Charlotte Nichols Portrait

Charlotte Nichols

Labour - Warrington North


Select Committee Meeting
Thursday 13th May 2021
09:45
Oral Question
Tuesday 18th May 2021
11:30
Ministry of Justice
Oral Question No. 3
What steps he is taking in response to people naming victims of sexual assault.
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Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 19th May 2021
13:45
Division Votes
Wednesday 28th April 2021
Immigration
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 196 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 270 Noes - 358
Speeches
Wednesday 12th May 2021
Better Jobs and a Fair Deal at Work

I am glad we are now at the stage of talking about building back and not just mitigation of the …

Written Answers
Thursday 29th April 2021
Fraud: Criminal Investigation
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what proportion of reports of fraud have been passed on …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
None available
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
1. Employment and earnings
6 January 2020, received £2,210.74 from GMB, 22 Stephenson Way, Euston Street, London NW1 2HD (final salary for work as …
EDM signed
Monday 18th January 2021
Godfrey Colin Cameron
That this House is deeply saddened by news of the death of Godfrey Colin Cameron, a hardworking member of Parliamentary …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Charlotte Nichols has voted in 254 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Charlotte Nichols Division Votes

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
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
(16 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(13 debate interactions)
Bill Esterson (Labour)
Shadow Minister (International Trade)
(11 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(15 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(12 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(10 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Charlotte Nichols's debates

Warrington North Petitions

e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.

If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.

If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).

Petitions with most Warrington North signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

I would like the Government to:
• make running conversion therapy in the UK a criminal offence
• forcing people to attend said conversion therapies a criminal offence
• sending people abroad in order to try to convert them a criminal offence
• protect individuals from conversion therapy

The Home Secretary said what happened to victims of child sexual exploitation gangs was “one of the biggest stains on our country’s conscience.” Last year local authorities identified 18,700 suspected victims of child sexual exploitation. We want an independent public inquiry into Grooming Gangs.

The Government is refusing to release official research on the characteristics of grooming gangs, claiming it is not in the “public interest”.

We, the British public, demand the release of the official research on grooming gangs undertaken by the Government in full.

Being the first to close and still no clue as to when we can open, this seasonal industry is losing its summer profits that allows them to get through the first quarter of next year.

Even if we are allowed to open in December, 1 months profit won't be enough to keep us open in 2021. We need help

The UK hospitality industry. Responsible for around 3m jobs, generating £130bn in activity, resulting in £38bn in taxation. Yet, unlike the Arts or Sports, we do not have a dedicated Minister.

We are asking that a Minister for Hospitality be created for the current, and successive governments.


Latest EDMs signed by Charlotte Nichols

14th January 2021
Charlotte Nichols signed this EDM on Monday 18th January 2021

Godfrey Colin Cameron

Tabled by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)
That this House is deeply saddened by news of the death of Godfrey Colin Cameron, a hardworking member of Parliamentary security staff and member of the PCS trade union who passed away aged just 55 after contracting covid-19; extends our sincere condolences to his devoted wife Hyacinth, children Leon and …
139 signatures
(Most recent: 8 Feb 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 117
Scottish National Party: 15
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Alba Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
14th September 2020
Charlotte Nichols signed this EDM on Monday 14th September 2020

Centrica

Tabled by: John Cryer (Labour - Leyton and Wanstead)
That this House recognises the constructive approach taken by GMB Union and Unison in negotiations around their members' pay and conditions with British Gas and its parent company Centrica; condemns the tactics employed by that company in commencing those negotiations with threats to dismiss and re-engage its UK workforce on …
68 signatures
(Most recent: 5 Jan 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 43
Scottish National Party: 14
Independent: 3
Plaid Cymru: 2
Liberal Democrat: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Green Party: 1
Alliance: 1
Alba Party: 1
View All Charlotte Nichols's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Charlotte Nichols, 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.


Charlotte Nichols has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Charlotte Nichols has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Charlotte Nichols has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Charlotte Nichols has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


221 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Explanation of written questions
3 Other Department Questions
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when she plans to ban LGBT conversion therapies.

The Government has made clear its commitment to banning conversion therapy and will set out proposals shortly. To ensure we get our proposals right, we have undertaken research to understand the prevalence of practices and experiences of those impacted. Furthermore, officials have been speaking with a range of organisations who hold diverse views, to fully inform our next steps.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what plans she has to address prejudice and attitudes to inequality towards black and ethnic minorities in response to the findings of King's College's study, Unequal Britain: attitudes to inequality in light of Covid.

I will look carefully at the findings of the King’s College study, ‘Unequal Britain: attitudes to inequality in light of Covid’, as part of the government’s commitments to levelling up and to tackling prejudice, racism and discrimination.

This work will also take account of the findings of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which has been carrying out a deeper examination of the causes of disparities and which reported to the Prime Minister on 31 March.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral contribution of 17 June 2020, Official Report column 796, what the source is for his statement that there are 400,000 fewer families living in poverty now than there were in 2010.

I refer the Hon Member to the reply I gave to the Leader of the Opposition on 24 June 2020, Official Report, Col 1305.

Indeed, the Government believes the best way to improve children’s chances is by supporting families into secure, meaningful work.

Children living in workless households are around four times more likely to be in absolute poverty (after housing costs) than those where all adults work. As of December, the number of workless households has fallen by 1 million since 2010, meaning there are over 740,000 fewer children living in a household where no one works.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Attorney General, whether any (a) employed and (b) indirectly employed Crown Prosecution Service support staff have been furloughed.

The CPS has not furloughed any support staff that it a) employs or b) indirectly employs.

Michael Ellis
Attorney General
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to ensure that Census 2021 is accessible to people who do not have internet access.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have, therefore, asked the Authority to respond.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what ratio of paid staff to volunteers are working to assist in compliance with completing the census in 2021, compared with 2011.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of altering the candidate nomination requirements for elections during a pandemic.

We have received representations from Parliamentarians on this issue, and we are currently considering the matter.

As I have stated in the House, we will keep Parliament updated on the election preparations, will engage with political parties and will publish detailed guidance in due course.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he plans to introduce mandatory quarantine at hotels to reduce the spread of covid-19 by people arriving from outside the UK.

As we have said throughout the pandemic, we keep our measures under constant review.

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that from 15 February anyone travelling to the UK from a country on the UK’s travel ban list will be required to quarantine in a government-approved facility for a period of 10 days. Full guidance for England is here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/booking-and-staying-in-a-quarantine-hotel-when-you-arrive-in-england

These actions provide further layers of protection to manage the risk of imported infections and protect our NHS while national lockdown and vaccinations take effect.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make it his policy to publish regular redundancy statistics that combine age and sex data.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans he has to lift the marriage ban in England.

The Government understands the huge significance of weddings. We recognise that because weddings have not been able to take place in recent months this has caused difficulty and distress for many people. As set out in the Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, published in May, the Government has been examining how to enable people to gather in slightly larger groups better to facilitate small weddings. We have worked closely with faith leaders and local government on how best to achieve this. The Prime Minister announced on 23 June that wedding and civil partnership ceremonies will be able to take place in England from 4 July. People should avoid having a large ceremony, and should invite no more than thirty family and friends. Venues should ensure they are COVID-19 secure.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it her policy to introduce paid leave for women who lose their baby prior to 24 weeks gestation..

We recognise that a miscarriage can be deeply upsetting. We encourage employers to provide appropriate support to women who have suffered a miscarriage and respond sensitively to each individual’s specific needs.

The current entitlement to Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay applies to employed parents of children under the age of 18 and those who suffer a stillbirth.

Because the death of a child is particularly tragic, in April 2020, we legislated to give parents who lose a child under the age of 18, including cases where a baby is stillborn after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy, a right to take up to 2 weeks off work in the 56 weeks following the death of their child. The policy is mapped against the clinical definition of a ‘stillbirth’: 24 weeks is a legally and medically important point in a pregnancy as it is the clinical age of viability.

Individuals who do not feel able to return to work following a miscarriage may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay while off work. All employees are also entitled to 5.6 weeks of Annual Leave a year and many employers also offer ‘Compassionate Leave’.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the evidential basis was for his decision to allow tradespeople to carry out non-essential works in other people’s home during the the covid-19 lockdown announced on 5 January 2021.

Government guidance on the current national restrictions enables tradespeople to work in peoples’ homes if it is a necessary part of their job. The Government is clear that businesses in certain sectors can remain open if they can adhere to Safer Working guidance. We continue to keep the guidance under review and will update it in line with new scientific evidence as it arises. When visiting peoples’ homes, tradespeople should follow the guidance and take appropriate Covid-19 secure precautions.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support he is making available to businesses who are unable to access the Bounce Back Loan Scheme as a result of a poor credit rating.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) is open to businesses who meet the scheme’s eligibility criteria, and pass customer fraud, anti-money laundering and know your customer checks. Certain lenders may require a prospective borrower to open a business account with them before they can apply, in line with their own standard policies, which may include credit checks. This is at the sole discretion of the lender.

If businesses are unable to access BBLS, there are also other forms of support available from the Government, which can be found at the following website: www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder.

The Start Up Loans Scheme is also available to businesses who have been trading for less than two years, it supports individuals by offering access to affordable Government-backed finance of between £500 and £25,000 per owner (limited to £100,000 per business), at a fixed 6% interest per annum.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has plans to bring forward legislative proposals to prevent employers using fire and re-hire tactics when negotiating employee contracts.

Despite the unprecedented package of support provided by this Government, some employers will need to offer different terms and conditions to their employees in order to ensure the sustainability of their business and avoid redundancies.

The Government is clear that using threats about firing and re-hiring as a negotiating tactic is unacceptable. There are laws are in place to ensure that there is fair procedure in redundancy and dismissal matters as well as contractual terms and conditions cannot discriminate unlawfully. In addition. if the employer changes any of the terms without the employee’s agreement, the employee may be entitled to seek legal redress.

The Department has engaged Acas to look into fire and rehire practises and they are talking to business and employee representatives, to gather evidence of how fire and rehire has been used.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will have discussions with those employers who continue to have large numbers of employees in their workplaces, to encourage them to send home employees who are able to work remotely.

The current Covid restrictions guidance states that you can only leave home for work purposes where you cannot reasonably work from home. It is important that people stay at home wherever possible to minimise the risk of transmission and I and those in my department will continue to reinforce this message when engaging with businesses and representative organisations across a range of sectors.

However, we must also recognise that those who cannot reasonably work from home should continue to travel to their workplace.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when the fieldwork and other research that will form the basis for the Government’s evaluation of the Shared Parental Leave scheme was (a) initiated and (b) completed.

Work on the evaluation of the Shared Parental Leave and Pay scheme started in July 2018 and has included commissioning and interrogating information collected through large scale, representative, surveys of employers and parents and a qualitative study of parents who have used the scheme. The various data sources will help us to better understand the barriers and enablers to parents taking Shared Parental Leave.

Fieldwork was completed in February 2020 and we are currently processing the data. Analysis of this data has taken longer than expected due to the impact of Covid-19 on our research partners and because we have necessarily prioritised work on supporting parents during the pandemic. However, the evaluation of the Shared Parental Leave and Pay scheme remains important for the Government, and we will publish our findings in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he plans to implement the Government’s July 2019 commitment to establish a taskforce of employer and family representative groups to address pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace.

The Government is finalising plans to bring together a broad set of key stakeholders to look at what improvements can be made to the information available to employers and families to address pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace.

We will be setting up the first meeting shortly.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will undertake an inquiry into the collapse of Arcadia.

The administrators of Arcadia have three months from the date of administration to make a report on the conduct of the directors to the Insolvency Service. My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State wrote to the Insolvency Service on 1 December asking it to review this report as soon as it is received. The Insolvency Service will do so and consider what further steps may be necessary.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government has issued loans via the British Business Bank to subsidiaries of (a) Stagecoach, (b) National Express, (c) Go-Ahead, (d) First Group, (e) Serco, (f) Arriva and (g) Abellio in response to the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on (i) revenue streams and (ii) operational matters.

The British Business Bank is the UK’s development bank, providing finance for small businesses via lending partners across a range of programmes. Part of the Bank’s wider role includes accrediting lenders for the Covid Support Schemes on behalf of Government.

The British Business Bank does not issue any loans directly to businesses. All credit decisions are delegated to accredited lenders in accordance with the rules set out under the terms of the three Covid Support Schemes.

Details of individual aid awards under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loan Scheme will be published where required via the European Commission’s Transparency Aid Module in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if businesses permitted to remain open can sell goods provided by businesses that are required to cease trading by the November 2020 covid-19 restrictions.

In England, COVID-secure businesses can continue to sell goods – such as a hairdressing salon selling shampoo or beauty products – online or via click-and-collect. If a business is able to trade goods in a COVID-secure manner while following the new national restrictions and all of the other trade requirements behind selling another good, they can.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that providers of Bounce Back Loans have the funds to grant the loans promptly.

The British Business Bank (BBB) administers the Bounce Back Loans Scheme (BBLS) on behalf of Government. The Bank works to accredit lenders for BBLS and provides them with a full (100%), government-backed guarantee against the outstanding balance of the finance (both capital and interest). Providing lenders with a 100% government-backed guarantee and standardising the application form is designed to produce a faster process, with many loans becoming available within days.

The lenders themselves, however, are responsible for the delivery of those products to their customers and for ensuring they have sufficient capital available to meet their lending forecasts.

BBB does set out a series of minimum requirements which prospective lenders must satisfy in their application. This list does include having sufficient capital, but it is not the only factor.

Factors taken into account during the accreditation process are: a track record with SMEs, provision of evidence-based forecasts, sufficient capital available to meet lending forecasts, a viable business model, robust operations and systems, and having all the necessary regulations, licenses, authorisations and permissions to operate the scheme.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many businesses have taken loans through the Bounce Back Loan scheme in each (a) nation and (b) region of the UK; and what proportion of the loaned money has gone to each (i) nation and (ii) region.

On 16th August the British Business Bank published updated Bounce Back Loan data which states 1,174,854 companies have been approved for £35.47bn.

In regional data published on 7th August: of the total amount of £35.47bn, 22% is to companies headquartered in the South (South East and South West), 21% in the North (North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber), 10% in the East of England, 14% in the Midlands (East Midlands and West Midlands) and 12% in the Devolved Nations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). London accounts for the remaining just over 20% of companies.

More information on the business interruption loan schemes can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/collections/hm-treasury-coronavirus-covid-19-business-loan-scheme-statistics.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many businesses have taken loans through the Future Fund scheme in each (a) nation and (b) region of the UK; and what proportion of the loaned money has gone to each (i) nation and (ii) region.

On 18th August the British Business Bank published updated Future Fund data which gives a regional breakdown of 590 companies that have been approved for £588.3m.

Of the total amount of £588.3m, 17% is to companies headquartered in the South (South East and South West), 10% in the North (North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber), 8% in the East of England, 3% in the Midlands (East Midlands and West Midlands) and 3% in the Devolved Nations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). London accounts for the remaining 59% of companies. Further detail from the most recent update is available here: www.british-business-bank.co.uk/future-fund-publishes-diversity-data-of-companies-receiving-convertible-loan-agreements-3/.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much Russian gas is imported into the UK; and what proportion of national gas consumption that represents.

The Government publishes Energy Trends statistics, including for gas, at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/gas-section-4-energy-trends. Table 4.1 shows production, total imports and demand. Table 4.4 shows import countries of origin.

The UK gas market is one of the most liquid and developed markets in the world and provides security through diversity of supply. Most of the gas supply to the UK comes from domestic production (46 per cent in 2019), as well as imports from reliable suppliers like Norway (31 per cent in 2019). The remaining 23 per cent of supply was from pipeline imports from the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from a diverse range of sources. There are no gas pipelines directly linking the UK with Russia.

In 2019, one-fifth of UK supply was from LNG. Within this, around 34 TWh of LNG was imported from Russia, representing less than 4 percent of the total supply of gas to the UK. The UK is in no way dependent on gas supply from Russia and our LNG was sourced from 12 different countries last year.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support his Department is providing to research on the use of dense plasma focus technology for nuclear fusion; and if he will make a statement.

UK Research and Innovation supports research into fusion across the UK through its grants, with over £2.5 million going into dense plasma focus related research in the period 2017-21. The Government is interested in and is supporting research into all approaches to fusion.

The Government champions and supports the role of the private sector in developing innovative technologies for clean energy generation, including fusion energy. We have recently announced £184 million for development of fusion related technology facilities, managed by the UK Atomic Energy Authority. We encourage private sector companies working in fusion and related fields to explore potential opportunities for collaboration with the UK Atomic Energy Authority and how they can benefit from these national assets.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate his Department's has made of the number of jobs displaced by automation during the covid-19 lockdown; and if he will make a statement.

