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Written Question
Cultural Heritage: Coronavirus
13 Apr 2021

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on allowing heritage sites to offer socially distanced showgrounds to couples looking to book a wedding venue, ahead of Step 3 of the Roadmap.

Answered by Paul Scully

BEIS Ministers are in regular contact with Cabinet colleagues on matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including issues relating to reopening.

Venues will only be able to open for viewings, including show rounds for wedding couples, where the venue is permitted to open, or where a relevant exemption applies. Where a venue is required to close for the purposes of a viewing people could have a virtual tour.


Written Question
Energy Supply
18 Mar 2021

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with (a) Ofgem and (b) distribution network operators on (i) taking steps to tackle technical energy losses in the energy system and (ii) investing in efficient cabling to prepare the energy system for an increase in demand.

Answered by Anne-Marie Trevelyan

The Government recognises the importance of managing energy losses to reduce emissions and protect consumers from unnecessary costs. We have regular discussions with Ofgem, which has the relevant regulatory powers in this area.

Under the regulatory regime, distribution network operators have licence obligations to ensure that losses are as low as reasonably practicable and are incentivised to take action to reduce losses. As a result, for example, it is now standard practice for distribution network operators to ‘oversize’ replacement and new lower voltage cables, which reduces losses and also provides future proofing for demand increases.


Written Question
Energy
18 Mar 2021

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) effect and (b) cost of energy losses in the UK when developing the Energy White Paper.

Answered by Anne-Marie Trevelyan

The Energy White Paper sets out our long-term strategic vision to deliver an affordable, secure and reliable energy system, consistent with net zero emissions by 2050.

As we pursue this vision, we recognise the importance of managing energy losses to reduce emissions and protect consumers from unnecessary costs. We have regular discussions with Ofgem, which has the relevant regulatory powers.


Written Question
Business: Coronavirus
4 Mar 2021

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for his policies that only 54 per cent of the mandatory grants given to businesses that have been required to close due to the covid-19 outbreak have been paid out to eligible businesses as of 17 January 2021.

Answered by Paul Scully

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.

The data published on GOV.UK regarding the Additional Restrictions Grant is based upon self-reporting by Local Authorities up to the 17th January 2021. The time period in question includes periods of localised restrictions, which saw many Local Authorities moved quickly between Tiers, complicating the administrative process as business eligibility for grants changed alongside Tiers.

Further data will be published in due course that will set out performance figures for the current period of national restrictions where there has been a consistent grant offer for local authorities to administer.


Written Question
Additional Restrictions Grant and Local Restrictions Support Grant
4 Mar 2021

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of local authorities in respect of the distribution of the (a) Local Restrictions Support Grants and (b) Additional Restrictions Grant.

Answered by Paul Scully

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.

Throughout the pandemic officials have engaged with Local Authorities including through a Local Government Working Group. As the range of grants available has increased, officials have carried out live stream sessions with all 314 Local Authorities managing grant schemes, to provide the latest guidance and respond to questions.

In addition, Ministers have met with Local Authority Leaders and senior officers to discuss ways of improving grant delivery. Information from these discussions has informed work on streamlining existing grants processes and future grants design.

Officials have published guidance for both the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) and the Additional Restrictions Grant to support the distribution of funds to businesses. In addition to the scheme guidance, we publish Frequently Asked Questions documents to help Local Authorities with their administration of grant schemes.

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


Written Question
Additional Restrictions Grant
4 Mar 2021

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for his policies that only 13 per cent of the Additional Restrictions Grant has been paid out to eligible businesses as of 17 January 2021.

Answered by Paul Scully

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.

Local Authorities are entitled to use their allocation of Additional Restrictions Grant until the end of financial year 2021/22.

The data published on GOV.UK regarding the Additional Restrictions Grant is based upon self-reporting by Local Authorities up to the 17th January 2021.

Further data will be published in due course that will set out performance figures for the current period of national restrictions.


Written Question
English Language: Education
24 Feb 2021

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether sector-specific support will be announced for English Language Teaching Centres.

Answered by Paul Scully

The Government has introduced an unprecedented package of support for businesses that are required to close, or which are severely affected by the restrictions put in place to tackle Covid-19 and save lives.

English Language Teaching Centres may be eligible for support through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), a scheme administered by Local Authorities. It is within Local Authorities’ discretion to use this funding to support businesses in the way they see fit. Local Authorities may choose to support those business who have not be mandated to close but have had their trade adversely affected by restrictions.

Local Authorities have been allocated a further £500m in discretionary funding via the Additional Restrictions Grant. This is in addition to £1.1bn already allocated in November 2020.


Written Question
English Language: Education
24 Feb 2021

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether English Language Teaching Centres will be made eligible for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant.

Answered by Paul Scully

The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF) closed on 28 August 2020, with final payments completed by 30 September. There is therefore no scope for businesses to receive funding as part of this programme.

During the period of local and national restrictions the government has introduced support for business that are mandated to close and those that have been several affected by the restrictions.

