Claire Hanna Portrait

Claire Hanna

Social Democratic & Labour Party - Belfast South

3 APPG memberships (as of 21 Apr 2021)
Green New Deal, HIV and AIDS, Ireland and the Irish in Britain
Claire Hanna has no previous appointments


Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 19th May 2021
09:00
Select Committee Meeting
Thursday 20th May 2021
13:25
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: The Dunlop Review and the UK Government’s union capability
20 May 2021, 1:25 p.m.
At 1.45pm: Oral evidence
The Lord Dunlop
At 2.30pm: Oral evidence
Rt Hon Michael Gove MP - Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
View calendar
Division Votes
Wednesday 28th April 2021
Fire Safety Bill
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 2 Social Democratic & Labour Party No votes vs 0 Social Democratic & Labour Party Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 322 Noes - 256
Speeches
Tuesday 27th April 2021
Fire and Rehire

I thank the hon. Member for Jarrow (Kate Osborne) for having secured today’s debate. Research from the Trades Union Congress …

Written Answers
Thursday 29th April 2021
Medical Equipment: Northern Ireland
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what discussions he has had …
Early Day Motions
Wednesday 21st April 2021
Global covid-19 vaccine inequality
That this House notes with concern that affluent countries including the UK have bought enough covid-19 vaccines to immunise the …
Bills
None available
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
2. (a) Support linked to an MP but received by a local party organisation or indirectly via a central party organisation
Name of donor: Battersea & Wandsworth Trades Union Council (BWTUC Trading Ltd)
Address of donor: 68 Clapham Manor Street, London …
EDM signed
Tuesday 11th May 2021
Investment in good quality green jobs across the UK
That this House recognises the urgency with which the UK must act to address the climate and nature emergencies; notes …
Supported Legislation
Tuesday 24th March 2020
Wellbeing of Future Generations (No. 2) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to make provision for requiring public bodies to act in pursuit of the United Kingdom’s environmental, social, economic …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Claire Hanna has voted in 210 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Claire Hanna 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
Michael Gove (Conservative)
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
(12 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(12 debate interactions)
Brandon Lewis (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
(10 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(20 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(10 debate contributions)
Scotland Office
(9 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Claire Hanna's debates

Belfast South 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 Belfast South signature proportion
Petitions with most Belfast South signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

In light of the recent outbreak and lock down, those on maternity leave should be given 3 extra months paid leave, at least. This time is for bonding and social engaging with other parents and babies through baby groups which are vital for development and now everything has been cancelled.


Latest EDMs signed by Claire Hanna

11th May 2021
Claire Hanna signed this EDM as a sponsor on Tuesday 11th May 2021

Investment in good quality green jobs across the UK

Tabled by: Caroline Lucas (Green Party - Brighton, Pavilion)
That this House recognises the urgency with which the UK must act to address the climate and nature emergencies; notes the scale and ambition of US President Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan to upgrade America so that it is greener and fairer and regrets the lack of such a plan for …
15 signatures
(Most recent: 12 May 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 7
Green Party: 1
Liberal Democrat: 1
Scottish National Party: 1
Plaid Cymru: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Alliance: 1
Alba Party: 1
Independent: 1
26th April 2021
Claire Hanna signed this EDM on Tuesday 27th April 2021

Campaign for a 15 per cent pay rise for all healthcare workers

Tabled by: Jon Trickett (Labour - Hemsworth)
That this House expresses dismay at the Government’s offer of a derisory one per cent pay rise to healthcare workers announced in the Budget on 3 March; notes that NHS workers have suffered real terms pay cuts of up to 30 per cent since 2010; recognises the heroic efforts of …
25 signatures
(Most recent: 11 May 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 24
Independent: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
View All Claire Hanna's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Claire Hanna, 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.


Claire Hanna has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Claire Hanna has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Claire Hanna has not introduced any legislation before Parliament


190 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Explanation of written questions
2 Other Department Questions
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what discussions she has had with her Cabinet colleagues on ensuring that (a) women, (b) the BAME community and (c) people with disabilities are prioritised in the implementation of the Government’s levelling up agenda.

The Equality Hub, at the heart of Government in the Cabinet Office, has a key role in driving Government priorities on equality and opportunity. The Equality Hub is leading on several cross-cutting projects, which involves working closely with other departments and Ministerial-level discussions. This includes work related to women’s economic empowerment, LGBT rights and the National Strategy for Disabled People, as well as work on the Government’s response to the final report of the independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. We will also use the UK’s role as President of the G7 and our independent Gender Equality Advisory Council to ramp up work on equality.

In December 2020, we announced the Equality Data Project, the Government's new approach to tackling inequality that supports our manifesto commitment to level up across the UK. This will consider issues like geography and social background, alongside other characteristics, to enable us to understand where individuals are being held back across the UK. The Equality Hub will share the evidence from this inquiry with other government departments to help inform their work.

We also announced in December that the sponsorship of, and secretariat to, the independent Social Mobility Commission would move to the Equality Hub in the Cabinet Office from 1 April 2021. This move reflects the importance of the Social Mobility Commission for our levelling up agenda and ensures that equality and fairness of all kinds are at the heart of government.

More broadly, all departments ensure that equality considerations are at the heart of their decision-making; this is key to the Government’s commitment to delivering equality of opportunity for all as well as complying with legal requirements under the public sector equality duty. Officials in the Equality Hub provide advice to departments to assist with this.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if she will publish the equalities impact assessments undertaken by her Department to determine the impact of covid-19 related legislation on women.

Departments do not routinely publish these assessments, as it is important that officials can draft them with openness and candour. Individual departments and their ministers are responsible for equality of policies, and the government takes this responsibility very seriously. The government has assessed the equalities impacts of non-pharmaceutical interventions on different groups of people, including those with protected characteristics and has engaged with individuals, expert groups, charities and other organisations in the policy development process. This is a key part of the decision making process and the government has discharged its obligations under the Equality Act at each stage of its COVID-19 response

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what discussions he has had with his counterpart in Northern Ireland on the end of the grace period for medical consumables on 30 September 2021.

Lord Frost and his team are in regular contact with Vice President Šefčovič and the Commission about the various issues for which the Northern Ireland Protocol presents difficulties, including medicines and medical consumables. The Government remains in close contact with the Northern Ireland Executive as these discussions continue.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
18th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he will publish her Department's equalities impact assessments on the effect of the UK leaving the EU on women.

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. An equality analysis was completed for the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which is available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/629244/European_Union__Withdrawal__Bill_equality_analysis.pdf

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what progress his Department has made in discussions with the EU Commission on obtaining part one listed status with respect to pet travel.

Guidance on pet travel is set out on gov.uk.

Any changes to this guideline is dependent on the category that is given to Great Britain at the end of the Transition Period, with this being conditional on the ongoing discussions being had with the EU Commission.

DEFRA has submitted an application to the European Commission to become a ‘Part I’ listed third country in relation to the non-commercial movement of pet dogs, cats and ferrets into the EU, which the Commission is considering.

Discussions with the European Commission are ongoing. Updates will be announced in the usual way.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he plans to take to ensure the equity of immigration and modern slavery compliance controls placed on Northern Ireland businesses and their British competitors.

The Government response to the Transparency in Supply Chains consultation, published on 22 September 2020, committed to an ambitious package of changes to the Modern Slavery Act’s transparency legislation.

Northern Ireland will engage and consult with affected Northern Irish businesses and public sector organisations on all the proposals.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment his Department has made of the extent of legal impediments to trade in the event that the UK and EU do not agree a deal on their future relationship by the end of the transition period.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 19 October, the approach outlined in the Government's Command Paper in May, and the guidance published on 7 August regarding the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as my answers to PQs here, and the updated Border Operating Model for Great Britain and the EU, available on gov.uk.

Further to my answer to PQs here, the Government has launched a Trader Support Service to provide end-to-end support to traders, backed by £200 million in funding. I urge businesses to sign up to the scheme with a link available on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service.

We are also considering further measures of support as regards agrifood trade, as set out in the August guidance.

Regarding costs and burdens on businesses, the UK Government continues to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive.

Northern Ireland produce will enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK following the end of the Transition Period.

The Government has committed to publishing further detailed information and guidance as soon as possible when relevant details are resolved, including where matters depend on discussions in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. This includes on the question of VAT and excise.

The question of Exit Summary Declarations for goods movement from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is subject to discussion at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.

The Government has set out its approach to ensuring how the requirements of the Protocol are conducted. This will include market surveillance for industrial goods.

The Government has an extensive communications campaign in place regarding the need for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period, and this covers businesses in Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how he plans to (a) communicate and (b) implement free trade agreement arrangements to businesses in Northern Ireland after the transition period.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 19 October, the approach outlined in the Government's Command Paper in May, and the guidance published on 7 August regarding the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as my answers to PQs here, and the updated Border Operating Model for Great Britain and the EU, available on gov.uk.

Further to my answer to PQs here, the Government has launched a Trader Support Service to provide end-to-end support to traders, backed by £200 million in funding. I urge businesses to sign up to the scheme with a link available on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service.

We are also considering further measures of support as regards agrifood trade, as set out in the August guidance.

Regarding costs and burdens on businesses, the UK Government continues to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive.

Northern Ireland produce will enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK following the end of the Transition Period.

The Government has committed to publishing further detailed information and guidance as soon as possible when relevant details are resolved, including where matters depend on discussions in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. This includes on the question of VAT and excise.

The question of Exit Summary Declarations for goods movement from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is subject to discussion at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.

The Government has set out its approach to ensuring how the requirements of the Protocol are conducted. This will include market surveillance for industrial goods.

The Government has an extensive communications campaign in place regarding the need for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period, and this covers businesses in Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he has taken to ensure that the (a) reputation and (b) integrity of Northern Ireland produce is protected within legislation relating to unfettered access after the transition period.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 19 October, the approach outlined in the Government's Command Paper in May, and the guidance published on 7 August regarding the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as my answers to PQs here, and the updated Border Operating Model for Great Britain and the EU, available on gov.uk.

Further to my answer to PQs here, the Government has launched a Trader Support Service to provide end-to-end support to traders, backed by £200 million in funding. I urge businesses to sign up to the scheme with a link available on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service.

We are also considering further measures of support as regards agrifood trade, as set out in the August guidance.

Regarding costs and burdens on businesses, the UK Government continues to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive.

Northern Ireland produce will enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK following the end of the Transition Period.

The Government has committed to publishing further detailed information and guidance as soon as possible when relevant details are resolved, including where matters depend on discussions in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. This includes on the question of VAT and excise.

The question of Exit Summary Declarations for goods movement from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is subject to discussion at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.

The Government has set out its approach to ensuring how the requirements of the Protocol are conducted. This will include market surveillance for industrial goods.

The Government has an extensive communications campaign in place regarding the need for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period, and this covers businesses in Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what progress his Department has made on ensuring exit summary declarations for goods travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain are not needed after the transition period.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 19 October, the approach outlined in the Government's Command Paper in May, and the guidance published on 7 August regarding the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as my answers to PQs here, and the updated Border Operating Model for Great Britain and the EU, available on gov.uk.

Further to my answer to PQs here, the Government has launched a Trader Support Service to provide end-to-end support to traders, backed by £200 million in funding. I urge businesses to sign up to the scheme with a link available on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service.

We are also considering further measures of support as regards agrifood trade, as set out in the August guidance.

Regarding costs and burdens on businesses, the UK Government continues to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive.

Northern Ireland produce will enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK following the end of the Transition Period.

The Government has committed to publishing further detailed information and guidance as soon as possible when relevant details are resolved, including where matters depend on discussions in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. This includes on the question of VAT and excise.

The question of Exit Summary Declarations for goods movement from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is subject to discussion at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.

The Government has set out its approach to ensuring how the requirements of the Protocol are conducted. This will include market surveillance for industrial goods.

The Government has an extensive communications campaign in place regarding the need for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period, and this covers businesses in Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he plans to publish full guidance to (a) business and (b) third parties on the movement of goods from Great Britain into Northern Ireland.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 19 October, the approach outlined in the Government's Command Paper in May, and the guidance published on 7 August regarding the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as my answers to PQs here, and the updated Border Operating Model for Great Britain and the EU, available on gov.uk.

Further to my answer to PQs here, the Government has launched a Trader Support Service to provide end-to-end support to traders, backed by £200 million in funding. I urge businesses to sign up to the scheme with a link available on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service.

We are also considering further measures of support as regards agrifood trade, as set out in the August guidance.

Regarding costs and burdens on businesses, the UK Government continues to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive.

Northern Ireland produce will enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK following the end of the Transition Period.

The Government has committed to publishing further detailed information and guidance as soon as possible when relevant details are resolved, including where matters depend on discussions in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. This includes on the question of VAT and excise.

The question of Exit Summary Declarations for goods movement from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is subject to discussion at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.

The Government has set out its approach to ensuring how the requirements of the Protocol are conducted. This will include market surveillance for industrial goods.

The Government has an extensive communications campaign in place regarding the need for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period, and this covers businesses in Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what (a) training and (b) financial support he plans to make available to businesses in Northern Ireland to help them prepare for arrangements after the transition period ends.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 19 October, the approach outlined in the Government's Command Paper in May, and the guidance published on 7 August regarding the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as my answers to PQs here, and the updated Border Operating Model for Great Britain and the EU, available on gov.uk.

Further to my answer to PQs here, the Government has launched a Trader Support Service to provide end-to-end support to traders, backed by £200 million in funding. I urge businesses to sign up to the scheme with a link available on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service.

We are also considering further measures of support as regards agrifood trade, as set out in the August guidance.

Regarding costs and burdens on businesses, the UK Government continues to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive.

Northern Ireland produce will enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK following the end of the Transition Period.

The Government has committed to publishing further detailed information and guidance as soon as possible when relevant details are resolved, including where matters depend on discussions in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. This includes on the question of VAT and excise.

The question of Exit Summary Declarations for goods movement from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is subject to discussion at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.

The Government has set out its approach to ensuring how the requirements of the Protocol are conducted. This will include market surveillance for industrial goods.

The Government has an extensive communications campaign in place regarding the need for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period, and this covers businesses in Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish detailed, practical guidance for Northern Ireland businesses operating in the UK VAT area but complying with EU rules.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 19 October, the approach outlined in the Government's Command Paper in May, and the guidance published on 7 August regarding the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as my answers to PQs here, and the updated Border Operating Model for Great Britain and the EU, available on gov.uk.

Further to my answer to PQs here, the Government has launched a Trader Support Service to provide end-to-end support to traders, backed by £200 million in funding. I urge businesses to sign up to the scheme with a link available on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service.

We are also considering further measures of support as regards agrifood trade, as set out in the August guidance.

Regarding costs and burdens on businesses, the UK Government continues to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive.

Northern Ireland produce will enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK following the end of the Transition Period.

The Government has committed to publishing further detailed information and guidance as soon as possible when relevant details are resolved, including where matters depend on discussions in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. This includes on the question of VAT and excise.

The question of Exit Summary Declarations for goods movement from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is subject to discussion at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.

The Government has set out its approach to ensuring how the requirements of the Protocol are conducted. This will include market surveillance for industrial goods.

The Government has an extensive communications campaign in place regarding the need for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period, and this covers businesses in Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to make provision for the (a) Common Travel Area and (b) Memorandum of Understanding signed by the British and Irish Governments in 2019.

The Common Travel Area (CTA) is an arrangement between the UK, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey, and Ireland. It is underpinned by domestic law in each jurisdiction.

The UK Government and Irish Government have indicated their commitment to maintaining the CTA, and to taking all necessary measures to ensure that its associated rights and privileges are protected. Both Governments confirmed that position on 8 May 2019, when they signed a Common Travel Area Memorandum of Understanding, setting out that commitment. The text is available on GOV.UK. The UK Government and Irish Government continue to work together to implement the CTA through bilateral agreements and legislation where required.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he plans to take to ensure that the imposition of new costs on Northern Ireland firms does not put them at a competitive disadvantage relative to the rest of Great Britain after 31 December 2020.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 19 October, the approach outlined in the Government's Command Paper in May, and the guidance published on 7 August regarding the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as my answers to PQs here, and the updated Border Operating Model for Great Britain and the EU, available on gov.uk.

