Chris Stephens Portrait

Chris Stephens

Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment)

(since July 2018)

Department Event
Monday 4th July 2022
18:00
Department for Work and Pensions
Second Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - General Committee
4 Jul 2022, 6 p.m.
The draft Occupational Pension Schemes (Governance and Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 2022
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 6th July 2022
09:00
Work and Pensions Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Protecting pension savers – five years on from the pension freedoms: Saving for later life
6 Jul 2022, 9 a.m.
At 9.15am: Oral evidence
Guy Opperman MP - Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion at Department of Work and Pensions
Joanne Gibson - Acting Director of Private Pensions and ALBs at Department for Work and Pensions
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Department Event
Monday 11th July 2022
14:30
Department for Work and Pensions
Oral questions - Main Chamber
11 Jul 2022, 2:30 p.m.
Work and Pensions (including Topical Questions)
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Division Votes
Wednesday 29th June 2022
Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 27 Scottish National Party Aye votes vs 0 Scottish National Party No votes
Tally: Ayes - 191 Noes - 271
Speeches
Wednesday 29th June 2022
Miners Strike 1984-85: UK-wide Inquiry
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms McVey. I congratulate my good friend and comrade, my hon. …
Written Answers
Monday 27th June 2022
Government Property Agency: Contracts
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what equalities impact assessment his Department has undertaken in respect of the …
Early Day Motions
Monday 13th June 2022
Compulsory redundancies and privatisation at the British Council
That this House is concerned that the vital role of the British Council in promoting Cultural Relations and education, arts, …
Bills
Monday 20th June 2022
Full Employment Bill 2022-23
A Bill to place a duty on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to pursue a policy of full employment; to …
MP Financial Interests
Monday 14th February 2022
2. (b) Any other support not included in Category 2(a)
Name of donor: Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)
Address of donor: 160 Falcon Road, London SW11 2LN
Amount of …
EDM signed
Monday 27th June 2022
Job losses at Reach plc
That this House is concerned that cuts at Reach plc newspaper titles are undermining journalism in Wales; notes that Reach …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 5th February 2020
Unpaid Work Experience (Prohibition) (No. 2) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to prohibit unpaid work experience exceeding four weeks; and for connected purposes.

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Chris Stephens has voted in 355 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Chris Stephens 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
Paul Scully (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
(28 debate interactions)
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government efficiency)
(19 debate interactions)
Chris Philp (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
(17 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department for Work and Pensions
(56 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(44 debate contributions)
Home Office
(37 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Chris Stephens's debates

Glasgow South West 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 highest Glasgow South West signature proportion
Petition Debates Contributed

The maximum penalty for failure to stop after an incident is points and a 6-month custodial sentence. Causing death by careless/dangerous driving is between 5-14 yrs. The sentence for failing to stop after a fatal collision must be increased.

The offence of causing 'death by dangerous driving' should be widened to include: failure to stop, call 999 and render aid on scene until further help arrives.

Enact legislation to protect retail workers. This legislation must create a specific offence of abusing, threatening or assaulting a retail worker. The offence must carry a penalty that acts as a deterrent and makes clear that abuse of retail workers is unacceptable.

During the pandemic government workers have delivered vital public services and kept our country safe and secure. After ten years in which the real value of civil service pay has fallen, many face hardship. The Government must start to restore the real value of their pay with a 10% increase in 2020.

The government is helping private firms to protect jobs by paying up to 80% of staff wages through this crisis. If it can do this why can it not help key workers who will be putting themselves/their families at risk and working extra hard under extremely challenging and unprecedented circumstances.

Illegal immigrants are entering the UK in many different ways, including small boats from France which are not stopped by either French or British forces.


Latest EDMs signed by Chris Stephens

27th June 2022
Chris Stephens signed this EDM as a sponsor on Monday 27th June 2022

BBC Digital First proposals and effect on journalists

Tabled by: Grahame Morris (Labour - Easington)
That this House recognises the financial pressures faced by the BBC as a result of the freeze in the level of the Licence Fee but shares the concern of the National Union of Journalists regarding the likely impact of the BBC's digital first proposals on the breadth and quality of …
16 signatures
(Most recent: 29 Jun 2022)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 10
Liberal Democrat: 3
Scottish National Party: 2
Plaid Cymru: 1
23rd June 2022
Chris Stephens signed this EDM as a sponsor on Monday 27th June 2022

Job losses at Reach plc

Tabled by: Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid Cymru - Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
That this House is concerned that cuts at Reach plc newspaper titles are undermining journalism in Wales; notes that Reach titles in Wales have cut a large amount of their locally produced content; observes that an increasing amount of content in Reach’s local titles is coming from centrally written generic …
7 signatures
(Most recent: 29 Jun 2022)
Signatures by party:
Plaid Cymru: 3
Labour: 2
Independent: 1
Scottish National Party: 1
View All Chris Stephens's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Chris Stephens, 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.


1 Urgent Question tabled by Chris Stephens

Thursday 17th March 2022

3 Adjournment Debates led by Chris Stephens

Thursday 23rd June 2022
Monday 29th November 2021
Wednesday 17th June 2020

37 Bills introduced by Chris Stephens


A Bill to place a duty on the Secretary of State to prevent the evictions of Universal Credit claimants in rent arrears; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to make provision for national minimum standards in accommodation offered to refugees and asylum seekers; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to grant powers to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to identify and investigate systemic problems in the benefits system and make associated recommendations to the Secretary of State; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to require the Secretary of State to report to Parliament on the merits of repealing those provisions of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 which provide for persons to be paid reduced rates of housing benefit or Universal Credit because their accommodation is deemed to be under-occupied.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to require the Secretary of State to publish annual calculations of the benefit and tax credit rates that would be required for a representative household to afford to buy meals in accordance with the Eatwell Guide to eating healthily; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to amend the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to provide that a Universal Credit claimant may not be sanctioned for refusing work on a zero hours contract; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to place a duty on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to pursue a policy of full employment; to make associated provision for an employment guarantee scheme for benefit claimants who have been unemployed and looking for work for longer than six months; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to amend the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 to make provision about civil liability for breaches of health and safety duties; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to make provision about workers’ rights; to amend the definition of worker; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to place a duty on the Secretary of State to ensure that applicants for Disability Benefit are given the option of their eligibility assessment being audio recorded; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to amend the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 to make provision about the offence of corporate homicide; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to make provision for warnings to be given to benefit claimants before they are given sanctions; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to make provision for granting permission to work to asylum seekers who have waited six months for a decision on their asylum application; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to make provision for asylum seekers to challenge the proportionality of a proposed eviction from accommodation before an independent court or tribunal; to establish asylum seeker accommodation eviction procedures for public authorities; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 6th May 2022

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to amend the definition of worker; to make provision about workers’ rights; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Friday 4th October 2019
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Date TBA

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to amend the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to provide that a Universal Credit claimant may not be sanctioned for refusing work on a zero hours contract; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Friday 4th October 2019
Next Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Date TBA

A Bill to place a duty on the Secretary of State to prevent the evictions of Universal Credit claimants in rent arrears; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 17th March 2023

A Bill to require the Secretary of State to publish annual calculations of benefit and tax credit rates that would be required for a representative household to afford to buy meals in accordance with the Eatwell Guide to eating healthily; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 25th November 2022

A Bill to make provision for national minimum standards in accommodation offered to refugees and asylum seekers; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 28th October 2022

A Bill to make provision for granting permission to work to asylum seekers who have waited six months for a decision on their asylum application; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 28th October 2022
Order Paper number: 21
(Unlikely to be Debated - would require unanimous consent to progress)

A Bill to require the Secretary of State to report to Parliament on the merits of repealing those provisions of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 which provide for persons to be paid reduced rates of housing benefit or universal credit because their accommodation is deemed to be under-occupied.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 9th December 2022

A Bill to grant powers to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to identify and investigate systemic problems in the benefits system and make associated recommendations to the Secretary of State; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 9th December 2022

A Bill to amend the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to provide that a Universal Credit claimant may not be sanctioned for refusing work on a zero hours contract; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 3rd March 2023

A Bill to make provision for warnings to be given to benefit claimants before they are given sanctions; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 3rd March 2023

A duty on the Secretary of State to ensure that applicants for Disability Benefit are given the option of their eligibility assessment being audio recorded; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 20th January 2023

A Bill to make provision for asylum seekers to challenge the proportionality of a proposed eviction from accommodation before an independent court or tribunal; to establish asylum seeker accommodation eviction procedures for public authorities; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 20th January 2023

A Bill to amend the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 to make provision about civil liability for breaches of health and safety duties, and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 3rd February 2023

A Bill to amend the Scotland Act 1998 to grant legislative competence for employment matters to the Scottish Parliament.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 3rd February 2023

A Bill to place a duty on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to pursue a policy of full employment; to make associated provision for an employment guarantee scheme for benefit claimants who have been unemployed and looking for work for longer than six months; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 20th January 2023

A Bill to make provision about workers’ rights; to amend the definition of worker; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 20th January 2023

A Bill to amend the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 to make provision about the offence of corporate homicide; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 20th June 2022
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 18th November 2022

A Bill to amend the definition of worker; to make provision about workers’ rights; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Wednesday 26th February 2020
(Read Debate)

A Bill to amend the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to provide that a Universal Credit claimant may not be sanctioned for refusing work on a zero hours contract; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 10th February 2020

A Bill to place a duty on the Secretary of State to prevent the evictions of Universal Credit claimants in rent arrears; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 10th February 2020

A Bill to make provision for asylum seekers to challenge the proportionality of a proposed eviction from accommodation before an independent court or tribunal; to establish asylum seeker accommodation eviction procedures for public authorities; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Monday 10th February 2020

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to make provision for asylum seekers to challenge the proportionality of a proposed eviction from accommodation before an independent court or tribunal; to establish asylum seeker accommodation eviction procedures for public authorities; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 23rd July 2019
Next Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Date TBA

A Bill to restrict charges for using telecommunications to contact certain government advice services; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 21st February 2017
(Read Debate)

375 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
5 Other Department Questions
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what records his Department keeps relating to staff working times under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998; and how long those records are kept for.

The Department's policies and processes are supported by payroll and other records that are retained for at least two years.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
16th Nov 2021
To ask the President of COP26, how local community groups and charities in Glasgow South West constituency may be able to apply for some of the 6000 items of furniture donated by IKEA which were used for COP26.

The UK Government, IKEA and Glasgow City Council are working closely together to ensure these donations are responsibly distributed amongst community groups and third sector organisations such as NGOs, voluntary organisations and cooperatives within Glasgow and the wider region.

We are working on a platform to facilitate this process. In the meantime organisations can get in touch through COP26Enquiries@glasgow.gov.uk to register their interest.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, whether the Commission has received advice from Public Health England on what level of increased risk of covid-19 infection would require the suspension of work on the Parliamentary Estate.

The Commission has received no advice from Public Health England on what level of increased risk of covid-19 infection would require the suspension of work on the Parliamentary Estate.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
19th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what advice has been received since November 2020 from Public Health England on the risks of people continuing to work on the Parliamentary estate contracting covid-19; and if he will publish that advice.

Public Health England has supported the House in responding to Covid-19 throughout the past 12 months. Its advice, in conjunction with the working safely guidance which is available to all workplaces, has been incorporated into the Working safely on the Parliamentary estate during the coronavirus outbreak risk assessment. This document has been updated to reflect any changes any in the situation, with the most recent published on 14 January. The assessment is available for anyone to view on the Parliamentary website:

https://www.parliament.uk/contentassets/d23db9b1eb174243ae97bda14ca82613/hop-v4-hop-covid-risk-assessment--issued.pdf

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
19th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what recommendations have been received from Public Health England since November 2020 on the circumstances in which the suspension of work on the Parliamentary estate would be advisable owing to the increased risk of infection from covid-19.

Public Health England has confirmed that the measures put in place to ensure the House remains Covid secure are appropriate to manage the risk of infection. As the risks are being managed, Public Health England has issued no advice around where suspension of work on the estate may be necessary.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Attorney General, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation affects the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information as set out in Section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

This answer is in respect of the Attorney General’s Office, the Government Legal Department, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.

The introduction of GDPR has not affected the rights of unions in the organisations above in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Attorney General, whether his Department complies with the requirement set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

This part of the response is in relation to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), the Government Legal Department (GLD), and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI).

The three organisations above, and Government more widely, recognise that there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services. Whilst facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money, departments have an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

In line with the legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials is published annually by GLD, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including where this arises under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The Serious Fraud Office (whose HR service is independent of the other Law Officer’s Departments) Facility Time Agreement allows for paid time off for health and safety representatives but that time off is set against the overall level of facility time agreed between the employer and the 3 recognised trade unions.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what equalities impact assessment his Department has undertaken in respect of the Government Property Agency's decision to retender their Facilities Management contracts in late 2022; and if he will place a copy of that equalities impact assessment in the Library.

At this stage no Equality Impact Assessment has been undertaken for the Government Property Agency (GPA) Workplace Services Transformation Programme that will see the procurement of new facilities management contracts in this current financial year. There is no legal requirement to carry out an Equality Impact Assessment and GPA is confident it has had due regard to the public sector equality duty.

The new facilities management contracts will be procured using Crown Commercial Service (CCS) framework agreements. The commercial terms of these agreements include obligations on suppliers to follow all applicable equality law including protections against discrimination and also any other requirements imposed by the authority in relation to equality law.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government efficiency)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make it his policy to mandate individual risk assessments for all employees in his Department before they return to the workplace following the easing of covid-19 restrictions; and how many individual risk assessments for people returning to work in those circumstances have been conducted by the Department as of 21 February 2022.

Throughout the pandemic, the Cabinet Office has followed Government guidance on ensuring safety in the workplace, particularly the Working Safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance - recognising the different approaches taken by the devolved administrations. This includes undertaking appropriate premises risk assessments and implementing mitigation measures.

In addition to workplace risk assessments, we encourage managers to complete individual risk assessments with staff who come into the workplace. Any data acquired through use of the CIRI is confidential and will only be used to ensure any risks are identified and actions taken to respond to any issues relating to a return to the workplace. We do not store this information centrally.

Heather Wheeler
Assistant Whip
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Places for Growth initiative applies to public servants.

The Government has made it clear that the Civil Service and its public bodies should have a truly national footprint. Places for Growth is working closely with departments and public bodies to relocate 22,000 Civil Service roles from Greater London to locations across the UK. The Government engages with Trade Unions regarding the Government’s overall ambition for Places for Growth.

Departments are responsible for their individual relocation programmes and own the associated business cases, Equality Impact Assessments and engagement with Trades Unions relating to their plans.

The majority of moves will involve roles becoming available through natural turnover, whereby roles identified as suitable for relocation will be advertised in the new location once a vacancy arises.

Places for Growth has an Equality Impact Assessment in place and departments are also responsible for ensuring they carry out, review and scrutinise Equality Impact Assessments for their specific relocation programmes.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government efficiency)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether Departments are required to inform the Cabinet Office of any plans to move posts out London and the South East under the Places for Growth initiative.

The Government has made it clear that the Civil Service and its public bodies should have a truly national footprint. Places for Growth is working closely with departments and public bodies to relocate 22,000 Civil Service roles from Greater London to locations across the UK. The Government engages with Trade Unions regarding the Government’s overall ambition for Places for Growth.

Departments are responsible for their individual relocation programmes and own the associated business cases, Equality Impact Assessments and engagement with Trades Unions relating to their plans.

The majority of moves will involve roles becoming available through natural turnover, whereby roles identified as suitable for relocation will be advertised in the new location once a vacancy arises.

Places for Growth has an Equality Impact Assessment in place and departments are also responsible for ensuring they carry out, review and scrutinise Equality Impact Assessments for their specific relocation programmes.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government efficiency)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether there are any potential redundancy schemes operating in relation to the Places for Growth initiative.

The Government has made it clear that the Civil Service and its public bodies should have a truly national footprint. Places for Growth is working closely with departments and public bodies to relocate 22,000 Civil Service roles from Greater London to locations across the UK. The Government engages with Trade Unions regarding the Government’s overall ambition for Places for Growth.

Departments are responsible for their individual relocation programmes and own the associated business cases, Equality Impact Assessments and engagement with Trades Unions relating to their plans.

The majority of moves will involve roles becoming available through natural turnover, whereby roles identified as suitable for relocation will be advertised in the new location once a vacancy arises.

Places for Growth has an Equality Impact Assessment in place and departments are also responsible for ensuring they carry out, review and scrutinise Equality Impact Assessments for their specific relocation programmes.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government efficiency)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether all Departments have been advised to carry out an equality impact assessment in advance of any move of posts out of London and the South East under the Places for Growth initiative.

The Government has made it clear that the Civil Service and its public bodies should have a truly national footprint. Places for Growth is working closely with departments and public bodies to relocate 22,000 Civil Service roles from Greater London to locations across the UK. The Government engages with Trade Unions regarding the Government’s overall ambition for Places for Growth.

Departments are responsible for their individual relocation programmes and own the associated business cases, Equality Impact Assessments and engagement with Trades Unions relating to their plans.

The majority of moves will involve roles becoming available through natural turnover, whereby roles identified as suitable for relocation will be advertised in the new location once a vacancy arises.

Places for Growth has an Equality Impact Assessment in place and departments are also responsible for ensuring they carry out, review and scrutinise Equality Impact Assessments for their specific relocation programmes.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government efficiency)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department has taken steps to maintain a central equality impact assessment on the move of posts out of London and the Southeast under the Places for Growth initiative.

The Government has made it clear that the Civil Service and its public bodies should have a truly national footprint. Places for Growth is working closely with departments and public bodies to relocate 22,000 Civil Service roles from Greater London to locations across the UK. The Government engages with Trade Unions regarding the Government’s overall ambition for Places for Growth.

Departments are responsible for their individual relocation programmes and own the associated business cases, Equality Impact Assessments and engagement with Trades Unions relating to their plans.

The majority of moves will involve roles becoming available through natural turnover, whereby roles identified as suitable for relocation will be advertised in the new location once a vacancy arises.

Places for Growth has an Equality Impact Assessment in place and departments are also responsible for ensuring they carry out, review and scrutinise Equality Impact Assessments for their specific relocation programmes.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government efficiency)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many Employment Tribunal claims of (a) race and (b) disability discrimination have been lodged against the Cabinet Office in each of the last five years.

Under the GDPR, the Cabinet Office is unable to provide specific data broken down year-on-year for the number of employment tribunal claims of a) race and b) disability that have been lodged. However, in total for the five year period from 01/01/2017 - 01/01/2022 there have been a total of 27 race, disability or race and disability discrimination cases lodged. Some claims are not defined for singular reasons; a claim may have multiple aspects.

Heather Wheeler
Assistant Whip
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many Employment Tribunal claims of (a) race and (b) disability discrimination have been settled before a hearing in each of the last five years; and what the total cost was of those settlements.

Under the GDPR, the Cabinet Office is unable to provide specific data broken down year-on-year for the number of Employment Tribunal claims of a) race and b) disability that have been settled before a hearing. However, in total for the five year period from 01/01/2017 - 01/01/2022 there have been a total of 9 race, disability or race and disability discrimination cases that have been settled before a hearing.

The total cost of settlement provided by our third party provider for all disability and race discrimination cases for the Cabinet Office in the five year period is £280,085.15. This figure captures settlement only - not associated costs. Any settlements made during the ACAS Early Conciliation process are not included here as by definition they have not progressed to an employment tribunal claim.

Heather Wheeler
Assistant Whip
31st Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether it is Civil Service policy that staff who have been homeworking must have an individual risk assessment before returning to the workplace.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has published guidance on GOV.UK: Working Safely During Coronavirus (Covid-19) which supports all employers, including Civil Service employers, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the workplace and to keep people safe. All employers are required to conduct a health and safety risk assessment that includes the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace. Within the Civil Service managers are also encouraged to conduct an individual risk assessment with their employees, ensuring that personal risk factors are considered and, where identified, control measures are put in place to reduce their level of risk when returning to the workplace.

A decision on whether it is safe for an employee to return to the workplace will be based on the outcomes of those risk assessments.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
31st Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether a member of Civil Service staff is expected to return to the workplace in the event that a risk assessment for them shows that, even with mitigations, it is more hazardous for them to return to the workplace than to continue working from home.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has published guidance on GOV.UK: Working Safely During Coronavirus (Covid-19) which supports all employers, including Civil Service employers, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the workplace and to keep people safe. All employers are required to conduct a health and safety risk assessment that includes the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace. Within the Civil Service managers are also encouraged to conduct an individual risk assessment with their employees, ensuring that personal risk factors are considered and, where identified, control measures are put in place to reduce their level of risk when returning to the workplace.

A decision on whether it is safe for an employee to return to the workplace will be based on the outcomes of those risk assessments.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when the affiliate cluster contract run by the Government Property Agency is due to expire.

The information requested is commercially sensitive and therefore we are unable to respond to this question.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what Departments and locations are included in the affiliate cluster contract run by the Government Property Agency.

The information requested is commercially sensitive and therefore we are unable to respond to this question.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has plans to (a) honour and (b) make a statement to recognise the volunteers who took part in the covid-19 vaccine trials.

We appreciate there is a huge appetite across the UK to say thank you to all those involved in the successful vaccination programme.

The recently published Birthday Honours List 2021 includes a range of nominations for those who have played crucial roles throughout the COVID-19 effort. A number of people were honoured for their contributions tackling the virus on the frontline and in their communities, building on the nominations brought forward in the Birthday Honours List 2020 and at New Year Honours List 2021. We expect to see more nominations come forward across future Lists, however, there are limits on the numbers who can receive recognition via the honours process.

The Prime Minister announced that the Government will establish a UK Commission on COVID Commemoration to consider the appropriate way to remember those who have lost their lives and to commemorate the service of all those involved in the unprecedented response. The Government will set out the Commission membership and terms of reference in due course.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's powers in respect of the ability to proactively investigate systemic issues arising in the benefits system.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman operates according to his powers in the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967. This includes investigating complaints made by MPs on behalf of members of the public about the benefits system administered by the Department for Work and Pensions. The current legislation does not include powers to investigate any issues proactively and ministers have no plans to introduce such reforms at the current time.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Crown Commercial Service will assess in future, as part of its due diligence checks on companies wishing to join the Facilities Management Marketplace, whether they have financial links with supply chain financing providers.

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) did not ask companies that are part of its Facilities Management Marketplace whether they have had financial links with (a) Greensill Capital and (b) other supply chain financing providers.

The financial assessment of suppliers who are part of the Facilities Management Marketplace is undertaken using Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) checks, amongst other internal checks. The Facilities Management Marketplace framework has three lots (lots 1a - c) of which each has their own D&B risk threshold that suppliers are required to meet. This is monitored by CCS framework management and commercial finance teams. Where suppliers fall below the minimum D&B credit rating threshold, further investigation is undertaken which may result in a Financial Distress event as per the terms and conditions of the framework.

There is no intention in the future to assess, as part of its due diligence checks on companies wishing to join the Facilities Management Marketplace, whether suppliers have financial links with supply chain financing providers.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has asked the companies that are part of its Facilities Management Marketplace whether they had financial links with (a) Greensill Capital and (b) other supply chain financing providers; and what assessment the CCS has made of the financial stability of those companies.

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) did not ask companies that are part of its Facilities Management Marketplace whether they have had financial links with (a) Greensill Capital and (b) other supply chain financing providers.

