is committed to minimise the burdens associated with inspection, and to playing its part in reducing workload in the sector and improving wellbeing.

In creating the 2019 Education Inspection Framework, Ofsted established a framework that can understand a school’s performance without creating unnecessary workload, and looks to assess the extent to which leaders manage the workload and wellbeing of their staff.

Last year, the government set up an expert advisory group to advise on the wellbeing of staff in schools and colleges. It included consideration of the impact of inspections on the wellbeing of teachers. The group’s recommendations were accepted by ministers and published in June 2020: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/890547/Nick_Gibb_letter_to_EAG.pdf. They include the development of a wellbeing charter for the teaching sector, setting out commitments from the government and from Ofsted on measures to promote and protect the wellbeing of staff in schools and colleges.

30th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that children with special educational needs receive an education and healthcare plan before exclusion from school is proposed.

It is important that schools take appropriate steps to address the underlying causes of poor behaviour, which could include pupils’ special educational needs (SEN). Local authorities have a statutory responsibility to assess whether children and young people have special educational needs that require an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. The statutory guidance on exclusions sets out that early intervention measures should include an assessment of whether appropriate provision is in place to support any SEN that a pupil may have. This guidance is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/921405/20170831_Exclusion_Stat_guidance_Web_version.pdf.

The law does not prevent a pupil with SEN or a disability from being excluded, however schools have a legal duty under the Equality Act 2010 not to discriminate against disabled pupils by excluding them from school because of their disability. Any exclusion must be lawful, reasonable and fair.

Schools should balance their responsibilities of considering what extra support might be needed to identify and address the needs for children with SEN with their responsibility to ensure that all children are able to experience good quality teaching and learning without disruption in the classroom and without being exposed to risks to their health or safety. The guidance also sets out that schools should, as far as possible, avoid permanently excluding pupils who have an EHC plan.

The department is pursuing an ambitious programme of work on school behaviour and to rapidly improve the availability of good alternative provision, so that permanently excluded children and children at risk of exclusion receive a high-quality education and support suited to their individual needs.

We are investing £10 million in behaviour hubs which will enable schools and multi-academy trusts with exemplary behaviour cultures and practices to work in partnership with those that want to improve their behaviour culture.

Additionally, to help support and equip staff, the Early Career Framework reforms entitle all early career teachers to 2 years of professional development in 5 core areas including behaviour management.

We will revise guidance on exclusions to make it clearer and more consistent, so that head teachers have the information they need to use exclusion properly and proportionately. We will also continue to engage with key stakeholders, including academics, when revising guidance.

25th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the poll on school leadership retention by the National Association of Head Teachers, published on 18 November; and what steps are they taking to increase headteacher retention.

The Department has noted the results published on 18 November 2020 from the survey on school leadership retention conducted by the National Association of Head Teachers during October 2020.

The Department has worked with the sector to design a reformed programme of professional development for teachers and leaders. A reformed suite of National Professional Qualifications, underpinned by new frameworks published in Autumn 2020, will be introduced from Autumn 2021. These qualifications are designed to promote strong teaching and school leadership through a shared, evidence-informed understanding of what works in order to support school leaders to address the challenges they face. The Department has invited organisations to tender to deliver these qualifications from Autumn 2021.

In addition, as part of this reformed suite of National Professional Qualifications, the National Professional Qualification for Headship will offer coaching support for new Head Teachers in their first two years in role, in recognition of the particular challenges they face.

25th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that off-the-job training on apprenticeship schemes are of the required quality.

The government is making apprenticeships longer, better, with more off-the-job training and proper assessment at the end. All new learners starting an apprenticeship, from 1 August 2020, must now start on a high-quality, employer-designed standard. Employer-designed standards are central to our reforms to apprenticeships, driving up quality and delivering the skills that employers need.

We have strengthened the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers. The Register provides assurance to employers that the training providers they choose have the capacity and capability to deliver good quality apprenticeship training and are ready to start delivery. A new provider assessed as making ‘Insufficient Progress’, following a monitoring visit by Ofsted, will be unable to recruit any new apprentices until Ofsted has undertaken a full inspection. Any provider that receives an ‘Inadequate’ Ofsted assessment for apprenticeships will be removed from the register. From April 2021 Ofsted will inspect apprenticeships at all levels.

Off-the-job training must teach new knowledge, skills and behaviours that will contribute to the successful achievement of an apprenticeship and ensure that an apprentice is fully occupationally competent. The minimum 20 per cent off-the-job training requirement is in line with international best practice of at least a day a week in college but allows more flexibility for employers.

Each apprentice will undertake rigorous and independent end-point assessment and they must be able to demonstrate occupational competence in order to pass and complete their apprenticeship. This assessment gives employers confidence that apprentices completing an apprenticeship standard can perform the occupation they have been trained in and can demonstrate the duties and requirements set out in the occupational standard.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, our intention has been to safeguard the quality of apprenticeships. We introduced flexibilities to support apprentices and employers to continue with, and complete, their programmes. We encouraged providers and assessment organisations to deliver training and end-point assessments flexibly, including remotely, whilst keeping quality in mind.