We are continuing to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on the labour market. Whilst it is too early to make any firm conclusions on the number of jobs impacted by automation during the Covid-19 lockdown, technology has been vital in supporting more people to stay in employment during this period through more flexible and remote working.

The Government recognises that demand for skills will continue to change, in part in response to automation. In order to support people displaced in the labour market, the Government has announced that a total of £1.6 billion will be invested in scaling up employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships to help people looking for a job. This includes a £111 million investment to triple the scale of traineeships in 2020/21 and £17 million of funding for sector-based work academy placements.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many and what proportion of workers in each income quintile group have been (a) furloughed, (b) laid off or (c) had their (i) hours or (ii) pay reduced during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

We are actively monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on different groups in the labour market. The latest external estimates, from the Resolution Foundation think tank found that, of those surveyed in the UK between 6-11 May:

  • 33% of workers in the lowest quintile income group had either been furloughed (25%), lost their job (5%) or lost hours and pay (3%) due to coronavirus. This compares to 16% of those in the highest quintile income group, with 6% being furloughed, 3% losing their job and 7% losing hours and pay.
  • 40% of workers on zero hours contracts had either been furloughed (24%), lost their job (4%) or lost hours and pay (12%) due to coronavirus. This compares to 22% of all employees, with 15% being furloughed, 3% losing their job and 4% losing hours and pay.

Published HM Treasury analysis on the impact of Covid-19 on working household incomes found that Government interventions since March have supported the poorest working households the most (as a proportion of February income).

On 8 July, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a package of support to tackle the impact of Covid-19 crisis. This package provides £201m of new funding in 20-21 for skills provision and invests billions in a strong and coherent employment support offer. It provides the help people need now to swiftly find new work, while offering greater support for people who will find that journey harder.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many and what proportion of workers on zero hours contracts have been (a) furloughed, (b) laid off or (c) had their (i) hours or (ii) pay reduced during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

We are actively monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on different groups in the labour market. The latest external estimates, from the Resolution Foundation think tank found that, of those surveyed in the UK between 6-11 May:

  • 33% of workers in the lowest quintile income group had either been furloughed (25%), lost their job (5%) or lost hours and pay (3%) due to coronavirus. This compares to 16% of those in the highest quintile income group, with 6% being furloughed, 3% losing their job and 7% losing hours and pay.
  • 40% of workers on zero hours contracts had either been furloughed (24%), lost their job (4%) or lost hours and pay (12%) due to coronavirus. This compares to 22% of all employees, with 15% being furloughed, 3% losing their job and 4% losing hours and pay.

Published HM Treasury analysis on the impact of Covid-19 on working household incomes found that Government interventions since March have supported the poorest working households the most (as a proportion of February income).

On 8 July, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a package of support to tackle the impact of Covid-19 crisis. This package provides £201m of new funding in 20-21 for skills provision and invests billions in a strong and coherent employment support offer. It provides the help people need now to swiftly find new work, while offering greater support for people who will find that journey harder.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing the maximum fine for employers breaching national minimum wage legislation; and if he will make a statement.

The Government is committed to cracking down on employers who fail to pay the National Minimum Wage. We are clear that anyone entitled to be paid the minimum wage should receive it.

In the 2019/2020 financial year, HM Revenue & Customs completed over 3,300 investigations and found arrears in just over 1,200 of them. They 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.

The Government increased the penalties multiplier in 2016 to 200% of the value of arrears per worker, (it was 100% from 2014-16 and 50% before March 2014). In addition, the penalty cap increased to £20,000 per worker in 2016, up from £5,000 per employer before March 2014. The penalty multiplier percentage should be considered in combination with the cap per worker and the lack of any cap per employer, which means that there is no cap on the total penalty an employer may face. More information is available here.

In its December 2018 response to the Labour Market Enforcement Strategy 2018/19, the Government rejected a recommendation from the Director of Labour Market Enforcement that the penalty multiplier be increased again on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to justify a higher penalty given the high penalty levels already in operation.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether it remains his policy to maintain the Royal Mail Universal Service Obligation.

The Universal Service Obligation is set out in the Postal Services Act 2011.

There is a clear and transparent process for how changes to the universal service obligation would be considered and any change would need to be made through secondary legislation and agreed by Parliament.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps is he taking to prevent travel companies asking customers to pay the balance on holidays that have not been confirmed as going ahead.

Package travel agencies are required to comply with the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018, which protect consumers who have bought package holidays. Consumers are entitled to a full refund if a package holiday is cancelled due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances, which should be issued within 14 days.

Further information on the rights and responsibilities of consumers and businesses was published on 30 April by the Competition and Markets Authority who have also set up a covid-19 taskforce for consumers to register complaints, available through: https://www.coronavirus-business-complaint.service.gov.uk/.

Where payments were made using a credit card meeting certain criteria, redress may also be sought from the credit card company under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to provide support to small businesses not eligible for Small Business Grant Scheme because they are not liable for business rates as a result of not occupying a hereditament.

The Government has announced a package of support for businesses to help with their ongoing business costs in recognition of the disruption caused by Covid-19. This package of support includes?the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF).

In addition, on?1 May,?the Government announced that up to £617 million is being made available to Local Authorities?in England to allow them to provide discretionary grants. The?Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund (LADGF) is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs but not liable for business rates or rates reliefs.

Local Authorities are responsible for defining precise eligibility for this fund?and?may choose to make payments based on local economic need,?subject to the recipient businesses meeting the specific eligibility criteria.

Guidance, intended to support Local Authorities in administering the Discretionary Grants Fund, was published 13 May and can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-business-support-grant-funding.

Where businesses have been advised by the relevant local authority that they are not eligible for these schemes, they should be able to benefit from other measures in the Government’s unprecedented package of support for business, including:

  • An option to defer VAT payments by up to twelve months;
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, now extended to cover all businesses including those which would be able to access commercial credit;
  • The Bounce Back Loan scheme, which will ensure that small and micro businesses can quickly access loans of up to £50,000 which are 100% guaranteed by the Government;
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, to support businesses with their wage bills;
  • The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, to provide support to the self-employed.

Further information on the other support available can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will take steps to ensure construction on the Hinkley Point C project is continued during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department is in regular contact with the leadership team at Hinkley Point C, as this project is extremely important for the UK’s future low-carbon energy supply.

At this difficult time, we are doing all we can to support the project, such as through the Chancellor’s recently announced business support measures. More information on these measures can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 14 February 2020 to Question 13545, on Wind Power: Seas and Oceans, what steps his Department's representative on the Offshore Wind Programme Board has taken to verify the UK content figures reported by developers.

The UK content data supplied by each developer is compiled on an anonymised basis by RenewableUK to an agreed methodology. The Department has the ability to commission the independent auditing of the data.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 14 February 2020 to Question 13545, on Wind Power: Seas and Oceans, when the Offshore Wind Industrial Council plans to publish its latest assessment of UK content.

UK content figures for wind farms are compiled and published by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC). The Department has asked the Offshore Wind Industry Council for an update on the UK content figures this year.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 14 February 2020 to Question 13545, on Wind Power: Seas and Oceans, whether his Department collects data on progress towards the offshore wind industry's target of 60 per cent UK content by 2030.

The Department monitors the progress of each commitment within the Offshore Wind Sector Deal and regular collection of data helps keep track of progress. The Offshore Wind Industrial Council undertakes monitoring of progress against the UK content target.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 11 July 2013 to Question 164613 on Wind Power, for what reason the Offshore Wind Programme Board's pages on the Crown Estate website referred to in that Answer have been removed.

The Crown Estate is an independent commercial business, created by Act of Parliament and the Department does not manage the Crown Estate website. I am therefore unable to answer a question relating to that.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the membership is of the Offshore Wind Programme Board.

The Offshore Wind Programme Board (OWPB) no longer exists. Following publication of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal in March 2019, the functions previously delivered by the OWPB were incorporated into Offshore Wind Industry Council’s Sector Deal delivery programme. An industry programme management office, led by Renewable UK, monitors the sector deal delivery.

Offshore Wind Industry Council membership comprises all developers active in the UK and key supply chain companies, as well as the ORE Catapult and the Devolved Administrations. All appointments are on a voluntary basis and unpaid.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the offshore wind Sector Deal, published on 7 March 2019, what information her Department collects on progress towards the offshore wind industry’s target of 60 per cent UK content by 2030.

The Offshore Wind Sector has an industry agreed methodology to measuring the lifetime UK content of offshore windfarm. So far, the Offshore Wind Programme Board has published reports into UK content twice, in 2015 & 2017.

At the last Offshore Wind Industrial Council in November 2019, BEIS requested OWIC to provide an update on the UK content figures.

The latest report on the amount of UK lifetime content in offshore wind farms, which shows that the average UK content to be 48%, can be found here:

https://www.renewableuk.com/news/362764/Offshore-Wind-Industry-Investment-in-the-UK.htm

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to page 4 of the RenewableUK publication entitled, A Guide to Measuring the UK Content of Offshore Wind Farms, published in March 2015, on how many occasions her Department has requested that offshore wind developers open up their calculations of UK content for independent review and audit.

The Department has not requested any offshore wind developer to open up their calculations of UK content. The Offshore Wind Programme Board reviews the data submitted to ensure the content methodology has been calculated correctly.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make it his policy to ensure that all sports played by UK national teams are available live for free on non-subscription services.

The Government recognises that sporting events of national significance have the ability to bring the nation together through shared moments and therefore it is important that they are made available to as wide an audience as possible.

Under the current listed events regime national sporting events including matches for the FIFA Football World Cup finals tournament, the Rugby World Cup finals and events in the Olympics are made available to free to air broadcasters. In January 2020 the Government added the Paralympic Games to the list, recognising that it is an event of national significance on par with the Olympic Games.

The listed events regime works well to strike an appropriate balance between retaining free-to-air sports events for the public while allowing rights holders to negotiate agreements in the best interests of their sport. Therefore, the Government does not have plans to review the listed events regime at this time.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who is the membership of the Events Research Programme; and if he will make a statement.

The Events Research Programme (ERP), under the guidance of Chief Advisors Nicholas Hytner and Davd Ross, is aimed at providing key scientific data on how small and large-scale events could be permitted to safely reopen in line with the Prime Minister's roadmap out of lockdown. The Chief Advisers will oversee the programme, reporting into the Prime Minister and will co-chair a small, advisory Senior Steering Board. There will also be a Joint Programme Board working across government to inform policy development and a Science Board to provide scientific assurance across the programme. Pilots, due to start in April, will investigate how a combination of testing and non-pharmaceutical interventions can be employed to allow venues to open safely. It is anticipated that findings will be reported to the Prime Minister at the end of May, to feed into wider discussions around Step 4 of the lockdown restrictions.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when the Events Research Programme is expected to publish its roadmap for the reopening of the events industry; and if he will make a statement.

The Events Research Programme (ERP), under the guidance of Chief Advisors Nicholas Hytner and Davd Ross, is aimed at providing key scientific data on how small and large-scale events could be permitted to safely reopen in line with the Prime Minister's roadmap out of lockdown. The Chief Advisers will oversee the programme, reporting into the Prime Minister and will co-chair a small, advisory Senior Steering Board. There will also be a Joint Programme Board working across government to inform policy development and a Science Board to provide scientific assurance across the programme. Pilots, due to start in April, will investigate how a combination of testing and non-pharmaceutical interventions can be employed to allow venues to open safely. It is anticipated that findings will be reported to the Prime Minister at the end of May, to feed into wider discussions around Step 4 of the lockdown restrictions.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what factors the Events Research Programme will consider in producing a roadmap for the reopening of the events industry; and if he will make a statement.

The Events Research Programme (ERP), under the guidance of Chief Advisors Nicholas Hytner and Davd Ross, is aimed at providing key scientific data on how small and large-scale events could be permitted to safely reopen in line with the Prime Minister's roadmap out of lockdown. The Chief Advisers will oversee the programme, reporting into the Prime Minister and will co-chair a small, advisory Senior Steering Board. There will also be a Joint Programme Board working across government to inform policy development and a Science Board to provide scientific assurance across the programme. Pilots, due to start in April, will investigate how a combination of testing and non-pharmaceutical interventions can be employed to allow venues to open safely. It is anticipated that findings will be reported to the Prime Minister at the end of May, to feed into wider discussions around Step 4 of the lockdown restrictions.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will publish data on the rates of covid-19 infection in (a) professional and (b) grassroots sport in the period prior to the January 2021 national covid-19 lockdown.

We do not hold data on the rates of COVID-19 infection in professional and grassroots sport.

Government has published overarching guidance for grassroots sport but does not publish guidance for individual sports. It is for the National Governing Body of the sport to consider the steps that would need to be taken, and the conditions that would need to be met, for their activity to resume. The National Governing Body should also publish relevant guidance.

Professional sports have put in place sport specific protocols in line with our guidance for covid secure return of training and competition. Where appropriate to those protocols, this includes regular testing, such as in Premier League football. Many have chosen to publish their testing info for transparency, and, where appropriate, results are reported locally.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had on additional specific financial support for rugby league clubs, and if he will make a statement.

On 1 May this year the Government announced that the Rugby Football League would receive a £16 million cash injection to safeguard the immediate future of the sport for the communities it serves. This emergency loan will help the sport deal with the extreme financial impact of COVID-19. We are continuing to engage with the Rugby Football League and other sporting bodies on the consequences of the decision not to reopen stadia to spectators on 1 October.

Government is also supporting rugby league through more than £11m of Sport England investment in the Rugby Football League over 2017-21 and investment of up to £10m in rugby league facilities to help drive a legacy from the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of a statutory owners and directors test in football.

Football clubs are the heart of local communities, they have unique social value and many with a great history. It is vital they are protected.

The Government is committed to undertaking a fan led review of football governance, which will include consideration of the Owners’ and Directors’ test.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions (a) he and (b) his officials have with the GMB trade union on financial pressures and salary caps in Rugby League Super League due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has had no such discussions with the GMB trade union, but trade union attendance across a range of DCMS working groups was agreed with the TUC, with PFA and TUC attending the sport working group

The Government announced on 30 April that the Rugby Football League (RFL) will receive an emergency loan of up to £16 million to safeguard the immediate future of the sport for the communities it serves, and is continuing to work closely with the sport to understand the issues they face and discuss how we can support them further through this difficult time. The RFL is fully engaged with the process and is ensuring that the sport as a whole is aware of the assistance available and how to access support. It is a matter for individual clubs to pursue the support appropriate for their situation.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the timeframe is for (a) brass bands and (b) choirs to restart (i) practising and (ii) performing as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Detailed guidance for the performing arts has been published on Gov.uk.

This guidance sets out the current Public Health England assessment that certain activities, including singing and playing brass instruments, carry a potentially higher risk of transmission and that participation in such activities requires particular attention to the risk involved. This position will be updated as the evidence base develops.

To help support the development of the evidence base, DCMS is working closely with SAGE and a number of specialists to examine the existing and emerging evidence to provide advice to guide the future development of policy and guidelines.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will update the guidance entitled Children of critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings, to provide a list of specific critical worker roles.

The Department has made guidance available on Children of critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision. This sets out the high-level role types which can be considered critical to the COVID-19 outbreak or EU transition response. The list in the guidance is not exhaustive, but it should offer sufficient information to help parents and carers to identify if their work falls under one of the umbrella groups.

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 outbreak and EU transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors. Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school if required. Schools should speak to parents and carers to identify who needs to go to school, and parents and carers who are critical workers should keep their children at home if they can.

The Department knows that every school will have a different number of children of critical workers who need to attend. It is important that on-site provision is provided for these pupils. There is no limit to the numbers of these pupils who may attend, and schools should not limit attendance of these groups. We expect schools to work with critical worker parents to ensure their child is given access to a place if it is required, so that parents can continue providing vital services. This is because we are reducing overall social contact across areas and the country rather than individually by each institution.

The Department publishes weekly national-level data on pupil attendance. The latest published data (for 4 February) shows that attendance in state primary schools in England was at 23% and at 5% in state secondaries: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak. In aggregate, attendance so far this term has been much lower than full attendance – on average only 5% of secondary pupils and 20% of primary schools pupils have been attending face-to-face, and so we are seeing the desired reduction in social contacts.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to implement (a) the recommendation on interest rates on student loans and (b) other recommendations of Post-18 review of education and funding: independent panel report, published on 30 May 2019.

We set out an Interim Conclusion to the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding on 21 January 2021, that addressed some of the recommendations made in the independent panel’s report to the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding.