The financial assessment of suppliers who are part of the Facilities Management Marketplace is undertaken using Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) checks, amongst other internal checks. The Facilities Management Marketplace framework has three lots (lots 1a - c) of which each has their own D&B risk threshold that suppliers are required to meet. This is monitored by CCS framework management and commercial finance teams. Where suppliers fall below the minimum D&B credit rating threshold, further investigation is undertaken which may result in a Financial Distress event as per the terms and conditions of the framework.

There is no intention in the future to assess, as part of its due diligence checks on companies wishing to join the Facilities Management Marketplace, whether suppliers have financial links with supply chain financing providers.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Government Property Agency will in future, as part of its due diligence checks on facility management companies it wishes to contract with, assess whether they have financial links with supply chain financing providers.

The Government Property Agency has not asked our facilities management suppliers whether they have, or have had, any financial links to Greensill Capital or another supply chain financing provider.

GPA's principal suppliers are government strategic suppliers; the Cabinet Office Market and Suppliers team closely monitors the financial health of these strategic suppliers and has regular discussions with their management.

GPA procurement processes are aligned with legal and commercial policy requirements. At the moment, there is no requirement to specifically enquire about company links with supply chain financing providers as part of due diligence.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Government Property Agency (GPA) has asked the Facility Management companies it contracts services from whether they had any financial links with Greensill Capital or have links with another supply chain financing provider; and what assessment the GPA has made of the financial stability of such companies.

The Government Property Agency has not asked our facilities management suppliers whether they have, or have had, any financial links to Greensill Capital or another supply chain financing provider.

GPA's principal suppliers are government strategic suppliers; the Cabinet Office Market and Suppliers team closely monitors the financial health of these strategic suppliers and has regular discussions with their management.

GPA procurement processes are aligned with legal and commercial policy requirements. At the moment, there is no requirement to specifically enquire about company links with supply chain financing providers as part of due diligence.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what health and safety measures will be carried out to facilitate a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak of (a) staff, (b) hon. Members and (c) visitors; and if he will make a statement.

In line with Public Health England (PHE) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance, the House of Commons is implementing numerous measures to facilitate Parliamentary Business and the eventual full return to Parliament of staff; hon. Members; and visitors when it is safe to do so.

Measures to promote social distancing on the estate include the physical re-arrangement of workspaces; installation of floor markings and provision of signage to encourage people to stay 2m apart. Additional measures have been implemented to facilitate frequent hand washing; support workers getting to and from the estate; move around the estate and use communal areas safely.

The comprehensive list of measures being implemented is contained within the House of Commons’ COVID-19 risk assessment and has been shared with people working on the estate.

Contractors working on the estate have implemented commensurate measures as part of their assessment of their own activities.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what legislation under paragraph 5 of the civil service management code Ministers have undertaken to apply as if it were binding on the Crown.

The Cabinet Office works closely with all departments on many of the matters outlined within the Civil Service Management Code. All departments are expected to follow the instructions within the Civil Service Management Code when setting terms and conditions of Civil Service employment.

Paragraph three of the Civil Service Management Code outlines the authority delegated to Ministers in charge of departments.

Some legislative employment provisions are applied to Civil Servants. These areas, which include notice and redundancy, are as set out in the Civil Service Management Code and departmental policies.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many times his Department has used the right under paragraph 7 of the civil service management code to inspect and monitor observance of the civil service management code in the last three years.

The Cabinet Office works closely with all departments on many of the matters outlined within the Civil Service Management Code. All departments are expected to follow the instructions within the Civil Service Management Code when setting terms and conditions of Civil Service employment.

Paragraph three of the Civil Service Management Code outlines the authority delegated to Ministers in charge of departments.

Some legislative employment provisions are applied to Civil Servants. These areas, which include notice and redundancy, are as set out in the Civil Service Management Code and departmental policies.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what functions have been (a) delegated to Departments and (b) retained by the civil service under the civil service management code.

The Cabinet Office works closely with all departments on many of the matters outlined within the Civil Service Management Code. All departments are expected to follow the instructions within the Civil Service Management Code when setting terms and conditions of Civil Service employment.

Paragraph three of the Civil Service Management Code outlines the authority delegated to Ministers in charge of departments.

Some legislative employment provisions are applied to Civil Servants. These areas, which include notice and redundancy, are as set out in the Civil Service Management Code and departmental policies.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will amend the Ministerial Code to include what the steps that will be taken in the event that a (a) Minister and (b) Special Adviser is accused of sexual harassment.

The Ministerial Code makes clear that: “harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour wherever it takes place is not consistent with the Ministerial Code and will not be tolerated”. Sections 1.4 to 1.6 of the Ministerial Code sets out steps to investigate allegations of a breach of the Ministerial Code.

The model contract for Special Advisers and the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers sets out the standards of conduct expected of special advisers, and the disciplinary procedures that will be followed where necessary.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has plans to amend the Ministerial Code to include the steps that will be taken in the event that a (b) a Minister and (b) Special Adviser is accused of bullying a civil servant.

The Ministerial Code makes clear that: “harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour wherever it takes place is not consistent with the Ministerial Code and will not be tolerated”. Sections 1.4 to 1.6 of the Ministerial Code sets out steps to investigate allegations of a breach of the Ministerial Code.

The model contract for Special Advisers and the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers sets out the standards of conduct expected of special advisers, and the disciplinary procedures that will be followed where necessary.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

Cabinet Office has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

In line with the legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials is published annually. Facility time, defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official (permitted by the official’s employer) includes, where this arises, under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974."

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

GDPR has not affected the rights of unions in the Cabinet Office to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the gov.uk news story of 11 May 2022, Insolvency Service transitions to regional hubs as part of efficiency drive, if he will place in the Library a copy of the business case for the decision to close Insolvency Service offices.

It would not be appropriate to place in the Library a copy of the business case for the Insolvency Service’s move to regional centres as it contains commercially sensitive information.

This transition involves closing 10 smaller sites and developing regional centres in 11 locations in which the Insolvency Service has offices. These centres will enable it to provide services more efficiently, with greater flexibility to respond to future changes in demand for services. The Insolvency Service has put in place measures to support staff in affected offices to transfer to their nearest regional centre.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the gov.uk news story of 11 May 2022, Insolvency Service transitions to regional hubs as part of efficiency drive, whether his Department has consulted with (a) the public, and (b) the business community over the closure of Insolvency Service offices.

A key objective of the project to transition the Insolvency Service to a regional hub structure, is to ensure it continues to deliver high standards of service to business and the public. The regional hub structure will enable the Insolvency Service to operate more efficiently and effectively in the future.

There has been informal engagement with a number of stakeholders and this will continue as the transition to regional hubs is delivered over the next three years.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the gov.uk news story of 11 May 2022, Insolvency Service transitions to regional hubs as part of efficiency drive, whether his Department will offer the option of homeworking to mitigate potential redundancies for staff based in Insolvency Service offices that are due to be closed.

In order to support employees moving to a new regional centre location, the Insolvency Service will be exploring with each employee what adjustments can be made to their working arrangements to support their move. The Insolvency Service offers a range of flexible working arrangements including hybrid working.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the gov.uk news story of 11 May 2022, Insolvency Service transitions to regional hubs as part of efficiency drive, what estimate his Department has made of the cost of redundancies as a result of Insolvency Service office closures.

The Insolvency Service announced its transforming workplaces strategy on 11 May 2022. It is not the intention of that strategy to reduce workforce numbers either by redundancy or otherwise.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many and what proportion of Insolvency Service staff started but did not complete Insolvency Service Investigator Programme training in each of the last three years; and what the associated costs were.

The number of Insolvency Service staff beginning but not completing the investigator programme over the last three years was:

YEAR

NO OF LEARNERS ENROLLED

NO OF LEARNERS LEAVING WITHOUT COMPLETION

%

COST (£)

2019/20

128

45

35

85,131

2020/21

74

9

12

38,214

2021/22

10

0

0

0

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the gov.uk news story of 11 May 2022, Insolvency Service transitions to regional hubs as part of efficiency drive, what estimate his Department has made of the potential cost of (a) recruitment, (b) training and (c) development that will be required to replace staff as a result of the decision to close Insolvency Service offices.

The Insolvency Service announced its transforming workplaces strategy on 11 May 2022. It is not the intention of that strategy to reduce workforce numbers either by redundancy or otherwise.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he will make an assessment of any factors that may impact LPG supply in Scotland; and if he will take steps to work with all parties to ensure taxi drivers in Scotland have sufficient access to LPG fuel.

The supply of LPG remains sufficient to meet demand across the UK. BEIS works closely with industry to monitor the LPG supply position throughout the year and proactively take steps to mitigate any risks that may affect distribution to customers and essential services.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has plans to transfer shared service matrix cluster (a) staff and (b) work out of (i) UK Shared Business Services and (ii) Shared Services Connected Ltd to a new provider.

The Matrix shared services cluster will create a single shared service centre with a single technology and a single service provider, in line with the Government Shared Services Strategy. Current plans are that the Matrix shared services cluster will be formed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for International Trade, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Cabinet Office in a first wave of rapid adopters, followed by the Department for Education, the Department of Health and Social Care, the Attorney General’s Office, and HM Treasury.

A programme team has been put in place to develop a business case and secure a budget for the implementation of the shared service centre for the cluster. Until a budget is secured, and a business case approved, any figures or options are only tentative and subject to finalising the scope and approach for the programme. Current options being considered include in-sourcing, UK Shared Business Services as provider and using a new provider. The business case will explore the merits of the options in line with standard Government practice, so all options remain a possibility, including those listed above.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of in-sourcing shared services within the shared service matrix cluster.

The Matrix shared services cluster will create a single shared service centre with a single technology and a single service provider, in line with the Government Shared Services Strategy. Current plans are that the Matrix shared services cluster will be formed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for International Trade, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Cabinet Office in a first wave of rapid adopters, followed by the Department for Education, the Department of Health and Social Care, the Attorney General’s Office, and HM Treasury.

A programme team has been put in place to develop a business case and secure a budget for the implementation of the shared service centre for the cluster. Until a budget is secured, and a business case approved, any figures or options are only tentative and subject to finalising the scope and approach for the programme. Following recent engagement with Trade Unions, we are working with them to discuss the merits of in-sourcing as an option, in line with standard Government practice.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the options available for the future of shared services within the shared service matrix cluster; and whether those proposals are being developed in accordance with the Cabinet Office Sourcing Playbook.

The Matrix shared service cluster will create a single shared service centre with a single technology and a single service provider, in line with the Government Shared Services Strategy. Current plans are that the Matrix shared services cluster will be formed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for International Trade, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Cabinet Office in a first wave of rapid adopters, followed by the Department for Education, the Department of Health and Social Care, the Attorney General’s Office. and HM Treasury.

A programme team has been put in place to develop a business case and secure a budget for the implementation of the shared service centre for the cluster. Until a budget is secured and a business case approved, any figures or options are only tentative and subject to finalising the scope and approach for the programme. Current options being considered include in-sourcing, UK Shared Business Services as provider or using a new provider. The preferred option will be determined by its merit in line with standard Government practice, including Cabinet Office Sourcing Playbook when relevant.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which Departments within the shared service matrix cluster does Shared Services Connected Ltd provide shared services for.

Shared Services Connect Ltd provides services for one department within the Matrix cluster, which is the Cabinet Office.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which Departments within the shared service matrix cluster does UK Shared Business Services provide shared services for.

UK Shared Business Services provides services for two departments which are in the Matrix cluster: the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for International Trade (DIT).

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which Departments within the Shared Service Matrix Cluster have in-house shared services; and from which offices those shared services are conducted.

Matrix shared services cluster is formed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Department for International Trade (DIT), Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Cabinet Office (CO) in a first wave of rapid adopters, followed by Department for Education (DfE), Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT).

The following Departments have Department-defined in-house shared services:

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: The DCMS definition of shared services is provided by a combination of Outsource and Insource provision. HR transactional services (excluding payroll) are provided in-house across a geographically dispersed team, with people located in

  • Edinburgh
  • London
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle

Department for Education: The DfE definition of shared services is services provided by core DfE to other entities. DfE provides services to the core Department and a number of its ALBs. DfE staff are based in the offices below and the teams that operate our shared service provision are split site, with teams spanning multiple offices.

  • Bristol
  • Exeter
  • Coventry
  • Croydon
  • Darlington
  • Leeds
  • London
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Sheffield
  • Watford

Department of Health and Social Care: The DHSC definition of shared services is provided by core DHSC. DHSC staff are geographically dispersed, with people located in:

- London

- Leeds.

HM Treasury: The HMT definition of shared services is provided by Treasury Group Shared Service centre to HM Treasury and its ALBs. Staff are geographically dispersed, with people located in:

- Norwich

- London.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 10 November 2020 to Question 112078, Land Registry: Artificial Intelligence, what progress has been made by the Land Registry on exploring new and emerging technologies including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning through its Digital Street research and development project.

HM Land Registry (HMLR) is already using machine learning to enable its caseworkers to compare documents more efficiently, to make the Land Register increasingly machine readable and to accelerate the migration of Local Authority data as part of the Local Land Charges programme.

HMLR’s Annual Report and Accounts 2020/21 includes an update on the Digital Street research and development programme and is available on GOV.UK.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many (a) civil servants, (b) public servants in UK Shared Business Services and (c) private sector workers in Shared Services Connected Ltd work on shared services within the shared service matrix cluster.

The Matrix shared service cluster was introduced as part of the Government Business Services “Shared Services Strategy for Government” in March 2021. A programme team has been put in place to develop a business case and secure a budget for the implementation of the shared service centre for the cluster.

The current number of civil servants that work directly on transactional shared services is c.80.

UK Shared Business Services provide shared services, including to BEIS and DIT. The number of public servants in UK Shared Business Services is c.640.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 13 November 2020 to Question 112077, Artificial Intelligence, what progress has been made with each of the items listed.

A progress update where available (in italics) on each of the items in the answer I gave the Hon. Member on 13 November 2022 to Question 112077 can be found below.

BEIS are exploring AI and machine learning techniques internally to enable more efficient working. Projects are being

(i) Undertaken:

  • A proof of concept for the use of virtual assistants to help staff find information regarding corporate policies, whereby the assistant will improve by learning from the enquires responses. An HR chatbot was developed as a proof of concept.
  • Planning a proof of concept using Machine Learning for automatic labelling, setting up retention periods for past and future documents that form the official record. A small-scale proof of concept was undertaken in Spring 2021 using a "machine teaching" tool to automate content processing and data classification to help identify information of value within a digital heap.

(ii) Considered:

  • The use of AI handling of inbound enquiries into the department to create draft responses and to triage requests to the correct teams. An enquiries service using an AI builder to automatically categorise emails was developed as a proof of concept.

BEIS Analysts use machine learning techniques, under the umbrella of artificial intelligence, where appropriate as part of analysis supporting policy development.

Machine Learning projects are being

(i) Undertaken:

  • Identifying the location of industrial strengths. Report on this has been published
  • Pilot for targeting communications about business support
  • Categorising internal documents by subject. Currently exploring feasibility for implementation
  • Project to understand the labour market through analysing job adverts. Methodology shared with OGDs and academics
  • A pilot for organising internal processes. Process implemented

(ii) Considered:

  • A pilot for predicting economic impacts using real time indicators
  • Exploring automatic text generation a pilot exploring natural language processing approaches for extracting economic intelligence
  • Planning to repeat a machine learning exercise on HMRC data to identify high growth potential businesses, to build on the successful ‘DECA pilot’ of 2019. This would underpin further operations in 2021, depending on the outcome of the SR process. DECA activities have pivoted to other government priorities.

BEIS policy teams are exploring the use of Artificial Intelligence. AI projects are being considered by the Better Regulation Executive who are looking to convert the stock of regulatory requirements placed on business into machine readable code and pilot hosting this as open source a metadata set on the ‘Open Regulation Platform’ (ORP), freely available on The National Archives GOV.UK platform. The project is currently in discovery phase to identify all data that government holds on regulatory obligations that could be relevant for this platform. This application is closely related to work that has already been undertaken as part of BEIS GovTech challenge to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) to understand the cumulative impact of regulation. The Open Regulation Platform project is currently at the private beta stage.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the difference in unit cost is for households using (a) energy prepayment meters and (b) paying for energy by direct debit; and what steps he is taking to reduce that cost difference.

Supplier licence conditions, enforced by independent regulator Ofgem, state that the differences in price between payment methods for energy, including by prepayment meter, must reflect the cost to the supplier of that payment method. The energy price cap protects prepayment meter customers and ensures they pay a fair price for their energy.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent estimate he has made of the level of fuel debt accumulated on prepayment meters due to the build-up of standing charges; and what steps he is taking to help prevent the accumulation of fuel debt through standing charges.

Standing charges are capped under the energy price cap which is set by Ofgem to protect customers on default tariffs.

In addition to the existing £12bn package, the government has announced a further package of support to help households with the rising cost of energy, worth £9.1 billion in 2022-23. This includes:

  • A £200 discount on energy bills this Autumn for domestic electricity customers in Great Britain. This will be paid back automatically over the next 5 years.
  • A £150 non-repayable rebate in Council Tax bills for all households in Bands A-D in England.
  • £144 million of discretionary funding for Local Authorities to support households who need support but are not eligible for the Council Tax rebate.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what records his Department keeps relating to staff working times under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998; and how long those records are kept for.

Staff at BEIS work a standard 36/37 hour full-time week. Pay and Time Off In Lieu for overtime, and flexitime, are available where agreed and recorded locally. Managers are responsible for monitoring the hours worked by their team members and for addressing any excess hours that are worked on a regular basis.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of amending the Working Time Regulations in response to the Court of Justice of the European Union ruling in the case of Federacion de Servicios de Comisiones Oberas v Deutsche Bank SAE (CJEU Case C-55/18); and if he will make a statement.

It is important that employers comply with the Working Time Regulations in respect of working hours and daily and weekly rest, and that they are held to account if they don't. Workers can take a case to employment tribunal concerning insufficient rest, and the Health and Safety Executive directly enforces maximum working hours. The Government has also committed to bringing forward state enforcement of the rules in the Working Time Regulations on holiday pay for vulnerable workers, to ensure that workers get the paid time off they deserve.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the compliance of the facilities management contractor ISS with employment practices for staff based in his Department's buildings.

The Government Property Agency (GPA) is the contract holder for the facilities management provider ISS. Both GPA and BEIS work closely with all their suppliers on all aspects of service delivery. GPA and the Department draw facilities services from a Crown Commercial Service framework supplier to help ensure confidence in the supplier base.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the (a) covid-19 health and safety practices of facilities management contractor ISS and (b) potential effect of those practices on staff based in his Department's buildings.

BEIS collaborates closely with the Government Property Agency which manages the facilities management contract with ISS. BEIS has reviewed the COVID-19 health and safety practices of ISS, which include risk assessments, training information and protocols for ISS staff working within the BEIS demise of buildings.

The review of ISS practices gives the Department assurance that sufficient COVID-19 mitigations are in place to enable BEIS staff, or others working within the BEIS demise of buildings, to work safely.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the new Single Enforcement Body is planned to have powers to (a) identify, (b) investigate, and (c) take legal action over cases of bogus of self-employment.

The Government has recently published its consultation response on the single enforcement body for employment rights which sets out the high level remit, powers, and overall approach of the new body. The full government response can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/good-work-plan-establishing-a-new-single-enforcement-body-for-employment-rights.

The body will not specifically cover ‘bogus self-employment’. Employment status is based on the reality of the relationship between an individual and the person for whom services are provided. That might not be the same as what the employment contract states. For disputes around the interpretation of employment law, which are often complex and finely balanced, it is right that Employment Tribunals have the power to determine the result, taking into consideration all of the detail of each individual case to ensure any judgment is the conclusion of a fair and transparent process.

We recognise concerns around employment status and the potential for exploitation and the Government is clear that businesses cannot simply opt out of employment rights. The Government is considering options to bring further clarity around the employment status framework, making it easier for individuals and businesses to understand which rights apply to them.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will ban the practice of recruitment agencies asking for incentives to recommend contractors to an umbrella company.

Commercial and loyalty incentive schemes may be a legitimate business-to-business interaction, between the employment agency and an umbrella company. They are therefore outside the scope of the agency regulations enforced by the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate, which regulate the relationship between the agency and work-seeker.

The Government will continue to work with the recruitment sector to seek compliance with existing regulations. The Government will also continue to ensure current regulations remain fit for purpose, drawing on the expertise of trade bodies and businesses in the sector. Proposed regulatory changes would be announced in the usual way.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure umbrella companies comply with legislation on the payment of holiday pay.

Protecting and enhancing workers’ rights, including those employed by umbrella companies is a priority for this Government. We have already introduced requirements to improve the information provided to new agency workers about their contractual terms and pay rates. We have also committed to extend the remit of the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate to include umbrella companies. This will enable EAS to take enforcement action against an umbrella company that has not paid holiday pay. We will bring forward the legislation to implement this in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the implications for his policies of the UK being ranked by UNICEF 34 out of 41 OECD countries for family friendly policies; and if he will take urgent steps to support people on parental leave during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have a strong tradition of supporting working families in the UK and our parental leave arrangements are generous and flexible.

We go much further than the EU minimum and employed women in the UK have access to up to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave , 39 weeks of which are paid. Where the mother does not intend to use her full maternity entitlements, she can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay with her partner , subject to the parents being eligible for Shared Parental Leave and Pay.

In 2020 we introduced Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay to support parents who suffered the loss of a child. We will also legislate to create a new Neonatal Leave and Pay entitlement to support new parents whose baby needs to spend time in neonatal care, as soon as parliamentary time allows.

The Government is sympathetic to the position that new parents have found themselves in during the pandemic. We have taken steps to support new parents by passing emergency legislation which ensures that parents who are furloughed during the period that is used to determine entitlement to Maternity, Adoption and other family-related statutory pay do not lose out. This legislation ensures that entitlement to pay and the rate of pay that parents receive is based on their normal earnings, not their furlough pay.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will extend paternal leave to support people who have lost access to health services, baby groups and childcare support as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is sympathetic to the unique challenges that new parents have faced because of COVID-19 and the social distancing measures that we had to put in place to protect lives and the NHS. We recognise that these restrictions have meant that some parents have been, or still are unable to participate in activities normally available to them, such as baby groups.

The Government is not minded at this stage to extend Paternity Leave and Pay entitlements. We believe current entitlements to Paternity Leave and Pay and Shared Parental Leave and Pay are generous enough to allow fathers to care for the child and support the child’s mother or adopter. Fathers have access to two weeks of Paternity Leave and Pay and through Shared Parental Leave and Pay, they can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay with the mother if she does not intend to use her full maternity entitlements.

We understand that social distancing guidelines have made finding childcare more challenging. Parents who are unable to find suitable childcare can contact their local authority where they will receive advice on available settings. In addition, parents of children aged under 14 are now able to form ‘childcare bubbles’ to allow friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare. Early Years settings (including nurseries and childminders) also remain open during the new national lockdown.

The NHS has made arrangements to ensure that new parents were supported throughout the pandemic. Operating digitally where possible, community health services have continued to provide support, prioritising higher needs families, and NHS mental health services also remained open.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he has taken to (a) identify the main challenges that new parents face during parental leave and (b) make an assessment of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on parental leave.

In 2019 we consulted on high-level options for reforming parental leave and pay. We are also conducting a formal evaluation of the Shared Parental Leave and Pay scheme, including large-scale, representative surveys of employers and parents. Together, these will give us a fuller picture of how well the current system of parental leave and pay is working for parents and employers.