25th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Universities UK Tackling racial harassment in higher education, published on 24 November; and what steps they are taking to increase racial diversity training for university staff.

The government is committed to levelling up the nation and maximising opportunity for all. As part of that important work, on 16 July 2020, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, more information about which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities.

Our world-leading higher education sector is an engine of social mobility and provides life-changing opportunities for thousands of students from all backgrounds every year. We do not agree with the Universities UK report in every respect, but firmly agree that we must stamp out racism wherever it exists, including in universities and higher education institutions.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
24th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend the provision of loans and grants for (1) further, and (2) higher, education to all regardless of age, background or circumstance.

The government provides a comprehensive support package for students in further and higher education and reviews this support on an annual basis.

All eligible students, regardless of age and income, who are studying on undergraduate higher education courses qualify for up-front loans to meet the full costs of their tuition.

Likewise, eligible students aged 19 and over on further education courses qualify for Advanced Learner Loans to meet course fees. Those students can get help for other costs associated with study, such as childcare and travel, from the loans bursary fund which is administered by training providers. The loans bursary fund also provides learning support for those with disabilities.

Students who are attending full-time undergraduate courses and part-time degree level courses, and who are under the age of 60 on the first day of the first academic year of their course, qualify for partially means-tested loans as a contribution towards their living costs while studying. Those attending full-time courses who are aged 60 or over qualify for fully means-tested loans for living costs.

The current system of loans for living costs targets the greatest level of support at students from the lowest income families.

Full-time undergraduate students with adult or child dependants can apply for additional means-tested grant support. Full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students with disabilities can apply for non-means-tested disabled students’ allowances.

Students undertaking postgraduate masters and doctoral degree courses who are under the age of 60 on the first day of the first academic year of their course can apply for loans towards fee and course costs for the duration of their courses.

Maximum grants and loans for living and other costs, as well as postgraduate loans, have been increased by 2.9% for the current (2020/21) academic year. There will be a further 3.1% increase to undergraduate and postgraduate loans and undergraduate dependants’ grants in 2021/22 – taking these to record levels in cash terms.

For 2021/22, the undergraduate disabled students’ allowance, which is currently structured as four separate sub-allowances, is being simplified into one £25,000 allowance in line with the postgraduate disabled students’ allowance. This change introduces greater flexibility for disabled students in accessing the support that they need.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
24th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Social Mobility Commission Changing gears: Understanding downward social mobility, published on 18 November; and what steps they are taking to increase the social mobility of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals.

The government welcomes the Social Mobility Commission’s recent report, Changing gears: understanding downward social mobility. Spreading opportunity is a top priority right across the department, every child should have the same opportunity to express their talents and make the most of their lives.

The report highlights the key role education plays in securing social mobility. The government’s approach to social mobility has been to increase opportunity and support higher standards for all pupils, regardless of their ethnic background or race. That ambition has underpinned all of the department’s reforms to education since 2010, which have demonstrated that it is possible to achieve the highest standards for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. A world-class education system that works for everyone is the surest way to spread opportunity across the country. That is why we are investing over £7 billion more in our schools by the 2022-23 financial year. This means schools around the country can continue to raise standards to give all children the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Moreover, pupil premium funding, worth around £2.4 billion annually, continues to benefit the most disadvantaged pupils.

The government has recently launched a commission on race and ethnic disparities, which will review inequality in the UK. We will carefully review the findings of this commission to make sure we continue to tackle the injustice of educational inequality.

24th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the number of students who are home educated, and (2) the quality of home education.

The information requested is not held centrally. The department does not collect data on numbers of home educated children nor on the nature of the provision made for them.

Parents are not under a duty to register if they are home educating their children. Therefore, there is not a robust basis on which the department can reliably collect statistics on home education.

Local authorities are under a duty to take action if it appears to them that the home education provided to a child is unsuitable. The department issued revised and strengthened guidance to local authorities in April 2019, setting out how they can exercise their powers in this regard.

In relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, the department is working closely with local authorities to encourage a return to full attendance in school and is monitoring the situation. Initial conversations with local authorities indicate that the majority have noticed an increase in enquiries from parents about home education. Where parents are anxious about the safety of their children returning to school, local authorities and school leaders are reinforcing that it is in the best interests of pupils to return to school.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of a no-deal Brexit on school food supplies.

The UK has a high level of food security built upon a diverse range of sources including strong domestic production and imports from other countries. This will continue to be the case whether the transition period ends with or without a deal.

The government is working in partnership with food suppliers to ensure there continues to be a flow of food into the country. We are confident that schools will continue to be able to provide pupils with nutritious school meals at the end of the transition period no matter the outcome of negotiations.

We would still expect schools to meet the School Food Standards. Schools have a great deal of flexibility in the foods that they can deliver under the School Food Standards - if a particular product is not readily available for any reason, the standards allow schools a wide range of freedom to substitute in similar foods that are available.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to boost employment through partnerships between colleges and SMEs.

