Emma Hardy Portrait

Emma Hardy

Labour - Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Investing in Children and Young People
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 193 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 224 Noes - 0
Speeches
Thursday 8th July 2021
Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review

I beg to move,

That this House notes the publication of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, First …

Written Answers
Friday 30th July 2021
Carers
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to make a comparative assessment …
Early Day Motions
Wednesday 14th July 2021
Support for the coach industry in England
That this House is concerned at the level of support provided for the English coach industry during the covid-19 outbreak; …
Bills
Compulsory Purchase and Planning Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …
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: Unite the Union
Address of donor: Winwaed House, 64-66 Crossgates Road, Leeds LS15 7NN
Amount of donation …
EDM signed
Wednesday 30th June 2021
General Practice Data for Planning Research
That this House is concerned with the current plans for the General Practice Data for Planning Research, while although noting …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 5th February 2020
Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021
A Bill to make provision for guidance to schools about the costs aspects of school uniform policies.

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Emma Hardy has voted in 249 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
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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
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(16 debate interactions)
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(15 debate interactions)
Michelle Donelan (Conservative)
Minister of State (Education)
(15 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(34 debate contributions)
Department for Education
(23 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(18 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(18 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Emma Hardy's debates

Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle 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 Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle signature proportion
Petitions with most Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

All students should be reimbursed of this years tuition fees as universities are now online only due to COVID-19, with only powerpoints online for learning materials which is not worthy of up to £9,250. Furthermore, all assessments are being reconsidered to ‘make do’ and build up credits.

As students are unable to access facilities or continue with their eduction at their university setting in the following semester, we would like to request that the government considers refunding tuition payments for Semester 3.

The quality of online lectures is not equal to face-to-face lectures. Students should not have to pay full tuition fees for online lectures, without experiencing university life. The Government should require UK universities to partially refund tuition fees while online teaching is implemented.

Students across the UK have returned to University to be told our learning will be predominantly online for the foreseeable future. The Government should therefore lower our tuition fees and we should receive a partial refund for the effects this will have on our learning and university experience.

The University and College Union has repeatedly called on its members to strike. However, strikes are ineffective if students, not employees are the main source of revenue. For this to change, government needs to step in and require universities to reimburse tuition fees lost due to strike action.


Latest EDMs signed by Emma Hardy

14th July 2021
Emma Hardy signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Wednesday 14th July 2021

Support for the coach industry in England

Tabled by: Emma Hardy (Labour - Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle)
That this House is concerned at the level of support provided for the English coach industry during the covid-19 outbreak; notes that pre-pandemic the coach sector was a healthy sector with a viable future; recognises that sector's vital role in tourism, school transport, rural services and train and airport emergency …
8 signatures
(Most recent: 20 Jul 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 5
Conservative: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
23rd June 2021
Emma Hardy signed this EDM on Wednesday 30th June 2021

General Practice Data for Planning Research

Tabled by: Dawn Butler (Labour - Brent Central)
That this House is concerned with the current plans for the General Practice Data for Planning Research, while although noting the importance of data for legitimate research believes that it puts patient data and medical histories at serious risk of abuse; believes that the plans will potentially discourage sick patients …
27 signatures
(Most recent: 22 Jul 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 21
Independent: 3
Conservative: 1
Green Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
View All Emma Hardy's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Emma Hardy, 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.


Emma Hardy has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Emma Hardy has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Emma Hardy


The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to grant local authorities increased powers of compulsory purchase; to amend the law relating to land valuation and compensation; to make provision requiring landowners to fulfil conditions relating to planning permission; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 4th September 2019
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Date TBA

564 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of lifting the 11.00pm curfew in tier 1 and tier 2 areas for the businesses affected by those restrictions.

On 4 January 2021, the Prime Minister announced a national lockdown in England. Details and guidance are available on gov.uk, as well as information on restrictions applicable in other parts of the United Kingdom. Restrictions are kept under review.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what risk assessment he has made of allowing three households to mix during the period of lifted covid-19 restrictions from 23 to 27 December 2020; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the written statement made by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 25 November.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what risk assessment he has made of allowing three households to meet in restaurants and pubs during the period of lifted covid-19 restrictions from 23 to 27 December 2020; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the written statement made by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 25 November.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
21st Oct 2020
What steps she is taking to help tackle race inequality in the workplace.

In July, the Government launched the independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which is looking at outcomes across the country, with a focus on employment, enterprise, education, health and the criminal justice system.

Led by the evidence, the Commission will consider the causes of persistent disparities and barriers different groups face, and make recommendations for further action.

Their work will be crucial in informing and improving the national conversation on race. The Commission will aim to provide its report to the Prime Minister at the end of the year.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans he has to publish a list of businesses that will be able to open under stage three of the Government’s covid-19 recovery strategy.

The move to Step Three of the COVID-19 Recovery Strategy will take place when the assessment of risk warrants further adjustments to the remaining measures.

Further details will be published in due course as appropriate.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to increase funding for (a) epilepsy treatments and medication and (b) UK life-sciences research more widely.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funds research into epilepsy primarily through the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Funding for research projects that specifically refer to epilepsy in the project title or abstract in each of the last five years are set out in the table below. This does not include wider funding that contributes to epilepsy research.

Financial year 2014/2015

Financial year 2015/2016

Financial year 2016/2017

Financial year 2017/2018

Financial year 2019/2020

£8m

£6.2m

£8.4m

£9.7m

£10.6m

The DHSC-funded National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) facilitates and enables life science research, from early translational research, through clinical research, to applied health research. Life science companies can access NIHR resources at any stage in their clinical development process and DHSC ensures all parts of the NIHR are open to collaboration with industry.

The Government is committed to making the UK a global hub for life sciences. This means building on our strengths in basic science and medical research to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of worldwide efforts to tackle the most pressing healthcare challenges, from cancer to dementia.

As part of our commitment, the Government will raise total UK investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. Life Sciences is critical to this – with the pharmaceutical industry accounting for one fifth of the total industrial spend on R&D in the UK1.

We will also continue to support our fantastic research infrastructure, which bolsters the sector, stimulates economic growth and drives better outcomes for patients.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has held discussions with (a) the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on whether the forthcoming Women's Health Strategy is planned to inform the criteria for the allocation of funding from the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) and (b) ARIA on prioritising research into women’s health prior to the publication of that strategy.

ARIA’s leaders, not Government, will be responsible for the strategic direction of their programme portfolio. While there are many UK funding programmes for which Ministers do set the strategic direction, ARIA is specifically being set up without those constraints. We aim to establish ARIA in Spring 2022.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the Green Homes Grant scheme until 31 March 2022.

The Green Homes Grant Voucher scheme was designed to provide a short-term economic stimulus while tackling our contribution to climate change. However, it was not delivering at the rate and scale we had originally intended. The scheme closed on 31 March 2021 and will not reopen.

We will refocus efforts and funding on alternative approaches which will maximise delivery of home retrofits for consumers who are most in need.

The Government will be expanding its funding commitment for both the Local Authority Delivery element of the Green Homes Grant scheme and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund with £300 million of new funding.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has issued guidance to local authorities to exclude coach tour operators from the Restart Payments; and if he will make a statement.

The Government has introduced an unprecedented package of support for businesses including grants for those businesses that are required to close or which are severely affected by the restrictions put in place to tackle Covid-19 and save lives.

Coach Tour Operators are not eligible for the Restart Grant Scheme. This is because eligible businesses must offer in-person services, where the main service and activity takes place in a fixed rate-paying premises, in the relevant sectors.

However, they may be able to access discretionary support through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). This funding gives Local Authorities the ability to provide support that suits their local area including to support those businesses not required to close but which have had their trade severely affected by the restrictions. My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced an additional £425m will be made available via ARG meaning that more than £2bn has been made available to local authorities since November 2020.

Guidance was published for Local Authorities on 17th March for both the Restart Grants and the Additional Restrictions Grant, and guidance for the Additional Restrictions Grant identifies that group tour and coach operators can be considered for support through this funding.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether door-to-door selling is permitted during the period of covid-19 lockdown restrictions announced in January 2021.

Door-to-door sales should not take place during the national lockdown. Sales activities should be conducted remotely (such as by phone, online or e-mail) as set out in the business closures guidance.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department 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 letter of 13 November 2020 from the Leader of Kingston upon Hull City Council, Stephen Brady OBE, on the levels of covid-19 infection in the city, what plans he has to make discretionary support available to businesses in Hull and the East Riding once the November 2020 covid-19 restrictions end on 2 December 2020.

Hull City Council has received £5,195,560 and East Riding of Yorkshire Council has received £6,823,460 in Additional Restrictions Grant funding. This is a discretionary grant which is being provided to local authorities in order to provide support to their business communities over and above the up to £3,000 per four week period grant available to all businesses that are required to close due to national or local restrictions. The Additional Restrictions Grant can be spent at any point up until the end of financial year 2021/22.

In addition, areas reverting to either Tier 2 or Tier 3 following the national lockdown would be eligible for both Local Restrictions Grant Support (Closed) for businesses that are required to close and Local Restrictions Grant Support (Open) that provides Local Authorities with a discretionary fund to support businesses that are not required to close but are severely impacted.

We are working closely with local authorities to roll out business support grant schemes as quickly as practicable and we are keeping levels of support under close review.

Paul Scully
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, whether he plans to take steps against retailers that do not limit the number of customers in accordance with Government guidance on Working safely during coronavirus, last updated on 9 November 2020.

The Government guidance on working safely during coronavirus states that it is for each business to carry out its own risk assessment, in consultation with their workers, to inform the actions they should take to reduce the risks of COVID-19. All companies have the same obligations to protect the health and safety of their workers and other people who may be affected by their business.

Employers will need to consider how best to maintain social distancing at their workplace. This may include restricting the number of customers in a shop at any one time and making this clear to customers and other visitors.

If anyone has concerns that employers are not taking all reasonably practicable steps to reduce the risks of COVID-19, they should get in touch with their employee representative or union, or with the Health and Safety Executive.

If the enforcing authority finds that an employer is not taking action to properly manage workplace risk, a range of actions is open to them including specific advice or issuing enforcement notices.

The vast majority of employers are responsible and will join with the UK’s fight against COVID-19 by working with the government and their sector bodies to protect their workers and the public. However, inspectors are carrying out compliance checks nationwide to ensure that employers are taking the necessary steps.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how his Department plans to support new businesses to ensure that they can access a Bounce Back Loan during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown period.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme, launched in May 2020, has been introduced to help smaller businesses impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19). It is designed to help businesses who were trading prior to 1 March 2020 and have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Other Government support is available for newer businesses during the pandemic, including the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans Scheme, which is available to individual who have founded businesses trading for less than two years. The Scheme offers access to affordable government-backed finance of between £500 and £25,000 per owner (limited to £100,000 per business) at a fixed 6% interest per annum.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether businesses who have been adversely affected by the Rule of 6 and 10.00pm curfew restrictions in tier 1 local covid alert level areas are eligible for covid-19 business grant support.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister addressed the nation on Saturday 31 October setting out new national restrictions. These restrictions will apply nationally for four weeks up to Wednesday 2 December, and will override the current Local Alert Level restrictions.

The Government will provide further financial support. The furlough scheme is being extended for a month with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. The mortgage holiday will also be extended to reassure homeowners. Business premises which are legally forced to close will receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month in England, and £1.1bn is being provided to Local Authorities to enable them to support businesses.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with (a) online retailers and (b) online retailing platforms on preventing the sale of counterfeit products.

The Government takes the protection of intellectual property seriously and supports a range of initiatives designed to reduce this illicit trade.

Officials from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) have been holding roundtable meetings with representatives from online platforms and rights holders to discuss the availability of counterfeits on their platforms and to help co-ordinate law enforcement action against sellers.

In September 2013, we launched a dedicated Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), run by the City of London Police. It is dedicated to tackling serious and organised online piracy and counterfeiting (affecting digital and physical goods) and protecting legitimate UK businesses. IPO provided funding of around £9 million over the period 2013-2019.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to provide support to businesses in the first quarter of 2021 when deferred payments and initial loan repayments become due.

The Government has provided a comprehensive package of support to help businesses that have been affected by Covid-19. This package includes the small business grants, the coronavirus loan schemes, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, as well as deferral of income tax payments.

The Government will continue to work closely with local authorities, businesses, and business representative organisations to understand the impact of Covid-19 on businesses. This will include consideration of how payments for deferred VAT and loan repayments will impact businesses from March 2021.

We are developing a consistent industry-wide approach to the collections and recoveries of Bounce Back loans. This will ensure that lenders understand the full range of support they can provide to borrowers struggling to repay their loans.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many universities have accessed the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme.

As of 21 June, a total of 50,482 loans have been issued under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), with a value of £10.53 billion.

Issuing new loans is the priority for lenders and the Government. We are working with the British Business Bank, HM Treasury and the lenders on providing regular and transparent data publication going forward, including sectoral breakdowns.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to help people for whom English is not a first language apply for covid-19 related loans and grants.

The Government is committed to supporting the people who invest in our country by locating their businesses here, particularly in these challenging times.

We have provided information on the range of business support available on Gov.UK. For further information people can contact our Business Support Helpline.

The Business Support Helpline is a free, multi-channel advice and guidance service, operating across England, which offers a translation and interpretation service for those whom English in not their first language. The helpline can support all businesses, from those starting a business to established traders, including information about accessing Covid-19 related loans and grants.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the clarity of the advice in The visitor economy - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) on coach party travel after June 21 2021; and whether he has plans to issue revised guidance.

The Government's ‘Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)’ guidance pages, including the visitor economy guidance, outline what is currently permitted at Step 3 of the Roadmap and how businesses can operate safely under current restrictions.

The Prime Minister’s reopening Roadmap sets out the forward look for Step 4. The roadmap also sets out how ongoing reviews (for example, the Social Distancing Review) will inform how businesses will operate in Step 4. It is expected that England will move to Step 4 on 19 July, though the data will be reviewed after 2 weeks in case the risks have reduced. The Government will continue to monitor the data and the move to Step 4 will be confirmed one week in advance, at which point, the ‘Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)’ guidance for businesses across the economy - including the visitor economy guidance - will be updated.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to introduce transparency reports for recognised news publisher websites in respect of harm occurring on their comments boards.

The government is committed to a free and independent press. This is vital to a strong and fully functioning democracy where the powerful can be held to account without fear. The government does not intervene in editorial or moderation decisions made by news publishers. DCMS does not hold data on comments sections of news publisher websites.

Anyone concerned by material published on a news website’s comment section can complain directly to the publisher or to the relevant independent self regulator. The majority of traditional publishers—including 95% of national newspapers by circulation—are members of The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). A number of smaller publishers have joined The Independent Monitor for the Press (IMPRESS).

There are no plans to introduce transparency reporting requirements for news publishers; websites.

DCMS ministers and officials regularly meet with a range of stakeholders to discuss a range of issues.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with newspaper proprietors, editors, or staff on the moderation of recognised news publisher websites.

The government is committed to a free and independent press. This is vital to a strong and fully functioning democracy where the powerful can be held to account without fear. The government does not intervene in editorial or moderation decisions made by news publishers. DCMS does not hold data on comments sections of news publisher websites.

Anyone concerned by material published on a news website’s comment section can complain directly to the publisher or to the relevant independent self regulator. The majority of traditional publishers—including 95% of national newspapers by circulation—are members of The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). A number of smaller publishers have joined The Independent Monitor for the Press (IMPRESS).

There are no plans to introduce transparency reporting requirements for news publishers; websites.

DCMS ministers and officials regularly meet with a range of stakeholders to discuss a range of issues.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what data his Department holds on the volume of harmful comments appearing in comments sections of recognised news publisher websites.

The government is committed to a free and independent press. This is vital to a strong and fully functioning democracy where the powerful can be held to account without fear. The government does not intervene in editorial or moderation decisions made by news publishers. DCMS does not hold data on comments sections of news publisher websites.

Anyone concerned by material published on a news website’s comment section can complain directly to the publisher or to the relevant independent self regulator. The majority of traditional publishers—including 95% of national newspapers by circulation—are members of The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). A number of smaller publishers have joined The Independent Monitor for the Press (IMPRESS).

There are no plans to introduce transparency reporting requirements for news publishers; websites.

DCMS ministers and officials regularly meet with a range of stakeholders to discuss a range of issues.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of moderator systems of comments sections on recognised news publisher websites.

The government is committed to a free and independent press. This is vital to a strong and fully functioning democracy where the powerful can be held to account without fear. The government does not intervene in editorial or moderation decisions made by news publishers. DCMS does not hold data on comments sections of news publisher websites.

Anyone concerned by material published on a news website’s comment section can complain directly to the publisher or to the relevant independent self regulator. The majority of traditional publishers—including 95% of national newspapers by circulation—are members of The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). A number of smaller publishers have joined The Independent Monitor for the Press (IMPRESS).

There are no plans to introduce transparency reporting requirements for news publishers; websites.

DCMS ministers and officials regularly meet with a range of stakeholders to discuss a range of issues.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of when it will be safe for community music rehearsals to resume as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

It is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions, so that we can see the impact of the steps we are taking before moving to the next step. From 17 May, non-professional performing arts activities are permitted indoors and outdoors, within the legal gathering limits. Activities should be organised to allow for social distancing to be maintained.

Outdoors, people can take part in non-professional performing arts activities in a group of up to 30 people. Activities can take place with multiple permitted groups, provided the groups are kept separate throughout the activity, and the event is organised in line with the organised events guidance for local authorities

Indoors, people can take part in non-professional performing arts activities in a group of up to 6 people, or as a group of 2 households/bubbles. Activities can take place with multiple permitted groups, provided the groups are kept separate throughout the activity, and the event is organised in line with the organised events guidance for local authorities. However, non-professional singing indoors should only take place in a single group of up to 6 people.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if his Department will make an assessment of the (a) implications for his policies of the findings of the recent survey by #WeMakeEvents of businesses and individuals in the live event supply chain and (b) potential merits of making sector-specific fiscal support available to the live entertainment industry in response to the effects of the covid-19 outbreak on that industry.

The Government recognises the severe impact the pandemic has had on supply chain businesses for the live events sector.

Supply chain organisations were eligible for the first two rounds of the Culture Recovery Fund and are recognised as a critical part of the sector. Across the first two rounds of funding, the Culture Recovery Fund has helped 311 organisations in the live music supply chain to date with approximately £47million awarded. A further £300M will be available to continue supporting the broad cultural sector throughout 2021.

The Government will spend over £33 billion supporting those in self-employment during this crisis, among the most generous anywhere in the world. The Government has also provided economic wide support packages which the sector has been able to access including extensions to the furlough scheme, SEISS, and additional business support.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allowing adult gaming centres to reopen alongside retail from 12 April 2021 as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

The Prime Minister announced on Monday 22 February that indoor entertainment venues, which will include Adult Gaming Centres as well as bingo halls, casinos and cinemas, will open at Step 3 of the roadmap, not before 17 May. The Government has designed the roadmap for reopening premises following careful consideration of the evidence and scientific advice. The roadmap strikes a balance between mitigating the social, health and economic impacts of closures and the need to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19 infections. It also takes account of the cumulative impact of easing restrictions and the need to assess the impact at each step. As the business of Adult Gaming Centres consists entirely of customers playing gaming machines within the premises, they are considered to be entertainment and will open at Step 3.

In recognition of the impact of requiring some businesses to remain closed for a longer period, the Chancellor announced an enhanced package of support at the Budget, including Restart Grants of up to £18,000 per premises, specifically for those which must remain closed beyond Step 2. Also included in the budget were extensions to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, with further discretionary funding for Local Authorities.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to tackle racist and misogynistic abuse in newspaper comment sections.

The government is committed to a free and independent press, and does not intervene in what the press can and cannot publish. We are clear, however, that with this freedom, comes responsibility, which media organisations must take seriously. It is important that there exists an independent self regulatory regime to ensure that the press adheres to a wide set of clear and appropriate standards, and to offer individuals a means of redress where these are not met.

The majority of traditional publishers—including 95% of national newspapers by circulation—are members of The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). A small number of publishers have joined The Independent Monitor for the Press (IMPRESS). These regulators issue codes of conduct which provide guidelines on a range of areas including discrimination, and set out the rules that members have agreed to follow.

Complaints about comments on news websites can be directed to the publication itself, or to the appropriate self-regulator.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what guidance he has published on (a) dance, (b) yoga and (c) swimming and (d) other group indoor sessions for people living under tier 3 covid-19 restrictions.

Sports and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health, and are a vital weapon against coronavirus. That’s why we made sure that people could exercise at least once a day even during the height of the first period of enhanced national restrictions and why we opened up grassroots sport and leisure facilities as soon as it was safe to do so.

As the Prime Minister said on 23 November national restrictions will end on Wednesday 2 December, and gyms and sport facilities including swimming pools will reopen across all tiers. Under Tier 3, gyms and sports facilities will be open for individual exercise and exercise in single households or support bubbles only. Indoor group activities and exercise classes should not take place. You can continue to do unlimited exercise alone, or in an outdoor public place in groups up to 6.

There are exceptions, however, which can take place in any number for disability sport, sports as part of the curriculum in education and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020).

Government has published overarching guidance for grassroots sport but doesn’t publish guidance for individual sports. It is for the National Governing Body of the sport to consider the steps that would need to be taken, and the conditions that would need to be met, for their activity to resume. The National Governing Body should also publish relevant guidance.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he plans to make additional financial support available to cinemas in tier 3 covid-19 restricted areas.

The Government has implemented a tiering system which aims to reduce and keep R below 1, and will therefore allow areas to move down the tiers. However, we recognise how tough the measures are for people and businesses in Tier 3. This is why, in addition to the Job Retention Scheme and other measures available, businesses in England that are forced to close will receive up to £3,000 for each 28 day period. This includes cinemas.

In addition, as important cultural hubs for communities right across the country, the Government has supported cinemas through the VAT cut on tickets and concessions, a business rates holiday and Bounce Back Loans. This is alongside the £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations that was announced in July, the biggest ever one-off investment in culture. Independent cinemas are eligible for a share of up to £30m of this package, and the majority of allocations are expected to be announced in December.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if it remains his policy to create a £500 million Youth Investment Fund; and if he will make a statement.

Government recognises the significant impact of Covid-19 on young people, particularly the most vulnerable, and on the youth services that support them. A £16.5m Youth Covid-19 Support Fund has been announced which will protect the immediate future of grassroots and national youth organisations across the country.

The funding will be allocated from the Government’s unprecedented £750 million package of support which is benefiting tens of thousands of frontline charities, so they can continue their vital work. More than £60 million of this package has already been provided to organisations working with vulnerable children and young people.

The Youth Investment Fund remains a manifesto commitment for transformative levelling up across the country over the course of the parliament. In the recent announced Spending Review £30m of this was committed as capital investment for 2021-22. This will provide a transformational investment in new and refurbished safe spaces for young people, so they can access support youth workers, and positive activities out of school, including sport and culture. Further details of the timetable for allocation will be announced in due course.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allowing gymnasiums to remain open during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown.

Sport and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health, and are a vital weapon against coronavirus.

Nobody wanted to be in the position of having to introduce further National Restrictions. However as the Prime Minister said, with the virus spreading faster than expected we cannot allow our health system to be overwhelmed. Therefore, from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December indoor and outdoor leisure will need to close. The National Restrictions are designed to get the R rate under control through limiting social contact and reducing transmissions.

In order for these measures to have the greatest impact, we will all need to sacrifice doing some things that we would otherwise like to do, for a short period of time. The difficulty is that, when you unpick one thing, the effectiveness of the whole package is compromised. As soon as we're in a position to start lifting restrictions, grassroots sports will be one of the first to return.

People are still allowed to leave their homes for exercise and recreation outdoors, with your household or on your own, or with one person from another household or support bubble.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to help tackle (a) disinformation and (b) abuse on the commenting forums of newspaper websites.

The Government takes the issue of disinformation very seriously. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been vitally important that the public has accurate information and DCMS is leading work across Government to tackle disinformation.

The Cross-Whitehall Counter Disinformation Unit was stood up on 5 March, bringing together cross-Government monitoring and analysis capabilities. The Unit’s primary function is to provide a comprehensive picture of the extent, scope and impact of disinformation and misinformation regarding Covid-19 and to work with partners to ensure appropriate action is taken.

More generally, the Government’s Online Harms White Paper, published in April 2019, set out our plans for world-leading legislation to make companies more responsible for their users’ safety online. We intend to establish in law a new duty of care on companies towards their users which will be overseen by an independent regulator. This regulator will set clear safety standards, backed up by mandatory reporting requirements and strong enforcement powers to deal with non-compliance.

However, Online Harms regulation will not seek to duplicate existing regulation on moderated comment sections on news sites. The government is committed to independent self-regulation of the press. Complaints about user-generated comments on news websites can be directed to the publication itself, or to the appropriate self-regulator. The majority of traditional publishers—including 95% of national newspapers by circulation—are members of IPSO. A small number of publishers have joined IMPRESS

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect of (a) covid-19 disinformation and (b) other online harms on newspaper comment forums on public safety; and if he will make a statement.

The Government takes the issue of disinformation very seriously. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been vitally important that the public has accurate information and DCMS is leading work across Government to tackle disinformation.

The Cross-Whitehall Counter Disinformation Unit was stood up on 5 March, bringing together cross-Government monitoring and analysis capabilities. The Unit’s primary function is to provide a comprehensive picture of the extent, scope and impact of disinformation and misinformation regarding Covid-19 and to work with partners to ensure appropriate action is taken.

More generally, the Government’s Online Harms White Paper, published in April 2019, set out our plans for world-leading legislation to make companies more responsible for their users’ safety online. We intend to establish in law a new duty of care on companies towards their users which will be overseen by an independent regulator. This regulator will set clear safety standards, backed up by mandatory reporting requirements and strong enforcement powers to deal with non-compliance.

However, Online Harms regulation will not seek to duplicate existing regulation on moderated comment sections on news sites. The government is committed to independent self-regulation of the press. Complaints about user-generated comments on news websites can be directed to the publication itself, or to the appropriate self-regulator. The majority of traditional publishers—including 95% of national newspapers by circulation—are members of IPSO. A small number of publishers have joined IMPRESS

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether racist abuse and disinformation will be within the remit of the Government’s planned online harms regulatory system.

The new online harms regulatory framework will require companies to put effective systems and processes in place to protect UK users. The Online Harms White Paper set out an indicative list of harms which will be in scope of the new regulatory framework. Further details will be included in the full government response to the consultation, which we will publish later this year.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether comments on newspaper website forums will be considered to be user generated content for the purpose of the Government's legislative strategy for tackling online harms.

Online harms regulation seeks to improve online safety while ensuring pluralism, freedom of expression and media freedoms are protected online, Online harms regulation will not duplicate existing regulatory activity. The former DCMS Secretary of State made it clear in his 2019 letter to the Society of Editors that existing regulation on moderated comment sections on news sites would not be duplicated. Full details on the scope of online harms regulation will be published in the full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper Consultation later this year.


Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what representations his Department received from representatives from the Ten-pin Bowling Proprietor's Association in advance of the Government's decision to require bowling alleys to remain closed as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased; and what the scientific evidence is underpinning the decision for those venues to remain closed.

DCMS officials have spoken to a representative of the Ten-pin Bowling Proprietor’s Association and also several other key sector members to discuss guidance and next steps to reopening the sector.

Bowling alleys will be able to reopen from 1 August provided they have written a Covid-19 risk assessment.

We have worked closely with stakeholders to develop further Covid-19 Secure reopening guidance for venues such as bowling alleys. Specific guidance on bowling alleys has been published within UKHospitality’s ‘Covid-19 Secure Guidelines for Hospitality Businesses’. We continue to meet regularly with the wider sector through the Cultural Renewal Taskforce’s Sport and Visitor Economy working groups.

As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, our decisions have been and will continue to be based on scientific evidence and public health assessments.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to announce a timeframe for the reopening of live entertainment venues without the need for social distancing.

We are committed to reopening creative businesses, including live entertainment venues, in line with the latest Government regulations and advice.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recently set out a five stage roadmap that the government will work through to get the performing arts and live entertainment sectors back up and running as soon as possible.

The ministerially-chaired Events and Entertainment Working Group was established to support the Secretary of State’s Cultural Renewal Taskforce. It focuses on developing covid-19 secure guidance to enable the safe reopening of the performing arts, music and entertainment sectors.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether his Department plans to set up a taskforce on the reopening of live entertainment venues after the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will take steps to ensure that representatives of the National Arena Association, the Concert Promoters Association and the British Association of Concert Halls sit on such a taskforce.

The ministerially-chaired Events and Entertainment Working Group was established to support the Secretary of State’s Cultural Renewal Taskforce. It focuses on developing covid-19 secure guidance to enable the safe reopening of the performing arts, music and entertainment sectors.

The National Arenas Association and the Concert Promoters Association are active and valued members of the Working Group, and DCMS is in regular dialogue with a range of stakeholders from across the live entertainment sector.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what consultation his Department undertook with representatives from tenpin bowling (a) operators and (b) organisations on the decision to keep that sector closed when the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased on 4 July 2020.

Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active.

The Government is committed to reopening leisure facilities including Bowling Alleys as soon as it is safe to do so. The Sport Working Group, led by myself, feeds into the Secretary of State’s Cultural Renewal Taskforce and ensures strong sector and expert support for the co-development of guidelines and will help leisure facilities become Covid-secure and re-open as early as possible in July.

As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, we will be guided by the science to ensure that as restrictions are eased people can return to activity safely.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what his timescale is for informing representatives of tenpin bowling operators of (a) the requirements they must meet to be permitted to safely re-open to the public and (b) how those operators submit proposals to Government for approval of meeting those requirements.

Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active.

The Government is committed to reopening leisure facilities including Bowling Alleys as soon as it is safe to do so. The Sport Working Group, led by myself, feeds into the Secretary of State’s Cultural Renewal Taskforce and ensures strong sector and expert support for the co-development of guidelines and will help leisure facilities become Covid-secure and re-open as early as possible in July.

As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, we will be guided by the science to ensure that as restrictions are eased people can return to activity safely.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when escape room experiences will be allowed to reopen during the covid-19 outbreak.

Indoor attractions will be permitted to reopen from 4 July, so long as they can do so in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

People should only visit indoor attractions within their household group (or support bubble) or with one other household (or support bubble).


We have worked very closely with the tourism sector to develop Covid-secure guidance which will help visitor economy businesses reopen safely. This can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/the-visitor-economy.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with (a) national charities and (b) other organisations on co-ordination of volunteers to help with the response to the covid-19 to ensure (i) elderly and (ii) vulnerable people are safeguarded.

I have had several discussions with charities on how they can mobilise volunteers safely to support vulnerable groups. My officials are working with organisations to identify key sectoral partners, to lead efforts and mobilise volunteers. We are also working with colleagues across government to shape support available in the coming weeks and months to ensure that volunteers and vulnerable people they are helping are kept safe.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many hours per week his Department recommends that (a) primary and (b) secondary schools dedicate to physical education.

Physical education (PE) is an important part of a broad and balanced curriculum and should be taught to pupils of all ages. Currently, PE is the only foundation subject compulsory through all stages of the National Curriculum.

It is for schools to decide how much time should be dedicated to PE and the Department does not set specific expectations. The Department will be looking at examples of good PE and sport with the aim of illustrating how it can be most effectively provided during the school week.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what data his Department holds on the prevalence of the Delta variant of covid-19 within schools; and what steps he is taking to stop further transmission of covid-19 to pupils aged under 16.

Data on the Delta variant is held by the Department of Health and Social Care, where Public Health England (PHE) leads on surveillance and outbreak management.

PHE publishes weekly technical briefings on COVID-19 variants of concern and variants under investigation in England, which are available here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/997418/Variants_of_Concern_VOC_Technical_Briefing_17.pdf.

This sets out (pages 34-37) data on the number of clusters or outbreaks associated with a range of settings, including schools, colleges and nurseries.

PHE also publishes the total number of cases of each variant in the UK as part of information on variants of COVID-19, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/new-sars-cov-2-variant. This includes total confirmed Delta variant cases and prevalence split by region, as part of PHE weekly technical briefings.

The Delta variant is now the dominant strain in the UK. Therefore, as well as variant surveillance, both PHE and the Office for National Statistics’ routine surveillance on case rates, outbreaks, and prevalence are tracking Delta.

The Department’s priority is for schools to deliver face-to-face, high quality education to all pupils. The evidence is clear that being out of education causes significant harm to educational attainment, life chances, mental and physical health.

We have worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and PHE to revise guidance which schools should follow to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

We will continue to keep these measures under review, in partnership with health experts and informed by the latest scientific evidence and advice.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department is having with local authorities on flexible school admissions for summerborn children.

The Department published updated guidance for local authorities and parents on the admission of summer born children in 2020 to help ensure that parents can make an informed decision about what is right for their child, and that admission authorities make decisions that are in the best interests of the child.

In May, the Department published the results of our latest research surveys of local authorities and parents into the delayed admission of summer born children to school. This research shows that local authorities are responding positively to requests by parents to delay their summer born child’s start in Reception.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, issued a statement to all admission authorities, including local authorities, to ensure admission authorities take these decisions in the best interests of the child.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of arrangements for assessing spoken language as part of GCSE English Language; and whether he has had discussions with representatives of Ofqual on that matter.

There are no current plans to review the subject content for GCSE English Language on which the assessment objectives are based. The Department is supportive of the promotion of oracy, but it has not yet discussed with Ofqual the recommendations made by the Oracy All-Party Parliamentary Group.