We are currently processing and analysing the data from the research and analysing the information that we have collected through the consultation. We intend to publish our findings later this year.

The Government has also remained in close contact with stakeholders and charities supporting parents throughout the pandemic.

We have taken steps to support new parents by passing emergency legislation which ensures that parents who are furloughed during the period that is used to determine entitlement to Maternity, Adoption and other family-related statutory pay do not lose out. This legislation ensures that entitlement to pay and the rate of pay that parents receive is based on their normal earnings, not their furlough pay.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for his Department.

There are a number of projects currently being undertaken or considered by the Department, in some cases the progression will be dependent on availability of budget from next financial year.

BEIS are exploring AI and machine learning techniques internally to enable more efficient working. Projects are being:

(i) undertaken:

  • a proof of concept for the use of virtual assistants to help staff find information regarding corporate policies, whereby the assistant will improve by learning from the enquires responses
  • planning a proof of concept using Machine Learning for automatic labelling, setting up retention periods for past and future documents that form the official record.

(ii) considered:

  • the use of AI handling of inbound enquiries into the department to create draft responses and to triage requests to the correct teams.

BEIS Analysts use machine learning techniques, under the umbrella of artificial intelligence, where appropriate as part of analysis supporting policy development.

Machine Learning projects are being

(i) undertaken:

  • identifying the location of industrial strengths
  • pilot for targeting communications about business support
  • Categorising internal documents by subject

(ii) considered:

  • project to understand the labour market through analysing job adverts
  • a pilot for organising internal processes
  • a pilot for predicting economic impacts using real time indicators
  • exploring automatic text generation
  • planning to repeat a machine learning exercise on HMRC data to identify high growth potential businesses, to build on the successful ‘DECA pilot’ of 2019. This would underpin further operations in 2021, depending on the outcome of the SR process

BEIS policy teams are exploring the use of Artificial Intelligence. AI projects are being:

(ii) considered:

  • by the Better Regulation Executive who are looking to convert the stock of regulatory requirements placed on business into machine readable code and pilot hosting this as open source a metadata set on the ‘Open Regulation Platform’ (ORP), freely available on The National Archives .gov.uk platform. The project is currently in discovery phase to identify all data that government holds on regulatory obligations that could be relevant for this platform. This application is closely related to work that has already been undertaken as part of BEIS GovTech challenge to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) to understand the cumulative impact of regulation
Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for the Land Registry.

HM Land Registry has been exploring new and emerging technologies including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning as part of its Digital Street research and development project since 2017. It is aiming to begin to use Machine Learning capabilities within its casework management systems in 2021/22, and is building its Data Science capability to explore and exploit future opportunities that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning may provide.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if he will ensure that a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak will only take place after a full consultation with (a) trade unions and (b) other interested parties; and if he will make a statement.

The safety of all of those on the estate is the key concern of the Commission. Working extensively with Public Health England and via the implementation of the Covid-19 workplace guidance the appropriate steps have been taken to ensure the safety of all on the estate.

The House authorities have met with representatives of the Trades Unions for staff in the House of Commons and PDS formally at least three times per week since the beginning of March, and with representatives of Members’ and Peers’ Staff Association (MAPSA) and Unite as representatives of Members’ staff.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what discussions the Commission has had with (a) trade unions and (b) hon. Members to facilitate a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The House authorities on behalf of the House of Commons Commission have met with representatives of the Trades Unions for staff in the House of Commons and PDS formally at least three times per week since the beginning of March, and with representatives of the Members’ and Peers’ Staff Association (MAPSA) and Unite as representatives of Members’ staff.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether her Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is compliant with section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code - that Health and Safety representatives are entitled to reasonable paid time off to undertake relevant training. Time off for non-industrial staff is not set against the facility time allowed under existing arrangements unless the period of time also discharges a liability under Section 168 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in her Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The introduction of General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the right of recognised Trade Unions to bargaining information in accordance with section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what records her Department keeps relating to staff working times under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998; and how long those records are kept for.

Staff at DCMS work a standard 36 or 37 hour week and paid overtime is allowed on an exceptional basis in priority areas. No members of staff have opted off of the Working Time Directive, and we do not have any workers in the categories set out in Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 at this time.

Staff are encouraged to discuss their working hours with their Line Manager and, where they may be working beyond their standard hours, to record their hours of work with managers keeping oversight. A flexi time sheet template is available for individuals to use to record their hours; records are not held centrally and staff are free to retain them for as long as useful.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with (a) the Historic Royal Palaces and (b) their staff and trades union representatives on their decision to cut employer pension contributions to 6.5 per cent.

The Secretary of State has had no specific discussions with Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) or their staff and trades union representatives on cuts to employer pension contributions. HRP has responsibility for the recruitment, remuneration, development, retention and motivation of its own staff.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives from trade unions on proposals for reopening (a) Hampton Court Palace, (b) Hillsborough Castle and (c) other Historic Royal Palaces sites on 16 June 2020 following the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will publish the risk assessments undertaken at those sites.

DCMS officials have had no such discussions with representatives of trade unions on Historic Royal Palaces' (HRP) proposals for the reopening of the specific sites in their care, nor are DCMS officials in possession of the risk assessments referred to. Trade Union representatives have, however, been attending the Heritage Working Group which has discussed guidance for safe reopening within the heritage sector. Whether HRP can safely reopen is a matter for HRP to consider in-line with government and Public Health England guidelines.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with representatives from Historic Royal Palaces on reinstating employer pension contributions at the level they were prior to the covid-19 outbreak; and if his Department will take steps to compensate workers affected by reductions in employer pension contributions introduced by that organisation in June 2020.

The Secretary of State has had no such discussions with HRP on reinstating pension contributions in respect of HRP’s staff, which is a matter for HRP to consider in consultation with their staff, as appropriate, in-line with the affordability of any such measures and their obligations as employers.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with devolved Administrations on providing additional support for (a) school and (b) higher education students to help meet increases in the cost of living.

Education policy is devolved, and so cost of living issues for institutions is the responsibility of the devolved administrations. Ministers in the department meet regularly with their devolved counterparts and my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, is looking forward to attending the next meeting of education ministers from across the UK in Edinburgh next week.

The department secured an excellent settlement for England in the Spending Review, and so this will be reflected in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through the Barnett Formula.

It is for devolved administrations to determine how to spend this generous settlement, but in England we have carefully budgeted for a range of policies that will help universities, schools, their staff, and families which will help to meet the challenges in the cost of living right now. This includes our very successful Holiday Activities and Food scheme, National Tutoring Programme, and of course a huge increase in core school funding that means schools are better placed to cover cost increases.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to mandate individual risk assessments for all employees in his Department before they return to the workplace following the easing of covid-19 restrictions; and how many individual risk assessments for people returning to work have been conducted by his Department as of 21 February 2022.

The department is not mandating individual risk assessments for all employees. Instead, we are encouraging line managers and employees to have discussions regarding returning to the workplace, with consideration for individual risk assessments where deemed necessary by either the line manager and/or the employee.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what records his Department keeps relating to staff working times under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998; and how long those records are kept for.

The department does not centrally monitor working hours for any employee but requires all employees, regardless of work location, to keep an accurate record of the hours they work. This must be retained by the employee for 3 years and will be reviewed by their line manager on a regular basis.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many members of House staff by department have (a) tested positive and (b) been hospitalised for covid-19; and if he will make a statement.

Testing is available to all staff of the House who are symptomatic, and is arranged directly by the individual. Results therefore are a matter for the individual only, alongside whether any hospital treatment is needed. The records held by the House will only indicate whether the member of staff is available for work or not.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if he will ensure that a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak will only take place after discussion with the Health and Safety Executive; and if he will make a statement.

The Head of Parliamentary Safety has discussed with the Health and Safety Executive the key risks and control measures to allow everybody to work safely on the parliamentary estate during the Coronavirus outbreak. The Health and Safety Executive are content that the House administration is working to ensure Parliamentary business can continue, whilst meeting the Government guidelines to become “COVID-19 safe”. Regular discussions between the Head of Parliamentary Safety and the Health and Safety Executive will continue during the outbreak.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children have become eligible for free school meals since school closures as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

As education is a devolved matter, this answer refers to free school meals in England only.

It is critically important that eligible children continue to receive benefits-related free school meals during this period. We have published guidance for schools explaining what they should do to make sure that eligible pupils have continued access to this provision, which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

As of 28 April our supplier, Edenred, reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme and as of Monday 4 May, Edenred has reported that over £47 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme. We do not collect data at pupil level. The department does not hold information on the number of children that have been fed via school collection and distribution models or other means since school closures.

The department does not hold data regarding how many children have become eligible for free school meals since the school closures. This information will be collected as part of the school census. Schools and local authorities should continue to accept free school meal applications during the closures to ensure that newly eligible children are able to receive meals they are entitled to.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking in addition to the Holiday Activities and Food programme for safeguarding children's access to food during the summer holidays 2020.

Responsibility for this policy area is devolved.

In England, the Holiday Activities and Food scheme is integral to our approach to provide healthy food to children over the summer and in 2019, our coordinators supported around 50,000 children. We are working with our 2020 coordinators to explore how support can be delivered in light of COVID-19.

In addition, the government continues to invest significantly each year on welfare benefits for people of working age, supporting people when they need it, including those who are out of work or on a low income. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has announced a package of temporary welfare measures. Taken together, these measures provide over £6.5bn of additional support through the welfare system for people affected by COVID-19

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to provide guidance to schools on good practice in relation to the roll-over of unspent free school meal allowances.

Responsibility for free school meals and disadvantage policy is devolved and is therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

Free school meals are intended as a benefit in kind, rather than a cash benefit, and our primary interest is that schools meet their legal duties to provide nutritious free lunches to eligible children. It is important that all pupils have access to healthy and nutritious meals at school and we would encourage all eligible children and parents to claim their free meals.

The department does not collect any information on the total or proportion of unspent funds at school or child level. We trust school leaders to make the best decisions in the interests of their pupils and it is right that they have flexibility around how they deliver free school meals. We know that some schools will allow pupils to carry over their benefit, however, we would not want to instruct schools to follow any specific approach nationally. We will consider how we can share the very best practice around the delivery of free school meals.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much and what proportion of the funds on the cards of children entitled to free school meals was unspent in the latest period for which figures are available; and how much of those unspent funds were (a) rolled over, (b) allocated to the school budget, (b) allocated to caterers and (c) allocated to local authorities.

Responsibility for free school meals and disadvantage policy is devolved and is therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

Free school meals are intended as a benefit in kind, rather than a cash benefit, and our primary interest is that schools meet their legal duties to provide nutritious free lunches to eligible children. It is important that all pupils have access to healthy and nutritious meals at school and we would encourage all eligible children and parents to claim their free meals.

The department does not collect any information on the total or proportion of unspent funds at school or child level. We trust school leaders to make the best decisions in the interests of their pupils and it is right that they have flexibility around how they deliver free school meals. We know that some schools will allow pupils to carry over their benefit, however, we would not want to instruct schools to follow any specific approach nationally. We will consider how we can share the very best practice around the delivery of free school meals.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the value of (a) free school meals and (b) Pupil Premium that has not been claimed by eligible children in the most recent year for which figures are available.

Responsibility for free school meals and disadvantage policy is devolved and is therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

In England, free school meal eligibility is used as a proxy measure for allocating the pupil premium. This remains the best available measure at an individual pupil level and the most reliable predictor of academic underperformance. Focusing pupil premium on pupils who have claimed free school meals in the past 6 years ensures schools have additional resources to tackle the educational impact of household economic deprivation.

The continuing provision of free school meals to children from out of work families or those on low incomes is of the utmost importance to this government. Take-up of free school meals is strong, estimated at 89% of eligible pupils.

We want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this, we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for free school meals. We also provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including free school meals.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children eligible for free school meals are not registered to receive them.

Responsibility for free school meals and disadvantage policy is devolved and is therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

In England, free school meal eligibility is used as a proxy measure for allocating the pupil premium. This remains the best available measure at an individual pupil level and the most reliable predictor of academic underperformance. Focusing pupil premium on pupils who have claimed free school meals in the past 6 years ensures schools have additional resources to tackle the educational impact of household economic deprivation.

The continuing provision of free school meals to children from out of work families or those on low incomes is of the utmost importance to this government. Take-up of free school meals is strong, estimated at 89% of eligible pupils.

We want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this, we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for free school meals. We also provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including free school meals.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
23rd Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the impact of the rise in the cost of living on food producers.

Agricultural commodities are linked to global gas prices, and we recognise that farmers and food producers are facing increased input costs – namely fertiliser, energy, fuel and feed. We have taken steps to support farmers with fertiliser availability, brought forward BPS payments, implemented maize tariff reductions and introduced flexibility in the labelling of certain oils in products.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what records his Department keeps relating to staff working times under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998; and how long those records are kept for.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Easington on 17 January 2022, PQ UIN 102586.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to promote innovation in the food system.

Defra recognises how central innovation and technology are to boosting productivity, enhancing the environment and feeding a growing global population. The Government is making significant investment to unlock innovation and translate our world leading research into practical, farmer-led solutions that improve productivity, environmental sustainability and resilience, and which move towards net zero emission farming systems.

We have several funding programmes open to industry as well as our own farming and food science research. These funding streams address key areas such as soil systems and land management, regenerative agriculture, sustainable feed and pest management, automation, alternative proteins, and precision farming.

The Government’s £90 million investment in the 'Transforming Food Production' (TFP) challenge, launched by UK Research and Innovation in 2018, is already supporting ground-breaking research and development to enable farmers and growers to harness the latest technology to produce high quality food, increase their productivity and move towards net zero emission farming systems by 2040.

On the back of this programme’s success, Defra launched a £14.5 million collaborative agricultural R&D competition called 'Farming Innovation Pathways' in spring 2021, targeting existing and new farm focused innovation, which will be delivered through the TFP initiative.

In October 2021, Defra launched the first £17.5 million share of funding in its ambitious new Farming Innovation Programme – as part of the proposed measures to stimulate innovation and boost sustainable productivity in England’s agricultural and horticultural sectors as we move away from the EU system of farming subsidy payments. This Programme will enable more farmers, growers, and agri-food businesses to become involved in collaborative agricultural and horticultural R&D, and will enhance knowledge exchange and adoption of innovation by farmers and growers to ensure innovation can make a real difference to the sectors. It will comprise three separate funds that will pull through innovation in different areas, from small farmer-led innovative research projects to larger industrial R&D projects that can transform the sector.

On January 19 we will launch the Improving Farm Productivity theme of the Farming Investment Fund, part of the £27 million grant scheme fund launched last November. Farmers and growers in England will be able to apply for grants to invest in cutting edge robotic and automation technology to boost productivity. Farmers will benefit from grants ranging from £35,000 to £500,000 to invest in innovative equipment including state of the art autonomous driverless tractors, and cutting-edge robots that harvest, weed and spray crops and voluntary robotic milking systems.

Defra is also engaged with the £47.5 million UK Research and Innovation led Strategic Priorities Fund in Food Systems, which is addressing planetary and health challenges to transform the food system.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for his Department.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central on 10 September 2020, PQ UIN 83796.

[questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-09-01/83796]

Defra recognises the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to play an important part in ensuring that data and science are at the heart of decision making.

All of Defra’s ongoing and previous research projects, including a number involving AI and ML, are published on Defra’s research and development website: randd.defra.gov.uk Planned projects are advertised on Bravo: defra.bravosolution.co.uk.

Areas particularly benefitting from these tools include the interpretation of Earth Observation and automated sensor data, the development of advanced modelling techniques, and improved customer service.

We will continue to work in partnership across Government, with academia and industry to develop the use of AI and ML for Defra.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation affects the right of recognised unions in her Department to bargaining information as set out in Section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

GDPR has not affected the rights of unions in Defra to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation affects the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information as set out in Section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

GDPR has not affected the rights of unions in DExEU to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, whether his Department complies with the requirement set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

Yes. DExEU complies with this requirement; any safety representative employed by the Department would be entitled to time off with pay, which would not be set against facility time.

Obligations to provide reasonable paid time off to trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties include paid time off for safety representatives, as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

10th Jun 2020
What assessment she has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the accessibility of UK humanitarian support to people who need it.

There is no doubt that coronavirus restrictions have made it harder to reach those that need our help, whether because of disruption to supply chains or personnel. Our support for the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan remains crucial. Through this, we support humanitarian access by securing the continuity of supply chains to the vulnerable, including refugees, Internally Displaced People, and host communities.

Our job is to get where others can’t.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what personal protective equipment is available for staff working on the Parliamentary Estate during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The provision of personal protective equipment to protect against coronavirus has been guided by Public Health England. After a review, they have advised that the only work on the estate that requires face masks for protection against the coronavirus is undertaken by the occupational health team.

Aprons and face masks for use by security officers are available for the security team to wear whilst processing a person through search and screening if they wish, but they are not an essential risk control.

Staff who normally wear PPE to protect themselves, for example those exposed to dusts, will continue to do so.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what discussions the Commission has had with trade unions as required by Health and Safety law in the completion of risk assessments to facilitate a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak for (a) staff, (b) hon. Members and (c) visitors; and if he will make a statement.

The House authorities on behalf of the House of Commons Commission have met with representatives of the Trades Unions for staff in the House of Commons and PDS formally at least three times per week since the beginning of March, and with representatives of Members’ and Peers’ Staff Association (MAPSA) and Unite as representatives of Members’ staff.

We have increased facility time for TU Safety officials and now have a full time TU resource working with the Parliamentary Safety Team on risk assessments.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation affects the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information as set out in Section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has not affected the rights of recognised Unions in DFID to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether his Department complies with the requirement set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

DFID, like all Government Departments, has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives, as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

In line with this legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials is published annually, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer (including where this arises under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”).

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether her Department complies with the requirement set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code. This is also referenced in the internal Industrial Relations Policy, which is accessible to staff.

DIT also publishes information relating to facility time for recognised trade union representatives at Gov.uk.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation affects the right of recognised unions in her Department to bargaining information as set out in Section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) works closely with our recognised Trade Unions and values the benefit of these effective working relationships in delivering the department’s objectives.

General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in DIT to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make it his policy to mandate individual risk assessments for all employees in his Department before they return to the workplace following the easing of covid-19 restrictions; and how many individual risk assessments for people returning to work have been conducted by his Department as of 21 February 2022.

At the current time there are no plans to mandate the use of the risk assessment tools.

As any such risk assessments are voluntary, DfT does not hold data centrally on the number of risk assessments completed or reviewed as of 21 February 2022.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to respond to the correspondence form the hon. Member for Glasgow South West of 29 March 2021 and 8 June 2021 on the industrial dispute within the DVLA; and if he will make a statement.

The Department responded to your letter of 29 March on 9 April, and your letter of 8 June on 25 June. Copies of both are in the attached documents.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what (a) plans he has for and (b) discussions he has had with stakeholders on amending the law on driving theory test certificates as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The maximum duration of two years between passing the theory test and a subsequent practical test is in place for road safety reasons; to ensure that a candidate’s knowledge is current. This validity period is set in legislation and the Government has no current plans to lay further legislation to extend it.

It is important that road safety knowledge and hazard perception skills are up to date at the critical point that they drive unsupervised for the first time. Those with theory test certificates expiring may have taken their test in early 2019. Since then, their lessons and practice sessions will have been significantly curtailed during recent lockdowns and it is likely that their knowledge base will have diminished. Research suggests that this would be particularly harmful for hazard perception skills, a key factor in road safety.

Ensuring new drivers have current relevant knowledge and skills is a vital part of the training of new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics. Taking all this into consideration, the decision has been made not to extend theory test certificates and learners will need to pass another theory test if their certificate expires.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for his Department.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning have many potential applications including in the transport sector. Innovation teams across the DfT family support research and development initiatives conducted both within and outside of DfT.

One specific initiative is investigating a proof-of-concept study into a non-intrusive AI-model capable of detecting the number of face-coverings, and the number of uncovered faces, in an image. The model would then display message responses focussed on positive engagement. This work will not be able to identify or track individuals, and no images will be stored by the system.

We don’t hold information centrally regarding further AI or machine learning projects being undertaken or planned by the department at this time.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent advice his Department has received from Public Health England on the safe restarting of driving tests as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the safety of its staff and the wider public. That remains its priority as it restarts its services.

The DVSA has consulted with Public Health England and has released an updated version of its standard operating procedure and risk assessments to driving examiners, which contains social distancing measures and safety precautions, to ensure the safe restart of driving tests. The DVSA is currently engaging with Scottish and Welsh Governments to ensure it engages with Health advisors before services are resumed in both.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the ability of DVSA staff to socially distance while conducting driving tests.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the safety of its staff and the wider public. That remains its priority as it restarts its services. The approach being taken has been developed with input from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Public Health England (PHE).

To prevent the spread of coronavirus and keep staff and candidates safe:

  • Driving examiners will wear face coverings and have the option to wear gloves and use disposable seat covers.

  • The number of people arriving for a driving test at the same time will be limited and all meet and greet will be undertaken achieving social distancing.

  • Driving instructors or supervising drivers will not be allowed to sit in the back of the car during the test.

  • Candidates will be asked to bring and wear a face covering attending for test, unless they have a good reason not to.

  • Driving test centre waiting rooms and toilets will be closed except for those who have a disability, medical condition, or who are pregnant.

The amount of time spent in the vehicle will be minimised:

  • If a candidate makes a serious or dangerous fault, which means they have failed, the driving examiner will direct them back to the driving test centre, where the test will end.

  • At the end of the test, the driving examiner will give the test result feedback outside of the vehicle.

  • Driving instructors can listen to the test result feedback if it is safe to do so.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what personal protective equipment will be provided to DVSA staff conducting driving tests; and if he will make a statement.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the safety of its staff and the wider public. That remains its priority as it restarts its services.

To keep driving examiners safe, and help prevent the spread of coronavirus, examiners will wear face coverings and have the option to wear gloves and use disposable seat covers. These measures have been put in place following discussions with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Public Health England (PHE).

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The assessment of the Department for Transport is that the General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in the DfT in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether her Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The Department for Transport provides trade union representatives with reasonable facility time to undertake trade union duties, union learning representative duties and health and safety duties. This is in line with the departmental policy, the Civil Service Management Code, the Cabinet Office Framework on Trade Union Facility Time and our legislative obligations. These include a requirement to publish, as set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claims were subject to deductions in the most recent month for which data is available, broken down by parliamentary constituency; how much on average was deducted in each constituency; what the total sum was of deductions in each constituency; and what proportion of each of those sums was deducted to repay advance payments; and if she will make a statement.

The Government recognises the importance of supporting the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt. We seek to balance recovery of debt against not causing hardship for claimants and their families. Processes are in place to ensure deductions are manageable, and customers can contact DWP Debt Management if they are experiencing financial hardship, to discuss a reduction in their rate of repayment or a temporary suspension, depending on their financial circumstances.

Since April 2021, we have reduced the normal maximum rate of deductions in Universal Credit from 40% to 25% of a claimant’s Standard Allowance. These positive measures were put in place to support claimants to manage financial difficulties

Advances are a claimant’s benefit entitlement paid early, allowing claimants to access 100% of their estimated Universal Credit payment upfront. They ensure nobody has to wait for a payment in Universal Credit and those who need it are able to receive financial support as soon as possible. Claimants can receive up to 100% of their estimated Universal Credit award if required, resulting in 25 payments over a 24-month period. This is not a debt.