Further to my answer to PQs here, the Government has launched a Trader Support Service to provide end-to-end support to traders, backed by £200 million in funding. I urge businesses to sign up to the scheme with a link available on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service.

We are also considering further measures of support as regards agrifood trade, as set out in the August guidance.

Regarding costs and burdens on businesses, the UK Government continues to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive.

Northern Ireland produce will enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK following the end of the Transition Period.

The Government has committed to publishing further detailed information and guidance as soon as possible when relevant details are resolved, including where matters depend on discussions in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. This includes on the question of VAT and excise.

The question of Exit Summary Declarations for goods movement from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is subject to discussion at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.

The Government has set out its approach to ensuring how the requirements of the Protocol are conducted. This will include market surveillance for industrial goods.

The Government has an extensive communications campaign in place regarding the need for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period, and this covers businesses in Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he plans to take to ensure that Northern Ireland businesses that use the port of Dublin to access Great Britain markets are not subject to delays and customs procedures at the end of the transition period.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 19 October, the approach outlined in the Government's Command Paper in May, and the guidance published on 7 August regarding the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as my answers to PQs here, and the updated Border Operating Model for Great Britain and the EU, available on gov.uk.

Further to my answer to PQs here, the Government has launched a Trader Support Service to provide end-to-end support to traders, backed by £200 million in funding. I urge businesses to sign up to the scheme with a link available on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service.

We are also considering further measures of support as regards agrifood trade, as set out in the August guidance.

Regarding costs and burdens on businesses, the UK Government continues to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive.

Northern Ireland produce will enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK following the end of the Transition Period.

The Government has committed to publishing further detailed information and guidance as soon as possible when relevant details are resolved, including where matters depend on discussions in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. This includes on the question of VAT and excise.

The question of Exit Summary Declarations for goods movement from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is subject to discussion at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.

The Government has set out its approach to ensuring how the requirements of the Protocol are conducted. This will include market surveillance for industrial goods.

The Government has an extensive communications campaign in place regarding the need for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period, and this covers businesses in Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans the Government has for processes for checking goods outside of ports in Northern Ireland after the transition period.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 19 October, the approach outlined in the Government's Command Paper in May, and the guidance published on 7 August regarding the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as my answers to PQs here, and the updated Border Operating Model for Great Britain and the EU, available on gov.uk.

Further to my answer to PQs here, the Government has launched a Trader Support Service to provide end-to-end support to traders, backed by £200 million in funding. I urge businesses to sign up to the scheme with a link available on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service.

We are also considering further measures of support as regards agrifood trade, as set out in the August guidance.

Regarding costs and burdens on businesses, the UK Government continues to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive.

Northern Ireland produce will enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK following the end of the Transition Period.

The Government has committed to publishing further detailed information and guidance as soon as possible when relevant details are resolved, including where matters depend on discussions in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. This includes on the question of VAT and excise.

The question of Exit Summary Declarations for goods movement from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is subject to discussion at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.

The Government has set out its approach to ensuring how the requirements of the Protocol are conducted. This will include market surveillance for industrial goods.

The Government has an extensive communications campaign in place regarding the need for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period, and this covers businesses in Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that Northern Ireland (a) businesses and (b) consumers do not experience (i) increased prices for and (ii) reduced choice of goods after the transition period.

I refer the Hon Member to the statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 19 October, the approach outlined in the Government's Command Paper in May, and the guidance published on 7 August regarding the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as my answers to PQs here, and the updated Border Operating Model for Great Britain and the EU, available on gov.uk.

Further to my answer to PQs here, the Government has launched a Trader Support Service to provide end-to-end support to traders, backed by £200 million in funding. I urge businesses to sign up to the scheme with a link available on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service.

We are also considering further measures of support as regards agrifood trade, as set out in the August guidance.

Regarding costs and burdens on businesses, the UK Government continues to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive.

Northern Ireland produce will enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK following the end of the Transition Period.

The Government has committed to publishing further detailed information and guidance as soon as possible when relevant details are resolved, including where matters depend on discussions in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. This includes on the question of VAT and excise.

The question of Exit Summary Declarations for goods movement from Northern Ireland to Great Britain is subject to discussion at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.

The Government has set out its approach to ensuring how the requirements of the Protocol are conducted. This will include market surveillance for industrial goods.

The Government has an extensive communications campaign in place regarding the need for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period, and this covers businesses in Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish the draft (a) list of priority areas and (b) timetable for common frameworks his Department plans to agree with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland.

The Cabinet Office and Departments across Whitehall continue to work closely with their counterparts in the devolved administrations, including the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to ensure common approaches are implemented in a range of areas as we leave the EU. Updates on progress will be made in the usual way.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans his Department has for stakeholder engagement on common frameworks

The Cabinet Office and Departments across Whitehall continue to work closely with their counterparts in the devolved administrations, including the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to ensure common approaches are implemented in a range of areas as we leave the EU. Updates on progress will be made in the usual way.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to support a waiver on intellectual property right rules for covid-19 vaccines to facilitate global vaccine roll out.

The UK is among the biggest global donors on COVID-19, and committed to supporting rapid, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The UK does not consider waiving intellectual property (IP) rights to be an appropriate action to boost the manufacturing of safe, effective, and quality vaccines. The existing intellectual property framework has mobilised research and development to deliver a host of new medicines and technologies to detect, treat, and defend against COVID-19. The UK continues to engage in constructive and evidence-based discussions at the TRIPS Council on the waiver proposal, and to address the multiple factors outside of IP on which access to medicines depends.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of parcel delivery services in implementing new rules in line with the requirements of the Northern Ireland Protocol and new rules brought into operation after the end of the transition period.

Earlier this month, the Government took several temporary operational steps to avoid disruptive cliff edges which could have affected the delivery of parcel services. These included extending the temporary arrangements that the Government set out on parcels before the end of the transition period, giving further time to parcel operators to prepare for new requirements and minimise the impact on day-to-day lives in Northern Ireland.

We remain committed to meeting our obligations in the Northern Ireland Protocol and doing so in a pragmatic and proportionate way, taking full account of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

The Government is continuing to support parcel operators and businesses across sectors to adapt to the new trading arrangements with the EU. It is also working closely with industry and counterparts in the EU to help goods move smoothly and resolve issues quickly.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with representatives of OFCOM on ensuring that (a) Royal Mail Group plc and (b) Parcelforce Worldwide are adapting to recent changes implemented in line with the requirements of the Northern Ireland Protocol and new rules brought into operation after the end of the transition period.

The Department has discussions with Ofcom on a regular basis on issues relevant to Royal Mail Group and its operations. The Government is continuing to support Royal Mail Group to adapt to the new trading arrangements with the European Union and the requirements of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour and (b) ending the lower rates of pay for people under (i) 25, (ii) 21 and (iii) 18 years of age.

The Government considers the expert and independent advice of the Low Pay Commission (LPC) when setting the rates for the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW). We reward workers with the highest possible minimum wage while considering the impact on the economy and affordability for businesses. In April, the National Living Wage rate will increase to £8.91, a 2.2% increase, and the highest ever UK minimum wage.

The Government’s target is for the NLW to reach two-thirds of median earnings by 2024. This is a floating number to take into account wider trends in average earnings. On current forecasts it is likely to be around £10 an hour.

For younger workers, the priority in those first years is to secure work and gain experience – something that has always been reflected in the National Minimum Wage rate structure. The LPC estimate that almost 230,000 young workers will benefit from the increases in the 2021 NMW rates.

The NLW currently applies to workers aged 25+, however, from April 2021 it will be extended to those aged 23+, following previous recommendations from the LPC. Government is committed to lowering the age threshold of the National Living Wage to age 21+ by 2024, and will continue to monitor economic conditions.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether future rulings on workers' rights by the Court of Justice of the European Union will be applied to Northern Ireland workers under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement provisions concerning employment standards do not require new judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union to be implemented in Northern Ireland or any other nation of the U.K.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much Government funding arising from his plans for a green industrial revolution is planned to be allocated to Northern Ireland.

Our Ten Point Plan is our blueprint for a green industrial revolution. It combines ambitious policies with significant new public investment to deliver a vision for the UK that is greener, more prosperous and at the forefront of industries for the future. Spanning clean energy, buildings, transport, nature and innovative technologies, the Plan will mobilise £12 billion of Government investment and will support up to 250,000 green jobs across the UK.

Our investments in the transition will create good, green jobs in all four nations of the United Kingdom and catalyse private investment, helping to level up across the UK. Many of the initiatives and much of the funding announced will apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For example, the Government’s commitment to support the introduction of at least 4,000 zero emission buses could be a significant boost to bus manufacturers in Northern Ireland, supporting green jobs across the UK.

The Government is also investing in other UK wide initiatives such as the Net Zero Innovation Programme, which will spend at least £1bn over the next 4 years to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative low-carbon technologies, systems and business models in power, buildings and industry. This programme will have a strong regional impact due to the localised and distributed nature of energy production and infrastructure, and will build on the existing regional investment made during the current programme.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the statement of 11 November 2020 from UK Research and Innovation entitled, Doctoral students advised to adjust projects for covid-19, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allocating additional funding to UKRI to ensure people on low incomes or without financial support can access extensions to their funded period when required.

UKRI have already acted this year to support PhD students during the pandemic. In March, UKRI worked to ensure that all the students it funds would continue to receive their maintenance stipend during the lockdown and would not have to suspend their studies; UKRI-funded students in receipt of a costed extension will continue to receive this stipend during their extension period.

In April it was announced that UKRI-funded PhD students in the final year and whose studies have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic would be provided with additional support. Subsequently on the 11th November, UKRI provided a further £19.1 million of funding to support students in earlier years, including disabled students, those with long-term illness, those who are neurodivergent, or those with caring responsibilities.

Combined, these two interventions have meant that UKRI has made over £60 million of financial support available to students most impacted by the pandemic. It is estimated that this funding is available for up to 12,000 students (over half of the students that UKRI funds).

We are encouraging all PhD students to discuss with their supervisors how projects can be adjusted to complete their doctoral education to a satisfactory standard. We will continue to monitor how the pandemic is affecting PhD students and the wider research system.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many vaccines under development from sources other than Pfizer and Moderna the Government has on order; and how many of those on order he plans to distribute to the devolved nations.

The UK government has secured early access to 355 million vaccines doses through agreements with seven separate vaccine developers, which have been purchased for the whole of the UK. This includes agreements with:

  • BioNTech/Pfizer for 40 million doses.
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca for 100 million doses.
  • GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur for 60 million doses.
  • Novavax for 60 million doses.
  • Janssen for 30 million doses.
  • Valneva for 60 million doses.
  • Moderna for 5 million doses.
Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what protections and safeguards are in place for people who have been shielding, have underlying health conditions or have caring responsibilities and will be returning to work as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Employers have a legal duty to make sure the workplace is safe for their employees and should consider whether a person is clinically vulnerable in their risk assessment. In the first instance, employers should support these employees to work from home. Where this is not possible, employers should provide the safest onsite roles available to enable them to follow social distancing measures. The Health and Safety Executive website has specific guidance on the steps businesses should take.

Where HSE identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. Workers can raise concerns through their employee representative, trade union or direct to HSE.

We expect employers to be supportive of people with caring responsibilities during this difficult period. We encourage employers to provide flexible working arrangements for their staff, where possible – allowing for home working and changes to start and finish times. This flexibility can help working parents and carers balance work and care needs.

Employers can still access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for clinically extremely vulnerable and those with caring responsibilities (for employees who have already been furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June).

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, whether employers are required to calculate statutory redundancy pay based on an employee's pay (a) when furloughed or (b) before the furlough period began.

Any redundancy process should be fair and reasonable, with appropriate equalities considerations.

The provisions relating to calculation of a week’s pay under the Employment Rights Act continue to apply when an individual is on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This will usually mean that employees whose contract contains standard working hours, where pay does not vary by the amount of work done, would receive their normal statutory redundancy pay as at the date of termination of employment.

For employees whose pay varies weekly, Statutory Redundancy Pay is taken as an average over the 12-week period prior to the date of termination, discounting weeks where there was no pay because there was no work. In most cases the furlough period should be discounted for the purposes of calculating redundancy payments because the calculation of average pay under the Employment Rights Act 1996 is based on hours worked, rather than periods such as furlough, where no work is done.

During this difficult period, we urge employers to exercise discretion and not use the Job Retention Scheme to make someone redundant on less favourable terms than they would otherwise have received.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance his Department has published on facilitating working from home for businesses that do not normally have such working practices in place.

The Government has advised that people should be working from home where it is possible to do so. Existing employment law already gives employees the right to request flexible working, which includes remote working.

Businesses and employees can get advice on individual employment issues by visiting the Acas website and the latest advice on homeworking is published there. Businesses can also ring the BEIS Business Support Line for further advice on support for business.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what reports his Department received of concerns brought to the Gambling Commission in January 2020 on Football Index.

In May 2020 the Gambling Commission began a formal Review into BetIndex Ltd, the operator of Football Index, after concerns about the operator had been raised. The focus of its review was to address issues in relation to the betting aspect of the product. At that stage the Commission considered there were no grounds to suspend its operating licence and it did not consider there were sufficient grounds to make a report to DCMS. Further information can be found on the Commission’s website:

https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/news/2021/BetIndex-update.aspx

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with (a) Ofcom and (b) web hosting and registrar companies to ensure that Northern Irish businesses are able to maintain EU website domains.

The .eu domain is controlled by EURid, the registry manager appointed by the European Commission. Following the end of the transition period, many UK businesses are no longer eligible to hold, register or renew a .eu domain name.

Officials in my Department have carried out extensive engagement with the relevant businesses and trade associations to inform UK holders of .eu domains of this change before the end of this period. We have also engaged with the devolved administrations, including the Northern Ireland Civil Service on this issue.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will take steps to ensure the inclusion of creative professionals on the list of self-employed professionals eligible for visa-free travel for work purposes within the EU.

I refer the honourable member to the Secretary of State’s answer to Written Question 135862 on 14th January.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans his Department has to publish the designated days for Union Flag flying in 2021.

DCMS is responsible for informing UK Government Departments of the designated days for the flying of the Union Flag throughout the year and in conjunction with FCDO, No.10 and the Royal Household, informing Departments of any instructions on the half-masting of flags, any other flag instructions and silences. Guidance is published on our GOV.UK page.

There is no specific Government policy regarding the flying of flags other than the Union Flag. Individuals, local authorities and other organisations may fly flags whenever they wish, subject to compliance with any local planning requirement.

DCMS will publish any updates to the designated days list for Union flag flying in January 2021.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the number of UK Charities who will benefit from the Turing Scheme.

The Turing Scheme will fund students at UK universities, colleges, training providers and schools to go on study and work placements overseas. Backed by £110 million, it will provide funding for around 35,000 students, a similar number as Erasmus+ outgoing mobility. This means around 20,000 higher education students, 10,000 further education and vocational training students and 5,000 school pupils will be able to benefit, subject to demand, for mobilities to take place from September 2021.

The scheme will be global, allowing students to undertake mobilities to countries around the world.

The Turing Scheme will fund students only, not staff placements (apart from those staff necessary to accompany or chaperone student placements). In considering what elements of the Erasmus+ programme we would immediately replicate under the Turing Scheme, we prioritised ensuring that as many students, learners and pupils as possible have access to life-changing mobilities to support them in developing the skills they need to thrive.

UK universities, colleges, training providers and schools are eligible to bid for funding from the Turing scheme. We have not estimated how many eligible education providers are also charities.

The Turing Scheme is an education mobility scheme. International opportunities for young people outside of formal education settings such as youth activity (similar to that offered under the European Solidarity Corps) are being considered as part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport-led Youth Review, which was commissioned by HM Treasury at the 2020 Spending Review.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of (a) the effectiveness of the scope of the Turing scheme and (b) its ability to replace the European Solidarity Corp.

The Turing Scheme will fund students at UK universities, colleges, training providers and schools to go on study and work placements overseas. Backed by £110 million, it will provide funding for around 35,000 students, a similar number as Erasmus+ outgoing mobility. This means around 20,000 higher education students, 10,000 further education and vocational training students and 5,000 school pupils will be able to benefit, subject to demand, for mobilities to take place from September 2021.