We continue to consider the recommendations, including those pertaining to higher education fees and funding, very carefully and will set out a full and final conclusion at the next comprehensive spending review.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress he has made on ensuring that every school and college has a designated lead in mental health.

It is up to schools and colleges to decide whether to put in place a lead for mental health and more are doing so. Our latest figures from a survey in 2018 reported that over 80% of schools and colleges had a lead (82% of schools, 91% of further education colleges). An earlier survey in 2016 had suggested that around half had a lead (49% of schools, 69% of colleges).

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has prioritised providing bespoke training and support to as many schools and colleges as possible to meet the immediate challenges that they face in supporting the wellbeing of children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak. We provided seminars during the summer term last year which were accessed by thousands of staff in education and have funded the £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return scheme to provide advisers and further training to schools and colleges.

All upper tier local authorities in England have identified a lead contact for Wellbeing for Education Return in September and October 2020 our national training provider, the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, trained 438 local experts. 85% of local authorities report that they are already delivering additional training and support to local schools and further education providers using the funding, with feedback indicating that this training and support is reaching more than 15,000 schools.

In the longer term, to further incentivise schools and to support leads to put in place whole school approaches to promoting good mental health and wellbeing, the department has committed to provide training for senior mental health leads in all state-funded schools and colleges in England. This is part of our commitment to our joint green paper delivery programme with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England, which also includes introducing new mental health support teams for all schools and colleges and testing approaches to faster access to NHS specialist support. The training will equip senior mental health leads with the knowledge to introduce or develop their whole school/college approach to positive mental health and implement effective processes for ensuring pupils and students with mental health problems receive appropriate support. Since the autumn term the department has been undertaking a review of the needs of senior mental health leads in the light of COVID-19 outbreak and to incorporate learning from the Wellbeing for Education Return.

Whole school approaches will include the new requirement for schools to teach about mental wellbeing as part of Relationship, Sex and Health Education (RSHE). The department is committed to supporting all schools in their preparations to teach RSHE and has developed an online service featuring innovative training materials and an implementation guide. This support will cover all of the teaching requirements in the statutory guidance and will be inclusive of all pupils. We prioritised the production of the training module covering mental wellbeing, so that it was available before the end of the summer term last year: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-about-mental-wellbeing. The mental wellbeing module has been downloaded over 21,000 times.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to help school pupils catch up with the curriculum who did not have access to a computer device during school closures in spring 2020 due to the covid-19 outbreak.

To support pupils catch up, last year the Government announced a £650 million catch up premium which aims to support schools to make up for the impact of time outside of the classroom. The Department’s expectation is that this funding will be spent on the additional activities required to support children and young people to catch up after a period of disruption to their education.

Schools will receive £80 per head for mainstream schools and £240 per head for special schools and alternative provision. We have applied additional weighting to specialist schools, recognising the significantly higher per pupil costs they face. Schools should use this as a single total and schools should prioritise spending based on need.

To help schools make the best use of this funding, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published a support guide for schools with evidence based approaches to catch up: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/#nav-covid-19-support-guide-for-schools1.

The EEF has also published a further school planning guide for 2021: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/guide-to-supporting-schools-planning/.

Alongside this, the £1 billion catch up package includes a new £350 million National Tutoring Programme for disadvantaged pupils. This will increase access to high quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people, helping to accelerate their academic progress and tackle the attainment gap between them and their peers.

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. As of Monday 25 January 2021, over 870,000 laptops and tablets had been delivered to schools, academy trusts and local authorities. We are providing this significant injection of devices on top of an estimated 2.9 million laptops and tablets already owned by schools before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Where pupils continue to experience barriers to digital remote education, we expect schools to work to overcome these barriers. This could include 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.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ensure that only the children of (a) key workers and (b) people who cannot work from home will be accepted at nurseries during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government continues to prioritise the wellbeing and long-term futures of our young children. Early years provision should remain open and continue to allow all children to attend full time or their usual timetable hours. This includes early years registered nurseries and childminders, maintained nursery schools, as well as nursery classes in schools and other pre-reception provision on school sites.

Early years childcare providers were one of the first sectors to have restrictions lifted last summer, in recognition of the key role they play in society. Childminders and nursery staff across the country have worked hard to keep settings open through the COVID-19 outbreak so that young children can be educated, and families supported.

The earliest years are the most crucial point of child development and attending early education lays the foundation for lifelong learning and supports children’s social and emotional development.

We continue to prioritise keeping early years settings open in full because of the clear benefits to children’s education and wellbeing. Caring for the youngest age group is not something that can be done remotely.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish details of the tendering process for the provision of food parcels to children eligible for free school meals who are learning at home during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown.

The Department for Education does not directly contract school catering firms for the provision of school meals or lunch parcels. These contracts are negotiated and held at school level.

It is integral that we quickly put support in place for pupils who are eligible for free school meals when they are at home, and that is why we are reopening the national voucher scheme. By the time the previous scheme closed in the summer, more than £380 million worth of vouchers had been successfully redeemed into supermarket gift cards.

We will be working with Crown Commercial Service to launch a cross-government and wider public sector tender for retails vouchers, including food vouchers, that can be used by schools and other local authority bodies. We expect further details to be released shortly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, will he review the decision to end the Union Learning Fund.

The government does not plan to review this decision. COVID-19 continues to have a significant impact on the economy and workforce, resulting in a rise in unemployment. We need to help these people re-skill where necessary and re-enter into employment. The Union Learning Fund operates mostly through larger employers within unionised parts of the economy and is not designed to help those out of work – only 2% of people supported via the Union Learning Fund are unemployed.

The decision to no longer support the Union Learning Fund after 31 March 2021 was taken as part of the wider Spending Review discussions and in light of our expanded commitment to skills development through the £2.5 million National Skills Fund, and Lifetime Skills Guarantee. This national fund will support individuals to get the training and qualifications they need wherever they are located and regardless of whether they are able to access the Union learn network.

As part of this expanded commitment, we can confirm all the money will be invested in skills and retraining that will be accessible to all.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to provide funding for short breaks and holidays for children who are seriously ill.

Supporting the most vulnerable children and young people is a priority for us, especially at this time. We know that this period is particularly hard for families caring for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities and those with serious illness.

Short breaks (or ‘respite care’), including holidays for respite purposes, are funded opportunities for children and young people to be cared for in or away from the family home. Local authorities have a statutory duty to assess the social care needs of disabled children and categories of seriously ill children and young people, and to provide respite care where necessary.

Local authorities have been allocated a further £4.6 billion this year to help their communities through the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding is un-ringfenced, recognising that local authorities are best placed to decide how to meet the priorities of their local area.

Supporting councils to maintain critical mainstream services continues to be our key priority. The Spending Review 2020 confirmed that Core Spending Power is forecast to rise by 4.5% in cash terms, which is a real terms increase. This package means that local authorities will be able to access an estimated additional £2.2 billion to support adult and children’s social care and to maintain services, including respite.

This year, we have also committed £37.3 million (including £10 million in response to the COVID-19 outbreak) to the Family Fund, which provides grants to low income families caring for disabled children or seriously ill children, including for family breaks.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ensure that Jewish university students can return home to their families during the covid-19 outbreak for Hanukkah between 10 and 18 December 2020.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education (HE) is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks to those working and studying in our HE institutions during this unprecedented situation, whilst mitigating the impact on education.

On 11 November 2020, the department published guidance on plans for student movement at the end of term, outlining what providers should do following the end of the national restrictions on 2 December, and how this affects students, irrespective of their religious denomination.

To ensure that students can be home at the end of the autumn term, but also reduce any transmission risk, the government is asking that students return home once the national restrictions have been lifted, in a “student travel window” lasting from 3-9 December. This should be in line with specific arrangements put in place by their HE provider.

The guidance on student movement at the end of term is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/student-movement-and-plans-for-the-end-of-autumn-2020-term.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to protect foster carers from covid-19 when facilitating meetings between foster children and birth parents, who reside in areas where the number of covid-19 cases is very high.

We expect that contact between children in care and their birth relatives will continue. It is essential for children and families to remain in touch at this difficult time, and for many children, the consequences of not seeing relatives would be traumatic. We expect the spirit of any court-ordered contact in relation to children in care to be maintained. However, there may be local or individual circumstances where face-to-face contact may not be possible, including where members of households are isolating or continuing to take precautions due to clinical vulnerability.

Contact arrangements should be assessed on a case by case basis taking a range of factors into account, including the government’s current social distancing guidance, guidance for children’s social care and the needs of the child. This guidance is can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing and: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care.

To facilitate any contact that is deemed appropriate, the fostering service should provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to the foster carers. More information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care#fostering.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ensure exam fairness in the 2020-21academic year.

Ensuring fairness in exams in academic year 2020-21 is the priority. It is for this reason that we have said we expect the summer 2021 exam series to go ahead.

The Department has worked closely with the qualifications regulator, Ofqual, on ways to ensure the 2021 exam series supports catch up as well as complies with public health restrictions. Ofqual has consulted on measures to free up teaching time, as well as to include optionality in some of the most content heavy subjects at GCSE. These adaptations have been developed to maximise teaching time without compromising the validity of the qualifications. We are also engaging with relevant stakeholders on the timing of examinations and the grading approach with fairness to students and upholding public confidence in qualifications as the overarching drivers. We are also working closely with Ofqual and the exam boards on contingency plans so all students have the opportunity to take exams and to receive a grade. There will be further announcements made before October half term.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allocating additional funding to (a) nurseries and (b) early years childcare providers that are working with a reduced occupancy rate as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The government wants to support nurseries, pre-schools and childminders during what must be a worrying and uncertain time.

We have said that we will continue to pay local authorities their regular instalments of Dedicated Schools Grant, including the early years block, as usual. It remains the case that local authorities can redistribute their free early education entitlement funding, in exceptional cases. That should only be done at local authorities’ discretion, as a last resort and in a clearly focussed and targeted way, from providers who have closed to those who are open, in order to secure childcare for the children of critical workers and for vulnerable children.

Further, a package of support is available for individuals and businesses which will benefit childcare providers, including a business rates holiday, business interruption loans, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and help for the self-employed. Details of support are available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures#funding.

As more settings open, the need to furlough staff may reduce. In such cases, if still required, settings can continue to access the CJRS to cover up to the proportion of their salary bill which could be considered to have been paid for from their private income (and in line with the appropriate guidance). As local authorities, working with childcare providers in their area, are best placed to make decisions in the interests of their local communities, they should continue to work in partnership with their early years sector and in doing so, should consider the current sufficiency of childcare for vulnerable children and children of critical workers, and the financial security of individual childcare settings. Guidance on the CJRS is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

We are continuing to work with the sector to understand how the early years sector can best be supported to ensure that sufficient safe, appropriate and affordable childcare is available for those returning to work now, and for all families who need it in the longer term.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department has issued to private schools on a timeline for reopening schools following the covid-19 outbreak.

Guidance on the wider opening of all schools applies to all schools in England, including independent schools, can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june. It includes detailed guidance on how schools can manage and minimise risks to children, teachers, and their families as they reopen.

We encourage all independent schools to follow the timelines we have outlined for wider opening and welcome the constructive and supportive approach taken by the sector throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

At this point, we have asked primary schools to welcome back children in Reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside the priority groups (vulnerable children and children of critical workers) that could already attend. While we will be unable to welcome all primary children back for a month before the summer, we continue to work with all parts of the education sector on the next steps. We would like to see wider opening to enable schools that have capacity to do so to bring back more children in the smaller class sizes before the summer holidays.

As outlined by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister on 24 May, secondary schools should prepare to invite year 10 and 12 pupils back into school for some face-to-face support with their teachers from 15 June.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many meetings he has had since 16 March 2020 with school (a) leadership unions, (b) teaching unions and (c) support staff unions.

The Department has been engaging widely with a wide range of stakeholders at both official and ministerial level, including headteacher, teacher and support staff unions, including through meetings listed below.

Details of weekly engagement are set out below:

  • Weekly meetings with senior policy officials and key stakeholders along with other main teaching unions, governance, social care, school trusts and local government;
  • A weekly meeting with wider stakeholders including support staff, further education and school business organisations;
  • Weekly calls for evidence from key stakeholders on key policy questions to inform decision making on reopening;
  • Weekly meetings between my right hon. Friend, my right hon. Friend, Secretary of State for Education and the main teaching unions and stakeholder groups; and
  • Ad hoc additional stakeholder meetings to address key issues as and when they arise.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's transparency data entitled, Decisions on the Disposal of School Land, published on 2 January 2019, for what reason the list of approved sales has not been updated since January 2019, and if he will update that list.

The Department recognises the importance of updating the decision list, which is undertaken periodically. Officials in the Department will shortly publish an update. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education is keen to protect school playing fields. Schools are only able to sell playing fields when they demonstrate that the disposal does not impact their curriculum and they can demonstrate they have explored all possible alternatives.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to publish a UK Ocean Recovery Strategy in summer 2021; and if he will make a statement.

The Government has an existing strategy - The UK Marine Strategy. The overall objective of the UK Marine Strategy supports the UK’s vision for ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas’ and is consistent with our commitments in the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Achieving this vision is about protecting the marine environment, preventing its deterioration and restoring it where practical, while allowing sustainable use of marine resources.

In October 2019, we published the updated Marine Strategy Part One which sets out our assessment of the status of UK seas and our targets and indicators for the period up to 2024. In March 2021, we published our update to the Marine Strategy Part Two, which sets out the programmes we have in place to monitor progress against these targets and indicators.

We are currently preparing an update of the Marine Strategy Part Three, which sets out our Programmes of Measures designed to help us achieve or maintain the vision set out in Part One of the Strategy.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment her Department has made of the reasons for the decrease in the export to the EU of (a) whisky, (b) cheese and (c) beef; and what steps her Department will take to tackle the decline in sales of those products to the EU.

A unique combination of factors, including Covid lockdowns across Europe, and businesses adjusting to a new trading relationship, made it inevitable that exports of cheese and beef to the EU, would be lower during the first quarter of this year compared to last year.

The Government has always been clear that there would be new processes to export to the EU from 1 January 2021. We continue to work closely with traders and have provided extensive advice to support businesses as they adjust to the new arrangements.

The reduction in the export value of whisky to the EU was principally due to Covid-19 restrictions limiting demand from the hospitality sector. Excluding non-EU Europe, which saw a slight increase in exports, the EU saw the lowest percentage decline in exports of Scotch Whisky compared to other global regions. However, as the largest export market for whisky, the Government is working with industry to mitigate other more recent factors which may hinder exports to the EU, such as where EU member states have been requesting additional certification for whisky and other food and drink products.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will add veterinary workers to the list of critical workers.

Schools in England reopened for all pupils on 8 March 2021. The Cabinet Office previously confirmed that only vets providing services in the food chain are included as critical workers and had been able to continue to send their children to school prior to that date. This includes veterinary surgeons working in abattoirs and meat processing plants, at border control posts, and attending to livestock production.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to reduce the use of single use plastic in supermarket packaging.

Reducing the use of single use plastic packaging is important. In the 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy we set out our ambitions to double resource productivity and eliminate avoidable waste by 2050. To help us achieve this, we are reforming the packaging producer responsibility regulations and developing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging.

EPR for packaging will see packaging producers paying for the waste management costs associated with the packaging that they place on the market. This will ensure producers are thinking about the necessity of any packaging they use. Where producers use single-use packaging, it is important that it is easily collected and recycled. EPR for Packaging will see producers’ fees modulated (varied) to account for certain criteria, including recyclability. Producers who use easily recyclable packaging will pay less than those who use hard to recycle, or unrecyclable, packaging.

In developing EPR for packaging we will also take consideration of how EPR could be used to encourage packaging reuse and refill systems. We will consult on our proposals this year. This consultation will set out our proposals for the timing of implementing the reforms.

Industry, however, is already acting. The UK Plastics Pact is jointly founded between The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the Ellen McArthur Foundation and is supported by the Government. The Pact brings together organisations from across the plastics supply chain with four key targets for 2025 that aim to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated. One of these targets is to eliminate single-use plastic packaging. Our proposed reforms will support the Pact in achieving those targets. Through the pact, work has been done to increase the sale of unpackaged products. The WRAP Fresh Produce Guidance was published in November 2019 which includes advice for retailers to help determine if fresh produce can be provided loose.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will have discussions with supermarkets to request that security guards act to encourage the use of masks by customers and restrict the number of customers in their stores.

The UK Government has regular meetings with the supermarkets, including at Ministerial level, on Covid-19 issues. This includes discussions about the measures that have supermarkets have put in place to ensure a Covid-secure environment for their customers and their staff.