As the economy changes and we rebuild after the COVID-19 outbreak, there will be a real need for upskilling, reskilling and retraining to get people back into work as quickly as possible. In order to do this, we need a world-class skills system and we will shortly be delivering a White Paper which will build on this vision in England. Further education will be at the very heart of that vision with its ability to offer flexible and practical training that leads directly to jobs. We will look to colleges to play a leading role in developing skills in their areas, in responding to local economic needs and acting as centres for business development.

We are already encouraging providers to work in partnership with employers, including through our £290 million investment in twenty Institutes of Technology, the government’s flagship programme designed to spearhead the delivery of higher technical education in STEM subjects. They bring together employers with further education colleges and universities into a new type of prestigious institution. They will be equipping many businesses, including small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with the skills they need to drive productivity and take advantage of key growth opportunities.

Employer-designed standards are central to our reforms to apprenticeships, driving up quality and delivering the skills that employers need. We are providing a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25 and a payment of £1,500 for each new apprentice an employer hires aged 25 and over, before 31 January 2021. We have also introduced incentive payments, enabling employers to apply for £1,000 per learner, for employers who offer traineeship work placement opportunities between 1 September 2020 and 31 July 2021.

Colleges provide an important role in supporting SMEs to create new apprenticeships. As we recover from the impact of COVID-19 we want to ensure we grow the number of SMEs offering apprenticeships, supported by funding, given that they are vital to the UK economy. We have already committed to improve the working of the Apprenticeship Levy. We will also work with large employers to improve the transfer process, making it easier for them to find smaller employers to transfer levy funds to, helping them maximise the amount of funding they will be able to transfer.

In addition, training providers are also working alongside employers (many of whom are SMEs), to deliver traineeships which prepare young people for apprenticeships and work through a combination of sector-focused skills development and work experience.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide self-isolating students from disadvantaged backgrounds with digital devices.

As part of over £195 million invested to support access to remote education and online social care, over 340,000 laptops and tablets are being made available this term to support disadvantaged children in year 3 to 11 whose face-to-face education may be disrupted. Since September, over 100,000 of these have been delivered to schools.

This supplements over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers, which have already been delivered during the summer term.

This represents an injection of over half-a-million laptops and tablets by the end of the year.

Laptops and tablets are owned by the local authority, trust or school who can lend unused laptops and tablets to children and young people who need them most, if they experience disruption to face-to-face education due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Once children who have been self-isolating return to school, and if others are required to self-isolate, schools can choose to reallocate devices to those pupils who are out of school.

We continue to provide 4G wireless routers, with free data, where schools face disruption and children need to access remote education.

In partnership with mobile network operators, we are providing access to free additional mobile data for the academic year, offering families flexibility to access the resources that they need the most.

18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Careers and Enterprise Company Careers education in England's schools and colleges 2020, published on 12 November; and what plans they have to expand Careers Hubs.

The ‘Careers Education in England’s schools and colleges 2020’ report, published on 12 November by The Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC), is a comprehensive assessment of performance across the last 5 years. The report recognises that after years of challenge, government investment is supporting national improvement and making a difference to young people, especially in disadvantaged areas.

The report reviews the position since government established the CEC in 2014 and launched a Careers Strategy in 2017. We expanded the remit of the CEC to support schools and colleges to improve their careers programmes in line with the 8 Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance. The benchmarks provide us with a shared vision of what good quality careers guidance for young people looks like.

The report highlights how the 2017 Careers strategy has created real momentum with schools, colleges, employers and careers professionals coming together to improve support for young people. From a standing start in 2015 there are now more than 2,265 schools and colleges (45%) in Careers Hubs, 3,600 business professionals are working as Enterprise Advisers with schools and colleges and Careers Leader roles have been developed in schools and colleges and are becoming a recognised profession.

The report shows that schools and colleges have made sustained progress over the last 5 years. Improvement is evident on every dimension of careers support against each benchmark. Progress has accelerated through the creation of Careers Hubs by 92 per cent (from achieving 2.5 to 4.8 Benchmarks) in 2 years. Early investment in careers programmes to scale up activities in disadvantaged ‘cold spots’ has meant that areas like Blackpool and Burnley in Lancashire and Darlington and Stockton in Tees Valley now rank amongst the highest performing in the country for careers provision.

The COVID-19 outbreak has created huge challenges for the economy, for education and for future opportunities for young people. Careers guidance has an important role to play in our recovery. We have clear evidence and knowledge of what works well in careers support for young people and our ambition is to continue building on that. We will say more about our future plans in the forthcoming further education White Paper.

16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in discussions with universities about the mass testing of students at the end of term.

My hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, wrote to all higher education institutions on 7 and 9 November 2020, asking them to work with the Department for Education and Department of Health & Social Care to deliver a lateral flow devices (LFD) mass testing programme. The sector has engaged enthusiastically with this and we are working with it to set up asymptomatic test sites in as many universities as possible by 30 November to assist in reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 during the ‘travel window‘ of 3–9 December for students returning home at the end of term.

LFD tests will be targeted at higher education institutions with higher cases of COVID-19, in areas of highest prevalence, and with more vulnerable students first. LFD testing kits will be allocated based on institutions’ specific requests and an understanding of their student population.