The scheme will be global, allowing students to undertake mobilities to countries around the world.

The Turing Scheme will fund students only, not staff placements (apart from those staff necessary to accompany or chaperone student placements). In considering what elements of the Erasmus+ programme we would immediately replicate under the Turing Scheme, we prioritised ensuring that as many students, learners and pupils as possible have access to life-changing mobilities to support them in developing the skills they need to thrive.

UK universities, colleges, training providers and schools are eligible to bid for funding from the Turing scheme. We have not estimated how many eligible education providers are also charities.

The Turing Scheme is an education mobility scheme. International opportunities for young people outside of formal education settings such as youth activity (similar to that offered under the European Solidarity Corps) are being considered as part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport-led Youth Review, which was commissioned by HM Treasury at the 2020 Spending Review.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reducing tuition fees for the 2020-21 year to compensate students for the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on their university studies and experience.

This has been a very difficult time for students, and the government is working with the sector to make sure all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies. The Government’s clear and stated expectation is that universities should maintain the quality and quantity of tuition and seek to ensure that all students regardless of their background have the resources to study remotely. This is more important than ever at the moment with the vast majority of students studying solely online.

Universities are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees, up to a maximum of £9,250 for approved (fee cap) institutions. The Office for Students (OfS), as regulator for higher education (HE) providers in England, has made it clear that HE providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and academic standards, which set out requirements to ensure that courses are high-quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected, regardless of whether a provider is delivering its courses through face-to-face teaching, remote online learning, or a combination of both.

The OfS is taking very seriously the potential impacts of COVID-19 on teaching and learning and is regularly engaging with all registered providers. It is actively monitoring providers to ensure: that they maintain the quality of their provision; that it is accessible for all; and that they have been clear in their communications with students about how arrangements for teaching and learning may change throughout the year. The OfS is also following up directly with providers where they receive notifications from students, parents or others raising concerns about the quality of teaching on offer and requiring providers to report to them when they are not able to deliver a course or award a qualification. If the OfS has concerns, it will investigate further.

Whether or not an individual student is entitled to a refund of fees will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between the provider and student. If students have concerns, there is a process in place. They should first raise their concerns with their university. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

The OIA website is available via the following link: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published guidance on consumer contracts, cancellation and refunds affected by COVID-19. This sets out the CMA’s view on how the law operates to help consumers understand their rights and help businesses treat their customers fairly. This is available via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cma-to-investigate-concerns-about-cancellation-policies-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-consumer-contracts-cancellation-and-refunds.

The Office for Students has also published guidance on student consumer protection during the COVID-19 outbreak, which is available via the following link: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/for-students/student-and-consumer-protection-during-coronavirus/.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if the Government will rescind its plans to cease funding the Union Learning Fund in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

We are focusing on a much larger and more comprehensive package of training support. This includes the establishment of a £2.5 billion National Skills Fund to help adults get the skills they need, including the Lifetime Skills Guarantee which will support any adult who does not yet have an A level equivalent qualification to obtain one. This is in addition to the existing entitlement for adults without English and maths level 2 qualifications or Basic Digital Skills level 1 to get fully funded support to gain these essential qualifications.

As part of our expanded commitment to skills development through the National Skills Fund and Lifetime Skills Guarantee, I can confirm all the money will be invested in skills and retraining that will be fully accessible to everyone.

The government has no plans to reverse this decision.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on the Northern Ireland Protocol of the proposals in Schedule 16 of the Environment Bill on the use of forest risk commodities in commercial activity.

We are introducing world-leading due diligence legislation through the Environment Bill to tackle illegal deforestation in UK supply chains. These amendments achieve that by regulating businesses, which is a reserved policy area in Scotland and Wales and transferred in Northern Ireland. We are working closely with Devolved Administrations including Northern Ireland colleagues to allow these measures to extend across the UK.

The Northern Ireland Protocol sets out arrangements for Northern Ireland in light of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. It exists to ensure that the progress made in the 22 years since the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement is secured into the future. The protocol applies specified provisions of European Union law in Northern Ireland. It also puts in terms to maintain unfettered access to the rest of the UK market for Northern Ireland businesses and to ensure that trade flows as smoothly as possible. The due diligence provisions in the Environment Bill will not have an impact on the principles or obligations set out in the Protocol, and we will continue to monitor its implementation to ensure this continues to be the case.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the farming industry on the use of farrowing crates for pigs.

As part of a series of meetings Lord Goldsmith had with key stakeholders last autumn to discuss farm animal welfare reform priorities, he met with the pig sector and discussed the use of farrowing crates for sows.

As stated in Defra’s new pig welfare code of practice, which came into force in March last year, our aim is for farrowing crates no longer to be necessary and for any new system to protect the welfare of the sow, as well as her piglets. Any change also has to be done in a way which is sustainable for the industry and we are exploring the options.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress his Department has made in discussions with the EU on simplifying the administrative processes for the movement of organic foodstuff between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The flow of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been smooth overall and deliveries are reaching their intended destinations.

Authorised traders moving agri-food goods, including organic products, under the grace period do not require certification. For other traders we are continuing to consider any further support that may be required here ahead of the end of the official certification grace period on 1 April, including reviewing the operation of our existing Movement Assistance Scheme for agri-food traders.

In the meantime, we will also be discussing with the EU means to streamline and simplify requirements, including the use of e-seals.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will urgently bring forward legislative proposals to ban environmentally destructive industrial fishing in UK offshore Marine Protected Areas.

Marine protection is a devolved matter and the devolved administrations are responsible for the enforcement of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within their waters. The information below relates to England only.

Once the transition period has finished, we plan to use new powers contained in the Fisheries Bill to put byelaws in place to protect offshore MPAs, as we have done in the inshore environment where over 90 MPAs are now protected from bottom towed fishing gear. The new byelaw power proposed in the Fisheries Bill will allow the Marine Management Organisation to protect offshore MPAs from activities such as trawling which could damage protected features on the seabed. We are prioritising those MPAs most at risk and aim to make rapid progress as soon as the transition period ends. A Call for Evidence for the first sites began on 28 October, and will be followed by the formal consultation in early 2021.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the level staffing resource required for the Office for Environmental Protection to undertake its statutory functions in Northern Ireland.

It will be for the Executive and the Assembly to decide whether to extend the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) to cover Northern Ireland. Practical decisions about the operation of the OEP in Northern Ireland such as staffing levels will therefore be made by Northern Ireland Ministers and the OEP itself, if and when the decision to extend the OEP to Northern Ireland has been taken.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions has he had with his EU counterparts on the transfer of UK issued licenses to EASA Licenses to allow Northern Ireland pilots to work in the EU under the terms of the NI Protocol.

There have been no discussions between the UK and EU on the transfer of UK issued licences to European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) licences under the terms of the NI Protocol.

The rights of individuals to live and work in the EU is subject to wider employment, immigration and visa policy.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions his Department has had with the EU on mutually recognised flight crew licenses.

There have been no recent discussions with the EU on the topic of flight crew licence recognition.

Following the end of the Transition Period, the UK and EU agreed a high-level Aviation Safety Agreement, with an annex on Airworthiness.

The Aviation Safety Agreement does include scope to agree further annexes such as on pilot licensing in the future, if both sides wish to do so. The government will keep this matter under review and hope to progress future discussions.

The Department will continue to engage with the EU and EASA on future areas of safety cooperation, where it can support industry.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the Government's timeframe is for bringing forward legislative proposals on the safe use and conduct of personal water crafts.

We are continuing to develop the legislation necessary to bring personal watercraft within the safe use and conduct provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. A public consultation seeking comments on the draft legislation will be published once this process has been completed.

Local and harbour authorities already have significant powers to introduce measures deal with any issues in the waters they manage through byelaws and harbour directions.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether Northern Ireland residents will require a motor insurance green card to drive freely from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland and vice versa under the terms of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Motor insurance does not form part of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. We have urged the EU to issue an Implementing Decision confirming the UK’s participation in the Green Card-free circulation zone as a third country. Until the EU issues such a decision, our advice to all UK motorists taking their vehicle into any EU Member State is to carry a green card.

The Council of Bureaux has confirmed that all national bureaux have agreed to continue their mutual cooperation with the UK Motor Insurers’ Bureau under the Multilateral Agreement, which guarantees that that Motor Insurers'

Bureaux will continue handling claims with MIB based on the system of 'deemed insurance cover' not requiring the existence of a Green Card, therefore at present a Green Card does not have to be carried to enter the UK.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policy on the regulation of slot allocation at Heathrow airport of BA's proposals on making its pilots redundant and rehiring them on different terms as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

Terms and conditions of employment are for negotiation and agreement between employers and employees (or their representatives). The Government is not part of these discussions and cannot comment on commercial decisions taken by individual companies.

The UK’s independent slot coordinator, Airport Coordination Limited (ACL) is responsible for allocating slots at UK airports and the Government is legally prevented from intervening in this process. We want airport landing and take-off slots to be used as efficiently as possible for the benefit of UK consumers and are carefully considering the role of the slot system in rebuilding a competitive aviation sector.

21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what data her Department holds on the number of people who worked in Northern Ireland and paid national insurance contributions while aged 14 or 15 between 1947 and 1957, that have fallen two years or less short of the years needed to qualify for a full state pension.

The information requested is not available.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will bring forward proposals to change Support for Mortgage Interest from a loan to a grant.

The Department has no plans to change Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) from a loan to a grant.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing the Child Maintenance Service's powers to allow it to compel information from non-resident parents.

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) already has measures in place to compel non-resident parents to provide information including bank details, address and income details.

The Service can also compel third parties such as employers, financial institutions, HMRC, local authorities and other government departments to provide information, where appropriate.

While the Service always keep such powers under review, we have no plans to further enhance CMS information gathering powers.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the December 2020 APPG report on Frozen Pensions.

The policy on the up-rating of UK State Pensions for recipients overseas is longstanding and has been supported by successive Governments for over 70 years. The Government has no plans to change this policy.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether a freeze on local housing allowance levels will result in the value of housing benefit falling below the 30th percentile of local rents in the months ahead.

The increase in Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates in April 2020 provided 1.5 million claimants with, on average, around £600 more housing support per year than they would otherwise have received. In 2021/22 all LHA rates will be maintained at their increased level, meaning claimants renting in the private rented sector will continue to benefit from the significant increase in the rates applied this year, providing claimants with stability during this period of uncertainty.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her Department's policy to reverse the changes made to Support for Mortgage Interest due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has no plans to change the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme from a loan.

The support provided is at the same rate as when SMI was paid as a benefit and therefore the scheme offers the same level of protection against repossession.

Reversing the changes would not provide any additional assistance to home owners during the current pandemic.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the Financial Investigations Unit of the Child Maintenance Service has begun the use of video calling technology to complete interviews under caution.

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions in place until at least 3 December, no interviews under caution are being conducted across DWP. However, as part of a DWP wide project, the use of video conferencing for interviews under caution is currently being explored.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will extend the run on period for entitlement for the childcare element of universal credit to include two assessment periods after the assessment period in which the client ceases employment to help mitigate the economic effects of the covid-19 outbreak.

Universal Credit (UC) claimants who cease employment and have pre-existing childcare arrangements, will be eligible for reimbursement of up to 85% of their childcare costs as part of their UC award for the assessment period in which they cease work and the subsequent assessment period. There are no current plans to extend this.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will suspend the minimum income floor on universal credit beyond the 13 November 2020 for self- employed people during the covid-19 outbreak.

After careful consideration of the ongoing public health situation and the national working environment, the current easement of the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor in Universal Credit that was due to expire on 12th November 2020 will be extended to the end of April 2021.

Regulations will be laid and made prior to 12th November 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether a parent is able to make a claim under the childcare element of (a) universal credit and (b) tax credits for the cost of a retainer fee paid to keep their child's place in a childcare setting that has been forced to close due to covid-19 restrictions.

Parents claiming Universal Credit (UC) who satisfy both the work condition and childcare conditions are eligible to have their childcare costs reimbursed if:

  • they have a contract of employment and are still being paid;
  • childcare is being provided during that assessment period; and
  • childcare providers are registered or approved.

If a childcare provider is forced to close due to Covid-19 and unable to provide childcare for parents, the UC Childcare eligibility conditions will not be satisfied because childcare is not being provided.

Under Working Tax Credits, the childcare element is usually only provided where a child is receiving childcare. If a child was not receiving childcare, HMRC wouldn’t expect a provider to continue to charge. HMRC will continue to pay childcare costs to those in receipt of the childcare element of Working Tax Credits who continued to pay childcare fees, despite their children being unable to access childcare because of COVID-19 for a maximum of 4 weeks.

The government continues to pay funding to local authorities in England for the free childcare entitlements for two, three and four-year-olds during the period of closures due to Covid-19. This funding has continued to be paid to providers to ensure there remains sufficient childcare for all those who need it. For the Autumn term, childcare will be funded at the level we would have done had the pandemic not occurred. These entitlements cannot be accrued for time not spent in the childcare setting and so parents will not be able to carry over unused hours for use later in the year.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to extend eligibility for the childcare element of universal credit to parents and guardians in the event that they lose employment as a result of covid-19 restrictions after 31 October 2020.

Universal Credit claimants who cease employment and have pre-existing childcare arrangements, will be eligible for reimbursement of up to 85% of their childcare costs as part of their Universal Credit award for the assessment period in which they cease work and the subsequent assessment period.

If Universal Credit claimants are on the Job Support Scheme and satisfy both the work condition and childcare costs condition they are eligible to continue to have up to 85% (subject to the maximum limits) of their childcare costs reimbursed if:

  • they have a contract of employment and are still being paid;
  • childcare is being provided during that assessment period.

Help with upfront childcare costs for starting work is available through a non-repayable Flexible Support Fund (FSF) award for eligible UC claimants up to the limits set. This does not apply for claimants already in work. We have issued guidance to Work Coaches in Jobcentres to ensure that eligible claimants who require help with upfront childcare costs in order to start work are directed to the governments FSF. The FSF received an additional £150m this financial year to help support UC claimants to move closer to, or in to, work. Budgeting advances are also available to eligible UC claimants who require help with upfront costs, repayable over the following 12 months.

In addition, UC claimants who lose their employment may be entitled to request a change of circumstances advance. This advance is available if a claimant’s award is likely to significantly increase with their next payment to address any short-term costs that arise in the meantime. Change of circumstances advances can be repaid over a maximum of six months, with a three month deferral available in exceptional circumstances.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 17 September 2020 to Question 89694, what steps she is taking to ensure that people who received support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will be able to have their eligibility for universal credit assessed promptly at the end of that scheme; and what assessment she has made of the effect of including those people's final CJRS payments in their eligibility assessment for universal credit on those people's financial security over Christmas 2020.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a HMRC-led initiative providing a grant to help employers pay the wages of their employee. When the scheme ends, any employee who sees their income reduced may be eligible to apply for Universal Credit. The Department ensures all claimants are supported in both making and maintaining a claim. For those claimants who are particularly affected by any loss of income and need urgent support, new claims advances are available during the first assessment period to provide upfront support – meaning the claimant will receive their first year’s entitlement over 13 payments instead of 12. Where a payment from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is used to fund earnings, the earnings of the employee will be taken into account in the calculation of entitlement to Universal Credit in the usual way. The intention being that payments to employees should mirror the way equivalent income is treated in Universal Credit.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will increase the personal allowance of legacy benefits so that they are aligned with universal credit payments.

The Government has announced a suite of measures that can be quickly and effectively operationalised to benefit those facing the most financial disruption during the pandemic.

We estimate that 2.5 million households receiving Universal Credit will benefit straight away from the increase in the standard allowance rates which was announced on 20 March, and which is additional to the planned annual uprating. New claimants who have either become unemployed, or whose earnings or work hours have decreased because of the outbreak, will benefit too, subject to their eligibility.

We have also made a number of changes to legacy and other working age benefits in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including increasing certain entitlements, such as Local Housing Allowance. Up-to-date information about the employment and benefits support available, including Universal Credit, Statutory Sick Pay, New style Jobseeker's Allowance, and Employment and Support Allowance, can be found here: www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/employment-and-benefits-support

It has always been the case that claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for UC if they believe that they will be better off. There are special arrangements for those in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium, who will be able to make a new claim to Universal Credit from January 2021.

