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Written Question
Government Property Agency: Contracts
Monday 27th June 2022

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Cabinet Office:

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.

Answered by Jacob Rees-Mogg - Minister of State (Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government efficiency)

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.


Written Question
Food: Production
Thursday 23rd June 2022

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

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.

Answered by Victoria Prentis - Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

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.


Written Question
Universal Credit
Thursday 16th June 2022

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

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.

Answered by David Rutley - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

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.


Written Question
Students: Cost of Living
Tuesday 24th May 2022

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Education:

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.

Answered by Robin Walker - Minister of State (Education)

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.


Written Question
Personal Independence Payment: Appeals
Monday 23rd May 2022

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

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.

Answered by Chloe Smith - Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

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.

Written Question
Insolvency Service: Closures
Monday 23rd May 2022

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:

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.

Answered by Paul Scully - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

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.


Written Question
Personal Independence Payment: Appeals
Monday 23rd May 2022

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

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.

Answered by Chloe Smith - Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

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.


Written Question
Insolvency Service: Closures
Monday 23rd May 2022

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:

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.

Answered by Paul Scully - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

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.


Written Question
Personal Independence Payment: Scotland
Monday 23rd May 2022

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

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.

Answered by Chloe Smith - Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

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.

Written Question
Insolvency Service: Closures
Thursday 19th May 2022

Asked by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)

Question to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:

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.

Answered by Paul Scully - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

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.