For 2021 and 2022 assessment only, Ofqual have removed the requirement for teachers to submit an audio-visual recording of a sample of students undertaking their spoken language assessment for GCSE English Language. This offers teachers greater flexibility over how and when the assessments are carried out, allowing them to take account of current and potential public health restrictions.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
18th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will issue guidance to schools and colleges on whether educational coach trips planned after 21 June can still take place.
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking tackle the language gap between the most and least advantaged pupils.

The Department recognises that extended school and college restrictions have had a substantial impact on children and young people’s education and are committed to helping pupils make up education lost due to the COVID-19 outbreak. To address this challenge, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, is committed to working with parents, teachers, and schools and colleges to develop a long-term plan to help schools and colleges to support pupils make up their lost education over the course of this Parliament.

There is sound evidence that systematic phonics is a highly effective method for teaching early reading. The evidence indicates that the teaching of phonics is most effective when combined with a language-rich curriculum. Evidence has also shown that phonics is an important component in the development of early reading skills, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Our phonics performance has improved since the tests were introduced. In 2019, 82% of pupils in Year 1 met the expected standard in the phonics screening check, compared to just 58% when the check was introduced in 2012. For disadvantaged pupils, this has gone from 45% in 2012 to 71% in 2019. 2019 results showed that by the end of Year 2, 91% of pupils met the expected standard in the phonics screening check.

In June 2021, the Department announced £1.4 billion of additional funding for education recovery. This is in addition to the £1.7 billion already committed, bringing total investment announced for education recovery over the past year to over £3 billion. The additional funding package provides support for children aged 2 to 19 in schools, colleges and early years settings, and will increase reforms in two areas where the evidence is clear our investment will have a significant impact: high quality tutoring and teaching. This will provide an additional £1 billion for tutoring, which will allow us to provide up to 100 million hours of tuition for 5-19 year olds by 2024, targeting disadvantaged children and key subjects such as maths and English.

The National Curriculum has been designed to make sure that all children leave primary school fully literate and ready to progress at secondary school. One of the overarching aims of the National Curriculum is to ensure that all pupils acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language. The curriculum for English increases the level of demand from an early age with greater emphasis on grammar and vocabulary development.

The Department also launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme in 2018, dedicated to improving the teaching of reading, with a focus on supporting children making the slowest progress in reading, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of covid-19 school closures on the spoken language (a) development and (b) ability of schoolchildren across all ages.

The Government recognises that extended school and college restrictions have had a substantial impact on children and young people’s education and we are working with schools and colleges to develop a long term plan to support pupils make up for education lost over the course of this Parliament.

In June 2021, the Department announced £1.4 billion of additional funding for education recovery. This is in addition to the £1.7 billion already committed, bringing total investment announced for education recovery over the past year to over £3 billion. The additional funding package provides support for children aged 2 to 19 in schools, colleges and early years settings, and will increase reforms in two areas where the evidence is clear our investment will have a significant impact: high quality tutoring and teaching. This will provide an additional £1 billion for tutoring, which will allow us to provide up to 100 million hours of tuition for 5-19 year olds by 2024, targeting disadvantaged children and key subjects such as maths and English. We are also making available an extra £400 million to help to provide 500,000 teacher training opportunities across the country, alongside professional development for early years practitioners.

The Department launched a £26.3 million English Hubs programme in 2018, dedicated to improving the teaching of reading. The 34 English Hubs in the programme are primary schools which are outstanding at teaching early reading. We have since provided a further £17 million for this school to school improvement programme, which focuses on systematic synthetic phonics, early language, and reading for pleasure. Since its launch, the English Hubs programme has provided appropriate and targeted support to several thousands of schools across England. In the 2020/21 academic year the programme is providing intensive support to over 875 partner schools.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2021 to Question 1192, what plans he has to make changes to SATS tests in the 2020-21 academic year in terms of (a) content, and (b) the collation of results to facilitate their use as a diagnostic assessment of lost learning rather than as a test of progress; and whether he plans for those results to be used to rank schools' performance.

The Department has no plans to make changes to the content of primary assessments planned to take place in the 2021/22 academic year. The purpose of the National Curriculum assessments is to determine pupil attainment in relation to the National Curriculum. They enable parents to understand the performance of their child with respect to national expectations.

Primary assessments are different from qualifications, where it is essential that we try to account for lost education given the importance of the outcomes for the next stages of education and employment. The assessments will help identify the impact on pupil attainment of lost time in education and, although not designed as fully diagnostic assessments, will support schools in planning the appropriate next steps for teaching. As a result, it would not be appropriate to change the content of primary assessments as this would provide only a partial picture of pupil attainment.

The Department is considering possible approaches to school accountability data in the 2021/22 academic year and plan to confirm details in due course.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether local area SEND accelerated progress plans are publicly available documents; and if he will make a statement.

Under the local area special educational and disability (SEND) inspection framework, all local authorities in England are required by the Department for Education to produce an action plan (often referred to as an Accelerated Progress Plan or APP) if inspectors have found that insufficient progress has been made against their Written Statement of Action.

The local authorities that have been required to produce an APP are the following: Bury, Dorset, Hartlepool, Kingston upon Hull, Lancashire, Medway, Oldham, Oxfordshire, Sefton, South Gloucestershire, Suffolk, Surrey, and Windsor and Maidenhead.

Local authorities are required by the department to publish their action plans locally (for example, on the local authority website), so that parents, carers, children and young people can understand the actions that they are taking to address concerns raised during SEND inspections. A formal progress review meeting will take place within at least 6 months of the revisit report being published. The key partners involved, including the Parent Carer Forum, will be invited to attend. Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission will not revisit unless directed by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, which local authorities have been required to produce an Accelerated Progress Plan as a result of a revisit by Ofsted and Care Quality Commission inspectors under the local area SEND inspection programme; and whether production of an Accelerated Progress Plan is a requirement for every local authority where those inspectors have found that insufficient progress has been made in addressing significant weaknesses previously identified.

Under the local area special educational and disability (SEND) inspection framework, all local authorities in England are required by the Department for Education to produce an action plan (often referred to as an Accelerated Progress Plan or APP) if inspectors have found that insufficient progress has been made against their Written Statement of Action.

The local authorities that have been required to produce an APP are the following: Bury, Dorset, Hartlepool, Kingston upon Hull, Lancashire, Medway, Oldham, Oxfordshire, Sefton, South Gloucestershire, Suffolk, Surrey, and Windsor and Maidenhead.

Local authorities are required by the department to publish their action plans locally (for example, on the local authority website), so that parents, carers, children and young people can understand the actions that they are taking to address concerns raised during SEND inspections. A formal progress review meeting will take place within at least 6 months of the revisit report being published. The key partners involved, including the Parent Carer Forum, will be invited to attend. Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission will not revisit unless directed by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of postponing SATs assessments for the academic year 2021-22 in the context of the disruption to learning caused by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department is continuing to plan for a full programme of primary assessments to take place in the 2021/22 academic year, including the statutory Reception Baseline Assessment and multiplication tables check, as previously announced. The assessments will help gauge the impact of lost time in education and will enable the Department to better understand the effectiveness of education recovery initiatives. Full details for 2021/22 primary assessments will be confirmed in due course.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to reform the statutory assessment system in primary schools.

Assessment is an important part of a child’s schooling and is fundamental in a high performing education system. Statutory assessments at primary school are an essential part of ensuring that all pupils master the basics of reading, writing, and Mathematics to prepare them for secondary school. Assessment data also enable parents, schools, and the Department to understand the impact of lost time in education and recovery initiatives.

In 2017, the Government carried out a consultation into primary assessment in England. The consultation received over 4000 responses from a diverse range of backgrounds and specialisms, providing a broad and informed range of views that informed policy on the current primary assessment system. In addition, the Department engages with relevant stakeholders on a regular basis to understand their views on primary assessment.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to introduce information on the effects of littering into the curriculum.

The National Curriculum already includes content regarding environmental and sustainability issues in both the science and geography curricula. For example, in primary science pupils are taught about how environments can change as a result of human actions. This could include teaching about the impact of litter on the environment, which schools can expand on should they wish to.

In citizenship, pupils are taught about the wider world and the interdependence of communities within it. Pupils are taught that resources can be allocated in different ways and that these economic choices affect individuals, communities and the sustainability of the environment.

Citizenship includes opportunities for pupils to undertake school and community-based volunteering, encouraging young people to come together to tackle the local issues they care about within school and in the wider community. Schools are expected to use their professional expertise and understanding of their pupils to develop the right approach for their particular school. Many schools do choose to teach pupils about the impact of litter, including helping pupils undertake volunteering, such as litter picking. The citizenship programmes of study are available to view here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-citizenship-programmes-of-study.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to issue guidance to schools and colleges on offering plant-based food and drink options to pupils.

The government’s School Food Standards regulates the food and drink provided at both lunchtime and at other times of the school day. Beyond this, we believe that head teachers, school governors and caterers are best placed to make decisions about their school food policies, taking into account local circumstances and the needs of their pupils. In doing so, we expect schools to make reasonable adjustments for pupils with particular requirements, for example to reflect dietary and cultural needs.

The School Food Standards already contain sufficient flexibility to enable schools to provide a variety of plant-based food and drink options to pupils if there is a demand for them. School food policies work best when schools discuss them with parents and pupils, so that parents have the opportunity to raise pupils’ particular dietary needs.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, on what date all students will be able to return to their university campus and resume in-person teaching during the covid-19 outbreak.

Following the review into when the remaining higher education students can return to in-person teaching and learning, the government has announced that the remaining students should return to in-person teaching no earlier than 17 May 2021, alongside Step 3 of the roadmap. Students and institutions will be given at least a week’s notice of any further return in accordance with the timing of Step 3 of the roadmap.

The government roadmap is designed to maintain a cautious approach to the easing of restrictions to reduce public health risks and ensure that we can maintain progress towards full reopening. However, the government recognises the difficulties and disruption that this may cause for many students and their families and that is why the government is making a further £15 million of additional student hardship funding available for this academic year 2020/21. In total we have made an additional £85 million of funding available for student hardship.

We are supporting universities to provide regular twice weekly asymptomatic testing for all students and staff on-site and, from May, at home. This will help break chains of transmission of the virus.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children are known to be home educated in each of the last five years; and how many of those children had special educational needs.

The information requested is not held centrally and cannot be derived from current data sources. The Department also does not currently collect data on numbers of home educated children.

A pupil’s name can lawfully be deleted from the admission register on the grounds prescribed in Regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended. All schools must notify the local authority when a pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admission register under any of the grounds prescribed in Regulation 8, as soon as the ground for removal is met and no later than the time at which the pupil’s name is removed from the register.

Parents are not under a duty to register if they are home educating their children and, therefore, there is not a robust basis on which the Department can reliably collect statistics on home education.

The number of children and young people with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan who are electively home educated was first collected in 2020. In January 2020, there were 2,983 children and young people with an EHC plan who were electively home educated. Further information on this data is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/education-health-and-care-plans.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children have been removed from school rolls and not moved to another school in each of the last five years.

The information requested is not held centrally and cannot be derived from current data sources. The Department also does not currently collect data on numbers of home educated children.

A pupil’s name can lawfully be deleted from the admission register on the grounds prescribed in Regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended. All schools must notify the local authority when a pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admission register under any of the grounds prescribed in Regulation 8, as soon as the ground for removal is met and no later than the time at which the pupil’s name is removed from the register.

Parents are not under a duty to register if they are home educating their children and, therefore, there is not a robust basis on which the Department can reliably collect statistics on home education.

The number of children and young people with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan who are electively home educated was first collected in 2020. In January 2020, there were 2,983 children and young people with an EHC plan who were electively home educated. Further information on this data is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/education-health-and-care-plans.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many and which local areas have been required to produce a written statement of action after a local area SEND inspection in each year since 2016; which of those areas have been re-visited by (a) Ofsted and (b) Care Quality Commission inspectors; and what the outcome was for each such area.

From May 2016, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) began inspecting local areas on their effectiveness in fulfilling their new duties for children and young people who have special educational needs or a disability (SEND). All 151 local areas in England will be inspected over a period of 5 years.

The purpose of the inspections is to provide reassurance to families that local areas are being held to account and to support local areas to improve their services and deliver better outcomes for children and young people. They also provide evidence for local areas to receive appropriate external support and intervention.

Following the inspection, local areas are not graded, but are given a narrative evaluation report that highlights areas of strength and areas where improvements need to be made. Where there are significant weaknesses, the local area will be required to produce and publish a Written Statement of Action (WSoA).

Ofsted and CQC are revisiting those local areas with a WSoA to assess the progress made against each of the actions in the WSoA since the original inspection. Local areas are usually revisited within 18 months of their WSoA having been accepted as fit for purpose by Ofsted and CQC.

Where a local area is considered to have made sufficient progress against its WSoA, monitoring visits from the Department for Education and NHS England will cease.

As of 13 April 2021, 117 local areas have been inspected and their reports published under the Ofsted and CQC SEND inspection framework. Of these, 60 local areas have been asked to produce a WSoA. Out of the 22 local areas revisited to assess progress made against each of the actions in the WSoA since the original inspection, 9 have made sufficient progress against all their significant areas of concern. There are currently 34 outstanding local authority SEND inspections and Ofsted/CQC plan to restart full area SEND inspections from June 2021 at the earliest. Inspections will be of areas that have not yet been inspected under the current framework. There are 38 outstanding Revisits. Ofsted and CQC will start revisiting areas where they had significant concerns about SEND provision from April 2021.

Where sufficient progress has not been made against all areas of the WSoA following a revisit, the Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England will determine the next steps on a case-by-case basis. This could include my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, using powers of intervention. As a minimum, local area leaders will be required to submit an action plan, co-produced with partners, showing how the local area will report on progress and impact, and how partners (including families) will be kept fully informed of progress. A formal joint Department for Education and NHS England progress review meeting will be held with the local area within 6 months of the revisit report. The department’s SEND advisers and NHS England leads continue to work closely with local authority and health services to support them in making the necessary improvements to services.

The local areas asked to produce a WSoA following a local area SEND inspection are listed here:

  • Bedford Borough
  • Birmingham
  • Brent
  • Bristol
  • Bury
  • Central Bedfordshire
  • Cheshire East
  • Cumbria
  • Derby City
  • Devon
  • Dorset
  • Dudley
  • Durham
  • Essex
  • Hartlepool
  • Hull, Kingston upon
  • Kent
  • Kingston upon Thames
  • Lancashire
  • Leicester City
  • Leicestershire
  • Liverpool
  • Luton
  • Medway
  • Merton
  • Middlesbrough
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Norfolk
  • North East Lincolnshire
  • North Somerset
  • Northumberland
  • Oldham
  • Oxfordshire
  • Peterborough
  • Redcar and Cleveland
  • Rochdale
  • Sandwell
  • Sefton
  • Sheffield
  • Shropshire
  • Somerset
  • South Gloucestershire
  • South Tyneside
  • Southend-on-Sea
  • Staffordshire
  • Stockport
  • Stockton-On-Tees
  • Suffolk
  • Surrey
  • Sutton
  • Swindon
  • Thurrock
  • Wakefield
  • Walsall
  • Waltham Forest
  • Wandsworth
  • Windsor and Maidenhead
  • Wokingham
  • Worcestershire
  • York

The table below indicates the outcome of local areas revisited by Ofsted/CQC.

Local authority

Revisit outcome

Bedford Borough

Sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Brent

Sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Bury

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Dorset

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Durham

Sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Hartlepool

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Hull, Kingston upon

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Lancashire

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Medway

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Middlesbrough

Sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Oldham

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Oxfordshire

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Rochdale

Sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Sandwell

Sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Sefton

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

South Gloucestershire

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Suffolk

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Surrey

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Sutton

Sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Wakefield

Sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Waltham Forest

Sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

Windsor and Maidenhead

Not sufficient progress made against all weaknesses

During the COVID-19 outbreak, inspections were suspended, however it is vital that these children and young people, whose wellbeing and care may have also been significantly affected by the disruption to services caused by the outbreak, continue to receive support. Therefore, I commissioned CQC and Ofsted to work collaboratively with local areas through a series of interim visits, which began in October 2020 and finished in March 2021. These visits gave an insight into how well the system is working, support local areas to meet the needs of children and young people at this difficult time, and allowed Ofsted to share good practice.

CQC and Ofsted have been commissioned by the Department for Education, with the support of DHSC, to develop a new area SEND inspection framework to launch after the existing inspection cycle has finished. Learning from the published assessment of the current approach, this will include a greater focus on the experience of children and young people with SEND, and their families, and give more prominence to the quality integration and commissioning of education, health and care services. The new framework will take into account the COVID-19 outbreak’s impact on services and on children, young people and families.


Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress has been made on his Department's review of support for children with special needs education in England that began in September 2019.

The special educational needs and disability (SEND) review is a major priority for the government. We all want to see the vision of the 2014 reforms fully delivered: better outcomes for children and young people which prepare them for adulthood, coproduced with them and their families.

As you are aware, the COVID-19 outbreak has been extremely challenging for many families of children with SEND. Supporting them continues to be a priority for this government, and their wellbeing has been central to our response throughout.

The outbreak has unavoidably delayed completion of the review and altered the context in which it will be implemented. Our ambition is to publish SEND review proposals for public consultation in the spring of 2021.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential benefits of extending the summer school term into the summer holiday period in response to the disruption to education caused by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is committed to helping all children and young people make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Department has appointed Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner to oversee a long-term plan for education recovery. Sir Kevan will engage with parents, pupils, and teachers in the development of this broader approach and review how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact the COVID-19 outbreak has had on education. We will share further details in due course.

Schools are of course free to offer summer activities to pupils should they so wish. We are making £200 million available to secondary schools to fund a short summer school, offering a blend of academic education and enrichment activities. We are recommending a focus on incoming Year 7 pupils, but schools are free to target those most in need of support.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of reducing the number of teacher training days during the covid-19 outbreak in the 2020-21 academic year.

Teachers continue to benefit from five days of inset training each year and the Department has not identified any need to reduce this. Schools have the freedom to determine the dates on which they hold inset days and what they use them for. Inset days have been helpful to support teachers in managing additional pressures during the COVID-19 outbreak. In December, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced that schools could take an additional inset day on 4 January 2021 to help teachers train and prepare for COVID-19 testing in schools.

The local authority is required to set term dates for community schools, community special schools, voluntary controlled schools, pupil referral units and maintained nursery schools. The governing bodies of foundation and voluntary aided schools are required to set their own term dates. Local authorities and governing bodies must set dates in line with the requirement of the length of the school year as set out in the Education (School Day and School Year) (England) Regulations 1999.

Academy trusts, of academies and free schools, set their own term dates and they are not bound by school day and school year regulations.

With regard to initial teacher training (ITT), the ITT criteria requires programmes to be designed to provide trainees with enough time in school to demonstrate that they have achieved all the Teachers’ Standards. These typical periods of time are set out in the ITT criteria and supporting advice, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/initial-teacher-training-criteria/initial-teacher-training-itt-criteria-and-supporting-advice#c23-training-in-schools. For most courses, this will typically be 120 days. The Department has clarified to ITT providers that in the event of disruption due to the COVID-19 outbreak, courses with fewer than 120 days physically in school are acceptable. This will not result in non-compliance in relation to C2.3 of the ITT criteria. Further information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-initial-teacher-training-itt/coronavirus-covid-19-initial-teacher-training-itt#changes-to-the-itt-criteria-for-2020-to-2021.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many teacher training days his Department has scheduled for the 2020-21 academic year.

Teachers continue to benefit from five days of inset training each year and the Department has not identified any need to reduce this. Schools have the freedom to determine the dates on which they hold inset days and what they use them for. Inset days have been helpful to support teachers in managing additional pressures during the COVID-19 outbreak. In December, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced that schools could take an additional inset day on 4 January 2021 to help teachers train and prepare for COVID-19 testing in schools.

The local authority is required to set term dates for community schools, community special schools, voluntary controlled schools, pupil referral units and maintained nursery schools. The governing bodies of foundation and voluntary aided schools are required to set their own term dates. Local authorities and governing bodies must set dates in line with the requirement of the length of the school year as set out in the Education (School Day and School Year) (England) Regulations 1999.

Academy trusts, of academies and free schools, set their own term dates and they are not bound by school day and school year regulations.

With regard to initial teacher training (ITT), the ITT criteria requires programmes to be designed to provide trainees with enough time in school to demonstrate that they have achieved all the Teachers’ Standards. These typical periods of time are set out in the ITT criteria and supporting advice, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/initial-teacher-training-criteria/initial-teacher-training-itt-criteria-and-supporting-advice#c23-training-in-schools. For most courses, this will typically be 120 days. The Department has clarified to ITT providers that in the event of disruption due to the COVID-19 outbreak, courses with fewer than 120 days physically in school are acceptable. This will not result in non-compliance in relation to C2.3 of the ITT criteria. Further information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-initial-teacher-training-itt/coronavirus-covid-19-initial-teacher-training-itt#changes-to-the-itt-criteria-for-2020-to-2021.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the provision of (a) careers guidance, (b) mental health support and and (c) preparation for transition to further and higher education in those schools supported by the UniConnects programme, and what assessment he has made of the effect of the change in the level of funding for that programme in 2021-22 on that provision.

The Uni Connect programme, operated by the Office for Students (OfS), is a 4-year investment programme. It was established to support the creation of a strong and versatile network of local partnerships with cross-England coverage. It aims to provide sustained outreach to young people in schools and colleges in areas with low or unexplained gaps in higher education (HE) participation.

The programme is due to come to an end in July 2021, which presents the opportunity to consider its scope and objectives, including funding other areas of increasing importance for students and prospective students.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, wrote to the OfS on 19 January, providing guidance under section 2(3) of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 (HERA). This set out the funding allocation for the 2021/22 financial year and the government’s priorities to ensure that more of taxpayers’ money is spent on supporting HE provision which aligns with national priorities, including targeting funds to support students and prioritise the most disadvantaged learners.

On 8 February the Secretary of State set out the strategic priorities to higher education. In this the OfS were asked to allocate £15 million towards student mental health in 2021/22 through the proposed reforms to the Strategic Priorities Grant funding, to help address the challenges posed by the transition to university, given the increasing demand for mental health services. This will target those students in greatest need of such services, including vulnerable groups and hard to reach students.

The OfS were asked to allocate £5 million to providers in order to provide additional support for student hardship in 2021/22. This is to mitigate the rise in student hardship due to pandemic impacts on the labour market which particularly affect, for example, students relying on work to fund their studies, students whose parents have lost income and students who are parents and whose partner's income has been affected.

The OfS plan to consult on the proposed changes to the Strategic Priorities Grant shortly, before final allocations for the 2021/22 academic year are confirmed, whilst carefully considering the impact of any changes on providers. Any decisions will be made in light of the allocations within the available Strategic Priorities Grant, whilst having due regard to general duties, the Public Sector Equality Duty and statutory guidance.

The OfS have consulted on the approach to the next phase of the Uni Connect programme from the 2021/22 academic year to the 2024/25 academic year, and will report on the outcomes shortly. That consultation outlined the proposal to continue to support efficient and joined-up collaborative HE outreach through the programme, intended to support activity that complements providers’ access and participation plans, create pathways to FE and HE, help address the academic, financial and cultural barriers to progression and support under-represented learners to achieve their ambitions. Proposals set out a future approach to targeting high-priority schools and colleges and giving greater focus to progression from non-traditional routes into and through HE, including through FE and among mature learners.

We are investing over £100 million in financial year 2020/21 to help young people and adults to get high quality careers provision, including funding for the Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) to roll out its Enterprise Adviser Network and expand its role supporting schools and colleges across the 8 Gatsby Benchmarks, and for the National Careers Service to deliver high quality, impartial information, advice and guidance service to young people and adults. We will continue to assess the impact of careers provision in schools and colleges through CEC’s digital tool, Compass, which measures progress against the Gatsby Benchmarks.

The OfS will consider the impact of any changes on providers before publishing a response towards the end of March 2021. The government welcomes the consultation on the future of the programme, before final allocations are confirmed. Any funding beyond 2021/22 financial year will be determined at the next Spending Review.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Office for Students Guide to Funding 2020-21, whether a review of the longer-term approach to funding has taken place in respect to London weighting.

The Strategic Priorities Grant, formerly referred to as the Teaching Grant, plays an important role in supporting providers and students to develop the skills and knowledge needed locally, regionally, and nationally to support the economy.

We have asked the Office for Students (OfS) to reform the grant for the 2021-22 financial year to ensure that more of taxpayers’ money is spent on supporting higher education provision which aligns with national priorities, such as healthcare, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and subjects meeting specific labour market needs.

The London weighting accounts for a small proportion of London-providers’ income. Providers in London received around £64 million London Weighting in the 2020-21 academic year, which is less than 1% of their estimated total income.

London universities will be able to benefit from the significant uplifts we are making to elements of the Strategic Priorities Grant, including the first real terms increase in years in per capita funding for high-cost subjects in grant funding, as well as being able to bid for capital investment to support the delivery of strategic subjects.

We have also asked the OfS for a £10 million increase to the specialist provider allocation, to support these institutions which are particularly reliant on Strategic Priorities Grant funding, many of whom are London-based. We want to ensure that our small and specialist providers, including some of our top music and arts providers, receive additional support, and that grant funding is used to effectively support students.

The OfS will consult on these changes shortly, before final allocations for the 2021/22 financial year are confirmed and will carefully consider the impact of any changes on providers.

In terms of supporting higher education providers and students, we have recently made available an additional £50 million of hardship funding for the 2020/21 financial year. In total we have made £70 million of funding available for student hardship, including the £20 million made available to higher education providers in December. Providers will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students, in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need.

This money is in addition to the £256 million of Student Premium funding higher education providers are able draw on for the 2021/22 academic year towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment, and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans.

Furthermore, we have asked the OfS to allocate £15 million towards student mental health in 2021/22 through the proposed reforms to Strategic Priorities grant funding, to help address the challenges to student mental health posed by the transition to university, given the increasing demand for mental health services. This will target those students in greatest need of such services, including vulnerable groups and hard to reach students.

The OfS has also been asked to allocate £5 million to providers in order to provide additional support for student hardship in 2021/22. This is to mitigate the rise in student hardship due to COVID-19 impacts on the labour market which particularly affect, for example, students relying on work to fund their studies, students whose parents have lost income and students who are parents and whose partner's income has been affected.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what data was used to arrive at the reduction of 50 per cent to the high-cost subject funding for other courses in price group C1.

The Strategic Priorities Grant, formerly referred to as the Teaching Grant, plays an important role in supporting providers and students to develop the skills and knowledge needed locally, regionally, and nationally to support the economy.

We have asked the Office for Students (OfS) to reform the grant for 2021-22 to ensure that more of taxpayers’ money is spent on supporting higher education provision which aligns with national priorities. This includes the reprioritisation of funding towards the provision of high-cost subjects that support the NHS and wider healthcare policy, high-cost science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects, and subjects meeting specific labour market needs.

This government also values the arts. High quality provision in a range of subjects is critical for our workforce and our public services and is culturally enriching for our society, and that is why we have invested in our world class specialist providers through the Strategic Priorities Grant. This includes asking the OfS for a £10 million increase to the specialist provider allocation, to support these institutions which are particularly reliant on Strategic Priorities Grant funding. We want to ensure that our small and specialist providers, including some of our top music and arts providers, receive additional support, and that grant funding is used to effectively support students.

The OfS will consult on these changes shortly, before final allocations for 2021-22 are confirmed, and will carefully consider the impact of any changes on providers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction of 50 per cent to the high-cost subject funding for other courses in price group C1 on the number of (a) courses available, (b) UK students undertaking those courses and (c) international students undertaking those courses.

The Strategic Priorities Grant, formerly referred to as the Teaching Grant, plays an important role in supporting providers and students to develop the skills and knowledge needed locally, regionally, and nationally to support the economy.

We have asked the Office for Students (OfS) to reform the grant for 2021-22 to ensure that more of taxpayers’ money is spent on supporting higher education provision which aligns with national priorities. This includes the reprioritisation of funding towards the provision of high-cost subjects that support the NHS and wider healthcare policy, high-cost science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects, and subjects meeting specific labour market needs.

This government also values the arts. High quality provision in a range of subjects is critical for our workforce and our public services and is culturally enriching for our society, and that is why we have invested in our world class specialist providers through the Strategic Priorities Grant. This includes asking the OfS for a £10 million increase to the specialist provider allocation, to support these institutions which are particularly reliant on Strategic Priorities Grant funding. We want to ensure that our small and specialist providers, including some of our top music and arts providers, receive additional support, and that grant funding is used to effectively support students.

The OfS will consult on these changes shortly, before final allocations for 2021-22 are confirmed, and will carefully consider the impact of any changes on providers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 25 February 2021 to Question 155341 on the Turing Scheme, what steps he is taking to (a) identify the geographical areas of disadvantage and (b) actively target and promote the Turing scheme in those areas; what funding has been allocated for such promotion; and whether such funding is part of the stated budget for that scheme.

Successful applications for the Turing Scheme will support social mobility and widen participation across the UK. The scheme will help and promote equal access and opportunities to all pupils, students and learners regardless of background, in line with the government’s levelling-up agenda. It will offer additional financial support for disadvantaged students and, unlike Erasmus, there will be additional funds available to pay for disadvantaged students’ travel costs. More information on the Turing Scheme, including the aim for widening access, is available on the scheme’s website: www.turing-scheme.org.uk.

The Turing Scheme’s delivery partner, a consortium of the British Council and Ecorys, will actively promote the scheme across the whole of the UK, concentrating on areas of socio-economic disadvantage and lower social mobility, including the department’s identified Opportunity Areas, because disadvantaged students have been typically under-represented when it comes to taking advantage of international education opportunities. .

The UK-wide scheme is demand-led. However, the qualitative assessment criteria are positively weighted towards projects that reach out to groups with fewer opportunities.

Funding for the UK-wide promotion is part of the administration costs for the scheme, allowed for within the overall budget.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to give higher education providers access to free school meals data to fulfill his request that universities focus their access and participation work on white boys on free schools meals as set out in his Strategic Guidance letter to the Office for Students on 5 February 2021.

The government is committed to transforming the lives of young people, so they can go as far as their hard work and talent will take them, regardless of their background or where they live. It is more crucial than ever before that we tap into the brilliant talent that our country has to offer, and make sure that university places are available to all who are qualified by ability and attainment to pursue them and who wish to do so.

All higher education (HE) providers wanting to charge higher level fees must also have an Access and Participation Plan agreed by the Office for Students (OfS), in which they set out the measures they intend to take to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-represented groups to access and succeed in HE.

Through our recent guidance letter to the OfS, we have asked that their work to improve access and participation in HE should include a focus on white working-class boys who are currently the least likely group to progress to HE.

Departmental officials are working closely with the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) to explore how we can support HE providers to improve and enhance access to data collected by the Department, including free school meals (FSM) data. We recently gave approval to UCAS to incorporate FSM data into their multiple equality measure for the 2021 HE admissions cycle, which UCAS will make available to HE providers as part of their modernised contextual data service. My officials are continuing to work with UCAS to consider the changes required to their processes to enable the lawful sharing of FSM data directly with HE providers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to enable the sharing of free school meals data with higher education providers to allow institutions to better identify individuals from the groups least likely to enter higher education.

The government is committed to transforming the lives of young people, so they can go as far as their hard work and talent will take them, regardless of their background or where they live. It is more crucial than ever before that we tap into the brilliant talent that our country has to offer, and make sure that university places are available to all who are qualified by ability and attainment to pursue them and who wish to do so.

All higher education (HE) providers wanting to charge higher level fees must also have an Access and Participation Plan agreed by the Office for Students (OfS), in which they set out the measures they intend to take to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-represented groups to access and succeed in HE.

Through our recent guidance letter to the OfS, we have asked that their work to improve access and participation in HE should include a focus on white working-class boys who are currently the least likely group to progress to HE.

Departmental officials are working closely with the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) to explore how we can support HE providers to improve and enhance access to data collected by the Department, including free school meals (FSM) data. We recently gave approval to UCAS to incorporate FSM data into their multiple equality measure for the 2021 HE admissions cycle, which UCAS will make available to HE providers as part of their modernised contextual data service. My officials are continuing to work with UCAS to consider the changes required to their processes to enable the lawful sharing of FSM data directly with HE providers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that all university careers services have in place effective interventions for students with disabilities.

This government believes it is important that disabled students receive an appropriate level of support wherever and whatever they choose to study and is committed to ensuring that all students with disabilities receive the support they need to enable them to study alongside their fellow students on an equal basis.

I am aware of the recommendations in the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services Disability Task Group's eighteenth annual ‘What Happens Next? 2021 Report’, looking at the outcomes of 2018 disabled graduates, and how the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle’s questions reflect those recommendations. The report can be found here: https://www.agcas.org.uk/Latest/what-happens-next-2021.

It is pleasing to see the Disabled Students’ Commission (DSC) is supporting the report’s recommendation that more research should be undertaken on the outcomes of disabled graduates, and that the commission’s upcoming primary research project will have a focus on disabled graduates and employment.

Good work in identifying barriers disabled students can face when moving into employment after graduation was also included in Policy Connect's ‘Arriving at Thriving’ report published in October 2020, following a six-month inquiry that included gathering evidence from over 500 disabled students, which can be accessed here: https://www.policyconnect.org.uk/research/arriving-thriving-learning-disabled-students-ensure-access-all.

I agree wholeheartedly with the report’s suggestion that higher education (HE) providers must recognise the importance for disabled students of good careers information, advice and guidance by investing in the regular training and continuing professional development of careers services professionals. I am also delighted that the DSC has committed to producing materials shortly that will promote the development of disability employability guidance and boost effective practice among HE providers and employers.