However, claimants should check their eligibility before applying to Universal Credit as legacy benefits will end when they submit their claim and they will not be able to return to them in the future. For this reason, prospective claimants are signposted to independent benefits calculators on GOV.UK. Neither DWP nor HMRC can advise individual claimants whether they would be better off moving to UC or remaining on legacy benefits.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to (a) waive the six week penalty and (b) enable the backdating of claims in relation to new-style employment support allowance for people with a shortfall in contributions who have paid a lump sum during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have made a number of changes to working age benefits in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including increasing certain entitlements. The COVID-19 outbreak continues to be a rapidly evolving situation and we consider whether further action is appropriate on an ongoing basis.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to her Department's pilot of a single system for disability assessments announced in March 2020, how the single assessment system will encompass the descriptors used to assess personal independence payments, limited capability for work under universal credit (UC), limited capability for work and work related activity of UC, limited capability for work under employment and support allowance (ESA) and limited capability for work and work related activity under ESA; and if she will set out how the single assessment process will work.

On 02 March 2020 we announced plans regarding the single, integrated service that will simplify the assessment process for millions of people claiming health related benefits. Announcement on Health and Disability Assessments.

Today separate organisations deliver PIP assessments and Work Capability Assessments using different IT systems; we will replace this with a single digital platform delivered by DWP and covering all benefits that need a health assessment. The new service will simplify the assessment process reducing the need to submit information multiple times and potentially minimise the need for face-to-face assessments.

Building on the work of the integrated service, the Department announced it would study the feasibility of using a single assessment for PIP and ESA/UC to establish if this would improve the assessment process for claimants who are eligible to be assessed for these benefits at the same time. We have recently concluded the study, which involved discussions with key stakeholders, as well as research and analysis to examine how a single assessment could work in practice with a sharp focus on whether it would improve the claimant experience. The Department will be reviewing the evidence from this study before determining next steps.

The Government is committed to continuously improving the experience for customers with health conditions and disabilities and the upcoming Green Paper on health and disability support will seek to address this further.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential role of the Gene Therapy Innovation and Manufacturing Centre in Sheffield in developing new treatment options for (a) motor neurone disease and (b) Alzheimers.

No such assessment has been made.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of each of the available vaccines in limiting the transmission and spread of covid-19.

The full impact of vaccination on infection and transmission is not yet clear, but Public Health England (PHE) have undertaken their first analysis of the early effects of COVID-19 vaccination using routine testing and vaccination data across England. This data, published on 1 March 2021, provides early evidence that both the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are having a significant effect on the reduction of COVID-19 infection, hospitalisations and deaths in those over 70 years old across England.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether Northern Ireland citizens who hold dual nationalities under the Good Friday Agreement will be eligible for the new EHIC card from 1 January 2021.

Under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement all United Kingdom residents, including the people of Northern Ireland, will receive the new UK Global Health Insurance Card announced on 11 January 2021.

This offers equivalent protection for emergency and medically necessary healthcare needs to the European Health Insurance Card when in the European Union on a temporary stay.

This is without prejudice to the rights people may have under the Withdrawal Agreement. Citizens of Northern Ireland who live in the UK will not usually have ongoing rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, but they may have such rights if they have resided or paid contributions in the EU in the past.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits making key workers a priority group for covid-19 vaccination.

We have no plans to prioritise teachers and key workers by their occupation.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s interim advice for phase two of the vaccination programme sets out the most effective way to minimise hospitalisations and deaths is to continue to prioritise people by age.

If teachers or key workers are captured in phase one or two due to their age or clinical need they will be vaccinated accordingly.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure teachers and school staff in special schools have access to the covid-19 vaccine; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of making teachers and school staff in special schools a priority group for vaccination.

We have no plans to prioritise teachers and key workers by their occupation.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s interim advice for phase two of the vaccination programme sets out the most effective way to minimise hospitalisations and deaths is to continue to prioritise people by age.

If teachers or key workers are captured in phase one or two due to their age or clinical need they will be vaccinated accordingly.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress he has made on negotiations for an equivalent scheme to replace EHIC cards when they expire on 31 December 2020.

From January 2021, people protected under the Withdrawal Agreement will continue to be entitled to a United Kingdom-issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). For those not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, their EHIC may not be valid from January 2021.

For people not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, the future of reciprocal healthcare arrangements between the UK and European Union are subject to negotiations, which are ongoing.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether negotiations have taken place on allowing residents in Northern Ireland to retain access to the European Health Insurance Card after the transition period.

From January 2021, people protected under the Withdrawal Agreement will continue to be entitled to a United Kingdom-issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). For those not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, their EHIC may not be valid from January 2021.

For people not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, the future of reciprocal healthcare arrangements between the UK and European Union are subject to negotiations, which are ongoing. The UK is open to arrangements that provide healthcare cover for tourists, short-term business visitors and service providers.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to (a) support research on dementia and (b) ensure that research on that matter continues during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government remains strongly committed to supporting research into dementia and the United Kingdom research community is playing a significant role in the global effort to find a cure or a major disease-modifying treatment by 2025.

The Government’s 2020 Challenge contained the commitment to spend £300 million on dementia research over the five years to March 2020. This commitment was delivered a year early with £341 million spent on dementia research over the four years to 31 March 2019. We are currently working on ways to boost significantly further research on dementia at all stages on the translation pathway including medical and care interventions.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) increase the availability of covid-19 testing in Northern Ireland and (b) rectify flaws in the test and trace system which are sending people in Northern Ireland for testing in Scotland and Wales.

In respect of Northern Ireland receiving the right amount of testing, the provision allocated is based on it receiving its share of tests based on population. This is an agreed approach by all four chief medical officers and means each nation is getting a share of tests based on data held by the Office for National Statistics.

In respect of the issue with the booking portal which resulted in some users being directed to tests sites a long distance from them, this has now been resolved. There is now a travel restriction set at 75 miles, and we continue to look at ways we can improve the testing programme.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will include people with motor neurone disease on the list of vulnerable people during the covid-19 outbreak.

Individuals who have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable have been advised to shield to protect themselves. Six categories of clinical conditions were used to identify individuals who are extremely vulnerable due to complex health problems. It was determined that people with motor neurone disease (MND) would not be included in this list, as there are many stages to the disease, with varying levels of severity. This is under constant clinical review.

General practitioners (GPs) and hospital clinicians have the discretion to add individual patients to the list based on case-by-case clinical assessments of each individual’s needs. GPs and hospital specialists have completed initial reviews of their patient lists, and are continuing to identify patients as their clinical conditions change. Anyone with MND who is concerned that that the severity of their symptoms means they may be clinically extremely vulnerable, should contact their GP to discuss.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with the Indian Government on the provison of (a) practical assistance and (b) expertise from the UK to help in the fight against the most recent covid-19 pandemic surge in India.

The UK has been the first country to deliver life-saving medical equipment to India at a difficult time for them in this pandemic. The UK assistance package includes ventilators and oxygen concentrators from surplus stocks. The first shipment of equipment left the UK on Sunday 25 April 2021, arriving in New Delhi in the early hours of Tuesday morning. It will be used by the Government of India to provide vital medical treatment to those suffering from COVID-19 in India. More than 600 pieces of vital medical equipment, including oxygen concentrators and ventilators, will be sent to India to support the country in its fight against COVID-19.

We stand side by side with India as a friend and partner during what is a deeply concerning time in the fight against COVID-19. The UK is working closely with the Government of India to identify further assistance we can provide in the coming days, based on their most pressing needs.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what support his Department is providing to India to help tackle the increase in covid-19 cases in that country.

The UK has been the first country to deliver life-saving medical equipment to India at a difficult time for them in this pandemic. The UK assistance package includes ventilators and oxygen concentrators from surplus stocks. The first shipment of equipment left the UK on Sunday 25 April 2021, arriving in New Delhi in the early hours of Tuesday morning. It will be used by the Government of India to provide vital medical treatment to those suffering from COVID-19 in India. More than 600 pieces of vital medical equipment, including oxygen concentrators and ventilators, will be sent to India to support the country in its fight against COVID-19.

We stand side by side with India as a friend and partner during what is a deeply concerning time in the fight against COVID-19. The UK is working closely with the Government of India to identify further assistance we can provide in the coming days, based on their most pressing needs.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment the UK Government has made of merits of a fully-funded Robert Carr Fund in supporting the achievement of the targets included in the UNAIDS Global AIDS Strategy 2021-26.

FCDO assesses the Robert Carr Fund annually, as we do for all our programmes, and the reviews are available on the Development Tracker at https://devtracker.fcdo.gov.uk/

The UK is proud to be a founding member of this Fund which has done so much to reach the people most left behind by the HIV response and empower them to claim the changes they need to lead healthy and fulfilled lives. It does this by building strong networks that amplify people's voices, helping them to address harmful policies, challenge human rights abuses and shape services; all critical to helping achieve the targets in the Global AIDS Strategy 2021-26. An announcement on future support will be made at the Robert Carr Fund recommitment event later this year.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of the Robert Carr Fund in advancing human rights of inadequately served populations.

FCDO assesses the Robert Carr Fund annually, as we do for all our programmes, and the reviews are available on the Development Tracker at https://devtracker.fcdo.gov.uk/

The UK is proud to be a founding member of this Fund which has done so much to reach the people most left behind by the HIV response and empower them to claim the changes they need to lead healthy and fulfilled lives. It does this by building strong networks that amplify people's voices, helping them to address harmful policies, challenge human rights abuses and shape services; all critical to helping achieve the targets in the Global AIDS Strategy 2021-26. An announcement on future support will be made at the Robert Carr Fund recommitment event later this year.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of the Robert Carr Fund in advancing HIV and health outcomes for inadequately served populations.

FCDO assesses the Robert Carr Fund annually, as we do for all our programmes, and the reviews are available on the Development Tracker at https://devtracker.fcdo.gov.uk/

The UK is proud to be a founding member of this Fund which has done so much to reach the people most left behind by the HIV response and empower them to claim the changes they need to lead healthy and fulfilled lives. It does this by building strong networks that amplify people's voices, helping them to address harmful policies, challenge human rights abuses and shape services; all critical to helping achieve the targets in the Global AIDS Strategy 2021-26. An announcement on future support will be made at the Robert Carr Fund recommitment event later this year.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the change in the level of Official Development Assistance in 2021-22 on the UK's financial support of the Robert Carr Fund.

FCDO assesses the Robert Carr Fund annually, as we do for all our programmes, and the reviews are available on the Development Tracker at https://devtracker.fcdo.gov.uk/

The UK is proud to be a founding member of this Fund which has done so much to reach the people most left behind by the HIV response and empower them to claim the changes they need to lead healthy and fulfilled lives. It does this by building strong networks that amplify people's voices, helping them to address harmful policies, challenge human rights abuses and shape services; all critical to helping achieve the targets in the Global AIDS Strategy 2021-26. An announcement on future support will be made at the Robert Carr Fund recommitment event later this year.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if his Department will consult with representatives of (a) civil society and (b) affected communities ahead of its engagement at the UN High-Level Meeting on ending AIDS.

The UK Government is already engaged with preparations for the upcoming UN High-Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS. We are awaiting final decisions on the format of the High Level Meeting before agreeing the level of UK participation.

The UK government recognises and values the vital role civil society organisations play in the global fight against HIV and AIDS. We will work with the Robert Carr Fund and others to amplify the voices of marginalised populations to help make the High Level Meeting successful.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if the Government will ensure Ministerial attendance at the upcoming UN High-Level Meeting on ending AIDS.

The UK Government is already engaged with preparations for the upcoming UN High-Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS. We are awaiting final decisions on the format of the High Level Meeting before agreeing the level of UK participation.

The UK government recognises and values the vital role civil society organisations play in the global fight against HIV and AIDS. We will work with the Robert Carr Fund and others to amplify the voices of marginalised populations to help make the High Level Meeting successful.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department plans to announce the UK’s allocation of 2021-22 overseas development assistance for Syria by the end of April 2021.

The FCDO is working to finalise ODA budget allocations for financial year 2021/22 and until that is done will not be able to confirm individual country allocations. Final decisions have not yet been made.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent diplomatic steps his Department has taken in the effort to end the war in Syria.

The UK is committed to supporting efforts to bring an end to the Syria Conflict. The FCDO firmly believes that the only viable option for a lasting, inclusive peace in Syria is a political solution in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

The regime and its backers have obstructed the peace process thus far and the UK has played a key role in driving the international community to hold the Assad regime to account. In discussions with regional partners and in multilateral fora the UK stresses the primacy of the UN-led peace process and calls for coordinated pressure to bring the regime to the negotiating table.

On 15 March the UK coordinated a joint statement with the Foreign Ministers of Germany, France, Italy and the United States calling for the regime to seriously engage with the political process. Sanctions remain a key lever to bring the regime to the negotiating table too. On 15 March the UK, announced six new sanctions against members and supporters of the regime to hold them accountable. The UK will continue to build diplomatic pressure on the regime to drive engagement with the peace process and work to avoid another ten years of conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of developing a human rights defenders strategy to complement his Department’s 2019 policy document, UK Support for Human Rights Defenders.

The UK strongly supports Human Rights Defenders worldwide to enable them to carry out their work safely and without fear. We are considering carefully the request from Amnesty International and other Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) for a UK Government strategy on Human Rights Defenders. In 2019, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon launched the document 'UK support for Human Rights Defenders' which was drawn up with significant and important input from relevant stakeholders, including Amnesty International, and which sets out how the UK Government engages with Human Rights Defenders to advance the human rights agenda globally.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what (a) assessment he has made of the potential merits of repaying the UK's historical debt to Iran and (b) timescale he has for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

We are using every tool in our diplomatic arsenal to secure the immediate and permanent release of arbitrarily detained dual British nationals in Iran. We continue to raise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case at the most senior levels in the Iranian Government. The FCDO remains in regular contact with both Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family, and we continue to provide them with all support possible.

We welcome the removal of Nazanin's ankle tag, but Iran's continued treatment of her is intolerable. She must be allowed to return to the UK as soon as possible to be reunited with her family.

On IMS, we continue to explore options to resolve this 40-year old case.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what plans his Department has to maintain the level of the overseas aid budget funding set at 0.7 per cent of gross national income in 2021.

Future spending plans are subject to the outcome of the Spending Review. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver a statement on the 2020 Spending Review on 25 November in the House of Commons.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will ensure that child health remains a strategic priority for his Department.

The UK is a leading player in global health and remains committed to supporting child health interventions as part of our manifesto commitment to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children by 2030.

The UK will be working to strengthen and improve countries' health systems so that children and parents can access healthcare, have access to clean water, and have nutritious diets.

To deliver on our commitment we will work across different dimensions of child health, including providing funding for research and development, supporting nutrition and water and sanitation interventions to prevent malnutrition and diarrhoea, and ensuring children in the poorest countries have access to the life-saving vaccines that children in the richest countries routinely receive. For example, the UK has pledged £1.65 billion, the equivalent of £330 million per year, to support Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance's goal to immunise a further 300 million children and save up to 8 million lives.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will ensure that in addition to direct covid-19 global intervention programmes his Department tackles the indirect effects of the pandemic on maternal and child health.

The UK Government remains committed to supporting child, newborn and maternal health interventions as part of our manifesto commitment to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children by 2030. This is more important than ever given the COVID-19 pandemic which is exerting even more pressure on essential services with significant impacts for pregnant women, children and adolescents.

Globally we are working with agencies such as the World Health Organisation, UNFPA, the Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health and the Global Financing Facility to support governments to maintain health systems in affected countries, provide technical guidance and advocate for sustained reproductive, maternal, new-born and child health services. This may include filling essential drug supply gaps and supporting frontline health workers to stay in their jobs and provide quality services.

The UK has also pledged £1.65 billion, the equivalent of £330 million per year, to support GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance's goal to immunise a further 300 million children and save up to 8 million lives.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress his Department has made in (a) advocating Myanmar accountability for crimes committed against the Rohingya population and (b) making representations on the Rohingya people’s safe, voluntary and dignified return home.