The requested analysis of Universal Credit claims with a deduction in February 2022 by Parliamentary Constituency in Great Britain (GB) is provided in the separate spreadsheet.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure all Personal Independence Payment claimants are adequately informed of their rights of mandatory reconsideration when offering claimants an increased benefits award over the telephone after their appeal has been lodged.

If an appealed decision is revised, the claimant can immediately appeal that decision without first having to request a Mandatory Reconsideration. This is explained both in the phone call which is made when this option is discussed, and again in the decision notice should the claimant agree to the decision being revised.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of Personal Independence Payment claimants have had their claim lapsed by her Department in Scotland.

The table below provides information on Personal Independence Payment appeal registrations and lapses for both the whole of Great Britain and for Scotland, between 1st April 2013 and 31st December 2021.

GB Appeals registered

GB Appeals lapsed

Scotland Appeals registered

Scotland Appeals lapsed

604,080

112,100 (19% of GB appeals registered)

72,590

12,270 (17% of Scotland appeals registered)

Notes:

  • Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.
  • These figures include appeal registrations and decisions for PIP New Claims, Reassessments, Award Reviews and Change of Circumstances.
  • A lapsed appeal is where DWP changed the decision in the customer’s favour after an appeal was lodged but before it was heard at a tribunal hearing.
Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many appeals against Personal Independence Payment decisions were lapsed by her Department as at the latest date for which data is available.

The table below provides information on Personal Independence Payment appeal registrations and lapses for both the whole of Great Britain and for Scotland, between 1st April 2013 and 31st December 2021.

GB Appeals registered

GB Appeals lapsed

Scotland Appeals registered

Scotland Appeals lapsed

604,080

112,100 (19% of GB appeals registered)

72,590

12,270 (17% of Scotland appeals registered)

Notes:

  • Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.
  • These figures include appeal registrations and decisions for PIP New Claims, Reassessments, Award Reviews and Change of Circumstances.
  • A lapsed appeal is where DWP changed the decision in the customer’s favour after an appeal was lodged but before it was heard at a tribunal hearing.
Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of local welfare assistance schemes in Glasgow South West constituency.

No assessment has been made.

Local Welfare is a devolved matter and it is for the Scottish Government to assess the adequacy of their local welfare assistance scheme.

The Government has recently announced an extension to the funding provided to help vulnerable households with cost of living pressures - providing an additional £500 million from April 2022 to help households with the cost of essentials bringing the total funding for this support to £1 billion (between October 2021 and September 2022). In England, £421 million will be provided to extend the existing Household Support Fund from 1 April to 30 September inclusive. The devolved administrations will again receive £79 million through the Barnett formula (£41 million for the Scottish Government, £25 million for the Welsh Government and £14 million for the NI Executive).

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department takes to ensure that job advertisements live on its website are compliant with National Minimum Wage legislation; and if she will make a statement.

All adverts listed on Find a job meet the National Minimum Wage, with the exception of a small number resulting from user error on the part of the employer.

When entering details of their job advert into Find a job the employer is presented with 2 options for stating the wages/salary. They can provide a minimum and maximum rate of pay and select the period this applies to, for example hourly, weekly or annually. Alternatively, they can confirm that the job will pay at least the National Minimum Wage.

The employer is also required to state whether the job is full time (30 hours per week or more) or part time (less than 30 hours per week). When full time is selected Find a job validates that the wages/salary on offer meets National Minimum Wage. The advert cannot be posted until this condition is met.

When part time is selected the validation ensures that the hourly rates entered meet or exceed National Minimum Wage and highlights to the employer where this is not the case; the employer cannot proceed with the advert until this condition is met. However, we know that on a small number of occasions the employer then goes on to mistakenly select the incorrect period this wage applies to. This can lead to adverts showing wages of, for example, £8.91 per year when clearly it should be per hour. Additional manual checks are performed to identify and remove such adverts.

Additionally, if a user finds any error with a job advert – with the rate of pay or anything else - they can use the ‘report this job’ feature and the DWP team will investigate and if appropriate remove the advert.

There is no separate process in place for reporting employers to HMRC’s Minimum Wage Complaint Unit.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many jobs are listed on her Department's website that are advertised at rates under the national minimum wage of £9.50 per hour as of 22 March 2022.

All adverts listed on Find a job meet the National Minimum Wage, with the exception of a small number resulting from user error on the part of the employer.

When entering details of their job advert into Find a job the employer is presented with 2 options for stating the wages/salary. They can provide a minimum and maximum rate of pay and select the period this applies to, for example hourly, weekly or annually. Alternatively, they can confirm that the job will pay at least the National Minimum Wage.

The employer is also required to state whether the job is full time (30 hours per week or more) or part time (less than 30 hours per week). When full time is selected Find a job validates that the wages/salary on offer meets National Minimum Wage. The advert cannot be posted until this condition is met.

When part time is selected the validation ensures that the hourly rates entered meet or exceed National Minimum Wage and highlights to the employer where this is not the case; the employer cannot proceed with the advert until this condition is met. However, we know that on a small number of occasions the employer then goes on to mistakenly select the incorrect period this wage applies to. This can lead to adverts showing wages of, for example, £8.91 per year when clearly it should be per hour. Additional manual checks are performed to identify and remove such adverts.

Additionally, if a user finds any error with a job advert – with the rate of pay or anything else - they can use the ‘report this job’ feature and the DWP team will investigate and if appropriate remove the advert.

There is no separate process in place for reporting employers to HMRC’s Minimum Wage Complaint Unit.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 10 November 2020 to Question 112080, Artificial Intelligence, what progress has been made with each of the items listed.

There has been no fundamental change from the answer of 10 November 2020.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what percentage of the current board members at the Money and Pensions Service have been advised their appointments will not be renewed; and if she will make a statement.

One current non-executive board member at the Money and Pensions Service has been notified that their appointment will not be renewed. In accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments, there is no automatic presumption of reappointment.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many of the serving board members at the Money and Pensions Advice Service have been notified that their appointments will not be renewed; and if she will make a statement.

One current non-executive board member at the Money and Pensions Service has been notified that their appointment will not be renewed. In accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments, there is no automatic presumption of reappointment.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what percentage of board members at the Money and Pensions Service have not had their appointments renewed in the last two years; and if she will make a statement.

In accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments, there is no automatic presumption of reappointment. Two non-executive board members at the Money and Pensions Service have not been re-appointed over the last two years, one in 2020/2021 and one in 2021/2022.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many serving board members at the Money and Pensions Advice Service have not had their appointments renewed in each of the last two years; and if she will make a statement.

In accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments, there is no automatic presumption of reappointment. Two non-executive board members at the Money and Pensions Service have not been re-appointed over the last two years, one in 2020/2021 and one in 2021/2022.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claims were having deductions taken from them in the most recent month for which data are available, in each parliamentary constituency; what was the average size of sums deducted in each constituency; what the total sum was deducted from claims in each constituency; and what proportion of each sum was deducted to repay advance payments.

The Government recognises the importance of supporting the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt. We seek to balance recovery of debt against not causing hardship for claimants and their families. Processes are in place to ensure deductions are manageable, and customers can contact DWP Debt Management if they are experiencing financial hardship, to discuss a reduction in their rate of repayment or a temporary suspension, depending on their financial circumstances.

Since April 2021, we have reduced the normal maximum rate of deductions in Universal Credit from 40% to 25% of a claimant’s Standard Allowance. These positive measures were put in place to support claimants to manage financial difficulties

Advances are a claimant’s benefit entitlement paid early, allowing claimants to access 100% of their estimated Universal Credit payment upfront. They ensure nobody has to wait for a payment in Universal Credit and those who need it are able to receive financial support as soon as possible. Claimants can receive up to 100% of their estimated Universal Credit award if required, resulting in 25 payments over a 24-month period. This is not a debt.

The requested analysis of Universal Credit claims with a payment due in November 2021 by Parliamentary Constituency in Great Britain (GB) is provided in the separate spreadsheet.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 21 June 2021 to Question 16143 on Food Banks, when she will publish her Department’s review of the drivers of foodbank demand.

The Department reallocated resources to prioritise work to help the COVID-19 effort. This caused delays to some work, including this literature review. The review summarises publicly available information and does not contain any new research carried out by the Department.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she will place a copy of her Department’s evidence-based review of foodbank use in the House of Commons Library.

The Department reallocated resources to prioritise work to help the COVID-19 effort. This caused delays to some work, including this literature review. The review summarises publicly available information and does not contain any new research carried out by the Department.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 10 February 2022 to Question 119672, on Social Security Benefits: Disqualification, in which months the proof of concept is planned to (a) start and (b) finish in 2022; and in what parts of the country it will run.

The proof of concept is due to run in Spring. As this is a small-scale test we do not plan to publish further details on timeframe or location so as to not adversely affect the proof of concept. Sites for the proof of concept are chosen in such a way that ensures we are able to assess the concept / policy under consideration.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new claims for universal credit were processed and paid by her Department within (a) five weeks, (b) six weeks, (c) seven weeks, (d) eight weeks, (e) nine weeks, (f) ten weeks and (g) longer than ten weeks in the most recent 12 months for which data is available.

Due to unforeseen circumstances we are unable to access the data to answer your question in time. I will write to you with a response as soon as possible.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many single claims for universal credit were suspended while a new joint claim was processed and paid in the most recent 12 months for which data is available.

There is no requirement for a claim to be suspended as a result of such a change of circumstance.

When a single claimant becomes part of a couple, they form a benefit unit with their new partner. Their single claim becomes a joint claim and, as a result, the claim continues with a partner being added to the household, without the need for a new claim.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to mandate individual risk assessments for all employees in her Department before they return to the workplace following the easing of covid-19 restrictions; and how many individual risk assessments for people returning to work have been conducted by her Department as of 21 February 2022.

DWP has maintained its services throughout the pandemic with Jobcentres remaining open for anyone who needed face-to-face support and whom we could not help in any other way. When DWP returned to its standard opening hours within our jobcentres in April 2021, we launched a template to support one-to-one discussions between managers and colleagues about returning to the workplace. This template is a document for managers and colleagues to capture key information from these discussions, providing support for conversations about the barriers and concerns that may arise for colleagues in returning to the workplace.

The template covers a number of important considerations and topics relating to the health and safety of our colleagues, and includes reasonable and workplace adjustments, risk assessments for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues, mental health support, caring requirements, and wellbeing issues such as referrals to occupational health. The one-to-one template links to a suite of products and supporting mechanisms available to all colleagues across DWP, and has been widely publicised in various communications and channels since its launch. The one-to-one process is focussed on the individual, and was not centrally monitored.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to help avoid a gap in income for households whose single universal credit claims have been closed due to a change of circumstances and who are in the process of establishing a new joint claim with their partner.

When a single claimant becomes part of a couple, they form a benefit unit with their new partner. As the claimant(s) is now part of a benefit unit, their single claim becomes a joint claim as a change of circumstance has occurred.

Support is available to claimants, through a ‘change of circumstances’ advance, for those who face short-term financial need, where a change of circumstances will significantly increase the amount of their benefit entitlement, i.e. from the single standard allowance to a couple’s standard allowance. This advance will be available to claimants in the same Assessment Period in which the change of circumstance occurs.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support is available to personal independence payment claimants who cannot afford the fees they are being asked to pay by GPs for medical evidence in support of their claim.

We ask claimants to provide evidence they already have available so they do not have to pay a charge which a General Practitioner (GP) may choose to impose. Where a claimant has provided details of their GP or other healthcare professional, the health professional working for our Assessment Providers can request additional evidence from them where they think that would provide helpful evidence of the claimant’s condition or functional needs.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has for the Household Support Fund beyond March 2022.

The Household Support Fund covers the period 06 October 2021 to 31 March 2022 inclusive. Other support for those on low incomes will also still be available after this point. For example, we have increased the value of Healthy Start Food Vouchers to £4.25, helping eligible low-income households buy basic foods like milk, fruit and vitamins. In Scotland, similar support is provided through Best Start Foods.

We are investing over £200m a year from 2022 to continue our Holiday Activities and Food programme which is already providing enriching activities and healthy meals to children in all English Local Authorities.

The Government is also providing £12 billion of support to ease cost of living pressures, with help targeted at working families, low-income households and the most vulnerable. A further £9 billion has been announced to protect against the impact of rising global energy prices.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of exempting people from sanctions if there is evidence of severe mental health or associated risk of self harm.

Those who are not expected to look for work, such as those with severe health conditions, including mental health, are not subject to work search or work availability requirements.

Work Coaches engage at an individual level with them and are committed to tailoring support for specific individual needs, including agreeing realistic and structured steps to encourage claimants into or towards the labour market where conditionality requirements are regularly reviewed to ensure that they remain appropriate for the claimant. This would include tailoring to reflect any mental health or associated self-harm issues the claimant raised.

Sanctions are only applied where a claimant fails to comply with a mandatory requirement set out in their claimant commitment such as a failure to attend an appointment. When considering whether a sanction is appropriate, a Decision Maker will take all the claimant’s individual circumstances, including any health conditions or disabilities and any evidence of good reason, into account before deciding whether a sanction is warranted.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many single universal credit claims have been closed following a claimant moving in with their partner and submitting a new joint claim in the last 12 months for which data is available.

When a single claimant becomes part of a couple, they form a benefit unit with their new partner. As the claimant(s) is now part of a benefit unit, their single claim becomes a joint claim as a change of circumstance has occurred. As a result, the claim continues with a partner being added to the household, without the need for a new claim.

The information attached shows the number of single claims to Universal Credit where a joint claim change of circumstances had been submitted.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proactive steps Jobcentre Plus is taking to ensure claimants are in receipt of their full entitlement.

The Department works hard to ensure that people are in receipt of their full entitlement, communicating with the public about benefits through paid advertising, stakeholder and employer engagement and no cost campaigns to help people understand their entitlement and the support we can provide as a safety net and in times of need.

During the pandemic this has been of particular importance. We increased the frequency of our stakeholder engagement to effectively convey the rapidly changing environment particularly as many people needed to claim benefits for the first time. We have made additional use of digital media such as YouTube videos, particularly British Sign Language videos to widely promote DWP benefits.

DWP staff in Jobcentres provide support and advice about entitlement to benefits and will signpost citizens to appropriate information to help them. The Department provides telephone service lines that citizens can call to make their claims to benefit and to operate their claims as well as a visiting service which can help vulnerable customers with their claims. Jobcentres have internet terminals for use by the public, and staff will signpost citizens to other community resources (libraries and Citizens Advice) which can also provide advice and internet access points.

The Government’s website, GOV.UK provides guidance on individual’s rights and entitlements to benefits in the UK. In particular, the website provides links to independent benefits calculators that can be used to find out what benefits an individual could get, how to claim and how these benefits will be affected if an individual starts work.

https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators

The independent benefits calculators we endorse are intended to provide useful estimations of what people could be entitled to in certain circumstances, based on the information that is entered on the calculators themselves.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has for a small scale pilot to test yellow card warning systems in place of immediate benefit sanctions.

The Department committed to look at processes to give claimants a written warning, instead of a sanction, for a first sanctionable failure to attend a Work-Search Review. We have completed one small proof of concept, and we plan to run another proof of concept this year.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in the most recent 12 months for which data is available, what the average length of time applicants for (a) personal independence payment, (b) employment and support allowance, and (c) the limited capability for work assessment of universal credit, waited for (i) an assessment and (ii) a correct decision on their assessment.

We are committed to ensuring that disabled people get the full support that they need in a timely manner. We always aim to make an award decision as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to review all available evidence, including that from the claimant. Decisions are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.

(a) For Personal Independence Payment (PIP), between November 2020 and October 2021, the most recent 12 months for which data is available:

- The average (median) time between a PIP new claim being referred to the Assessment Provider (AP) and returned from the AP was 13 weeks.

- The average (median) time between a PIP new claim being returned from the AP and a DWP decision being made was 2 weeks.

The length of time between Referral to AP and return from AP is used as a proxy for the length of time the claimant has waited for an assessment, because data on the dates that assessments took place is not held by DWP. Similarly, the length of time between return from the AP and a DWP decision being made is used as a proxy for the length of time for a decision to be made on the assessment.

(b) The Department publishes Employment Support Allowance (ESA) Work Capability Assessment (WCA) statistics on gov.uk which can be found here. The median ESA WCA customer journey processing times for initial claims can be found in section 10 of the latest statistical bulletin. The statistics include the average time taken for the full end-to-end process and also the time from WCA referral to AP recommendation and the time from the AP recommendation to the DWP decision, including those following a Mandatory Reconsideration.

More details can also be found in Table 1 of the ‘Clearance Times for Initial Claims’ dataset in the ESA Work Capability Assessments section of Stat-Xplore. Guidance for users is available here.

(c) The information for Universal Credit WCA processing times is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Notes

Source part (a): PIP ADS

  • PIP data includes normal rules claimants only and is for new claims only.
  • Figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number of weeks.
  • The status of claims as 'normal rules' and 'new claim/reassessment' is shown as at the point of clearance of the stage of the journey concerned.
  • Processing times do not include claims that were withdrawn by the claimant during this phase or claims that were returned to DWP without an assessment report and disallowed because the claimant failed to attend the assessment without good reason.
  • Processing times are for initial decisions only, and do not include Mandatory Reconsiderations or Appeals.
  • The figures quoted are the median processing time of claims which cleared the specified part of the journey between 1st November 2020 and 31st October 2021.
  • The median time is the middle value if you were to order all the times within the distribution from lowest value to highest value. The median is presented here instead of the mean because the mean can be unduly affected by outlying cases (e.g. cases where the person has been hard to reach due to being in prison, hospital, failed to attend the assessment on numerous occasions etc.)
  • Great Britain only.
  • This is unpublished data. It should be used with caution and it may be subject to future revision.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether all claimants for whom a DS1500 form has been submitted now have their claims fast-tracked; and if she will make a statement.

The Special Rules recognise that when people are faced with the end of their life, their focus should, as far as possible, be on the time they have remaining. Through the Special Rules, the Department provides simple and fast access to benefits for those nearing the end of their lives so they do not have to claim under the normal processes.

DS1500 forms have never been a requirement for a claim under the terminal illness rules but remain the quickest and most appropriate route to gather evidence to support entitlement in these cases. Where it is not possible to supply a DS1500 in support of a terminal illness claim, the Department considers alternative evidence and works flexibly and quickly with the claimant or their clinician to make a speedy determination.

People with severe health conditions unable to claim under the Special Rules, will continue to be able to receive support from the benefits system through Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, by what date all personal independence payment applicants will have the automatic choice of having their assessment audio-recorded.

The option for a claimant to request an audio recording of their Personal Independence Payment (PIP) telephone assessment is available with both assessment providers, Independent Assessment Services (IAS) and Capita. Claimants are required to make a request to the assessment provider to have their PIP assessment recorded, thereby opting-in to the recording of their assessment. The assessment provider will provide the equipment necessary to allow this service to proceed.

IAS currently delivers the facility to audio record face to face assessments. The department is working with Capita to complete the roll out of audio recording across all assessment centres which removes the requirement for the claimant to provide the equipment.

Work is also ongoing to introduce an audio recording facility for video assessments. This will bring the audio recording of face to face and video assessments in line with the recording of telephone assessments and the department aims to complete both as soon as it is practically possible.

Currently, PIP claimants invited to a face to face assessment by Capita can record their assessment themselves, subject to the conditions set by the department. These are listed in the PIP Assessment Guide (PIPAG) and are contained within correspondence sent to claimants by the assessment providers.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 3 December 2021 to Question 82339, Coronavirus: Scotland: Wales, for which non-customer-facing roles in Jobcentres are staff required to attend the office.

Some colleagues based in Jobcentres are in non-customer facing roles, in back of house service delivery and corporate roles. Largely, these colleagues are able to work in a hybrid way, with some time spent in the office and some time at home. Although some service delivery roles such as Work Coach Team Leaders are not customer facing, they do support customer facing staff therefore it may be necessary for them to be in the office.

Following recent announcements colleagues have been advised to follow the government guidance regarding working from home. Colleagues in Scotland and Wales have been advised to follow the guidance provided by the devolved administrations. This does not impact those colleagues accountable for delivering face-to-face services in our jobcentres in front of house roles.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to coordinate its policies on the covid-19 restrictions that are in operation in Scotland and Wales through the devolved Administrations; and if she will make a statement.

We take the Health and Safety of DWP staff and customers very seriously. We have robust risk assessments and guidance to ensure all appropriate mitigations are in place to keep our people safe.

As part of regularly reviewing our risk assessments, working with our departmental and local trade union colleagues, we consult the legislation and guidance of the devolved administrations ensuring that any differences are reflected within the risk assessment and communicated to staff based in offices in Scotland and Wales.

Staff based in Scotland should be following the safety measures included in the DWP risk assessments that incorporate any differences in Scottish government guidance.

Since the start of the pandemic, DWP has rigorously followed guidance from the respective governments in the devolved nations, thus allowing people to work safely from the office, or at home. We are committed to continuing this approach as we learn to live with the virus and return more of our people to the workplace in a safe, steady and controlled way.

We are constantly reviewing our position as and when new government guidance is issued. No matter where our people are working now, or in the future, their safety and compliance with government guidance is our number one priority.

If your constituents remain concerned about their own, or their colleagues’ personal safety and / or any of the practices within their specific office, they can raise this with their line manager.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that bringing non-frontline departmental staff back into workplaces in (a) Scotland and (b) Wales is in accordance with the covid-19 safety policies in operation in those devolved nations.

The Department has prioritised the safety of our workforce and claimants throughout the pandemic and part of that is ensuring that we have robust national and site level risk assessments and guidance that ensures all appropriate mitigations are in place.

As part of regularly reviewing our risk assessments, in consultation with our departmental and local trade union colleagues we ensure that any differences in devolved administration regulations or guidance is reflected.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the length of time given to claimants for Jobcentre appointments is recorded.

The requested information is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. Maintaining an effective Work Coach diary is a joint responsibility between a team leader and the Work Coach, and is reached collaboratively through regular discussion and agreement.

The duration of each appointment is determined by the appointment type, and the length of time the appointment is expected to take is recorded by our diary management tool. We do not hold information on the actual duration of an appointment, for example, whether the appointment was longer or shorter than the allocated time.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants have been required to attend more than one appointment at a Jobcentre within a two week period in each of the last six months; and whether work coaches have autonomy to determine the most suitable length of appointment for each claimant that they interview.

The requested information is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. Maintaining an effective Work Coach diary is a joint responsibility between a team leader and the Work Coach, and is reached collaboratively through regular discussion and agreement.

The duration of each appointment is determined by the appointment type, and the length of time the appointment is expected to take is recorded by our diary management tool. We do not hold information on the actual duration of an appointment, for example, whether the appointment was longer or shorter than the allocated time.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many offices in her Department have been (a) closed or (b) partially closed as a result of the covid-19 outbreak in each of the last six months.

The Department has consistently taken a proactive approach to reporting and reviewing all reported cases of Covid-19 infections. This has ensured that wherever possible sites remain open or partially open.

During the 6-month period May to October 2021, 11 offices have been closed for a circuit breaks, 6 of these were closed due to multiple positive cases on the site. Circuit breaks are tight restrictions and/or closures designed to stop and bring the number of cases down.