Advance HE's ‘Equality in higher education: Student statistical report 2020’ meanwhile shows similar continuation and qualification rates for disabled and non-disabled UK domiciled full-time first degree entrants (89.3% and 88.5%, respectively). 6.5% of disabled students who entered HE in academic year 2017/18 left HE with no award the following year, compared with 6.8% of non-disabled students. The report can be found here: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/equality-higher-education-statistical-report-2020.

The Office for Students has a formal key performance measure to eliminate the gap in degree outcomes (firsts or 2:1s) between disabled students and non-disabled students by academic year 2024/25.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to commission research to establish what is effective in improving the outcomes of disabled graduates.

This government believes it is important that disabled students receive an appropriate level of support wherever and whatever they choose to study and is committed to ensuring that all students with disabilities receive the support they need to enable them to study alongside their fellow students on an equal basis.

I am aware of the recommendations in the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services Disability Task Group's eighteenth annual ‘What Happens Next? 2021 Report’, looking at the outcomes of 2018 disabled graduates, and how the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle’s questions reflect those recommendations. The report can be found here: https://www.agcas.org.uk/Latest/what-happens-next-2021.

It is pleasing to see the Disabled Students’ Commission (DSC) is supporting the report’s recommendation that more research should be undertaken on the outcomes of disabled graduates, and that the commission’s upcoming primary research project will have a focus on disabled graduates and employment.

Good work in identifying barriers disabled students can face when moving into employment after graduation was also included in Policy Connect's ‘Arriving at Thriving’ report published in October 2020, following a six-month inquiry that included gathering evidence from over 500 disabled students, which can be accessed here: https://www.policyconnect.org.uk/research/arriving-thriving-learning-disabled-students-ensure-access-all.

I agree wholeheartedly with the report’s suggestion that higher education (HE) providers must recognise the importance for disabled students of good careers information, advice and guidance by investing in the regular training and continuing professional development of careers services professionals. I am also delighted that the DSC has committed to producing materials shortly that will promote the development of disability employability guidance and boost effective practice among HE providers and employers.

Advance HE's ‘Equality in higher education: Student statistical report 2020’ meanwhile shows similar continuation and qualification rates for disabled and non-disabled UK domiciled full-time first degree entrants (89.3% and 88.5%, respectively). 6.5% of disabled students who entered HE in academic year 2017/18 left HE with no award the following year, compared with 6.8% of non-disabled students. The report can be found here: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/equality-higher-education-statistical-report-2020.

The Office for Students has a formal key performance measure to eliminate the gap in degree outcomes (firsts or 2:1s) between disabled students and non-disabled students by academic year 2024/25.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to commission research to better understand (a) how disabled graduates (i) make decisions on (A) location and (B) basis of employment and (ii) make other career decisions and (b) the barriers that disabled graduates face in achieving their career ambitions.

This government believes it is important that disabled students receive an appropriate level of support wherever and whatever they choose to study and is committed to ensuring that all students with disabilities receive the support they need to enable them to study alongside their fellow students on an equal basis.

I am aware of the recommendations in the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services Disability Task Group's eighteenth annual ‘What Happens Next? 2021 Report’, looking at the outcomes of 2018 disabled graduates, and how the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle’s questions reflect those recommendations. The report can be found here: https://www.agcas.org.uk/Latest/what-happens-next-2021.

It is pleasing to see the Disabled Students’ Commission (DSC) is supporting the report’s recommendation that more research should be undertaken on the outcomes of disabled graduates, and that the commission’s upcoming primary research project will have a focus on disabled graduates and employment.

Good work in identifying barriers disabled students can face when moving into employment after graduation was also included in Policy Connect's ‘Arriving at Thriving’ report published in October 2020, following a six-month inquiry that included gathering evidence from over 500 disabled students, which can be accessed here: https://www.policyconnect.org.uk/research/arriving-thriving-learning-disabled-students-ensure-access-all.

I agree wholeheartedly with the report’s suggestion that higher education (HE) providers must recognise the importance for disabled students of good careers information, advice and guidance by investing in the regular training and continuing professional development of careers services professionals. I am also delighted that the DSC has committed to producing materials shortly that will promote the development of disability employability guidance and boost effective practice among HE providers and employers.

Advance HE's ‘Equality in higher education: Student statistical report 2020’ meanwhile shows similar continuation and qualification rates for disabled and non-disabled UK domiciled full-time first degree entrants (89.3% and 88.5%, respectively). 6.5% of disabled students who entered HE in academic year 2017/18 left HE with no award the following year, compared with 6.8% of non-disabled students. The report can be found here: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/equality-higher-education-statistical-report-2020.

The Office for Students has a formal key performance measure to eliminate the gap in degree outcomes (firsts or 2:1s) between disabled students and non-disabled students by academic year 2024/25.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that the Turing Scheme provides more opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds than Erasmus+.

The Turing Scheme will be backed by £110 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on study and work placements overseas, starting in September 2021. Further details are available on the new Turing Scheme website.

The Turing Scheme is an outward mobility scheme funding UK students to travel abroad. The UK is a world-leading destination for study and research, with four universities in the world’s top 10 and 18 in the top 100. The UK is currently second only to the USA as a destination for international higher education students with approximately 560,000 students from abroad and has been one of the most popular destinations within Erasmus+. It is clear that we have considerable appeal as a destination and partner in international mobilities and exchanges.

Under previous arrangements for student mobility, of which Erasmus+ was a prominent part, UK undergraduates from more advantaged backgrounds have been 1.7 times more likely to participate in mobility schemes compared to disadvantaged students.

Through the Turing Scheme, we will look to target those parts of the country with historically low levels of take-up with a view to boosting social mobility and support disadvantaged students with additional grants for living costs and travel expenses, making life-changing opportunities accessible to everyone across the country.

In order to increase the participation of disadvantaged groups we plan the following measures, which will maintain parity with or exceed the support provided by Erasmus+:

  • When bidding, providers will need to demonstrate how their project will support widening access. The assessment criteria will be heavily weighted towards this criterion.
  • Maintaining parity with Erasmus+ grant rates and existing student finance support but provide additional financial support for those from disadvantaged backgrounds by reimbursing travel-related costs.
  • We will actively target and promote the scheme in those geographical areas of disadvantage to help level up the country.
  • We have reduced the minimum higher education duration of outward mobilities from a minimum of one term to 4 weeks enabling a wider group of students to participate than was the case under current Erasmus+ programme.
Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the absence of reciprocal funding for incoming students in the Turing Scheme compared to Erasmus+.

The Turing Scheme will be backed by £110 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on study and work placements overseas, starting in September 2021. Further details are available on the new Turing Scheme website.

The Turing Scheme is an outward mobility scheme funding UK students to travel abroad. The UK is a world-leading destination for study and research, with four universities in the world’s top 10 and 18 in the top 100. The UK is currently second only to the USA as a destination for international higher education students with approximately 560,000 students from abroad and has been one of the most popular destinations within Erasmus+. It is clear that we have considerable appeal as a destination and partner in international mobilities and exchanges.

Under previous arrangements for student mobility, of which Erasmus+ was a prominent part, UK undergraduates from more advantaged backgrounds have been 1.7 times more likely to participate in mobility schemes compared to disadvantaged students.

Through the Turing Scheme, we will look to target those parts of the country with historically low levels of take-up with a view to boosting social mobility and support disadvantaged students with additional grants for living costs and travel expenses, making life-changing opportunities accessible to everyone across the country.

In order to increase the participation of disadvantaged groups we plan the following measures, which will maintain parity with or exceed the support provided by Erasmus+:

  • When bidding, providers will need to demonstrate how their project will support widening access. The assessment criteria will be heavily weighted towards this criterion.
  • Maintaining parity with Erasmus+ grant rates and existing student finance support but provide additional financial support for those from disadvantaged backgrounds by reimbursing travel-related costs.
  • We will actively target and promote the scheme in those geographical areas of disadvantage to help level up the country.
  • We have reduced the minimum higher education duration of outward mobilities from a minimum of one term to 4 weeks enabling a wider group of students to participate than was the case under current Erasmus+ programme.
Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what comparative assessment he has made of the potential merits of the (a) Turing Scheme and (b) Erasmus+ for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Turing Scheme will be backed by £110 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on study and work placements overseas, starting in September 2021. Further details are available on the new Turing Scheme website.

The Turing Scheme is an outward mobility scheme funding UK students to travel abroad. The UK is a world-leading destination for study and research, with four universities in the world’s top 10 and 18 in the top 100. The UK is currently second only to the USA as a destination for international higher education students with approximately 560,000 students from abroad and has been one of the most popular destinations within Erasmus+. It is clear that we have considerable appeal as a destination and partner in international mobilities and exchanges.

Under previous arrangements for student mobility, of which Erasmus+ was a prominent part, UK undergraduates from more advantaged backgrounds have been 1.7 times more likely to participate in mobility schemes compared to disadvantaged students.

Through the Turing Scheme, we will look to target those parts of the country with historically low levels of take-up with a view to boosting social mobility and support disadvantaged students with additional grants for living costs and travel expenses, making life-changing opportunities accessible to everyone across the country.

In order to increase the participation of disadvantaged groups we plan the following measures, which will maintain parity with or exceed the support provided by Erasmus+:

  • When bidding, providers will need to demonstrate how their project will support widening access. The assessment criteria will be heavily weighted towards this criterion.
  • Maintaining parity with Erasmus+ grant rates and existing student finance support but provide additional financial support for those from disadvantaged backgrounds by reimbursing travel-related costs.
  • We will actively target and promote the scheme in those geographical areas of disadvantage to help level up the country.
  • We have reduced the minimum higher education duration of outward mobilities from a minimum of one term to 4 weeks enabling a wider group of students to participate than was the case under current Erasmus+ programme.
Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of making Advanced Learner Loans available for (a) part-time and (b) modular higher education courses.

The government recognises the importance of studying flexibly and the benefits it can bring to individuals, employers and the wider economy.

We have made changes to support part-time undergraduate students and mature students. Since September 2012, eligible students undertaking part-time undergraduate courses have been able to apply for up-front tuition fee loans to meet the full costs of their tuition. Students starting to attend part-time degree level courses since August 2018 have also been able to access full-time equivalent loans as a contribution towards their living costs.

Advanced Learner Loans provide fees support for designated further education courses at advanced and higher levels, including levels 4 to 6. Those courses may be studied at an intensity decided by the student and institution. Fees are determined by the course subject and guided learning hours.

However, we need to take more radical steps to support lifelong learning. This is why my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, announced that we will introduce a flexible Lifelong Loan Entitlement equivalent to four years of post-18 education. The loan entitlement will be for modules at higher technical and degree levels (levels 4 to 6), as well as for full years of study. It will make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly, allowing them to space out their studies, transfer credits between institutions, and partake in more part-time study. We will consult on the detail and scope of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement this year, setting out proposals for how and when it will be introduced.

As recently set out in the Skills for Jobs white paper, while it is our intention that the Lifelong Loan Entitlement will ultimately be the primary route of funding for advanced technical and degree levels (levels 4 to 6), including modular provision, in the 2021/22 financial year we intend to fund trials of modular high-quality technical provision. This will stimulate demand and supply and improve our understanding of what works in delivering effective modular provision ahead of the introduction of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement.

We will continue to look at what other short-term changes could be helpful to ensure that we are continuously building towards the Lifelong Loan Entitlement, ensuring that we take advantage of any available opportunities to test and learn prior to its introduction.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential effect on higher education institutions of funding reductions resulting from the proposed removal of London Weighting from the Teaching Grant.

The higher education (HE) teaching grant will be reformed for the 2021-22 financial year to ensure that more of taxpayers’ money is spent on supporting HE provision which aligns with national priorities, such as healthcare, science, technology, engineering, mathematics and subjects meeting specific labour market needs.

London weighting funding is a small proportion of the overall income of providers and it is right for the government to re-allocate public money where it is most needed. Universities should not receive additional investment for teaching simply because of where they are located. Excellent provision can be delivered across the country.

London already has, on average, the highest percentage of good or outstanding schools, the highest progression to higher education, and more HE providers than any other region in England. This government is firmly committed to the levelling up agenda and this reform will invest more money directly into high quality institutions in the Midlands and the North.

The analysis we offer at this stage, as presented in the annex to the letter to the Office for Students (OfS), gives a broad indication of the impact of the changes to aid understanding. This letter can be accessed here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/media/a3814453-4c28-404a-bf76-490183867d9a/rt-hon-gavin-williamson-cbe-mp-t-grant-ofs-chair-smb.pdf.

The OfS will consult on these changes shortly, before final allocations for the 2021-22 financial year are confirmed and will carefully consider the impact of any changes on providers.

We are also making available an additional £50 million of hardship funding this financial year. In total we have made £70 million of funding available for student hardship given the £20 million made available to higher education providers in December 2020. Providers will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students, in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need.

This money is in addition to the £256 million of Student Premium funding higher education providers are able draw on this academic year towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans. Furthermore, we have asked the OfS to allocate £15 million towards student mental health in 2021/22 through the proposed reforms to teaching grant funding.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to publish the economic rationale behind the removal of the London Weighting aspect of the Teaching Grant for London-based universities.

The higher education (HE) teaching grant will be reformed for the 2021-22 financial year to ensure that more of taxpayers’ money is spent on supporting HE provision which aligns with national priorities, such as healthcare, science, technology, engineering, mathematics and subjects meeting specific labour market needs.

London weighting funding is a small proportion of the overall income of providers and it is right for the government to re-allocate public money where it is most needed. Universities should not receive additional investment for teaching simply because of where they are located. Excellent provision can be delivered across the country.

London already has, on average, the highest percentage of good or outstanding schools, the highest progression to higher education, and more HE providers than any other region in England. This government is firmly committed to the levelling up agenda and this reform will invest more money directly into high quality institutions in the Midlands and the North.

The analysis we offer at this stage, as presented in the annex to the letter to the Office for Students (OfS), gives a broad indication of the impact of the changes to aid understanding. This letter can be accessed here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/media/a3814453-4c28-404a-bf76-490183867d9a/rt-hon-gavin-williamson-cbe-mp-t-grant-ofs-chair-smb.pdf.

The OfS will consult on these changes shortly, before final allocations for the 2021-22 financial year are confirmed and will carefully consider the impact of any changes on providers.

We are also making available an additional £50 million of hardship funding this financial year. In total we have made £70 million of funding available for student hardship given the £20 million made available to higher education providers in December 2020. Providers will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students, in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need.

This money is in addition to the £256 million of Student Premium funding higher education providers are able draw on this academic year towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans. Furthermore, we have asked the OfS to allocate £15 million towards student mental health in 2021/22 through the proposed reforms to teaching grant funding.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when the Office for Students consultation on the proposed removal of London Weighting from the Teaching Grant for London-based universities in the financial year 2020-21 will be published.

The higher education (HE) teaching grant will be reformed for the 2021-22 financial year to ensure that more of taxpayers’ money is spent on supporting HE provision which aligns with national priorities, such as healthcare, science, technology, engineering, mathematics and subjects meeting specific labour market needs.

London weighting funding is a small proportion of the overall income of providers and it is right for the government to re-allocate public money where it is most needed. Universities should not receive additional investment for teaching simply because of where they are located. Excellent provision can be delivered across the country.

London already has, on average, the highest percentage of good or outstanding schools, the highest progression to higher education, and more HE providers than any other region in England. This government is firmly committed to the levelling up agenda and this reform will invest more money directly into high quality institutions in the Midlands and the North.

The analysis we offer at this stage, as presented in the annex to the letter to the Office for Students (OfS), gives a broad indication of the impact of the changes to aid understanding. This letter can be accessed here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/media/a3814453-4c28-404a-bf76-490183867d9a/rt-hon-gavin-williamson-cbe-mp-t-grant-ofs-chair-smb.pdf.

The OfS will consult on these changes shortly, before final allocations for the 2021-22 financial year are confirmed and will carefully consider the impact of any changes on providers.

We are also making available an additional £50 million of hardship funding this financial year. In total we have made £70 million of funding available for student hardship given the £20 million made available to higher education providers in December 2020. Providers will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students, in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need.

This money is in addition to the £256 million of Student Premium funding higher education providers are able draw on this academic year towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans. Furthermore, we have asked the OfS to allocate £15 million towards student mental health in 2021/22 through the proposed reforms to teaching grant funding.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of students that are pursuing careers in the maritime sector.

Young people need information on the range of jobs and careers and encounters with employers to inspire them about what they can achieve. Information on the maritime sector is available from a number of sources. The National Careers Service provides independent, professional advice on careers, skills, and the labour market.

The Careers and Enterprise Company is making sure that every young person has access to inspiring encounters with the world of work, including work placements, work experience and other employer-based activities. It is offering support to schools by increasing the level of employer input into careers programmes.

Employers and professional bodies in the maritime sector can sign up to ‘Inspiring the Future’, run by the Education and Employers charity. This free programme allows volunteers to visit state schools to talk to pupils about their job. This will raise the profile of various careers within the maritime sector.

There are a number of apprenticeships in the maritime sector; at present four standards are available for delivery.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what risk assessment his Department has conducted on allowing early years providers to remain open during the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021.

We continue to prioritise keeping early years settings open in full because of the clear benefits to children’s education and wellbeing and to support working parents. Early education gives children the communication and social skills which set them up for life. Caring for the youngest age group is not something that can be done remotely.

Public Health England's advice remains that young children are less susceptible to the virus and play a lower role in transmission, usually because young children have lower contact outside their household.

Early years settings remain low risk environments for children and staff. Current evidence suggests that pre-school children (0 to 5 years) are less susceptible to infection and are unlikely to be playing a driving role in transmission. There is no evidence that the new variant of COVID-19 disproportionately affects young children. The current confirmed case rate of COVID-19 amongst young children remains the lowest of all age groups.

Furthermore, settings should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls. It is a legal requirement that settings should revisit and update their risk assessments (building on the learning to date and the practices they have already developed). It is good practice to treat risk assessments during COVID-19 as a “living document” and keep them under very regular review in the light of any changing circumstances.

Further information on risk assessments and the system of controls can be found in the guidance here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/950653/Education_and_childcare_settings_-_national_lockdown_from_5_January_2021_.pdf.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to offer Free School Meal vouchers to people aged between 16-18 in full-time education during the period of covid-19 restrictions announced in January 2021.

Further education institutions should continue to provide support for students who are eligible for free meals, whether they are attending or studying remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Institutions should continue to provide support in the most appropriate way based on their local circumstances.

Eligible 16-18 year old pupils attending school settings are able to receive free school meal support. Schools are free to decide the best approach for their free school meal pupils. They can provide lunch parcels, locally arranged vouchers, or they can use the national voucher scheme which re-opened on Monday 18 January.

Our full guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools#free-meals-for-further-education-students.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether student nurses who are unable to complete the necessary clinical placement hours for qualification due to disruptions during the covid-19 outbreak will be asked to pay extra tuition fees if their courses are extended as a result.

Health Education England is working locally with each higher education provider so that placements are available and is supporting healthcare students to ensure that as many as possible graduate on time.

Institutions should not charge nursing students additional tuition fees in circumstances where they need more study time to complete their course as result of undertaking a paid placement in the NHS, or as result of needing to undertake clinical placements over an extended period.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether third year nursing students who voluntarily entered paid placements to assist with the covid-19 outbreak will be asked to pay extra tuition fees if their courses are extended as a result.

Health Education England is working locally with each higher education provider so that placements are available and is supporting healthcare students to ensure that as many as possible graduate on time.

Institutions should not charge nursing students additional tuition fees in circumstances where they need more study time to complete their course as result of undertaking a paid placement in the NHS, or as result of needing to undertake clinical placements over an extended period.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether students completing a Photography degree are permitted to complete practical work independently outside of their household during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown period.

We know that higher education (HE) providers are working hard to review their arrangements to reflect the situation facing students during this period of national lockdown. We expect providers to ensure that continuing and prospective students receive the clear, accurate and timely information needed to make informed decisions. This includes making students aware of any potential for changes to arrangements for assessment at the earliest opportunity. Providers will make their own judgements based on the latest national and local public health guidance, taking account of the need to minimise risk to staff and students.

On 7 January, the department published updated guidance on the plans for students returning to higher education for the spring term. This guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses. There is also general guidance on national lockdown, available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home#when-you-can-leave-home.

As stated in the national guidance, everyone must stay at home wherever possible. It is permissible to leave the house for work and education where it cannot reasonably be done at home. However, we strongly encourage students to remain at home, and work with their providers to make plans that enable students to continue to stay at home in line with guidance wherever possible. For any academic work that takes place outside of the house, risk assessments should take place to ensure work can be conducted in a COVID-secure way and comply with social distancing guidelines. This exemption only applies if it is an essential part of the course and no alternative is available. During the period of lockdown, everyone should avoid all but essential contact and travel outside their household.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the proposed taskforce on the mental health challenges facing pupils, students and staff throughout the education sector, announced at the Education Committee hearing of 13 January 2021 on the impact of covid-19 on education and children’s services, what the planned timescale is for the establishment of that taskforce; what the remit will be of that taskforce; whether representatives of staff unions will be invited on to that taskforce; how pupils and students will be represented on that taskforce; and when that taskforce will make recommendations.

The government has made children’s wellbeing and mental health a central part of our response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We have been working with the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England to monitor the impact on children and young people and will confirm shortly the next steps for setting up the task force to build on that work and make sure that we continue to hear from those affected, including education staff.

The support we have already put in place for children and young people will be critical during this time. We continue to prioritise keeping early years settings open in full because of the clear benefits to children’s education and wellbeing. We know how important it is for children’s wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers and staff. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are providing £1.15 million funding to existing charity grant partners to support disadvantaged and vulnerable parent and child mental health and wellbeing, and to help children catch up and transition back into early education.

The department has issued guidance for schools which includes information and sources of further advice on supporting mental health and wellbeing: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

Schools have the flexibility to offer a place in school as a vulnerable child to pupils for whom being in school will help them manage their mental health, or to access support more easily. Schools are also continuing to offer pastoral support to pupils working remotely at home, informed, and supported by training and expert advice that we have made available including through the £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return scheme and through local links with mental health providers. This information and support is relevant to remote provision as well as to those attending school. Schools should make sure that parents and pupils know who to contact if they have new concerns about mental health and wellbeing.

We are also committed to providing and signposting wellbeing guidance and support; and ensuring that specialist mental health support is available for those students and staff in further education (FE) who need it. Our guidance to the FE sector for the period of national lockdown includes a specific section on mental health, signposting providers to additional resources, such as webinars and online platforms, for supporting students and staff with their mental health and wellbeing.

The Department for Education College Collaboration Fund provides £5.4 million national programme of competitive grant funding for all statutory FE colleges to be delivered in this financial year 2020/21. We particularly welcomed applications that address one of five specific quality improvement needs, and five of the projects funded support student and/or staff mental health and wellbeing through online programmes and remote support.

With regards to students in higher education, it is for higher education providers as autonomous bodies to identify and address the needs of their student body and to decide what mental health and wellbeing support to put in place. At the start of, and throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has asked universities to prioritise mental health support, and continue to support their students, which has included making services accessible from a distance. We encourage students to stay in touch with their provider’s student support and welfare teams, as these services are likely to continue to be an important source of assistance. Many providers have bolstered their existing mental health services, and adapted delivery mechanisms including reaching out to students who may be more vulnerable.

In October, my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, wrote to Vice Chancellors outlining that student welfare should remain a priority. The department have convened a working group of representatives from the higher education and health sectors, specifically to address the current and pressing issues that students are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have also worked with the Office for Students (OfS) to provide Student Space, which has been funded by up to £3 million by the OfS. Student Space is a mental health and wellbeing platform designed to bridge any gaps in support for students arising from this unprecedented situation and works alongside existing services. Ensuring students have access to quality mental health support is my top priority, which is why we asked the OfS to look at extending the platform. We are delighted they have been able to extend the platform to support students for the whole 2020/21 academic year.

Students struggling with their mental health can also access support via online resources from the NHS, Public Health England via the Better Health - Every Mind Matters website, and the mental health charity Mind.

We have also put in place support for staff. We have worked in partnership with the sector and mental health experts to announce a range of public commitments on mental health and wellbeing, including improving access to resources, building wellbeing into teacher training and policy making, and the creation of the first ever Education Staff Wellbeing Charter.

We have taken action to respond to the mental health needs of school leaders by launching a £95,000 pilot led by Education Support to provide online peer-support and telephone supervision from experts to around 250 school leaders. This service will run until March 2021. The outcome of the pilot will inform future wellbeing support.

Alongside this action in education for those who need specialist support or help, all NHS Mental Health Trusts are providing 24/7 open access telephone lines to support people of all ages and continue to deliver mental health support to children and young people. The government is continuing to invest in and prioritise mental health. The NHS will receive around an additional £500 million this year, to address waiting times for mental health services, give more people the mental health support they need, and invest in the NHS workforce.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what further support he plans to provide to support the mental health challenges facing pupils, students and staff throughout the education sector prior to recommendations from the proposed taskforce announced at the Education Committee hearing of 13 January 2021 on the impact of covid-19 on education and children’s services.

The government has made children’s wellbeing and mental health a central part of our response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We have been working with the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England to monitor the impact on children and young people and will confirm shortly the next steps for setting up the task force to build on that work and make sure that we continue to hear from those affected, including education staff.

The support we have already put in place for children and young people will be critical during this time. We continue to prioritise keeping early years settings open in full because of the clear benefits to children’s education and wellbeing. We know how important it is for children’s wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers and staff. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are providing £1.15 million funding to existing charity grant partners to support disadvantaged and vulnerable parent and child mental health and wellbeing, and to help children catch up and transition back into early education.

The department has issued guidance for schools which includes information and sources of further advice on supporting mental health and wellbeing: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

Schools have the flexibility to offer a place in school as a vulnerable child to pupils for whom being in school will help them manage their mental health, or to access support more easily. Schools are also continuing to offer pastoral support to pupils working remotely at home, informed, and supported by training and expert advice that we have made available including through the £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return scheme and through local links with mental health providers. This information and support is relevant to remote provision as well as to those attending school. Schools should make sure that parents and pupils know who to contact if they have new concerns about mental health and wellbeing.

We are also committed to providing and signposting wellbeing guidance and support; and ensuring that specialist mental health support is available for those students and staff in further education (FE) who need it. Our guidance to the FE sector for the period of national lockdown includes a specific section on mental health, signposting providers to additional resources, such as webinars and online platforms, for supporting students and staff with their mental health and wellbeing.

The Department for Education College Collaboration Fund provides £5.4 million national programme of competitive grant funding for all statutory FE colleges to be delivered in this financial year 2020/21. We particularly welcomed applications that address one of five specific quality improvement needs, and five of the projects funded support student and/or staff mental health and wellbeing through online programmes and remote support.

With regards to students in higher education, it is for higher education providers as autonomous bodies to identify and address the needs of their student body and to decide what mental health and wellbeing support to put in place. At the start of, and throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has asked universities to prioritise mental health support, and continue to support their students, which has included making services accessible from a distance. We encourage students to stay in touch with their provider’s student support and welfare teams, as these services are likely to continue to be an important source of assistance. Many providers have bolstered their existing mental health services, and adapted delivery mechanisms including reaching out to students who may be more vulnerable.

In October, my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, wrote to Vice Chancellors outlining that student welfare should remain a priority. The department have convened a working group of representatives from the higher education and health sectors, specifically to address the current and pressing issues that students are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have also worked with the Office for Students (OfS) to provide Student Space, which has been funded by up to £3 million by the OfS. Student Space is a mental health and wellbeing platform designed to bridge any gaps in support for students arising from this unprecedented situation and works alongside existing services. Ensuring students have access to quality mental health support is my top priority, which is why we asked the OfS to look at extending the platform. We are delighted they have been able to extend the platform to support students for the whole 2020/21 academic year.

Students struggling with their mental health can also access support via online resources from the NHS, Public Health England via the Better Health - Every Mind Matters website, and the mental health charity Mind.

We have also put in place support for staff. We have worked in partnership with the sector and mental health experts to announce a range of public commitments on mental health and wellbeing, including improving access to resources, building wellbeing into teacher training and policy making, and the creation of the first ever Education Staff Wellbeing Charter.

We have taken action to respond to the mental health needs of school leaders by launching a £95,000 pilot led by Education Support to provide online peer-support and telephone supervision from experts to around 250 school leaders. This service will run until March 2021. The outcome of the pilot will inform future wellbeing support.

Alongside this action in education for those who need specialist support or help, all NHS Mental Health Trusts are providing 24/7 open access telephone lines to support people of all ages and continue to deliver mental health support to children and young people. The government is continuing to invest in and prioritise mental health. The NHS will receive around an additional £500 million this year, to address waiting times for mental health services, give more people the mental health support they need, and invest in the NHS workforce.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department is making available to private GCSE and A Level candidates in response to the cancellation of examinations due to take place in summer 2021.

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Department will not be asking pupils to sit GCSE, AS and A level exams this summer as planned.

The Department has been clear that it is important to find an accessible route for private candidates, and those not in school this year, to be assessed and receive a grade. We have launched a two week consultation on how to fairly award all pupils a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives. We will continue to engage with a range of relevant stakeholders when developing plans for our policy on GCSE, AS and A level assessments in 2021, as will the exams regulator Ofqual. A full equalities impact assessment, informed by the results of the consultation, will be published in due course.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what risk assessment his Department has conducted on the transmission rate of covid-19 in nurseries.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced on 4 January 2021 that early years settings remain open for all children during the national lockdown.

Details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

Schools have been restricted because additional measures are needed to contain the spread of the virus. The wider significant restrictions in place as part of the national lockdown to contain the spread of the virus in the community enable us to continue prioritising keeping nurseries and childminders open, supporting parents and delivering the crucial care and education needed for our youngest children.

Early years settings remain low risk environments for children and staff. Current evidence suggests that pre-school children (0 to 5 years) are less susceptible to infection and are unlikely to be playing a driving role in transmission. There is no evidence the new strain of the virus causes more serious illness in either children or adults and there is no evidence that the new variant of COVID-19 disproportionately affects young children.

PHE advice remains that the risk of transmission and infection is low if early years settings follow the system of controls, which reduce risks and create inherently safer environments. This report from PHE shows that, at present under 5s have the lowest confirmed case rate of all age groups: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/national-flu-and-covid-19-surveillance-reports.

Early years settings have been open to all children since 1 June and there is no evidence that the early years sector has contributed to a rise in virus cases within the community. Early modelling evidence from SAGE evidenced in the report: Modelling and behavioural science responses to scenarios for relaxing school closures showed that early years provision had a smaller relative impact on transmission rate when modelled with both primary schools and secondary schools. The report is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/886994/s0257-sage-sub-group-modelling-behavioural-science-relaxing-school-closures-sage30.pdf.

Early years childcare providers were one of the first sectors to have restrictions lifted last summer, in recognition of the key role they play in society. Childminders and nursery staff across the country have worked hard to keep settings open through the COVID-19 outbreak so that young children can be educated, and parents can work. The earliest years are the most crucial point of child development and attending early education lays the foundation for lifelong learning and supports children’s social and emotional development. We continue to prioritise keeping early years settings open in full because of the clear benefits to children’s education and wellbeing and to support working parents. Caring for the youngest age group is not something that can be done remotely.

These plans are being kept under review in the light of emerging scientific evidence. We are working with the scientific community to understand the properties and dynamics of the new variant VUI-202012/01 in relation to children and young people.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of gathering (a) data on pupil absence due to the covid-19 outbreak and (b) other data on pupils to assist universities with the entrance selection for 2021.

We recognise that students applying to university in 2021 have experienced unprecedented disruption to their education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Universities have an important role to play in ensuring that this is a country where everyone can reach their potential, regardless of their background or ethnicity.

Universities are independent and autonomous institutions. As such, how to use data in their admissions decisions is a matter for each individual higher education provider.

However, we would encourage universities to be flexible when making offers to individual students whose education has been disproportionally and adversely impacted from the COVID-19 outbreak, to ensure that these students are able to receive fair offers for 2021. We will give further and higher education providers the earliest possible indication of the process and timescale for how grades will be awarded this year, so they can plan accordingly.

The department continues to regularly publish statistics on pupil attendance and COVID-related absence in schools.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish his Department's assessment of the amount of additional funding allocated for home to school transport since September 2020 that has been provided to coach operators.

Since September 2020, the Department has provided local transport authorities with £98.5 million in grant allocations. Local transport authorities are using this funding to increase transport capacity on dedicated school and college transport during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes hiring significant numbers of additional vehicles, including coaches. Allocations to local transport authorities are published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/extended-rights-to-free-school-travel--2.

We have not provided any additional home to school transport funding directly to coach operators.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much of the Government funding allocated for additional home to school transport since September 2020 has been provided to coach operators.

Since September 2020, the Department has provided local transport authorities with £98.5 million in grant allocations. Local transport authorities are using this funding to increase transport capacity on dedicated school and college transport during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes hiring significant numbers of additional vehicles, including coaches. Allocations to local transport authorities are published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/extended-rights-to-free-school-travel--2.

We have not provided any additional home to school transport funding directly to coach operators.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what incentives are in place to encourage employers to offer supported internships to young people with Education, Health and Care Plans.

It is a priority of the department to improve the outcomes of young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The SEND Code of Practice states that all children and young people with SEND should be prepared for adulthood, including employment, and that this preparation should start early.