The UK has been clear that those responsible for serious human rights violations should be held to account. We have used our role on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to increase international attention on the Rohingya crisis and we continue to lead calls for accountability. The UK has worked with partners to try and implement the Fact Finding Mission recommendations, including establishing the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism on Myanmar to collect and preserve evidence of atrocities. When I spoke to the Myanmar Minister for International Cooperation on 23 June, I encouraged Myanmar to continue to engage with the International Court of Justice process in a transparent way. On 6 July, the UK's Global Human Rights sanction regime (GHR) listed the Myanmar military's Commander-in-Chief and Deputy Commander-in-Chief, for overseeing the systematic and brutal violence against the Rohingya and other minorities, as set out in the Independent Fact Finding Mission Report. This is in addition to the sanctions which the UK secured through the EU, against 14 members of the Myanmar military responsible for serious human rights violations.

The UK has been clear that Rohingya returns must be voluntary, safe and dignified, in line with the principles of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). We agree with the UNHCR's assessment that conditions are not yet in place to enable this. Since early 2019 there have been serious clashes in Rakhine State between the Arakan Army, an Ethnic Armed Organisation, and the Myanmar military. We have called at the UNSC for an immediate cessation of hostilities. We continue to press the Government of Myanmar for full implementation of the Kofi Annan Rakhine Advisory Commission (RAC) recommendations, including granting citizenship, freedom of movement and permitting immediate and effective access for agencies. The UK is clear that the RAC recommendations remain the best and only internationally and domestically agreed template for tackling the problems in Rakhine State.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Chinese Consulate-General in Belfast and Belfast City Council on the planning dispute at the Chinese Consulate-General.

We are aware of the issues surrounding the Consulate General's construction works and are liaising closely with the Consulate General and Belfast City Council in an attempt to help them reach, through cooperation and dialogue, an amicable resolution that is satisfactory to all parties. We expect diplomatic and consular missions in the UK to respect our laws and regulations in line with their obligations under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations and UK law.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department has plans to provide financial support to UK citizens that have been required to pay higher airline fees to return to the UK from overseas as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

For those British Nationals that cannot afford the cost of a flight to return, and have no other funding options, they may be eligible for financial support through an emergency loan from public funds.

More details can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/financial-assistance-abroad/financial-assistance-abroad#if-you-need-financial-help-abroad

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to include ice cream products sold for takeaway consumption in the temporary VAT reduction for the hospitality sector.

The temporary reduced rate of VAT (5 per cent) was introduced on 15 July 2020 to support the cash flow and viability of about 150,000 businesses and protect over 2.4 million jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors.

Ice cream served for consumption on the premises in ice cream parlours or other food establishments will benefit from the reduced rate.

This relief comes at a significant cost to the Exchequer, and there are no plans to extend the scope of the reduced rate. This policy will cost over £7 billion, and while some businesses in some sectors are disappointed, a boundary for eligibility had to be drawn.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to include ice cream products sold in ice cream parlours in the temporary VAT reduction for the hospitality sector.

The temporary reduced rate of VAT (5 per cent) was introduced on 15 July 2020 to support the cash flow and viability of about 150,000 businesses and protect over 2.4 million jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors. Ice cream served for consumption on the premises in ice cream parlours or other food establishments will benefit from the reduced rate.

The reduced rate has been extended until 30 September 2021, after which a reduced rate of 12.5 per cent will apply for a further six months, until 31 March 2022.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether there will be a Barnett consequential for the Northern Ireland devolved government as a result of the announcement of 10 February 2021 of £5 million funding for the removal of unsafe cladding.

The Housing Secretary announced £3.5 billion on 10 February 2021 as part of a £5 billion multi-year investment in building safety in England.

The Barnett formula is applied to changes in departmental funding so will apply to changes in funding related to this announcement. The level of Barnett consequentials to the Northern Ireland Executive will be confirmed at future fiscal events and spending reviews when the overall level of funding for MHCLG is set.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will allocate funds to the devolved Governments equivalent to the £51.3 billion package for councils in England announced by the Minister of Housing, Communities & Local Government, on 10 February 2021.

At Spending Review 2020, the core spending power for Local Government increased from £49.0 billion to £51.3 billion in 2021-22. The Barnett formula was applied to changes in departmental funding as set out in the Statement of Funding Policy so additional funding for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has already generated additional funding for the devolved administrations as part of their own 2021-22 settlements.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the amount of eligible gift aid on charitable donations that is unclaimed each year.

HMRC has not undertaken recent analysis on this subject and this would only be available at disproportionate cost.

Research conducted for HMRC in 2015/16 found that 25% of the value of donations did not have Gift Aid added to them where the donor was eligible, contributing up to £0.56bn to the value of unclaimed Gift Aid. The full report is available on GOV.UK at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/charitable-giving-and-gift-aid-research

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many times HMRC confirmed with Betindex that they were able to meet their Betting Duty liabilities between 1 January 2020 and 1 March 2021.

HMRC treats information about any exchanges it has with individual customers as private and confidential. HMRC is unable to answer the question because to do so would breach this strict principle

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of implementing a zero VAT rating for the construction of facilities for community amateur sports clubs.

The Government currently maintains a zero rate of VAT on the construction of certain buildings. This includes buildings that will be used solely for a relevant charitable purpose, intended solely for non-business use and/or as a village hall.

Going further would come at a cost to the Exchequer. Given this, the Government has no current plans to change the VAT treatment of construction.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the current nil rate band up to £500,000 on stamp duty land tax for a further 12 months.

The temporary increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax nil rate band was designed to create immediate momentum within the property market, where property transactions fell by as much as 50 per cent during the COVID-19 lockdown in March.

As the relief was designed to provide an immediate stimulus to the property market, the Government does not plan to extend this relief.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the VAT cut for the hospitality sector (a) beyond 31 March 2021 and (b) to other covid-19-affected sectors.

The temporary VAT reduced rate came into effect on 15 July 2020 and was initially scheduled to end on 12 January 2021.

In order to continue supporting the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and to protect 2.4 million jobs, the Government extended the temporary reduced rate of VAT (5 per cent) to goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors until 31 March 2021.

The Government keeps all taxes under review; future tax decisions will be made at Budget.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether people who became self-employed in the tax year 2019-20 will be eligible for the fourth self-employment income support scheme.

I refer the Honourable Member to the answer given on 25 January 2021 to UIN 139996.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential benefits of extending the Museums and Galleries Exhibitions Tax Relief due to conclude in April 2022.

Since the Museums and Galleries Exhibitions Tax Relief (MGETR) was introduced in 2017, the Government has provided a total of £20 million of support to 1,345 exhibitions.

The Government has committed to reviewing MGETR before its expiry in 2022. Further information will be provided in due course.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to remove the 25 per cent duty that is now incurred on steel sold into Northern Ireland from outside Great Britain as a result of the UK's departure from the EU.

On the issue of steel movements into Northern Ireland, the Government will write to affected businesses this week to set out routes for bringing UK-origin and EU-origin steel into Northern Ireland tariff-free.

The Government will also set out how relevant quotas can be accessed when businesses in Northern Ireland import steel from the rest of the world.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the 31 January 2021 deadline by six months for the self employed who have taxes to be paid for the tax year 2019-20.

The Government encourages as many people as possible to file on time even if they cannot pay their tax straight away, but where a taxpayer is unable to do so because of the impact of COVID-19 HMRC will accept they have a reasonable excuse and cancel penalties, provided they manage to file as soon as possible after that.

HMRC are looking into potential changes that could be introduced to the process for making a reasonable excuse claim and getting penalties cancelled, in order to make the process easier and quicker for taxpayers, agents and HMRC. HMRC have already given taxpayers and agents more time to appeal by extending the penalty appeal period by three months.

Only by filing a Self-Assessment return will taxpayers and their agents be able to determine the tax due for 2019/20 and the amount of any payments on account for 2020/21. For those taxpayers who will have difficulty in paying all of their Self-Assessment liabilities due on 31 January 2021, HMRC’s enhanced Time to Pay arrangements will make it easier to pay over an extended period.

If taxpayers or their agents are struggling to obtain the required information in time for their Self-Assessment return to be submitted by the 31 January filing date, they can provide provisional figures on their return and then provide HMRC with the actual figures as soon as they can. They must state that provisional figures are being provided by ticking the appropriate data item box on the return.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to remove the simple interest applied on HMRC's Enhanced Time to Pay mechanism for self-employed people with taxes to pay for the year 2019-20.

The purpose of interest is to recompense the party deprived of the use of money that is owed. Interest reinforces the fact that taxes are due for payment on particular dates and brings a degree of fairness into the system where those payment dates are met by some taxpayers but not by others. Interest is not a penalty for late payment.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the eligibility criteria for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme prior to the application process opening for the fourth grant to allow people represented by #ExcludedUK to access that scheme.

The Government has provided, and will continue to provide, generous support to the self-employed during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). The third grant, combined with up to £14,070 worth of support for each individual from the first and second grants, makes the SEISS one of the most generous schemes for the self-employed in the world. The Government continues to take a flexible approach and keeps all impacts and policies under review. Details of the fourth SEISS grant will be available in due course.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is one part of a substantial package of support available for the self-employed. Those ineligible for the SEISS Grant Extension may still be eligible for other elements of the support available. The Universal Credit standard allowance has been temporarily increased for 2020-21 and the Minimum Income Floor relaxed for the duration of the crisis, so that where self-employed claimants' earnings have fallen significantly, their Universal Credit award will have increased to reflect their lower earnings. In addition to this, they may also have access to other elements of the package, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments, and other business support grants.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to review the eligibility criteria for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in light of the April extension to that scheme in order to allow people excluded and represented by #excludeduk to access that scheme.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has helped to protect the livelihoods of millions of people. As of 13 December, 9.9m jobs have been supported by the CJRS, with the total value of claims over £46bn.

The Government has continued to adapt and try to include as many people as practically possible. For example, in April, the Government extended the cut-off date for the CJRS to 19 March (from 28 February), bringing in over 200,000 employees to the scope of the scheme; and similarly, has introduced new cut-off dates, most recently 30 October 2020. This allows as many people as possible to be included in the scheme by going right up to the day before the announcement, balancing the risk of fraud that existed as soon as the scheme became public.

There is also extensive additional support available for businesses which may support their workforce including over £65 billion in affordable finance to firms through business loan schemes, grants, a business rates holiday, and tax cuts and deferrals. This is in addition to a temporary £8 billion increase to welfare, mortgage holidays and help with council tax payments. The Government has also introduced further support worth £4.6 billion across the United Kingdom; this includes Barnett funding of £729 million to support local businesses.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans his Department has to allocate funding to maintain the £20 per week uplift to universal credit beyond spring 2021.

The £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit (UC) standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element is specifically aimed at providing significant temporary support to low income families who have seen their income fall as a result of the immediate impact of the crisis, and will run until the beginning of April. It is right that we wait for more clarity on the economic and health context before making any further decisions, particularly given how quickly things can move, as demonstrated by recent developments on a vaccine.

The increase is just one part of wide-ranging Government measures to support people through the Covid-19 crisis, which are worth £280bn this year. Low income families are also benefiting from higher Local Housing Allowance rates, mortgage holidays, a temporary suspension of the UC Minimum Income Floor, a £500m local authority Hardship Fund, a £170m local authority Covid Winter Grant scheme, and £500 payments to help people self-isolate under NHS Test and Trace.

In recent years the Government has invested significantly in UC, including by raising work allowances by £1,000 from April 2019, benefitting working parents and people with disabilities by up to £630 per year.

While social security policy is devolved to Northern Ireland, the Executive will continue to be appropriately funded to deliver in NI any changes to GB benefits such as UC.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the eligibility criteria for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme prior to the application process opening for the third grant to allow people represented by #ExcludedUK to access that scheme.

The practical issues that prevented the Government from being able to include company owner-managers in the original Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, namely the inability of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to verify the source of their dividend income without introducing unacceptable levels of fraud risk, still remain. Similarly, the practical issues that prevented the Government from being able to include the newly self-employed in 2019-20 in the original SEISS, namely that HMRC will not have access to their self-assessment returns in order to verify their eligibility, still remain.

The Government has tried to target the SEISS at those who most need it through a maximum £50,000 threshold for average trading profits, and the requirement to earn 50 per cent or more of income from self-employment.

As previously announced, new eligibility criteria have been introduced for the third SEISS grant in order to ensure that it will only be available to self-employed traders who are facing reduced demand or those who are temporarily unable to trade due to COVID-19.

The Government has acknowledged that it has not been possible to support everyone as they might want. Those ineligible for the SEISS may still be eligible for other elements of the package of financial support available, including tax deferrals, rental support, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the proposals made by the London School of Economics on mortgage prisoners, published 11 November 2020.

We are grateful to London School of Economics (LSE) and Martin Lewis for their contribution to this conversation.

We remain committed to supporting these borrowers and are pleased that active lenders have started offering switching options specifically for mortgage prisoners taking advantage of the new flexibilities given to them by the FCA. We will monitor the impact of this in the coming months.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the relaxation of the minimum income criteria beyond the 31 October 2020 to allow more people to access tax-free childcare.

Working parents who are on the Government’s coronavirus support schemes will still be eligible for childcare support even if their income falls below the minimum threshold requirement.

From Sunday 1st November, eligible working parents who receive support through the Government’s new Job Support Scheme (JSS) and extended Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue to receive their childcare entitlements, including the 30 hours offer and Tax-Free Childcare, even if their income levels fall below the threshold temporarily whilst on these schemes.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if people whose working hours are reduced to less than 16 hours per week during the covid-19 outbreak after 31 October 2020 will be able to access the childcare element of working tax credits.

At the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, HMRC changed regulations to ease the Working Tax Credit hours requirements and treat claimants as if they were working their normal hours. This meant that claimants whose hours dropped below the requirements, including the 16 hours per week for a single adult with one or more children, could remain on Working Tax Credit. This easement was tied to the length of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and is set to expire on 31 October.

We will shortly lay legislation to implement an additional easement for the length of the Job Support Scheme. This will ensure claimants whose hours reduce due to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have access to Working Tax Credit and its childcare element.


Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many households in Northern Ireland have been affected by the loss of the child element of child tax credit and universal credit for a third or later child born on or after 6 April 2017 as a result of not meeting any listed exceptions; and how much money those affected households have not been entitled to as a result of the social security changes that took place on 6 April 2017.

With reference to your first question, Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) administers Universal Credit (UC) for Great Britain and therefore does not hold data relating to Northern Ireland. DWP have passed this part of your question to the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency for response.

Please find below a table summarising the estimated number of tax credit recipient families affected by the policy to support a maximum of two children and the foregone entitlement of ineligible children for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 tax years in Northern Ireland.

Number of families affected

Entitlement of ineligible children

2017/18

1,300

£3.6m

2018/19

3,900

£10.9m

Please find below a table summarising the estimated number of tax credit recipient families affected by the withdrawal of the family element of tax credits for families without a child born before 6 April 2017 and the associated entitlement amount for which they are ineligible.

Number of families affected

Entitlement of ineligible families

2017/18

1,400

£0.8m

2018/19

3,100

£1.7m

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many households in Northern Ireland have been affected by the ending of the family element of child tax credit as a result of having no children on their claim who were born before 6 April 2017; and what estimate he has made of the amount of money to which those households have not been entitled.

With reference to your first question, Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) administers Universal Credit (UC) for Great Britain and therefore does not hold data relating to Northern Ireland. DWP have passed this part of your question to the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency for response.

Please find below a table summarising the estimated number of tax credit recipient families affected by the policy to support a maximum of two children and the foregone entitlement of ineligible children for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 tax years in Northern Ireland.

Number of families affected

Entitlement of ineligible children

2017/18

1,300

£3.6m

2018/19

3,900

£10.9m

Please find below a table summarising the estimated number of tax credit recipient families affected by the withdrawal of the family element of tax credits for families without a child born before 6 April 2017 and the associated entitlement amount for which they are ineligible.

Number of families affected

Entitlement of ineligible families

2017/18

1,400

£0.8m

2018/19

3,100

£1.7m

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will remove VAT on audio books in line with the removal of VAT on e-books and newspapers on 1 May.

The extension of the zero rate of VAT has been introduced to provide consistency of approach between certain physical and digital publications to support reading and literacy in all its forms. Audiobooks are already taxed consistently at the standard rate in both physical and digital format.