The following offices were closed or partially closed due to circuit breaks:

  • Blackburn Service Centre
  • Wigan Jobcentre
  • Caxton House (Corporate Centre/Hub)
  • Manchester St Peters SQ (Corporate Centre/Hub)
  • Dudley Pedmore House Service Centre
  • Guisely Jobcentre
  • Weymouth Jobcentre
  • Newcastle Tyne View Park (Corporate Centre/Hub)
  • Caerphilly Jobcentre
  • Kirkby Jobcentre
  • Montrose Jobcentre

The offices listed above are sites that were closed for a Circuit Break due to the potential of workplace transmission and therefore do not include sites where they were temporarily closed to allow for deep clean to take place.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, which offices in her Department have been (a) closed or (b) partially closed as a result of the covid-19 outbreak in each of the last six months.

The Department has consistently taken a proactive approach to reporting and reviewing all reported cases of Covid-19 infections. This has ensured that wherever possible sites remain open or partially open.

During the 6-month period May to October 2021, 11 offices have been closed for a circuit breaks, 6 of these were closed due to multiple positive cases on the site. Circuit breaks are tight restrictions and/or closures designed to stop and bring the number of cases down.

The following offices were closed or partially closed due to circuit breaks:

  • Blackburn Service Centre
  • Wigan Jobcentre
  • Caxton House (Corporate Centre/Hub)
  • Manchester St Peters SQ (Corporate Centre/Hub)
  • Dudley Pedmore House Service Centre
  • Guisely Jobcentre
  • Weymouth Jobcentre
  • Newcastle Tyne View Park (Corporate Centre/Hub)
  • Caerphilly Jobcentre
  • Kirkby Jobcentre
  • Montrose Jobcentre

The offices listed above are sites that were closed for a Circuit Break due to the potential of workplace transmission and therefore do not include sites where they were temporarily closed to allow for deep clean to take place.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many Jobcentres have reported multiple covid-19 cases in each of the last six months.

The Department has consistently taken a proactive approach to reporting and reviewing all reported cases of Covid-19 infections. This has ensured that wherever possible sites remain open or partially open.

During the 6-month period May to October 2021, 11 offices have been closed for a circuit breaks, 6 of these were closed due to multiple positive cases on the site. Circuit breaks are tight restrictions and/or closures designed to stop and bring the number of cases down.

The following offices were closed or partially closed due to circuit breaks:

  • Blackburn Service Centre
  • Wigan Jobcentre
  • Caxton House (Corporate Centre/Hub)
  • Manchester St Peters SQ (Corporate Centre/Hub)
  • Dudley Pedmore House Service Centre
  • Guisely Jobcentre
  • Weymouth Jobcentre
  • Newcastle Tyne View Park (Corporate Centre/Hub)
  • Caerphilly Jobcentre
  • Kirkby Jobcentre
  • Montrose Jobcentre

The offices listed above are sites that were closed for a Circuit Break due to the potential of workplace transmission and therefore do not include sites where they were temporarily closed to allow for deep clean to take place.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether work coaches are given a set amount of time in a working day to carry out duties other than face-to-face appointments with claimants.

Throughout the pandemic, Jobcentres remained open for claimants who required face-to-face support. From April, Jobcentres in England, Scotland and Wales returned to their pre-lockdown opening hours and restarted face-to-face appointments, in accordance with government guidelines.

Work Coaches manage their diaries to ensure that they are supporting their claimants back into work, whilst also allowing time for admin and other duties. The amount of time allocated to carry out duties other than face-to-face appointments will vary, depending on the needs of individual claimants.

There is no maximum number of face-to-face appointments a full-time Work Coach is expected to deliver in one day. The number each day is determined by the circumstances of each claimant and the type of appointment being conducted. If a Work Coach is not available due to annual leave, sick leave, training, or any other reason, the Work Coach Team Leader will manage the situation to ensure that claimants continue to receive the appropriate level of support.

For each of the last six months, the total number of claimants attending a face-to-face appointment in a Jobcentre is as follows:

May

292,185

June

1,010,005

July

1,213,603

August

1,265,330

September

1,533,495

October

1,625,474

Please note that the data supplied is derived from unpublished management information which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether there is a maximum number of face-to-face appointments a full-time work coach is expected to deliver in one day.

Throughout the pandemic, Jobcentres remained open for claimants who required face-to-face support. From April, Jobcentres in England, Scotland and Wales returned to their pre-lockdown opening hours and restarted face-to-face appointments, in accordance with government guidelines.

Work Coaches manage their diaries to ensure that they are supporting their claimants back into work, whilst also allowing time for admin and other duties. The amount of time allocated to carry out duties other than face-to-face appointments will vary, depending on the needs of individual claimants.

There is no maximum number of face-to-face appointments a full-time Work Coach is expected to deliver in one day. The number each day is determined by the circumstances of each claimant and the type of appointment being conducted. If a Work Coach is not available due to annual leave, sick leave, training, or any other reason, the Work Coach Team Leader will manage the situation to ensure that claimants continue to receive the appropriate level of support.

For each of the last six months, the total number of claimants attending a face-to-face appointment in a Jobcentre is as follows:

May

292,185

June

1,010,005

July

1,213,603

August

1,265,330

September

1,533,495

October

1,625,474

Please note that the data supplied is derived from unpublished management information which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether work coaches are being instructed not to block their diaries for the purposes of (a) annual leave, (b) sick leave or (c) training.

Throughout the pandemic, Jobcentres remained open for claimants who required face-to-face support. From April, Jobcentres in England, Scotland and Wales returned to their pre-lockdown opening hours and restarted face-to-face appointments, in accordance with government guidelines.

Work Coaches manage their diaries to ensure that they are supporting their claimants back into work, whilst also allowing time for admin and other duties. The amount of time allocated to carry out duties other than face-to-face appointments will vary, depending on the needs of individual claimants.

There is no maximum number of face-to-face appointments a full-time Work Coach is expected to deliver in one day. The number each day is determined by the circumstances of each claimant and the type of appointment being conducted. If a Work Coach is not available due to annual leave, sick leave, training, or any other reason, the Work Coach Team Leader will manage the situation to ensure that claimants continue to receive the appropriate level of support.

For each of the last six months, the total number of claimants attending a face-to-face appointment in a Jobcentre is as follows:

May

292,185

June

1,010,005

July

1,213,603

August

1,265,330

September

1,533,495

October

1,625,474

Please note that the data supplied is derived from unpublished management information which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many face-to-face appointments have taken place in Jobcentres in each of the last six months.

Throughout the pandemic, Jobcentres remained open for claimants who required face-to-face support. From April, Jobcentres in England, Scotland and Wales returned to their pre-lockdown opening hours and restarted face-to-face appointments, in accordance with government guidelines.

Work Coaches manage their diaries to ensure that they are supporting their claimants back into work, whilst also allowing time for admin and other duties. The amount of time allocated to carry out duties other than face-to-face appointments will vary, depending on the needs of individual claimants.

There is no maximum number of face-to-face appointments a full-time Work Coach is expected to deliver in one day. The number each day is determined by the circumstances of each claimant and the type of appointment being conducted. If a Work Coach is not available due to annual leave, sick leave, training, or any other reason, the Work Coach Team Leader will manage the situation to ensure that claimants continue to receive the appropriate level of support.

For each of the last six months, the total number of claimants attending a face-to-face appointment in a Jobcentre is as follows:

May

292,185

June

1,010,005

July

1,213,603

August

1,265,330

September

1,533,495

October

1,625,474

Please note that the data supplied is derived from unpublished management information which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what impact assessment she has made of the risk of covid-19 transmission of increased face-to-face Jobcentre appointments.

The Department has prioritised the safety of our workforce and claimants throughout the pandemic and part of that is ensuring that we have robust national and site level risk assessments and guidance that ensures all appropriate mitigations are in place. The impact assessment informs the generic risk assessment, which we then apply at a local level, within the parameters that are set.

We have a suite of Health & Safety risk assessments in place developed following extensive consultation with departmental trade union representatives. These cover all of the measures in place to protect staff and customers and are regularly reviewed.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress has been made on the rollout of yellow card warnings in place of immediate benefit sanctions.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer given for PQ 11582.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claims in each parliamentary constituency had sums deducted from their claim in the most recent month for which data is available; what the (a) average and (b) total sums deducted in each constituency were; and what proportion of deductions were to repay an advance payment or historic tax credit debt.

We carefully balance our duty to the taxpayer to recover overpayments with our support for claimants. Safeguards are in place to ensure deductions are manageable. From 12 April 2021, we further reduced the cap on deductions from Universal Credit (UC) awards to 25 per cent and lengthened the payback period from 12 to 24 months meaning in effect someone can receive 25 payments over 24 months, giving them more flexibility over the payments of their UC award. This will also allow claimants to retain more of their award, giving additional financial security.

Customers can contact the Department if they are experiencing financial hardship in order to discuss a reduction in their rate of repayment, depending on financial circumstances.

The information requested is provided in the attached spreadsheet.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she expects to publish her Department's review of the drivers of food bank demand.

The Department reallocated resources to prioritise work to help the COVID-19 effort. This caused delays to some work, including this literature review. The review summarises publicly available information and does not contain any new research carried out by the Department.

The Department has recently published new data from the Family Resources Survey on household food security, giving us a better understanding of who is most at risk. This underlines how seriously we take the issue of food insecurity.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, by what date she plans to (a) commence and (b) complete the rollout of recorded personal independence payment assessments for all applicants that wish to opt for one.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claimants, invited to a telephone assessment, can opt to have their assessment recorded by assessment providers, who will provide the equipment necessary to allow this service to proceed.

The department is currently working with PIP assessment providers to deliver an audio recording service for face to face assessments, that removes the requirement for the claimant to provide the equipment. Work is also ongoing to introduce an audio recording facility for video assessments. This will bring the audio recording of face to face and video assessments in line with the recording of telephone assessments and we aim to complete both as soon as it is practically possible.

Currently, PIP claimants invited to a face to face assessment, can record their assessment themselves, subject to the conditions set by the department. These are listed in the PIP Assessment Guide, and are contained within correspondence sent to claimants from the assessment providers.

7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many children live in households that are subject to the under-occupancy penalty.

The removal of the spare room subsidy policy has been an important tool to help to manage housing support expenditure and enable mobility within the social rented sector. For those who require additional support with housing costs, Discretionary Housing Payments are available.

The information requested for households in Housing Benefit is published and available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk

Guidance for users is available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

The information for Universal Credit is not readily available.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of (a) claimants subject to the under-occupancy penalty are in employment and (b) households subject to the under-occupancy penalty contain at least one person in employment.

The information requested is not readily available for Universal Credit, and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Data on households in Housing Benefit impacted by the Removal of Spare Room Subsidy is published and available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk within the section on “Housing Benefit”.

Guidance for users is available at: https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of (a) claimants subject to the under-occupancy penalty are sick or disabled and (b) households subject to the under-occupancy penalty contain at least one person who is sick or disabled.

The information requested is not readily available for part (a) and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Some of the information requested for part (b) is published and available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk link is external within the sections on “Housing Benefit” and “Households on Universal Credit”.

Guidance for users is available at: https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of households subject to the under-occupancy penalty contain at least one child.

The information requested is published and available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk within the sections on “Housing Benefit” and “Households on Universal Credit”.

Guidance for users is available at: https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of new claims for universal credit were paid in full and on time in each of the most recent 12 months for which data are available.

Monthly Universal Credit payment timeliness statistics for new claims are published in the Households on Universal Credit section of Stat-Xplore and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department plans to give all applicants the automatic right to have their assessment for sickness or disability benefits recorded; and if she will make a statement.

The option for a claimant to request an Audio Recording of their PIP Telephone Assessment is available with both Assessment Providers and also for Work Capability Assessments undertaken over the telephone.

The Department is currently working with both PIP Assessment Providers to deliver an audio recording service for face to face assessments that removes the requirement for the Claimant to provide the equipment. This will bring the audio recording of PIP face to face assessments in line with the audio recording of telephone assessments. The option of audio recording a face to face assessment is already available for Work Capability Assessments and IIDB assessments where requested in advance by the claimant.

7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many households were subject to the under-occupancy penalty; what the total size was of the reduction in benefit payments resulting from the under-occupancy penalty; and what the average reduction per affected claimant was, by parliamentary constituency, in the most recent 12 month period for which data are available.

The information requested is published and available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk within the sections on “Housing Benefit” and “Households on Universal Credit”.

For the total size of reduction in benefit payments average reduction per affected claimant “RSRS reduction” with “measures” will need to be used. Guidance for users is available at: https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress her Department has made on plans to roll out yellow card warnings in place of immediate benefit sanctions.

The Department committed to look at processes to give claimants a written warning, instead of a sanction, for a first sanctionable failure to attend a Work-Search Review. Before making an assessment of the merits of extending such a system we are under-taking a series of small-scale Proof of Concepts of this warning system.

The increase in claimants due to Covid has led to a pause in this testing in order to prioritise support for claimants during this difficult time.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of claimants attending face-to-face appointments in job centres by region since the easing of covid-19 restrictions was applied to those centres in late April 2021.

Throughout the pandemic, Jobcentres remained open for anyone who needed face-to-face support. From April, all Jobcentres in England, Scotland and Wales returned to their pre-lockdown opening hours and restarted face-to-face appointments, in accordance with government guidelines. As of w/c 24 May we estimate that 273,318 claimants have attended booked face-to-face appointments in England, 20,997 in Scotland and 15,877 in Wales.

Please note that the data supplied is derived from unpublished management information which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of claimants who failed to attend a face-to-face appointment in a jobcentre since the extended openings began in late April 2021 have since been referred to decision makers for sanction.

Monthly sanction referral statistics for those people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance (Work Related Activity Group), Income Support and Universal Credit (Live Service) are available by referral reason and are published quarterly at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance for users is available at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

The latest statistics are available to January 2021, with the statistics to April 2021 and July 2021 expected to be published in August 2021 and November 2021 respectively.

Sanction referral statistics for those people claiming Universal Credit (Full Service) are not readily available and to provide them would incur disproportionate cost.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what comparative assessment she has made of the effectiveness of a return to face-to-face appointments for groups of claimants in job centres and other channels including telephone and digital that were introduced in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

No comparative assessment of face-to-face appointments for groups of claimants in jobcentres and other channels has currently been made.

The return to a face-to-face regime is based on evidence from past large scale trials of what interventions work best for out of work benefits claimants. These show that face-to-face performs better than telephony and that seeing a claimant fortnightly produces substantially better outcomes than not seeing claimants at all.

https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130314010347/http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rrs-index.asp (report 382)

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans the Government has to give British Sign Language legal status.

On 18 March 2003 the UK government formally recognised that British Sign Language (BSL) is a language in its own right. Provision for accessing services by users of BSL are covered by the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Existing equality legislation already means employers, service providers and public bodies have to provide services in BSL and other formats when it is reasonable to do so. The Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies to have due regard to the needs of all those with protected characteristics.

13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 21 January 2021 to Question 139055 on Personal Independence Payment: coronavirus, whether his Department plans to automatically apply extensions to all personal independence payments claimants, including those with a fixed term period decision awarded at a tribunal where a decision on their new award could not be made before they reach their end award date.

As referenced in my previous answer, as part of its response to the Covid-19 situation, in Spring 2020 the Department extended award dates for existing PIP claims. We restarted the PIP award review process in July. New decisions made since then will not have had their awards extended. However, we are aware that some claimants on fixed term awards without a review date are now falling out of payment before we have been able to make a decision on renewal claims they have made. We are prioritising these cases to ensure we can make a decision as quickly as possible.

13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the introduction of means-testing for the TV licence concession for people aged over 75 on levels of pension credit take-up.

No assessment has been made. The latest estimates of Pension Credit take-up, published in October 2020, relate to the financial year 2018/19 and do not reflect any potential impacts of the BBC TV license.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what (a) risk assessments and (b) discussions with trade unions her Department conducted in preparation for the full reopening of jobcentres on 12 April 2021.

Ahead of the return to full opening hours and the restart of face-to-face appointments, every jobcentre has reviewed all relevant site risk assessments, including the Jobcentre Claimant Facing Risk Assessment, in consultation with local Trade Union representatives. We have maintained an open dialogue with Departmental Trade Union Side, meeting with them weekly to discuss our plans for the 12 April (and 26 April in Scotland), and giving them opportunity to review and comment on all of the supporting products we have provided for our people, and, wherever possible, making changes to reflect their feedback and concerns.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many recipients of employment and support allowance are eligible for, but not receiving, severe disability premium.

The Department does not hold the information necessary to provide the requested figure.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to maximise take-up of Severe Disability Premium among eligible recipients of (a) Pension Credit and (b) employment and support allowance.

The severe disability premium in Employment and Support Allowance and the additional amounts for persons severely disabled in State Pension Credit are not separate benefits in themselves but are payable as part of the award to those who are eligible, i.e. those severely disabled people who live independently and who are most likely to need to purchase care. When a claim to either benefit is made, the claimant is asked questions, for example if they are in receipt of a qualifying disability benefit or if anybody is caring for them, which helps to determine if the premium or the additional amount is payable. Once entitled to the benefit, claimants are required to report any change of circumstance including ones which may lead to the awarding of the premium or the additional amount. The Department also makes use of the information that it holds to prompt enquiries of the claimant as to possible entitlement to the premium or the additional amount. There is information for claimants about the severe disability premium and the additional amount for persons severely disabled on the relevant pages of www.gov.uk.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people are repaying overpayments of carer's allowance; and what the total value being repaid is.

As of 13th April 2021, 42,400 people were repaying Carer’s Allowance overpayments.

The total original value of those debts was just over £138million; the total amount currently outstanding is £89million.

The Department has a duty to recover overpaid benefits as quickly and efficiently as possible, but it is not intended that the recovery of an overpayment should cause any customer undue financial hardship.

Overpayment recovery of Carer’s Allowance, as with all benefits is subject to various legislative limitations and safeguards.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many recipients of pension credit are eligible for, but not receiving, severe disability premium.

The information requested is not available.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the return of staff for the full reopening of jobcentres on 12 April 2021, how many staff were expected to return immediately; how much notice they were given; and whether individual covid-19 risk assessments were carried out.

We take the health and safety of colleagues extremely seriously, and are absolutely committed to ensuring all our sites remain COVID secure in line with Public Health and Government guidance to keep colleagues and customers safe. We have adopted a slow, steady and safe approach to returning colleagues to the workplace, with the number of colleagues able to return varying by site and based on the COVID secure capacity of the jobcentre. An announcement about the department’s intention to return to full opening hours and restart face-to-face appointments was made by the Permanent Secretary on the 18th March. In advance of their return to the workplace, every colleague, including those who were in the clinically extremely vulnerable group, is having a one-to-one with their manager to make sure they are aware of the support available to them.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claims in each parliamentary constituency had deductions taken from them by her Department in the most recent month for which that data is available; what the average size of the sums so deducted was in each of those constituencies; what the total sum so deducted from those claims was in each of those constituencies; and what proportion of each of those sums so deducted was used to repay advance payments.

From 3rd April 2020, deductions from Universal Credit for some government debt, such as Tax Credits, benefit overpayments and Social Fund Loans were suspended for 3 months. This was done to ease the financial pressure of debt recovery on benefit claimants and to also allow Debt Management staff to be re-deployed to focus on the unprecedented volume of new claims received during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Universal Credit advance repayments are made gradually over 12 months, and deductions are capped at 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance. This is further to the reduction of the overall maximum level of deductions from 40% to 30% of the standard allowance since October 2019.

From April 2021, the repayment period will be extended from 12 months to 24 months and the deductions cap will be reduced from 30% to 25%.

For those who find themselves in unexpected hardship, advance repayments can be deferred for up to three months in certain cases.

The requested information surrounding deductions to Universal Credit payments by parliamentary constituency is shown in the attached table.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the Average Working Days Lost was for civil servants in her Department (a) from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and (b) recording themselves as White in the calendar year (a) 2019 and (b) 2020.

The Department only holds information relating to its own staff. Average working days lost figures are calculated on rolling year to date basis, therefore the following data relate to the year to 31 December. Due to the way that data is structured in our systems we do not hold this data in the format requested and it could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Declaration of ethnicity is not mandatory, however as at December 2020, 87.8 per cent of staff have declared their ethnicity.

Dec-20

Ethnic Minority

5.35

White

5.57

Unknown

6.13

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,what the Average Working Days Lost was for civil servants in her Department who have (a) declared themselves as having a disability and (b) not declared themselves to have a disability in the calendar year (i) 2019 and (ii) 2020.

The Department only holds information relating to its own staff. Average working days lost figures are calculated on rolling year to date basis, therefore the following data relate to the year to 31 December. Due to the way that data is structured in our systems we do not hold this data in the format requested and it could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Dec-20

Disabled

9.16

Non Disabled

5.07

Unknown

5.72

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the Average Working Days Lost was for civil servants in her Department (a) aged 30 and younger, (b) 30 to 50, (c) 50 to 60 and (d) over 60 in the calendar year (i) 2019 and (ii) 2020.

The Department only holds information relating to its own staff. Average working days lost figures are calculated on rolling year to date basis, therefore the following data relates to the rolling year to 31 December.

Dec-19

Dec-20

29 and Younger

8.08

4.85

30 to 49

7.80

5.36

50 to 59

8.11

5.87

60 and Over

9.83

7.17

Other

0.00

0.00

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of her Department's compliance with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer given on 24 February to question number 155175 at https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-02-19/155175.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the (a) total and (b) average size was of deductions from universal credit claimants; and how many claimants had deductions taken, in the most recent month for which data is available.

Deductions are currently capped at 30% of the claimant’s standard allowance down from 40% previously. This is due to reduce further to 25% of the claimant’s standard allowance in October this year

For Universal Credit claims with a payment due during November 2020, 2,128,000 (44% of all claims) had a deduction. The total amount deducted was £166,330,000 (around 5% of the total amount of UC paid during November 2020), with an average of £78 deducted per claim.

Notes:

1. Deductions include advance repayments, third party deductions and other deductions but exclude sanctions and fraud penalties which are reductions of benefit rather than deductions.

2. Number of claims rounded to the nearest 1,000, total deducted rounded to the nearest £10,000.

3. Amount of Universal Credit paid reflects the amount of money paid to claimants and their landlords as part of their award, including the amount which they would have been entitled to had it not been deducted. It does not include other payments such as advances and hardship payments.

4. Figures are affected by the impact of the temporary suspension of some deduction types due to Covid-19. During April 2020, government deductions were temporarily suspended and only began to be reinstated from July. As of November, these had not been fully returned.

5. Figures are provisional and are subject to retrospective change as later data becomes available.

6. Claim numbers may not match official statistics caseloads due to small methodological differences.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the effect of universal credit deductions on the (a) levels and (b) depth of child poverty.

No assessment has been made.

Tackling poverty will always be a priority for this Government. Our recent focus has rightly been on supporting people financially during these unprecedented times, with an injection of billions of pounds to strengthen the welfare system in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including a temporary increase in the Universal Credit Standard Allowance to support those facing the most financial disruption. Through the Covid Winter Grant Scheme, announced on 9 November, we are extending that support with an additional £170m for local authorities in England so that they can support families with children and other vulnerable people with the cost of food and essential utilities this winter.

From October 2019, the overall maximum level for standard deductions is normally limited to 30% of a claimant’s Standard Allowance except for last-resort deductions. From October 2021, this is being reduced to 25% of the claimant’s standard allowance except for last-resort deductions. We recognise the importance of safeguarding the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt, so last resort deductions can be applied to protect vulnerable claimants from eviction and/or having their fuel supply disconnected, by providing an affordable repayment plan for arrears of these essential services.