We will continue to work with the supermarkets to support these activities, including how best to manage capacity in stores and to encourage the use of face coverings. On the latter we welcome the recent announcements from a number of supermarkets on the steps they are taking to encourage customers to comply with Government rules. The Secretary of State also wrote to those working in our food and drink supply chains recently, thanking them for the work they have done throughout the pandemic.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had on tackling the Phytophthora austrocedri pathogen outbreaks that threaten the UK's juniper crop; and if he will make a statement.

Phytophthora austrocedri was confirmed in England in 2011 and is an air and water borne pathogen of Juniper. We continue to monitor closely the spread of the pathogen and take measures to minimise its introduction, including statutory inspections and action on any findings in the plant trade, for example at nurseries. The Plant Health Service work closely with conservation organisations and other stakeholders to minimise the risk of spread in the wider environment by promoting good biosecurity practices and providing management guidance.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will ensure that the Environment Bill 2019-21 includes a requirement for slurries and digestates to be spread using low-emission equipment such as (a) trailing shoe, (b) trailing hose and (c) injection by 2025.

The Government has made legally binding commitments to reduce ammonia emissions from 2005 levels by 8% and 16% by 2020 and 2030, respectively.

Over the next few years the Government will introduce legislation requiring farmers to reduce ammonia emissions and is already supporting farmers to undertake best practice and invest in the farm infrastructure and equipment that will reduce emissions.

The Clean Air Strategy sets out the actions that will be taken to reduce ammonia emissions in England. These include a requirement to spread slurry and digestate using low-emission spreading equipment by 2025, for slurry and digestate stores to be covered by 2027 and for manure to be rapidly incorporated into bare soil.

We have not included specific commitments to legislate in the Environment or Agriculture Bills because the Clean Air Strategy sets out the plans for legislation in this area and we have existing powers to enable introduction of the legislation to reduce ammonia emissions set out in the Strategy.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will ensure that the Environment Bill 2019-21 includes a requirement for slurry and digestate stores to be covered by 2027.

The Government has made legally binding commitments to reduce ammonia emissions from 2005 levels by 8% and 16% by 2020 and 2030, respectively.

Over the next few years the Government will introduce legislation requiring farmers to reduce ammonia emissions and is already supporting farmers to undertake best practice and invest in the farm infrastructure and equipment that will reduce emissions.

The Clean Air Strategy sets out the actions that will be taken to reduce ammonia emissions in England. These include a requirement to spread slurry and digestate using low-emission spreading equipment by 2025, for slurry and digestate stores to be covered by 2027 and for manure to be rapidly incorporated into bare soil.

We have not included specific commitments to legislate in the Environment or Agriculture Bills because the Clean Air Strategy sets out the plans for legislation in this area and we have existing powers to enable introduction of the legislation to reduce ammonia emissions set out in the Strategy.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including in the Environment Bill a requirement for all solid manure and solid digestate spread to bare land other than that managed in a no-till system to be incorporated rapidly within 12 hours.

The Government has made legally binding commitments to reduce ammonia emissions from 2005 levels by 8% and 16% by 2020 and 2030, respectively.

Over the next few years the Government will introduce legislation requiring farmers to reduce ammonia emissions and is already supporting farmers to undertake best practice and invest in the farm infrastructure and equipment that will reduce emissions.

The Clean Air Strategy sets out the actions that will be taken to reduce ammonia emissions in England. These include a requirement to spread slurry and digestate using low-emission spreading equipment by 2025, for slurry and digestate stores to be covered by 2027 and for manure to be rapidly incorporated into bare soil.

We have not included specific commitments to legislate in the Environment or Agriculture Bills because the Clean Air Strategy sets out the plans for legislation in this area and we have existing powers to enable introduction of the legislation to reduce ammonia emissions set out in the Strategy.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to end the export of plastic waste.

The Government is deeply concerned about the illegal trade in waste, including reports of illegal plastic waste exported from the UK. Recognising the difficulties experienced by some countries in managing imports of plastic waste the Government has committed to banning the export of plastic waste to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Environment Bill includes a power which will enable us to deliver on this commitment and we will consult on the date by which this should be achieved.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will increase funding to local authorities to help support the provision of food waste bins.

Following support at consultation, we will introduce a statutory duty for waste collection authorities to arrange for the separate collection of food waste from households, at least once a week. We are legislating for this through the Environment Bill.

The Government has committed to covering the costs of any additional burdens that local authorities face as a result of new statutory duties requiring them to collect food waste separately for recycling. This is in keeping with the New Burdens Doctrine which requires new burdens on local authorities to be properly assessed and fully funded, so that there will be no increase in council tax as a result of the policy.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will ban fur imports into the UK.

I refer the hon Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Totnes on 30 June 2020, PQ UIN 62631.

[ www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-06-22/62631]

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to improve air quality in towns and city centres.

Our Clean Air Strategy sets out an ambitious programme of action to reduce air pollution from a wide range of sources in our towns and cities. We have also put in place a £3.5 billion plan to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations. Our Environment Bill makes a clear commitment to set a legally binding target to reduce fine particulate matter and enables greater local action by ensuring responsibility for tackling air pollution is shared across local government structures and with relevant public authorities. We are also strengthening the ability of local authorities to tackle smoke emissions from domestic solid fuel burning, which is a major source of fine particulate matter.

Under the Local Air Quality Management Framework, local authorities review and assess local air quality and are required to declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) if local monitoring indicates exceedance of legal air quality standards and objectives, and are then required to develop an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) to address the exceedance.

Warrington Borough Council (WBC) has declared two AQMAs in the district, both for exceedances of the NO2 annual mean. As part of its AQAP, WBC is encouraging uptake of low emission vehicles and active travel. Defra has this year awarded £87,350 from the Air Quality Grant to WBC to run an electric taxi scheme.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward the date for the Deposit Return Scheme to be introduced.

The Government committed in its manifesto to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers. We are seeking powers to do so in the Environment Bill. Since consulting on its introduction in 2019, the Government has been developing proposals for a DRS using further evidence and ongoing engagement with stakeholders. The Government plans to undertake a second consultation on a DRS in early 2021. In preparation for that consultation, we are currently reviewing the proposed timeline for its introduction.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the environmental impact of floral foam.

Plastic pollution is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today. The UK is a world leader in tackling plastic pollution, including microplastics.

There has been substantial research which reports the presence and impacts of microplastics in the marine environment. However, little is known about the sources, release and impact of microplastics, including floral foam, in the freshwater environment and their transport to marine compartments. One of Defra's priority research needs is to further our understanding of the effects of these materials on the freshwater environment.

Our priority is preventing plastic from entering the environment in the first place. The Government's landmark Resources and Waste Strategy sets out our plans to eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042. We are also seeking a new power in the Environment Bill to be able to place charges on single-use plastic items to encourage businesses and citizens to shift toward more reusable products.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will make it her policy to exclude the NHS from potential future trade deals.

Trade is vital for the NHS, which relies heavily on crucial goods and services that come wholly, or in part, from suppliers based overseas. Trade enables the NHS to buy the best possible medicines and medical devices that industry – here and overseas – has to offer.

At the same time, Britain’s international public procurement commitments do not apply to the procurement of British healthcare services.

In fact, Britain’s public services are protected by specific exclusions, exceptions and reservations in the trade agreements to which we are party, and HM Government will continue to make sure that the same rigorous protections are included in future trade agreements.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

HM Government is able to review licences – and suspend or revoke as necessary – when circumstances require, and this is done in line with the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.

Specifically, Criterion 2c makes sure that we do not grant licences if there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what representations her Department has made to the US Government on the proposed imposition of tariffs on gin from the UK; and if she will make a statement.

HM Government takes the negative impact of US tariffs very seriously. These tariffs are unnecessary, unhelpful and harm industry on both sides of the Atlantic.

HM Government continues to raise the issue of tariffs with the highest levels of the United States administration at every opportunity. On 10 July, my Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade engaged the US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, on how the potential tariffs being consulted on would threaten the United Kingdom gin industry. Instead of escalating existing tariffs, we need to work together towards a negotiated settlement.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to ban short haul domestic flights; and whether his Department has made any assessment of the potential merits of such a policy.

We have no plans to ban domestic flights. The aviation sector is vital for the whole of the UK economy in terms of connectivity, direct economic activity, trade, investment and jobs, particularly where viable alternative modes of travel are limited.

We are committed to enabling the recovery of the sector to support our levelling up agenda through regional connectivity and strengthen ties within the Union. We recognise the importance of maintaining a thriving and competitive aviation sector in the UK to deliver connectivity.

The Government is already supporting a variety of technology, fuel and market-based measures to address aviation emissions, and we will consult on a Net Zero Aviation Strategy in the coming months, setting out the steps to reach net zero aviation emissions by 2050.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will extend the validity of driving licences for foreign nationals who are eligible to drive in the UK for 12 months before requiring a theory test, in the context of disruption caused by the covid-19 outbreak.

There are no plans to extend the 12-month period for which holders of foreign driving licences can drive in Great Britain using that licence. To continue driving after the 12-month period the driver must either exchange their licence, if it was issued by a country which has been designated for licence exchange purposes, or apply for a provisional driving licence and pass both a theory and practical driving test.

Where the UK has reached an agreement with an EU Member State on Recognition and Exchange, the UK will continue to recognise extended EU driving licences from 1 January 2021.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has plans to bring further rail franchises under the operator of last resort.

The Operator of Last Resort (OLR) function exists to discharge the Secretary of State’s duties under Section 30 of the Railways Act 1993. In deciding whether to transfer an operator to the OLR, the Secretary of State has regard to the Statement of Policy on the exercise of the Secretary of State's power under section 26(1) of the Railways Act 1993.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will launch a review into the safety of smart motorways; and will he make a statement.

We recognise the concerns around smart motorway safety and commissioned an urgent stocktake of the evidence which was published on the 12 March 2020. A package of 18 measures costing £500 million will allow us to retain the benefits of smart motorways while addressing the concerns that have been identified. The 18-point Action Plan includes the faster rollout of a radar-based, stopped vehicle detection (SVD) system across the all lane running motorway network, and national and targeted communications campaigns to further increase awareness and understanding.

The Secretary of State has asked for a one-year on report from Highways England setting out progress in delivering the 18-point Action Plan and identifying actions that can be delivered early. He has asked for the report by 12 March 2021 so any accelerated works can be rapidly put in place.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to publish the Integrated Rail Plan.

Following full consideration of the National Infrastructure Commission's report, the Government expects to publish the Integrated Rail Plan early in 2021.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make it his policy to introduce rapid covid-19 testing at all UK airports.

As of 15 December, international arrivals to England can opt in to Test to Release for International Travel, allowing them to shorten self-isolation by up to 5 days after receiving a negative test result.

Any decisions on whether and how we can further ease border requirements, including whether rapid Covid-19 testing could be introduced at UK airports, will be made on the basis of clinical and scientific evidence.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make it his policy to extend eligibility for the older person's bus pass to women who have not yet reached state pension age but were born before 1960.

Lowering the age of eligibility for concessionary bus travel to sixty would see a return to the anomalous position of non-disabled people of working-age receiving free bus passes. Re-establishing the link between concessionary bus pass eligibility and the state pension age addresses that issue and will help the financial sustainability of the scheme.

Under Concessionary Travel legislation, local authorities have the power to offer additional discretionary concessions, including the extension of concessionary travel to those who are yet to reach the qualifying age, such as have been introduced in London, Liverpool and Greater Manchester.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will review the decision to publish the report on the London Garden Bridge.

A number of reports about the Garden Bridge project have been published, including by the National Audit Office, Charity Commission and an independent review led by Dame Margaret Hodge. These reports are publicly available.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make it his policy to allocate an additional £10 billion of funding to existing railway infrastructure.

Expenditure across Government is currently being reviewed as part of the ongoing Spending Review. Specific funding for rail infrastructure is determined across Control Periods (usually five-years) via a statutory process overseen by the independent Office of Rail and Road. The current funding settlement was based on advice from both Network Rail and the Office of Rail and Road on the levels of expenditure needed to ensure a safe and reliable railway across the years 2019 through 2024. The funding for the next period will be set via the regulatory process, which is currently in its early stages.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to publish the Williams Rail Review.

The Government is committed to bringing forward vital sector-wide reforms and commissioned Keith Williams to carry out the first root and branch review of the rail industry in a generation. The Review was in its final stages at the outbreak of COVID-19. The Government views the purpose of the reforms as important as ever, but further work needs to be done now to reflect the impact of COVID-19 on the sector and we continue to examine a range of options to reform the railways. The Government will publish a White Paper with details on the Government's plans for rail reform once the course of the pandemic becomes clearer.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will bring into public ownership (a) the UK railway network and (b) rolling stock companies.

The Government’s new deal for rail will keep the best elements of the private sector, including competition and investment, that have helped to drive growth - but deliver strategic direction, leadership and accountability. We will set out further details in a White Paper when the course of the Covid-19 pandemic becomes clearer.

The Secretary of State also has no plans to bring the rolling stock companies into public ownership. The UK rolling stock market has been a vibrant one and passengers are benefiting from private investment in new trains across the country.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will commit to increasing funding by £6 billion to local authorities for the investment of cycling and walking infrastructure.

In May, the Government announced £2 billion of new funding for cycling and walking. £225 million is being made available to local authorities in 2020-21 via the Emergency Active Travel Fund to invest in new cycling and walking infrastructure. Decisions on further funding will be a matter for the Spending Review later this year.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to lift quarantine restrictions for people returning to the UK from Portugal.

Portugal was added to the travel corridor list on 22 August.

15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress he has made on reviewing the merits of the inclusion of the Golborne Spur section in phase 2b of High Speed Two project.

  • The Government has committed to developing an Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) which will look at how to deliver Phase 2b of HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and other Network Rail programmes better and more effectively, ensuring the benefits are brought to the North and Midlands as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  • The Golborne Link is part of the current plans for the western leg of Phase 2b of HS2.

  • The Golborne Link is being considered as part of the IRP, which will assess the Link’s benefits, costs and the best way to serve the North West of England and Scotland.

  • We expect the findings of the IRP to be published by the end of this year. Should any design changes be proposed, they will be subject to future consultation.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of further encouraging the uptake of cycling by extending the subsidies his Department provides to other electric vehicles to include e-bikes.

The cycle to work scheme allows employees to access e-bikes at a discount, and since February 2018 the Department has supported the uptake of e-cargo bikes through a £2m grant programme. The Department has also supported some local authorities with local schemes to support the uptake of e-bikes, through its £20 million per annum Access Fund. The Department will keep under review the case for further support for e-bikes following the announcement on 9 May of a £2 billion package of support for cycling and walking.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the value for money of the administration charges levied by providers of the Cycle to Work Scheme vouchers; and if he will make a statement.

The Department for Transport has made no assessment of these charges and costs. Where an employer uses a scheme provider for their Cycle to Work Scheme any arrangements for costs and charges are matters for the two parties to determine as part of the contract between themselves.

On the 9th May the Government announced a £2 billion package of funding for cycling and walking. This includes £250 million which will encourage cycling to work through the provision of pop up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, as well as vouchers for cycle repairs and greater provision for bike fixing facilities. This builds on the refreshed Cycle to Work Scheme Guidance published in 2019 which made it easier for employers to provide bicycles and equipment including e-bikes and adapted bikes worth over £1,000.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of placing a cap on the costs charged by providers of the Cycle to Work Scheme vouchers as (a) a proportion of the total purchase cost of a bike and (b) a flat rate.

The Department for Transport has made no assessment of these charges and costs. Where an employer uses a scheme provider for their Cycle to Work Scheme any arrangements for costs and charges are matters for the two parties to determine as part of the contract between themselves.

On the 9th May the Government announced a £2 billion package of funding for cycling and walking. This includes £250 million which will encourage cycling to work through the provision of pop up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, as well as vouchers for cycle repairs and greater provision for bike fixing facilities. This builds on the refreshed Cycle to Work Scheme Guidance published in 2019 which made it easier for employers to provide bicycles and equipment including e-bikes and adapted bikes worth over £1,000.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to provide a £20 per week uplift to legacy benefits in line with the £20 per week uplift provided to universal credit.

There are no plans to extend the temporary Universal Credit uplift to legacy benefits, and Parliament has voted to bring an end to legacy benefits in Great Britain. Natural migration to Universal Credit (UC) is required when a person needs to claim new support because of a change of circumstances.

Claimants on legacy benefits can voluntarily make a claim for UC if they believe that they will be better off. Claimants considering making a claim should check carefully their eligibility and entitlements under UC before applying, as legacy benefits will end when claimants submit their UC claim and they will not be able to return to them in the future. For this reason, prospective claimants are signposted to independent benefits calculators on GOV.UK. They can also get help through the government funded Help to Claim scheme as well as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Citizens Advice Scotland.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has plans to renew the suspension of the minimum income floor.