Where available, students are strongly encouraged to undertake testing before travelling home from university. We want them to do this to keep them and their families, friends, and home communities as safe as possible.

Students who have not been able to access testing before they travel home are not required to self-isolate. We would ask them to travel home as safely as possible, remembering that the national lockdown restricts travel until 2 December and the ‘student travel window’ is between 3 and 9 December. If students are symptomatic or have tested positive, they should follow the standard government guidance, including self-isolating immediately and booking a test through the GOV.UK website: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test?priority-taxon=774cee22-d896-44c1-a611-e3109cce8eae.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the Lifetime Skills Guarantee is accessible to all low-paid workers.

As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, for adults who do not currently have a level 3 qualification, we will be fully funding their first full level 3, focusing on the valuable courses that will help them get ahead in the labour market. The offer will be funded from the National Skills Fund and offered from April 2021.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister has also announced skills bootcamps, which will be available in 6 areas across the country. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and are linked to real job opportunities, helping participants to land jobs and employers to fill much-needed vacancies. We are planning to expand the bootcamps to more of the country from Spring 2021 and we want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.

Through our lifelong loan entitlement we will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly - allowing them to space out their studies across their lifetimes, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.

Apprenticeship opportunities will also be increased, with more funding for small to medium-sized enterprises taking on apprentices, and greater flexibility in how their training is structured.

Alongside the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, the department has been working to provide further support in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. In his Summer Economic Update, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced investment of over £500 million to deliver a package of support for people to access the training and develop the skills they will need to go on to high-quality, secure and fulfilling employment. The Skills Recovery Package includes:

  • Apprenticeships: A new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire who is aged 24 or below, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire who is aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021.
  • Traineeships: £111 million to triple the scale and reform traineeships for those aged 16 - 24 (25 with an Education, Health and Care plan) with additional funding available to providers in 2020-21 to support 30,000 new places. We have also introduced, for the first time, payments of £1,000 per trainee for employers who offer new or additional work placements (up to 10 trainees).
  • Careers information, advice and guidance: £32 million over 2 years to help 269,000 more people of all ages receive advice from the National Careers Service.
  • Sector-based work academy programme (SWAP): £17 million to triple the number of SWAP placements in 2020/21, enough funding to support an extra 40,000 job seekers with additional training opportunities and the chance of a job.
  • £101 million for school/college leavers to study high value courses when there are not employment opportunities available to them.

The recent expansion of The Skills Toolkit means that people can now choose from over 70 courses, covering digital, adult numeracy, employability and work readiness skills, which have been identified as the skills employers need the most. These courses will help people stay in work or take up new jobs and opportunities.

In addition, the new Kickstart scheme is underway. This is a £2 billion programme which will create thousands of new jobs for young people aged between 16-24 who will be offered six-month work placements with wages paid by the UK Government.

The government appreciates the importance of adult education to improving people’s life chances. We will continue to explore options within adult education to aid the post COVID-19 recovery.

11th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for universities and schools in England aligning end-of-year assessment plans with the rest of the UK.

We have been working closely with all the devolved administrations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak on all decisions relating to exams and qualifications, reflecting the differing educational systems of each country. We will continue to do so in preparing for the challenges of exams in 2021.

As autonomous institutions, universities are responsible for their own assessment arrangements.

10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that disadvantaged children do not regress in basic skills and learning during, and after, the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government is aware that all pupils, irrespective of their background, have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We are providing schools with the resources and tools to address lost learning so that all pupils may make up lost ground. Our £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package is providing additional funding to schools to support pupils who have been negatively affected by the outbreak.

The £650 million universal catch-up premium is enabling all schools to identify and prioritise support for pupils to address their needs, including basic skills that have declined during the closure period. This complements the National Tutoring Programme that is targeting £350 million to accelerate the academic progress of disadvantaged pupils by making high quality tutors available to schools in all regions at a greatly reduced rate. The Education Endowment Foundation has published guidance to help schools make the most of these new programmes. This is available here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/.

Schools continue to receive the £2.4 billion pupil premium grant that we provide to enable extra personalised support for disadvantaged pupils. We recognise the particular challenges facing some pupils at the start of their school career, so since 2014 disadvantaged pupils of primary school age have attracted a higher per-head allocation. The Education Endowment Foundation has published effective practice guidance for the pupil premium, so that schools can make a difference to every pupil’s future. The guidance is available here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evidence-summaries/pupil-premium-guide/.

3rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by City & Guilds Group Act Now, published on 2 November; and what steps they are taking to allow more autonomy regarding skills funding for mayoral combined authorities.

Currently, approximately 50% of the Adult Education Budget (AEB) is devolved to 7 Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) and the Mayor of London, acting where appropriate through the Greater London Authority (GLA). These authorities are now responsible for the provision of AEB-funded adult education for their residents and the allocation of the AEB to training providers. MCAs and the GLA are responsible for considering any flexibilities to their funding rules in their respective areas.

Devolving the AEB enables MCAs/GLA to directly support adults in developing the skills that local employers need, reducing skills shortages, boosting productivity and economic prosperity, and improving wellbeing in communities.

