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Written Question
Coronavirus: Scotland and Wales
13 Dec 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Mims Davies

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.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Scotland: Wales
3 Dec 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Guy Opperman

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.


Written Question
Jobcentres: Coronavirus
1 Dec 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Mims Davies

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.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Staff
1 Dec 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Mims Davies

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.


Written Question
Jobcentres: Audio Recordings
30 Nov 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the length of time given to claimants for Jobcentre appointments is recorded.

Answered by Mims Davies

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.


Written Question
Jobcentres
30 Nov 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Mims Davies

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.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Coronavirus
30 Nov 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Mims Davies

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.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Coronavirus
30 Nov 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Mims Davies

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.


Written Question
Jobcentres: Coronavirus
30 Nov 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Mims Davies

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.


Written Question
Employment Schemes
30 Nov 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Mims Davies

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.


Written Question
Employment Schemes
30 Nov 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Mims Davies

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.


Written Question
Employment Schemes
30 Nov 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Mims Davies

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.


Written Question
Jobcentres
30 Nov 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Mims Davies

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.


Written Question
Universal Credit
21 Jun 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Will Quince

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.


Written Question
Food Banks
21 Jun 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

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.

Answered by Will Quince

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.