Claimants can ask for New Claims and Change of Circumstances Advance repayments to be delayed for up to 3 months in exceptional circumstances.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average number of working days lost (AWDL) was for (a) female and (b) male civil servants in (i) 2019 and (ii) 2020.

The Department only holds information relating to its own staff. Average working days lost figures are calculated on rolling year to date basis, therefore the following data relate to the year to 31 December.

Female

Male

Dec-19

8.91

6.89

Dec-20

6.24

4.88

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

DWP recognises the importance of the Health & Safety representative role and is compliant with the requirements in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code. Arrangements are set out in our Employee Relations Framework which has been the subject of extensive consultation with our trade unions and was most recently reviewed in 2020. We allocate official time as necessary for example in response to serious incidents and to enable training for new H&S representatives, we have also treated all Covid related safety work as official time and keep this under regular review.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people were in receipt of universal credit at the start of February 2021 in Glasgow.

The available information on the number of people on Universal Credit, by local authority, is published monthly and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Note:

The latest statistics show those on Universal Credit as at 14 January 2021. Statistics for

February 2021 will be published in March 2021.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants in Glasgow are in receipt of universal credit.

The available information on the number of people on Universal Credit, by local authority, is published monthly and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Note:

The latest statistics show those on Universal Credit as at 14 January 2021. Statistics for

February 2021 will be published in March 2021.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claimants living in households with (a) children and (b) disabled people had deductions taken from their claim in the most recent month for which data is available.

Data on the number of Universal Credit claimants living in households with (a) children and (b) disabled people is not available.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to support workers eligible for furlough during the covid-19 outbreak who have been denied payments; and if she will make a statement.

It would not be for the Department for Work and Pensions to comment on why workers eligible for furlough have been denied payments.

Those who are out of work or who are on a low income can claim Universal Credit and/or New Style JSA or ESA, if they are entitled.

Help to Claim is available online, over the phone and face to face through local Citizens Advice offices.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure workers eligible for furlough who have been denied payments are eligible for social security support; and if she will make a statement.

It would not be for the Department for Work and Pensions to comment on why workers eligible for furlough have been denied payments.

Those who are out of work or who are on a low income can claim Universal Credit and/or New Style JSA or ESA, if they are entitled.

Help to Claim is available online, over the phone and face to face through local Citizens Advice offices.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many service centres are being used to house HMRC staff at weekends for the purposes of overtime; and whether her Department is carrying out regular risk assessments on those service centre arrangements.

We have no records of HMRC staff using DWP service centres to undertake overtime. HMRC staff are bound by their own policies in relation to both overtime and working outside of their normal office, including observing all health and safety policies.

All of our offices are COVID secure and are subject to risk assessments to ensure that occupancy levels are safe and that social distancing can be maintained.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department’s staff recruited through agencies are paid their full wage during covid-19 related absences.

Temporary agency workers are brought into the department through the commercial arrangements under the Crown Commercial Service, Public Sector Resourcing framework, and are supplied by Brook Street.

Agency workers recruited by Brook Street to work in the department are currently receiving 80 per cent of their wage during Covid-19 related absences. This arrangement was implemented with the agreement of HM Treasury following the end of the central Government Contingent Labour Compensation Scheme on 31 October 2020.

The 80 per cent payment mirrors both the previous scheme referred to above and the arrangements in place under the government Job Retention Scheme.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much in addition to wages has been paid to Brook Street for the recruitment of staff to her Department since March 2020.

The information requested is commercially sensitive and cannot be disclosed as it will impair the commercial interests of the Department and its ability to obtain goods and services on the best possible commercial terms.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of staff recruited to her Department by Brook Street becoming (a) fixed-term appointments and (b) permanent.

Under ‘Civil Service Recruitment Principles’ for any agency workers to become either fixed term or permanent appointments there would need to be an externally advertised recruitment exercise where they could be assessed alongside other applicants.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many staff across her Department can currently work from home; and what steps she is taking to improve access to the necessary equipment to increase home working in her Department.

Since March 2020 we have increased the number of colleagues with the IT to enable them to work more flexibly by over 50,000, meaning almost 74,000 people in total have equipment to enable them to work from home. This is approximately 81% of our workforce. Every day more colleagues are able to work from home as we continue to roll out more IT equipment to ensure that everyone in DWP is enabled to work from home where appropriate by the end of March 2021.

We are limiting how many colleagues remain working in an office setting in order to balance the need to provide essential public facing services for citizens, whilst maintaining safe social distancing in line with Government / Devolved Administration guidelines. Examples of such roles are some of our Jobcentre services (which provide vital face to face support for our most vulnerable citizens), and clerical processes such as Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit applications.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of staff in her Department are able to work from home during the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps she is taking to ensure that employees have access to the necessary equipment to permit home working.

Since March 2020 we have increased the number of colleagues with the IT to enable them to work more flexibly by over 50,000, meaning almost 74,000 people in total have equipment to enable them to work from home. This is approximately 81 per cent of our workforce. Every day more colleagues are able to work from home as we continue to roll out more IT equipment to ensure that everyone in DWP is enabled to work from home where appropriate by the end of March 2021.

We are limiting how many colleagues remain working in an office setting in order to balance the need to provide essential public facing services for citizens, whilst maintaining safe social distancing in line with Government / Devolved Administration guidelines. Examples of such roles are some of our Jobcentre services (which provide vital face to face support for our most vulnerable citizens), and clerical processes such as Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit applications.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many personal independence payments claimants have had their award ended without an extension between 1 October 2020 and 18 January 2021.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether it is her Department’s policy that all personal independence payments claims due to end between March 2020 and January 2021 should have been extended.

The Department has been automatically applying extension of awards of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for all claims due to end between March 2020 and January 2021, except those where a new decision has been made since review and reassessment activity resumed in July. Additionally, a small number of awards have not been extended where action on their case is pending. These are not included in Covid-19 easements and will not be extended as part of this exercise.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, claimants with personal independent payment claims in which period since March 2020 should have had their claim extended.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether personal independence payments (PIP) claimants will have their PIP awards extended on more than one occasion if the extension date ends during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has been automatically applying extension of awards of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for all claims due to end during the Covid-19 outbreak, except those where a new decision has been made since review and reassessment activity resumed in July. Further extensions are being applied where a decision on their new award could not be made before they reach their end of award date.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new personal independence payments claims are open and awaiting an assessment prior to a final decision on award as at 18 January 2021.

On 31st October 2020, the latest date for which data is available, there were 95,930 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Normal Rules new claims that had been referred to the Assessment Provider but were yet to be returned to DWP following an assessment.

Notes

Source: PIP ADS

  • PIP analytical data held by the Department does not contain the date the assessment takes place. As a proxy, we use the date an assessment was returned from the Assessment Providers to the Department. This is usually a few days following the assessment.
  • The answer includes Normal Rules new claims only
  • This is unpublished data. It may be subject to future revision.
  • Figures are for Great Britain only.
  • The status of claims as 'normal rules' and 'new claim/reassessment' is the status at the point of referral to the Assessment Provider. It is possible for claims to transition between normal/special rules and new claims/reassessments during the course of the claimant journey.

10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether job centre staff working from home due to health concerns in relation to covid-19 are to be expected to attend a job centre for Saturday opening.

Throughout the pandemic, Jobcentres have remained open to help any claimant who needs face-to-face support, and who we cannot get help in any other way. We have made all of our Jobcentres COVID secure, not only for our staff but for claimants, by introducing a range of safety measures, including screened desks, social distancing signage, mandatory face coverings for customers, the provision of hand sanitiser, and regular touch point cleaning.

In line with public health guidance, colleagues are only advised to follow shielding advice if they receive a new written shielding notification. Colleagues who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable are not being asked to work from the office and equipment has been provided to enable them to work from home.

Colleagues who are permanent members of teams in Jobcentres which are open on Saturdays, including those currently working from home, are included in this change. This ensures that everyone, regardless of their current working situation, is treated equally.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the length of front line interviews by her Department's staff on the number of people claiming Universal Credit.

The frequency of interventions that Universal Credit Work Coaches undertake with claimants is determined by the individual circumstances of the claimant, the duration of their claim, and the level of support required at that particular time. Since Covid restrictions began earlier this year, claimants have been supported by Work Coaches applying a more flexible approach. The Claimant Commitment interview was shortened to enable work coaches to support as many claimants as they can back into work. The length of this interview will be reviewed against our Work Coach recruitment plans and subsequent operational capacity.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of effect of the length interview times between work coaches and new claimants on the number of people claiming Universal Credit; and what her timescale is for returning interview lengths to 50 minutes per session.

The frequency of interventions that Universal Credit Work Coaches undertake with claimants is determined by the individual circumstances of the claimant, the duration of their claim, and the level of support required at that particular time. Since Covid restrictions began earlier this year, claimants have been supported by Work Coaches applying a more flexible approach. The Claimant Commitment interview was shortened to enable work coaches to support as many claimants as they can back into work. The length of this interview will be reviewed against our Work Coach recruitment plans and subsequent operational capacity.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claims have been subject to deductions; what the average amount was of those deductions; what the total sum deducted from those claims was; and what proportion of those deductions was, on average, for the purposes of repaying advance payments, in each constituency, in the most recent month for which data are available.

From 3rd April 2020, deductions from Universal Credit for some government debt, such as Tax Credits, benefit overpayments and Social Fund Loans were suspended for 3 months. This was done to ease the financial pressure of debt recovery on benefit claimants and to also allow Debt Management staff to be re-deployed to focus on the unprecedented volume of new claims received during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Universal Credit advance repayments are made gradually over 12 months, and deductions are capped at 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance. This is further to the reduction of the overall maximum level of deductions from 40% to 30% of the standard allowance since October 2019.

From October 2021, the repayment period will be extended from 12 months to 24 months deductions cap will be reduced from 30% to 25%.

For those who find themselves in unexpected hardship, advance repayments can be deferred for up to three months in certain cases.

The requested information surrounding deductions to Universal Credit payments by parliamentary constituency is shown in the attached table.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether benefit sanctions will continue to be applied by her Department during the period of the new national covid-19 lockdown from 5 November 2020; and if she will make a statement.

In March 2020 we switched off conditionality requirements so that we could concentrate on processing the unprecedented number of new and existing claims.

From the 1st of July, we reintroduced Claimant Commitments as we were able to again tailor reasonable requirements asking claimants to prepare and look for work where it was safe to do so in line with social distancing rules. These commitments will be amended as necessary to account for any new lockdown guidance.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what (a) artificial intelligence and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered for her Department.

The Department will make use of Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning technologies where it is appropriate across many areas of work.

· Identity, Trust & Verification - Robust identity verification and authentication provides us with the confidence that people interacting with us are who they say they are. This is essential to our ambitions in enabling self-service and to safeguarding the public purse and to reduce verification demands where it is unnecessary.

· Process Automation – We incrementally utilise robotic automations on some existing processes to remove the need for routine administrative work and to speed up the processing of claims and changes to be timely, with less backlogs.

· Signposting & Support Offers for Citizen Outcomes– We are exploring how to provide a more relevant non-financial support offer for customers, more tailored signposting to provision, more preventative interventions for the individual and more effective place and sector-based interventions.

· Countering Fraud, Error and Debt – We are developing our counter fraud and error risk services to help prevent and reduce fraud and error losses. Our aim is to increasingly prevent fraud and error at the point of contact with customers and to reduce costs of interventions.

· Cyber Security – This means continuously evolving our cyber security and resilience to detect rapidly moving security threats as we increase our on-line presence.

In all cases our own data experts assure these results, learn at scale and iteratively improve.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of automatically registering all eligible pensioners for pension credit.

It is a long-established policy of all governments, that provision of income-related benefits is contingent on a person making a valid claim. Like other means-tested benefits, Pension Credit eligibility and award amounts are determined by a person’s financial and personal circumstances and it is the responsibility of the person making a claim to provide the correct and accurate information required to establish entitlement.

Pension Credit is intended to target help at the poorest pensioner households. It would not therefore be practical to automatically register everyone of State Pension age for Pension Credit when the majority of them will simply not qualify. There may also be pensioners, who might qualify for Pension Credit, who do not wish to claim it.

In 2010 the Department ran an innovative pilot scheme to try to boost take-up of Pension Credit. The trial involved automatically paying Pension Credit to some 2,000 people who the Department had identified as possibly having entitlement to Pension Credit without them having to make an actual claim first. At the end of the trial the group were invited to go on and make a claim. The level of take-up was surprisingly low and disappointing, with less than 9% of those involved going on to take up their entitlement. It was therefore not considered a viable and cost effective mechanism to take forward. A copy of the evaluation of the pilot is available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/214583/rrep796.pdf.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of eligible pensioners in each parliamentary constituency are (a) in receipt of and (b) have made claims for pension credit.

Information on the number of Pension Credit claimants in each parliamentary constituency as of February 2020 is published and available at https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk.

The information requested on the proportion of pensioners eligible to Pension Credit who are in receipt of the benefit is only available at the Great Britain level. The latest data for 2017/18 is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/income-related-benefits-estimates-of-take-up-financial-year-2017-to-2018.

The DWP publishes annual take-up statistics for income-related benefits, including Pension Credit. These are estimates based on data collected through the Family Resource Survey as well as DWP administrative data. However, the sample sizes available from the survey data are not large enough to enable reliable take-up statistics to be produced at sub-national level e.g. for parliamentary constituencies.

We do not hold the information requested on the number and proportion of claims made by eligible pensioners for pension credit in each parliamentary constituency.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many job centres have closed as a result of safety concerns in relation to covid-19 since 1 August 2020; and if she will make a statement.

No job centres have closed as a result of safety concerns since the 1 August 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many staff have been recruited to her Department (a) at each location and (b) in each category of work in each week since July 2020.

DWP has 877 locations and has recruited into over a quarter of these during July and August 2020. The number of staff recruited by each Group and number of locations is as follows:

Business Group

Month

Number of staff recruited

Number of locations

Change

July 2020

0

0

August 2020

Less than 5

1

Communications

July 2020

0

0

August 2020

Less than 5

1

Digital

July 2020

11

5

August 2020

13

6

Finance

July 2020

Less than 5

3

August 2020

Less than 5

3

People and Capability

July 2020

Less than 5

2

August 2020

Less than 5

2

Policy

July 2020

6

2

August 2020

15

6

Service Excellence

July 2020

Less than 5

2

August 2020

7

5

Work and Health

July 2020

680

171

August 2020

1095

125

Total

1846

334

Data has been provided by month and to end August 2020 as weekly data is not available for all recruitment.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions her Department has had with staff representatives in the Department on its recruitment programme.

Since 1 April 2020 the Department has held regular discussions with our Departmental Trade Union Side on our recruitment programme. Specific discussions on recruitment have taken place on at least ten separate occasions.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claims in each parliamentary constituency had deductions taken from them in the most recent month for which data is available; what the average deduction was in each constituency; and what proportion of each sum was deducted to repay advance payments.

The requested information surrounding deductions to Universal Credit payments by parliamentary constituency is shown in the attached table.

Universal Credit advance repayments are made gradually over 12 months, and deductions are capped at 30% of claimants’ standard allowance. This is further to the reduction of the overall maximum level of deductions from 40% to 30% of the standard allowance since October 2019.

From October 2021, the repayment period will be extended from 12 months to 24 months and the reduction of the deductions cap from 30% to 25%.

For those who find themselves in unexpected hardship, advance repayments can be deferred for up to three months in certain cases.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of safety screens installed at jobcentres; and whether her Department has received any reports of such screens being unfit for purpose.

In order to provide additional protection to both colleagues and the public against droplets potentially containing coronavirus, following BEIS guidance and the completion of risk assessments a mitigation of a physical barrier is required during extended face to face customer interactions. There have been no reports or incidents that would suggest the screen design is not fit for purpose.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the number of whether additional staff will be required to process social security cases once claimant conditionality is reintroduced, and if she will make a statement.

Jobcentres have remained open throughout, providing support to our most vulnerable customers. In line with the easing of restrictions in England, from 1st July, people will be able to make an appointment with their Work Coach if they can’t get the help they want online or over the phone. Work Coaches, as part of the individualised approach, will be calling all claimants to engage with them. We will continue to be align with current guidance from Scotland and Wales.

The Department is continually assessing the service being offered to customers and we continue to keep staff numbers under review as part of our response to the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market. We have already committed to increasing the number of Work Coaches and Case Managers and recruitment is already underway.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people were awaiting an assessment for (a) personal independence payments, (b) employment and support allowance and (c) the limited capability for work component of universal credit in each of the most recent six months for which data is available.

In each of the most recent six months, the number of individuals claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC) with either an assessment scheduled or awaiting scheduling in the UK can be found in the table below.

The department continues to process both New Claims and Changes of Circumstance and encourage anyone with a change in their needs to contact the Department so that we can ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.

We are unable to separate out individuals for the Limited Capability for Work element of Universal Credit and have therefore provided the total number of individuals claiming Universal Credit awaiting an assessment.

Dec-19

Jan-20

Feb-20

Mar-20

Apr-20

May-20

PIP

168,310

184,340

193,800

164,720

156,620

132,640

ESA

87,500

81,100

73,650

81,770

101,010

115,680

UC

62,740

60,080

59,030

83,190

120,080

143,120

Please note: data has been rounded to the nearest 10.

The data provided is derived from unpublished contractual management information produced by the Assessment Providers which was collected for Internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to Official Statistics Publication standards.

10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people are waiting for an assessment for (a) personal independence payments, (b) employment and support allowance and (c) the limited capability for work component of universal credit as at 15 June 2020.

The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many assessments for (a) personal independence payments, (b) employment and support allowance and (c) the limited capability for work component of universal credit were scheduled to take place after 1 March 2020; and how many of those assessments have taken place.

Our priority throughout this Covid-19 period continues to be to protect the public and staff, while ensuring people receive the benefits they are entitled to quickly and safely. We suspended face-to-face assessments, reviews and reassessments. We continue to assess people based on written evidence alone, where that is possible, and have introduced telephone assessments. We also automatically extended awards where necessary for certain health and disability benefits, providing reassurance to those in receipt of them. This action enabled us to prioritise activity on new claims and changes of circumstances.

The number of assessments that were scheduled to have taken place between 1 March 2020 and 30 May 2020 and the number of assessments that took place during that time can be found in the table below:

Assessments Scheduled

Assessments Completed

PIP

187,700

117,050

ESA

20,370

14,500

UC

34,530

19,890

Please note:

Data has been rounded to the nearest 10.

Figures do not include paper based reviews.

PIP

The Assessments Scheduled data has been produced by the assessment providers (Capita and Independent Assessment Services).

The Assessments Completed data is derived from unpublished contractual management information produced by the assessment providers which was collected for internal departmental use only and has not been quality assured to Official Statistics Publication standards.

Face-to-face assessments for PIP were paused due to Covid-19 from 17 March 2020. Telephone assessments began a piloted roll out from 23 March 2020 for Capita and 03 April 2020 for IAS.

ESA and UC

Face-to-face assessments for UC and ESA were paused due to Covid-19 from 17 March 2020. Telephone assessments began a piloted roll out from 04 May 2020 where only Limited Capability for Work Related Activity recommendations were being made.

The department continues to process both New Claims and Changes of Circumstance and encourage anyone with a change in their needs to contact the Department so that we can ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.

9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new applications for universal credit there were in each constituency since 1 March 2020.

Statistics for Universal Credit claims by postcode area, and starts by postcode area and Jobcentre Plus office can be found on Stat-Xplore:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

The available information on the number of households with children on Universal Credit, by parliamentary constituency, is published and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new applications there were for universal credit by households with children in each constituency since 1 March 2020.

Statistics for Universal Credit claims by postcode area, and starts by postcode area and Jobcentre Plus office can be found on Stat-Xplore:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

The available information on the number of households with children on Universal Credit, by parliamentary constituency, is published and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claimants have been sanctioned since 1 March 2020.

We took the decision to temporarily suspend for 3 months the requirement for face-to-face Jobcentre Plus appointments for all claimants in Universal Credit, New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), old-style JSA and ESA, and Income Support. They will continue to receive benefits as normal and they will not be sanctioned for not taking part in appointments with Jobcentres.

The number of Universal Credit claimants who have been sanctioned is published quarterly. The latest figures for Universal Credit sanction rates are up to February 2020 and can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions/about/statistics

Additional breakdowns of the figures can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance for users is available at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential effect of the two-child limit on the (a) extent and (b) depth of child poverty.

The Government has committed to annual statistics releases related to the operation of this policy.

Statistics for 2018/19 can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-tax-credit-and-universal-credit-claimants-statistics-related-to-the-policy-to-provide-support-for-a-maximum-of-2-children-april-2019

Statistics related to 2019/20 will be published in the summer.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she plans to place in the Library a copy of her Department's internal review of the drivers of food bank usage.

The Department is conducting a literature review on the factors driving the use of food banks, which we aim to publish before the end of the summer; at which point it will be placed in the Library.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have been awarded (a) personal independence payment, (b) employment support allowance and (c) the limited capability for work element of universal credit following a (i) telephone and (ii) paper based assessment in (A) the UK, (B) Scotland and (C) Glasgow South West constituency since 19 March 2020.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

The latest available information on assessment outcomes for Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance, for various geographical areas, is published and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/jsf/login.xhtml

Guidance for users is available at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants are awaiting an assessment for (a) personal independence payment, (b) employment support allowance, and (c) the limited capability for work element of universal credit in (i) the UK, (ii) Scotland, and (iii) Glasgow South West constituency.

The number of individuals awaiting an assessment can be found below. However, we are unable to provide data at constituency level or to separate out individuals for the Limited Capability for Work element of UC. I have therefore provided the total number of individuals claiming UC awaiting an assessment.

(a) As of the 27 April 2020, the number of individuals claiming PIP with either an assessment scheduled or awaiting scheduling in the UK was 166,630. This PIP data does not include Northern Ireland. 20,870 of these cases were in Scotland.

(b) As of the 4 May 2020, the number of individuals claiming ESA with either an assessment scheduled or awaiting scheduling in the UK was 101,910. 14,460 of these cases were in Scotland.

(c) As of the 4 May 2020, the number of individuals claiming UC with either an assessment scheduled or awaiting scheduling in the UK was 121,640. 13,510 of these cases were in Scotland.

Data supplied by Assessment Provider reports, and rounded to the nearest 10.

Please note this is unpublished data.

The latest published journey time for PIP is 8 weeks on average for a new claim assessment and 10 weeks for a DLA to PIP reassessment (based on the latest published data) and 9 weeks for ESA and we are working with our suppliers to ensure those claimants currently going through the assessment journey are seen as quickly as possible.

23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate he has made of take-up rates of attendance allowance in each of the last five years for which data are available.

The Government currently spends £5.8 billion a year providing some help to 1.43 million people of pension age with the cost of their care needs. Attendance Allowance provides financial support towards the extra costs faced by those with a severe disability. It is only available to those over State Pension age who require care or supervision as a result of their disability.

Information on the availability of Attendance Allowance is widely available including online on GOV.UK; from places such as Libraries and Doctors Surgeries; directly from Health Care Professionals who might be supporting those with care needs; and from a range of groups and charities who provide advice and support to elderly people with care needs. DWP continually seeks to improve the information it makes available so as to encourage people to claim Attendance Allowance where they may be entitled. We have not made any estimates in take-up rates of Attendance Allowance.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to protect sick, elderly or disabled people in receipt of (a) employment support allowance, (b) personal independence payment and (c) universal credit from having to attend mandatory assessments or appointments in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

From 17th March, we suspended all face-to-face assessments for health and disability benefits. For existing claimants, we have also automatically extended awards and suspended any new review or reassessment activity, except where claimants notify us of changes to their needs that may result in an increase to their award.