In UK law, a book is deemed to be something that is read or looked at, a definition that does not include audio content in both digital and physical form.

The Government keeps all taxes under review, including VAT, but there are no current plans to extend the VAT zero rate to audiobooks.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support self-employed people who are not eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme due to having a loss in trading profit bringing their average trading profit to below zero.

Self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, are eligible for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) if they have submitted their Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19, continued to trade, and have been adversely affected by COVID-19. To qualify, their self-employed trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income. The value of the grant is based on average trading profit over three tax years: 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19. The aim is not to subsidise the self-employed who would have been making losses regardless, but to support those who have been adversely affected as a result of COVID-19.

Individuals who are not eligible for the SEISS may be able to benefit from other elements of the unprecedented financial support provided by the Government. This package includes Bounce Back Loans, tax deferrals, rental support,?mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. On 8 July, the Government also introduced the new Plan for Jobs which will make available up to £30 billion to assist in creating, supporting and protecting jobs.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the oral contribution of the Secretary of State for Education of 18 March 2020, Official Report, column 1083 on business rate relief for nurseries, what the Barnett consequentials are for Northern Ireland of that relief.

The Northern Ireland Executive will receive around £3 million of additional funding as a result of the business rate relief for nurseries.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what fiscal support he plans to put in place for (a) businesses and (b) employees in the event that (i) there is a second wave of the covid-19 outbreak and (ii) there are regional covid-19 lockdowns as a result of that second wave.

The Government has announced unprecedented support for public services, workers and businesses to protect against the current economic emergency

  • In the Budget, we set out the first stage of the government’s economic response, with £12bn of support to businesses, households and public services.

  • We extended the support available to individuals and businesses, including a business rates holiday, grants to smaller businesses and a package of government-backed and guaranteed loans.

  • We announced a package to help individuals affected by the crisis. This covered a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), as well as changes to our welfare system including Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay, making support quicker and easier to access, as well as more generous.

  • Then on the 26 March we announced even more support to help the self-employed, with the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

So far, the CJRS has helped 1.1 million employers across the UK furlough 9.2 million jobs, while 2.6 million self-employed individuals had applied for grants worth £7.6 billion in total.

As the economy opens up and we look forward, we will consider how best to support the economic recovery.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will implement an exception for people who submitted their RTI to HMRC for their PAYE salary annually on a date after the 19 March 2020 so that they may be eligible to be furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

For an employee to be eligible for the CJRS they must have been notified to HMRC on a real-time information (RTI) submission on or before 19 March. Those paid annually are eligible to claim, as long as they meet the relevant conditions including being notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020, which relates to a payment of earnings in the 2019/2020 tax year. Anyone paid annually and notified on an RTI submission after that date will not be eligible for the scheme, which puts them in the same position as those who are paid more frequently and were not notified to HMRC on or before 19 March. The 19 March cut-off date allows as many people as possible to be included by going right up to the day before the announcement and addresses the risk of fraud that existed as soon as the scheme became public.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reasons the Barnet Consequentials for Northern Ireland were not applied to emergency funding that was allocated to service providers of victims and survivors of domestic abuse in England and Wales.

As part of the response to COVID-19, the UK government has announced £39 million of funding to support victims of domestic abuse. The Barnett formula has been applied to this funding and, as a result of this, the Northern Ireland Executive will receive £1.0 million of additional funding.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, what assessment he has made of the feasibility of requiring all business to pay a percentage of the cost of the salaries of their furloughed staff from August 2020 when those businesses will reopen at different times as a result of differences in covid-19 guidance published by the devolved Administrations; and whether he plans to take steps to mitigate the effect on businesses of the differences in that guidance by amending the scheme.

An early assessment of CJRS claims suggests that about 40% of employers have not made a claim for employer NICs costs or employer pension contributions and so will be unaffected by the change in August if their employment patterns do not change.[1]

The CJRS will close at the end of October, after eight months. It is the case that some firms will be affected by coronavirus for longer than others, and the Government will seek to support these firms appropriately. It would be challenging to target the CJRS to specific sectors in a fair and deliverable way, and that may not be the most effective or sensible way to provide longer term support for those sectors most affected by coronavirus.

The Government will continue to work closely with the Devolved Administrations to support people across the UK, and monitor developments in the public health and wider economic situation, to ensure that the support being provided is appropriate for the whole UK.

[1] This estimate is based on HMRC analysis of CJRS administrative scheme level claims management information.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how the employer contribution will be implemented to ensure that staff continue to receive at least 80 per cent of their salary following the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme beyond August 2020.

On 29 May, the Chancellor announced plans for introducing employer contributions into the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, while ensuring that employees continue to receive 80% of regular wages while furloughed.

In June and July, the Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance Contributions (ER NICs) and pension contributions for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will have to pay employees for the hours they work.

In August, the Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions for the hours the employee does not work.

In September, the Government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up the 80% total, up to a cap of £2,500.

In October, the Government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up the 80% total, up to a cap of £2,500.

The cap will be proportional to the hours not worked.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the duration of the self-employed income support scheme.

The UK has one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme opened on 13 May, ahead of schedule, and provides support worth up to £7,500 each to millions of individuals. Recipients will have the grants in their bank accounts by end of this month.

The Chancellor will keep the scheme under review.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reasons the Self-employment Income Support Scheme online system does not accept a Northern Ireland driving licence or an Irish passport held by Northern Ireland citizens as a way of verifying their identity via government gateway; and what means of verifying their identity should people in Northern Ireland use to access that scheme.

Everyone in Northern Ireland who is eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be able to claim their grant. People who have engaged with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) online in the past using an existing Government Gateway credential – for example, to file their Self-Assessment tax return – can reuse their existing online Government Gateway credentials to claim the grant. Most people who are eligible to claim have credentials already. Those dealing with HMRC online for the first time will be required to verify their identity. HMRC worked quickly with the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency to enable people to use a GB driving licence to verify their identity for SEISS. It has not been possible to add non-UK passports or non-GB driving licences to the Government Gateway authentication service to the same timeline. HMRC are currently exploring whether it is possible to connect to Northern Ireland Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) and Irish Passport Service data, as part of their continuing improvement of the Government Gateway. People who do not have a UK passport or GB driving licence can use the multiple-choice questions option to verify their identity. This uses a financial checking service that does not require a passport or driving licence. Anyone who is unable to verify their identity in this way can also make their claim by telephone.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to help ensure that businesses can claim on their insurance for business interruption due to the covid-19 outbreak.

For those businesses which have an appropriate policy that covers government ordered closure and unspecified notifiable diseases, the Government’s social distancing instructions are sufficient to allow businesses to make a claim against their insurance, provided the other terms and conditions in their policy are met.

However, it is important to note that most businesses have not purchased insurance that covers losses from unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19. Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers. Some policies cover losses arising from any disease classed as notifiable by the Government, however, most policies only cover a specific list of notifiable diseases. The terms of a policy cannot be changed retrospectively.

The Government recognises that businesses who do not have appropriate insurance cover will require support from elsewhere. The Government encourages businesses to seek assistance through the wider support package if they are in financial difficulty. Businesses should explore the full package of support set out by the Chancellor in recent weeks, which includes measures such as business rates holidays, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and wage support.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support company directors and self-employed company owners who pay themselves via dividends and are therefore ineligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Those who pay themselves a salary through their own company may be eligible to claim for 80% of usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The CJRS is available to employers, including personal service companies, and individuals paying themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme are eligible. Where furloughed directors need to carry out particular duties to fulfil the statutory obligations they owe to their company, they may do so provided they do no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose, i.e. they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company.

Income from dividends is a return on investment in the company, rather than wages, and is not eligible for support. Under current reporting mechanisms it is not possible for HM Revenue and Customs to distinguish between dividends derived from an individual’s own company and dividends from other sources, and between dividends in lieu of employment income and as returns from other corporate activity. Expanding the scope would require HMRC to collect and verify new information. This would take longer to deliver and put at risk the other schemes which the Government is committed to delivering as quickly as possible.

Those who are not eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme might be able to access the other support Government is providing, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loans Scheme for small businesses, and the deferral of tax payments. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at?www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the cut off date for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to make eligible people who submitted their RTI to HMRC after 19 March 2020.

Extending the cut-off date for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme beyond 20 March, when the scheme was announced, would enable criminals to exploit the scheme by providing fraudulent payroll data that HMRC could not easily verify. Processing claims beyond 20 March while managing the significant fraud risks would require much greater manual handling by HMRC which would substantially slow down the system and therefore delay the delivery of grants that many businesses desperately need.

Those not eligible for this grant may be able to access the other support the Government is providing, including a package of temporary welfare measures and up to three months’ mortgage payment holidays for those struggling with their mortgage payments.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available to road haulage firms during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has already announced a range of measures to support all businesses, including hauliers, such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. The Department for Transport is continuing to engage with the haulage industry to understand the impact of Covid-19 on the sector.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether artists that have transitioned from receiving the majority of their earnings through PAYE to receiving the majority of their earnings through self-employment in the last three years will be classified as self-employed in respect of the Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme from the date they began to receive the majority of their earnings through self-employment.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced new support for the self-employed on 26 March 2020.

The new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will help those with lost trading profits due to COVID-19. It will allow eligible individuals to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed and is one of the most generous self-employed support schemes in the world.

To qualify, an individual’s self-employed trading profits must be less than £50,000 and more than half of their income must come from self-employment. Some 95% of people who receive most of their income from self-employment could benefit from this Scheme.

More information about the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, including the full eligibility criteria and how to claim, is available at www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that the self-employment support scheme does not discriminate against claimants whose income dropped in the applicable tax years as a result of (a) illness and (b) maternity leave; and whether the average grant will take account of self-employment profit that is less than half of one the tax years.

The new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will help those with lost trading profits due to COVID-19. It means the UK will have one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world.

The new scheme will allow eligible individuals to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for 3 months. Self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, are eligible if they have submitted their Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19, continued to trade and have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19.

Taking maternity leave, paternity leave, or sick leave does not mean that the trade has ceased and therefore should not affect a person’s eligibility for the SEISS as long as the individual intends to return to the trade after the period of leave.

To qualify for the SEISS, an individual’s self-employed trading profits must be less than £50,000, with more than half of their income from self-employment. Delivering a scheme for the self-employed is a very difficult operational challenge, particularly in the time available. There is no way for HM Revenue & Customs to know the reasons why an individual’s profits may have dropped in earlier years from Self Assessment returns.

However, to help those with volatile income in 2018-19 for whatever reason, an individual is eligible for the SEISS if their trading profits are no more than £50,000 and at least half of their total income, for either the tax year 2018-19 or the average of the tax years 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19. If eligible, they will receive a taxable grant based on their average trading profit over the three tax years, including in years where their trading profits were less than half their total income.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support is available for people who finished their employment after 28 February 2020 but have been unable to take up new employment due to the covid-19 outbreak and are not supported by any financial package.

On 15 April, the Government announced it would extend the cut-off date for the CJRS to 19 March, to include employees whose payroll information was notified to HMRC by 19 March. Processing claims for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in cases where HMRC did not have RTI data by 19 March would require much greater manual handling by HMRC, which would significantly slow down the system while risking substantial levels of fraud. It would also require greater resource for HMRC when they are already under significant pressure to deliver the system designed. Those not eligible for the scheme may be able to access the other support Government is providing, including a package of temporary welfare measures and up to three months’ mortgage payment holidays for those struggling with their mortgage payments.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether the Government has plans to review the high income child benefit charge in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government introduced the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) from January 2013 to ensure that support is targeted at those who need it most. HICBC applies to anyone with an individual income over £50,000, who receives Child Benefit or whose partner receives it, regardless of the make-up of their household. The charge increases gradually for taxpayers with incomes between £50,000 and £60,000.

The Government has no current plans to review HICBC but, as with all elements of tax policy, keeps this under review.

The Government understands that COVID-19 is having a financial impact on individuals. Those who have claimed Child Benefit but have opted out of receiving payments so they did not need to return any HICBC liability, can opt back in to start getting Child Benefit payments.

In addition, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have set up the COVID-19 helpline for anyone who is having financial difficulties and concerned about their ability to make a full payment of tax on time. HMRC can give people the time they need to pay, by deferring payments and payment through instalments.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to take steps to protect businesses from high interest rate loans offered to them by banks that wish to avoid using the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government has set out an unprecedented package of support for all businesses affected by this crisis, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

On 3 April, the Chancellor extended the eligibility of the scheme so that all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19, and not just those viable businesses unable to secure regular commercial financing, are now eligible if the lender believes they will need finance to see them through these unprecedented times. This exceptional support is designed to enable all long-term viable businesses experiencing difficulties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak to access finance, if external finance is the right answer.

All individual lending decisions, whether under CBILS or outside of this, remain at the discretion of lenders.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
25th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to protect agency workers that are facing unemployment as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and whether those workers are included in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Government seeks, as far as possible, to protect people’s jobs and incomes. This is an unprecedented jobs retention scheme and the Government has been working hard to set out further details on the scheme. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is open to any individual who was on an employer’s PAYE payroll on 19 March 2020. Full details can be found in the guidance available at www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme and www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-to-claim-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme, which provides answers to these questions.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to provide financial support to self-employed people during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced new support for the self-employed on 26 March 2020.

The new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will help those with lost trading profits due to COVID-19. It will allow eligible individuals to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed and is one of the most generous self-employed support schemes in the world.

To qualify, an individual’s self-employed trading profits must be less than £50,000 and more than half of their income must come from self-employment. Some 95% of people who receive most of their income from self-employment will benefit from this Scheme.

HM Revenue & Customs will contact individuals if they are eligible and will invite them to apply online using a simple form. HMRC are working on this urgently and expect people to be able to access the Scheme no later than the beginning of June.

More information about the Scheme, including the full eligibility criteria and how to claim, is available at www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

The Scheme supplements the significant support already announced for UK businesses and employees, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and deferral of tax payments.

More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support he is making available to private childcare providers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The UK is well prepared to tackle COVID-19. The Government has set out specific measures to support childcare providers:

  • funding for the Government’s early years entitlements will continue during any periods of nursery, preschool or childminder closures, or where children cannot attend due to COVID-19
  • to support nurseries at this time, the Chancellor has also decided that they will be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year from 1 April.

Childcare providers will also benefit from the wider measures the Chancellor has announced to support the people and businesses of the UK:

  • a three-point plan announced at Budget providing £12 billion of support for public services, individuals and businesses whose finances are affected by the outbreak
  • a package to provide additional support for businesses and individuals totalling £350bn
  • a temporary but uncapped package to help firms keep people in employment.

The response to COVID-19 needs to be UK-wide and the Government has so far provided £5.3 billion of funding to the devolved administrations to support people, businesses and public services in response to Covid-19. This is in addition to the UK-wide measures that the people and businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether Project Stratum funding for Northern Ireland to provide digital broadband across rural areas is still in place.

The Confidence and Supply financial annex committed the UK Government to providing £1 billion to Northern Ireland, including £150 million for broadband. To date, £763 million has been released. Any release of further funding would take place following Parliament’s approval in the normal way through the Estimates process.

At the Budget, the Government also committed £5bn to support the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband to the most difficult-to-reach 20% of the country. This funding will have benefits across the UK, particularly in rural areas.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support (a) self-employed artists and (b) theatre companies that are having their work cancelled during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is deferring tax payments, through the Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) and VAT system to help support businesses and the self-employed with cash flows. VAT payments due between now and mid-June will be deferred. No business will have to make a VAT payment to HMRC in that period. Income tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021, benefitting up to 5.7m self-employed businesses.

The Government has also announced it is delaying the reforms to the off-payroll working rules (IR35) from April 2020 to April 2021 and the reforms will be legislated for in the 2020 Finance Bill. This deferral has been announced in response to the ongoing spread of Covid-19, to help businesses and individuals deal with the economic impacts of the pandemic.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available to self-employed individuals with an eligible business entity. By providing an 80% government guarantee on finance facilities up to £5 million, this scheme will help more businesses to get access to the finance they need. The Government will not charge businesses for this guarantee, and will also cover the first 12 months of interest payments for businesses. For more information on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme go to: www.British-business-bank.co.uk/CBILS.

The Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for all self-employed UC claimants for 1 year from 6 April. This means a drop in earnings due to the economic impacts of Covid-19 will not affect the amount of UC a claimant receives. This goes further than the Budget announcement to temporarily relax the MIF only for claimants who are directly affected by Covid-19, which has already come into effect. For those directly affected or self-isolating, there will be no attendance requirements, and Universal Credit can be claimed online or via phone.

Self-employed people unable to work because they are directly affected by Covid-19 or self-isolating will be eligible for Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. This is now payable from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth. Eligible claimants under 25 will be entitled to £57.90 per week, and over 25s £73.10 per week.

Theatres in England will benefit from the Government’s introduction of a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Those operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value below £15,000 will also be eligible for a £10,000 grant, while those operating from properties valued between £14,999 and £51,000 will be provided with a £25,000 grant.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will allocate more resources to the dedicated HMRC helpline for businesses concerned about paying their tax as a result of the outbreak of covid-19.

At the Budget, the Chancellor directed 2,000 civil servants to staff HMRC’s dedicated Covid-19 helpline. HMRC are delivering an enhanced Time to Pay offer to fit the specific impacts of the virus. Time to Pay is available to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and are unable to pay their tax on time or have existing liabilities. The bespoke arrangement, which is agreed depending on circumstance, can cover all debts owed to HMRC. Taxpayers may be able to defer payments for up to three months if they are unable to make a payment immediately. The Covid-19 helpline can be reached by calling: 0800 0159 559 and enables those eligible to get practical help and advice. HMRC have already seen significant take-up of the service and will keep resourcing of the helpline under constant review as the situation develops.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to help people protect their (a) business and (b) personal credit ratings during the covid-19 outbreak.

Payment holidays can be a feature of business or consumer lending products or can be offered by lenders in exceptional circumstances outside of the customer’s control. This covers a multitude of potential scenarios.. Where payment holidays as a result of COVID-19 are agreed with a lender, we would expect lenders to ensure that taking a payment holiday should not impact credit scores. Ministers and officials are working closely with industry to protect businesses and consumers from harm during these unprecedented times.

The UK is well prepared to tackle COVID-19. On Tuesday 17 March the Chancellor announced that as the wider economic picture becomes clearer, the government would do whatever it takes to get our nation through the impacts of COVID-19 and that he stands ready to announce further action wherever necessary.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of waiving the citizenship application fee for Irish citizens resident in Northern Ireland applying for British citizenship.

Under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, the people of Northern Ireland have the right to identify and be accepted as British, Irish or both, as they may so choose.

Irish citizens are automatically deemed to be "settled" in the United Kingdom and so any child born in the UK to an Irish citizen would be a British citizen by birth.

Irish Citizens have a unique position under UK law and do not need to apply for immigration leave to work, live or study in the UK. As such there has been no assessment of the potential merits of waiving the citizenship application fee for Irish citizens resident in Northern Ireland applying for British citizenship. Fee waivers, exceptions and reductions are not extended to citizenship applications, except in very limited circumstances.

We keep our fees for immigration and nationality applications under review and ensure they are within the parameters agreed with HM Treasury and Parliament, as set out in Section 68 (9) of the Immigration Act 2014 which can be viewed via the following link:

(http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/22/section/68).

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will issue guidance that will allow for imprisonment as a reasonable ground for a late EU Settlement Scheme application.

The EU Settlement Scheme guidance published on GOV.UK applies to all those who may apply under the scheme, including prisoners.

HM Prison and Probation Service has been working closely with the Home Office to ensure those who are eligible to apply under the scheme are aware of it and are able to do so.

In line with the Citizens’ Rights Agreements, the Government has made clear,where a person eligible for status under the EU Settlement Scheme has reasonable grounds for missing the 30 June 2021 deadline for applications by those resident in the UK by the end of the transition period, they will be given a further opportunity to apply.

We will publish clear, non-exhaustive guidance in the near future on what constitutes reasonable grounds for missing the deadline. For now, the focus remains on communicating information about the scheme and helping people to apply before the deadline.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what guidance has been issued by her Department to (a) prison and (b) probation services throughout the UK to help people in custody either on remand or serving a sentence to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.

The EU Settlement Scheme guidance published on GOV.UK applies to all those who may apply under the scheme, including prisoners.

HM Prison and Probation Service has been working closely with the Home Office to ensure those who are eligible to apply under the scheme are aware of it and are able to do so.

In line with the Citizens’ Rights Agreements, the Government has made clear,where a person eligible for status under the EU Settlement Scheme has reasonable grounds for missing the 30 June 2021 deadline for applications by those resident in the UK by the end of the transition period, they will be given a further opportunity to apply.

We will publish clear, non-exhaustive guidance in the near future on what constitutes reasonable grounds for missing the deadline. For now, the focus remains on communicating information about the scheme and helping people to apply before the deadline.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Feb 2021
What progress she has made on establishing a TB test centre in Northern Ireland to support people applying for a British National (Overseas) visa.

Those who have been in a country at risk of tuberculosis within the last six months must apply for the BN(O) route with a valid TB test certificate. This includes those who have come to the UK via Leave Outside the Rules at the border.

My officials are working with clinics across Northern Ireland in order to to approve one as soon as possible.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will (a) cancel the deportation flight to Jamaica scheduled for 2 December 2020 to ensure that people on board are protected from the risk of contracting covid-19 and (b) allow no further deportation flights until the Windrush Lessons Learned Review has been fully implemented.

No. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have continued to return and deport foreign offenders and other immigration offenders where flight routes have been available to us, both on scheduled flights and via the use of over thirty charter flights to countries including Albania, France, Germany, Ghana, Lithuania, Nigeria, Poland and Spain.

This flight has nothing to do with the Windrush Review or the wrongs that the Windrush Generation faced. Seeking to deport foreign murderers, rapists and other criminals (whether to Jamaica or elsewhere) is the only responsible course of action and this, and subsequent flights will not be suspended.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many people have been granted asylum in the UK as a result of persecution for being LGBTQ+ in their home state within the last two years.

UIN: 119421

A claimant seeking protection on the basis of their sexual orientation is required to substantiate the claim they are lesbian, gay or bi-sexual (LGB), or perceived to be so by others, and that they have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country arising from this sexual identity. They are required to establish this to a reasonable degree of likelihood.

We do not accept that someone is LGB simply because they affirm it. Any such declarations will form the starting point of explorations and all claims will be subject to a proper assessment of all relevant facts and circumstances.

Our processes ensure applicants are afforded ample opportunity to establish how they define and identify themself sexually and how their sexual identity is relevant to fears around future risk of harm.

The Home Office approach to considering such claims is based on dedicated published guidance and training aimed at ensuring that claims are handled sensitively and appropriately. Our guidance and training products reflect all relevant UK caselaw and all claims are considered on their merits in accordance with the obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

UIN: 119420:

The Home Office publishes data on asylum applications and initial decisions for main applicants for whom sexual orientation formed part of the basis of their claim, broken down by nationality in the ‘Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release’. The latest data, covering the period from 2015 to 2019 were published in Immigration Statistics, year ending June 2020. Data on the number of grants of asylum at initial decision where sexual orientation formed a basis of their claim are published in tables SOC_00 and SOC_02 of the ‘Asylum claims on the basis of sexual orientation tables’.

Data published in this release relate to the number of asylum claims made where sexual orientation – lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) – formed part of the basis of the claim. The data do not represent the number of asylum claimants who define themselves as LGB. Having an identifier that an asylum case is based on sexual orientation does not indicate that a claimant has any particular sexuality or that sexual orientation is the reason for any grant or refusal of asylum. It also does not signify whether that aspect of the claim has been accepted. Sexual orientation as a basis of claim could be due to imputed assertions or association rather than a defining characteristic of the claimant.

These data are experimental statistics and should be interpreted with caution. Experimental statistics are statistics that are in a testing phase and are not yet fully developed. These statistics have not been subject to the full level of quality assurance of National Statistics. Further details can be found in the Office for National Statistics Guide to Experimental Statistics.

The next published update will be August 2021, covering the period from 2015 to 2020.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Office, on preventing the exploitation of different immigration systems on the island of Ireland post-31 December 2020.

The Common Travel Area (CTA) has never required the UK and Ireland to have entirely harmonised immigration arrangements for non-British or non-Irish citizens. However, everyone entering the UK, regardless of where they enter from, is required to meet the UK’s immigration framework. There is a high level of cooperation on border security to ensure that legitimate travel, including for business, is facilitated while those who intend to abuse the arrangements are prevented from entering.

The Home Office, Ireland’s Garda National Immigration Bureau and Border Management Unit, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and other police forces work together to tackle abuse of the CTA by conducting intelligence-led checks and enforcement operations. Anyone identified attempting to circumvent UK border controls is liable to be removed, if they are not lawfully present within the UK.

We also work closely with Ireland to secure the external CTA border, including data sharing and operational co-operation.

There is a high degree of co-operation between UK Government departments on all aspects of the CTA.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will put in place plans to ensure that differential immigration systems on the island of Ireland are not exploited by criminal gangs to undermine legitimate businesses in Northern Ireland after the transition period ends.

The Common Travel Area (CTA) has never required the UK and Ireland to have entirely harmonised immigration arrangements for non-British or non-Irish citizens. However, everyone entering the UK, regardless of where they enter from, is required to meet the UK’s immigration framework. There is a high level of cooperation on border security to ensure legitimate travel, including for business, is facilitated while those who intend to abuse the arrangements are prevented from entering.

The Home Office, Ireland’s Garda National Immigration Bureau and Border Management Unit, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and other police forces work together to tackle abuse of the CTA by conducting intelligence-led checks and enforcement operations. Anyone identified attempting to circumvent UK border controls is liable to be removed, if they are not lawfully present within the UK.

We also work closely with the Republic of Ireland to secure the external CTA border, including data sharing and operational co-operation to prevent exploitation of our two immigration systems by those not complying with the relevant provisions in each nation.

There is a high degree of co-operation between UK Government departments on all aspects of the CTA.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the changes to the immigration rules of 24 August 2020, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing non-EU citizens to prove their identity using a valid passport rather than an in-date biometric residence permit as part of their application to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Non-EU citizens applying to the EU Settlement Scheme in the UK can prove their identity using a valid passport, biometric residence card or biometric residence permit.

Where they are applying to the scheme online from outside the UK, they need to use a valid biometric residence card for this purpose, as this is compatible with the identity verification app available as part of the online application process. A non-EU citizen who is unable to apply to the scheme from outside the UK because they do not have a valid biometric residence card can apply for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit to travel to the UK and then apply to the scheme in-country.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will improve the accessibility of legal routes of immigration into the UK to facilitate the reunification of families.

The UK already provides a number of legal routes for families to reunite in the UK. In particular:

1) Families can apply under the family Immigration Rules where there is a qualifying partner or child (British or lived continuously in the UK for at least seven years) and it is unreasonable to expect family life to continue outside the UK or for the child to leave.

2) Refugee family reunion policy allows a partner and children under 18 of those granted protection in the UK to join them here, if they formed part of the family unit before the sponsor fled their country.

3) The Dublin III Regulation contains provisions enabling family reunification. In 2019 the UK transferred in 528 people under these provisions. The UK will remain part of the Dublin Regulation until the end of the transition period. Mechanisms for family reunification beyond the transition period is subject to negotiations.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department have taken to prevent the spread of covid-19 in asylum seekers' accomodation.

The Home Office has been working with a Public Health England embed during the current crisis and we have put in place a number of measures to support people in the asylum system who are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including working closely with providers to make sure the most vulnerable people within the system receive the support they need.

In Initial Accommodation facilities, which tends to be hostel based, PHE Guidance recommends that separate rooms?and segregation?be provided for symptomatic people, or they should be moved to hotels. Our providers have configured their accommodation estate to meet this guidance.

In Dispersed Accommodation, which is houses or homes of multiple occupancy accommodating small numbers, Service Users have been provided guidance to ensure they socially distance or self isolate in line with the advice provided to the general public. Additionally, services providers have enhanced their contact management and wraparound services to ensure access to medical care, food packages and other essential items.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to limit the spread of covid-19 during the process of claiming asylum for asylum seekers in the UK.

We take the wellbeing of asylum seekers extremely seriously. As part of our response to COVID-19, we have introduced regional intake units to allow asylum claims to be registered in a safe way that adheres to social distancing guidance and minimises travel. These are contingency measures put in place to allow asylum claims to be registered in a safe manner and ensure those that are at immediate risk of destitution can access support.

Following guidance from Public Health England, Asylum Operations initially cancelled all face-to-face substantive asylum interviews. We are now in a position where we can ensure safe social distancing of our staff, customers and have started to issue invitations to interview using video conferencing in small numbers with an expectation that interview volumes will increase over the coming weeks, including those taking place face to face.

Additional work is still be being taken forward to ensure we can make the best use of technology and increase flexibility and capacity in a way that enhances both the staff and customer experience. We remain committed to an interview process that allows all participants - applicants, representatives, interpreters and interviewers - to do so safely.

Asylum Operations are continuing to make and serve decisions on cases where there is enough information to do so. We are continuing to review these on a case by case basis, ensuring those with significant safeguarding concerns or vulnerabilities are only served if appropriate to do so.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent discussions she has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on ensuring asylum seekers are adequately supported.

Support for asylum seekers in the UK who would otherwise be destitute is a Home Office responsibility. If an asylum seeker is in Northern Ireland and destitute, they can apply to the Home Office via Migrant Help for the same provision as is available in the rest of the UK. UKVI regularly engage with the NI Executive and other partners to enable the identification, discussion and resolution of any support and accommodation issues for asylum seekers in Belfast.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment the Government has made of the compatibility of the changes to the Immigration Rules for Northern Ireland announced on 14 May 2020 with Government commitments under the New Decade New Approach deal to bring domestic UK immigration rules in line with the Good Friday Agreement; and if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward the date of the EU settlement scheme applications for Northern Ireland from 24 August 2020.

The statement of changes to the Immigration Rules laid before Parliament on 14 May will amend the EU Settlement Scheme so family members of the people of Northern Ireland can apply for immigration status on broadly the same terms as family members of Irish citizens.? This delivers the commitment made in the New Decade, New Approach agreement which restored the Northern Ireland Executive in January 2020.

Those living in Northern Ireland and currently eligible for leave under the EU Settlement Scheme have been able to make an application since the scheme opened fully in March 2019. In order for relevant operational preparations to be made for the changes announced on 14 May, applications from relevant family members of the people of Northern Ireland can be made from 24 August.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what safeguards her Department has put in place for the family members of Northern Ireland-born citizens who following changes to the Immigration Rules announced on 14 May 2020 now qualify for the EU settlement scheme but have a current visa that will expire before 24 August 2020.

The statement of changes to the Immigration Rules laid before Parliament on 14 May will amend the EU Settlement Scheme so that family members of the people of Northern Ireland can apply for immigration status on broadly the same terms as family members of Irish citizens. This delivers the commitment made in the New Decade, New Approach agreement which restored the Northern Ireland Executive in January 2020.

Family members of the people of Northern Ireland will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme from 24 August.

Family members of the people of Northern Ireland who cannot already apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and want to come to the UK or extend their current stay before 24 August can make an application under an existing immigration route.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what interim policy is in place to prevent the family members of Northern Ireland born citizens from being adversely affected by immigration controls before the opening of the EU settlement scheme to those applicants on 24 August 2020; and what arrangements are in place for people whose current visa expires before that date but who qualify for and intend to apply under that scheme that they will not be considered an overstayer.

The statement of changes to the Immigration Rules laid before Parliament on 14 May will amend the EU Settlement Scheme so family members of the people of Northern Ireland can apply for immigration status on broadly the same terms as family members of Irish citizens. This delivers the commitment made in the New Decade, New Approach agreement which restored the Northern Ireland Executive in January 2020.

Family members of the people of Northern Ireland will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme from 24 August.

Family members of the people of Northern Ireland who cannot already apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and want to come to the UK or extend their current stay before 24 August can make an application under an existing immigration route.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions she has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU on the number of people claiming asylum in Northern Ireland.