The Chancellor announced on 3 March that the easement to the minimum income floor will be extended by a further 3 months.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to stop national insurance contributions made by women who have not yet reached state pension age, but were born before 1960 and had already fully contributed under the state pension scheme in place before 2016.

We have no plans to change the longstanding National Insurance arrangements.

The National Insurance scheme operates on a 'pay-as-you-go' basis meaning that today’s contributors are paying for today’s Social Security entitlements and pensions, while those who paid contributions in the past were paying for the pensioners of that time. The National Insurance contributions people make not only go towards the State Pension, but also entitle them to a range of contributory Social Security benefits and bereavement benefits. A proportion of National Insurance contributions also goes towards funding the NHS (around 20 per cent of receipts).

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to allocate funding to maintain the £20 uplift to universal credit payments beyond April 2021.

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until March 2021. As the Government has done throughout this crisis, it will continue to assess how best to support low-income families, which is why we will look at the economic and health context before making any decisions.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to increase the amount added to state pensions when a claimant turns 80 years of age from £0.25, in line with inflation back dated to 1971.

There are no plans to increase the age addition amount. There is a range of other measures and benefits that are available to pensioners over age 80. These include Pension Credit which can top up a pensioner’s income to a minimum of £173.75 a week for single pensioners and £265.20 for couples and provide access to a range of other benefits such as help with rent, council tax reduction schemes, heating costs and, for those aged 75 or over, a free television licence. Households with people aged 80 and over also receive a Winter Fuel Payment of £300 instead of the standard £200 for households with pensioners below that age. Additionally, since April 2010, the full yearly amount of the basic State Pension has risen by around £1900 in cash terms.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many fast food outlets have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive for breaches of coronavirus health and safety adjustments in (a) March, (b) April, (c) May and (d) June 2020.

Health and safety in fast food outlets is enforced by Local Authorities (LAs), who act as independent enforcers of health and safety. LAs in England are currently reporting their general coronavirus enforcement activity to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). BEIS does not hold data on the number of fast food outlets that have been reported. Across businesses in general, those in control are overwhelmingly seeking to comply with legislation and very few have required formal enforcement action to be taken.

During this period, across Great Britain, LA officers have been out in their local communities dealing with safety and health issues along with other coronavirus related activities linked to their wider public health duties. The clear guidance available on the governments webpages (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19) and the Health and Safety Executive’s website (https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/index.htm) is there so business can understand what they need to do to meet their legal duties and set the standards that Officers will enforce against and advise upon.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of coronavirus health and safety adjustments in fast food outlets; and if she will make a statement.

Health and safety in fast food outlets is enforced by Local Authorities (LAs), who act as independent enforcers of health and safety. LAs in England are currently reporting their general coronavirus enforcement activity to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). BEIS does not hold data on the number of fast food outlets that have been reported. Across businesses in general, those in control are overwhelmingly seeking to comply with legislation and very few have required formal enforcement action to be taken.

During this period, across Great Britain, LA officers have been out in their local communities dealing with safety and health issues along with other coronavirus related activities linked to their wider public health duties. The clear guidance available on the governments webpages (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19) and the Health and Safety Executive’s website (https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/index.htm) is there so business can understand what they need to do to meet their legal duties and set the standards that Officers will enforce against and advise upon.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the number of new universal credit claimants that would be unable to make mortgage interest payments if their mortgage payment holiday expires; and if she will make a statement.

No such assessment has been made.

New claimants to Universal Credit have to serve a nine month qualifying period before they are entitled to help with their mortgage interest. The lending industry is aware of and understands these arrangements. If, during this time, individuals are unable to meet their payments, we would encourage them to discuss options with their lenders.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will increase the allocation of funding from the public purse for motor neurone disease research to above £5 million per year.

Over the past five years, the Government has spent a total of £55 million on motor neurone disease (MND) research. In 2019/20, the Department, through the National Institute for Health Research, spent £2.7 million on MND research. Additionally, UK Research and Innovation, through the Medical Research Council, spent £13.4 million on MND research in 2019/20. We are currently working on ways to significantly boost further research on dementia and neurodegeneration, including MND.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to reduce the backlog for operations and enable NHS staff to take all allocated their annual leave in 2021.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have asked local services to draw up plans to tackle the elective backlog, while taking into account staff wellbeing. An additional £1 billion funding has been made available to the National Health Service in 2021-22 to support the start of the recovery of elective activity, to reduce patient waiting times.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have issued planning guidance for 2021-22 which prioritises ‘looking after our people and helping them to recover’. This includes encouraging NHS trusts to offer flexibility for staff to take time off to recover, to allow staff to carry over all unused annual leave, or to buy back unused leave.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will expand free covid-19 testing to businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

Organisations with fewer than 50 employees can access tests via local community testing.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason an estimated one third of social care staff had not received their first covid-19 vaccination as of 15 February 2021; and what steps he is taking to increase the rate of vaccination of social care staff.

The Government met its target to offer a vaccine to everyone within the top four priority groups, including social care workers by 15 February 2021.

We continue to ensure that as many social care workers as possible receive their first and second doses when offered. We are conducting second visits to care homes to offer vaccinations to staff who were unavailable on the day of the first visit.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, will scientific advice he received prior to the decision that travellers from certain countries will need to enter a quarantine hotel upon arrival in the UK.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to (a) retain nurses employed in the NHS, (b) encourage nurses who have left the NHS to return to the NHS and (c) attract more students to train in the nursing profession.

The latest NHS People Plan published in July 2020 sets out actions to retain staff for longer through a range of measures from flexible working, to improved training for line managers and more comprehensive occupational and mental health support.

Since 2014, Health Education England has supported a national return to practice (RTP) campaign for all branches of nursing, in response to the national shortage of nurses across the National Health Service. Between September 2014 and 30 September 2020, 7,106 returners have accessed RTP programmes.

As part of the new funding package for healthcare students non-repayable, training grants of at least £5,000 per academic year are available to eligible new and continuing pre-registration nursing students, studying at English universities. In 2020, there were 29,740 acceptances to nursing and midwifery courses in England. This is 6,110 more than in 2019 and an increase of 26%.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to provide staff to Nightingale hospitals in the event that general hospitals are overwhelmed by covid-19 patients.

The Nightingale hospitals stand ready to provide support to local services and accept patients if needed based on local clinical advice. The National Health Service has flexed hospital capacity throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so, including staffing Nightingale hospitals as needed.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing (a) retail workers and (b) other workers in public facing roles to be prioritised for the covid-19 vaccine once everyone over the age of 50 has been offered it.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccines the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level.  For the first phase, the JCVI have advised that the vaccine be given to care home residents and staff, as well as frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors.

Prioritisation decisions for next phase delivery are subject to of the surveillance and monitoring data and information from phase one, as well as further input from independent scientific experts such as the JCVI. Phase two may include further reduction in hospitalisation and targeted vaccination of those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, in which (a) professions, (b) settings and (c) activities are covid-19 transmission rates highest.

Public Health England does not hold information on transmission rates in the format requested.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what evidence informed his Department's decision that children under the age of 11 do not need to wear a mask in an enclosed public space during the covid-19 outbreak.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF advise that children aged 12 years old and over should wear a face covering under the same conditions as adults, particularly when they cannot guarantee at least a one metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area. Our guidance reflects this.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to provide fast-track covid-19 vaccination training to health care workers who are already qualified to carry out vaccinations.

Secondary legislation which enables more healthcare workers to administer flu and potential COVID-19 vaccines has been introduced. The National Health Service can expand the vaccination workforce by recruiting to clinical roles needed to support mass vaccinations in a safe way. We have recruited and mobilised an 80,000 strong vaccination workforce. Staff have been identified to meet supply in all three delivery models - community teams, vaccination sites and hospital hubs.

The national vaccination effort has also been boosted by many former clinicians, care staff, sectors and students and training for those already qualified was streamlined.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his latest forecast is for the covid-19 vaccine to have been offered to everyone eligible for that vaccine in the UK.

On 20 February we set new targets for the acceleration of the programme to offer all adults over 50 years old a first dose by mid-April and the rest of the adult population by the end of July.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to expand eligibility for the Test and Trace Support Payment to working single parents who do not have alternative childcare options in the event that their children must self-isolate as a result of exposure to covid-19.

The Test and Trace Support Payment scheme is for people who have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, either because they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. If a child is self-isolating because they have tested positive, other household members will also need to self-isolate and will be able to claim under the scheme, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria.

Parents or guardians of children who have to self-isolate because of contact with someone outside their household who has tested positive are not eligible.  If a parent and/or guardian needs support because a child has to self-isolate, the NHS Test and Trace service can provide guidance on how to access local support provided by their local authority or by NHS Volunteer Responders.  The Test and Trace Support Payment scheme is being kept under review.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential (a) merits and (b) implications of permitting Christmas household bubbles to attend hospitality settings in areas with Tier 2 covid-19 restrictions.

The Government is committed to publishing data that has informed its decision making, including the tiers framework and allocations.

We have also published supporting information to accompany the laying of the most recent regulations are laid before Parliament on 30 November, which is available at the following link:


https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-health-economic-and-social-effects-of-covid-19-and-the-tiered-approach

Epidemiological data and projection models on local restriction tiers, including commentary on individual tier allocation decisions, is available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/938964/Coronavirus_England_briefing_26_November.pdf.

This provides further information and context beyond the headline metrics as to why areas are in particular tiers currently.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to allow people in receipt of qualifying benefits who have been advised to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment by (a) NHS hospitals and (b) schools, but not by NHS Test and Trace, to claim that support.

Anyone who receives notification of a positive test result, or identified as being in close contact with someone who has tested positive will be able to apply for the Test and Trace Support Payment (TTSP), if they meet the other eligibility criteria.

Individuals awaiting a test will need to have had their test, tested positive and received their notification from NHS Test and Trace confirming their test result before they can claim. Being advised by a hospital or school to claim TTSP does not in itself give entitlement to claim support payments.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to ensure the procurement and tendering process for rapid testing for covid-19 is fair and transparent.

Contracting authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances under the Public Contract Regulations 2015. Under the regulations contracting authorities may enter into contracts without competing or advertising the requirement. Suppliers will be evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing, compliance with minimum product and service specifications and ability to perform the contract. Contracts are placed in line with Departmental terms and conditions which include clauses for contract management to ensure that supplier performance and the delivery of value for money can be properly assessed throughout the lifetime of the contract.

Where contracts with commercial partners have been finalised the Department is publishing contract award notices on the Contracts Finder service on GOV.UK at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/contracts-finder

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social care, when his Department plans to publish equality impact assessments for the covid-19 tier measures.

The Government is committed to publishing data that has informed its decision making, including the tiers framework and allocations.

We have also published a supporting document to accompany the most recent regulations on 30 November. This is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-health-economic-and-social-effects-of-covid-19-and-the-tiered-approach

Epidemiological data and projection models on local restriction tiers, including commentary on individual tier allocation decisions is available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/938964/Coronavirus_England_briefing_26_November.pdf

This document provides further information and context as to why areas are in particular tiers currently.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what research his Department is undertaking on the longer-term health impacts of covid-19 for women.

The Department, through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation, have launched a £20 million joint research call to fund ambitious and comprehensive research to understand and address the longer term physical and mental health effects of COVID-19 in individuals who contracted the virus but were not hospitalised. The aim is to support two or three large consortia and a number of extensions to existing studies. These studies will be robust and of sufficient scale with the potential to include analysis of factors such as gender.

There are also several other large Departmental and NIHR-supported surveillance studies which are looking to understand the importance of factors such as age and potentially gender in determining COVID-19 disease severity, for example Virus Watch and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the contracts tendered by the Government for personal protective equipment during the covid-19 outbreak went to companies owned by (a) women and 9b) BAME individuals.

Information on the gender and ethnicity of the owners of companies which offered to supply personal protective equipment to the Department was not required as part of the bidding process.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, which organisations will be responsible for (a) the distribution of covid-19 vaccines and (b) delivering the inoculation.

The Vaccine Taskforce (VTF) works with vaccine manufacturers to put in place robust plans for the delivery of vaccines to Public Health England, for onward distributions to the site of administration.

The Department of Health and Social Care is ultimately responsible for vaccine deployment and works closely with NHS England and Public Health England to ensure that the vaccines are administered safely and efficiently to the public by appropriately qualified healthcare staff.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his timescale is for rolling out mass covid-19 in Warrington; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of rolling out mass covid-19 testing to all parts of the UK.

As part of the Community Testing Programme, all local authority areas including Warrington Borough Council, at significant risk have been offered the opportunity to participate in order to make a co-ordinated effort to drive prevalence down of COVID-19 in their respective areas. Proposals are also carefully assessed at both a local and national level to ensure they are appropriate and safe and learning can be shared across the country. Community testing builds on the existing rollout of rapid lateral flow testing to all Directors of Public Health

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will extend the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme to workers told to self-isolate who are not in receipt of qualifying benefits and who cannot work from home.

If a worker is not in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits and cannot work from home, they may be eligible for a £500 discretionary payment, provided they meet the eligibility criteria set by their local authority.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to provide medicinal cannabis prescriptions on the NHS.

Following the rescheduling of cannabis-based products for medicinal use under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, as of 1 November 2018, doctors on the General Medical Council’s Specialist Register have been able to prescribe these medicines, where clinically appropriate and in the best interests of patients. The same rules apply regardless of whether medicinal cannabis is prescribed on the National Health Service or privately.

Two licensed cannabis-based medicines have recently been made available for prescribing on the NHS for patients with Multiple Sclerosis or hard to treat epilepsies, where clinically appropriate. This follows clear demonstrated evidence of their safety, and clinical and cost effectiveness.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to include specialist dementia wards for hospitals in plans for supporting people with dementia in England for 2020-25.

We know that environment in which care is given and the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the workforce delivering that care are critical to the outcomes of people living with dementia.

We supported the National Dementia Action Alliance’s Dementia Friendly Hospital Charter which is helping ensure hospitals are able to support people living with dementia and their families effectively. The Charter has recently been updated in response to COVID-19 and we committed in the Challenge on Dementia 2020 that all National Health Service staff would receive training on dementia appropriate to their role.

We expect to build on this work when we update our Dementia strategy.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the evidential basis for the Government's decision to allow (a) 30 people to attend a funeral and (b) 15 people to attend a wedding.

We recognise that both weddings and funerals are significant events for people, and that their importance is perhaps more to the fore in difficult times. Allowing attendance at weddings of up to 15, and at funerals of up to 30, goes some way towards meeting the participants’ understandable wishes, while at the same time minimising the spread of the virus.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has listened carefully to the views of the scientific community, in particular the information from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and its sub-groups when taking decisions on the best way to tackle the pandemic. We continue to keep these restrictions under constant review and will ensure they remain proportionate to the threat to public health posed by COVID-19.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the scientific advice for the decision to introduce covid-19 lockdown restrictions in Warrington.

On Tuesday 22 September, restrictions were placed on Warrington and several other areas in North West England, West Yorkshire and the Midlands. Warrington was escalated to an ‘area of intervention’ through the Local Action Committee process.

NHS Test and Trace, the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England constantly monitor the levels of infection and other data on prevalence of the virus across the country to inform the Local Action Committee decision-making process. A wide range of indicators are monitored to ensure situational awareness across England. Data on local virus prevalence is published with detailed information provided to local systems, providing an early-warning system to enable early, preventative action.

The epidemiological data for decisions made at the Local Action Committee are published, and the specific data for Warrington at that time is contained here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/919115/Contain_framework_lower_tier_local_authority_watchlist_-_maps_by_Lower_Super_Output_Area_-_18_September_2020.pdf

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing a two person household, in which one person is a carer, to form a support bubble with another household which consists of at least two people.

The Government recognises the vital role unpaid carers play and understand the many difficulties and challenges they are face, especially during this difficult period. We also acknowledge how difficult it has been for people to be cut off from their friends and family throughout this period. However, as we are seeing COVID-19 cases rise at a rapid rate across the country and, given how serious this virus is, it is important that everyone plays their part by following the measures in place, including the rule of six, washing their hands, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask in enclosed spaces.

Support bubbles are to assist the loneliest and most isolated in society. They were introduced to provide extra support to some of those most impacted by the difficult effects of the social restrictions, while ensuring we continue to keep the rate of transmission low. This is why the policy has been targeted at single-adult households.

To help family carers continue to access support they need we have worked with the Social Care Institute for Excellence to publish guidance to help make decisions on restarting respite provision in day centres services or alternatives to support carers and to provide quality care safely. This guidance was published in July.