As structured study programmes based primarily at an employer, supported internships help young people aged 16-24 with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan to achieve sustainable paid employment through learning in the workplace. There are no financial employer incentives, but in 2017, the government provided £9.7 million for local authorities to train additional job coaches to support young people with SEND on work placements, and to establish local supported internship forums, to bring together education providers, local authorities, employers and other key figures to identify local opportunities and overcome the local barriers to create a supported internship programme.

The number of young people undertaking a supported internship has been rising annually. The most recent report was in January 2020 and showed that 2,231 young people with EHC plans were undertaking supported internships, an increase from 1,646 from the same time in 2019 and 1,186 in 2018.

Work is currently ongoing as part of the SEND Review to consider how best to continue to boost employment outcomes for young people on EHC Plans. Our ambition is to publish proposals for public consultation in the spring of 2021, as soon as it is practicable to do so, working with children, young people, their families and experts across education, health and care to deliver our common goal of improving the SEND system.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure the UK remains an attractive destination for education for international students.

The government remains clear that our world-leading universities, which thrive on being global institutions, are and will always be open to international students.

This has been particularly evident since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, where the government has worked closely with the higher education sector to ensure existing rules and processes are as flexible as possible, so that international students wanting to study at UK universities remotely or in person, where appropriate under the current circumstances, can do so. This includes the ability to engage via distance learning and blended learning for the duration of the 2020/21 academic year, provided that students intend to transition to face-to-face learning as soon as circumstances allow.

The UK was one of the first countries to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak by introducing comprehensive immigration flexibility for international students and staff, and the government has implemented a number of concessions to assist visa holders in the UK who have been impacted by global travel and health restrictions. This has included offering extensions of visas for those whose leave expired and relaxing the rules on visa switching in the UK, as well as confirming that existing international students who have been studying by distance/blended learning will remain eligible to apply for the new graduate route. This will offer a non-extendable period of leave to stay and work in the UK at any skill level for 2 years (3 for doctoral graduates), provided they are in the UK by 6 April 2021 and meet the other requirements of the route. The graduate route represents a significant improvement in our offer to international students and will help ensure our higher education sector remains competitive internationally. In December 2020, the government also confirmed that students commencing a one-year Masters programme in January 2021 will remain eligible for the graduate route even if they are studying remotely, provided they enter the UK before 27 September 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK.

To further enhance the UK’s reputation as an attractive study destination, the government launched the student route in October 2020. This route streamlines the immigration process for international students, improving student experience; allows for an extended 6-month application window for prospective students; and allows greater scope for international students to apply for further leave as a student or to switch into other routes from inside the UK (in-country switching).  This, coupled with the graduate route, means the UK now has a world-class student visa offer befitting our world-class higher education sector.

The picture is looking more positive now than it did in the summer when the higher education sector projected a large decline in international student numbers. Recent UCAS data shows that there has been a 11% increase in acceptances for non-UK full-time undergraduate applicants between 2019 and 2020, although this is dependent on ongoing developments in context of the global health situation.

We are doing our utmost to continue to attract and support international students as well as the sector during this unprecedented time. We continue to work with the sector, devolved administrations and posts overseas delivering a package of bespoke communications that directly targets international students, making clear our world-leading UK offer. As part of this communications activity, the government approved £1 million for the British Council-led Study UK campaign to help drive international student intake from 16 global markets and further promote the graduate route.

Professor Sir Steve Smith, the UK’s new International Education Champion who was appointed in the summer of 2020, will also assist in opening up export growth opportunities for the whole UK education sector, tackling international challenges such as attracting international students to both our schools and universities and helping to forge lasting global connections. The government has also committed to publish an International Education Strategy update (in early 2021), which will respond to the new context and challenges that are posed across all education settings.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress his Department has made in meeting the Government's International Education Strategy export targets.

In December 2020, the Department for Education published updated statistics showing that education exports and transnational education activity generated £23.3 billion for the UK economy in 2018, an increase of 8.9% since 2017.

In 2019, the International Education Strategy set out the government’s ambition to increase the value of education exports to £35 billion per year and increase the total number of international students choosing to study in the UK higher education system each year to 600,000 by 2030.

The latest published data on the number of international students choosing to study at a UK higher education institution, which precedes the publication of the International Education Strategy in March 2019, shows that the UK hosted around 490,000 international students in the 2018/19 academic year. Recent UCAS data shows that there has been a 11% increase in acceptances for non-UK full-time undergraduate applicants between 2019 and 2020, though this is dependent on ongoing developments in the context of the global health situation. Currently, it is too early to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the number of international students studying in the UK.

As part of the government’s commitment to review progress of the International Education Strategy, the Department for Education is working with the Department for International Trade to produce an update to the International Education Strategy, to be published early this year, outlining plans to support recovery and growth in the sector towards this education exports ambition, through the outbreak and beyond.

Further information can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uk-revenue-from-education-related-exports-and-transnational-education-activity-2018, https://www.hesa.ac.uk/news/16-01-2020/sb255-higher-education-student-statistics/location, and https://www.ucas.com/data-and-analysis/undergraduate-statistics-and-reports/ucas-undergraduate-sector-level-end-cycle-data-resources-2020.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to ensure universities provide adequate support for lost learning during the covid-19 outbreak to new students in the 2021 intake.

We recognise students have experienced unprecedented disruption to their education this year and this disruption has not fallen equally across the country.

In December 2020, the department confirmed the launch of an expert advisory group to consider the differential impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on pupils and recommend mitigations for these impacts. In light of the decision to cancel exams, the department is working to finalise the terms of reference and membership of the group. We will ensure that membership is representative of the sector and is geographically diverse. Further details on membership and priorities of the group will be provided in due course.

We will consider the advice of the group and work closely with sector leaders in the higher education taskforce on any recommendations arising.

Universities are extremely aware of the difficulties that students have faced this year and we encourage them to take this into account and be flexible when making offers to students and when supporting them in their transition into higher education.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to provide financial support to student nurses for their time on placement during the covid-19 outbreak.

Students who volunteered on a paid placement as part of the COVID-19 response received a salary and automatic NHS pension entitlement at the appropriate band. Since September 2020, all eligible new and continuing nursing, midwifery and many allied health students on pre-registration courses at English universities can benefit from at least £5,000 per academic year of additional maintenance grant funding, which they will not need to pay back. This funding is in addition to the support that students can already access through the student loans system, subject to eligibility, and the existing learning support fund, which includes funding for childcare, specific support for placements through travel and dual accommodation expenses and support for exceptional hardship.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the potential loss of earnings to students prevented from returning to their term-time jobs by plans for a staggered return to universities in the 2021.

We are committed to prioritising education and want to enable all students who have travelled home for the winter break to return to their universities and resume blended learning. While we are confident that face-to-face teaching as an element of blended learning can be done in COVID-secure environments, the mass movement of students across the country has been identified as a possible transmission risk by public health experts. In order to manage this risk whilst reducing disruption to education, we advise that students return to university during a period staggered over five weeks. Further details can be found in the ‘Students returning to higher education for spring term guidance’ published on 2 December and available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/students-returning-to-higher-education-from-spring-term.

We realise that this year has been incredibly difficult for students and we are aware of the disproportionate impact the crisis will have on some students. In these exceptional circumstances some students may face financial hardship. Students experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 should contact their higher education provider.

The department has worked with the Office for Students (OfS) to clarify that providers are able to use existing funds, worth around £23 million per month for April to July this year and £256 million for academic year 2020/21, towards hardship support. On 2 December, we announced that we will be making available up to £20 million on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students. Further detail will be set out in due course, and we will work with the OfS to do this.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the cost to universities of testing all students returning in the new year 2021; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing financial support to universities to deliver those tests.

Following the end of term break, our top priority for January 2021 is the welfare of students, staff and the wider communities around higher education (HE) providers. As stated in the January 2021 student return guidance, published on 2 December 2020, all HE providers should offer asymptomatic mass testing to all students on their return. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/students-returning-to-higher-education-from-spring-term.

The Department for Education is actively working with the Department for Health and Social Care to ensure that all HE providers can deliver government supported asymptomatic test sites utilising lateral flow devices, which will help to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the staggered return.

Personal protective equipment and kits will be provided to HE providers at no cost, along with access to digital solutions, training and clinical guidance to support testing. A cost recovery model is also in place for providers to recover costs for workforce, site set up and site furnishings.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what information he holds on the rate of graduate employment for people who finished university in summer 2020.

Statistics on graduate employment in the calendar year 2020 will be published in our annual “Graduate Labour Market Statistics” release in April 2021.

Statistics specifically relating to the 2020 graduating cohort and their outcomes 15 months after graduation will be published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency from their “Graduate Outcomes (GO) survey” in mid-2022.

We recognise that a number of 2020 and 2021 graduates will face challenges gaining employment due to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the UK labour market and economy.

The Recruitment and Employment Federation has found an increase in the confidence of bosses to start hiring again, and we are doing all we can to help people find roles if they are at the start of their career journey. Our nationwide network of Work Coaches is supporting jobseekers and matching them with employers who are recruiting.

As part of the government’s Skills Recovery package plan for jobs, we are investing an additional £32 million in the National Careers Service up to March 2022. This investment will provide individual careers advice for 269,000 more people whose jobs or learning have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many higher education providers have developed new and innovative ways to support students and graduates who are looking to continue their studies or to prepare for employment. The Department for Education is working with Universities UK, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, the Institute of Student Employers, the Office for Students and the higher education sector to identify and help promote the overall range of support offered to graduates who are looking to enter the labour market or continue their studies at this challenging time.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what information he holds on graduate employment rates for people who completed an undergraduate degree in 2020.

Statistics on graduate employment in the calendar year 2020 will be published in our annual “Graduate Labour Market Statistics” release in April 2021.

Statistics specifically relating to the 2020 graduating cohort and their outcomes 15 months after graduation will be published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency from their “Graduate Outcomes (GO) survey” in mid-2022.

We recognise that a number of 2020 and 2021 graduates will face challenges gaining employment due to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the UK labour market and economy.

The Recruitment and Employment Federation has found an increase in the confidence of bosses to start hiring again, and we are doing all we can to help people find roles if they are at the start of their career journey. Our nationwide network of Work Coaches is supporting jobseekers and matching them with employers who are recruiting.

As part of the government’s Skills Recovery package plan for jobs, we are investing an additional £32 million in the National Careers Service up to March 2022. This investment will provide individual careers advice for 269,000 more people whose jobs or learning have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many higher education providers have developed new and innovative ways to support students and graduates who are looking to continue their studies or to prepare for employment. The Department for Education is working with Universities UK, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, the Institute of Student Employers, the Office for Students and the higher education sector to identify and help promote the overall range of support offered to graduates who are looking to enter the labour market or continue their studies at this challenging time.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to publish a plan for a managed student return to universities at the start of 2021.

Following the end of term break, our top priority for January 2021 will be the welfare of students, staff, and the communities around higher education providers. We are looking to utilise mass testing to make the return to higher education as safe as possible, and will provide further guidance in due course, considering future developments and the relevant scientific advice.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to publish guidance on continuing education after 9 December 2020 for students undertaking teacher training placements.

The Department has published guidance confirming that initial teacher training (ITT) trainees can continue their school placements after 9 December 2020, until the end of the school term, where they are operationally essential and content to do so. The guidance is published here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/student-movement-and-plans-for-the-end-of-autumn-2020-term#healthcare-and-other-students-on-placements-returning-home-during-december.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect on student loan repayments for people living in overseas countries experiencing hyperinflation.

The repayment of student loans is governed by the Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) Regulations 2009 (as amended). The Student Loans Company has arrangements in place to collect repayments from all borrowers who move away from the UK by establishing a repayment schedule based on the borrower’s income.

Overseas repayment thresholds are calculated using World Bank cost of living data, which is used to compare differences between the cost of living in the UK and other countries. This data is reviewed annually. The thresholds take account of living costs in different countries, so that repayments are based on ability to repay, wherever the borrower lives.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to change the regulations governing the Student Loans Company to enable that company to make adjustments to repayments for people living in overseas countries undergoing hyperinflation.

The repayment of student loans is governed by the Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) Regulations 2009 (as amended). The Student Loans Company has arrangements in place to collect repayments from all borrowers who move away from the UK by establishing a repayment schedule based on the borrower’s income.

Overseas repayment thresholds are calculated using World Bank cost of living data, which is used to compare differences between the cost of living in the UK and other countries. This data is reviewed annually. The thresholds take account of living costs in different countries, so that repayments are based on ability to repay, wherever the borrower lives.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to his letter to vice chancellors dated 18 November 2019 whether all universities have completed the review requested of them to ensure adherence to building and fire safety regulations; and what matters have been identified as arising from those reviews.

The safety of students and staff across the education estate remains Ministers' highest priority. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, received a 100% response from higher education (HE) institutions following his letter of 18 November 2019, which asked them to review their fire safety arrangements.

HE institutions are autonomous bodies and they are responsible for the buildings they own. We expect them to take into account the latest building safety guidance for owners of multi-storey, residential buildings published on 20 January this year by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The evacuation of the student accommodation owned by Paragon was co-ordinated by the building owners with the relevant universities. Students were moved quickly to new accommodation, and the process was monitored by departmental officials.

The department has received a copy of a report on the cause of the fire at The Cube. Further action is for the local authorities. Department officials continue to work closely with their MHCLG counterparts to ensure action is taken across the education estate, including in response to the January guidance, as part of cross government work on fire safety working with the sector and local authorities.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has made an assessment of the role of the fire safety review, called for in his letter of the 18 November 2019 to vice chancellors, in the evacuation of the Paragon student accommodation in October 2020.

The safety of students and staff across the education estate remains Ministers' highest priority. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, received a 100% response from higher education (HE) institutions following his letter of 18 November 2019, which asked them to review their fire safety arrangements.

HE institutions are autonomous bodies and they are responsible for the buildings they own. We expect them to take into account the latest building safety guidance for owners of multi-storey, residential buildings published on 20 January this year by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The evacuation of the student accommodation owned by Paragon was co-ordinated by the building owners with the relevant universities. Students were moved quickly to new accommodation, and the process was monitored by departmental officials.

The department has received a copy of a report on the cause of the fire at The Cube. Further action is for the local authorities. Department officials continue to work closely with their MHCLG counterparts to ensure action is taken across the education estate, including in response to the January guidance, as part of cross government work on fire safety working with the sector and local authorities.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has received a copy of the final report into the cause of the fire at The Cube student accommodation in Bolton last year; and what steps his Department has taken in response to that matter.

The safety of students and staff across the education estate remains Ministers' highest priority. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, received a 100% response from higher education (HE) institutions following his letter of 18 November 2019, which asked them to review their fire safety arrangements.

HE institutions are autonomous bodies and they are responsible for the buildings they own. We expect them to take into account the latest building safety guidance for owners of multi-storey, residential buildings published on 20 January this year by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The evacuation of the student accommodation owned by Paragon was co-ordinated by the building owners with the relevant universities. Students were moved quickly to new accommodation, and the process was monitored by departmental officials.

The department has received a copy of a report on the cause of the fire at The Cube. Further action is for the local authorities. Department officials continue to work closely with their MHCLG counterparts to ensure action is taken across the education estate, including in response to the January guidance, as part of cross government work on fire safety working with the sector and local authorities.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that the application for disabled students' allowance (a) recognises the challenges of the applicant's disability and (b) is (i) straightforward to complete and (ii) processed in a timely manner.

The Student Loans Company offers a telephone service, to help students who are unable to complete either an online or paper application, for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs).

Parts of the online DSAs application are pre-populated from a student’s main Student Finance application. The online application therefore requires the student only to add information concerning their disability. Paper DSAs applications are not pre-populated, are more detailed, and will consequently take slightly longer to complete.

Initial applications are currently taking around 19 working days to be reviewed, but the Student Loans Company is working to process all DSA applications within a reasonable timeframe. Updates on processing times are published regularly at: https://www.practitioners.slc.co.uk/exchange-blog/.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether baby massage groups are exempt from the November 2020 covid-19 restrictions; and if his Department will publish guidance on that matter.

Baby massage groups need to meet necessary exceptions to continue during the COVID-19 November 2020 national restrictions.

Where these are held in Ofsted registered settings, they should follow government guidance on the COVID-19 outbreak for early years and childcare providers. This is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.

Support groups for new parents in community settings, such as places of worship, community centres or halls, or libraries, and that are essential to deliver in person, can continue. These can be conducted with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy, or any other form of support. These groups must be organised by a business, a charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic institution, or a public body, and must follow COVID-19 secure guidance. Restricted businesses which are required to close, such as coffee shops, cannot hold support groups. When national restrictions apply, in determining the limit of 15 participants, no account is to be taken of any child who is below the age of 5.

Informal groups, such as those organised by a parent, need to comply with the gathering and household mixing rules. In practice, during the period of national restrictions, this means these groups should only meet virtually.

Supervised activity for children can continue to take place where it is reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, search for work or to undertake training or education, for example in indoor gyms, fitness studios, indoor sports facilities and other indoor leisure centres, community centres or halls.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to increase covid-19 testing capacity in and around universities at the end of the 2020 autumn term.

We have quickly established walk-through sites and deployed mobile test sites so that almost all universities are within 1.5 miles, allowing staff and students to get access to tests should they develop symptoms. Testing capacity is the highest it has ever been and we are seeing significant demand. The department continues to work closely with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), and with sector representatives, to ensure that any students who display symptoms can have quick and easy access to testing.

As part of our ongoing work to develop new testing technology, we are currently piloting the use of lateral flow tests with a number of universities. This is a clinically validated swab antigen test that does not require a laboratory for processing and can turnaround rapid results within an hour at the location of the test. Piloting this technology will help us better understand where to best use it and how it can be operationalised in the real world; to protect those at high risk, find the virus and help enable us to go back to as normal a way of life as possible. They will also form the foundations to delivering mass testing, testing large numbers of people in a short period of time, with test results made available quickly, so that people in environments such as schools, colleges, and universities can be reassured more quickly that they are not infected, or isolate themselves more quickly if they are.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ask Ofqual to publish the minutes of its board meetings that have taken place since September 2019.

This is a matter for Ofqual, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. The Department has asked its interim Chief Regulator, Dame Glenys Stacey, to write directly to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle. A copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department holds data on the number of university students who have deferred their studies since the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) have published data on the number of deferrals during the 2020 applications cycle.

The latest data, as at 10 September 2020, can be found on UCAS’s website at: https://www.ucas.com/data-and-analysis/undergraduate-statistics-and-reports/statistical-releases-daily-clearing-analysis-2020.

This shows that, at this point, 25,520 of all UK applicants placed at UK higher education providers had deferred their place, which equates to 5.8% of all placed applicants. This is a 0.1 percentage point increase on the previous year; at the same point in the previous applications cycle (2019), 5.7% of all placed UK applicants had deferred their place.

Applicant data by deferral status for all domiciles can be found at the link provided.

Final figures from UCAS will be published at the end of the year.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he intends to publish his plans for the safe return of students home from universities at the end of the autumn 2020 term.

As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced to the House on Tuesday 29 September, the department is working with universities to make sure that all students are supported to return home safely and spend Christmas with their loved ones, if they choose to do so. Where students choose to stay in their university accommodation over Christmas, universities should continue making sure that they are well looked after. The department is working with the sector to publish guidance on students returning home safely at Christmas and expects to publish it shortly.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks to those working and studying in our higher education institutions, during this unprecedented situation, whilst mitigating the impact on education.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of making financial support available to students wishing to complete a second undergraduate degree.

Students studying on a strategically important course are already able to access student support for a qualification at an equivalent or lower level to one they already hold.

For other students, those who already have a qualification that is equivalent to or at a higher level than the course they wish to study, will not qualify for maintenance or fee support. This ensures that finite public funds are focussed on those studying a higher education qualification for the first time.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many universities are currently operating under tier (a) one, (b) two, (c) three and (d) four covid-19 restrictions; and how many students are represented in each of those tier restriction categories.

Universities agree their COVID-19 outbreak plans with their local Directors of Public Health, and those plans are shared with the department.

The situation is evolving constantly as students return to higher education. So far we know that 4 universities have moved to tier three, with these decisions being made in collaboration with local public health teams. Other universities are in either tier 1 or tier 2.


Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has plans in place to send free school meals to the homes of eligible children who are self-isolating as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

As schools and their kitchens are now open, they should provide healthy, nutritious meal options for all children who are in school. Meals should be available free of charge to all infant pupils and pupils who meet the benefits-related free school meals eligibility criteria. If children are eligible for benefit-related free school meals but are self-isolating, we expect catering providers to be in a strong position to support any eligible pupils through food parcels, be those daily or weekly. We have put guidance in place for schools on how they can support children in these circumstances, which is complemented by advice from the schools food trade organisation, LACA, and Public Health England on what a good food parcel should comprise. Our latest guidance for schools is set out here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his letter to the hon Member for Hull West and Hessle of 21 September 2020, how much of the £100 million allocated to support remote education has been (a) allocated to and (b) claimed by university students.

The department invested over £100 million to help provide laptops and devices for disadvantaged children and young people so they can access education and social care services remotely.

The department distributed laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers for disadvantaged children in year 10, children receiving support from a social worker and care leavers to ensure these children and young people could continue to access education and vital social care services online during the COVID-19 outbreak.

As part of this, we have provided devices for care leavers, including those who might be studying at university.

Information on the equipment distributed to care leavers, including those studying in higher education, is held by local authorities.

Data on the number of care leavers in higher education are included in the report ‘Children Looked After in England (including adoption), year ending 31 March 2019’. This data shows that 6% of 19 to 21-year-old care leavers were known to be in higher education. This report is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2018-to-2019.

The government has also worked closely with the Office for Students to help clarify that higher education providers can draw upon existing funding to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Providers are able to use the funding, worth around £256 million for the academic year 2020/21 towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to his oral contribution of 29 September 2020, official report, on students’ return to universities, whether funding is available for new applications from students or education institutions for support with digital access.

The department invested over £100 million to help provide laptops and devices for disadvantaged children and young people so they can access education and social care services remotely. As part of this, we have provided devices for care leavers, including those who are studying at university.

The government has also worked closely with the Office for Students to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. Providers are able to use the funding, worth around £256 million for the academic year 2020/21 towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to respond to the independent review of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework conducted by Dame Shirley Pearce and submitted in August 2019.

The Higher Education and Research Act (2017) requires that the report of the independent review of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework should be laid before Parliament.

The reviewer, Dame Shirley Pearce, has submitted her report to ministers and we are considering the report’s evidence and recommendations. We intend to lay the report in due course, and publish it alongside the government’s response.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to provide additional financial support to higher education students in response the covid-19 outbreak.

The government is aware of the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 outbreak will have on some students. Officials are working with the sector to continue to monitor the situation.

The government has already worked closely with the Office for Students to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Providers were able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April to July this year and £256 million for the academic year 2020/21 starting from August, towards student hardship funds, including for the purchase of IT equipment and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, (a) how and (b) what steps he is taking to monitor changes in the level of drop-out rates among higher education students due to the covid-19 outbreak in the 2020-21 academic year.

Data on students leaving their higher education studies and not continuing their studies following their year of entry are collected and published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

We have set up a Higher Education Task Force, involving representatives from across the government and the higher education sector. The taskforce meets weekly to explore the challenges currently facing the sector as it continues to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Where there is emerging evidence of increasing drop-out rates presented by or to the taskforce, its members will seek to understand and address the possible impact of COVID-19.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to issue updated covid-19 guidance to children's residential care homes.

On Friday 25 September, we published updated COVID-19 guidance for children’s social care services, which includes guidance on residential provision for children. The guidance is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate he has been made of the number of university students unable to provide a suitable guarantor for their securing accommodation.

We do not collate or currently hold information pertaining to the number of university students unable to provide a suitable guarantor for securing their accommodation.

Any student struggling to provide a guarantor should, in the first instance, speak to the specialist accommodation team at their higher education (HE) provider to discuss the options available to them. Some HE providers operate a rent guarantor scheme for those students unable to provide a suitable guarantor to secure their accommodation. Students will receive scheduled payments of loans towards their living costs for the current 2020/21 academic year. Many HE providers will have hardship funds to support students in times of need.

The expectation is that, where any student requires additional support, providers will support them through their own hardship funds.

The government is aware of the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 outbreak will have on some students. Officials are working with the sector to continue to monitor the situation.

The government has already worked closely with the Office for Students (OfS) to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Providers were able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April to July, this year and £256 million for the 2020/21 academic year starting from August, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment and mental health support as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans.

We have also allocated £100 million to support remote education, including to provide routers and laptops to vulnerable students, prioritising care leavers, including those at university.

The Student Space platform, which is funded by the OfS, bridges gaps in support for students arising from this unprecedented situation and is designed to work alongside existing services.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing support to university students unable to provide a guarantor to secure their accommodation.

We do not collate or currently hold information pertaining to the number of university students unable to provide a suitable guarantor for securing their accommodation.

Any student struggling to provide a guarantor should, in the first instance, speak to the specialist accommodation team at their higher education (HE) provider to discuss the options available to them. Some HE providers operate a rent guarantor scheme for those students unable to provide a suitable guarantor to secure their accommodation. Students will receive scheduled payments of loans towards their living costs for the current 2020/21 academic year. Many HE providers will have hardship funds to support students in times of need.

The expectation is that, where any student requires additional support, providers will support them through their own hardship funds.

The government is aware of the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 outbreak will have on some students. Officials are working with the sector to continue to monitor the situation.

The government has already worked closely with the Office for Students (OfS) to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Providers were able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April to July, this year and £256 million for the 2020/21 academic year starting from August, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment and mental health support as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans.

We have also allocated £100 million to support remote education, including to provide routers and laptops to vulnerable students, prioritising care leavers, including those at university.

The Student Space platform, which is funded by the OfS, bridges gaps in support for students arising from this unprecedented situation and is designed to work alongside existing services.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to make an assessment of the effect of the (a) covid-19 outbreak and (b) 2020 A-level awards process on university applications from students from disadvantaged backgrounds for the 2020-21 academic year in order to mitigate any such adverse effects for the 2021-22 academic year.

The government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19. This has been an incredibly difficult time for students and this government is making every effort to make sure that all those who planned to move on to higher education can do so.

Protecting students’ mental health and wellbeing is a priority. I wrote to all higher education providers asking them to ensure they continue to support students. We have clarified that providers can use funding worth £256 million for the academic year of 2020/21, starting from August, towards student hardship funds and mental health support. Furthermore, the Office for Students has provided up to £3 million to fund the Student Space platform to bridge gaps in mental health support for students.

Through our government taskforce, we are working closely with universities to support them with the challenges they face and to help them build capacity for students entering university in the 2020/21 academic year. We have already announced that we intend to remove the temporary student number controls as well as the normal caps on medical and dental students. We will also be making additional funding available to universities to help them take on more students.

The government and the higher education sector have agreed that all students who achieved the required grades will be offered a place at their first choice university in the 2020/21 academic year wherever possible, or if maximum capacity is reached, they will be offered an alternative course or a deferred place. In these circumstances, we have asked universities to particularly consider what they can do for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

As of 2 September, The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service figures show that a record 24,680 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds (POLAR4 quintile 1) in England have been accepted into university for 2020/21 – this is a record rate of 22.9%, compared to the same point last year. I also wrote to Vice Chancellors on 28 August, confirming that I would work with higher education providers in the coming weeks to support the 2021/21 intake of students.

We are also ensuring that higher education providers have the guidance they need to ensure that their provision is COVID-19 secure. We will continue to work with the sector to support them with the current challenges that providers might face as well as to deliver on this year’s admission cycle and to allow the sector to access the government support on offer as needed.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to require universities that have accepted medical students on a deferred entry to 2021-22 as a result of the 2020 A-level awards to accept the result of the 2020 UCAT and BMAT tests beyond their 12-month validity period to ensure that students do not have to resit them.

Universities are independent, autonomous bodies. As such, they are responsible for their own admissions decisions, including on the use of the University Clinical Aptitude Test and BioMedical Admissions Test in their admissions process.

The evidence for acceptance to university courses ceases to be relevant once a university student has been accepted to the course, regardless of when they have commenced, including deferrals. The Medical Schools Council is not aware of any medical school that would expect any student in this situation to have to resit.

The government has asked that universities are as flexible as possible, and we will continue to make every effort to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on young people’s education.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that all residential educational settings follow PHE guidance on isolating pupils with covid-19 on the premises, with particular regard to international students with no family in the UK.

The Department has provided guidance for all residential settings on supporting pupils living in those settings who either show symptoms of, or are confirmed to have, COVID-19. Additional guidance, specifically for boarding schools, is provided to help with the collection, transfer and isolation of students entering the UK and travelling to a named boarding school or a named household.

Both documents were prepared in consultation with Public Health England and are published on GOV.UK:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings;

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-boarding-schools-with-international-students.

The Department’s guidance explains that residential settings need to ensure that the arrangements for the oversight of any student in isolation protects their safety and welfare.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to make provision for postgraduate students whose courses have been extended as a result of covid-19 but are disallowed by Student Finance England from applying for further supporting loans through compelling personal reasons and other mechanisms.

Students are eligible to access one loan up to the maximum amount that was available when they started their course. There is no discretion within the regulations to increase the entitlement where a student extends their study, but students who have not accessed the maximum loan can apply for an additional amount of loan.

If a student has withdrawn from their course due to Compelling Personal Reasons, they may nonetheless be eligible for a further loan for a second full course. Withdrawal as a result of reasons connected to COVID-19 is usually considered to be one such Compelling Personal Reason.

Many higher education providers will have hardship funds to support students in times of need, including emergencies. The expectation is that, where any student requires additional support, providers will support them through their own hardship funds.

We have worked closely with the Office for Students to enable higher education providers to draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. As a result, providers were able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April to July 2020 and £256 million for the academic year 2020/21 starting from August, towards student hardship funds.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the £1,000 incentive payment available to any employer taking on an apprentice aged 16-18, or aged 19-24 with an Education Health and Care plan or care leaver, is also available to an employer taking on such a person on a supported internship.

It is a priority of the department to improve the outcomes of young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The SEND Code of Practice states that all children and young people with SEND should be prepared for adulthood, including employment, and that this preparation should start early.

Structured study programmes, based primarily at an employer, such as supported internships, help young people aged 16-24 with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan to achieve sustainable paid employment through learning in the workplace. In 2017, the government announced £9.7 million for local authorities to increase the number of supported internships and other pathways to employment for young people with SEND, by establishing local supported internship forums and training additional job coaches.

The number of young people undertaking a supported internship has been rising annually. The most recent report was in January 2020 and showed that 2,231 young people with EHC plans were undertaking supported internships, an increase from 1,646 from the same time in 2019 and 1,186 in 2018.

Work is currently ongoing, as part of the SEND Review, to consider how best to continue to boost employment outcomes for young people on EHC Plans.

The £1000 additional payment for employers who take on apprentices aged 16-18 or aged 19-24 who have previously been in care or who have a local authority EHC plan, is in recognition of the additional costs associated with supporting these groups in the workplace. This payment is not available to employers taking on these young people on a supported internship.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answers of 12 June 2020 to Questions 56134 and 56135 on Erasmus+ programme, what progress her Department has made on the development of a domestic alternative to Erasmus+.

In the event that the UK does not participate in the next Erasmus+ programme (2021-27), departmental officials have been preparing a UK-wide domestic alternative scheme should we need to have a contingency measure. As this scheme is still being developed and negotiations with the EU on UK participation in the Erasmus+ programme are ongoing, it is too early to set out the exact details of the scheme. However, I have discussed the development of the domestic alternative with my ministerial counterparts in the devolved administrations and hosted a roundtable in March with a range of higher education and further education stakeholders including representative and mission groups and Vice-Chancellors.

Departmental officials have also been engaging with officials in the devolved administrations as well as sector bodies and institutions through a series of roundtables and interviews so far, speaking to representatives from across the education sector in all 4 nations to understand their views and ensure that this scheme can deliver a world-leading exchange programme.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answers of 12 June 2020 to Questions 56134 and 56135 on the Erasmus+ Programme, what steps he has taken to consult on the development of a domestic alternative to Erasmus+ scheme; and with whom he has held those consultations with.

In the event that the UK does not participate in the next Erasmus+ programme (2021-27), departmental officials have been preparing a UK-wide domestic alternative scheme should we need to have a contingency measure. As this scheme is still being developed and negotiations with the EU on UK participation in the Erasmus+ programme are ongoing, it is too early to set out the exact details of the scheme. However, I have discussed the development of the domestic alternative with my ministerial counterparts in the devolved administrations and hosted a roundtable in March with a range of higher education and further education stakeholders including representative and mission groups and Vice-Chancellors.

Departmental officials have also been engaging with officials in the devolved administrations as well as sector bodies and institutions through a series of roundtables and interviews so far, speaking to representatives from across the education sector in all 4 nations to understand their views and ensure that this scheme can deliver a world-leading exchange programme.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish the most recent Annual Performance and Resource Agreement Letter from the Government to the Student Loans Company.

The department has issued the Annual Performance and Resource Agreement to the Student Loans Company (SLC), however there was a delay in issuing it this year due to the impact of COVID-19. The Annual Performance and Resource Agreement will be published by the SLC later in the year.

The department does not publish the Ministerial letter, however the SLC’s ‘Corporate Strategy 2019-20 to 2021-22’ (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/corporate-strategy) sets out the medium-term direction and strategy in line with shareholders’ priorities.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish the most recent Ministerial letter from his Department to the Chair of the Student Loans Company sent as part of the Annual Performance and Resource Agreement process.