For this period of nationalised restrictions, English Language Teaching Centres may be eligible for support through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) which is a discretionary scheme administered by Local Authorities.

In January, a further £500m was made available in discretionary funding via the Additional Restrictions Grant in addition to the £1.1bn already allocated in November 2020. This additional discretionary funding is to support businesses that are significantly impacted by the restrictions even though not required to close.


Written Question
Retail Trade
1 Feb 2021

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to tackle retail scalping in (a) low stock high demand consumer electronics and (b) other products.

Answered by Paul Scully

The Government is discussing this issue with trade associations such as Ukie. We know that bulk purchasing through automated bots is a concern for some of their members who we understand are currently examining further actions they can take to prevent these behaviours, and are working with their retailers to improve experiences for customers.


Written Question
Hospitality Industry: Coronavirus
11 Jan 2021

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing granularity into the covid-19 hospitality curfew system to distinguish the differing risk profiles of (a) pubs and (b) adult gaming centres.

Answered by Paul Scully

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced a new National Lockdown on 4 January. From 5 January hospitality venues must close; with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect and drive-through.


Written Question
Hospitality Industry and Leisure: Coronavirus
23 Nov 2020

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to issue additional guidance on the student travel window to students who intend to return to hospitality and leisure roles after the national covid-19 restrictions end on 2 December 2020.

Answered by Paul Scully

We have produced guidance for employers and employees to ensure workplaces are COVID-secure. All guidance and measures are kept under review and updated accordingly.

The Department for Education’s guidance for students and others regarding the student travel window is located here.


Written Question
Renewable Energy
20 Nov 2020

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the providing renewable power to the UK through subsea cables from Saharan energy projects.

Answered by Kwasi Kwarteng

BEIS is happy to engage with any potential renewable energy project that supports the UK’s goals of decarbonising the energy system at lowest cost. In terms of financial support, the award of CfDs (Contracts for Difference) to international renewable energy projects is not being considered at this stage, though BEIS remains open to receiving views on the merits of doing so for future allocation rounds.


Written Question
Renewable Energy
20 Nov 2020

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of using international renewable energy projects to supply power directly to the UK.

Answered by Kwasi Kwarteng

Interconnectors between the UK and our near neighbours have proven beneficial to the UK in terms of providing indirect access to renewable energy sources abroad, as well as ensuring the most efficient use of our own renewable resources, helping to facilitate the lowest cost decarbonisation of energy systems across Europe.

The UK is supportive of any energy infrastructure project that it believes will prove beneficial to UK consumers. In terms of financial support, the award of CfDs (Contracts for Difference) to international renewable energy projects is not being considered at this stage, though BEIS remains open to receiving views on the merits of doing so for future allocation rounds.


Written Question
Carbon Emissions
9 Nov 2020

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress the Government has made on meeting the net-zero by 2050 target to date.

Answered by Kwasi Kwarteng

Tackling climate change and delivering our world-leading net zero target is a key priority for the Government, the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed this. We have decarbonised our economy faster than any G20 country this century.

Our existing carbon budgets are among the most ambitious in the world and continue to set the right level of challenge for the years ahead. We have met our first two carbon budgets and our latest emissions projections show that we are on track to meet the third.

Ahead of COP26, and we will set out ambitious plans across key sectors of the economy to meet our carbon budgets and net zero – including an Energy White Paper, Transport Decarbonisation Plan and Heat and Building Strategy. This will build on the strong foundations we have established in the Clean Growth Strategy (which set out our plans to reduce emissions across the whole economy through to 2032) and the commitments in our manifesto.


Written Question
Housing: Energy
9 Nov 2020

Questioner: Alex Sobel (LAB - Leeds North West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to introduce affordable decarbonized household energy.

Answered by Kwasi Kwarteng

As stated in the Clean Growth Strategy (2017), the Government is committed to ‘phase out the installation of high carbon fossil fuel heating in homes not connected to the gas grid, starting with new homes, during the 2020s.’ The first part of this commitment, to decarbonise new homes, is being met through the Future Home Standard, on which government consulted earlier this year. The Future Homes Standard will require new build homes to be future-proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency, and is set to be introduced in 2025.

Additionally, we are providing financial support to help decarbonise homes on the gas grid. This is being done through:

  • The domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) – a support scheme for low carbon heat installations in domestic buildings that will remain open to new applicants until March 2022. As of September 2020, the domestic RHI has supported around 82,300 homes make the transition to low carbon heat.

  • The Green Homes Grant – In his Summer Economic Update, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £2bn Green Home Grant scheme that will support homeowners and landlords in England to improve the energy efficiency of their properties, reducing energy bills and carbon emissions, and supporting a green economic recovery. Under this new scheme, the government will fund up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvements for over 600,000 homes.

We intend to publish an updated Fuel Poverty Strategy for England by the end of the year which will provide further information on our plans to support low income and vulnerable households as we transition to net zero.

The Energy Company Obligation, worth £640m per year, focused on low income and vulnerable households, has made around 2.1m homes more energy efficient since it began in 2013.