We have temporarily suspended the requirement for face-to-face Jobcentre Plus appointments for all claimants in Universal Credit, Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Income Support. This means that claimants are not expected to contact their Jobcentre Plus while this temporary suspension is in place. They will continue to receive benefits as normal and they will not be sanctioned for not taking part in interviews with Jobcentres.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans his Department has to mitigate the risk of delays in processing new applications for (a) personal independence payment and (b) employment support allowance due to (i) self-isolation or (ii) reduced face to face assessments following the covid-19 outbreak.

As announced on Monday 16 March we are stopping all face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits and introducing alternative measures to assess from Tuesday 17 March. We are working at pace with our Assessment Providers to minimize any inconvenience and delays as much as possible.

No estimate has yet been made on the average waiting times for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Universal Credit (UC) while these alternative arrangements are in place. Claims to ESA and UC will be payable prior to a Work Capability Assessment having been carried out and payments for Personal Independence Payment will be backdated from the date of decision in line with normal rules following an assessment.

5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate she has made of the average time taken for claimants to receive a decision from the Independent Case Examiner.

The table below provides details of the average time taken for complainants to receive a decision from the Independent Case Examiner’s (ICE) Office, in the current reporting year (April 2019 to February 2020).

When the ICE Office accepts a complaint for investigation, it will consider whether it can be resolved by brokering a solution between the complainant and the relevant department or supplier, without having to request evidence to inform an investigation. If the complaint can’t be resolved, the evidence will be requested and the case will await allocation to an Investigation Case Manager (ICM). Cases are dealt with by dedicated teams and are usually brought into investigation in strict date order.

Following an investigation of the evidence the complaint may be settled, if agreement can be reached on actions that satisfy the complainant. If the complaint cannot be settled, the Independent Case Examiner will issue a report detailing findings and any recommendations for redress.

The cases that reach the Independent Case Examiner are the most complex and investigations will not be compromised in order to be completed within certain timescales. We keep people updated about the timings involved with their case and the vast majority of complainants are satisfied with the service they receive.

Description

Average time in weeks

Resolution (from acceptance to case closure)

6 weeks (against a target of 8 weeks)

Time taken to allocate case to ICM (from date of acceptance)

59 weeks

Settlement (from allocation to ICM to case closure)

8 weeks (against a target of 15 weeks)

ICE Report (from allocation to ICM to case closure)

23.5 weeks (against a target of 20 weeks)

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she will take to ensure that claimants in receipt of personal independence payment (PIP) automatically receive the accompanying rates of employment and support allowance or the limited capability for work component of universal credit, including associated premiums, that fully reflect their PIP entitlement.

Those in receipt of Personal Independence Payment may be entitled to additional premiums as part of their income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Whilst our ambition is to provide automated solutions to facilitate the payment of these there will always be occasions – whether because of the relative costs and benefits of a particular approach or the complexity or lifespan of the product – where this is not possible and human intervention is required. To support our people to deliver a high quality service we are undertaking regular scans of our ESA caseload to identify and eliminate error; prioritising payment related processing across sites; re-organising the delivery of our services to maximise capability and capacity and digital transformation to support delivery.

5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 5 February 2020 to Question 10759, how many claimants had deductions taken from their universal credit payments in each parliamentary constituency in August 2019.

This Government is committed to providing a strong welfare safety-net for those who need it. Our deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their financial obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs. Since October 2019, Universal Credit deductions are set at a maximum of 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance, down from 40% previously.

The requested information surrounding deductions to Universal Credit payments by parliamentary constituency is shown in the attached table.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 5 February 2020 to Question 10759, what the value of deductions to universal credit payments has been, by parliamentary constituency; and from how many claimants those deductions were taken, in each of the 12 months prior to August 2019.

This Government is committed to providing a strong welfare safety-net for those who need it. Our deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their financial obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs. Since October 2019, Universal Credit deductions are set at a maximum of 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance, down from 40% previously.

The requested information surrounding deductions to Universal Credit payments by parliamentary constituency is shown in the attached table.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants in receipt of personal independence payment (PIP) are being paid a rate of employment and support allowance or the limited capability for work component of universal credit, including associated premiums, that does not fully reflect their PIP entitlement.

The Department publishes annual statistics on fraud and error in the benefit system, which are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fraud-and-error-in-the-benefit-system. These include estimates of underpayments due to errors relating to premia and income from other benefits. The information requested on the total number of claimants receiving ESA or Universal Credit payments inconsistent with their PIP and other relevant living and care arrangements is not available and it would incur disproportionate cost to determine this number.

5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate she has made of the amount of underpayments resulting from claimants in receipt of personal independence payment being paid a rate of employment and support allowance or the limited capability for work component of universal credit, including associated premiums, that does not fully reflect their PIP entitlement.

The Department publishes annual statistics on fraud and error in the benefit system, which are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fraud-and-error-in-the-benefit-system. These include estimates of underpayments due to errors relating to premia and income from other benefits. The information requested on the total number of claimants receiving ESA or Universal Credit payments inconsistent with their PIP and other relevant living and care arrangements is not available and it would incur disproportionate cost to determine this number.

25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of universal credit claims that have had a deduction applied had (a) up to 20 per cent, (b) between 21 and 30 per cent, (c) between 31 and 40 per cent and (d) more than 41 per cent deducted in the latest period for which data is available.

This Government is committed to providing a strong welfare safety-net for those who need it. There is a well-established system of hardship payments, benefit advances and budgeting loans for those who need extra support.

Our deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their financial obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs. Since October 2019, Universal Credit deductions are a maximum of 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance down from 40% previously.

We also recognise the importance of safeguarding the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt, so last resort deductions over the 30% cap can be applied to protect vulnerable claimants from eviction and/or having their fuel supply disconnected, by providing a repayment method for arrears of these essential services.

Of all eligible claims to Universal Credit Full Service due a payment in November 2019, 58% (1,307,000 claims) had a deduction.

Of this 1,307,000 claims with a deduction:

a) 44% (569,000 claims) had deductions up to and including 20% of the Standard Allowance (25% of all eligible claims).

b) 52% (681,000 claims) had deductions between 20% and 30% of the Standard Allowance (30% of all eligible claims).

For last resort deductions –

c) 4% (51,000 claims) had deductions between 30% and 40% of their Standard Allowance (2% of all eligible claims).

d) 1% (7,000 claims) had deductions above 40% of their Standard Allowance (0.3% of all eligible claims).

Notes:

1. Claim numbers may not match official statistics caseloads due to small methodological differences.

2. Claim numbers are rounded up to the nearest 1,000.

3. Deductions include advance repayments and all other deductions, but exclude sanctions and fraud penalties which are reductions of benefit rather than deductions.

4. Deduction bands exclude the lower limit but include the upper limit, i.e. 'between 20% and 30% of the Standard Allowance' includes claimants having 30% of their standard allowance deducted but not those having 20% deducted.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many cases involving universal credit claims have been (a) through her Department's complaints process, (b) decided by an Independent Case Examiner and (c) referred to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The Department has received a total of number of 39,187 Universal Credit complaints up to January 2020.

Details of the number of complaints concerning Universal Credit that have been decided on by the Independence Case Examiner’s is 185 (please note the data is only available from July 2016 to January 2020)

All ICE Reports signpost the complainant to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s Office, via a Member of Parliament, in the event that they are dissatisfied with the outcome of the ICE investigation. We do not hold information about the number of complaints about Universal Credit which were subsequently referred by an MP to the Ombudsman’s Office.

For context, the latest figures show that there are 3 million people on Universal Credit as of 12 March 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people with a primary condition of sight loss or visual impairment who were in receipt of disability living allowance have been asked to make a new claim for personal independence payment in each year since 2013.

Data on the medical conditions of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants who are invited to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

However, data on claimants who have a visual disease recorded as their primary disabling condition on either DLA or PIP and who were previously in receipt of DLA is available on Stat Xplore for those who have had a PIP assessment.

The selection of a DLA reassessment to PIP is done on a random basis within specific postcodes and has no relation to the condition of the individual.

24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average length of award is for people with a visual impairment claiming personal independence payment; and how many of those claimants have had their award reviewed and renewed automatically.

The latest available data (to October 2019) on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) initial awards by award type and length of award can be broken down by main disabling condition and can be found in the PIP clearances table at https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/.

Guidance on how to use Stat-Xplore can be found here: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/index.html.

PIP claimants undergoing award reviews do not have their award automatically renewed as the purpose of award review is to look at entitlement at set intervals to ensure a claimant continues to receive the correct award. The review date is selected based on the claimant's individual circumstances.

24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what adjustments have been made to the (a) application and (b) journal process of universal credit to take account of people with (i) sight loss and (ii) visual impairment who are not able to use the default online process.

We want the application process for Universal Credit to be as quick and easy as possible to ensure that claimants receive their money at the earliest opportunity. The Department takes seriously the need to support vulnerable claimants. Comprehensive support is available to claimants to use our digital service, however we recognise there will be occasions when people are unable to make or maintain their claim online, so telephone support is available.

Universal Credit has been designed with a diverse range of claimants in mind, and has been reviewed in conjunction with the Royal National Institute for the Blind for accessibility needs. The Department communicates with customers in a variety of different formats such as Braille, audio, large print, through third party interpreters such as British Sign Language or non-spoken language.

In these instances, information normally available through a claimant’s online account will be communicated in an alternative format, which is best suited to an individual’s circumstances. The initial verification can include a home visit to support a claimant with making their claim and completing any other administrative tasks required to ensure that they receive the correct payment.

Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland have supported over 200,000 individuals through ‘Help to Claim’ since April 2019, offering tailored and practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim up to receiving their first full correct payment on time. ‘Help to Claim’ is available online, on the phone and face-to-face in locations including Jobcentres and Citizen’s Advice Bureaux.

In addition, the Department will be bringing forward a Green Paper on health and disability support in the coming months. The Green Paper will explore how the welfare system can better meet the needs of claimants with disabilities and health conditions now and in the future, to build a system that people trust and enables them to live independently and move into work where possible.

24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of (a) new claimants of personal independence payment (PIP) and (b) new claimants of PIP identifying as having a primary condition of (i) sight loss and (ii) a visual impairment did not receive an award during their initial PIP assessment but received an award at (A) mandatory reconsideration and (B) tribunal in the UK since 2018.

Initial decisions following a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment for Great Britain since 1st January 2018 up to 30th June 2019 are as shown in the table below. Figures are based on decisions where the primary health condition was classed as Visual Disease. This data is for new claims only; it excludes Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claims that have been reassessed for PIP.

Initial decisions following a PIP assessment – new claims – initial decisions made 1st January 2018 to 30th June 2019

Visual Disease

All

Totals

%

Totals

%

Initial decisions following PIP assessment

5,230

531,000

Awarded

3,010

58%

297,170

56%

Disallowed

2,220

42%

233,830

44%

Of those disallowed at initial decision

Award changed at Mandatory Reconsideration (MR)

100

5%

12,360

5%

Award unchanged at MR, appeal lapsed

40

2%

3,840

2%

Award unchanged at MR, decision overturned at tribunal hearing

100

4%

10,580

5%

Notes:

Data has been rounded to the nearest 10.

Percentages have been rounded to the nearest percent.

Data is for new claims only – it does not include DLA reassessment claims.

Great Britain only.

Data is based on primary disabling condition as recorded on the PIP computer systems. Claimants may often have multiple disabling conditions but only the primary condition is reflected in these statistics. It is not possible to break down the condition of “visual disease” into sight loss or visual impairment from the data.

A lapsed appeal is where DWP changed the decision in the customer’s favour after an appeal was lodged but before it was heard at tribunal.

Claimants who have received benefit decisions more recently may not yet have had time to complete the claimant journey and progress to appeal.

The Northern Irish Assembly has devolved responsibility for social security benefits. The responsibility for statistics in Northern Ireland lies with the Department for Communities: http://www.communities-ni.gov.uk

24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the process is for the provision of accessible formats to people with a visual impairment making a claim for personal independence payment; and on how many occasions have claimants with visual impairments been issued with (a) an audio description (b) Braille (c) large print, (d) Moon and (e) telephone assistance in each of the last 12 months.

Claimants can ask for a variety of alternative formats during the initial call to claim or at any time during their claim via letter, email, phone call or via the video relay service. We offer various alternative formats suitable for those with a visual impairment. These include, Large Print, Extra Large Print, Braille, Moon, Audio CD and Email for those who use specific software’s i.e Jaws or Dragon. We also offer telephone assistance and Visiting Officers to assist the customer on the PIP journey.

Unfortunately, we do not have a breakdown of figures for each alternative format as there are several teams throughout PIP Regional Benefit Centres and Alternative Format Teams who record volumes of work not specific formats. To provide this information would be at a disproportionate cost to the Department.

6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 5 February 2020 to Question 10760, on Universal Credit, how many case managers were working on the roll-out of universal credit in December (a) 2014, (b) 2015, (c) 2016, (d) 2017, (e) 2018 and (f) 2019; and what her estimate is of the average number of cases managed by a case manager in each of those months.

Between November 2014 and September 2017, Universal Credit Full Service was going through its Pilot phase, during which resourcing levels were regularly reviewed in line with the growing needs of the Pilot.

Upon conclusion of the Universal Credit Pilot in September 2017, UC Full Service began rolling out throughout the remainder of the country in a phased approach, which concluded in December 2018. The latest published Caseload position for UC stands at 2,084,952 cases (August 2019 figure), at which point there were 4,508 Case Managers deployed within Universal Credit Service Centres supporting UC claimants, with each Case Manager on average handling 463 cases.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants' personal independence payments have been stopped as a result of a claimant being unable to attend an assessment in (a) Glasgow South West constituency, (b) Scotland and (c) the UK.

The latest available data on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Award Review and Change of Circumstances clearances can be found in the published data tables “Data tables: PIP experimental statistics on planned award review and change of circumstance registrations and clearances to October 2019” available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/personal-independence-payment-april-2013-to-october-2019

This data is broken by type of clearance including claims that were disallowed due to failing to attend an assessment and is broken down by various geographical areas, including region and parliamentary constituency within Great Britain. This data can be found in Tables 2B (i), 2B (ii), 2C (i) and 2C (ii) of the published statistics above.

Please note that whilst we hold data on the number of Award Reviews disallowed for failing to attend an assessment, we do not hold recorded data on the reason that a claimant failed to attend an assessment.

Please note that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is only responsible for benefits in Great Britain. Social security benefits, including PIP, are a devolved matter in Northern Ireland and your questions regarding PIP in Northern Ireland should be directed to the Department of Communities in Northern Ireland.

31st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 27 January 2020 to Question 5465, if she will publish the value of deductions to universal credit payments by parliamentary constituency in the latest period for which figures are available.

The requested information surrounding the value of deductions to Universal Credit payments by parliamentary constituency is shown in the attached table.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
31st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the number of staff given responsibility for (a) monitoring and (b) responding to messages on universal credit claimants' online journals.

In December 2019 we had 4,598 Case Managers, 12,711 Work Coaches and 1048 UC Decision Makers delivering Universal Credit. All of these job roles will use the journal to correspond with claimants as just one part of their varied job roles, and Case Managers will use their dashboards to see their cases that have a journal entry waiting to be viewed. Not all journal entries will require a response.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will place in the Library a copy of the evidence review undertaken by her Department on the drivers of food bank use, that was commissioned in 2018; and if she will make a statement.

The literature review on the drivers of food bank use will be published in due course; at which point it will be placed in the Library.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of universal credit deductions were made to repay over-payments made in error in the latest period for which figures are available.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will place in the Library the (a) code of practice and (b) decision-making process governing universal credit deductions.

The Department’s deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs. From October 2019, Universal Credit deductions have been reduced to 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance down from 40% to better achieve these objectives.

Deductions are made following the priority order, which determines the order in which items should be deducted. ‘Last resort’ deductions, such as rent or fuel costs, are at the top of the priority order, ensuring that claimant welfare is prioritised, followed by social obligation deductions, such as child maintenance, and finally benefit debt, such as Social Fund loans and benefit overpayments.

The Department collects and analyses data on Universal Credit regularly, including on the rate of deductions. Alongside this, the Department is always building our understanding on the impact deductions can have on claimants, and has heard evidence from external organisations on this issue. We have to balance these impacts with the need for claimants to meet their obligations.

The Code of Practice ‘What happens if you are overpaid Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance?’ was deposited in the Library 6 May 2014. Deposit reference ‘DEP2014-0790’ refers.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/business-papers/commons/deposited-papers/

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the value of universal credit deductions made to repay administrative errors in the latest period for which figures are available.

As a Department, we understand the impact that debt can have on the wellbeing of claimants and we endeavour to ensure that the recovery of any overpayment is managed in a way that takes account of the claimant’s individual circumstances. Where a person says they cannot afford the proposed rate of recovery, a reduction in their rate of repayment may be agreed.

Section 105 of The Welfare Reform Act 2012 amended the Social Security Act 1992, such that for Universal Credit, New Style JSA and New Style ESA, any payment in excess of the entitlement is recoverable, regardless of how the overpayment of entitlement occurred. This policy was brought in to reflect the need for a better value for money welfare system and to reinforce the overarching aim that Universal Credit mirrors work.

In 2018/19, working with local authorities, the Department recovered £1.1bn in overpayments. Of this, £19.3m related to Universal Credit overpayments arising as a result of Departmental errors.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of universal credit claimants who have had a (a) waiver and (b) reduction in deductions to their monthly payments on the grounds of hardship in the latest period for which figures are available.

The Department has an obligation to ensure that public funds are administered responsibly and to abide by the principles set out in Her Majesty’s Treasury’s guidance on Managing Public Money. Waiver applications have to be considered in line with this guidance. Debts can only be waived if recovery is causing substantial medical and/or financial hardship to a claimant or their immediate family.

In 2019/20 (up to 31st December 2019), there were 10 Universal Credit claimants who had their debts waived.

We understand the impact that debt can have on the wellbeing of claimants and we endeavour to ensure that the recovery of any overpayment is managed in a way that takes account of the claimant’s individual circumstances. Where a person says they cannot afford the proposed rate of recovery, a reduction in their rate of repayment may be agreed.

In 2019/20 (up to 31st December 2019), 159,000 Universal Credit claimants had the rate at which they were repaying a benefit overpayment reduced.

*The figures provided in this response have been sourced from internal management information and were not intended for public release. They should therefore not be compared to any other similar figures subsequently released by the Department. The figure relating to the number of debts waived has been rounded to the nearest 10, and the figure relating to reductions in repayment rates has been rounded to the nearest 1,000. It is important to note that debts waived may not all relate to Universal Credit.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of children living in households where claimants have had deductions made to their monthly universal credit payments in the latest period for which figures are available.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the value of deductions to universal credit payments under each reason for deduction in the latest period for which figures are available.

The Department’s deductions policy strikes a fair balance between a claimant’s need to meet their obligations and their ability to ensure they can meet their day-to-day needs. From October 2019, Universal Credit deductions have been reduced to 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance down from 40% to better achieve these objectives.

In the latest period for which figures are available (August 2019), £1.3 billion of Universal Credit was paid, of which £94 million (7%) was deducted. The table below provides a breakdown of the deductions by reason.

Deduction reason

Value of Deductions (£)

UC advance repayments

50,252,000

Tax Credit overpayments

14,295,000

DWP overpayments

8,042,000

Social fund loans

5,466,000

Arrears of rent and/or service charges

5,001,000

Fines

4,931,000

HB overpayments

1,771,000

Arrears of Community Charge or Council Tax

1,285,000

UC Recoverable Hardship payments

843,000

DWP Fraud overpayments

742,000

Fuel and Water Ongoing consumption

615,000

Child maintenance

527,000

Arrears of water charges

273,000

HB and DWP Civil Penalties

121,000

HB Fraud overpayments

113,000

HB and DWP Administrative Penalties

76,000

Arrears of fuel (electric and gas)

67,000

Arrears of Eligible loans

51,000

Arrears of Integration loans

44,000

Tax Credit Fraud overpayments

1,000

Mortgage interest

less than 500

Notes:

1. Values of deductions in the table are rounded to the nearest thousand. The total value of all deductions and the amount of universal credit paid is rounded to the nearest £1,000,000.

2. Deductions include advance repayments, third party deductions and all other deductions, but exclude sanctions and fraud penalties which are reductions of benefit rather than deductions.

3. Amount of Universal Credit paid reflects the amount of money paid to claimants and their landlords as part of their award, including the amount which they would have been entitled to had it not been deducted. It does not include other payments such as advances and hardship payments.

4. Figures are provisional and are subject to retrospective change as later data becomes available.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of new claims for universal credit were paid in full and on time by (a) child element, (b) limited capability for work element, (c) childcare element and (d) housing element in the most recent 12 months for which figures are available.

Our latest data shows the proportion of new Universal Credit claims paid in full on time was 88.4%. In many cases where full payment is not made on time, it is due to unresolved issues such as: claimants not accepting their Claimant Commitment or passing identity checks, or having outstanding verification issues, such as housing costs and self-employed earnings.

The latest available information on payments made in full and on time to Universal Credit claimants is published and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/.

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will amend the universal credit (a) application form and (b) online journal to enable applicants to consent to their data being used to automatically register eligible children in their household for free school meals.

The Universal Credit system is structured around an online personal account which contains all the information relevant to the claim. This includes claimant’s bank account details, savings, capital, medical history, family relationships and address information. We need to ensure a high level of security and protection is maintained to combat unscrupulous individuals and organisations who try to access the information we hold and seek to impersonate genuine advisers. We take all reasonable steps to protect the position of claimants and their data.

Claimants may currently be entitled to a number of other benefits because they are in receipt of Universal Credit. These are known as passported benefits and include free school meals and free prescriptions. The eligibility criteria for each passported benefit remain the responsibility of the departments and devolved administrations that own them. In Scotland and Wales, eligibility criteria for free school meals is a matter for the devolved administrations.

The Department for Education provides an electronic eligibility checking service to all local authorities in England, which is used to confirm eligibility for free school meals.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the cost to the public purse was of providing free television licences to people over 75 for qualifying residents in (a) Glasgow South West constituency, (b) Glasgow city local authority area and (c) Scotland in 2018-19; and if she will make a statement.

In the 2015 funding settlement, the Government agreed with the BBC that responsibility for the concession will transfer to the BBC in June 2020.

On 10 June 2019, the BBC announced that the current scheme will end. From 1 June 2020, a free TV licence will only be available to a household with someone aged over 75 who receives Pension Credit.

2018/19 is the first year of the part funding agreement leading up to the BBC taking responsibility for policy and funding of the concession from June 2020. The figures in the table below therefore are DWP’s share only, not the total expenditure.

The table below provides estimates of the costs for 2018/19 of providing free TV licences to people aged 75 years and over in Glasgow South West constituency, Glasgow City local authority and Scotland.

Expenditure (£m) (Nominal)

2018-19

(a) Glasgow South West constituency

£0.5

(b) Glasgow City local authority

£3.0

(c) Scotland

£38.0

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many advance benefit payments have been made to claimants in Glasgow South West constituency in each month since January 2019.

New Universal Credit claimants who require urgent financial support, can apply for new claim advances to provide access to a payment quickly, until the first regular payment is due. Additionally, existing Universal Credit claimants who have told the Department about a change in their circumstances, which means more Universal Credit is owed, may also apply for an advance payment. Budgeting Advances exist to help pay for emergency household costs, for example, buying a new cooker or for help getting a job or staying in work.