The department has issued the Annual Performance and Resource Agreement to the Student Loans Company (SLC), however there was a delay in issuing it this year due to the impact of COVID-19. The Annual Performance and Resource Agreement will be published by the SLC later in the year.

The department does not publish the Ministerial letter, however the SLC’s ‘Corporate Strategy 2019-20 to 2021-22’ (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/corporate-strategy) sets out the medium-term direction and strategy in line with shareholders’ priorities.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing London Metropolitan University's student number control limit.

I have regular meetings with representatives from the higher education sector, including individual providers, to discuss temporary student number controls and higher education issues.

London Metropolitan University has made representations to the department in relation to student number controls. As with all such representations, officials will consider and respond to the university in due course.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, departmental officials and I will continue to work closely with the sector on strengthening and stabilising the higher education system.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of covid-19 outbreak on agricultural colleges.

We are aware of the financial impact COVID-19 has had on post-16 providers, including Agricultural Colleges.

We will continue to pay grant funded providers, including Agricultural Colleges, their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019/20 funding year and funding allocations for 2020/21 have been confirmed. Payments will be made in line with the national profile.

The funding system also provides a programme cost weighting uplift for agriculture courses delivered in eligible land-based settings, reflecting their higher costs.

For colleges in significant financial difficulties the exiting support arrangements remain in place, including short-term solvency support via emergency funding

The further education commissioner and his highly experienced team are able to talk through plans, concerns and issues. The department’s pool of National Leaders of Governance (NLGs) are also able to offer support. Local Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) teams are also providing support and enquiries can be submitted through the ESFA enquiries service.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to provide bespoke support to agricultural colleges during the covid-19 outbreak.

We are aware of the financial impact COVID-19 has had on post-16 providers, including Agricultural Colleges.

We will continue to pay grant funded providers, including Agricultural Colleges, their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019/20 funding year and funding allocations for 2020/21 have been confirmed. Payments will be made in line with the national profile.

The funding system also provides a programme cost weighting uplift for agriculture courses delivered in eligible land-based settings, reflecting their higher costs.

For colleges in significant financial difficulties the exiting support arrangements remain in place, including short-term solvency support via emergency funding

The further education commissioner and his highly experienced team are able to talk through plans, concerns and issues. The department’s pool of National Leaders of Governance (NLGs) are also able to offer support. Local Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) teams are also providing support and enquiries can be submitted through the ESFA enquiries service.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the recent decision of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement that international students offered only online university courses in that country must leave the US, whether he plans to take steps to encourage international students to study in the UK.

The government has been clear that our world-leading universities, which thrive on being global institutions, will always be open to international students. Engaging closely with the devolved administrations and the higher education sector, we are working to reassure prospective international students that UK higher education is ‘open for business’, remains-world class and is a safe place to study. This includes continued work with Study UK (the government’s international student recruitment campaign led by the British Council), support for the sector-led #WeAreTogether campaign and a package of bespoke communications that will directly target prospective international students, making clear our world-leading offer.

We are also taking steps to promote the new graduate route, which will provide a non-extendable period of leave to stay and work in the UK at any skill level. The government announced on 1 July, as part of the new graduate route, that international students who complete a PhD from summer 2021 can stay in the UK for 3 years after study to live and work. Students who have successfully completed undergraduate and master’s degrees will be able to stay for 2 years. This represents a significant improvement in our offer to international students and will help ensure our higher education sector remains competitive internationally.

Furthermore, on 22 June, with my counterparts in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, I wrote to prospective international students to outline the support and guidance available to international students who are considering studying in the UK from the autumn: https://study-uk.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/letter_to_prospective_international_students.pdf. This letter reiterates a number of flexibilities that the government has already announced for international students including, amongst other mitigations, confirmation that distance/blended learning will be permitted for the 2020/21 academic year provided that international students’ sponsors intend to transition to face-to-face learning as soon as circumstances allow, and that international students present in the UK before 6 April 2021 will be eligible for the graduate route if they meet the other requirements of the route when it is introduced in summer 2021.

Guidance published on 24 March provides a temporary work-around for students who need to undertake distance learning due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is reiterated in guidance for short-term and Tier 4 students updated on 1 June: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-tier-4-sponsors-migrants-and-short-term-students.

The government is also in discussions with Universities UK and other sector representatives on a regular basis to ensure we are united in welcoming international students to the UK. In particular, we expect international students to be appropriately supported upon arrival by their chosen university during these unprecedented times – especially those who will be subject to the 14-day self-isolation period.

The UK’s new International Education Champion, Sir Steve Smith, will assist with opening up export growth opportunities for the whole UK education sector, which will include attracting international students to UK universities. Alongside Sir Steve’s appointment, our review of the International Education Strategy this autumn will respond to the new context and the challenges posed by COVID-19 across all education settings to ensure we can continue to welcome international students in the future.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, is he will include specific advice on the importance of good indoor ventilation in the document, Guidance Higher education: reopening buildings and campuses.

Higher education providers are autonomous institutions and we expect them to make their own judgements based on the latest public health guidance. We published guidance on 3 June on the reopening of buildings and campuses to help providers make informed decisions about their provision in ways that protect the health and wellbeing of both staff and students. Our guidance contains links to other sources of relevant advice, including to the guidance on safer workplaces: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19, including references to the importance of ventilation, particularly in advance of reopening buildings.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many laptops have been provided to pupils in Hull west and Hessle constituency due to school closures during the covid-19 outbreak to date.

The Government has committed over £100 million to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children in England to access remote education and social care services, including by providing laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers.

We are providing laptops and tablets to disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examination in Year 10, receiving support from a social worker or are a care leaver. Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in Year 10 do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G wireless routers.

The Department has ordered over 200,000 laptops and tablets and allocated devices to local authorities and academy trusts based on its estimates of the number of eligible children that do not have access to a device. Local authorities and academy trusts are best placed to identify and prioritise children and young people who need devices. The Department is working to provide these devices in the shortest possible timeframe; deliveries to schools and Local Authorities began in May and is continuing throughout June.

The Department has published information about how many laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers we have delivered or dispatched to local authorities and academy trusts as of 14 June, which can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/laptops-tablets-and-4g-wireless-routers-progress-data.

This includes 1,415 devices to Hull City Council for children with a social worker and care leavers. For East Riding of Yorkshire Council, a total of 828 devices have been delivered: 625 for children with a social worker and care leavers, and 203 for disadvantaged Year 10 pupils.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of university staff are furloughed as of 23 June 2020.

As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Statistics on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) are published on GOV.UK. The latest publication provides analysis of claims made up until 31 May 2020 and is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-statistics-june-2020.

This shows that, across all education sectors, 20,800 employers have furloughed 213,400 staff and made claims to the value of £363 million. However, it is not possible to disaggregate higher education staff from these figures.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are continuing to develop statistics on the CJRS and plan to publish monthly updates.

The Department of Education is also working with HMRC and HM Treasury to develop appropriate monitoring arrangements for the CJRS.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has undertaken an equalities impact assessment when arriving at the values of a continuation rate of =90 per cent and a skilled employment/further study rate of =75 per cent as minimum qualifying thresholds for higher education establishments to bid for funding for 5,000 non-health care places.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, gave consideration to a wide range of factors when setting out the eligibility criteria for the extra non-healthcare places. This included the need to ensure that these places lead to completed qualifications and entry into the professions in which we need more people so we can support our vital public services and add value to the economy. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, had due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and the other equality aims under the Equality Act (2010) when formulating the policy on student number controls (SNCs). Admitting students, including disadvantaged students, to low quality courses which do not give them the support they need to complete their degree, or do not give them good access to graduate employment, is not in the interest of students.

Overall, SNCs allow for substantial growth across the sector – they allow for all provider forecasts of growth and another 5% growth above this. Every individual provider in the country can recruit at least 6.5% more students than in the last academic year. The extra places that my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education can award, are in addition to this already generous allowance.

SNCs will, however, re-distribute students more equally across different higher education providers compared to what would likely occur in the absence of any quantitative limits on student numbers at individual providers. Providers in the medium and low tariff groups are expected to be the main beneficiaries from SNCs as they are most likely to feel the greatest pressure on recruitment.

Our overarching aim is to protect students and to allow all students who want to go to university, and who meet their entry requirements, to access higher education.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department made of the social intake of higher education institutions and the communities they serve when setting the specific values of the continuation rate and the skilled employment/further study rate as minimum qualifying thresholds for institutions to bid for funding for 5,000 non-health care places.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, gave consideration to a wide range of factors when setting out the eligibility criteria for the extra non-healthcare places. This included the need to ensure that these places lead to completed qualifications and entry into the professions in which we need more people so we can support our vital public services and add value to the economy. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, had due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and the other equality aims under the Equality Act (2010) when formulating the policy on student number controls (SNCs). Admitting students, including disadvantaged students, to low quality courses which do not give them the support they need to complete their degree, or do not give them good access to graduate employment, is not in the interest of students.

Overall, SNCs allow for substantial growth across the sector – they allow for all provider forecasts of growth and another 5% growth above this. Every individual provider in the country can recruit at least 6.5% more students than in the last academic year. The extra places that my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education can award, are in addition to this already generous allowance.

SNCs will, however, re-distribute students more equally across different higher education providers compared to what would likely occur in the absence of any quantitative limits on student numbers at individual providers. Providers in the medium and low tariff groups are expected to be the main beneficiaries from SNCs as they are most likely to feel the greatest pressure on recruitment.

Our overarching aim is to protect students and to allow all students who want to go to university, and who meet their entry requirements, to access higher education.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what methodology his Department used to determine the values of a continuation rate of =90% and a skilled employment/further study rate of =75% as minimum qualifying thresholds for higher education establishments to bid for funding for 5,000 non-health care places.

The process for bidding for the additional 5,000 non healthcare places, the details of which were published on 1 June, is for one year only. The intention is that it is simple, competitive, and places minimal burden on higher education providers.

The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) Year Four data was used, as it provides a comprehensive overview of quality measures for higher education providers in England, including continuation and high-skilled employment and further study metrics. It is publicly available and requires no additional aggregation or calculation, ensuring transparency. Other data sources are or will be available, but do not average across multiple years of data as is done in TEF.

The combination of the continuation rate of =90 per cent and the skilled employment/further study rate of =75 per cent as minimum qualifying thresholds, ensures that the 5,000 places are awarded on a competitive basis, by restricting eligibility to only the top performing providers.

The methodology used for student number controls more broadly, already allows for the substantial growth forecast by the sector, plus another 5%. This allows providers to increase their student numbers compared to previous years.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason values of the continuation rate of =90 per cent and the skilled employment/further study rate of =75 per cent as minimum qualifying thresholds for higher education establishments to bid for funding for 5,000 non-health care places were chosen in place of indicators available from the Teaching Excellence Framework.

The process for bidding for the additional 5,000 non healthcare places, the details of which were published 1 June, is for one year only. The intention is that it is simple, competitive and places minimal burden on higher education providers.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Year Four data was used, as it provides a comprehensive overview of quality measures for higher education providers in England, including continuation and high-skilled employment/further study metrics. It is publicly available and requires no additional aggregation or calculation, ensuring transparency. Other data sources are or will be available, but do not average across multiple years of data as is done in TEF.

The combination of the continuation rate of =90 per cent and the skilled employment/further study rate of =75 per cent as minimum qualifying thresholds, ensures that the 5,000 places are awarded on a competitive basis, by restricting eligibility to only the top performing providers.

The methodology used for student number controls more broadly, already allows for the substantial growth forecast by the sector, plus another 5%. This allows providers to increase their student numbers compared to previous years.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on access to education, what steps he is taking to ensure that children are provided with the skills to (a) manage money effectively and (b) prepare them for making future financial decisions.

Financial education is taught within the national curriculum in maths and citizenship. The Department will continue to work closely with The Money and Pension Service and HM Treasury to consider how we can further support the teaching of financial education in schools.

At present, due to the unprecedented challenges for schools caused by COVID-19, the Government understands that schools will need flexibility around the education they are providing to their pupils, both at home and at school. We expect schools and teachers to use their professional judgement, and knowledge of their pupils’ educational needs and home circumstances, to plan appropriate content that enables education to continue.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department provides to parents of autistic children who are unable to access childcare during the covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The government recognises the significant challenges the COVID-19 outbreak has presented for autistic children and young people, and their families.

From 1 June, early years providers, including childminders, have been able to welcome back children of all ages.

For school age children, from the week commencing 1 June, we have asked primary schools to welcome back children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, alongside priority groups. This includes children and young people with an education, health and care (EHC) plan who are not already attending, according to individual risk assessment. We have also asked special schools to work towards a phased return of more children and young people, without a focus on specific year groups and informed by risk assessments.

We are asking local authorities and education settings, working in partnership with parents, carers and young people, to maintain risk assessments for children and young people with EHC plans who are remaining at home. These assessments help inform decisions about the support children and young people should receive, noting that circumstances, such as the child’s and family’s needs and wellbeing, may change. Our latest guidance on supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to return to school or college is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-send-risk-assessment-guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-send-risk-assessment-guidance.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of covid-19 lockdown on the provision of financial education to primary school pupils by (a) teachers and (b) voluntary organisations.

Due to the unprecedented challenges for schools caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government understands that schools will need flexibility around the education they are providing to their pupils. We expect schools and teachers to use their professional judgement, and knowledge of their pupils’ educational needs and home circumstances, to plan appropriate content that enables education to continue.

Our latest guidance on teaching children at this time is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether degree apprentices will be included in the temporary student number controls for 2020-21.

Apprenticeships will be excluded from student number controls. When monitoring potential recruitment above a student number control, a higher education provider will not be considered to have exceeded the student number control by virtue of the number of apprenticeship students that it has.

Apprenticeships are jobs with a sustained element of training, so this provision is delivered in conjunction with local employers where the apprentice is employed. Relationships between these employers and providers are usually well established so they are unlikely to be vulnerable to aggressive recruitment practices and they pose little or no threat to the stability of the sector.

However, despite apprentices being in full-time employment, they are sometimes also recorded as studying full-time in the Higher Education Students Early Statistics (HESES) data. This data is used to calculate and monitor student number controls.

For HESES20, the Office for Students will provide guidance on how apprentices are recorded in the data return, which will allow all apprenticeship places to be identified.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to increase the number of seafarer apprentices.

Employers are at the heart of our reforms to apprenticeships, which include designing high-quality standards that deliver the skills that employers need and determining which apprenticeships employers offer and when they offer them. Over 550 employer-designed standards are now available and standards developed by the maritime sector include Able Seafarer at level 2, Maritime Operations Officer at level 3 and Marine Pilot at level 5. We announced in October 2018 that all new starts would be on these high-quality standards from 1 August 2020 and almost 75% of new apprenticeship starts are now on standards.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have introduced a broad range of flexibilities, including encouraging the remote delivery of apprenticeships, in order to ensure that apprentices can continue with their learning as far as possible and to support the continued take up of apprenticeships by employers. The Marine Pilot Standard is one of the standards where flexibilities to the end point assessment have been agreed.

Apprenticeships will have an important role to play in creating employment opportunities, particularly for young people, and in supporting employers in all sectors to access the skilled workforce that they need to recover and grow, following the COVID-19 outbreak. We are looking to support employers of all sizes, and particularly smaller businesses, to take on new apprentices this year. We will set out further details in due course. We will also ensure that there is sufficient funding to support small businesses that want to take on an apprentice this year.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase the number of apprentices in all sectors of the transport industry over the next five years.

We are working closely with intermediary bodies in the transport sector to promote apprenticeships to 55,000 employer members. This includes through campaigns, events and school and college partnerships. The National Skills Academy for Rail is supporting employers in the sector to develop new apprenticeship standards, ensuring employers identify the skills they need for the future. Transport sector ambassadors are also engaging intermediary bodies to foster commitment to apprenticeship delivery in the transport sector.

Apprenticeships will have an important role to play in creating employment opportunities, particularly for young people, and supporting employers in all sectors, including transport, to access the skilled workforce they need to recover and grow post COVID-19. We are looking to support employers of all sizes, and particularly smaller businesses to take on new apprentices this year. We will set out further details in due course. We will also ensure that there is sufficient funding to support small businesses wanting to take on an apprentice this year.

We continue to work closely with the Department for Transport to support apprentices in the aviation and aerospace sector.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department provided to maritime training colleges in England in each of the last five years for which data is available.

The government funds a range of study programmes for 16 to 19 year olds, and via the Adult Education Budget (AEB), to help learners gain the skills they need to get into and progress in work, an apprenticeship or further learning. Additional funding is available to support apprenticeships.

Within this, funding is available for particular qualifications related to maritime studies, but in general the government does not separately allocate funding to maritime training colleges as they are a part of different institutions.

Education and Skills Funding Agency funding allocations, for each institution, are published on GOV.UK for 16 to 19 (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/16-to-19-education-funding-allocations?mxmroi=2305-8593-35041-0#published-allocations) and AEB (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/19-funding-allocations).

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what funding his Department has allocated to maritime training colleges in England in each of the last five years for which figures are available.

The government funds a range of study programmes for 16 to 19 year olds, and via the Adult Education Budget (AEB), to help learners gain the skills they need to get into and progress in work, an apprenticeship or further learning. Additional funding is available to support apprenticeships.

Within this, funding is available for particular qualifications related to maritime studies, but in general the government does not separately allocate funding to maritime training colleges as they are a part of different institutions.

Education and Skills Funding Agency funding allocations, for each institution, are published on GOV.UK for 16 to 19 (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/16-to-19-education-funding-allocations?mxmroi=2305-8593-35041-0#published-allocations) and AEB (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/19-funding-allocations).

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what processes his Department has put in place to determine the assessed grades at (a) GCSE and (b) A level of students who have registered at an exam centre but studied privately outside of a school or college.

This is a matter for Ofqual, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. I have asked its Chief Regulator, Sally Collier, to write to the hon. Member and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor and Home Secretary on the (a) budget for and (b) functioning of, a domestic alternative to the Erasmus+ scheme.

The government remains committed to international exchanges in education, both with the EU and further afield.

For students planning to study abroad in September 2020, the UK will continue to participate fully in the current (2014-2020) Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps (ESC) programmes under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU. This means that the projects that have been successfully bid for during the current programmes will continue to receive EU funding for the full duration of the project, including for those programmes where funding runs beyond 2020 and the end of the transition period. Participants who are due to study, train, volunteer or spend time abroad through Erasmus+ and ESC exchanges will be able to participate fully and for the full duration of their exchange.

Beyond the 2020/21 academic year, the government remains open to considering participation in elements of the next Erasmus+ programme, provided that the terms are in the UK’s interests. Future participation is subject to our ongoing negotiations with the EU. In parallel, the government is continuing to develop the option for a domestic alternative to Erasmus+, to ensure that we are prepared for every eventuality, and will publish information on a possible alternative, if appropriate, in due course.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether a date for publishing the details of an alternative scheme to Erasmus+ has been set; and whether any such date will take into account the need for students to finalise plans to study abroad in September 2020.

The government remains committed to international exchanges in education, both with the EU and further afield.

For students planning to study abroad in September 2020, the UK will continue to participate fully in the current (2014-2020) Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps (ESC) programmes under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU. This means that the projects that have been successfully bid for during the current programmes will continue to receive EU funding for the full duration of the project, including for those programmes where funding runs beyond 2020 and the end of the transition period. Participants who are due to study, train, volunteer or spend time abroad through Erasmus+ and ESC exchanges will be able to participate fully and for the full duration of their exchange.

Beyond the 2020/21 academic year, the government remains open to considering participation in elements of the next Erasmus+ programme, provided that the terms are in the UK’s interests. Future participation is subject to our ongoing negotiations with the EU. In parallel, the government is continuing to develop the option for a domestic alternative to Erasmus+, to ensure that we are prepared for every eventuality, and will publish information on a possible alternative, if appropriate, in due course.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to guarantee maritime apprenticeships in (a) Hull and (b) Dover as a result of plans by P&O Ferries to make seafarer redundancies on ferries working from those ports.

We have introduced a broad range of flexibilities, including encouraging the remote delivery of apprenticeships, to ensure that apprentices can continue with their learning as far as possible and to support the continued take-up of apprenticeships: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro.

Apprenticeships will have an important role to play in creating employment opportunities, particularly for young people, and in supporting employers in all sectors to access the skilled workforce that they need to recover and grow, following the COVID-19 outbreak. Apprenticeship standards available in the maritime sector include Able Seafarer (Deck) and Marine Pilot.

We are looking to support employers of all sizes, and particularly small businesses, and in all sectors, including the maritime sector, to take on new apprentices this year. We will set out further details in due course. We will also ensure that there is sufficient funding to support small businesses that want to take on an apprentice this year.

A substantial package of support for businesses, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme), is available to enable people to remain in employment and reduce redundancies. Where redundancies are made, we will endeavour to provide comprehensive and practical support to ensure that apprenticeships can continue. We have launched a new hub for apprentices that offers guidance and information to support apprentices that may be, or are being, made redundant: https://help.apprenticeships.education.gov.uk/hc/en-gb/sections/360003798540-Apprentice. We will continue to review how best to support these apprentices as part of the wider economic recovery.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) maritime and (b) offshore employers are not deterred by the covid-19 pandemic from recruiting apprentices.

We have introduced a broad range of flexibilities, including encouraging the remote delivery of apprenticeships, to ensure that apprentices can continue with their learning as far as possible and to support the continued take-up of apprenticeships: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro.

Apprenticeships will have an important role to play in creating employment opportunities, particularly for young people, and in supporting employers in all sectors to access the skilled workforce that they need to recover and grow, following the COVID-19 outbreak. Apprenticeship standards available in the maritime sector include Able Seafarer (Deck) and Marine Pilot.

We are looking to support employers of all sizes, and particularly small businesses, and in all sectors, including the maritime sector, to take on new apprentices this year. We will set out further details in due course. We will also ensure that there is sufficient funding to support small businesses that want to take on an apprentice this year.

A substantial package of support for businesses, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme), is available to enable people to remain in employment and reduce redundancies. Where redundancies are made, we will endeavour to provide comprehensive and practical support to ensure that apprenticeships can continue. We have launched a new hub for apprentices that offers guidance and information to support apprentices that may be, or are being, made redundant: https://help.apprenticeships.education.gov.uk/hc/en-gb/sections/360003798540-Apprentice. We will continue to review how best to support these apprentices as part of the wider economic recovery.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's guidance, Get technology support for children and schools during coronavirus (COVID-19), how many pupils in England had received either a laptop or a dongle directly from his Department before the start of half term on 22 May 2020.

The Department is providing laptops and tablets to vulnerable and disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examination in Year 10, receiving support from a social worker, including pre-school children, or are a care leaver.

Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and disadvantaged children in Year 10 do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G wireless routers to them so that they can learn at home.

Local authorities and academy trusts are best placed to identify and distribute the laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers to children and young people who need them. The Department has invited local authorities to order devices for the most vulnerable children first - children with a social worker and care leavers.

To date, the Department has delivered nearly 50,000 devices and 10,000 4G wireless routers to local authorities distribute to eligible children. Deliveries will continue throughout June.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has plans to update the International Education Strategy as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

The International Education Strategy,? published in March 2019,? by the Department for Education and the Department for International Trade, set out a commitment to review progress following its publication.??The review, which we intend to publish this autumn, will ensure that the International Education Strategy responds to this new context and the challenges that are posed.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to engage with (a) small and specialist higher education institutions, (b) institutions that are not members of Universities UK and (c) universities in remote, rural and coastal areas on their financial sustainability as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

We recognise that the COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented situation and brings significant challenges to the higher education (HE) sector.

My department engages regularly with representative bodies covering all types of HE provider, encompassing all locations, as well as receiving representations in person and by correspondence from individual providers. We continue to work closely with the Office for Students (OfS), as the regulator for the HE sector in England, to ensure that we maintain an up-to-date understanding of the financial risks and implications COVID-19 is bringing to bear on providers.

The OfS has stated that one of its key priorities during the outbreak is to support the financial sustainability of the sector and it has enhanced its monitoring to identify any potential risks. Providers with concerns about their financial viability or sustainability have been encouraged to contact the OfS at the earliest opportunity. The OfS ensures that it keeps the department aware of its current assessment of the risks posed by COVID-19 across the whole English HE sector.

My department is working closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Her Majesty’s Treasury to ensure that we consider the implications across the whole of England arising from COVID-19 related financial sustainability risk in HE.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when the Independent Review of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework by Dame Shirley Pearce will be published.

The Higher Education and Research Act (2017) requires that the report of the independent review of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) should be laid before Parliament.

The reviewer, Dame Shirley Pearce, has submitted her report to ministers and we are considering the report’s evidence and recommendations. We intend to lay the report in due course and publish it alongside the government’s response.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of suspending the national students survey due to varied effects of the covid-19 outbreak.

The National Student Survey (NSS) is managed by the Office for Students (OfS), the independent regulator of higher education in England, on behalf of the UK funding and regulatory bodies.

The fieldwork for this year’s NSS took place from 6 January to 30 April 2020. The survey is largely online so the collection of data has not been significantly affected. The OfS has not placed any expectation on higher education providers to publicise the survey during the time of the pandemic. The OfS will take a view in due course on how this year’s NSS will be used having considered the impacts of Covid-19 on the results.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to implement the Cabinet Office guidance entitled Procurement Policy Note 02/20: Supplier relief due to COVID-19 for contracted suppliers for apprenticeships and other skills programmes.

As my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

On 24 April we opened the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s post-16 provider relief scheme to training providers with contracts for services that were procured as a service under the Public Contract Regulations (2015). The purpose of the scheme is to ensure that training providers can continue to deliver high quality education and training to make sure we have the skills needed to rebuild our economy following the COVID-19 outbreak. This also includes supporting new learners, where possible, to learn the skills that they need to progress. Details of eligibility and how to apply are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/esfa-post-16-provider-relief-scheme.

The closing date for applications is 30 April 2020 at midnight. Providers will be notified on or around 15 May 2020 if they are to receive support.

These are rapidly developing circumstances and we will continue to keep the situation under review and to keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of suspending data, performance tables and targets for further education colleges and sixth form colleges until September 2021.

As part of steps taken to fight the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the government announced that all exams due to take place in schools and colleges in England in summer 2020 are cancelled and that it will not publish any school or college level educational performance data based on tests, assessments or exams for 2020. This includes both school and college performance tables and qualification achievement rates. This announcement can be found at the following link: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-03-23/HCWS176/.

We will also not include any 2020 results data at pupil level in future performance tables.

The department will not hold schools or colleges to account on the basis of exams and assessment data from summer 2020. Additionally, this data will not be used by other organisations, such as Ofsted and local authorities, to hold schools or colleges to account. Further information can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-school-and-college-performance-measures.

We have made no assessment yet of the potential case for and against suspending data and performance tables beyond this year.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on enabling students that are unable to (a) work and (b) be furloughed to claim universal credit during the covid-19 pandemic.

Students with a part time employment contract should speak to their employer about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which has been set up to help pay staff wages and keep people in employment. HMRC are working urgently to get the scheme up and running and we expect the first grants to be paid within weeks.

Students suffering hardship should in the first instance contact their provider. Many universities have hardship funds to support students most in need and contact details are available on university websites.

Undergraduate students studying on full-time courses will continue to receive their maintenance loan payments as planned for the remainder of this academic year, 2019/20. Eligible students who need to undertake additional weeks of study on their course in the current academic year may qualify for additional long courses loan to help with their living costs.

Certain groups of students eligible for benefits such as lone parents will continue to qualify for Universal Credit in addition to their maintenance loans.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing staff and children in schools with personal protective equipment.

It is important to underline that schools, all childcare settings (including early years settings, childminders and providers of childcare for school-age children), colleges and other educational establishments, remain safe places for children and staff. The fewer children making the journey to school and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.

We have published guidance on social distancing in educational settings to limit the risk of the virus spreading. It can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-social-distancing-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

We will work with schools, childcare settings and local authorities to ensure that adequate supplies of personal and domestic cleaning products are available to schools. We will issue further detailed guidance regarding the supply and use of personal protective equipment to settings that require it.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will guarantee programme income for (a) grant, (b) contracted and (c) other provider types until the end of the covid-19 outbreak.

We are very grateful for how further education (FE) providers are responding to the unique challenge of COVID-19. We recognise the financial impact that this is having on the FE sector and are working to make changes where we can.

We have confirmed that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will continue to pay grant-funded providers their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019/20 funding year. Allocations for 2020/21 have now also been confirmed and payments will be made as scheduled. Up-to-date details are contained in operational guidance available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision.

For colleges in significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place, including short-term emergency funding.

In addition, we have been regularly liaising with the sector. On 24 April 2020, we published details of a provider relief scheme that will offer targeted financial support for training providers. This is designed to retain capacity within the apprenticeships and adult education sector to deliver the skills that we need to support economic recovery. As part of that, we want to maintain support for existing learners and employers and to enable new learners to enrol. Full details of the scheme are available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/esfa-post-16-provider-relief-scheme.

This is in addition to the series of wider measures to support employers and employees set out by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 3 April. Details are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

We are continuing to work through remaining issues on provider funding.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will remove all observations for the end point assessment (EPAs) of apprentices and replace EPAs with professional judgement.

We are working with training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance organisations during this challenging time to maintain the integrity of apprenticeships and support employers and apprentices.

Guidance issued on GOV.UK on 23 March 2020 sets out how we are responding to the impact of Covid-19, including on the matters of end point assessments: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response.

Guidance from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education on the delivery of assessment was issued on 23 March 2020 and is available at the following link: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/response-to-covid-19/.

We are keeping the guidance under review and will publish updates as the situation evolves.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allowing training providers to deliver apprenticeships via virtual classrooms.

The government is committed to supporting apprentices and employers to continue to build the skills capabilities that the country needs now and in the future. We are working with training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance organisations during this challenging time to maintain the integrity of apprenticeships and support employers and apprentices.

We are encouraging training providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely and via e-learning as far as is practicable. We are allowing the modification of end-point assessment arrangements, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible, to ensure that apprentices can continue to complete their apprenticeship, despite any break that they need to take as a result of Covid-19.

Guidance issued on 23 March 2020 sets out how we are responding to the impact of Covid-19. It details the temporary flexibilities that we are introducing to the apprenticeship programme and provides answers to questions related to these changes. The guidance can be found on the GOV.UK website here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response.

We are keeping the guidance under review and will publish updates as the situation evolves.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the income of childminders; and what discussions he has had with the Chancellor on providing childminders with income protection.

The government has set out specific measures to support childcare providers during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • We will continue to pay funding to local authorities for the early years entitlements for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds
  • To support private nurseries, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has also announced 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 of the Exchequer has announced to support the people and businesses of the UK:

  • A three-point plan announced in the 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 £350 billion
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms continue to keep people in employment. This means that businesses can put workers on temporary leave and the government will pay them cash grants of 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, providing they keep the worker employed
  • A scheme to help the UK’s self-employed who are affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will enable those eligible to receive a cash grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years. This covers 95% of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment
  • On 28 March, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, announced that the government will also temporarily suspend the wrongful trading provisions to give company directors greater confidence to use their best endeavours to continue trading during this pandemic emergency, without the threat of personal liability should the company ultimately fall into insolvency.

The government is also providing the following additional support:

  • deferral of Self-Assesment income tax payments due in July 2020
  • VAT payments due with VAT returns between now and the end June 2020 will be deferred. UK VAT registered businesses will not need make those payments until March 2021
  • grants for businesses that pay little or no business rates
  • increased amounts of Universal Credit
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

The latest guidance from the department for early years and childcare providers can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy for the assessment of Functional Skills that where testing is not possible tutors are able to determine where a learner has achieved the requisite competency.

On 9 April, the Department for Education and Ofqual published details in relation to the assessment approaches for vocational and technical qualifications. This sets out that learners due to take assessments for Functional Skills qualifications before the end of the summer will receive a calculated result.

Further information is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/direction-issued-to-the-chief-regulator-of-ofqual.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that teacher assessments that will potentially replace exams are fair and impartial.

On 18 March, the Government announced the cancellation of all exams and assessments due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer, as part of the fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Our priority is to ensure that students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form, a job or an apprenticeship in the autumn. For GCSE, AS and A-level students, we will make sure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. A calculated grade will be awarded this summer based on a range of the best available evidence, including any non-exam assessment that students have already completed. The independent qualifications regulator, Ofqual, is working urgently with the exam boards and teacher representatives to set out proposals for how these arrangements will work and will be talking to teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that the approach taken is as fair as possible.

There is a very wide range of different vocational and technical qualifications as well as other academic qualifications for which students were expecting to sit exams this summer. These are offered by a large number of awarding organisations, and have differing assessment approaches – in many cases students will already have completed modules or non-exam assessment which could provide evidence to award a grade. We are encouraging these organisations to show flexibility and pragmatism to ensure students are not disadvantaged. Ofqual is working urgently with the sector to explore options and we will work with them to provide more details shortly.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether colleges will be given discretionary powers to ensure that vulnerable pupils who do not have official status can remain in college.

We have ensured that vulnerable students and the children of key workers can remain in college. Where young people are particularly at risk or there are safeguarding issues, colleges may make appropriate arrangements that allow them to continue to attend.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to allow awarding organisations to enable work from apprentices to be accepted as evidence by video capture and witness testimonials for the next six months during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have developed guidance with the sector to support all parts of the apprenticeship system, which is consistent with advice issued by Public Health England. Guidance issued on 23 March sets out how we are responding to the impact of Covid-19 on the apprenticeship programme. It can be found at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response.

We are keeping the guidance under active review and will publish updates as the situation evolves.