We are committed to open dialogue with MCAs, the GLA and other sector stakeholders on how best skills provision and reforms can be shaped to fit the needs of local areas. However, there are no plans for further skills funding devolution at this present time.

3rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the COVID-19 transmission rate in schools; and what steps are they taking to protect teachers from COVID-19 infection.

The department collects data from schools on a daily basis, as well as gathering information from local areas and following up with individual settings in relation to COVID-19. This includes confirming that procedures for requiring pupils to isolate are well understood and that necessary decisions are being made based on public health advice. Data is collected on the number of schools that have indicated they have sent children home due to COVID-19 containment measures and the department has attendance data for schools that have done so.

The department regularly reviews advice from a number of different sources, including the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies outputs and Public Health England (PHE), as well as school attendance data to ensure its policies are guided by the most up to date scientific evidence.

We published ‘actions for schools during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ guidance to support schools to welcome back all children from the start of the autumn term. Schools should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls set out in this guidance. The measures set out in the department’s guidance to minimise the risk of transmission in schools has been endorsed by PHE.

The full guidance can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

From 5 November 2020, following guidance on new national restrictions in school settings, staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to work from home and not to go into work. Individuals in this group will have been identified through a letter from the NHS or from their GP, and may have been advised to shield in the past. Staff should talk to their employers about how they will be supported, including to work from home where possible, during the period of national restrictions.

The full guidance can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020#schools.

All other staff should continue to attend work, including those living in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.

Staff and children who are clinically vulnerable or have underlying health conditions but are not clinically extremely vulnerable, may continue to attend school in line with current guidance.

3rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the survey by the Early Years Alliance, published on 30 October, finding that one in six early years providers could close by Christmas 2020 without additional funding; and what steps they are taking to provide additional income to nurseries and childminders.

The government recognises the importance of supporting the early years sector financially during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We note the information provided by the Early Years Alliance and have used it in recent discussions with HM Treasury.

Data published on 26 October, in the latest parent survey by Ipsos MORI, shows that in September 94% of parents whose child received formal childcare, before the COVID-19 outbreak, were either using formal childcare now, or were intending to return their child to formal childcare, if they could, by January 2021.

Attendance data on early years shows that children’s attendance at the majority of nurseries, preschools and childminders is starting to climb back to pre-COVID-19 levels (an estimated 770,000 children attended early years settings on 22 October, compared with 417,000 at the end of the summer term).

Nurseries, preschools and childminders have received significant financial support over the past months and will benefit from a planned £3.6 billion funding package in financial year 2020-21 for free early education and childcare places.

We are providing extra stability and reassurance to settings that are open by ‘block-buying’ childcare places for the rest of this year at the level we would have funded before the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of how many children are attending. This will give nurseries and childminders another term of secure income.

In addition to this, the government has provided a package of support for individuals and businesses which are directly benefitting providers of childcare. This includes business rates relief and grants, the extended Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Job Retention Bonus and the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will remain open until December, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500.

Further, business premises forced to close in England are to receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Also, £1.1 billion is being given to local authorities, distributed on the basis of £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses more broadly.

We continue to work closely with both local authorities and the early years sector organisations to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the sector.

28th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that apprenticeship schemes are available to young people from lower income backgrounds.

Apprenticeships are more important than ever in helping young people, including those from lower income backgrounds, develop the skills they need following the COVID-19 outbreak.

To help employers offer new apprenticeships, they can claim £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under the age of 25 before 31 January 2021, and £1,500 for new apprentices aged 25 and over. Employers can use this funding to help meet any of the costs associated with supporting a new apprentice in the workplace, including uniforms, travel or contributing towards the cost of an apprentice’s wages.

During recovery, traineeships will provide the extra support required by vulnerable young people for them to progress into an apprenticeship or other work. We are tripling the scale of traineeships, providing an additional 30,000 places in the 2020/21 academic year, to ensure that more young people have access to high-quality training. To encourage employers to create new traineeship work placements we’ve also introduced incentive payments of £1000 per learner for the 2020/21 academic year.

Our Apprenticeships Support and Knowledge programme supports schools across England by providing resources to teachers to help them inform and inspire young people and introduce them to the range of apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities, particularly in disadvantaged areas and among under-represented groups.

27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the sustainability of the current university funding model.

We have a progressive student finance system which delivers a fair balance of costs between graduates and taxpayers, while ensuring going to university is affordable for all who choose to do so. The government subsidises around 50% of the cost of higher education. This level of subsidy is an important and conscious investment in the long-term skills of the nation and ensures access to university for all with the potential to benefit from it.

An independent panel, chaired by Philip Augar, undertook a review of post-18 education and funding at the behest of the government in 2018–19. This included an extensive programme of engagement and a call for evidence.

The government is carefully examining the Augar Report and its recommendations as part of the wider Post-18 Education Review. We are considering a response alongside the Spending Review, with a view to providing certainty to providers and students.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies Ethnic diversity in UK economics, published on 26 October; and what discussions they have had with universities about the diversity of academic staff.