The latest statistics on asylum intake since the UK left the EU can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-march-2020/list-of-tables#asylum-and-resettlement. The Home Office will continue to support all devolved administrations and local authorities after the transition period in the same way as we do now.

The UK takes its relationship with Ireland and the Island of Ireland seriously and maintaining the integrity of the Common Travel Area is key to upholding an effective immigration system for all in the future. The UK is engaging with the EU on a future partnership and will collaborate with the NI Executive where concrete progress has been made.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the changes to the Immigration Rules announced on 14 May 2020, if her Department will refund people who have had to apply to extend their visas in the UK as a family member of a British citizen who has dual nationality.

The statement of changes to the Immigration Rules laid before Parliament on 14 May will amend the EU Settlement Scheme so that family members of the People of Northern Ireland can apply for immigration status on broadly the same terms as family members of Irish citizens. This delivers the commitment made in the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement which restored the Northern Ireland Executive in January 2020.

Family members of the people of Northern Ireland will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme from 24 August.

Family members of the people of Northern Ireland who have paid a fee to secure immigration status under another route, such as the UK’s family Immigration Rules, or who do so in order to come to the UK or to extend their stay before 24 August, will not be refunded.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she make an assessment of the potential merits of ending the NHS surcharge for all migrant workers.

The overall purpose of the Surcharge is to benefit the NHS, help to care for the sick and save lives.

NHS and wider health and social care workers from abroad make a fantastic contribution. However, it is fair to expect people arriving in the UK to work in non-healthcare roles to make a contribution to the brilliant NHS services to which they can access.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether it is the Government's policy that the private plane chartered from Stansted to Poland to remove EU nationals on 30 April 2020 was essential travel during the covid-19 outbreak; and what measures were taken to ensure social distancing on that flight.

We routinely help people with no right to remain in the UK return to their country of origin and we are committed to removing foreign national offenders wherever possible.

We take the welfare of those in our care very seriously. A safer system of work was adapted in line with Public Health England guidance; this included social distancing in transit and on the flight and appropriate Personal Protective Equipment for both escorting staff and detainees.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 28 April 2020 to Question 37868 on Foreign Nationals: Coronavirus, whether a person who is unable to apply to extend their visa during the covid-19 lockdown will be treated as an overstayer.

Visa nationals whose leave expired after the 24 January and who cannot leave the country because of the COVID-19 pandemic are able to extend their visas. This will last until 31 May, but will be kept under regular review in case further extensions are needed.

No individual who is in the UK legally and whose visa expired after 24 January 2020, or is due to expire, will be regarded as an overstayer or suffer any detriment in the future if they cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions related to coronavirus.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what support her Department is providing to foreign nationals who plan to remain in the UK long-term but are unable to extend their visa due to (a) financial difficulties and (b) not being able to access legal advice during the covid-19 outbreak.

We are taking compassionate and pragmatic measures to ensure appropriate support is available to individuals affected by and as a result of Covid-19.

Those looking to stay in the UK long-term can apply from the UK online to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May. The terms of individuals’ existing leave will remain the same until applications are decided. Further Guidance is available on Gov.uk.

Many existing measures also provide relevant support, for instance those eligible to apply for leave to remain or further leave to remain on a specified human rights route are also eligible to apply for a fee waiver.

A coronavirus immigration mailbox CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk has also been set up and there is a freephone number 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) for those who wish to discuss their individual circumstances.c

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will reduce the minimum income requirement of £18,600 per year to sponsor a spouse's visa during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

We continue to monitor the situation closely and may make adjustments to requirements where necessary and appropriate.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether the Government plans to provide a support package for migrants in the UK without access to public funds during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those affected by the covid-19 outbreak. We are continually reviewing the situation to consider what more can be done.

Individuals who have leave to remain on human rights grounds can already apply to have their no recourse to public funds condition lifted if they would otherwise be destitute. We are working to ensure that those who are eligible to have the condition lifted can have a decision taken as swiftly as possible.

Local authorities may also provide basic safety net support if it is established that there is a genuine care need that does not arise solely from destitution, for example, where there are community care needs, migrants with serious health problems or family cases.

Covid-19 has been added to the list of communicable diseases so anyone experiencing symptoms regardless of their immigration status will be treated for free.

A dedicated covid-19 immigration help-centre has been set up to deal with queries. The best way to contact the help-centre is via email on CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate she has made of the number of people with (a) ancestry and (b) other visas who have no recourse public funds;and what support is available to those people if they are made redundant during the covid-19 outbreak.

The number of people who are subject to “no recourse to public funds” is not part of the published statistics. Home Office analysts are looking at the available data to determine what figures could be produced using internal management information. However, given the fluid nature of migration in and out of the country, and the number of individuals making applications to change their status at any given time; it would be too complex to produce an accurate figure of how many people are subject to “no recourse to public funds” at any given time that could be assured to the standard required by the Code of Practice for Statistics for publication.

This Government has taken action?across the system to support those with?no recourse to public funds, including protections from eviction for renters and mortgage holidays, helping the employed, self-employed and those on zero-hour contracts.?Migrants with leave under the Family and Human Rights routes can apply to have the restriction lifted by making a ‘change of conditions’ application if there has been a change in their financial circumstances.? The Home Office has recently digitised the application form to make sure it is accessible for those who need to remain at home, and those who do not have internet access or are not confident using a computer can access phone support to complete their application.?Individuals with leave under the 5-yr parent route, or the 10-yr family or private life route, can apply for a fee waiver if they are destitute, would be rendered destitute by payment of the fee, or where there are other exceptional circumstances.?More information for migrants living in the UK can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-get-support-if-youre-a-migrant-living-in-the-uk

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Jan 2020
To the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 28 January 2020 to Question 6772 on Devolution: Northern Ireland, what steps she is taking to ensure that immigration status offered to family members of people in Northern Ireland will not reduce the rights conferred under EEA regulations.

The Home Office intends to change the Immigration Rules to enable eligible family members of the people of Northern Ireland to apply for UK immigration status on broadly the same terms as the family members of Irish citizens in the UK. This route will be opened in the near future.

Any rights held by such individuals by virtue of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 will be unaffected by the implementation of this route.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to her Answer of 28 January 2020 to Question 6772 on Devolution: Northern Ireland, whether the immigration route to be offered to the family members of people in Northern Ireland will come into force before the end of the transition period.

The Home Office intends to change the Immigration Rules to enable eligible family members of the people of Northern Ireland to apply for UK immigration status on broadly the same terms as the family members of Irish citizens in the UK. This route will be opened in the near future.

Any rights held by such individuals by virtue of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 will be unaffected by the implementation of this route.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what her policy is on providing a legal entitlement for citizens of Northern Ireland to be recognised as (a) Irish, (b) British and (c) both.

The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement sets out the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and confirms their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship.

In line with this commitment, the people of Northern Ireland are legally able to hold British, or Irish citizenship or both.

The reciprocal Common Travel Area arrangements between the UK and Ireland ensure that the people of Northern Ireland are not required to choose and assert an identity, or to align their citizenship with their choice of identity, in order to access public services and other entitlements in the UK.

The Home Office intends to change the UK’s Immigration Rules so that family members of the people of Northern Ireland can apply for immigration status on broadly the same terms as family members of Irish citizens and will open the route as soon as delivery allows. This will enable the people of Northern Ireland to bring their family members to the UK on an equal basis regardless of whether they are British, Irish or both, and regardless of how they identify.

Brandon Lewis
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he plans to publish additional detailed information on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The Government is committed to creating the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to succeed European structural funds and provide vital investment in local economies. The Fund will bind together the whole of the United Kingdom, tackling inequality and deprivation in each of our four nations.

We will set out further details on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund following the Spending Review.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
25th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what guidance he is providing to (a) landlords and (b) letting agencies who rent private accommodation to students who will move out of term-time accommodation due to the covid-19 outbreak.

We have published guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19) which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities. Landlords or letting agencies who rent private accommodation to students must continue to comply with existing legislation including, in the case of some shared accommodation, specific Houses in Multiple Occupation licensing rules. (See here: https://www.gov.uk/house-in-multiple-occupation-licence.)

During this period, landlord, letting agency and tenant obligations have not changed and tenants remain liable for rent. Some universities and private accommodation providers have chosen to release students from their contracts early and not charge rent for students returning home. However, in the case of private landlords and letting agencies, the negotiation of rent waivers with student tenants is a matter between the parties concerned. We encourage landlords, letting agencies and tenants to adopt a pragmatic, common-sense approach to issues that may arise in the current circumstances.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to support private renters that cannot pay their rent as a result of being unemployed or receiving Statutory Sick Pay or other social security benefits due to the covid-19 outbreak.

On 18 March, we announced a radical package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus. Emergency legislation has been brought forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. As a result of these measures, no renter in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction during this time.

Tenants will continue to be liable for their rent, and those tenants who can afford to pay should continue to do so. The Government also announced unprecedented measures to support workers to stay in work during this period by paying up to 80 per cent of their wages, increasing the amount available to welfare claimants and raising the Local Housing Allowance rate to the 30th percentile, supporting tenants who may have already been struggling with their rent. These significant financial measures will help to support tenants to continue to pay their living costs, including rental payments.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what comparative information his Department holds on the number of cases going through the Crown Court in the (a) 2020-21 and (b) 2011-12 financial years. .

The latest published criminal court statistics can be found at www.gov.uk/government/collections/criminal-court-statistics.

Data relating to Q4 2020 will be published on 24 March 2021, and data covering Q1 2021 will be published on 24 June 2021.The table below provides data from the latest 12 month period and the corresponding 12 month period 2011 and the total number of cases for the 2011/2012 financial year.

Period

All Cases

Receipts

Disposals

Outstanding

January 2011 to December 2011 inclusive

148,663

150,156

45,030

2011-12 financial year

145,626

148,094

42,123

January 2020 to December 2020 inclusive

100,340

83,069

55,189

February 2020 to January 2021 inclusive

99,390

81,731

56,544

The above are estimates of receipts1, disposals2 and outstanding3 cases in the Crown Court in England and Wales, January 2011 to December 2011 (inclusive), 2011-12 financial year, January 2020 to December 2020 (inclusive) and February 2020 to January 2021(inclusive, latest available).

Notes:

1) Receipts include cases sent direct from magistrates' courts and cases transferred in.

2) Disposals include cases where a disposal is recorded against each defendant and all their offences; and cases that are transferred out.

3) The outstanding case estimate is a cumulative count of ongoing cases within the Crown Court which have not reached disposal. It is not the number of receipts minus disposals due to exclusions made to the data. The outstanding estimates exclude cases which have a bench warrant issued – e.g. where a defendant cannot be bought before the court and the police have been directed to arrest them in order to bring them before the court as required. Once the bench warrant is executed and the individual is brought back before the court, the case will then form part of the outstanding case counts again.

4) Estimates for Q3 2020 exclude a small number of cases which have transitioned to the Common Platform system in the early adopter site (Derby Crown Court) from September 2020.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on the application process and fee for Irish citizens resident in Northern Ireland who wish to reclaim British citizenship.

Officials in my Department are discussing this matter with the Home Office who are responsible for this policy.

An individual who has previously renounced their British citizenship may apply to resume it. Applications are at the Home Secretary’s discretion, and the current published policy guidance sets out expectations about when discretion should normally be exercised.

The Home Office regularly reviews the guidance in this regard to ensure that it reflects immigration legislation.

The Government firmly believes that UK nationality law is consistent with its Belfast/Good Friday Agreement obligations, including the birthright provisions that allow the people of Northern Ireland to hold British or Irish citizenship, or both.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps the Government is taking to develop an inward investment strategy for Northern Ireland businesses under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The UK Government wants to see the Northern Ireland economy grow and thrive. While inward investment to Northern Ireland is formally a devolved matter, the UK Government will do everything we can to help Northern Ireland succeed. We share the ambitions of the Northern Ireland Executive in promoting Northern Ireland as a great place to invest, visit and do business. This is why my officials are working closely with the Northern Ireland Executive on a broad range of interventions as part of the Government’s vision to level up the Northern Ireland economy with the rest of the UK and to seize the opportunities ahead.

We have been working to ensure that Northern Ireland benefits from its unique position following our departure from the EU. Through the £400m New Deal for Northern Ireland, the UK Government will target key growth sectors of the Northern Ireland economy, supporting business development and boosting the skills programme. This substantial financial package will open up exciting new opportunities that will enable Northern Ireland’s businesses and its people to innovate, invest and succeed, and will support initiatives to promote Northern Ireland’s goods and services to export markets from GB and Ireland to the rest of the world.

We have also committed to progressing a comprehensive and ambitious set of City and Growth Deals across Northern Ireland, committing more than £600m to this programme. This week we signed the Heads of Terms on the Derry/Londonderry and Strabane City Deal, which will support a range of projects in the North West region, including the Centre for Industry Digitalisation Robotics and Automation, the Cognitive Analytics Research Laboratory and the Graduate Entry Medical School at Ulster University.

We will also be promoting Northern Ireland during the upcoming UK Government 2021 Centenary celebrations for Northern Ireland and look forward to championing Northern Ireland to overseas markets and investors as soon as the Covid restrictions are lifted.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions he has had with Natwest on the potential effect of its review of Ulster Bank operations on jobs in Belfast.

We have not had any discussions with Natwest regarding their review of Ulster Bank. The transfer reflects internal restructuring within Natwest Group and is a matter for them and the relevant financial regulators.

I welcome the fact that Ulster Bank have said that customers will see no changes to their day-to-day banking when the transfer is completed, and in particular their commitment that local jobs will not be impacted as a result.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what progress his Department has made on identifying the Travel Points of Entry for pet travel into Northern Ireland after the end of the transition period.

The Government’s clear position is that there is no rational justification for pet movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland not to continue in a very similar way to how they do today. Discussions are ongoing with the EU on this point and further information will be provided subsequent to those discussions.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will publish the (a) work plan and (b) programme for delivery of the Business Engagement Forum that the Government set up with Northern Ireland businesses.

The Business Engagement Forum provides a space for Northern Ireland’s businesses and business representatives to put forward proposals and provide feedback on how to maximise the free flow of trade.

The Government has now held at least 16 meetings of the Forum with over 60 businesses from a variety of sectors and geographical regions. Most recently this included meetings on FTA negotiations and agriculture, as well as a targeted session with representatives from the aerospace sector. This is complemented by regular engagement carried out by Ministers and officials from across Whitehall.

To ensure that the Business Engagement Forum continues to provide a genuinely safe and flexible space for two-way conversations between the Government and Northern Ireland’s business community, the Forum has no restrictive work plan or programme for delivery, and meetings are held in confidence.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will ensure that the UK Government provides adequate funding for the Troubles victims' pension scheme; and what steps he is taking to implement that scheme.

The UK Government made legislation establishing a victims’ payments scheme in January. The Regulations provide for the Executive Office to be able to provide funding to the Department responsible for supporting the Victims’ Payments Board. The devolved funding settlement means that the Executive is funded through the Block Grant together with its own revenue raising capabilities to fund its statutory responsibilities, including this scheme.

The Government welcomes the designation of the Department of Justice to lead on administrative support for the scheme and the Executive must now deliver on implementation, so that applications can be processed and payments made to victims. We will continue to prioritise supporting the Executive’s delivery of this scheme.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to paragraphs 13-15 of Annex A of the Government's document entitled, New Decade, New Approach, published on 9 January 2020, what the timeframe is for those commitments to be taken forward; and what legislative vehicle will be used to take those commitments forward.

The Home Office intends to change the UK’s Immigration Rules so that family members of the people of Northern Ireland can apply for immigration status on broadly the same terms as family members of Irish citizens and will open the route as soon as delivery allows.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how a citizen of Northern Ireland can legally express their right under the Good Friday Agreement to identify as (a) Irish, (b) British and (c) both.

The Government remains firmly committed to upholding the Belfast Agreement and the rights it protects, including the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British or both, as they may so choose, and the right to hold both British and Irish citizenship. In line with this commitment, the people of Northern Ireland are legally able to hold Irish or British citizenship or both. Further, their right to identify as Irish, British or both is facilitated by the Common Travel Area arrangements, under which the people of Northern Ireland are not required to assert and choose a specific citizenship or identity in order to live, work, study and access public services and other entitlements in the UK.