We know carers need more support and will continue to keep our guidance under review and continue to work closely with carer organisations and others to support unpaid carers.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to ensure arthritis services resume as soon as possible following the disruption resulting from the covid-19 outbreak.

A range of guidance has been made available to healthcare commissioners and clinicians to support the resumption of arthritis services following the COVID-19 outbreak, which have now been restarted.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence guidance ‘COVID-19 rapid guideline: rheumatological autoimmune, inflammatory and metabolic bone disorders’, updated on 2 July 2020, sets out best practice for clinicians and commissioners on managing disorders, including arthritis, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance is available at the following link:

www.nice.org.uk/guidance/NG167

NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Federation of Specialty Surgical Associations have also provided a range of prioritisation advice for restarting community services, which set out how to meet the needs of people with conditions such as arthritis safely and effectively, including where surgery is required. This guidance can be found at the following links:

www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/covid-19-prioritisation-within-community-health-services-with-annex_19-march-2020/

fssa.org.uk/_userfiles/pages/files/covid19/prioritisation_master_240820.pdf

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what information his Department holds on the average distance of a covid test site from home that people have been offered in each of the last four weeks.

The Government does not publish data in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of easing covid-19 visiting restrictions for care homes.

We are aware that limiting visits in care homes has been difficult for many families and residents who want to see their loved ones. The decision on whether or not to allow visitors, and in what circumstances will be for the relevant Director of Public Health and managers of each individual setting to make. Care homes will be supported by local infection control leads in making decisions about visiting, to ensure that the balance of risks and benefits is appropriately considered.

The Visiting guidance will be updated as the risk posed by COVID-19 continues to change.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he make it his policy to raise pharmacy staff wages in line with pay rises for other public sector workers.

Over one million National Health Service staff, including pharmacy staff employed on the Agenda for Change Contract, continue to benefit from the three-year Agenda for Change pay and contract reform deal (2018/19-2020/21), agreed in partnership with NHS trade unions and employer representatives.

The multi-year Agenda for Change pay and contract reform deal has seen year on year pay increases; those below the top of their pay band have seen increases of at least 9% and pay for most staff at the top of their pay band has increased by 6.5%. We expect the independent NHS pay review body to return to making pay recommendations for Agenda for Change staff for 2021/22.

For pharmacy staff not directly employed in the NHS it is for their employer to determine pay. Community pharmacies are private businesses and it is for these employers to determine staff salaries.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the value is of funding for public health responsibilities which he plans to reallocate to bodies other than the National Institute for Health Protection as a result of the reorganisation of Public Health England.

The Government is considering the future location of current Public Health England functions, including the detail of what is expected to transfer to the National Institute for Health Protection and what may be undertaken by other organisations. Decisions on the Government’s future public health investment will be taken as part of the Spending Review, which is due to conclude in the autumn.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many supermarket workers have been infected with covid-19.

Public Health England does not publish data of the occupation of those who test positive for COVID-19, meaning the number of supermarket workers who have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic is not available.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will increase funding to dental practices for the purchase of personal protective equipment.

Dentists contract with NHS England and NHS Improvement to deliver a given annual level of service in return for an agreed contract value. NHS England and NHS Improvement made an early decision in late March to continue funding National Health Service dental contracts to support dental practices despite all routine dentistry being suspended. During the restart period which began on 8 June NHS England and NHS Improvement funding for NHS dental contracts continues and activity requirements continue to be reviewed in consultation with the profession. Dental practices are therefore able to gradually restart while still receiving their full NHS funding.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the Government plans for future covid-19 vaccinations to be free at the point of use.

We are working across the health and care sector to effectively deliver a successful vaccine as soon as one becomes available. This relies on several factors, including the number of doses received, vaccine characteristics, and the results of any clinical trials. However, anyone who is recommended to receive the vaccine will be able to do so for free on the National Health Service.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will set up a task force to implement the recommendations made by the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review.

The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review published its report on 8 July and all of its recommendations, including the setting up of a taskforce, will be considered carefully.

The Government will provide an update in due course.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what meetings he has had with the British Society for Immunology regarding covid-19.

We have no record of any such meetings.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to increase cancer (a) screening and (b) treatment.

The Government committed in the NHS Long Term Plan to detect 75% of cancers at stage 1 or 2, and for 55,000 more people to survive cancer for five years in England each year from 2028.

We have established a comprehensive Screening Improvement Programme that includes actions we need to take to improve our national screening programmes and save even more lives through the early detection of cancer. We are also trialling the expansion of the Breast Screening Programme, offering additional screening to 47-49 and 71-73 year old women through the AgeX trial.

We are increasing cancer treatment through investing in Cancer Alliances across England to ensure each cancer patient gets the right care for them. This includes the establishment of Rapid Diagnostic Centres - for the first time there will be a route of referral for patients with non-specific symptoms that could indicate cancer.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to increase the level of digital pathology in the NHS.

NHSX and NHS Digital have an existing workstream for digital pathology. This work was delayed in order to divert resources to support the COVID-19 pandemic, including working with pathology systems in the collection of virus and antibody test results. As we move back to focus on core activities, digital pathology work will resume. NHSX will be working with the pathology community to develop a digital pathology strategy which will cover updates to coding and messaging standards as well as the ability to view results across the National Health Service.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many and what proportion of employees of NHS Ambulance Trusts in England (a) were on sick leave, (b) were self-isolating due to covid-19 and (c) had tested positive for covid-19 in each of the last six weeks.

The Department does not hold the data requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the level of under-counting of deaths from covid-19 on death certificates; and if he will make a statement.

Weekly Office for National Statistics (ONS) data on deaths involving COVID-19 refer to deaths where COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions. If a death certificate mentions COVID-19 it will not always be the main cause of death but may be a contributory factor.

The data quality of death certificates is dependent on the correct identification and registration of the cause, or causes, of death by medical practitioners. More information on the publication of ONS mortality rates can be found at the following link:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/methodologies/userguidetomortalitystatisticsjuly2017#registration-of-deaths

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that developing nations have access to a covid-19 vaccine.

The UK is committed to rapid equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, and has committed £548 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), which is the international initiative to support global equitable access to vaccines, of which the UK is one of the largest bilateral donors. Our commitment has helped encourage other donors to commit $1 billion by the end of 2020, and will contribute to the supply of at least 1.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021 for up to 92 developing countries. Over 100 countries and territories have received COVAX deliveries. The Prime Minister has also said that the UK will share the majority of future vaccine doses surplus to domestic needs with COVAX.

The COVAX AMC aims to supply fully subsidised doses sufficient to vaccinate up to 20 per cent of country populations, initially prioritising healthcare workers, and then expanding to cover other priority groups. Countries will then be able to procure additional subsidised doses, subject to vaccine availability, to increase coverage further. COVAX is supporting countries to assess vaccine introduction readiness, and to develop detailed national deployment and vaccination plans, including support needed to strengthen delivery systems. Our network of health advisers in AMC countries are working to support host governments to apply to the COVAX AMC and prepare for vaccine delivery.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he plans to have further discussions with his EU counterparts on changing the rule which allows UK nationals to visit Europe without a visa for 90 days in a 180-day period to reflect the rule allowing EU nationals to visit the UK.

The Government discussed arrangements with the EU for British Citizens travelling to the Schengen Area. Regrettably, the EU consistently maintained that British Citizens will be treated as third-country nationals under the Schengen Borders Code from 1 January 2021. This means that British Citizens are able to travel visa-free for short stays for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. This is the standard length of stay that EU offers to nationals of eligible third countries that offer visa-free travel for EU citizens, in line with existing EU legislation.

British Citizens planning to stay longer will need permission from the relevant Member State(s). This may require applying for a visa and/or permit. Information about travel to Europe is available on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

The UK's Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU confirms that both the UK and EU currently provide for visa-free travel for short-term visits for each other's nationals in accordance with their respective laws. The detail of those arrangements is set by domestic law. The Government does not typically enter into bilateral agreements on visa-free travel. The UK keeps its visa system under regular review, and the new points-based immigration system has been developed in the national interest. The Government also keeps arrangements and advice for British Citizens travelling abroad under regular review.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Indian counterpart on the effect of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance ,2020, on the prices farmers will now receive for their produce.

The British High Commission in New Delhi monitors political, social and economic developments in India, including agricultural reform and works closely with the Union and State Governments, and Non-Governmental Organisations, to build capacity and share expertise to promote prosperity for all in India. We support marginalised farmers through technical assistance programmes which strengthen the quality and productivity of local natural resource infrastructure, and by building state and local government capabilities to deliver improved social protection.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what progress has been made on the Government’s consultation on cryptocurrencies; and what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the scope of that consultation.

On 7 January HM Treasury published a consultation on the broader regulatory treatment of cryptoassets, with a focus on cryptoassets known as stablecoins. It also included a call for evidence on the use of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) in financial markets. This consultation has now closed. The Government is reviewing responses and will outline next steps in due course.

The Government’s near-term priority is to ensure the framework supports the safe use of stablecoins. The Government continues to actively monitor emerging risks as this market continues to mature and stands ready to take further regulatory action if required.

The Government also issued a consultation last year on a proposal to bring certain cryptoassets into the scope of financial promotions regulation. This would ensure that relevant cryptoasset promotions are held to the same high standards for fairness, clarity and accuracy that apply to the financial services industry. The consultation is now closed, and the Government will be publishing its response in due course.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to lift the public sector pay freeze.

In order to protect jobs and ensure fairness, we confirmed at the Spending Review (2020) that there will be a temporary pause to headline pay rises for the majority of public sector workforces in 2021-22.

It is right to temporarily pause pay awards for public sector workers earning £24,000 and above on a full-time equivalent basis, while we assess the impact Coronavirus has on the wider economy and labour market.

For all workforces where such arrangements exist, performance pay, overtime, pay progression and pay rises from promotion will continue. This means that the majority of public sector workers will see an increase in their pay in 2021/22.

Given the unique impact of Covid-19 on the health service, and despite the challenging economic context, the government will continue to provide for pay rises for over 1 million NHS workers.

The Government will also prioritise the lowest paid, with 2.1 million public sector workers earning less than £24,000 receiving a minimum £250 increase.

The Government will reassess public sector pay policy ahead of the 2022/23 Annual Pay Round when the impact of Covid-19 on the wider labour market will be clearer.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will publish information on the net financial benefit to the (a) Exchequer and (b) UK economy as a result of the UK leaving the EU after one year; and if he will make a statement.

The Treasury does not prepare forecasts for the UK economy and public finances, these are the responsibility of the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The latest forecasts from the OBR will be published alongside the Budget on Wednesday 3 March 2021.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement is the first free trade agreement that the EU has ever reached based on zero tariffs and zero quotas. The deal protects high quality jobs and investment right across the UK. Our economy will thrive as we take back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and our fishing waters with a great deal with the EU. We are no longer contributing to the EU budget as a Member State. Taking into account the financial settlement with the EU, the Government has determined how an additional £14.6 billion of spending by 2024-25 can be allocated to its domestic priorities. This additional spending was included in the government’s plans set out at the Spending Review in November 2020. These prioritised funding to support the government’s response to Covid-19, invest in the UK’s recovery for all nations and regions and deliver on promises to the British people.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what his timescale is for responding to the consultation on the Alcohol Duty Review published on 1 October 2020.

Having received 107 submissions to the call for evidence, we are now in the process of analysing responses. We will provide further updates in due course.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to maintain VAT at 5 per cent for supplies of hospitality, hotel and holiday accommodation and admissions to certain attractions in Budget 2021.

The temporary reduced rate of VAT was introduced on 15 July to support the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and protect 2.4 million jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors, and will run until 31 March 2021.

The Government keeps all taxes under review, and any future decisions on tax policy will be made at Budget.

The Government has announced a significant support package to help businesses from a whole range of sectors through the winter months, which includes an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, an extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant, and an extension of the application window for the Government-backed loan schemes.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the total value is of grants or payments made from the public purse to subsidiaries of (a) Stagecoach, (b) National Express, (c) Go-Ahead, (d) First Group, (e) Serco, (f) Arriva and (g) Abellio for support with employment costs during the covid-19 outbreak.

HMRC are not able to provide information on any specific organisations that may have received financial support from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

This is because of HMRC’s duty of confidentiality. HMRC cannot publish identifying information unless there is an appropriate legal basis for publication. No such legal basis was in place for the CJRS prior to 12 November 2020 when the latest CJRS Direction was signed.

In line with the published direction, as part of HMRC’s commitment to transparency and to deter fraudulent claims, HMRC will publish information about employers who claim for periods starting on or after 1 December 2020. This will be available from February for December claims, and then monthly thereafter.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether loans have been made from the public purse to (a) Stagecoach, (b) National Express, (c) Go-Ahead, (d) First Group, (e) Serco, (f) Arriva and (g) Abellio as part of the Government's response to the covid-19 outbreak.

Throughout this crisis, the government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods, and support businesses and public services across the UK. This has included support for business through access to finance schemes (CBILS, CLBILS, Future Fund, BBLS), with over £65bn dispersed through these schemes.

The sectoral breakdowns of these loans published by the Government shows the transport sector as a whole has received over 2,200 CBILS loans worth £500m and over 67,000 BBLS loans worth £1.7bn. The list of businesses making use of CCFF loan facilities is publicly available. The Bank of England publishes current borrowers weekly.

The Government have been publishing the number of applications approved and the volume of lending under the schemes which show continued support for over a million businesses.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the cost to the public purse is of grants and payments to (a) Stagecoach, (b) National Express, (c) Go-Ahead, (d) First Group, (e) Serco, (f) Arriva and (g) Abellio in response to the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on employment costs.

HMRC are not able to provide information on any specific organisations that may have received financial support from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

This is because of HMRC’s duty of confidentiality. HMRC cannot publish identifying information unless there is an appropriate legal basis for publication. No such legal basis was in place for the CJRS prior to 12 November 2020 when the latest CJRS Direction was signed.

In line with the published direction, as part of HMRC’s commitment to transparency and to deter fraudulent claims, HMRC will publish information about employers who claim for periods starting on or after 1 December 2020. This will be available from February for December claims, and then monthly thereafter.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he will take to reduce levels of household debt resulting from the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has delivered unprecedented support for living standards during this challenging time, protecting livelihoods with the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and with temporary welfare measures.

With the resurgence of COVID-19, the Government has extended the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme until 31 March 2021. Eligible employees will continue to receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The Government has increased the overall level of the third grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to 80 per cent of average trading profits, meaning that the maximum grant available has now increased to £7,500.

The Government has provided Local Authorities with £500 million to support people who may struggle to meet their council tax payments this year. The Government expects that this will provide all recipients of working age local council tax support with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of £150 this financial year.

These measures are in addition to the changes this Government has made to make the welfare system more generous, worth over £7 billion according to recent OBR estimates. This includes a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1 billion increase in support for renters through increases to Local Housing Allowance rates.

We have also worked with mortgage lenders, credit providers and the Financial Conduct Authority to ensure the financial sector provides support for people across the UK to manage their finances by providing payment holidays on mortgages and consumer credit products.

The Government has also provided unprecedented support for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This support includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme, Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund which, as of 15th November, have collectively supported over 1.4 million businesses with facilities worth more than £65 billion. The Chancellor has announced that the Government has extended the application deadline for these schemes to a single date, 31 January 2020, meaning that even more businesses will have access to financial support.

The Government recognises that some people are struggling with their finances at this challenging time. To help people in problem debt get their finances back on track, an extra £37.8 million support package is being made available to debt advice providers this financial year, bringing this year's budget for free debt advice in England to over £100 million.

In May, the Government also announced the immediate release of £65 million dormant assets funding to Fair4All Finance, an independent organisation that has been founded to support the financial wellbeing of people in vulnerable circumstances. The funding is used to increase access to fair, affordable and appropriate financial products and services for those in financial difficulties.

From May 2021 the Breathing Space scheme will offer people in problem debt a pause of up to 60 days on most enforcement action, interest, fees and charges, and will encourage them to seek professional debt advice.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he make it his policy to reduce the rate of beer duty.

The Government values the important contribution made by the pubs and beer sector. For that reason, the Government cut or froze beer duty at six of the last seven Budgets, meaning that beer duty is now at its lowest level for 30 years in real terms. Cuts and freezes in alcohol duties since 2013 have cost the Treasury £6.2 billion in revenue, and the cost of any further cuts or freezes must be balanced against the wider fiscal context and requests for new spending.

However, the Government keeps all taxes under review. Announcements about duty rates will be made in the usual way at the next Budget.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he has taken to encourage insurers to pay out to customers with business interruption policies.

The Government is in continual dialogue with the insurance sector regarding its response to this unprecedented situation.