The report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies makes an interesting contribution to understanding ethnic diversity in the academic discipline of economics. We welcome the findings which show ethnic diversity among academic economists and economics students is increasing over time. We also note that economics as a discipline faces similar issues to the higher education sector more widely.

Universities are independent institutions and are responsible for their own decisions on employment issues. We expect universities, like all employers, to give due consideration to their obligations under the Equality Act (2010) and the way their employment practices affect different people at different stages of their careers.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to close the educational attainment gap between wealthy and deprived areas.

The government established the Opportunity Areas programme in 2017 to focus resources on transforming the life chances of children and young people in 12 areas of the country with low social mobility. We are investing £90 million to tackle regional inequality, convene resources, test new approaches and unlock barriers in those geographic areas where educational challenges are greatest.

Nationally, the department’s pupil premium grant provides additional funding to schools based on the number of disadvantaged pupils on roll. We have invested more than £18 billion since 2011, and another £2.4 billion this year, to enable schools to arrange extra support for their pupils. This is accelerating their progress and narrowing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. The attainment gap index shows the attainment gap has narrowed by 9% at age 16 and 13% at age 11 since 2011. We established the Education Endowment Foundation with £137 million to research and promote the most effective ways of using pupil premium, so that all schools can make a difference to their disadvantaged pupils’ futures. Schools should consult their pupil premium guide when arranging support for their pupils.

We are aware that all pupils, irrespective of where they live, have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package will give additional funding to schools to support pupils whose education has been negatively affected by the outbreak. As part of this package, the National Tutoring Programme will target £350 million to boost the progress of disadvantaged pupils through providing access to subsidised tuition supplied by approved tuition partners. Schools in the most deprived areas will also be supported to use in-house academic mentors to provide intensive catch-up support to their pupils in small groups. This sits alongside our £650 million universal catch-up premium, which will enable schools to prioritise support for pupils in line with their levels of need. The Education Endowment Foundation has published guidance to help schools make the most of this catch-up funding, which is available here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/#nav-covid-19-support-guide-for-schools1.

26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide laptops to schools in deprived areas.

The government wants to do everything it can to support schools to deliver remote education. The department has invested over £195 million to support remote education and access to online social care, delivering over 220,000 laptops and tablets during the summer term for disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have access to a digital device.

The department is adding to this support by making over 340,000 additional laptops and tablets available to support disadvantaged children that might face disruption to their education. Since September, over 100,000 of these have been delivered to schools.

This scheme is intended to enable schools to support disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 who cannot afford their own laptops and tablets. Schools will also be able to order laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children across all year groups who are shielding as a result of official or medical advice, all year groups who attend hospital schools and those completing their key stage 4 at a further education college.

26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase BAME representation on apprenticeship schemes.

Apprenticeships benefit people of all ages and backgrounds and we want to ensure that more people from underrepresented backgrounds can undertake them, particularly those that offer higher wage returns and progression opportunities. We are pleased to have seen positive outcomes in the representation of black and minority ethnic (BAME) people in apprenticeships, with a particular increase in higher-level apprenticeship starts.

We have worked with some of the country’s most influential employers through our Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network to promote best practice in recruiting and supporting apprentices from diverse backgrounds. We are building on this work to ensure that we continue to see improved representation of BAME people starting apprenticeships, especially in sectors that carry historic under-representation. We will work closely with these sectors to understand why this is the case, and to co-develop targeted solutions. We will also be working extensively with employers, with a particular focus on small and medium enterprises, to understand what barriers they face in taking on apprentices and how they can improve the diversity profile of their apprentices.

26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Higher Education Policy Institute Demand for Higher Education to 2035, published on 22 October; and what steps they are taking to increase higher education capacity in England.

The government notes the attached report by the Higher Education Policy Institute ‘Demand for Higher Education to 2035’ published on 22 October, and the points it makes about higher education (HE) capacity in England.

This government wants our universities and other HE providers to focus relentlessly on outcomes for the individual, skills for the nation, and rigorous academic standards. Excellent outcomes are key to filling our productivity gap, fuelling our economy, and creating opportunities. It is vital that a fair and open post-16 education system offers genuine opportunity and levelling up across the entire nation, with equity between technical, vocational, and academic routes.

As part of the Post-18 Education Review, the government is carefully examining the Augar Report and its recommendations, including those that would affect capacity. We plan to respond to the Post-18 Review alongside the Spending Review.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase support for apprentices who have been made redundant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are committed to supporting redundant apprentices to find new opportunities and to continue and complete their apprenticeships wherever possible.

In August we introduced the new Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices which provides clear, accessible advice and guidance to individuals on the impact of redundancy, their options and next steps. As part of this service we also launched a vacancy sharing scheme to help redundant apprentices find new apprenticeship opportunities with employers. Over 850 employers have signed up to the service to offer opportunities to redundant apprentices, including Bupa Dental and Taylor Wimpey.

We have also amended legislation to enable more apprentices to complete their apprenticeship in the event of redundancy. In addition to funding an apprentice’s training to completion if they have less than six months of their apprenticeship remaining at the point of redundancy, we have extended this provision to include any apprentice who has completed 75% or more of their apprenticeship at the point of redundancy.