The authority to change assessment methods sits with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE). IfATE issued guidance on 23 March about the range of temporary flexibilities being introduced to end-point assessment: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/response-to-covid-19/.

IfATE are working closely with external quality assurance providers and end-point assessment organisations to make adjustments to assessment plans, including remote assessment wherever possible, whilst maintaining the integrity of the apprenticeship. Some assessment methods can be carried out remotely but these will need to be checked for each apprenticeship standard to take account of specific occupational requirements. Adjustments will need to be logged with relevant external quality assurance providers.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the amount of emergency funding that further education and sixth form colleges will require to prevent them from having to close during the covid-19 outbreak.

The department is very grateful to education providers who are responding to the unique challenge of COVID-19, including making provision to continue support for vulnerable children and key workers following the announcement of 18 March. Clearly, there will be a substantial financial impact on the sector, which requires a strong response.

Firstly, where there are current planned payment profiles, we are seeking to provide stability. The Education and Skills Funding Agency will continue to pay grant-funded providers their scheduled monthly payments for the remainder of the year. Allocations for 2020/21 will have been confirmed by the end of March and payments will made as profiled. We are also looking to put in place a process for providing reimbursement for additional costs imposed by responding to COVID-19.

Secondly, we want to ensure that apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, wherever possible, despite any break that they have to take as a result of COVID-19. We are committed to working with training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance organisations to mitigate the operational and financial impacts of this disruption and maintain the integrity of apprenticeships. We have published apprenticeship guidance and this is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response. For other funding streams, we will be making decisions on where existing rules and models may need to be modified in relation to any planned reconciliation and future year allocations.

For colleges in significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place including through short-term solvency support through emergency funding.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced a series of wider measures to support employers and employees, recognising the significant impacts caused by COVID-19. Education, training and assessment providers who operate as businesses or charities are able to access the package of measures to support businesses. Details of this support are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses. We are working closely with HM Treasury to monitor how the support packages are benefitting organisations and to consider any further action which may be required.

To provide more detailed information for further education providers, we have published operational guidance available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with Ofqual on provision of updated guidance to educational institutions on the summer 2020 (a) examinations and (b) final assessments.

As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced to the House on 18 March, the Government has taken the difficult decision to cancel all examinations due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer, as part of the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Along with my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, I have been in regular communication with Ofqual to ensure that we provide timely advice to educational institutions on alternative arrangements.

The Department’s priority for GCSE and A-level students is to ensure they can move on as planned to the next stage of their education, including starting college, sixth form courses or apprenticeships, in the autumn. We will ensure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. Our intention is that a grade will be awarded this summer based on the best available evidence, including any non-examination assessment that students have already completed. On 3 April, Ofqual published details for schools, colleges, parents and carers on how GCSEs and A Levels will be awarded:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/how-gcses-as-a-levels-will-be-awarded-in-summer-2020.

The Department recognises that some students may nevertheless feel disappointed that they have not been able to sit their examinations. If they do not believe the correct process has been followed in their case, they will be able to appeal on that basis. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an examination, as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the new academic year. Students will also have the option to sit their examinations in summer 2021.

There is a very wide range of vocational and technical qualifications, as well as other academic qualifications, for which students were expecting to sit examinations this summer. These are offered by a large number of awarding organisations and have differing assessment approaches. In many cases, students will already have completed modules or non-examination assessment which could provide evidence to award a grade. The Department is encouraging these organisations to show the maximum possible flexibility and pragmatism to ensure students are not disadvantaged. Ofqual is working urgently with the sector to explore options and will provide more details shortly.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on guaranteeing the income of the (a) Adult Education Budget, (b) apprenticeship and (c) other study programmes during the covid-19 outbreak.

There is urgent work under way in the department, the Education and Skills Funding Agency and with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) to ensure that we have the appropriate policy response in place to respond to the impact of Covid-19 on the Further Education sector and its adult learners. We are also looking at how we can help to mitigate the impact on the activity-based funding model for apprenticeships. On 16-19 funding, we do not anticipate that the closure will affect 2019/20 or 2020/21 funding for which education institutions’ allocations have already been calculated. We are looking at the implications for future years and will clarify as soon as we are able to.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of freezing the interest on student loans while university education is disrupted by the covid-19 pandemic.

The system for setting interest rates on student loans is set out in The Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) Regulations 2009, as amended.

The current system protects borrowers if they see a reduction in their income. Repayments are made based on a borrower’s monthly or weekly income, not the interest rate or amount borrowed, and no repayments are made for earnings below the repayment thresholds. Repayments are calculated as a fixed percentage of earnings above the relevant repayment threshold. Any outstanding debt is written off at the end of the loan term with no detriment to the borrower.

If, at the end of the year, the borrower’s total income is below the annual threshold, they may reclaim any repayments from the Student Loans Company made during that year.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the (a) mayoral combined authorities and (b) Greater London Authority on the provision of additional financial support to providers of adult education for the remainder of the academic year 2019-20 as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

There is urgent work under way in the department, the Education and Skills Funding Agency and with the Greater London Authority and Mayoral Combined Authorities to ensure that we have the appropriate policy response in place to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on the Further Education sector and its learners.

Our priority is preventing the spread of COVID-19 while doing everything possible to mitigate the impact on learning and attainment, and to protect the sustainability and capacity of the provider base and colleges for the future.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what contractual and financial flexibilities he will put in place for training providers and colleges to ensure that the apprenticeship provider base is sustained during the covid-19 outbreak.

The department is very grateful to education providers who are responding to the unique challenge of COVID-19, including making provision to continue support for vulnerable children and key workers following the announcement of 18 March. Clearly, there will be a substantial financial impact on the sector, which requires a strong response.

Firstly, where there are current planned payment profiles, we are seeking to provide stability. The Education and Skills Funding Agency will continue to pay grant-funded providers their scheduled monthly payments for the remainder of the year. Allocations for 2020/21 will have been confirmed by the end of March and payments will made as profiled. We are also looking to put in place a process for providing reimbursement for additional costs imposed by responding to COVID-19.

Secondly, we want to ensure that apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, wherever possible, despite any break that they have to take as a result of COVID-19. We are committed to working with training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance organisations to mitigate the operational and financial impacts of this disruption and maintain the integrity of apprenticeships. We have published apprenticeship guidance and this is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response. For other funding streams, we will be making decisions on where existing rules and models may need to be modified in relation to any planned reconciliation and future year allocations.

For colleges in significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place including through short-term solvency support through emergency funding.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced a series of wider measures to support employers and employees, recognising the significant impacts caused by COVID-19. Education, training and assessment providers who operate as businesses or charities are able to access the package of measures to support businesses. Details of this support are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses. We are working closely with HM Treasury to monitor how the support packages are benefitting organisations and to consider any further action which may be required.

To provide more detailed information for further education providers, we have published operational guidance available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he will take to allow flexibility for apprenticeship training providers and colleges in the event of employers restricting access to their workforce in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The department is very grateful to education providers who are responding to the unique challenge of COVID-19, including making provision to continue support for vulnerable children and key workers following the announcement of 18 March. Clearly, there will be a substantial financial impact on the sector, which requires a strong response.

Firstly, where there are current planned payment profiles, we are seeking to provide stability. The Education and Skills Funding Agency will continue to pay grant-funded providers their scheduled monthly payments for the remainder of the year. Allocations for 2020/21 will have been confirmed by the end of March and payments will made as profiled. We are also looking to put in place a process for providing reimbursement for additional costs imposed by responding to COVID-19.

Secondly, we want to ensure that apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, wherever possible, despite any break that they have to take as a result of COVID-19. We are committed to working with training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance organisations to mitigate the operational and financial impacts of this disruption and maintain the integrity of apprenticeships. We have published apprenticeship guidance and this is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response. For other funding streams, we will be making decisions on where existing rules and models may need to be modified in relation to any planned reconciliation and future year allocations.

For colleges in significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place including through short-term solvency support through emergency funding.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced a series of wider measures to support employers and employees, recognising the significant impacts caused by COVID-19. Education, training and assessment providers who operate as businesses or charities are able to access the package of measures to support businesses. Details of this support are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses. We are working closely with HM Treasury to monitor how the support packages are benefitting organisations and to consider any further action which may be required.

To provide more detailed information for further education providers, we have published operational guidance available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what flexibility there will be for post-sixteen training providers and colleges from Ofsted inspections during the covid-19 outbreak.

The department is very grateful to education providers who are responding to the unique challenge of COVID-19, including making provision to continue support for vulnerable children and key workers following the announcement of 18 March. Clearly, there will be a substantial financial impact on the sector, which requires a strong response.

Firstly, where there are current planned payment profiles, we are seeking to provide stability. The Education and Skills Funding Agency will continue to pay grant-funded providers their scheduled monthly payments for the remainder of the year. Allocations for 2020/21 will have been confirmed by the end of March and payments will made as profiled. We are also looking to put in place a process for providing reimbursement for additional costs imposed by responding to COVID-19.

Secondly, we want to ensure that apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, wherever possible, despite any break that they have to take as a result of COVID-19. We are committed to working with training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance organisations to mitigate the operational and financial impacts of this disruption and maintain the integrity of apprenticeships. We have published apprenticeship guidance and this is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response. For other funding streams, we will be making decisions on where existing rules and models may need to be modified in relation to any planned reconciliation and future year allocations.

For colleges in significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place including through short-term solvency support through emergency funding.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced a series of wider measures to support employers and employees, recognising the significant impacts caused by COVID-19. Education, training and assessment providers who operate as businesses or charities are able to access the package of measures to support businesses. Details of this support are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses. We are working closely with HM Treasury to monitor how the support packages are benefitting organisations and to consider any further action which may be required.

To provide more detailed information for further education providers, we have published operational guidance available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to introduce flexibility into the process of apprenticeship observations during the covid-19 outbreak.

The department is very grateful to education providers who are responding to the unique challenge of COVID-19, including making provision to continue support for vulnerable children and key workers following the announcement of 18 March. Clearly, there will be a substantial financial impact on the sector, which requires a strong response.

Firstly, where there are current planned payment profiles, we are seeking to provide stability. The Education and Skills Funding Agency will continue to pay grant-funded providers their scheduled monthly payments for the remainder of the year. Allocations for 2020/21 will have been confirmed by the end of March and payments will made as profiled. We are also looking to put in place a process for providing reimbursement for additional costs imposed by responding to COVID-19.

Secondly, we want to ensure that apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, wherever possible, despite any break that they have to take as a result of COVID-19. We are committed to working with training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance organisations to mitigate the operational and financial impacts of this disruption and maintain the integrity of apprenticeships. We have published apprenticeship guidance and this is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response. For other funding streams, we will be making decisions on where existing rules and models may need to be modified in relation to any planned reconciliation and future year allocations.

For colleges in significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place including through short-term solvency support through emergency funding.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced a series of wider measures to support employers and employees, recognising the significant impacts caused by COVID-19. Education, training and assessment providers who operate as businesses or charities are able to access the package of measures to support businesses. Details of this support are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses. We are working closely with HM Treasury to monitor how the support packages are benefitting organisations and to consider any further action which may be required.

To provide more detailed information for further education providers, we have published operational guidance available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, what steps he will take to support the income of apprenticeship training providers and colleges in the event that contracts can’t be fulfilled as a result of a reduction in participation.

The department is very grateful to education providers who are responding to the unique challenge of COVID-19, including making provision to continue support for vulnerable children and key workers following the announcement of 18 March. Clearly, there will be a substantial financial impact on the sector, which requires a strong response.

Firstly, where there are current planned payment profiles, we are seeking to provide stability. The Education and Skills Funding Agency will continue to pay grant-funded providers their scheduled monthly payments for the remainder of the year. Allocations for 2020/21 will have been confirmed by the end of March and payments will made as profiled. We are also looking to put in place a process for providing reimbursement for additional costs imposed by responding to COVID-19.

Secondly, we want to ensure that apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, wherever possible, despite any break that they have to take as a result of COVID-19. We are committed to working with training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance organisations to mitigate the operational and financial impacts of this disruption and maintain the integrity of apprenticeships. We have published apprenticeship guidance and this is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response. For other funding streams, we will be making decisions on where existing rules and models may need to be modified in relation to any planned reconciliation and future year allocations.

For colleges in significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place including through short-term solvency support through emergency funding.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced a series of wider measures to support employers and employees, recognising the significant impacts caused by COVID-19. Education, training and assessment providers who operate as businesses or charities are able to access the package of measures to support businesses. Details of this support are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses. We are working closely with HM Treasury to monitor how the support packages are benefitting organisations and to consider any further action which may be required.

To provide more detailed information for further education providers, we have published operational guidance available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the spread of covid-19 on (a) colleges and independent training providers and (b) subcontractors delivering courses under the Adult Education Budget; and what financial support will be offered to providers by his Department to safeguard provision for adult learners for the remainder of the academic year 2019-20.

The department is very grateful to education providers who are responding to the unique challenge of COVID-19, including making provision to continue support for vulnerable children and key workers following the announcement of 18 March. Clearly, there will be a substantial financial impact on the sector, which requires a strong response.

Firstly, where there are current planned payment profiles, we are seeking to provide stability. The Education and Skills Funding Agency will continue to pay grant-funded providers their scheduled monthly payments for the remainder of the year. Allocations for 2020/21 will have been confirmed by the end of March and payments will made as profiled. We are also looking to put in place a process for providing reimbursement for additional costs imposed by responding to COVID-19.

Secondly, we want to ensure that apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, wherever possible, despite any break that they have to take as a result of COVID-19. We are committed to working with training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance organisations to mitigate the operational and financial impacts of this disruption and maintain the integrity of apprenticeships. We have published apprenticeship guidance and this is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response. For other funding streams, we will be making decisions on where existing rules and models may need to be modified in relation to any planned reconciliation and future year allocations.

For colleges in significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place including through short-term solvency support through emergency funding.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has also announced a series of wider measures to support employers and employees, recognising the significant impacts caused by COVID-19. Education, training and assessment providers who operate as businesses or charities are able to access the package of measures to support businesses. Details of this support are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses. We are working closely with HM Treasury to monitor how the support packages are benefitting organisations and to consider any further action which may be required.

To provide more detailed information for further education providers, we have published operational guidance available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to continue to provide children eligible for free school meals with meals in the event that schools are closed due to the outbreak of covid-19.

The department is aware that pupils eligible for free school meals will miss out if their school is closed, or they are asked to self-isolate. We are reviewing this issue as a matter of urgency, working closely with other government departments to consider what action can be taken. We recognise the challenge this could place on families, schools and other education providers.

The department has launched a dedicated telephone and email service to allow quick access to the latest help and support for schools and parents. The purpose of the helpline is to ensure consistent and accurate information reaches education providers and should help ensure providers feel well supported.

Details of the helpline:

Phone: 0800 046 8687 (8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and weekends 10am to 4pm.)

Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to continue to provide financial support to the Union Learning Fund beyond the end of March 2020.

We plan to continue providing financial support to the Union Learning Fund in the next financial year. Funding beyond that is dependent on the outcome of the forthcoming Spending Review.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many students are enrolled on T Level courses due to commence in September 2020.

We estimate that there will be between 1500 and 2000 places available for students across the first 3 T levels being taught from September 2020. Providers are currently recruiting students and we will be working with them to understand more about enrolment patterns over the coming months. We have taken a phased approach to T level delivery, working closely with providers to ensure a smooth and high-quality roll-out. The first 3 T levels will be delivered by around 50 providers across the country.

We are encouraging providers to make decisions about their curriculum offer based on a range of factors, including the availability and needs of local employers, demand from students and the availability and expertise of staff within their institutions. T levels are part of a 10-year change programme to transform the technical education system. The funding that has been invested to support their roll out will also support this wider change for the long term.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding his Department has allocated for the introduction of T Levels.

In March 2017, the government announced that extra funding would be made available for the additional costs of T levels, rising to an additional £500 million per year when T levels are fully rolled out.

Programme funding has now been allocated to educational institutions to prepare for the introduction of T levels through the capacity and delivery fund for industry placements and through the early adopter development fund for initial T level providers. Funding allocations totalled £57 million in academic year 2018/19 and £57 million in 2019/20. Allocations for 2020/21 will include funding for a further year of these preparation funding streams as well as funding for the initial delivery of T levels from September 2020. However, the total allocation amounts for 2020/21 are not yet available.

The government is also investing in continuing professional development for the workforce in providers of T levels and making available capital funding for the providers of T levels to invest in their facilities and equipment. This includes £38 million in capital funding for providers delivering T levels in 2020 and £95 million for providers delivering T levels in 2021.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support the Government plans to provide to UK universities to help compensate for a potential loss of income in the event that there are decreases in the number of overseas students attending those universities as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

We recognise that the impact of the covid-19 outbreak will pose a significant challenge to institutional management, efficiency and financial planning.

The Department for Education is working closely with the Office for Students, which will monitor the impact of covid-19, among other factors, on the financial health of registered English higher education (HE) providers. We are also working with Universities UK, which has established a coordination group of HE institutions and other sector bodies to prepare for the effects of an outbreak.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress his Department has made on the roll-out of the national retraining scheme in 2020; and on what date that scheme will commence.

The government has started to roll out Get Help to Retrain, the first part of the National Retraining Scheme. This service helps users to understand their current skills, explore alternative occupations that they could work in and find and sign up to the training that they need to access opportunities for a broad range of good jobs.

Since the start of the roll-out of Get Help to Retrain in the Liverpool City Region in July, more features have been added to the service and it has been rolled out to users in a further 5 areas. The service will be further tested and improved in 2020, using user research and feedback to inform future development.

Over the course of this Parliament, the government are also providing £2.5 billion (£3 billion including indicative Barnett consequentials), for a new National Skills Fund to help people learn new skills and prepare for the economy of the future. We are planning to consult widely on the overall design and we will provide updates on the National Skills Fund and planned consultation.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 7 Feb 2020 to Question 10455, whether his Department holds data on the cost to sixth form colleges of VAT in the last five financial years.

The department does not collate or produce a figure for the total VAT paid by sixth form colleges.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what data his Department uses to improve its subcontracting arrangements for the education and training of learners over the age of 16; and if he will publish that data.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) publish a list of declared subcontractors that hold contracts worth £100,000 or more in aggregate with one or more ESFA-funded provider of adult education and training services, including apprenticeships and traineeships. The list shows subcontractors with their lead or main provider/s and the individual values of their contracts. The list is based on data taken from subcontractor declarations that lead or main providers submit to us each year. The list is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/subcontracting-using-funding-to-offer-education-and-training#providing-external-assurance-on-subcontracting-controls.

The subcontractor declarations and the list of declared subcontractors allows lead and main providers to understand the contractual commitments of their current and potential subcontractors. The data provided also feeds into the ESFA risk assessments of providers.

This subcontractor declaration information has informed our current subcontractor review and consultation.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the timeframe is for the publication Dame Shirley Pearce's report on the independent review of the teaching excellence framework.

The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 requires that the report of the independent review of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework should be laid before Parliament.

The reviewer, Dame Shirley Pearce, has submitted her report to ministers. The Government is considering the report’s evidence and recommendations. We intend to lay the report in due course, and publish it alongside the government’s response.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what information his Department holds on the number of (a) further and (b) higher education students who have been affected by the breech of confidential data from the learner records service.

Whilst the Information Commissioner’s investigation is still on-going, we believe that no actual student data has been shared other than to confirm or deny whether there is a student record for individuals held within the Learner Records Service.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his oral contribution of 20 January 2020, Official Report, column 17, what the timescale is for the investigation into the breach of data from the learner records service.

The department aims to conclude its internal investigation soon. The department continues to support the Information Commissioner’s Office in its investigation.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many degree apprenticeships were (a) started (b) completed in academic year 2018-19.

In the 2018/19 academic year, there were 13,590 apprenticeship starts and 330 apprenticeship achievements on degree apprenticeships. The data source for this information is the Individualised Learner Record (ILR).

Apprenticeship starts on degree apprenticeships, as well as additional breakdowns, are published at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/861550/201920_January_MonthlyAppStartsFwk.xlsx.

Numbers are a count of the number of starts at any point during 2018/19. Learners starting or achieving more than one apprenticeship will appear more than once. Apprenticeship starts and achievements include all funded and unfunded learners reported on the ILR.

Degree apprenticeships include apprenticeship standards on the Institute for Apprenticeships’ 'Search the Apprenticeship Standards' website with an Integrated Degree status of ‘Integrated Degree’ or ‘Non-Integrated Degree', which can be searched here: www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/.

Some apprentices may be on an apprenticeship that does not mandate a degree but where the apprentice may achieve a degree as part of their employer’s particular apprenticeship programme. In these cases, we do not count these apprenticeships as a degree apprenticeship, as the degree is not mandatory. However, it does mean we may miss reporting some apprentices who achieved a degree.

Apprenticeship starts and achievements statistics should not be used to measure percentage progress within a year as they are independent performance metrics. Typically, apprenticeships can take 2 years to complete.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of changes to (a) tuition fees and (b) student loans for EEA students after the UK has left the EU on the number of those students studying in the UK.

EU students make an important contribution to the UK’s higher education sector, both financially and culturally. On 28 May 2019, we announced guarantees on student finance for EU nationals. EU nationals (and their family members) who start a course in England in the 2020-21 academic year or before will continue to be eligible for ‘home fee’ status and undergraduate and postgraduate student financial support from Student Finance England for the duration of their course, provided they meet the residency requirement. Any potential effects of changes to tuition fees and loans for European Economic Area students from the 2021-22 academic year will be considered as part of wider discussions about the UK’s future relationship with the EU. The government will continue to work towards the ambitious goals set out in our International Education Strategy, to host 600,000 international students per year by 2030, an increase of 30%.

30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on developing the Shared Prosperity Fund as a replacement to the European Regional Development Fund.

The Department for Education has had no discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on developing the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) as a replacement to the European Regional Development Fund, as this does not relate to skills policy.

However, the Department for Education is keen to continue to work with the Department for Work and Pensions and MHCLG on the arrangements for a successor programme to the European Social Fund (ESF) and to inform the development of the UKSPF.

Skills activity funded by the ESF supports our aim of improving social mobility to ensure that people have access to the right skills and qualifications needed to enter sustained and meaningful employment or access other forms of training.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what resources his Department has provided to schools to ensure sufficient time in the school timetable for the teaching of high quality Relationships and Sex Education.

The Department wants to support all young people to be happy, healthy and safe. We want to equip them for adult life and to make a positive contribution to society. From September, we are making relationships education compulsory for all primary pupils, relationships and sex education (RSE) compulsory for?all secondary pupils and health education compulsory for all pupils in state-funded schools.

Many schools are already teaching aspects of these subjects as part of their RSE curriculum. Schools have the flexibility to determine how to deliver the new content, in the context of a broad and balanced curriculum.

The Department is investing in a central programme of support for the new subjects, which is planned to be available to all teachers from spring 2020. The programme will focus on tools that improve schools’ practice and will offer opportunities for teachers to improve subject knowledge, build confidence and share best practice, so schools can learn lessons from each other and decide how best to deliver the new subjects. This support will be accessed through a new online service, featuring innovative training materials, case studies and an implementation guide and support to access resources. There will also be training available for teachers through the existing teaching school regional networks.

The Department is currently working with lead teachers, non-specialist teachers, schools and subject experts to develop this central programme of support to help ensure it meets the needs of schools and teachers.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) funding and (b) resources required for the implementation of statutory teaching of Relationships and Sex Education from September 2020.

The Department wants to support all young people to be happy, healthy and safe. We want to equip them for adult life and to make a positive contribution to society. From September, we are making relationships education compulsory for all primary pupils, relationships and sex education (RSE) compulsory for?all secondary pupils and health education compulsory for all pupils in state-funded schools.

Many schools are already teaching aspects of these subjects as part of their RSE curriculum. Schools have the flexibility to determine how to deliver the new content, in the context of a broad and balanced curriculum.

The Department is investing in a central programme of support for the new subjects, which is planned to be available to all teachers from spring 2020. The programme will focus on tools that improve schools’ practice and will offer opportunities for teachers to improve subject knowledge, build confidence and share best practice, so schools can learn lessons from each other and decide how best to deliver the new subjects. This support will be accessed through a new online service, featuring innovative training materials, case studies and an implementation guide and support to access resources. There will also be training available for teachers through the existing teaching school regional networks.

The Department is currently working with lead teachers, non-specialist teachers, schools and subject experts to develop this central programme of support to help ensure it meets the needs of schools and teachers.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how the £6 million fund for training on relationships and sex education has been allocated in 2019-20.

The Department wants to support all young people to be happy, healthy and safe. We want to equip them for adult life and to make a positive contribution to society. From September, we are making relationships education compulsory for all primary pupils, relationships and sex education (RSE) compulsory for?all secondary pupils and health education compulsory for all pupils in state-funded schools.

Many schools are already teaching aspects of these subjects as part of their RSE curriculum. Schools have the flexibility to determine how to deliver the new content, in the context of a broad and balanced curriculum.

The Department is investing in a central programme of support for the new subjects, which is planned to be available to all teachers from spring 2020. The programme will focus on tools that improve schools’ practice and will offer opportunities for teachers to improve subject knowledge, build confidence and share best practice, so schools can learn lessons from each other and decide how best to deliver the new subjects. This support will be accessed through a new online service, featuring innovative training materials, case studies and an implementation guide and support to access resources. There will also be training available for teachers through the existing teaching school regional networks.

The Department is currently working with lead teachers, non-specialist teachers, schools and subject experts to develop this central programme of support to help ensure it meets the needs of schools and teachers.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether sixth form colleges will be eligible for investment proposed by the Government in the further education college estate; and whether those funds will be allocated to colleges that plan to expand their estate to meet demand for places.

Our ambition is to level up the skills of the entire nation and ensure that post-16 education providers are in a great shape to deliver this. We are considering how best to achieve this ambition and will announce details on future capital funding in due course. This will build on the significant uplift in recurrent funding for 16-19 education which we are putting in place for the 2020/21 academic year. Sixth form colleges and 16-19 academies currently receive annual devolved formula capital allocations and either receive the Schools Condition Allocation or bid to the Condition Improvement Fund for larger projects for their capital condition needs.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support he is providing to enable schools to allocate sufficient time in their timetables to teach high-quality Relationships and Sex Education.

The Department is investing in a central programme of support to help teachers introduce the new subjects of relationships education (for primary aged pupils), relationships and sex education (for secondary aged pupils) and health education.

The new subjects are part of the basic school curriculum which allows maintained schools flexibility to determine how to deliver the new content, in the context of a broad and balanced curriculum. Many schools already teach the subjects using a whole school-approach, integrating the subjects across the curriculum, whilst others add dedicated curriculum time in order to teach the subjects.

The Department continues to work with subject experts to ensure schools are well supported to improve their practice, focusing on an implementation guide, support for training needs, and materials. This will also include sharing effective practice so schools can learn lessons from each other and decide how best to deliver the new subjects.

The introduction of these new subjects demonstrates the Government’s intent to support schools in order to deliver high quality teaching of the new subjects confidently, when they become mandatory from September 2020.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward proposals to amend UK REACH to (a) allow chemical substances already in the EU REACH database to be grandfathered in with minimal data sets, such as Safety Data Sheet information added to the new independent UK REACH database, and (b) require only new substances, or substances specifically identified as of concern to the UK regulator, requiring the provision of full data packages.

Our fundamental priority is to protect the environment and human health. UK REACH places the responsibility on industry to identify and manage the risks posed by chemicals to the environment and human health, including demonstrating how substances can be used safely and communicating this information down the supply chain.

In February, the Government received a letter from several chemical trade associations which raised concerns over the transitional costs associated with UK REACH, particularly the costs associated with accessing the data to support registrations, and made a proposal for how these could be mitigated. A working group of policy officials and industry representatives met regularly, to consider this and other related proposals.

The Secretary of State met with industry representatives on 21 July 2021 to further discuss its proposals and emphasised the need for robust systems that are in line with the fundamental principles of UK REACH. We will formally respond to the proposals shortly.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what (a) meetings and (b) discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of industry and other stakeholders on the future of UK REACH since 1 January 2021; if he will list those meetings; and what steps his Department plans to take in response to the matters raised in those meetings.

Our fundamental priority is to protect the environment and human health. UK REACH places the responsibility on industry to identify and manage the risks posed by chemicals to the environment and human health, including demonstrating how substances can be used safely and communicating this information down the supply chain.

In February, the Government received a letter from several chemical trade associations which raised concerns over the transitional costs associated with UK REACH, particularly the costs associated with accessing the data to support registrations, and made a proposal for how these could be mitigated. A working group of policy officials and industry representatives met regularly, to consider this and other related proposals.

The Secretary of State met with industry representatives on 21 July 2021 to further discuss its proposals and emphasised the need for robust systems that are in line with the fundamental principles of UK REACH. We will formally respond to the proposals shortly.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has conducted an economic impact assessment on the anticipated costs of UK REACH to (a) UK industry, (b) consumers’ access to goods and (c) levels of employment in (i) the UK and (ii) Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle constituency.

As a result of the transition to UK REACH, businesses will incur costs as a result of obtaining the data needed to support registrations for GB market, along with maintaining access to the EU market. This data submission provides the assurance that those responsible for placing chemicals on the GB market understand – and continue to assess – risk to public health and the environment. Costs will vary depending on the ease and extent to which the company in question can obtain the data, which is a matter of commercial negotiation between business.

Negotiations between businesses are still progressing, and therefore any assessment of these costs would be limited at this time. We acknowledge that there may be impacts on consumer access to goods, and on employment, but both issues are subject to significant uncertainty.

We recognise the importance of our chemicals industry and we will continue to work at pace with the sector to explore what both government and industry can do to help reduce these transitional costs whilst safeguarding public health and the environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent progress his Department has made on implementing a deposit return scheme.

The Government remains committed to introducing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers. We recently undertook a second consultation on introducing the deposit return scheme, in which we set out timelines for the scheme to go live.

We want to have an ambitious but realistic timetable to ensure that we are implementing a deposit return scheme that will be as effective as possible in achieving our objectives. We have therefore reviewed the timelines required to implement a deposit return scheme and currently anticipate that the scheme would launch in 2024, subject to the outcome of the second consultation and parliamentary passage of the Environment Bill.

We are now analysing responses to the consultation and will set out next steps in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when his Department plans to publish its response to the Public Accounts Committee Forty-Fifth Report, Managing flood risk, including that Committee's request for a reply by April 2021 setting out (a) the findings of his Department's research into non-take up of insurance, (b) how his Department plans to ensure that remaining obstacles to obtaining affordable insurance are tackled and (c) what steps he is taking to overcome the obstacles to households implementing property-level flood resilience measures.

The Government will respond to the Public Accounts Committee Forty-Fifth Report on managing flood risk via Treasury Minutes which is due to be published on 17 May on the Government website. The Government also wrote to the Committee in April setting out its response to non-take up of flood insurance. This response letter and further detail will be provided within the Treasury Minute on gov.uk.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his Department's press release, UK agrees fishing catch limits with EU and Norway, published on 16 March 2021, what proportion of the approximately 25,000 tonnes of unallocated Arctic Cod quota the UK will attempt to acquire for the UK far fishing fleet.

The press release of 16 March 2021 relates to the trilateral agreement between the UK, Norway, and the EU on catch limits for the six jointly managed stocks in the North Sea.

The UK remains in discussion with Norway on possible bilateral quota exchanges for 2021 across a range of stocks, including Arctic stocks. In conducting these discussions, the Government considers the interests of the entire UK fleet.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether aquariums are included among the indoor attractions that will be able to open in Step 3 of the roadmap for reopening announced on 22 February 2021.

The Government announced on 22 February 2021 that outdoor attractions including the outdoor parts of zoos and aquariums will be able to reopen from, at the earliest, 12 April 2021. The remaining indoor parts of zoos and aquariums will be able to reopen from, at the earliest, 17 May 2021.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to secure continued access to the quotas the UK has caught historically up until 31 December 2020 in the Norwegian Economic Zone in and around the Barents Sea.

The UK has a Fisheries Framework Agreement with Norway. The annual bilateral negotiations with Norway for opportunities during this year will begin shortly, however some UK vessels already have access and will sail imminently. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for agreements to not conclude by December; it is important agreements are met which are balanced for the whole industry.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to work with online grocery providers to ensure that people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to covid-19 can access priority food delivery slots throughout December 2020.

Defra is continuing to work closely with supermarkets to provide clinically extremely vulnerable individuals in England with priority access to supermarket delivery slots. During the second lockdown (from 5 November to 2 December), all clinically extremely vulnerable people were able to register for priority access to delivery slots with seven supermarkets: Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose.

From 2 December onwards, any clinically extremely vulnerable person living in a Tier Three (very high risk) local area who does not already have priority access to delivery slots will still be able to register for this support through the GOV.UK website: www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support. All clinically extremely vulnerable individuals who have registered through GOV.UK will retain their priority access to delivery slots until at least March 2021.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Nov 2020
What recent steps he has taken to increase the (a) affordability and (b) accessibility of flood insurance.

The Flood Re scheme has helped thousands of householders affected by flooding, increasing availability of insurance from 9% to 99%. Our Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Policy Statement sets out our intention to publish a consultation on some changes to improve Flood Re’s efficiency and effectiveness. The independent review of flood insurance in Doncaster, commissioned by Government, was published on 5 November. We are considering the 12 recommendations and will respond in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking ensure continuity of fishing for the Hull-based fleet in its traditional fishing grounds off Norway, Greenland and the Faroes after 31 December 2020.