The Financial Conduct Authority rules require insurers to handle claims fairly and promptly and in light of COVID-19, insurers must consider very carefully the needs of their customers and show flexibility in their treatment of them.

On 1 May the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) outlined its intention to seek a court declaration, on an agreed and urgent basis, and for a selected number of key issues, to resolve uncertainty for many customers making business interruption claims. The High Court published its judgment in the court case on 15 September. On 2 November, the Supreme Court granted permission for the FCA and insurers to appeal if it was not possible to resolve the outstanding issues in the interim period. The hearing took place from 16 to the 19 November and the judgement will be published in December or January next year. The FCA and insurers had agreed that they would seek to have any appeal heard on an expedited basis, given the importance of providing legal clarity to policyholders as soon as possible.

In a letter to the ABI on 25 September, the Government also outlined its firm expectation that grant funds intended to provide emergency support to businesses at this time of crisis are not to be deducted from business interruption insurance claims. Many members have agreed not to make these deductions. The Government will consider further action if this practice continues.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to assess earnings from the tax year 2019-20 when assessing eligibility for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant extension, to allow new applicants to apply.

The Government recognises that many taxpayers have faced extremely difficult circumstances throughout this crisis.

Unfortunately, the practical issues that prevented the Government from being able to include the newly self-employed in 2019-20 in the original Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), namely that HMRC will not have access to their self-assessment returns in order to be able to verify their eligibility, still remain.

Unlike for employees, self-employed income is not reported monthly, but at the end of each tax year on the individual’s Income Tax Self Assessment return. This means that the most reliable and up-to-date record of self-employed income is from the 2018-19 tax returns.

The SEISS continues to be just one element of a comprehensive package of support for individuals and businesses. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support and other business support grants. The Government has also temporarily increased the Universal Credit standard allowance for 2020-21 by £20 per week and relaxed the Minimum Income Floor meaning that where self-employed claimants' earnings have significantly fallen, their Universal Credit award will have increased to reflect their lower earnings.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will (a) expand the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to include company directors or (b) introduce a similar financial support scheme to include company directors during the covid-19 outbreak.

People who pay themselves a salary through their own company are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The CJRS is available to employers, including owner-managers, and individuals paying themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme are eligible. Where furloughed directors need to carry out particular duties to fulfil their statutory obligations, they may do so provided it is no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose.

The practical issues that prevented the inclusion of company owner-managers in the original Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), namely not being able to verify the source of their dividend income without introducing unacceptable fraud risk, still remain.

As with the previous SEISS grants, it is not practically possible for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to distinguish between dividends derived from an individual’s own company and dividends from other sources, and between dividends in lieu of employment income and as returns from other corporate activity.

This means, unlike with the SEISS grants that use information HMRC already hold, targeting additional support would require owner-managers to make a claim and submit information that HMRC could not manageably verify to ensure payments were made to eligible companies for eligible activity.

Those not eligible for the SEISS Grant Extension may still be eligible for other elements of the financial support available. This includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether workers who were furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme but were made redundant on 31 October 2020 are eligible to apply for assistance under that scheme following its extension.

On 31 October 2020 the Prime Minister announced that the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. This will ensure that there is no gap in support. If employees were employed as of 23 September 2020 and were made redundant or stopped working for their employer prior to 30 October 2020, they can qualify for the scheme if their employer re-employs them.

This scheme is just one element of a comprehensive package of support. Where firms make the decision that they cannot retain all of their staff, the Government is ensuring that those looking for work are supported through a package of measures in the Plan for Jobs. This will help people find work by significantly increasing the help offered through Jobcentres and providing individualised advice through the National Careers Service. The Government has also launched the Kickstart Scheme, a £2bn fund to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people. The temporary welfare measures announced in March also remain available and will benefit new and existing claimants.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will launch a review of the (a) accountability, (b) regulation and (c) cost to the public purse of the Financial Conduct Authority.

HM Treasury engages with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on a regular basis and will continue to do so.

The FCA is accountable to HM Treasury, Parliament, and the public through a variety of mechanisms. These include a requirement for HM Treasury to approve appointments to the FCA’s board, and for the FCA to lay their annual reports and accounts before Parliament.

The FCA is also held accountable for the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness with which it uses its resources. For example, the FCA is subject to full audit by the National Audit Office. However, the FCA is an operationally independent, non-governmental body and as such the government has no role in the FCA’s budget or the setting of its fees.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will launch a review into Financial Conduct Authority regulator fees.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are responsible for setting the regulatory fees for industry and recently consulted on their fees for 2020-21. A response to the consultation can be found on the FCA’s website. The FCA operates independently within the statutory framework agreed by Parliament. The Government therefore has no role in the FCA’s budgeting or setting of their fees.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to increase the level of tax compliance among buy-to-let landlords; and if he will make a statement.

The Government is committed to reducing non-compliance in the tax system among all taxpayers, including landlords.

Since 2013-14 HMRC have been running a public campaign focused on those who let properties, to encourage voluntary disclosure of undeclared rental income. To date, the Let Property campaign has prompted approximately 55,000 additional disclosures and raised an estimated £226 million in additional compliance yield for the Exchequer.

Furthermore, and as announced in July, from April 2023 landlords with business or property income over £10,000 per year which are liable for Income Tax will need to keep digital records and use software to update HMRC quarterly through Making Tax Digital.

Keeping paper records and assembling tax records long after transactions take place leads to errors and undermines tax compliance. Making Tax Digital reduces the scope for these avoidable mistakes. It will also make it easier for landlords to get their tax right, saving time and enabling them to see, close to real time, the health of their finances.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to support the cancellation of debt owed by the world's poorest nations.

HM Government is concerned about the debt vulnerabilities of low-income developing countries, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK cancelled most of our low-income developing country debt under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. However, we have remained a global leader in advancing sovereign debt transparency and sustainability. In April 2020 the Chancellor joined his G20 counterparts to commit to a temporary suspension on debt service repayments from the 77 poorest countries under the debt service suspension initiative (DSSI). To date, the DSSI has supported 43 countries which have requested suspensions by freeing up $5 billion to fund their COVID-19 responses. Given the depth of liquidity needs in these countries, the UK supports an extension of the DSSI into 2021.

Given the significant pre-existing debt vulnerabilities in many low income countries, in some cases further debt relief will be required after the DSSI. This should be on a case-by-case basis in the context of an IMF programme to ensure it is tailored to need and to facilitate durable economic recovery, with equitable burden sharing among all official and private creditors.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to implement a system to (a) measure, (b) analyse and (c) report how well the cash system performs for consumers.

The Government and regulators are closely monitoring developments relating to impacts on cash access and usage, particularly in light of COVID-19, including through the Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group. This group, chaired by the Treasury, aims to ensure coordinated oversight of the UK’s cash infrastructure. In July 2020, the Group published an update on its actions, including work led by the Payment Systems Regulator and Financial Conduct Authority to develop a comprehensive picture of cash access infrastructure across the UK in relation to socioeconomic factors that reflect consumer needs.

The Government is committed to ensuring that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the longer term so that widespread access to cash, which remains extremely important to millions of people across the UK, remains available. That is why, at the March 2020 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government will bring forward legislation to protect access to cash. The Government is working at pace to develop legislation and will ensure that regulators have the appropriate responsibilities and powers.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to give a public body the responsibility for tracking trends in the acceptance of cash by businesses.

The Government and regulators are closely monitoring developments relating to impacts on cash access and usage, particularly in light of COVID-19, including through the Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group. This group, chaired by the Treasury, aims to ensure coordinated oversight of the UK’s cash infrastructure. In July 2020, the Group published an update on its actions, including work led by the Payment Systems Regulator and Financial Conduct Authority to develop a comprehensive picture of cash access infrastructure across the UK in relation to socioeconomic factors that reflect consumer needs.

The Government is committed to ensuring that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the longer term so that widespread access to cash, which remains extremely important to millions of people across the UK, remains available. That is why, at the March 2020 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government will bring forward legislation to protect access to cash. The Government is working at pace to develop legislation and will ensure that regulators have the appropriate responsibilities and powers.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the total sum of payments made to Centrica plc and its subsidiaries is under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

It is not possible to provide an answer to this question. In line with their responsibilities under the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005, HMRC do not comment on identifiable taxpayers.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to increase the minimum wage to the Living Wage Foundation's recommendation of £9.30 in the next Budget.

The introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) has delivered the fastest pay rise for the lowest earners in 20 years; the latest increase saw a full-time worker’s annual pay rise over £3,680 since its introduction. Through the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage (NMW), the Government remains committed to supporting the lowest paid workers for their hard work and valuable contribution to the economy.

The NMW and NLW rates are legal minimum thresholds whereas the Living Wage is a voluntary minimum rate of pay. The Government commends the work of the Living Wage Foundation and those employers who commit to paying the voluntary Living Wage where they can afford to do so.

At Spring Budget 2020 the Government reinforced its commitment to an ambitious target for the National Living Wage to reach two-thirds of median earnings by 2024 provided economic conditions allow.

The Government looks forward to receiving the recommendations for 2021’s minimum wage rates from the independent Low Pay Commission in the Autumn.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend financial support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to people with blood cancer who have been shielding during the covid-19 outbreak who (a) cannot work from home and (b) have been advised to continue shielding from August 2020.

The Government recognises that COVID-19 has posed significant challenges for those suffering with cancer. This group has access to the unprecedented package of support for people’s incomes that the Government has introduced in response to COVID-19. This includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), but also the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and the £9.3 billion which the OBR estimates the Government has injected into the welfare system.

From 1 August the Government relaxed advice to those shielding, bringing it in line with the advice to those who are clinically vulnerable. Employees who are unable to work because they are clinically extremely vulnerable but cannot work from home or work safely on site can be furloughed. However, such employees can only continue to be furloughed from 1 July if they have previously been furloughed for at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place at any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June.

Those who live or work in local lockdown areas who receive a notification that they need to shield will be eligible for SSP for as long as the advice for them to shield remains in place (subject to the normal eligibility conditions). Individuals will be able to use this notification as evidence for their employer that they cannot work, including for SSP purposes.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reducing the rate of VAT applied to soap and sanitising gel.

Under the current VAT rules, soap and sanitising gel are subject to the standard rate of VAT.

Although the Government keeps all taxes under review, there are no plans to change the VAT treatment of these at present.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will he make it his policy to maintain the triple lock on state pensions.

The Government is committed to ensuring that older people are able to live with the dignity and respect they deserve, and the State Pension is the foundation of state support for older people.

As with all aspects of Government policy, any decisions on future changes to the Triple Lock will be taken as part of the annual Budget process in the context of the wider public finances.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on businesses of not receiving coronavirus-related business interruption payouts from insurers; and if he will make a statement.

The Government has been in continual dialogue with the insurance sector and is encouraging insurers to do all they can to support customers during this difficult period.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules require insurers to treat customers fairly, and has said that, in light of COVID-19, insurers must consider very carefully the needs of their customers and show flexibility in their treatment of them. The Government is working closely with the FCA to ensure that the rules are being upheld during this crisis and fully supports the regulator in its role.

On 1 May the FCA outlined its intention to seek a court declaration, on an agreed and urgent basis, and for a selected number of key issues, to resolve uncertainty for many customers making business interruption claims. Subsequently on 1 June, the FCA announced the policy wordings that would be tested in the court action and insurers it had invited to participate directly. On 15 July, the FCA published a final list of all the relevant insurers and policies that may have wordings impacted by the final decision of the court. The court hearing began on 20 July, and the FCA expect the court to reach a final decision in early August.

However, many businesses have not purchased insurance that covers losses from Covid-19 related losses. The Government encourages businesses who do not have appropriate insurance cover to seek assistance through the wider support package if they are in financial difficulty.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the (a) combined value and (b) annual interest payment is for Public Works Loan Board borrowing for each local authority, not including town and parish councils in (i) England, (ii) Wales and (iii) Scotland.

The following table details the principal balance outstanding as of 30 June 2020, and the interest payments due in 2020-21, for all Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) loans held by principal local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales.

Principal Balance Outstanding at 30 June 2020

Interest Repayments in 2020-21

England

£70,230 million

£2,403 million

Scotland

£10,572 million

£418 million

Wales

£4,625 million

£194 million

Total

£85,427 million

£3,014 million

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will commit to providing an additional £310 million in funding to medical research charities during the 2020-21 financial year.

Medical research charities are an integral part of the United Kingdom’s world-leading life sciences sector. The Department of Health and Social Care is closely liaising with the Association of Medical Research Charities, as well as individual charities, to understand the impact of the pandemic on this sector and identify how best the Government and charities can work together to ensure that patients continue benefiting from charity funded research. We will consider any proposals put forward by government departments for further action in this area.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of a commemorative coin for the Rugby League World Cup due to be held in England in 2021.

The merits of potential designs for UK coinage are assessed by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, an independent committee who advise the Royal Mint and ultimately the Chancellor and HM The Queen on coin designs. The Royal Mint typically chooses to commemorate events, individuals or symbology that are of genuine national significance and not contentious.

Typically, the process of producing a commemorative design for UK coinage takes 18 months, from initial discussions to the production of a coin. Further details on the Royal Mint advisory committee can be found at https://www.royalmintmuseum.org.uk/, alongside a form to contact the committee.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many national minimum wage compliance officers HMRC has employed in each year since 2010.

The Government is determined that everyone who is entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) receives it.

All businesses, irrespective of size or business sector, are responsible for paying the correct minimum wage to their staff.

If anyone thinks they are not receiving at least the minimum wage, they can contact Acas, in confidence, on 0300 123 1100 or submit a query online using the link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pay-and-work-rights-complaints.

The table below provides a breakdown of staff numbers working in NMW enforcement and compliance in each year from 2010/11 to 2019/20.

Year end

Full-time equivalent (FTE), at year end

2010/11

142

2011/12

139

2012/13

142

2013/14

158

2014/15

183

2015/16

251

2016/17

352

2017/18

412

2018/19

429

2019/20

442

There are also additional staff across HMRC who contribute to enforcing the NMW, including lawyers, technical advisers, and those specialising in criminal investigations. These staff are not included in the numbers outlined above.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he is putting in place to ensure that people who have worked for an employer for more than one year but are paid an annual salary and whose employer submitted an RTI for tax year 2019-20 after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme cut-off date receive support from that scheme.

For an employee to be eligible for the CJRS they must have been notified to HMRC on a real-time information (RTI) submission on or before 19 March. Those paid annually are eligible to claim, as long as they meet the relevant conditions including being notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020, which relates to a payment of earnings in the 2019/2020 tax year. Anyone paid annually and notified on an RTI submission after that date will not be eligible for the scheme, which puts them in the same position as those who are paid more frequently and were not notified to HMRC on or before 19 March.

The 19 March cut-off date allows as many people as possible to be included while managing the risk of fraud that existed as soon as the scheme became public.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many cases of fraudulent phone calls purporting to come from HMRC have been reported in each of the last three years; how many of those calls led to (a) arrests and (b) convictions; and if he will make a statement.

In the last three years, HMRC have received the following volume of reports of fraudulent telephone calls purporting to come from HMRC:

April 2017 to March 2018: 7,788

April 2018 to March 2019: 104,774

April 2019 to March 2020: 203,362

HMRC operate a dedicated Customer Protection team to prevent, detect and respond to frauds abusing the HMRC brand.

While HMRC do not hold data on the number of arrests and convictions for those conducting HMRC related telephone frauds, recent activity such as arrests in London, Dorset and Leicester in April 2020 of an individual accused of sending fraudulent HMRC emails and texts, the May 2020 arrest and guilty plea of a 20 year old in Camden (awaiting sentencing) who admitted sending HMRC branded scams, and the sentencing of a Bulgarian national for 9 years following extradition to the UK for a £41.6m fraud abusing the HMRC brand demonstrate HMRC and UK law enforcement’s determined pursuit of those defrauding the public.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of households in the UK without a bank account.

The Treasury does not make assessments of the number of people who do not have a bank account. However, in 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published the results of the Financial Lives Survey which found that 1.3 million UK adults were unbanked, i.e. have no current account or alternative e-money account.

The Financial Lives Survey report contains further information on the characteristics of the unbanked. The report analyses survey results across the four nations of the UK, the nine regions of England, and by rural and urban areas. The FCA intend to repeat the Financial Lives Survey on a regular basis in future. The report can be found here:

https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/research/financial-lives-consumers-across-uk.pdf

The Government believes that individuals, regardless of their background or income, should have access to useful and affordable financial products and services, including a bank account.

Basic bank accounts are a key financial inclusion policy. They provide people with a way of receiving income, whether that be salary, pension, benefits or tax credits and enable people to manage their money on a day-to-day basis effectively, securely and confidently.