To help support employers to offer new apprenticeships, including to those that have been made redundant, employers are now able to claim £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, and £1,500 for those 25 and over, until 31 January 2021.

21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Construction Industry Council Build back better: Improving the apprenticeship system to better support infrastructure, published in September; and what plans they have to review the flexibility of the apprenticeship levy.

We welcome the Construction Industry Council highlighting the value apprenticeships bring to employers and individuals and it is encouraging to see that the report shows the positive impact the levy has had on apprenticeship recruitment among both levy and non-levy paying employers.

The apprenticeship levy is an important part of our apprenticeship reforms, supporting employers of all sizes to invest in high-quality training. As well as funding new apprenticeships in levy-paying employers, income from the levy is used to fund new apprenticeships in employers that do not pay the levy, as well as existing apprentices that started in previous years.

We have already committed to improve the working of the apprenticeship levy and as part of this we will work with employers to improve the transfer process, making it easier for them to find smaller employers to transfer levy funds to. In doing so we will build on successful regional pilot schemes, such as that in West Midlands Combined Authority. We are also working with employers to make apprenticeships work better for different sectors, including those with more flexible and short-term models of employment.

We also recognise that employers of all sizes currently face significant challenges. To help support employers to offer new apprenticeships, employers are now able to claim £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, and £1,500 for those 25 and over until 31 January 2021. Employers can use this funding to help meet any of the costs associated with supporting a new apprentice in the workplace, including: uniforms, apprentice travel and towards meeting the cost of an apprentice’s wages.

We continue to work closely with the construction sector and are committed to making sure the apprenticeship programme continues to provide opportunities for people of all backgrounds, while meeting the needs of employers of all sizes and delivering for the economy.

21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that training providers have struggled to offer remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic; and what steps they are taking to assist such providers.

Since March, the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills and department officials have worked closely with further education (FE) providers and their representative organisations to discuss the key issues facing training providers during the pandemic.

Provider returns to the department, surveys undertaken by sector organisations and qualitative feedback suggested that the vast majority of Education and Skills Funding Agency funded FE providers rapidly shifted to remote learning following the national restrictions introduced in March. A survey undertaken by the Association of Colleges in July 2020 found that 90% of colleges considered that all or the majority of students under 19 have continued their learning remotely in the summer term. For students over 19, the proportion was 74%. This survey can be found here: https://www.aoc.co.uk/sites/default/files/AoC%20summer%20survey%20July%202020%20FINAL_.pdf.

In September, we required all FE providers to resume delivery on site so that students of all ages can benefit from their education and training in full. FE providers were also required to develop a strong contingency plan for remote education provision by the end of September to ensure that providers could rapidly shift to blended, or if necessary remote education should the need arise.

Support from the department to assist providers in delivering high quality remote learning includes:

  • 16 to 19 Bursary Funding which provides financial support to help students overcome specific financial barriers to participation in education (including for devices and connectivity support).
  • Amendments to the adult education budget (AEB) funding rules for the 2020/2021 academic year so that learner support funds can be used to purchase IT for students aged 19+. In areas where the AEB budget is devolved, mayoral authorities determine adult student support arrangements.
  • A professional development programme for teachers to develop their online teaching skills, provided by the Education and Training Foundation.
  • Peer-to-peer advice and training through the EdTech demonstrator programme which provides support for remote learning.
  • New grants for FE providers across England to provide additional training and support for mentors and coaches specialising in assisting teachers with remote education.
21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential health risk posed by students sitting exams in 2021; and what plans they have to prepare alternative arrangements.

We have worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) to develop specific guidance for school settings. Where schools implement the system of controls outlined in our September reopening guidance, in line with their own workplace risk assessment, PHE and DHSC confirm that they create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced.

The autumn series of exams is currently in progress. A Level exams have concluded without incident and GCSE exams started on 2 November. We have worked with PHE to develop public health guidance to support autumn exams. The guidance sets out arrangements that schools, colleges and other exam centers should implement when delivering exams in autumn 2020 to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This guidance will be updated as necessary to support 2021 exams and is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/responsibility-for-autumn-gcse-as-and-a-level-exam-series/public-health-arrangements-for-autumn-exams.

In terms of wider contingency planning, we are planning for every eventuality. More detail will be published later in the autumn to ensure students have confidence that they will be treated fairly in 2021 assessments.

We are working closely with Ofqual to engage widely with school and further education leaders, exam boards, unions and the higher education sector over the coming weeks to identify any risks to exams at a national, local, and individual student level, and consider measures needed to address any potential disruption.

20th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to replace the Union Learning Fund to ensure that workers continue to have access to training.

The National Skills Fund is a substantial commitment to invest £2.5 billion in skills development over this parliament, which compares to £12 million in the current annual budget for Unionlearn. There is an existing adult entitlement to support any adult without English and Maths level 2 or Digital Skills level 1 to gain those qualifications, which my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, extended with his speech at Exeter College on 29 September 2020, confirming a new Lifetime Learning Guarantee that any adult without a level 3 qualification would be fully funded to obtain one. Reinvesting our existing funding for Unionlearn in our expanded offer will therefore contribute to a much more comprehensive offer in future, accessible to a wide range of learners, helping them to develop their skills and careers.