The steps taken by my department include, firstly, securing Fisheries Framework Agreements with Norway and the Faroe Islands, which provide the legal basis for annual negotiations on fishing opportunities and access to respective waters; secondly, negotiating Memoranda of Understanding with Greenland and Iceland which will foster the already strong relationships with those fishing nations; and thirdly, negotiating in autumn 2020 as an independent coastal state significant UK fishing opportunities for our fleets across the North East Atlantic.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to review the eligibility criteria and application deadline for the Zoo Animals Fund.

The initial Zoos Support Fund was superseded by the £100 million Zoo Animals Fund which incorporated different eligibility criteria. To make this fund more accessible we expanded the eligibility criteria so that grant payments to zoos begin when zoos reach their final 12 weeks of finance, rather than six weeks. Zoos can also apply at any time (and can apply now), before reaching this 12 week point to help with their business planning. We have expanded the range of eligible costs so zoos can now claim costs relating to pre-planned essential maintenance and repair works as well as animal care costs. We have also recently announced an extension of the application deadline to 29 January 2021.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Zoo Animals Fund in supporting zoos and aquaria during the covid-19 outbreak.

39 applications for the Zoo Animals Fund have been received to date, 10 awards have been granted and no applications have been rejected. The Zoo Animals Fund is still open for applications and remains open for applications until 29 January 2021, providing support up until March 2021. The grants awarded to date have ensured that zoos have been able to maintain the welfare of their animals in these challenging times.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing additional support for zoos and aquaria to allow them to continue their involvement in conservation projects in the UK and abroad during the covid-19 pandemic.

Following on from the success of the first round of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, the Government has now confirmed that it will be doubling the size of the fund by making an additional £40 million available. This will bring the total to £80 million. This extra money will be used in a second round, to be launched in early 2021. The Green Recovery Challenge Fund will kick-start a pipeline of nature-based projects to restore nature, tackle climate change and connect people with the natural environment. In round 1 a number of eligible bids were received from zoos and aquaria for conservation projects outside their core business.

The Government has also provided a package to support businesses, including zoos, through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. Zoos are eligible to apply for a range of support schemes including the Furlough Scheme, VAT deferral, Business Rates Relief, the Business Interruption Loan and the option to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay.

In addition to the full range of financial support available to all businesses and employers, we have established an extra £100 million support fund for zoos facing severe financial difficulty, and the deadline for applications from this fund has now been extended to 29 January. The fund provides support up until March 2021.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether dog groomers are permitted to continue to work during the period of the new national covid-19 lockdown from 5 November 2020; and if he will issue guidance on that matter.

Dog grooming businesses are not on the list of businesses required to close. The latest coronavirus regulations permit dog groomers to continue working, subject to distancing, hygiene and other safety requirements being met. This may include dog groomers collecting pets from their owners' homes and then returning them once they have been groomed. Dog owners are permitted to take their dog to a groomer where this journey relates to the care of their pet and is reasonably necessary. The Canine and Feline Sector Group has already issued advice for pet businesses, including dog groomers, on how to operate safely within the new restrictions. This includes a protocol for the handover of pets and may be found online at https://www.cfsg.org.uk/repository/360/

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when negotiations on the first annual agreement with Norway within the new fisheries framework to set total allowable catches, agree access arrangements to fish in each other’s waters, and agree quota shares will begin.

The UK-Norway fisheries framework agreement provides a legal framework for annual negotiations between the UK and Norway. These negotiations will concern the exchange of quota between the parties and access to waters. There will be no setting of total allowable catches in this bilateral forum.

Separately, a number of North Sea stocks now fall to be jointly managed by the UK, Norway and the EU. Accordingly, separate trilateral discussions will be needed to establish trilateral governance arrangements for these stocks.

The UK’s bilateral negotiations with Norway and trilateral negotiations with Norway and the EU will both take place later this year. Exact timings for these negotiations are still to be confirmed, but the UK aims to conclude them in enough time to provide certainty for industry ahead of the 2021 fishing year.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the negotiation of the first annual agreement with Norway within the new fisheries framework to set total allowable catches, agree access arrangements to fish in each other’s waters, and agree quota shares will be concluded by 1 January 2021.

The UK-Norway fisheries framework agreement provides a legal framework for annual negotiations between the UK and Norway. These negotiations will concern the exchange of quota between the parties and access to waters. There will be no setting of total allowable catches in this bilateral forum.

Separately, a number of North Sea stocks now fall to be jointly managed by the UK, Norway and the EU. Accordingly, separate trilateral discussions will be needed to establish trilateral governance arrangements for these stocks.

The UK’s bilateral negotiations with Norway and trilateral negotiations with Norway and the EU will both take place later this year. Exact timings for these negotiations are still to be confirmed, but the UK aims to conclude them in enough time to provide certainty for industry ahead of the 2021 fishing year.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when his Department plans to reply to the joint letter of 29 July 2020 from the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North and the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East on funding for a replacement vessel for the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.

I apologise for the delay in responding to the hon. Members. Defra is currently dealing with high volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. A reply will be sent to the hon. Members in due course.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Icelandic counterpart on access to Icelandic waters for British fisherman as the UK becomes an independent coastal state.

Defra officials engage regularly with their Icelandic counterparts across a wide variety of policy issues. Recent discussions have focused on the UK’s application for membership of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), fisheries management matters within the North-East Atlantic, and enhancing UK-Iceland cooperation through the recently signed Joint Vision for 2030. The UK’s fisheries relationship with Iceland is likely to evolve further as the UK goes forward as an independent coastal State.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Norweigan counterpart on fishing arrangements in any EU-Norway trade agreement, and how the UK interests in regard to the distant fishing fleet are being protected.

The UK has held constructive discussions with Norway regarding a fisheries framework agreement and separate discussions on a trade agreement. Those agreements remain completely separate.

With regards to our future fisheries relationship, we have held several rounds of positive and constructive discussions with Norway, and we look forward to concluding the UK-Norway fisheries agreement in the coming weeks.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether angling is a permissible activity during the covid-19 outbreak.

Every citizen must stay alert to protect the NHS and save lives. From Wednesday 13 May, angling can resume in England, as long as participants are with their household or on their own and follow social distancing guidance.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what measures are under consideration to ensure that trade deals with (a) Norway, (b) Iceland and (c) Greenland remain fair and balanced in the event that the UK loses access to fishing opportunities previously guaranteed through pre-existing EU agreements with those countries; and what assessment she has made of the potential for tariffs to be introduced for such trade with those countries.

The United Kingdom signed an interim trade agreement on goods with Norway and Iceland, which provides continuity for our trading arrangements, including for fish. This agreement has been in force since 1st January 2021. There is a shared ambition to build on this interim agreement and deliver a comprehensive free trade agreement between the United Kingdom and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

We are in dialogue with the Government of Greenland and are working closely to ensure a prosperous future trade relationship, which meets the needs of both sides. Imports from Greenland are subject to the “UK Global Tariff” at present.

Access to fishing waters negotiations are conducted separately and are ongoing too. HM Government is committed to securing a fair deal for the United Kingdom as a whole and to continue to improve the sustainability of fish stocks.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what support her Department is providing to the maritime industry to help increase exports of maritime (a) products and (b) services.

The maritime sector contributes approximately £17bn GVA to the UK’s economy and is responsible for £12bn in exports. The sector directly supports over 220,000 jobs and transports 95% of the UK’s imports and exports in goods.

To support the maritime industry, the Department for International Trade (DIT) is delivering the Maritime Trade and Investment 5-year Plan which focuses on the key themes and drivers of growth identified in the Government’s Maritime 2050 Strategy. The plan has been developed in partnership with key industry bodies to increase the UK exports of maritime goods and services.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what risk assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of removing the legal requirement to wear face coverings on public transport during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

Since 19 July, whilst many of the legal restrictions that the Government has imposed through the pandemic have been lifted, guidance will remain, making it clear this is not yet a return to normal. The Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport. By practising key behaviours, people can continue to protect themselves and others. Employees and customers who wish to wear a face covering should be supported to do so. If transport operators wish to set their own policy on face coverings, that is a matter for them to consider, as long as they meet existing legal obligations including under equalities law.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment has he made of the waiting times for HGV driving licence tests; and whether he has plans to take steps to reduce them.

The suspension of routine vocational testing as a result of the pandemic has created an inevitable backlog. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is doing all it can to increase the number of vocational tests available and has put in place a number of measures to do this.

These include offering overtime and annual leave buy back to examiners, asking all those qualified to conduct tests, but who do not do so as part of their current day job, to return to conducting tests, and conducting out of hours testing (such as on public holidays and weekends). This has increased the overall number of vocational test slots made available to around 3,000 per week.

The DVSA will be launching a recruitment campaign to increase the number of HGV examiners. It will also continue its training programme to enable more examiners to conduct vocational tests.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has published guidance to local authorities on the issuing of a conditional offer of fixed penalty where covid-19 restrictions have impacted a person's ability to follow parking laws.

The Department has published a wide range of guidance to local authorities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While no specific guidance on this matter has been published, other published guidance, including updated Network Management Duty statutory guidance, has encouraged local authorities to consider the wider impact to their network when implementing changes.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential benefits of allowing Class 3 mobility scooters to be used in cycle lanes.

Mobility scooters can be used on footways, footpaths, bridleways or pedestrianised areas, provided that they are used in accordance with prescribed requirements. Larger mobility scooters, capable of going up to 8mph, are permitted to use the road. The Government does not have any current plans to review and update the places where mobility scooters are permitted to be used.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of HGV driver shortages on (a) the road haulage industry and (b) the timely supply of goods and food; and pursuant to the Answer of 18 June 2021 to Question 13206 on Visas: Large Goods Vehicle Drivers, what plans his Department has to promote jobs, training, and other initiatives to get more people into HGV driving.

The Department has held regular meetings with the road haulage industry regarding driver shortages and its impact on supply chains, including a roundtable with ministers.

We are supporting the development of apprenticeships, including a standard to train lorry drivers. A revised standard will be available in August attracting £7,000 in apprenticeship levy funding.

The Department for Work and Pensions is developing a scheme to train jobseekers in HGV driving. The Flexible Support Fund is available to help the unemployed or those in receipt of Universal Credit renew their Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).

The Department has provided a grant for the non-profit initiative Road to Logistics to train military service leavers, ex-offenders and the long term unemployed to move into jobs in the logistics sector, including lorry driving.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Answer of 25 March 2021 to Question 173157, how his Department collected the views of people with protected characteristics, such as blind and partially sighted people as part of the recent pavement parking consultation, which closed on 22 November 2020.

The Department is analysing the high volume of responses to ensure that all views are captured, and Ministers will be carefully considering the consultation findings before deciding the way forward.

We will publish a response to the consultation in due course and it will be available to view at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/managing-pavement-parking.

During the consultation, the majority of Departmental staff were working from home to help control the spread of COVID-19. We therefore sought to encourage all replies to the consultation by online survey or by email where this was an easier solution. We worked with disability groups including RNIB on accessibility issues and, in addition, to the online survey, we provided an ‘Easy Read’ version, a fully interactive ‘Large Print’ response form, as well as an audio file. We sincerely hope that the majority of people wishing to respond did have access to the internet, such as from a library or with help from friends or family.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Answer of 25 March 2021 to Question 173157, when he plans to publish the results of his Department’s pavement parking consultation, which closed on 22 November 2020.

The Department is analysing the high volume of responses to ensure that all views are captured, and Ministers will be carefully considering the consultation findings before deciding the way forward.

We will publish a response to the consultation in due course and it will be available to view at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/managing-pavement-parking.

During the consultation, the majority of Departmental staff were working from home to help control the spread of COVID-19. We therefore sought to encourage all replies to the consultation by online survey or by email where this was an easier solution. We worked with disability groups including RNIB on accessibility issues and, in addition, to the online survey, we provided an ‘Easy Read’ version, a fully interactive ‘Large Print’ response form, as well as an audio file. We sincerely hope that the majority of people wishing to respond did have access to the internet, such as from a library or with help from friends or family.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department plans to work with Railcard to extend the expiration date of railcards which have expired during the period of national covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The Department recognises that railcard holders have been unable to use their cards whilst travel restrictions are in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and railcard holders have not been able to benefit to the fullest extent over recent months.

Passenger demand has fallen dramatically over the last year and my Department recognises that recovery is uncertain. We will continue to work closely with industry on initiatives to encourage passengers back to the railway when the time is right.

However, many passengers are able to recover the cost of their railcard in a single trip over the period of validity of their railcard. Having carefully considered the situation, we are not discussing the prospects of offering refunds or extensions for railcard users.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Apr 2021
What steps the Government is taking to ensure the long-term security of the coach sector.

We are continuing to work across Departments to promote and further the coach sector as a key part of the Government’s forthcoming Tourism Recovery Plan.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department plans to update the Highway Code to prohibit parking on pavements throughout England.

The Department recently carried out a public consultation on possible solutions to the complex pavement parking problem. This closed on 22 November 2020 with over 15,000 responses received. The Department is now carefully analysing the responses, following which decisions will be taken on the next steps.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to facilitate the continued use of E5 fuel for Classic Car owners.

On 25th February we published the Government response to the consultation paper “Introducing E10 petrol”. The Government response confirmed our intention to introduce E10 petrol in the standard 95-octane petrol grade by 1 September 2021 and to ensure that E5 will remain available at the higher-octane super grade. The Department has taken the needs and concerns of classic car users into consideration in developing these proposals and understands that many owners of classic cars already use the higher-octane option.

E10 (Petrol containing up to 10% bioethanol)

  1. Currently, petrol blends supplied in the UK contain no more than 5% bioethanol. These blends are referred to as E5. E10 (petrol containing up to 10% bioethanol) has become widely available in several countries within and outside Europe, but it has not yet been introduced in the UK.
  2. A majority of vehicles on the road now are optimised to use E10 petrol, as E10 has been the reference fuel for new car type approval for fuel consumption and emissions standards since 2016.
  3. Switching from E5 to E10 petrol could help further reduce CO2 emissions from petrol cars and help the UK meet emissions targets.
  4. Bioethanol production in the UK also results in valuable by-products, such as high protein animal feed and stored CO2 for the nuclear and food and drink industries, reducing the need to import these products.
  5. Introducing E10 would also have wider economic benefits in terms of providing support for UK bioethanol producers, and farmers in the supply chain, which will support local economies.
  6. On the 4 March 2020 the Government published the consultation paper “Introducing E10 petrol”. The consultation closed on 3 May 2020 and the Government Response was published on 25 February 2021.
  7. As proposed in the consultation the Government response affirms our commitment to keep petrol with a lower ethanol content (E5) available. This fuel will continue to be supplied in the higher octane super grade.
  8. This will be achieved by requiring that filling stations that have sold over one million litres of fuel in the last calendar year (including diesel sales), and which stock at least two grades of petrol, would sell a petrol grade with no more than 5% ethanol, 2.7% oxygen and have a minimum of 97 octane. It would also prohibit these filling stations from selling super grade petrol that contains more than 5% ethanol.
  9. Both measures to introduce E10 petrol UK-wide in the standard 95-octane grade and ensure the higher-octane ‘Super’ grade remains E5 at all forecourts that stock two petrol grades, will be reviewed within 5 years to ensure they remain appropriate as is required by good legislative practice.
  10. In relation to the E5 protection grade, such a review will examine if there’s a viable and widely available alternative to ensure suitable low-ethanol fuel remains available for older vehicles and other petrol-powered machinery that require it. We have also sought to provide reassurance that, without such an alternative becoming available, it’s highly likely the E5 protection grade would continue to apply.
  11. The final impact assessment which accompanies the Government response notes that the majority of incompatible vehicles in 2021 will be classic and cherished cars and assumes a significant proportion of those are already using the Super grade, as it generally considered preferable for older cars. We expect therefore that relatively few users of classic vehicles will need to switch to the Super grade.
Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect on the UK road haulage industry of the restriction to a total of 90 days out of 180 for their drivers in EU countries compared to their previous unlimited access before the end of the transition period.

The Trade and Co-operation Agreement between the UK and the EU delivers a good outcome for UK-based international hauliers. The vast majority of journeys to and from the EU will be able to continue without the need for any additional permits, and UK hauliers also retain rights to do work within and between EU Member States, again with no extra bureaucracy. UK hauliers will of course also have to ensure they comply with the immigration rules applied by EU Member States.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential effect of the Humber Freeport on existing (a) road, (b) rail and (b) ports infrastructure.

I would like to congratulate the Humber Freeport on its successful bid. My Department recognises that appropriate links will be vital to ensure the success of the UK’s newly established Freeports. My Department will consider the implications of the Freeport business cases for our transport networks and future infrastructure investment decisions.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of consumer protections for transactions for ferry travel during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department for Transport holds regular discussions with ferry companies and has made clear that the requirements of passenger rights regulations remain in force during the Covid pandemic. Companies are required to comply with their legal obligations and honour passenger’s rights.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to extend Compulsory Basic Training licenses during the period of covid-19 lockdown restrictions announced in January 2021.

The two-year validity period of a compulsory basic training (CBT) certificate is set out in legislation. It is in place to ensure learner moped and motorcycle riders can ride safely on their own, with L-plates, while they practise for a full moped or motorcycle test. The Government has no plans, on road safety grounds, to waive that two-year validity period.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when his Department plans to release further vouchers under the Fix Your Bicycle voucher scheme.

The Department plans to release further vouchers as soon as possible and no later than Easter if lockdown restrictions allow.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he has taken to ensure the suitability of the location of covid-19 testing sites for goods drivers requiring a negative test before embarkation for continental Europe to ensure significant distances are not added to journeys, with particular respect to the ports of Kingston upon Hull and Killingholme.

Covid-19 testing sites have been located at thirty-five Information and Advice sites (Motorway Service Areas and Truck stops) across the country linked to key haulier stopping spots on their journey to ports.

Currently the closest Covid testing Information and Advice sites to the ports of Hull and Killingholme are Doncaster, Wetherby, Hartshead Moor and Woodhall (Northbound). In addition, interim testing services have been setup at the port of Hull and Humberside Airport to provide additional facilities for hauliers bound for the Humber ports.

Their location has been determined by analysing such criteria as proximity to port, proportion of haulage traffic using the route, and capacity of the parking available. Covid-19 security has also informed the locations and site infrastructure.

The Department for Transport (DfT) continues to urge hauliers not to leave testing to the last opportunity and to get tested well before arriving at their port of departure.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when the application process for ECMT permits for 2022 will open; and when those permits will be awarded.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement sets out reciprocal market access rights for UK and EU road haulage operators in the UK that apply from 1 January 2021, with the vast majority of journeys not requiring ECMT permits.

We will review the demand and usage of annual ECMT permits for 2021 throughout the year and will, in due course, use this to decide how ECMT permits will be issued in 2022.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether a haulier who has accepted their allocation of ECMT permits for 2021 will be prevented from entering the application process for the allocation of permits for 2022.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement sets out reciprocal market access rights for UK and EU road haulage operators in the UK that apply from 1 January 2021, with the vast majority of journeys not requiring ECMT permits.

We will review the demand and usage of annual ECMT permits for 2021 throughout the year and will, in due course, use this to decide how ECMT permits will be issued in 2022.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has for issuing European Conference of Ministers of Transport driver permits, or an equivalent to hauliers from EU member countries.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement sets out reciprocal market access rights for UK and EU road haulage operators in the UK that apply from 1 January 2021, with the vast majority of journeys not requiring ECMT permits.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to limit the number of hauliers from EU Member States with access to the UK.

There are no plans to limit the number of hauliers from EU member states from accessing the UK. The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement sets out reciprocal market access rights for UK and EU road haulage operators in the UK that apply from 1 January 2021.

The Agreement allows frictionless transport to continue between the UK and the EU and ensures the continued flow of goods, food and medicine into the country.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with local government leaders in coastal communities on the potential benefits of investing in maritime decarbonisation.

My Department has published its assessment of the potential merits of investing in maritime decarbonisation, as set out below.

In 2015, the Department published the Maritime Growth Study, which considered all aspects of the maritime sector and identified where action could be taken to generate growth. Following the publication of Maritime 2050 in 2019, which builds on the findings of the Maritime Growth Study, the Department published the Clean Maritime Plan, which identified the potential for clean economic growth in the UK as a result of the transition to zero emission shipping.

Alongside the Plan, the Department published an assessment of the value of potential economic opportunities from low and zero emission shipping. This review provided a framework for assessing the scale of the opportunity generated by emission reduction technologies, including a mapping of the relevant supply chain, an assessment of the global uptake of these technologies, the economic footprint of the UK firms in the supply chain and the UK’s share of global export of these technologies.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a retrospective emission-based grant to coach operators with respect to their investment in Euro 6 compliant vehicles.

In local authorities with NO2 exceedances, coach and bus operators are eligible for grants from clean air funding to help with the cost of replacing or upgrading vehicles. Grants are not given retrospectively to subsidise the cost of a vehicle that has already been purchased as this would not represent a good use of public funds.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on a green shipping fund ahead of COP 26.

Officials have undertaken extensive research, in consultation with the shipping sector and other Government Departments, on the level of investment required for the UK’s domestic maritime sector to achieve net zero by 2050. This research had been published in support of the Clean Maritime Plan on GOV.UK.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with (a) the shipping sector and (b) Cabinet colleagues on a green shipping fund, in advance of COP26.

Officials have undertaken extensive research, in consultation with the shipping sector and other Government Departments, on the level of investment required for the UK’s domestic maritime sector to achieve net zero by 2050. This research had been published in support of its Clean Maritime Plan on GOV.UK.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of a potential growth in green shipping on the UK's environmental targets ahead of COP26.

The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions target for Net Zero by 2050 covers domestic shipping, and the sector will need to be decarbonised as part of our national effort to tackle climate change.

Research carried out for the Department as part of the 2019 Clean Maritime Plan included a scenario analysis that assessed the factors that will drive the growth of green shipping and the resulting emission pathways to Net Zero. This research informs the Department’s work on this issue and has been published on Gov.UK.

At UN level the UK is actively engaged in the work of the International Maritime Organization to decarbonise the global shipping industry and we have supported the IMO’s recent ‘4th Greenhouse Gas Study’ that considers the relationship between growth and global emissions targets.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, on what dates Ministers and officials have met representatives of the open-access rail operators Hull Trains and Grand Central to discuss support for the sector since the outbreak of covid-19; and what the outcomes have been of each discussion.

Department for Transport officials have maintained an extensive and regular dialogue with the management teams of Hull Trains and Grand Central, as well as their parent companies First Group and Arriva Trains, throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. For example In my capacity as Rail Minister, I met with representatives of First Group and with MPs from Yorkshire and the Humber on 1 July to discuss Hull Trains. The outcomes of those discussions included highlighting the significant, general support measures Government has made available across the economy.

Unlike franchised passenger services, Open Access Operators run services without a contractual relationship with Government and there is no obligation on the Secretary of State under Section 30 of the Railways Act to run those services. Open access operators were therefore not offered Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (ERMAs). However, during the COVID-19 outbreak, Open Access Operators have drawn upon business support measures such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Government also provided support for more bespoke measures, such as applications for extensions to track access contracts and deferrals of payments to the British Transport Police. We will continue to engage closely with Open Access Operators as they respond to the current situation, including highlighting the support available through the recently announced Job Support Scheme.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to maintain (a) dialogue with open-access rail operators, (b) support for those operators and (c) protection of the jobs and conditions for staff employed by those operators as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Department for Transport officials have maintained an extensive and regular dialogue with the management teams of Hull Trains and Grand Central, as well as their parent companies First Group and Arriva Trains, throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. For example In my capacity as Rail Minister, I met with representatives of First Group and with MPs from Yorkshire and the Humber on 1 July to discuss Hull Trains. The outcomes of those discussions included highlighting the significant, general support measures Government has made available across the economy.

Unlike franchised passenger services, Open Access Operators run services without a contractual relationship with Government and there is no obligation on the Secretary of State under Section 30 of the Railways Act to run those services. Open access operators were therefore not offered Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (ERMAs). However, during the COVID-19 outbreak, Open Access Operators have drawn upon business support measures such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Government also provided support for more bespoke measures, such as applications for extensions to track access contracts and deferrals of payments to the British Transport Police. We will continue to engage closely with Open Access Operators as they respond to the current situation, including highlighting the support available through the recently announced Job Support Scheme.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the technologies required to deliver a green UK shipping industry.

The Department has undertaken extensive research in support of its Clean Maritime Plan to consider the technologies required for the decarbonisation of both the domestic and international shipping sectors, and the opportunities they present.

This research comprises a range of scenarios assessing different policy options, with a focus on zero carbon alternative fuels such as renewably produced hydrogen, ammonia as well as battery electric systems, and explores both the costs and benefits of such systems as well as any barriers to deployment. This research has been published on Gov.UK

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, ahead of COP26, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of a green shipping fund.

The Department has undertaken extensive research in support of its Clean Maritime Plan into the options to decarbonise the shipping industry and promote green shipping, which has included consideration of the use of financial measures including funding mechanisms, and has published this research on Gov.UK.

Internationally the UK is committed to working with fellow member States at the International Maritime Organization to drive a reduction of emissions, and we welcome the initiative of some industry partners in developing initial proposals for a possible marine fuel levy to fund research into maritime decarbonisation. We look forward to engaging more fully with this proposal when the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee meets in November.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of wearing face coverings in (a) taxis,(b) buses and (c) trains on the transmission of covid-19.

The decision to make face coverings mandatory on public transport was guided by scientific advice. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advised using cloth face coverings as a precautionary measure in enclosed spaces such as public transport, where social distancing is not possible consistently, creating a risk of close social contact with multiple parties the person does not usually meet, for example, when passing by other passengers.

This advice does not replace or change existing advice on other measures – such as good hand hygiene and social distancing – which remain critically important. Operators should also continue to follow the practical steps we have set out in the operator guidance to ensure their services are Covid-19 secure.

Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles carry fewer people and are typically unlikely to involve passengers from more than one household travelling together, and passengers and drivers do not travel face-to-face. However, we recognise that taxis are confined, close spaces – our advice on face coverings remains that people should wear them in an enclosed space.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to make the use of face coverings in taxis compulsory.

The Government has published safer transport guidance on the safe provision of transport services during the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance to passengers says that passengers should wear a face covering when using taxis or private hire vehicles. Taxi drivers are able to refuse carriage to passengers where it is reasonable to do so, and private hire vehicle operators can make wearing a face covering a condition of hiring. We are aware of private hire vehicle operators that are doing this and requiring the driver they work with to do the same. We continually review guidance for safer transport in line with scientific advice.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment she has made of the potential effect on women seafarers in (a) Hull and (b) Dover of P&O Ferries' announcement of redundancies on 11 May 2020.

There has been no assessment made of the potential effect on women seafarers in Hull or Dover in regard the P&O announcement on redundancies.

13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on P&O Ferries proposals for 1,100 redundancies among seafarers and maritime staff employed on that company’s operations from Dover and Hull.

I have been in regular discussion with Government colleagues throughout this crisis to ensure government measures are supporting the maritime sector. Since the announcement of the proposed redundancies I have not had specific discussions with Cabinet colleagues on P&O’s proposal.

13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much freight has been transported on (a) Hull-Zeebrugge and (b) Hull-Rotterdam roll-on roll-off ferries in each month between December 2019 and April 2020.

The data requested is not currently held by the Department for Transport.

UK port freight data is collected by the Department on a quarterly basis. Statistics on overall tonnage and units by port for the first quarter of 2020 (January to March) will be published on 10 June 2020.

Data on port to country routes, such as Hull-Netherlands, are published annually, 2019 data will be published in Summer 2020 and 2020 data will be published in 2021. Data on specific port to port routes, such as Hull–Zeebrugge, are collected on an annual basis but are not disclosed as the release of such information would be likely to prejudice commercial interests.

13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to prevent unemployment among key workers in the (a) shipping and (b) ports sectors as a result of the economic effect of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department’s officials and I have been working closely with businesses across the maritime sector, including shipping and port operators, to understand the impact and challenges they face from the global COVID-19 crisis.

The Government has announced an unprecedented package of financial measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, worth £350 billion. We are providing the sector with guidance on how to access the government's business support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

On 24 April we announced a package of support to maintain services on critical freight routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and between Great Britain and mainland Europe. The Government has also put together an emergency support package for lifeline ferry services, with up to £10.5m being allocated to safeguard vital transport links connecting the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly to the British mainland.

4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on traffic congestion of completing the proposed A63 Castle Street road improvement scheme.

The report and recommendation from the Examining Authority on the A63 Castle Street Improvement – Hull Development Consent Order Application is currently with the Secretary of State for a decision, which will be made by 31 May 2020. The Secretary of State will carefully consider the findings from the Examining Authority when making his decision.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on air pollution of completing the proposed A63 Castle Street road improvement scheme.

The report and recommendation from the Examining Authority on the A63 Castle Street Improvement – Hull Development Consent Order Application is currently with the Secretary of State for a decision, which will be made by 31 May 2020. The Secretary of State will carefully consider the findings from the Examining Authority when making his decision.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the local economy of completing the proposed A63 Castle Street road improvement scheme.

The report and recommendation from the Examining Authority on the A63 Castle Street Improvement – Hull Development Consent Order Application is currently with the Secretary of State for a decision, which will be made by 31 May 2020. The Secretary of State will carefully consider the findings from the Examining Authority when making his decision.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on port to port connectivity of completing the proposed A63 Castle Street road improvement scheme.

The report and recommendation from the Examining Authority on the A63 Castle Street Improvement – Hull Development Consent Order Application is currently with the Secretary of State for a decision, which will be made by 31 May 2020. The Secretary of State will carefully consider the findings from the Examining Authority when making his decision.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to make a decision on the A63 improvement scheme.

The Secretary of State will lay a Written Ministerial Statement in Parliament announcing a new date for the A63 Castle Street Improvement Hull - Development Consent Order.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has plans he has for an early decision on the Development Consent Order for the A63 Castle Street Improvements in Kingston-Upon-Hull.

The Secretary of State is currently considering the Development Consent Order application for the A63 Castle Street Improvements in Kingston-Upon-Hull. The statutory deadline for determining the application is 24th March.

21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average timeframe is for Access to Work applications to (a) be allocated an advisor, (b) have evidence gathered and (c) reach a resolution.

The information requested about average timeframes for Access to Work applications for allocations, evidence gathering and reaching resolutions for people who have applied for support from Access to Work is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential impact of covid-19 international travel restrictions on an individual's ability to meet the criteria for the Habitual Residency Test.

Eligibility for Universal Credit and other income related benefits depends on an individual’s immigration status. In order to assess this the Department operates a Habitual Residence Test (HRT). The HRT contains two elements: an assessment of the legal right of residence and an assessment of factual habitual residence.

All claimants to income related benefits must be factually habitually resident in the UK in order to make a claim. Existing benefit recipients who have left the country on a temporary basis and found it difficult to return due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, will satisfy the second element of the HRT upon their return if they can be shown to be resuming a former period of residence. Each case would be dealt with on an individual basis.

Income-related benefits are only payable to people who are in the UK and cannot be claimed by those outside the UK. The Department has put into place measures to support existing benefit recipients in exceptional cases where their absence abroad goes over the period allowed under the temporary absence benefit rules and are awaiting repatriation due to covid-19 travel restrictions.

FCDO consular staff continue to provide advice and support to British nationals who face financial difficulties overseas due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Those in real financial distress whilst stranded overseas can seek advice and support from their local consular team, who will be able to advise on any local support that may be available as well as facilitate contact with friends and families who may be able to help.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of increasing the eligibility age of the Mobility Allowance.

Mobility Allowance was incorporated into Disability Living Allowance (DLA), as the lower and higher rates of the mobility component, from 1992 and subsequently the standard and enhanced rates of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) when PIP was introduced to replace working age DLA from 2013.

Prior to the introduction of changes to State Pension age (SPa), to equalise and increase pensionable age for men and women, the upper age limit for claiming DLA and PIP was the day before reaching age 65. DLA claimants who were age 65 or over on 8 April 2013, when PIP was introduced, can continue to receive the benefit after that age for as long as they satisfy the conditions of entitlement. DLA claimants who were under the age of 65 on 8 April 2013 will be invited to claim PIP regardless of whether they are over the age of 65 at the time they are invited and can gain access to either component, at either rate, regardless of their age.

The upper age limit for claiming PIP by new claimants for the first time was last reviewed prior to the most recent changes to SPa made by the Pensions Act 2014 and is the day before reaching SPa, as set out in the Pensions Act 1995. Once someone is entitled to PIP they can continue to be paid beyond SPa so long as the conditions of entitlement remain satisfied.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Jan 2021
What recent assessment she has made of trends in the level of employment.

The latest ONS statistics published on 15th December show UK employment is at 32.5 million, or 75.2 per cent. At every stage of this pandemic we have looked to provide support to those impacted, particularly the most vulnerable – this includes £280bn of interventions – such as the furlough scheme.

Updated statistics will be released tomorrow.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department plans to temporarily suspend personal independent payment reviews as a result of the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021.

Throughout the pandemic the department has ensured that claimants continue to receive the benefits that they are entitled to. In March last year, we suspended face to face assessments following public health guidelines and introduced a telephony assessment service to ensure claimants and staff were safe. This service currently covers all claims types including award reviews. There is no plan to suspend assessments for award reviews as a result of this lockdown.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of factors behind for the rates of success for personal independence payment claimants at the mandatory reconsideration stage; and what steps is taking to increase this rate.

