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Written Question
Council Housing: Homelessness
Monday 19th February 2024

Asked by: Chi Onwurah (Labour - Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to increase the number of council properties to enable local authorities to provide homes for those being made homeless in (a) England, (b) the North East of England and (c) Newcastle upon Tyne.

Answered by Jacob Young - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

As set out previously, the £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme will deliver thousands of affordable homes for both rent and to buy right across the country, including social rent.


Written Question
A167 (M) and Tyne Bridge: Repairs and Maintenance
Monday 19th February 2024

Asked by: Chi Onwurah (Labour - Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has uplifted the Government contribution for the Tyne Bridge and Central Motorway A167 (M) road works from 85% to 100%.

Answered by Guy Opperman - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Prime Minister’s ‘Network North’ announcement in early October included the Tyne Bridge and Central Motorway A167 (M) scheme. The Department for Transport are finalising plans for this scheme’s uplift, and the Council will be contacted in due course. All schemes will continue to be subject to the Department's standard business case rules.


Written Question
Research: Employment Conditions
Monday 19th February 2024

Asked by: Chi Onwurah (Labour - Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Question to the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology:

To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to improve working conditions for people working in research and development.

Answered by Andrew Griffith - Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

Since publication of the R&D People & Culture Strategy, the Government has been working with the R&D sector to take action that will improve the culture and conditions of people working in R&D. UKRI has delivered actions as part of the New Deal for Postgraduate Research, including reviewing its Training Grant Terms & Conditions to support individuals’ physical and mental wellbeing and increasing the minimum PhD stipend. UKRI chairs a quarterly sectoral forum, which works to tackle and prevent bullying and harassment by convening the R&D sector to create healthy, welcoming and safe working conditions.


Written Question
Quantum Technology
Monday 19th February 2024

Asked by: Chi Onwurah (Labour - Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Question to the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology:

To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, with reference to page 31 of the National Quantum Strategy published on 15 March 2023, what progress her Department has made on engaging with other leading quantum nations to exchange knowledge on quantum programmes, developments, regulation, and security.

Answered by Andrew Griffith - Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

The Government has signed bilateral agreements for deeper collaboration on quantum technologies with leading, like-minded quantum nations: the US, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands.

The Government also engages multilaterally on quantum in forums including the OECD, World Economic Forum, the Open Quantum Institute hosted at CERN, NATO, and AUKUS, and participates in multiple international standard development organisations.


Written Question
Railways: Educational Visits
Monday 19th February 2024

Asked by: Chi Onwurah (Labour - Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department provides support for rail fares for school trips.

Answered by Huw Merriman - Minister of State (Department for Transport)

All children under 16 receive 50 per cent off most adult fares and, in 2019, we introduced the 16-17 Saver railcard extending this to 16 and 17 year-olds, meaning that a 50 per cent discount is available to children throughout their period of compulsory education and training. Some operators also have dedicated discounts for group travel with some offering substantial savings for groups of 10 or more people.


Written Question
ICT: Employment
Friday 9th February 2024

Asked by: Chi Onwurah (Labour - Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Question to the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology:

To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to help increase the number of potential employees with sufficient (a) software and (b) data skills in the labour market.

Answered by Saqib Bhatti - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

The government is investing a total of £3.8bn in skills in England by 2024-25 and at the most recent SR we quadrupled the scale of free Skills Bootcamps in digital skills, including software and data skills.

My department recognises that Digital Skills shortages cannot be tackled by government alone, which is why we established the Digital Skills Council in 2022. Government offers a range of free in digital skills, including software and data skills.

DSIT is taking proactive steps to address the distinct skills needs of our priority technology sectors. For example, through the £30 million AI and Data Science Conversion Course programme.


Written Question
Catapult Centres
Tuesday 6th February 2024

Asked by: Chi Onwurah (Labour - Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Question to the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology:

To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, how her Department evaluates (a) each of the nine Catapults within the Catapult Network and (b) the Catapult Network as a whole.

Answered by Andrew Griffith - Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

Innovate UK has put in place comprehensive monitoring and evaluation frameworks for each Catapult for the next five years. These will provide robust evidence of impact and value for money for the public funding provided, with regular data analysis and reporting.

Evidence of impact at network level is published at https://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/ERC-Insight-Evaluating-the-medium-term-business-performance-effects-of-engaging-with-the-Catapults-network-VaninoRoper.pdf and https://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/ERC-Report-Catapulting-into-the-Innovation-System-Vanino-Roper.pdf.


Written Question
Innovation and Research: Finance
Tuesday 6th February 2024

Asked by: Chi Onwurah (Labour - Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Question to the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology:

To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, with reference to the UK Innovation Strategy published on 14 November 2021, what funding the Government has provided for a University Commercialisation and Innovation Policy Evidence Unit in Cambridge to build the UK’s evidence base on commercialisation.

Answered by Andrew Griffith - Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

Research England has awarded the University Commercialisation and Innovation Policy Evidence Unit £2,449,883 in two grants running from July 2020 to March 2025.


Written Question
Space: Research
Tuesday 6th February 2024

Asked by: Chi Onwurah (Labour - Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Question to the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology:

To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what the cost to the public purse was of her Department's expenditure on (a) space research and (b) promoting the commercialism of space research.

Answered by Andrew Griffith - Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

The Department for Science Innovation and Technology supports expenditure on space research as well as promoting the commercialisation of space research. The information is not available in the format requested as the Department’s spend cannot be accurately broken down into these two categories.

The UK Space Agency is the executive agency responsible for delivering the UK’s civil space programme. UKSA’s total budget, including earth observation, for the current spending review period is nearly two billion pounds.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) supports a diverse portfolio of research and innovation initiatives. Approximately £540m of the UKRI budget covered by the current spending review period includes research on space.


Written Question
Space
Tuesday 6th February 2024

Asked by: Chi Onwurah (Labour - Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Question to the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology:

To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps she is taking to (a) monitor and (b) increase the demographic diversity of the space sector workforce; and what steps she is taking to tackle skills shortages in the space sector.

Answered by Andrew Griffith - Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

The 2023 Science and Technology Framework highlights the importance of a more diverse range of people entering science and technology roles.

The annual Size & Health of the UK Space Industry Report monitors gender in the workforce through an optional industrial survey, and government is exploring ways to expand beyond gender in future iterations. The UK Space Agency is also further developing monitoring and evaluation plans for its Inspiration Programme.