A basic bank account is fee-free for all everyday banking services and has no overdraft facility. The 9 largest personal current account providers in the UK are legally required to offer fee-free basic bank accounts to customers who do not have a bank account in the UK or who are ineligible for a bank’s standard current account.

The Treasury publishes data on basic bank accounts annually. The December 2019 publication shows that in total there are nearly 7.5 million basic bank accounts open in the UK.

In the current context of COVID-19, banks, building societies, the Post Office and credit unions are working closely with the Treasury, the FCA and the Prudential Regulation Authority to maintain branch access for essential services, including opening a bank account if an individual is unbanked, while balancing the needs of their customers with the safety and welfare of staff. The Government and the FCA urge customers to use alternatives to branches where possible and only visit branches where absolutely necessary.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the financial challenges faced by households without a bank account during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The Treasury does not make assessments of the number of people who do not have a bank account. However, in 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published the results of the Financial Lives Survey which found that 1.3 million UK adults were unbanked, i.e. have no current account or alternative e-money account.

The Financial Lives Survey report contains further information on the characteristics of the unbanked. The report analyses survey results across the four nations of the UK, the nine regions of England, and by rural and urban areas. The FCA intend to repeat the Financial Lives Survey on a regular basis in future. The report can be found here:

https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/research/financial-lives-consumers-across-uk.pdf

The Government believes that individuals, regardless of their background or income, should have access to useful and affordable financial products and services, including a bank account.

Basic bank accounts are a key financial inclusion policy. They provide people with a way of receiving income, whether that be salary, pension, benefits or tax credits and enable people to manage their money on a day-to-day basis effectively, securely and confidently.

A basic bank account is fee-free for all everyday banking services and has no overdraft facility. The 9 largest personal current account providers in the UK are legally required to offer fee-free basic bank accounts to customers who do not have a bank account in the UK or who are ineligible for a bank’s standard current account.

The Treasury publishes data on basic bank accounts annually. The December 2019 publication shows that in total there are nearly 7.5 million basic bank accounts open in the UK.

In the current context of COVID-19, banks, building societies, the Post Office and credit unions are working closely with the Treasury, the FCA and the Prudential Regulation Authority to maintain branch access for essential services, including opening a bank account if an individual is unbanked, while balancing the needs of their customers with the safety and welfare of staff. The Government and the FCA urge customers to use alternatives to branches where possible and only visit branches where absolutely necessary.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the use of physical currency in the future; and if he will make a statement.

The Government recognises that widespread access to cash is extremely important to the daily lives of millions of people across the UK. The Government is engaging with the financial regulators to monitor the situation closely, including the impact of COVID-19, and remains committed to protecting access to cash for those who need it, while supporting digital payments.

The Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group – which brings together HM Treasury, the Payment Systems Regulator, Financial Conduct Authority and Bank of England – will be publishing an update document on their activities in relation to cash in due course.

At the March 2020 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government will bring forward legislation to protect access to cash. This will ensure that those who continue to rely on cash to transact can continue to do so in the long-term.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether employees who are members of a final salary pension scheme and whose wages are supported at less than 100 per cent under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will experience a reduction to their pension entitlement if they retire while they are furloughed.

On Friday 20 March, the Government announced the unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms keep millions of people in employment. All UK employers can apply for a grant that covers 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £2500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and the equivalent of the minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contribution for a defined contribution scheme.

For members of final salary pension schemes, whether or not the act of being furloughed will affect member benefits will be dependent on individual scheme rules. Many schemes have provisions in place to account for reductions in income in the years leading up to retirement without it affecting their pension if, for example, members choose to work fewer hours ahead of retiring. How each scheme works is a matter for the trustees and the sponsoring employer.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy that employees whose wages are supported through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be paid no less than minimum wage rates for their normal hours of work over the salary reference period for that scheme.

Furloughed workers will be eligible for 80% of their regular wages, up to a cap of £2,500 a month, even if based on their usual working hours this would be less than the minimum wage. However, employers can top up these payments voluntarily if they wish.

If training is undertaken by furloughed employees at the request of their employer, then they are entitled to be paid at least the appropriate national minimum wage for this time, even if this is more than the 80% of their regular wages that will be subsidised. Employers will need to pay the additional wages.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent progress his Department has made on its review into funding the transition to a net zero greenhouse gas economy.

In November 2019, HM Treasury published terms of reference for its review into how the transition to a net zero economy will be funded, and where the costs will fall.

The review will ensure contributions are fair between households, businesses and the taxpayer, and will allow us to maximise economic growth opportunities from the transition.

The review will publish its findings in Autumn 2020.

27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what proportion of reports of fraud have been passed on to police forces from Action Fraud for further investigation in the most recent period for which figures are available.

The Home Office publish the number of fraud offences recorded by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) following reports from Action Fraud, Cifas and UK Finance and the number referred to police forces for investigation each year. The latest published figures can be found in Table 4.1 in the link below.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/901030/crime-outcomes-1920-hosb1720-tables.ods

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how her Department's settlement with its former permanent secretary, Sir Philip Rutnam, will be funded.

As with all employment and exit costs, these are met by the employing department, which in this case is the Home Office.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Feb 2021
What steps she is taking to ensure that domestic abuse services receive adequate support to meet increased demand as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would like to group this question with question 31.

Throughout this pandemic, we have worked with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and charities to protect those for who home is not a safe space. We have paid £25.76 million to domestic abuse organisations from the funds allocated in the first wave of the pandemic, in order to support their helplines and other services. That includes £20,512 for Your Housing Group, based in the honourable lady’s constituency, to provide additional bedspaces.

We have also allocated an additional £11 million to domestic abuse and sexual violence services to help them to deal with increased pressures as a result of the pandemic.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate she has made of the number of police officers in (a) January 2021 and (b) January 2019.

The Home Office publishes official statistics on the number of police officers In England and Wales as at March and September each year, which are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/police-workforce-england-and-wales

As part of the drive to recruit an additional 20,000 officers by March 2023, the Home Office now also publishes “Police officer uplift” statistics on a quarterly basis, broken down by the number of officers at the end of each month. The number of officers in January 2021 is due to be published in April 2021.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
13th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to reduce forensic service caseloads.

Forensic Science is a vital tool in the Criminal Justice System and the government takes the welfare of all forensic scientists very seriously.

Approximately 80% of forensic service provision is delivered by policing in-house, with the remainder delivered by external service providers under police contract. The quality of these services is overseen by the Forensic Science Regulator.

The Home Office has invested in the Forensic Capability Network (FCN), which has operated since April 2020 on behalf of all police forces in England and Wales to increase efficiency and quality; to manage demand in forensic services; and to support the National Police Chiefs Council in co-ordinating policing’s response to major incidents such as the response to Covid-19.

A national contingency plan has been enacted to manage the impact of Covid-19 and the NPCC is working closely with external service providers. The Home Office will continue to support the FCN and the NPCC in delivering these plans.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will undertake a review on the effectiveness of Action Fraud.

It is vital that victims of fraud have the confidence to come forward and know that their case will be dealt with.

The City of London Corporation (as the Police Authority for the City of London Police) commissioned an independent review by Sir Craig Mackey QPM into the standards, culture and management of Action Fraud. The findings and recommendations of that review were published on 24th January on the City of London Police Authority’s website, currently available at https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/assets/About-us/action-fraud-report.pdf.

The City of London Police are addressing Sir Craig’s recommendations regarding Action Fraud and the NFIB, working with the City of London Corporation, the National Crime Agency and the Home Office.

James Brokenshire
Minister of State (Home Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the UK's security of the decision to reduce the number of troops in the Army; and if he will make that decision subject to a vote in the House.

The protection of our people, homeland, and democracy is the first duty of any government and so we are investing over £24 billion to reform and renew our Armed Forces for this age of global and systemic competition, modernising and integrating our forces across sea, land, air, space, and cyberspace like never before.

In an era of robotics and artificial intelligence, we need to stop thinking about the strength of the Army simply in terms of numbers and focus on how successfully it can achieve what we ask of it. We have therefore designed a force that is more balanced, and ultimately more effectively matched to the threat, now and in the future. The Army will be better connected, faster, and pound-for-pound more lethal than ever before. It will be integrated across domains, with allies in NATO, and beyond.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what progress the Government has made in rolling out Virusend (a) in NHS settings and (b) for commercial use.

Defence is not responsible for Virusend's procurement by other Government Departments nor its availability for commercial use.

Ben Wallace
Secretary of State for Defence
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he plans to make a decision on whether to extend The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 to allow local authorities to meet online beyond the 7 May 2021.

On the 25 March 2021, the Government announced the regulations made under Section 78 of the Coronavirus Act which do not apply to meetings after 6 May.

Extending the regulations to meetings after this date would require primary legislation.

We have considered the case for legislation carefully, including the significant impact it would have on the Government’s legislative programme which is already under severe pressure in these unprecedent times. We are also mindful of the excellent progress that has been made on our vaccination programme and the announcement of the Government’s roadmap for lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Given this context, the Government has concluded that it is not possible to bring forward emergency legislation on this issue at this time.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, on what basis the Government took the decision to make leaseholders responsible for removing combustible cladding from tower blocks as opposed to freeholders and developers.

The Government has been clear that it is the building owner or responsible person that is responsible for removing unsafe cladding from their buildings and it is the building owner or responsible person that faces enforcement action if they do not do so. Depending on the terms of individual leases, building owners may be entitled to pass on costs to leaseholders.

However, the Government expects building owners to meet remediation costs without passing them on to leaseholders wherever possible, through their own resources or by recovering costs from applicable warranty schemes or from the developers or contractors who were responsible for the installation of unsafe cladding, as is happening with more than half of the private sector buildings with unsafe ACM cladding.

Where this may not be possible the Government is providing £5 billion of funding to protect leaseholders living in residential buildings over 18 metres with unsafe cladding from the costs of remediation.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he made of the potential merits of his policy to provide funding to remove cladding from buildings over 18m and loans to leaseholders living in buildings with cladding under 18m.

Instead of facing sudden cladding bills of tens of thousands of pounds, leaseholders will need to pay either nothing, or up to £50 per month towards fixing the problem. This helps gives lenders certainty both that the cladding will be remediated, and of the total potential financial implications for a leaseholder and their property.

This announcement is therefore an important step towards restoring confidence in the housing market. It provides certainty for lenders where unsafe cladding is present and complements the wider work we have underway to continue to develop a proportionate risk-based regulatory environment on fire safety.

This builds on steps already taken to support leaseholders, including £1.6 billion of funding to remediate unsafe cladding, the £30 million waking watch fund to help end excessive costs and new legislation in the Building Safety Bill which will ensure homes are made and kept safer in future.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how many residential buildings in the UK require the removal of combustible cladding; and what estimate he has made of the cost of that removal.

The information on combustible cladding for all blocks of flats is not held. However, section 11 of the Building Safety Bill: Impact Assessment estimates the average costs per building for addressing safety remediation in high rise buildings and the estimated proportion of high-rise buildings that will require remediation by type of remediation required. These estimates consider all necessary remediation, which goes beyond façade remediation.

The Department publishes regular data on the identification and remediation progress of high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings in England with ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet building regulations. The latest data is available here.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to ensure weddings can recommence once covid-19 infection rates have declined.

Weddings by their nature bring lots of people together in a single group and are highly social and therefore particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. Through vaccination and testing we hope over a period of time to increase the number of attendees when the scientific evidence shows that it is safe to do so.

The Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is planning to meet with the UK Weddings Taskforce.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will announce further funding for the Everyone In scheme.

Given the new variant of COVID-19, and the new national lockdown, we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that people who sleep rough are kept as safe as possible and that we do everything we can to protect the NHS. This is backed by £10 million to protect rough sleepers and ensure their wider health needs are addressed.

We have asked all local authorities to ensure that even more rough sleepers are safely accommodated, and will be asking that this opportunity is actively used to make sure that all rough sleepers are registered with a GP where they are not already and are factored into local area vaccination plans, in line with JCVI prioritisation for COVID-19 vaccinations.

We have taken huge steps working with local authorities and their partners to protect rough sleepers during the pandemic. This work has not stopped, and through Everyone In, by November we had supported around 33,000 people with nearly 10,000 in emergency accommodation and over 23,000 already moved on into longer-term accommodation.

In total, we are spending over £700 million in 2020/21 on homelessness and rough sleeping.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to (a) write off tenants' rent arrears and (b) provide financial assistance to help tenants pay rent arrears accrued due to loss of earnings during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has put in place an unprecedented financial package which is supporting renters with their housing costs. This includes support for businesses to pay staff salaries through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until March 2021. We have also boosted the welfare system, including increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by up to £1,040 for the year and increasing Local Housing Allowance rates so that they cover the lowest 30 per cent of market rents. For those who require additional support, Discretionary Housing Payments are available. As announced at the spending round for 2020/21 there is £180 million for local authorities to distribute in Discretionary Housing Payments for supporting renters with housing costs in the private and social rented sectors.

Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, landlords are required to give tenants 6 months’ notice except in the most serious circumstances such as anti-social behaviour, fraud and arrears of more than 6 months. Housing possession cases were suspended in the courts from 27 March until 20 September. Landlords are able to progress their claims, and the most serious cases are being prioritised by the courts. To further protect tenants, the Government has changed the law to ensure bailiffs do not enforce evictions in England until 11 January 2021, except in the most serious circumstances such as illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour or rent arrears of more than 9 months accrued before 23 March.

We will keep these measures under review?and our?decisions?will continue?to be guided by the latest public health advice.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he plans to publish the devolution White Paper; and whether it will include details on the Shared Prosperity Fund.

The Devolution and Local Recovery White Paper will set out Government’s place-based regional economic strategy. We intend to publish it and set out further details on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in due course.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will take steps to prevent mortgage providers requesting EWS1 forms for properties in buildings without combustible cladding or combustible material on balconies; and if he will make a statement.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) designed the EWS1 process in conjunction with mortgage lenders to assist with valuation of high-rise residential buildings.

The EWS1 process is not a Government regulatory requirement and the Government does not support the blanket use of EWS1, especially for lower rise blocks. EWS1 forms are not needed for buildings under 18 metres – unless there are exceptional circumstances. The Department is encouraging lenders to take a more proportionate approach to use of the EWS1 process and to accept a broader range of evidence to assure themselves of a building’s safety.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will update the guidance on the opening of toilets run by (a) local authorities, (b) hospitality businesses, and (c) motorway service station as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Government has published guidance to ensure public toilets can be opened safely. This guidance is reviewed regularly.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to prevent the eviction of private tenants after 23 August 2020.

To help prevent tenants getting into financial hardship or rent arrears, the Government has put in place an unprecedented support package. This includes support for business to pay staff salaries, as well as boosting the welfare system with?over £6.5 billion. These significant financial measures will help support tenants to continue to pay their living costs, including rental payments.

Landlords must follow strict procedures if they want to gain possession of their property, depending on the?type of tenancy agreement?in place and the terms of it. This currently includes providing tenants with at least 3 months notice.

My Department is working closely with the Ministry of Justice and the judiciary on arrangements. These include new rules, to ensure that when the suspension of possession proceedings ends, the courts are better able to address the need for appropriate protection of all parties, including those shielding from coronavirus. This is to ensure that judges have all the information necessary to make just decisions within the current legislative framework and that the most vulnerable tenants will get the help they need.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what guidance his Department has issued to local authorities on safeguarding of the details of vulnerable people that have been identified as needing support during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have issued, from the start of April onwards, guidance for local authorities on sharing of the personal data that they have been receiving in relation to those who are clinically, extremely vulnerable. This covers purpose, appropriate use and in what circumstances NHS Shielded Patient List, and Government Digital Service (GDS) shielding data can be shared. The guidance has been updated periodically, in response to developments in the shielding programme and queries from local authorities.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he has taken to facilitate contact between prisoners and their families during the covid-19 outbreak.

As of 24 March, social visits in prisons in England and Wales are temporarily suspended to enable us to ensure the safe and secure functioning of our prisons, while enforcing social distancing. These measures are part of the nationwide efforts to fight Covid-19 and we will review the restrictions in line with updates to public health advice.

In recognition of the importance of continued contact with family, we have moved quickly to keep prisoners in touch with their family members. This includes the provision of 900 locked mobile phones to establishments that do not yet have in-cell telephony.

Additionally, on 15 May, we announced that secure video calls will be introduced to some prisons and Young Offender Institutions (YOIs) across England and Wales to maintain vital family contact for prisoners and young offenders during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Following a successful trial at HMP Berwyn, HMPPS is installing the technology at 10 institutions with a wider rollout in the coming weeks.

Lucy Frazer
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)