There are a range of advance payments that Universal Credit claimants can access. Information surrounding eligibility conditions and how to apply is published online at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/universal-credit-advances#how-to-apply-for-a-universal-credit-advance

The entirety of the number of advances paid, in Glasgow South West parliamentary constituency since January 2019, is provided in the table below.

Month

Universal Credit advances paid

January 2019

420

February 2019

590

March 2019

520

April 2019

510

May 2019

450

June 2019

550

July 2019

510

August 2019

510

Notes

  1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10
  2. Figures go up to August 2019 in line with published statistics relating to households on Universal Credit
  3. Figures include all types of advances
  4. Figures relate to Universal Credit full service only

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many employees in her Department investigate benefit fraud: what recent estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of that fraud; and if she will make a statement.

As of the end of December 2019, the equivalent of around 1,400 full time staff were working as fraud investigators.

In 2018/19 the total value of benefit overpaid as a result of fraud was £2.3bn. This accounts for 1.2% of benefit expenditure.

The vast majority of benefit expenditure is paid correctly, with front line staff working hard to prevent overpayments from occurring. We are constantly improving our processes and continue to invest in the use of data and analytics to identify fraud and to better target our investigations.

It is important to clarify that any overpayment made as a result of fraud is fully recoverable. Last year, DWP and Local Authorities recovered £1.1bn in benefit debt.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent progress has been made with housing associations in (a) Glasgow South West constituency and (b) Glasgow on their access to information from the Landlord Portal on universal credit claimants; and if she will make a statement.

The Universal Credit Landlord Portal allows social landlords who are registered users, to verify rent and submit managed payment requests through the Landlord Portal, rather than through the established email processes.

Our Trusted Partner scheme allows social landlords to play a key role in engaging with their tenants who are on Universal Credit, helping those who cannot manage their housing payments to access the support available and to request that managed payments are in place where appropriate.

There are now over 750 Social Landlords using the Portal and Trusted Partner scheme, and enrolment onto the Portal & Trusted Partner remains open for any eligible Social Landlords (further details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-landlord-portal-and-trusted-partner-scheme-for-social-landlords/landlord-portal-and-trusted-partner-scheme-for-social-landlords). The total number of landlords currently enrolled on the Portal represent around 96% of the total Social Rented Sector housing stock.

The Department maintains guidance on GOV.UK, relevant for private and social sector landlords, with information about Universal Credit including the Landlord Portal which has existed since 2017. This can be accessed at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-rented-housing--2/universal-credit-and-rented-housing-guide-for-landlords

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to mandate individual risk assessments for all employees in his Department before they return to the workplace following the easing of covid-19 restrictions; and how many individual risk assessments for people returning to work have been conducted by his Department as of 21 February 2022.

We are not mandating individual risk assessments for employees before they return to the office but are encouraging managers and staff to have a conversation about risks and potential mitigations and support that can be put in place using the COVID-19 Individual Risk Indicator toolkit. This is linked to the latest guidance on those whose immune system means they are at higher risk of infection. We do not centrally monitor the number of discussions and have no plans to collect this data.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to amend the five-year time limit in the General Dental Council’s Overseas Registration Exam to take account of the impact of the covid-19 pandemic and to support candidates who have reached or are approaching that five year limit.

The Dentists Act 1984 requires overseas applicants to the General Dental Council’s (GDC) register to undertake its Overseas Registration Exam (ORE) to confirm they have the requisite skills and knowledge to practise dentistry in the United Kingdom.

In April 2020, the GDC suspended Parts 1 and 2 of the ORE due to the restrictions in place to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 2 December 2021, the GDC announced a planned sitting of the Part 2 exam in January 2022.

The legislation restricts the GDC from offering Part 2 ORE places to candidates where five or more years have passed since they first attempted Part 1 of the exam. Therefore, the GDC has not been able to offer places on the January 2022 exam sitting to any candidates whose five-year period has expired. Officials have worked with the GDC to develop proposals which will provide these candidates with additional time to take the Part 2 assessment in the future. We plan to consult on this proposed legislative change in early 2022.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of deferring checks for the early warning signs of strokes, cancers, diabetes and other illnesses for people aged over 75 on the level of long-term demand on hospitals in the NHS in England.

Following the emergence of the Omicron variant, measures were announced to increase general practice capacity and financial support to deliver an expanded vaccine programme. This includes allowing general practices to defer routine annual health checks for patients aged 75 years old and over until April 2022, where clinically appropriate. However, we continue to encourage people to come forward if they feel unwell and have any symptoms associated with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps he has taken to increase research funding for mental health.

The Department’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the largest funder of mental health research in the United Kingdom.  In 2019-20, the NIHR spent £93.4 million on mental health research, which is a significant year on year increase in investment. While it is not usual practice to ring-fence funds for particular topics or conditions, the NIHR’s funding is available through open competition and we encourage researchers to submit applications in this area.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions his Department has had with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on whether additional funding is needed to avoid job losses at the agency.

The Department currently has no plans to do so.

The Department meets regularly with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to discuss a range of issues.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of using universal credit data automatically to identify and register eligible households for Healthy Start vouchers, on an opt out rather than an opt in basis.

The Healthy Start Scheme supports pregnant women and families on lower incomes to make healthier food choices. All eligible Universal Credit beneficiaries receive a letter inviting them to apply for the Healthy Start scheme, together with a pre-populated application form.

The Department is currently developing a digital approach to Healthy Start, to make it easier for families to apply for, receive and use Healthy Start benefits.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Apr 2021
What steps he is taking to ensure his Department adequately supports the health and social care workforce during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have done our utmost to support health and social care workers throughout the pandemic. This support includes refreshments for National Health Service staff, funding for social care providers to pay full pay when staff are isolating and a comprehensive package of mental health support across health and social care.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to increase access to cannabis based medicines for people with multiple sclerosis.

The licensed cannabis-based medicine Sativex, for the treatment of spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis, is available for prescribing on the National Health Service in England, where clinically appropriate. This follows clear demonstrated evidence of safety and clinical and cost effectiveness.

We continue to work hard with the health system, industry and researchers to improve the evidence base for other cannabis-based medicines and to implement the recommendations of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s review on barriers to accessing unlicensed cannabis based medicinal products. This includes the design of clinical trials and the establishment of a national patient registry.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in the Department in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The Department complies with the obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

In line with the legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials is published annually, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including where this arises under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The General Data Protection Regulation has not affected the rights of unions in the Department in relation to bargaining information provided under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The Department complies with the obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

In line with the legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time for relevant union officials is published annually, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including where this arises under “regulations made under section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

7th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent steps her Department has taken to facilitate the provision of education and psychosocial support for Ukrainian children who have been displaced.

The UK has now committed £395 million in aid to the current crisis. This includes £220 million of humanitarian assistance which will be used to save lives, protect vulnerable people inside Ukraine and in neighbouring countries. It will also be used to support refugees, including children, fleeing Ukraine through the provision of logistics, advice and analysis of needs on the ground.

We are working to ensure aid agencies are able to respond to the deteriorating humanitarian situation. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched its Ukraine Appeal on 2 March which has now reached over £100 million, with the government matching £25 million of the publics donations. This is our largest ever aid-match contribution, which will help DEC charities provide food, water, shelter and healthcare to refugees and displaced families.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what records her Department keeps relating to staff working times under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998; and how long those records are kept for.

We hold records of employees' contractual hours and any paid overtime worked. Staff working from home or the office are required to work their contracted hours. Where employees work beyond their contractual hours for business reasons, line managers can authorise 'time off in lieu' or overtime payments. Records of employees' contractual hours and overtime claims are retained by FCDO for 100 years from DOB or 5 years after death; whichever is shorter.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions she has had with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) the Turkish Government on (i) human rights violations by the Turkish authorities against Kurdish communities in Turkey, (ii) efforts to outlaw Kurdish political parties and (iii) imprisonment of Kurdish political prisoners; and what steps the UK Government is taking to maintain peace, stability and democracy in that region.

We hold regular discussions, both internally and with the Turkish government on a range of issues, including human rights in Turkey and the government's legal attempts to close down the People's Democratic Party (HDP), as well as the jailing of Kurdish politicians. We are following the HDP closure case closely. We have made it clear to Turkey that we expect the government to undertake any legal processes or actions against opposition parties fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law. We will continue to engage closely with Turkey, including at Ministerial level, to insist that it fulfils its international legal obligations to secure the human rights of all people, regardless of their legitimate political affiliations, particularly in the areas of freedom of expression and assembly, press freedom and the treatment of detainees. We also encourage a return to talks around a peace process. We will hold Turkey to account using established international mechanisms, and look for opportunities to raise these issues with our international partners.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if her Department will publish the business case from the British Council in respect of the restructuring plans, including the (a) financial cost of the pay bill and (b) numbers of staff likely to be affected.

It is for the British Council to comment on the terms of their restructuring plans.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if she will publish the terms and conditions of the loan imposed by her Department on the British Council.

The FCDO has provided a £100million loan to support the British Council's restructuring plan. The loan was made in line with the Market Economy Operator Principle to ensure the UK government complied with state aid regulation and the terms were commercially comparable. As these loans are intended to support the Council's commercial operations, assessments have been conducted on the British Council's financial data and credit worthiness to ensure the terms are in line with those which any private operator would provide.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether her Department has applied EU state rules to the loan provided to the British Council; and whether those rules still apply after the UK's exit from the EU.

The FCDO has provided a £100m loan to support the British Council's restructuring plan. The loan was made in line with the Market Economy Operator Principle to ensure the UK government complied with state aid regulation. The UK is still required to be in compliance with several international obligations on state subsidies and needs to ensure that subsidies do not have a competitive advantage in the market it operates in and fair trade is not distorted.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment her Department has made of the future earnings of the British Council after the sale of its IELTS business in India.

The FCDO worked closely with the British Council, UK Government Investments, Ernst & Young, and Lazard to assess the sale of the IELTS business in India. The offer was fair and reasonable, and the proceeds from the sale will strengthen the British Council's financial position and support its modernisation process.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, how many roles in the British Council her Department plans to privatise between 2021 and 2022; and how many of those roles will be based (a) overseas and (b) in the UK.

The FCDO has no plans to privatise any British Council roles.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of reported multiple human rights abuses committed by the Colombian police during recent protests in that country.

The UK Government remains concerned about reports of human rights violations in Colombia. The fundamental human right to peaceful assembly and association must be guaranteed. Colombia is a UK 'Human Rights Priority Country,' and we have raised our concerns with the relevant state actors in Colombia since protests began. Most recently, I spoke with acting Foreign Minister Adriana Mejía on 14 May to express our concerns, and welcome Colombia's commitment to transparent investigations into allegations of abuse.

We look to the Colombian authorities to investigate fully any excessive use of force, and take appropriate action against those responsible. Security services must be held accountable for their actions, with all complaints thoroughly investigated. We will continue to work closely with the UN Verification Mission, and the UN Office of the High Representative for Human Rights in Colombia, as well as the wider international community, in support of their efforts to reduce tensions, and promote dialogue.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the Colombian Government’s investigation into alleged human rights abuses by the police during protests in that country on 9 and 10 September 2020.

We are clear that we support the right of all Colombians to protest peacefully. We look to the Colombian authorities to investigate fully the excessive use of force against protesters, and take appropriate action against those responsible. Security services must be held accountable for their actions, with all complaints thoroughly investigated.

UK Ministers and officials regularly raise human rights issues with their Colombian counterparts, and we will continue to do so. Most recently, the UK's Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, raised our concerns around media freedom, sexual violence, and the killing of human rights defenders during her virtual visit to Colombia in February.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Turkish counterpart on the use of anti-terrorism legislation against (a) elected members of the People’s Democratic Party and (b) other elected officials.

We have made it clear to Turkey that we expect the government to undertake any legal processes or actions against opposition parties, MPs, party officials, elected mayors, human rights defenders and journalists, fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law. We will continue to engage closely with Turkey to encourage the full protection of fundamental rights of all peoples, regardless of their legitimate political affiliations, particularly in the area of freedom of expression and assembly, press freedom and the treatment of detainees. We will also continue to raise the human rights situation in Turkey in multilateral organisations, as we did at the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Turkey in January 2020.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Turkish counterpart on that country's use anti-terror legislation to close down the open and democratic operations of the People’s Democratic Party by the ruling Justice and Development Party and Nationalist Movement Party alliance.

We have made it clear to Turkey that we expect the government to undertake any legal processes or actions against opposition parties, MPs, party officials, elected mayors, human rights defenders and journalists, fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law. We will continue to engage closely with Turkey to encourage the full protection of fundamental rights of all peoples, regardless of their legitimate political affiliations, particularly in the area of freedom of expression and assembly, press freedom and the treatment of detainees. We will also continue to raise the human rights situation in Turkey in multilateral organisations, as we did at the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Turkey in January 2020.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Tukish counterpart on the issue of arrest warrants for 82 people, including former mayors and Members of the People’s Democratic Party and the Party’s Central Executive Board on the grounds of their having protested the siege of Kobane.

We have made it clear to Turkey that we expect the government to undertake any legal processes or actions against opposition parties, MPs, party officials, elected mayors, human rights defenders and journalists, fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law. We will continue to engage closely with Turkey to encourage the full protection of fundamental rights of all peoples, regardless of their legitimate political affiliations, particularly in the area of freedom of expression and assembly, press freedom and the treatment of detainees. We will also continue to raise the human rights situation in Turkey in multilateral organisations, as we did at the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Turkey in January 2020.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the Government has made representations to the Government of Turkey on the aerial attack by Turkish jets on (a) the Maxmur refugee camp in northern Iraq on 14 June 2020 and (b) Shengal, Iraq and (c) other villages in Iraq.

The UK is closely following the situation in northern Iraq.Our Ambassador in Ankara has spoken to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including on reports of civilian casualties. We are reiterating the importance of dialogue and cooperation between Iraq and Turkey to combat terrorism, ensure regional security, and protect civilians.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, how (a) social distancing and (b) other covid-19 safety measures will be enforced across the parliamentary estate.

The Commission is receiving regular updates on the social distancing measures introduced to the estate along with the numbers of passholders present and the level of demand for services. These are monitored by the House authorities on a daily basis, and immediate actions taken where required.

It is clear to see the practical steps taken on the estate to enforce social distancing, from the Perspex screens through to the queuing systems. The safety measures can only be supported however with the cooperation of individuals across the estate taking personal responsibility for complying with those measures to keep themselves and their colleagues safe. The Commission fully supports all passholders to say where they feel that someone is not following the social distancing guidelines, and to politely remind them. Should repeated or significant concerns be raised, appropriate steps will be taken to investigate further.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, pursuant to the Answer of 20 May 2020 to Question 46042 on Parliament: Coronavirus, when the covid-19 risk assessment was carried out.

Risk assessments in relation to Covid-19 have been carried out since March 2020. The overarching Covid-19 assessment was prepared in the weeks leading up to the date of publication referred to in question 46042. The Trades Unions were provided with an opportunity to comment ahead of it being published.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to recent reports by the Human Rights Association of Turkey, what steps he is taking to help support democracy and the rule of law in Turkey.

Ministers and our Ambassador to Turkey regularly emphasise to the Turkish Government the need to respect the human rights of all its citizens, and to support the rule of law. At the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Turkey earlier this year, the UK raised our concerns about the situation in Turkey. Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister responsible for human rights, has also raised our concerns with the Turkish Ambassador to the UK. We will continue to engage the Turkish Government on these important issues, as well as with civil society, and be clear in our expectation that Turkey live up to its human rights obligations, which are essential to the long-term health of Turkish democracy.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if he will ensure that completed risk assessments drawn up to facilitate a full return to Parliament during the covid-19 outbreak will be (a) placed in the Library, (b) made available to hon. Members on request and (c) made available to trade unions on request; and if he will make a statement.

The House of Commons has carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment to comply with the government’s guidance on managing the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace. A hard copy of the assessment is available in the Library and an electronic copy has been made available on the UK Parliament internet transparency pages. The Trade Unions have been consulted on significant findings of the risk assessment prior to its publication.

In line with best practice, the assessment will be reviewed in light of any changes to government and/or Public Health England guidance and communicated using the same channels to hon. Members and the Trade Unions.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department is compliant with the requirement in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code. This is not set against facility time.

The Government recognises there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has affected the right of recognised unions in his Department to bargaining information in relation to section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

​The General Data Protection Regulation has not affected our legal obligations regarding sharing information under section 181 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Christopher Pincher
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many posts were vacant in HMRC's National Minimum Wage Compliance Unit as of 22 March 2022; and he if will make a statement.

HMRC enforces the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage in line with the law and policy set out by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Government is determined that everyone who is entitled to the NMW receives it.

Based on the most recent available data, as of 22 March 2022, the HMRC National Minimum Wage Compliance Unit has 18 vacancies.

In addition, staff across HMRC, other than those working directly in the Compliance Unit, also contribute to enforcing the NMW, including lawyers, technical advisers, and those specialising in criminal investigations.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what (a) artificial intelligence, and (b) machine learning projects are being (i) undertaken and (ii) considered by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

HMRC are using up to date technology, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), to deliver data and insight into the hands of their decision makers. This helps HMRC to focus on minimising the tax gap and makes the tax system more intuitive for taxpayers.

HMRC use AI methods across all their business areas. AI and ML outputs are validated with human oversight before being implemented.

HMRC are in the process of standardising their AI ethical framework in order to ensure it is consistently applied across the organisation.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 24 February 2022 to Question 126706 on Treasury: Coronavirus, if he will make it his policy to require individual risk assessments for all employees at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) before they return to the workplace following the easing of covid-19 restrictions; and how many individual risk assessments for people returning to work have been conducted by HMRC as of 2 March 2022.

Throughout the pandemic HMRC have, in line with UK and Devolved Administration Guidance, made the Health & Safety (H&S) of employees their top priority, and put in place robust control measures to deliver on that. Measures include facilitating working at home where possible and providing a range of mental health and wellbeing services for employees wherever they are based. HMRC ensured suitable ventilation and additional cleaning in their workplaces, as well as the mandation of the wearing of face coverings in their Scottish offices. For offices in the other UK nations, there was an expectation that face coverings would be worn from Summer 2021 to January 2022.

The HMRC Chief Executive gave notice on 31 January 2022 that from 28 February colleagues in England and Scotland will move to new ‘hybrid’ ways of working. As greater numbers of HMRC employees return to the workplace, the Department has put in place a ‘Return to Office Discussion Toolkit’. This gives managers and employees an opportunity to consider health, safety, and wellbeing in the context of the employees’ personal circumstances, to identify any concerns, and the right next steps and solutions. The Toolkit includes an Individual Risk Assessment, which can be used to help employees and managers understand the cumulative risk, to consider what additional controls can be put in place, and to make an informed decision about next steps. If any concerns are identified after working through the individual risk assessment, professional Occupational Health advice and welfare support is available. Completing the Individual Risk Assessment is not mandated in HMRC, which reflects the Scottish Government Guidance position that employers “should continue to conduct individual risk assessments … where necessary”. This remains the position going forward, subject to any changes in UK or Devolved Administration Government Guidance.

As part of the Toolkit and risk assessment process, HMRC have recognised that there may be some colleagues who need additional flexibility and support as part of their return to the office. Therefore, HMRC managers have the flexibility and discretion to support employees with plans that might run to a slightly longer timeframe. The ‘Supported Returns Plan Toolkit’ allows additional time to enable solutions to be put in place for the employee’s return to the office, as well as the continuation of support for them, such as additional utilities, travel expenses, and London pay easement, where applicable.

Whilst HMRC requires each manager and employee to have a Toolkit-led conversation as part of return to office planning, they do not retain records of how many individual risk assessments for people returning to work have been conducted.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to mandate individual risk assessments for all employees in his Department before they return to the workplace following the easing of covid-19 restrictions; and how many individual risk assessments for people returning to work have been conducted by his Department as of 21 February 2022.

The Treasury has encouraged all managers to discuss with employees their individual risk factors and any concerns they may have about returning to the workplace; managers have been advised to use a Coronavirus Individual Risk Indicator tool to help facilitate these conversations. As these discussions are directly between managers and employees, the Treasury does not hold information on how many coronavirus individual risk assessments have been conducted. There are no plans to mandate coronavirus individual risk assessments.
Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 2 December 2021 to Question 81163 on Treasury: Working Hours, whether records required by Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 are kept by HM Revenue and Customs for two years.

In line with Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998, HMRC keep records of staff working hours. Standard weekly working hours and patterns are recorded on the online HMRC HR system and the data, as well as any notification of changes to working hours or patterns, is retained until the staff are age 78. This is in accordance with the HMRC Departmental Retention and Disposal Policy.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure umbrella companies comply with legislation on the deduction of employers’ taxes from contractors’ pay.

Like all employers, umbrella companies are responsible for paying employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) where they are due. Employers cannot, by law, deduct employer NICs from an employee's gross pay. The payment of employer NICs out of the umbrella company’s fee may be shown on the same payslip as deductions, such as Income Tax, from the employee’s gross pay, so that it can look as if an individual is paying the employer NICs, when this is not actually the case.

New rules came into force from 6 April 2020 requiring all agency workers to be given a Key Information Document by an agency before agreeing terms, including when the agency worker is engaged through an umbrella company. Key Information Documents set out details about the engagement, including rates of pay. This allows workers to see how deductions and fees are made through the labour supply chain and how this affects their gross pay and net pay.

When set up and operated correctly, umbrella companies comply with tax and NICs legislation. Umbrella company employees who believe that an umbrella company is not complying with its tax or NICs obligations can report it to HM Revenue and Customs: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/report-fraud-to-hmrc.

22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with credit unions on support during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

HM Treasury officials have regularly engaged with the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the credit union sector. I have also engaged with representatives from the credit union sector through the Consumer Finance Forum and Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, which are bringing financial services and consumer group representatives together to discuss how to best support people through this period.

Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 20 May 2020, the Government announced that additional funding through the dormant assets scheme would be released immediately to Fair4All Finance. This included an expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, which aims to improve the access and availability of affordable credit. I am also aware that credit unions have had access to wider COVID-19 support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and grant funding from local authorities.

Capital requirements for credit unions are a matter for the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). In March 2020, the PRA concluded its consultation into simplifying the capital regime for credit unions. This reduced complexity by removing the link between a credit union’s activities and membership with capital requirements, removed the old 2% capital buffer, and introduced a graduated rate approach to capital requirements. These proposals were broadly supported by the credit union sector.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to change credit union capital requirements to support credit unions to grow assets beyond £10 million; and if he will make a statement.

HM Treasury officials have regularly engaged with the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the credit union sector. I have also engaged with representatives from the credit union sector through the Consumer Finance Forum and Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, which are bringing financial services and consumer group representatives together to discuss how to best support people through this period.

Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 20 May 2020, the Government announced that additional funding through the dormant assets scheme would be released immediately to Fair4All Finance. This included an expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, which aims to improve the access and availability of affordable credit. I am also aware that credit unions have had access to wider COVID-19 support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and grant funding from local authorities.

Capital requirements for credit unions are a matter for the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). In March 2020, the PRA concluded its consultation into simplifying the capital regime for credit unions. This reduced complexity by removing the link between a credit union’s activities and membership with capital requirements, removed the old 2% capital buffer, and introduced a graduated rate approach to capital requirements. These proposals were broadly supported by the credit union sector.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)