We are focussed on making the right decision for our customers. Last year we implemented a new approach to handling Mandatory Reconsiderations. This approach empowers Decision Makers to contact customers, where appropriate, to see if there is information that would enable us to change the decision. As you have noted it is had a positive effect on outcomes. We will continue with this approach, whilst both enhancing our internal processes and engaging with stakeholders to explore how they can support us to further improve the effectiveness of the MR process.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to tackle the disability pay gap.

Pay gaps are caused by a range of factors. To address them, we must ensure that everybody has equal access to opportunities.

We support disabled people to enter employment and stay in work through a range of initiatives such as the Work and Health Programme, Access to Work and Employment Advice in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services. One of the key transformational elements of Universal Credit is that it provides us with the opportunity to support people who are in work to progress and increase their earnings.

In November 2018, we published a voluntary reporting framework on disability, mental ill health and wellbeing. This is aimed at large employers (with over 250 employees) and it is recommended that they publicly report on the pay and progression of disabled people at regular intervals. The framework can also be used to support smaller employers who are keen to drive greater transparency in their organisation or industry.

The Government will publish a National Strategy for Disabled People which will take into account the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on disabled people. The strategy will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects of life, including employment.

More broadly, while our current focus, rightly, is on helping to get people into work, our longer-term ambition, based on clear evidence about the importance of work in tacking poverty, remains to build an economy that gives everyone the opportunity to progress out of low pay.

Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith is leading a time-limited Commission looking at how DWP, wider Government and employers can best support people to progress out of low pay, especially for those groups more likely to be in persistent low pay, such as disabled workers. The Commission has recently launched a call for evidence to help inform their report, which will be published in the new year: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/call-for-evidence-and-good-practice-on-in-work-progression.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government is taking to help ensure that people with (a) hidden and (b) fluctuating conditions can (i) find and (ii) stay in work.

The Government continues to provide disability employment support through initiatives such as Access to Work (AtW), Disability Confident, the Work and Health Programme, Intensive Personalised Employment Support, and other forms of support that disabled people need to retain, adapt and move into employment. In recognition of the changing working environments since the COVID-19 outbreak and to provide greater flexibility, AtW has flexed and adapted support. Disabled people with fluctuating conditions can have support to work from home when their condition fluctuates and they do not feel well enough to go to work. In addition, assistive technology support is available or technology can be moved from the workplace to the home to enable home working.

Background

The Government is committed to supporting all disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people using existing and new data sources.

We are ensuring that disabled people continue to have access to disability benefits, food, medicines, essentials, accessible communications, updated guidance, including workplace and transport related guidance, as well as financial and other support during the COVID-19 outbreak, e.g. AtW has continued to provide funding for people with a disability or health condition whether they are working in the workplace or are working from home.

In recognition of the changing working environments since the COVID-19 outbreak, AtW has flexed and adapted support, by making greater use of assistive technology and facilitated moving technology from the workplace to the home to enable home working.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether industrial injuries disablement benefit claims will be assessed via (a) telephone, (b) video call and (c) other means during the covid-19 restrictions.

The suspension of face-to-face assessments for the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) means the majority of new claims are not being assessed at present. We are urgently exploring approaches to safely progress new IIDB claims awaiting an assessment. Due to the nature of assessment we are not currently operating telephone assessments. We will restart face to face assessments in a safe manner with adherence to the latest public health guidance as soon as we are able to.

To support existing claimants, reassessment case awards have been extended to ensure that payments continue unhindered on those cases. Any deteriorations which would have meant an increase in award, will be backdated once face-to-face assessments recommence, to ensure no one is left out of pocket.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will change the period of time for calculating maternity pay based on a person's income to the eight weeks period prior to the outbreak of covid-19.

As both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we have been clear in our intention that no one should be penalised for doing the right thing. These are rapidly developing circumstances, we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans the Government has to provide emergency supplies to food banks facing shortages during the covid-19 outbreak.

Food banks are independent charitable organisations and, as such, are best placed to decide on the most appropriate arrangements for supporting people who use them. As both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we have been clear in our intention that no one should be penalised for doing the right thing. These are rapidly developing circumstances, we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

I also refer the honourable member to the response given by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in response to an oral question made on 19 March:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-03-19/debates/EBB8F3D7-F9F4-4C5C-B913-86FD27851B5D/VulnerablePeopleFoodSupplies

Additionally announcements were made at the Prime Minister’s daily briefings on 21 and 22 March in relation to food supply.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what financial support is available to people who have a compromised immune system and may need to self isolate for extended periods of time.

It is possible that employees who have received a shield letter will be able to work from home and therefore be entitled to normal pay. We would encourage employers to make this happen where possible. For those that cannot work from home, we are encouraging employers to make use of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme where possible. Under the scheme small and large employers will be eligible to apply for a government grant of 80% of workers’ salaries up to £2,500 a month. The scheme will be backdated to 1st March and available for at least three months, with the first grants expected to be paid within weeks.

There is also the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme which will help eligible freelance workers receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least three months.

The Government has set up an advice contact centre and website exclusively to help those who have been identified as shielding to access support.

A new Local Support System in England will make sure those individuals that have been identified by the NHS to stay at home, and who are without a support network of friends and family, will receive essential supplies such as groceries and medicine.

Everyone infected with Covid-19 or required to self-isolate will be treated as having Limited Capability for Work in ESA and UC without the requirement for fit notes or undergoing a Work Capability Assessment. Those applying for Contributory ESA will be able to claim from day 1 – as opposed to day 8 - and we have removed the need for face-to-face assessment.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department plans to limit (a) Statutory Sick Pay and (b) other benefits in the event that people are required to self-isolate repeatedly.

As both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we have been clear in our intention that no one should be penalised for doing the right thing. These are rapidly developing circumstances, we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what alternative arrangements will be made available for benefit claimants who are unable to attend face to face meetings.

We are doing all we can to keep our Jobcentres and service centres operational, but as of 24th March, Jobcentres are only offering face-to-face appointments – conducted in accordance with PHE guidelines on social distancing - for the small number of claimants who would otherwise not be able to receive support. This helps us to continue to deliver our critical services whilst keeping our customers and staff safe.

From 17th March, we suspended all face-to-face assessments for health and disability benefits. For existing claimants, we have automatically extended awards and suspended any new review or reassessment activity, except where claimants notify us of changes to their needs that may result in an increase to their award. This temporary measure is being taken to ensure the Department’s resources are focused on providing access to financial support for new claimants, and it will also reassure claimants about continuity of their benefit during the coronavirus outbreak.

We have also taken the decision to temporarily suspend the requirement for face-to-face Jobcentre Plus appointments for all claimants in Universal Credit, Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Income Support. This means that claimants are not expected to contact their Jobcentre Plus while this temporary suspension is in place. They will continue to receive benefits as normal and they will not be sanctioned for not taking part in interviews with Jobcentres.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of making it mandatory to have defibrillators in public places.

With growing public awareness and acceptance, many community defibrillators have already been provided in public locations. Since May 2020, the Government has required all contractors refurbishing or building new schools through centrally delivered programmes, to provide at least one defibrillator.

The Government recognises that better provision of defibrillators and increasing the number of people trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation could help save more lives of those who have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting. We therefore encourage organisations to consider purchasing a defibrillator as part of their first-aid equipment, particularly for places where there are high concentrations of people.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to increase the availability of NHS Dentist appointments.

We are working with NHS England and NHS Improvement and Public Health England to increase access, including for routine care, taking into account the ongoing infection prevention and control and social distancing requirements. In resuming services, a careful balance is needed between increasing dental activity and ensuring patients and staff are protected from ongoing infection risk.

National Health Service dentists have been asked to maximise safe throughput to meet as many prioritised needs as possible, focussing first on urgent care and vulnerable groups followed by overdue appointments. The NHS has also issued guidance on flexible commissioning to share best practice on targeting the available capacity at those most in need. The Department has asked NHS England and NHS Improvement to lead on the next stage of NHS dental system reform, working closely with the British Dental Association. This will seek to build on the learning from the dental contract reform programme and improve patient access.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to make a comparative assessment of the number of (a) people requiring care and (b) carers who are qualified and employed in England.

The Government uses national level modelling from the London School of Economics’ Care Policy and Evaluation to understand how demand for publicly funded long-term care is likely to change in the future. The latest evidence shows that the demand for publicly funded long-term care is likely to grow in the coming years.

On assessing the number of carers who are qualified and employed, the majority of roles in adult social care do not have formal qualification requirements, whilst the number of workers employed today does not necessarily indicate how many people will choose to join the workforce in the future. Any assessment of workforce numbers would also need to account for the invaluable role played by informal carers.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what data his Department holds on the effectiveness of the (a) Pfizer, (b) AstraZeneca and (c) Moderna covid-19 vaccinations at reducing transmission of covid-19.

Public Health England (PHE) publishes weekly COVID-19 vaccine surveillance reports which include the latest evidence on vaccine effectiveness against different outcomes. The following table shows the latest summary of evidence on vaccine effectiveness against different outcomes, including transmission, for Pfizer/BioNTech and University of Oxford/AstraZeneca as of 1 July.

Outcome

Vaccine Effectiveness

Pfizer/BioNTech

Oxford/AstraZeneca

1 dose

2 doses

1 dose

2 doses

Symptomatic disease

55-70%*

85-95%*

55-70%*

70-85%**

Hospitalisation

75-85%*

90-99%**

75-85%*

80-99%***

Mortality

70-80%**

95-99%**

75-85%**

75-99%***

Infection

55-70%**

70-90%***

60-70%***

No data

Transmission (secondary cases)^

45-50%***

No data

35-50%***

No data

Source: Table 3 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccine-surveillance-report

Notes:

  1. *High Confidence - Evidence from multiple studies which is consistent and comprehensive
  2. **Medium Confidence - Evidence is emerging from a limited number of studies or with a moderately level of uncertainty
  3. ***Low Confidence - Little evidence is available at present and results are inconclusive
  4. ^effectiveness in reducing symptomatic secondary cases in households of a symptomatic index case

PHE plans to publish vaccine effectiveness data for Moderna when more evidence becomes available.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what data his Department is using to determine which countries are placed on the (a) red, (b) amber and (c) green international covid-19 travel restriction lists; and if he will publish that data.

Decisions to designate countries as either ‘red’, ‘amber’ or ‘green’ on the ‘international traffic light’ system are taken by the Government to protect public health. They are informed by evidence including the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s risks assessment methodology alongside wider public health factors. We are unable to provide the advice and evidence which informs these decisions as it relates to the ongoing development of Government policy. However, further information on the data informing the international travel traffic light risk assessments is published on GOV.UK at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/data-informing-international-travel-risk-assessments

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of of adapting the NHS opt-out system to allow patients to consent to data being shared within the NHS but not with third-parties.

The National Data Opt Out in its current form was established in 2018 on the recommendation of the National Data Guardian and following development by the National Data Opt Out Implementation Board, which included user-testing. This concluded that a single opt out question was preferable.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to his Answer of 24 May 2021 to Question 3127 on Surgical Mesh Implants, if he will place a copy in the Library of the Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) form used to collect data after mesh removal procedures.

There is no specific Patient Reported Outcome Measures form for mesh removal.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to asses the availability of NHS Dentist appointments in England.

Early in 2021, NHS England made an assessment of the level of activity that could be safely delivered by dental practices. Whilst practices are limited by infection prevention and control measures, they have been asked to prioritise patients with urgent need or in vulnerable groups, followed by overdue routine treatment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 18 May 2021 to Question 3127, what outcomes will be required to be recorded on the Pelvic Floor Registry database; and what steps he is taking to ensure that data requirements implement the recommendations of the report of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, published in July 2020.

NHS Digital has commenced work with patient groups and clinicians to develop a collection tool to capture patient reported outcome measures (PROMS) from patients as part of the Pelvic Floor Registry implementation. The interim PROMs infrastructure will be flexible enough to adapt to future academically approved questions, following research, to finalise a validated PROM for Pelvic Floor and related procedures. Outcomes captured by this interim PROM are anticipated to be used in conjunction with data that has already been collected by clinicians, which provides wider context.

Adverse events following pelvic mesh surgery, such as those reported in the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety (IMMDS) Review, are being considered for inclusion. The Government will respond in full to the IMMDS Review later this year.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department are taking to reduce NHS orthodontic waiting times.

National Health Service orthodontists’ providers have been asked to maximise safe throughput to meet as many prioritised needs as possible. This has been underpinned by an activity threshold for full payment of contractual value which has been increased to 80% of pre-pandemic orthodontic activity levels for care delivered between April to September 2021. This is in order to facilitate access for a greater number of patients, whilst also accounting for the impact of ongoing requirements for infection, prevention and control.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to review guidance on postnatal visits during the covid-19 outbreak to remove restrictions on visiting times.

Updated guidance published on 15 April 2021 states that women should have access to support people while admitted on the antenatal or postnatal ward in line with pre-COVID-19 trust policies. There are no plans in place at this time to publish further guidance on postnatal visits.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to review the medical conditions exempt from prescription charges to include transplant patients.

The Government has no plans to review or extend the prescription charge medical exemptions list. Around 89% of prescriptions are dispensed free of charge and extensive arrangements are already in place to help people, including transplant patients. To support those with the greatest need who do not qualify for an exemption, they can spread the cost of their prescriptions by purchasing prescription pre-payment certificates. A holder of a 12-month certificate can get all the prescriptions they need for just over £2 per week.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the specialist mesh treatment centres that opened on 1 April 2021, if he will publish details of (a) what data is to be recorded following mesh removal and (b) the database to be used for that data collection.

The specialist mesh removal centres are required to send data to the Pelvic Floor Registry database as part of the Surgical Devices and Implants Data Collection, which is in development at NHS Digital. The registry will include data from the specialist mesh removal centres, including Patient Reported Outcome measures and will feed into the wider Medical Devices Information System, which covers all implantable devices. The data collected will be used to build a picture of longer-term outcomes associated with surgical procedures and will also facilitate a track and trace function in the event of safety concerns with particular mesh.

Details of the data collection and the Technical Data specification are available at the following link:

https://digital.nhs.uk/about-nhs-digital/corporate-information-and-documents/directions-and-data-provision-notices/data-provision-notices-dpns/surgical-devices-and-implants

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the mental health effect of stigma on people with myalgic encephalomyelitis; and what plans he has to tackle those effects.

No specific assessment has been made.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the Government has to help people with peripheral arterial disease and chronic limb-threatening ischaemia to gain prompt access to limb-saving NHS services; and if he will make a statement.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are preparing guidance on the full restoration of peripheral arterial disease and chronic limb-threatening ischaemia along with other vascular services, which will be issued to the National Health Service shortly.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many patients are on community caseloads for lower limb arterial and/or venous disease treatment; what recent discussions he has had with stakeholders on the difficulties people with lower limb arterial and/or venous disease are experiencing in accessing NHS services; what steps he will take through the upcoming NHS Bill to alleviate those barriers; and if he will make a statement.

The number of patients on community caseloads for lower limb arterial and/or venous disease treatment is not held centrally. NHS England and NHS Improvement commissioned National Wound Care Strategy Programme (NWCSP) has a patient and public voice (PPV) stakeholder forum. Lower limb arterial and/or venous disease services are developed in consultation with patients and carers via the PPV forum.

The Health and Care Bill will introduce integrated care systems, which will strengthen partnerships between the National Health Service, local authorities and with local partners, including groups representing the public and patient perspective, the voluntary sector and wider public service provision. This will enable more joined up planning and provision, enhancing lower limb arterial and/or venous disease services patients receive.

The NWCSP is developing implementation sites across England to implement its lower limb wound recommendations that will allow people with lower limb venous insufficiency and venous leg ulcers to receive equitable care in dedicated chronic lower limb services staffed by clinicians with the appropriate knowledge and skills and with established referral routes to escalate care.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to NHS Reset, what steps the Government is taking to help people with (a) lower limb venous insufficiency and (b) venous leg ulcers to gain access to NHS elective services; and if he will make a statement.

The number of patients on community caseloads for lower limb arterial and/or venous disease treatment is not held centrally. NHS England and NHS Improvement commissioned National Wound Care Strategy Programme (NWCSP) has a patient and public voice (PPV) stakeholder forum. Lower limb arterial and/or venous disease services are developed in consultation with patients and carers via the PPV forum.

The Health and Care Bill will introduce integrated care systems, which will strengthen partnerships between the National Health Service, local authorities and with local partners, including groups representing the public and patient perspective, the voluntary sector and wider public service provision. This will enable more joined up planning and provision, enhancing lower limb arterial and/or venous disease services patients receive.

The NWCSP is developing implementation sites across England to implement its lower limb wound recommendations that will allow people with lower limb venous insufficiency and venous leg ulcers to receive equitable care in dedicated chronic lower limb services staffed by clinicians with the appropriate knowledge and skills and with established referral routes to escalate care.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department are taking to improve the process of diagnosis for people with myalgic encephalomyelitis.

On 20 September 2017, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence announced its decision to undertake a full update of their myalgic encephalomyelitis guideline following a review of the latest available evidence on the diagnosis and management of the condition and a public consultation. This will set the direction on best practice in this area and is due for publication in August 2021.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the Government has to help people with deep vein thrombosis and post thrombotic syndrome to access NHS elective services as part of the NHS restart; and if he will make a statement.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are preparing guidance on the full restoration of deep vein thrombosis and post thrombotic syndrome services which will be issued to the National Health Service shortly.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what data his Department holds on the number of people who have had health complications after receiving a covid-19 vaccination.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) operates the Yellow Card scheme on behalf of the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM). The scheme collects and monitors information on suspected safety concerns or incidents involving vaccines, medicines, medical devices, and e-cigarettes.

In the United Kingdom as of 5 May, 55,716 Yellow Cards have been reported for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, 167,141 for University of Oxford/AstraZeneca, 1,081 for Moderna and 606 where the brand of the vaccine was not specified. For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, University of Oxford/AstraZeneca, and Moderna vaccines the overall reporting rate is approximately three to six Yellow Cards per 1,000 doses administered.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of legal protection for patients who have suffered from complications after receiving a covid-19 vaccination.

No specific assessment has been made.

Where individuals believe they have come to avoidable harm in relation to a vaccine, they could pursue a compensation claim against the producers of the vaccine.

While not constituting legal protection, the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS) was established in 1979, to help ease the burden on those individuals where, on very rare occasions, vaccination against certain diseases has caused severe disablement. COVID-19 was added to the scheme in 2020. The Scheme provides a one-off, tax-free, lump sum to those who are severely disabled as a result of a vaccination. The VDPS is not a compensation scheme and making a claim will not prevent someone from pursuing a compensation claim.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the mandatory calorie labelling on menus on people suffering or recovering from eating disorders.

We have been careful to consider the views of a wide range of experts in response to our public consultation on introducing mandatory out-of-home calorie labelling including representatives from eating disorder groups and we will continue with this engagement.

In response to consultation feedback, we have decided to exempt schools from the requirement to display calorie information given concerns about exposing children to calorie information in school settings and eating disorders. We have also included within the Regulations a provision which permits businesses to provide a menu without calorie information at the express request of the customer. As a result, people who may find viewing calorie information more difficult may be able to avoid this information in certain situations when eating out.

The final impact assessment for introducing mandatory calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector considered the potential effect on people living with eating disorders. The impact assessment is available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/903712/Calorie_Labelling_-_Impact_Assessment.pdf

We are increasing our investment into eating disorder services year-on-year, with an additional £2.3 billion for mental health services each year by 2023/24. We have also announced a further £500 million in 2021/22, which will support people with a variety of mental health conditions, including eating disorders.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department are taking to improve waiting times for patients seeking consultation with their GP.

We have committed to expanding the workforce and supporting general practice to deliver an extra 50 million appointments a year within the next five years and to help expand general practice capacity. In addition, we have made available an extra £270 million funding from November 2020 until September 2021 to ensure general practitioners and their teams are able to continue to support all patients.

In March, there was 1.24 million appointments per working day, a 5% increase compared to 1.19 million in February 2021. This includes 15.8 million face to face appointments, more than half all appointments.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of increasing funding for autism research.

The Department’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) spent £19,476,890 on autism research from 2014/2015 to 2018/2019 and recently announced a three-year funding partnership with Autistica, the United Kingdom’s national autism research charity, to fund five research projects on safe and effective social care to enable autistic people to live happy, healthy and long lives. The Department will publish a new autism strategy for children, young people and adults in May 2021. The purpose of the strategy is to improve the care, treatment and life chances of autistic people by supporting them throughout their lives. During its first year, we will develop a research action plan, setting out actions we will take to improve autism research and embed a culture of autism research by 2026.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to launch an inquiry into covid-19 related deaths in care homes.

The Government has been clear that there will be opportunities to reflect on all aspects of COVID-19. This will include an independent inquiry at the appropriate time.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has been made of the capacity of the mandatory hotel quarantine system to accommodate incoming international students ahead of the 2021-22 academic year.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he made of the potential merits of allowing incoming international students from red list countries to undertake their mandatory period of quarantine in university accommodation.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the cost of PCR tests kits are affordable for people on low incomes not currently claiming benefits.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support people who are under the age of 18 and experiencing symptoms of long-covid.

The ‘long’ COVID-19 assessment service centres developed by NHS England and NHS Improvement have been commissioned to provide assessment for adults, children, and young people, with input from paediatric specialists where appropriate. Any parent or guardian concerned that a child may be exhibiting symptoms of Long COVID should go to their GP, who will be able to refer the child for assessment if appropriate.

To help better understand and address the longer-term effects of COVID-19 on physical and mental health, on 18 February 2021 the Government announced £18.5 million of funding would be given to four research studies. This includes a study led by Professor Sir Terence Stephenson, at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, which is looking into long COVID-19 among children, how it can be diagnosed and how to treat it.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to investigate the reports of delayed PCR covid-19 tests from Latus Health; and if he will make a statement.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to monitor the long-term effectiveness of covid-19 vaccination.

Public Health England is monitoring the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines and has published early evidence on both the Pfizer/BioNTech and University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines. This evidence suggests that a single dose of either vaccine is approximately 60 to 70% effective at preventing symptomatic disease in older adults and around 80% effective at preventing hospitalisations. There is also evidence that a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is around 85% effective at preventing deaths.

As the COVID-19 vaccination programme continues in younger age groups, vaccine effectiveness estimates in these age groups will be published in due course. Vaccine effectiveness will continue to be monitored long-term in order to understand the need for booster doses.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the safety of travelling to covid-19 hotel quarantine settings for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Security escorts are available at airports and on coaches to ensure the necessary support is given to vulnerable people and to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are adhered to. They are able to help with any queries, concerns and assistance that is needed.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether pregnant women are exempt from the covid-19 hotel quarantine restrictions when they are travelling to the UK from a red list country for essential reasons.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before prorogation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to support disabled children and their families recover from the effects of the covid-19 outbreak.

National Health Service guidance makes clear that community services must be prioritised for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities aged up to 25 years old and who have an Education Health and Care Plan in place or who are going through an assessment for one. These services fall under the category of ‘essential services’.

As part of the COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing recovery action plan, the Government announced £79 million of funding to improve access to mental health services for children and young people, including disabled children. This includes additional funding for Mental Health Support Teams in schools and colleges. Funding is also provided for respite care.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the (a) standard of dental health and (b) potential effect on people's dental health of the ability of dental practices to de-register patients without notice leaving those patients to rely on 111 services in the event that urgent treatment is required.

No such assessment has been made.

Continuous registration with dental practices is no longer required for a patient to access NHS services. Patients are only registered with a dental practice during the course of their treatment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of introducing mandatory covid-19 tests for people that have received fines for breaking the national covid-19 lockdown rules.

We have made no such assessment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has provided to care homes on ensuring that residents are able to receive family member visits on a regular basis as lockdown restrictions are eased during the covid-19 outbreak.

Updated guidance was published on 6 April which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visiting-care-homes-during-coronavirus/update-on-policies-for-visiting-arrangements-in-care-homes

Every care home should ensure that each resident can nominate up to two named people who can have regular, indoor visits. Residents with higher care needs can also nominate an ‘essential care giver’. They will be able to visit more often in order to provide essential care. They will have the same testing and personal protective equipment arrangements as care home staff so that they can also provide extra support.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the number of GP surgeries owned by Centene corporation in England; and if he will make a statement.

Most general practitioner (GP) practices are private partnerships that hold contracts with NHS England and NHS Improvement to provide primary medical services. Centene Corporation does not own any GP surgeries in England. It is the owner of Operose Health Ltd.’s holding companies. The current total estimated number of GP practice contracts held by Operose Health is 58.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what information his Department holds on whether there is a casual link between the Oxford AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine and incidences of blood clots.

On 18 March 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the United Kingdom regulator responsible for investigating medicines safety concerns, issued a statement setting out that the available evidence did not suggest that blood clots in veins are caused by the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. This followed a rigorous scientific review of all the available data, including a detailed review of report cases as well as data from hospital admissions and general practitioner records. This has been confirmed by the Government’s independent advisory group, the Commission on Human Medicines, whose expert scientists and clinicians have also reviewed the available data.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the publication of the Commission on Human Medicines' report, Epilepsy Medicines in Pregnancy on 7 January 2021, what plans he has to ensure greater awareness among health professionals of the risk of physical and neurodevelopmental harm associated with the use of many anti-epileptic drugs taken in pregnancy.

The conclusions of the Commission on Human Medicines’ safety review were communicated publicly to support decisions around the best treatment options for girls and women. These communications were issued via the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) Drug Safety Update bulletin, an accompanying public assessment report and a patient safety leaflet. A news release and social media accompanied the publication alongside email alerts that targeted relevant healthcare professionals, prescribing publications and professional organisations. The MHRA is working with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Association of British Neurologists to update relevant clinical guidance to reflect the findings of the review. The impact of this review and the uptake of January communications will be monitored and consideration will be given to the need for further communication with healthcare professionals.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to extend the MHRA and NHS Digital Medicines in Pregnancy Valproate Registry to include all anti-epileptic drugs.

The Medicines in Pregnancy Valproate Registry will be used as a platform for building a data collection for all girls and women prescribed any anti-epileptic drugs in pregnancy. This has been prioritised within the next phase of development. We will shortly bring forward legislation to support the implementation of medicines registries across the healthcare network and to improve systematic collection of data.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to fund epilepsy medicines research to ensure safer drugs for pregnant women with epilepsy.

Since 2020, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has funded three research projects on epilepsy medicines to ensure safer drugs for pregnant women with a combined value of £434,396.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure children with epilepsy have mental health support integrated into their care.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Cat Smith MP) on 16 March 2021 to Question 161800.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support his Department is providing to people who do not have internet access at home to book a covid-19 vaccination appointment.

The National Booking Service is primarily sending physical invite letters to registered addresses. These letters give the option of booking online or by the free 119 phone line. Others can make an appointment on behalf of individuals who are not able to do so themselves. Follow up phone calls and letters are made to those who have been sent an initial letter but have not responded.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the ability of dental practices to de-register patients as a result of inactivity without giving notice to the patient.

Continuous registration with dental practices is no longer required and patients are only registered with a dental practice during the course of their treatment. This differs from registration with a general practitioner surgery, as dental practices are not bound to a catchment area. In circumstances where patients are unable to access an urgent dental appointment directly through a National Health Service dental practice, they should contact NHS 111 for assistance.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 16 March 2021 to Question 167296, whether the collection of information on surgical implants and devices from healthcare providers on pelvic floor, or mesh and related procedures, will include all historical data available.

NHS Digital will receive historical data from healthcare providers on pelvic floor surgical procedures, including the use of mesh or its alternatives. Data collected will be in accordance with the data specification which has been designed in consultation with stakeholders, including patient representatives and is available at the following link:

https://digital.nhs.uk/about-nhs-digital/corporate-information-and-documents/directions-and-data-provision-notices/data-provision-notices-dpns/surgical-devices-and-implants

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 19 October 2020 to Question 97696, what the planned timescale is for the full rollout of the Medical Device Information System; and what steps he is taking to ensure that timescale is met.

Formal public consultation on the legal framework for the Medical Device Information System (MDIS) will begin later this year with the aim of laying the regulations in 2022.

The Government continues to closely monitor the implementation of the Medicines and Medical Devices Act 2021. This includes assessing the timeframe and resources required to deliver the roll out of the MDIS, which is being led by NHS Digital.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support studies on the treatment of long-covid.

The Government has provided nearly £30 million of funding, through the National Institute for Health Research and UK Research Innovation, towards ambitious and comprehensive ‘long’ COVID-19 research projects. This includes £8.4 million invested into the 10,000 participant Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 study at the University of Leicester. This study is one of the world’s largest comprehensive research studies of previously hospitalised patients. On 18 February, we announced £18.5 million would be given to four more research studies focusing on non-hospitalised patients. The studies will examine the causes, consequences and treatment of ‘long’ COVID-19.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what data his Department holds on the prevalence of long-covid in people under the age of 18.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that during the week commencing 27 December 2020, 301,000 people in England had symptoms that had persisted for between five and 12 weeks. The ONS found that 22.1% of people testing positive for COVID-19 exhibit symptoms for a period of five weeks or longer. That percentage is lower for those between the ages of two and 11 years old (12.9%) and 12 to 16 years old (14.5%).

NHS England and NHS Improvement are developing a case definition and model of care for children with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the treatment options available to people with symptoms of long covid.

COVID-19 is a new disease and therefore it is not yet clear what the physical, psychological and rehabilitation needs will be for those experiencing long-term effects of the virus. The Government has provided funding, through the National Institute for Health Research and UK Research Innovation for several research studies. One of these studies, based at the University of Birmingham, is researching therapies for ‘long’ COVID-19 in non-hospitalised patients.

On 18 December, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published a guideline on the management of the long-term effects of COVID-19. As part of developing the guidance, an expert panel undertook an evidence review into pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions. The evidence review is available at the following link:

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng188/evidence/evidence-review-5-interventions-pdf-8957629261

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the financial position of community pharmacies; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of converting the £370 million of covid-19 emergency cashflow loans into grants.

Discussions are ongoing with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee about additional funding for costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of its ongoing assessment of COVID-19 costs incurred by the sector the Government will take account of the £370 million increased advance payments paid to community pharmacies.

The COVID-19 support package for community pharmacy also included general COVID-19 business support, funding for Bank Holiday openings, social distancing measures and the medicine delivery service to shielded patients, free personal protective equipment and non-monetary support including the removal of some administrative tasks, flexibility in opening hours and the delayed introduction of new services.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether it is mandatory for a person to get a covid-19 test in the event that they are found to have broken national lockdown restrictions.

It is not mandatory for a person to have a COVID-19 test if they are found to have breached national restrictions.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of adding Operating Department Practitioners (ODP) to the Patient Group Directions (PGD) to enable those with the relevant medical experience to play an active role in the covid-19 vaccination programme.

Provisions have been made in The Human Medicines (Coronavirus and Influenza) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 to expand the workforce legally allowed to administer vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccinations. The changes enable more healthcare professionals, including Operating Department Practitioners, to participate in giving vaccinations with appropriate training and supervision. These regulations came into force on 16 October 2020.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to (a) collect data on surgical implants and devices from (i) mesh-related and (ii) other procedures from (A) the NHS and (B) private provider organisations and (b) progress the roll-out of the Medical Device Information System (MDIS).

NHS Digital has started a programme of work under the Surgical Devices and Implants Direction to collect information on surgical implants and devices from healthcare providers in England, currently focussed on pelvic floor, or mesh and related procedures, as a priority.

Section 19 of the Medicines and Medical Devices Act 2021 will enable NHS Digital to establish a medical device information system (MDIS) which will collect and store relevant information on implantable devices from all National Health Service and private healthcare providers across the United Kingdom. This could include linking unique device identifiers to patients, clinicians, and the specific surgical procedure that implanted the device. Formal public consultation on the MDIS regulations will begin later this year with the aim of laying the regulations in 2022.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to offer free covid-19 test kits to workplaces with less than 50 members of staff to assist with the covid-19 secure reopening of businesses.

Businesses of all sizes, including those with fewer than 50 employees, can now register to order free lateral flow tests for their employees.

We have launched an online portal on GOV.UK for businesses to find out more about offering rapid workplace testing and order free tests. Businesses should register to order lateral flow tests if they have workers working in England who cannot work from home. Businesses will need to register by 31 March and free tests will currently be provided until the end of June. The online portal is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests

All local authorities have also signed up to offer rapid lateral flow testing in the community through local asymptomatic test sites. Small businesses can direct workers to these test sites if rapid workplace testing is unavailable.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when people will be able to visit family members in hospital as covid-19 restrictions are eased; and if he will publish guidance on those visits.

The current hospital visiting guidance, last updated on 13 October 2020, allows people to visit their family members in hospital in a COVID-19 secure way. This guidance is published at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/visitor-guidance/

NHS England and NHS Improvement are in the process of updating this guidance and a revised version will be published in due course.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to his Answer of 2 March 2021 to Question 156529, on Surgical Mesh Implants, whether he has plans to make an assessment of the reason for the discrepancy between the proportion of patients readmitted within 30 days of (a) transvaginal tape and (b) transobturator tape procedures contained in the Hospital Episode Statistics and the British Society of Urogynaecology databases, as highlighted in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' Project Report, Hospital Episode Statistics as a source of information on safety and quality in gynaecology to support revalidation, published in May 2012.

There are currently no plans to make an assessment.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of ensuring priority access to the covid-19 vaccination for people with autism.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has not recommended that those with autism are prioritised for vaccination as they have not yet found evidence that autism is a predictor of more serious outcomes for COVID-19. However, although autism is not considered a learning disability, many autistic people also have a learning disability. Those with learning disabilities and who are on the general practice Learning Disability Register are now included in cohort six in phase one of the vaccine programme.