20th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with universities regarding a move to online teaching.

We applaud the resilience, innovation and dedication shown by higher education staff and students in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In August, my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, convened, and continues to chair, the Higher Education Taskforce, which includes representatives from a number of university organisations, through which we have provided public health advice and discussed matters to help providers to keep students and staff as safe as possible. In addition, universities are working with their local health protection teams and Directors of Public Health to determine the most effective measures that will help reduce transmission.

The Office for Students (OfS) has published information for providers, detailing practical guidance on how best to ensure students continue to receive a high-quality academic experience. The OfS will keep this guidance under review to ensure it remains relevant to the developing circumstances of the pandemic. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education has also published a series of guides to support providers to secure academic standards and to support student achievement during the pandemic.

The OfS published a statement on 9 October, setting out a number of measures that it is taking. These include making direct contact with those providers which have moved predominantly to online provision as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions. The OfS is actively monitoring these providers to ensure that they maintain the quality of their provision, that they are making all reasonable efforts to ensure online learning is accessible for all students, and that they have been clear in their communications to students about how arrangements for teaching and learning may change throughout this year. If the OfS has any concerns, it will investigate further.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has also commissioned Sir Michael Barber, the Chairman of the OfS, to lead a review to consider how to enhance the quality of digital teaching and learning and the opportunities which digital education presents for universities in the medium and long term. The review is expected to report in spring 2021.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
20th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Confederation of British Industry Learning for life: Funding a world-class adult education system, published on 19 October.

The key theme of the report mirrors our own assessment of the need for reskilling and the importance of adult education. We have introduced or announced a range of policies to help boost adult education.

To help boost apprenticeship opportunities, we are supporting employers to invest in the skilled workforce they need to recover and grow by offering £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and £1,500 for those aged 25 and over, in recognition of the value apprentices of any age can bring to businesses and to our economic recovery.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister recently announced a new lifetime skills guarantee that will help support adults across the country to make lifelong learning a reality - opening doors for more people to realise their talents, develop new skills and get better jobs.

For adults who do not currently have a level 3 qualification, the government will be fully funding their first full level 3 through the National Skills Fund. This entitlement will be targeted at areas with high economic value and the strongest alignment with government priorities, to ensure the best possible returns for individuals, employers and the nation.

New digital bootcamps, in 6 areas, will support local regions and employers to fill in-demand vacancies. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and will offer a fast track to a job interview on completion. Pending the success of the initial bootcamps, we are planning to expand the digital bootcamps to more of the country from spring 2021. We also want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.

A Lifelong Loan Entitlement, which will provide individuals with an entitlement to 4 years of loan funding to use over their lifetime. The entitlement could be used for modules of a course, as well as full years of study. We will be consulting on the Lifelong Loan Entitlement in due course and will bring in legislation later in the Parliament as necessary.

This is on top of the already announced £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations), for the National Skills Fund to help adults learn valuable skills and prepare for the economy of the future. It aims to boost productivity and ensure more people and places can share in the rewards that improved productivity can bring. It also presents a great opportunity to create a more coherent and simpler system that learners, providers, local areas and employers can more easily understand and navigate. Further plans for the National Skills Fund will be communicated in due course.

We are also continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (£1.34 billion in the 2020/21 academic year). The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning. This includes fully funded courses in English and maths, for adults who need to improve their literacy and numeracy, fully funded first full level 2 and/or level 3 for learners aged 19 to 23 and fully funded specified digital skills qualifications for adults with no/low digital skills.

20th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to fund free breakfast provision during school holidays.

The department is investing up to £35 million in the National School Breakfast Programme, using funds from Soft Drinks Industry Levy revenues. This includes an extension by a further year until March 2021.

While the programme is designed to support schools during term time, during the summer holidays this year we provided extra provision using existing funds for breakfast meals to participating schools. The support was put in place, while schools were largely closed, to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to healthy nutritious breakfast meals. These schools were able to support children in the way which worked best for them, including food parcels collected by parents from open schools or breakfast food ‘drop-offs’.

Future departmental spending decisions about the programme are subject to the Spending Review. Further details of this are yet to be determined.

19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to promote take-up of national tutoring programme funding.

There is extensive evidence that tutoring is one of the most effective ways to accelerate pupil progress, and we want to extend this opportunity to disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils. The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) is an ambitious scheme that will provide additional, targeted support for those children and young people who need the most help to catch-up.

We are committed to ensuring that there is a strong take-up of the programme and in particular, supporting those schools with the most need to access tutoring provision. We have undertaken a range of communications and engagement activities to ensure that schools are aware of the support offered by the NTP, and over 7,000 schools have already registered their interest in the programme. Our activities include offering school-focused webinars throughout the academic year, to provide more information about the programme, and over 1,000 schools have already signed up for the first available sessions. The webinars are advertised through social media, websites, newsletters and the department’s school networks.

We have also been working with a range of key stakeholders to increase awareness and interest in the programme in areas that need it most, for example, through O