Esther McVey Portrait

Esther McVey

Conservative - Tatton

Select Committees
Panel of Chairs (since June 2020)
1 APPG membership (as of 2 Jun 2021)
Gaps in Support
2 Former APPG memberships
Chemical Industry, Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
24th Jul 2019 - 13th Feb 2020
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
8th Jan 2018 - 15th Nov 2018
Selection Committee
14th Nov 2017 - 11th Jan 2018
Committee of Selection
14th Nov 2017 - 11th Jan 2018
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
2nd Nov 2017 - 8th Jan 2018
Home Affairs Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 4th Dec 2017
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Cabinet)
15th Jul 2014 - 30th Mar 2015
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Oct 2013 - 15th Jul 2014
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Sep 2012 - 7th Oct 2013


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Information Commissioner (Remuneration)
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 359 Conservative Aye votes vs 0 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 369 Noes - 2
Speeches
Monday 14th June 2021
Oral Answers to Questions

Cheshire East Council continues to keep unnecessary barriers in place on the high street in Knutsford, blocking off the car …

Written Answers
Monday 14th June 2021
Railway Stations: Tatton
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department has taken to support National Rail to complete …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
None available
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Tuesday 1st June 2021
1. Employment and earnings
Payments from Reach Group Limited, 21st Floor, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP:
EDM signed
Thursday 11th April 2019
Exiting the European Union
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (Exit Day) (Amendment) …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 4th March 2020
June Bank Holiday (Creation) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to make provision for an annual national public holiday on the Friday nearest to 23 June; and for …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Esther McVey has voted in 224 divisions, and 13 times against the majority of their Party.

25 Mar 2021 - Coronavirus - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 35 Conservative No votes vs 305 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 484 Noes - 76
22 Mar 2021 - Fire Safety Bill - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 33 Conservative No votes vs 320 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 322 Noes - 253
10 Feb 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 24 Conservative No votes vs 327 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 526 Noes - 24
6 Jan 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 12 Conservative No votes vs 322 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 524 Noes - 16
30 Dec 2020 - Sittings of the House - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 13 Conservative No votes vs 328 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 335 Noes - 212
1 Dec 2020 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 53 Conservative No votes vs 290 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 291 Noes - 78
4 Nov 2020 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 33 Conservative No votes vs 308 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 516 Noes - 38
13 Oct 2020 - Public Health: Coronavirus Regulations - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 42 Conservative No votes vs 298 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 299 Noes - 82
6 Oct 2020 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 12 Conservative No votes vs 285 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 287 Noes - 17
30 Sep 2020 - Coronavirus Act 2020 (Review of Temporary Provisions) - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 7 Conservative No votes vs 330 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 330 Noes - 24
10 Mar 2020 - Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 36 Conservative Aye votes vs 301 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 282 Noes - 306
27 Apr 2021 - Fire Safety Bill - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 31 Conservative No votes vs 320 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 320 Noes - 256
28 Apr 2021 - Fire Safety Bill - View Vote Context
Esther McVey voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 32 Conservative No votes vs 321 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 322 Noes - 256
View All Esther McVey Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.

Sparring Partners
Michelle Donelan (Conservative)
Minister of State (Education)
(5 debate interactions)
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(5 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(4 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Legislation Debates
Esther McVey has not made any spoken contributions to legislative debate
View all Esther McVey's debates

Tatton 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).

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.

Weddings take months and even years of intricate planning. Myself and many others believe the maximum number of guests authorised at wedding ceremonies should be increased. The number of guests permitted at weddings should be calculated according to venue capacity.

Extend funding to nightclubs, dance music events and festivals as part of the £1.57bn support package announced by the government for Britain's arts and culture sector to survive the hit from the pandemic. #LetUSDance


Latest EDMs signed by Esther McVey

11th April 2019
Esther McVey signed this EDM on Thursday 11th April 2019

Exiting the European Union

Tabled by: William Cash (Conservative - Stone)
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (Exit Day) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2019 (S.I., 2019, No. 859), dated 11 April 2019, a copy of which was laid before this House on 11 April 2019, be annulled.
82 signatures
(Most recent: 29 Apr 2019)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 73
Democratic Unionist Party: 7
Independent: 1
Non-affiliated: 1
View All Esther McVey's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Esther McVey, 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.



154 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
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the process of notification is to hon. Members on the loss of civil service jobs in their constituency.

Departments are responsible for their individual operating model decisions.

The Government has committed to ensuring that the administration of Government is less London-centric by relocating 22,000 Civil Service roles out of central London and into the regions and nations of the United Kingdom by the end of the decade.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when the attendance restrictions on weddings will be reviewed.

The Government continues to work closely with stakeholders in the wedding industry, to enable weddings and civil partnerships to continue to take place.

We recognise that the limit on attendees may be disappointing for those planning such events. By their nature, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are events that bring families and friends together from across the country and sometimes across the world, making them particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. We do not wish to keep restrictions in place for any longer than we have to, and it will be kept under review in line with the changing situation. For further information, please refer to the guidance https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the environmental benefits of remote working.

Assessing the environmental benefits of remote working is complex. Account needs to be taken of issues beyond commuter transport – for instance, the energy efficiency of our housing compared with that of commercial buildings and the increase in local travel which home-working can bring. Overall, the evidence on the net environmental benefits is mixed.

The policy opportunities associated with homeworking from a climate perspective are more likely to concern how we promote low carbon actions and behaviours when people are working from home, rather than simply asking people to work remotely.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of outreach post office services as a substitute for traditional post offices in (a) the Tatton constituency and (b) rural constituencies more widely.

The Government is committed to safeguarding the Post Office network and protecting existing rural services as we recognise the important role post offices play in serving their communities. The Government promotes access to rural post offices by setting accessibility criteria which the Post Office must meet. This ensures that in rural areas over 95% of people are within 3 miles of their nearest post office service. In remote and rural areas where it is difficult to deliver services to consumers via a permanent site, Post Office Limited use outreach services, such as a mobile van, or a village hall. These offer the same products and services as bricks-and-mortar branches. Within the Tatton constituency, there is one outreach service in Chelford.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that vulnerable people without an address can still access postal services.

The Government recognises how important access to post is for all, especially for those that are homeless or without stable abode. Government is working with a wide range of stakeholders to consider how to support these vulnerable groups. The universal postal service is intended to provide an accessible postal service for all.

Royal Mail operates two services to help vulnerable customers access their post. The first is its redirection service, which can be specially accessed by people with personal safety concerns. The second is its PO Box service, which provides options for vulnerable customers and is designed to meet specific circumstances and preferences.

The Government will continue to work with a wide range of stakeholder to find the best ways to support vulnerable people.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish an update on the distribution plans for the £177 million investment announced in the November 2020 spending review for the future of the post office network.

In the most recent Spending Review for 2021/2022, the Government announced Post Office investment funding of £177 million. This reflects the Government’s commitment to the role that post offices play in our communities. This funding will allow Post Office Ltd to invest for the future and to ensure the Post Office remains a vital force on our high streets.


The management of the Post Office network is an operational matter for the Company.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support his Department plans to provide to businesses following the completion of the new Help to Grow programme.

The Government is committed to improving the provision of support to SMEs across the country. Following the completion of the programme, the Help to Grow: Management Programme will provide participants with further direct business-to-business support, through the alumni network.

Participants will also be signposted to other leadership programmes on the market if they wish to progress with further learning. This programme is one of range of opportunities that the Government provides to businesses to support their growth.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish the credentials of the providers of the Help to grow programme announced on 3 March 2020.

The Help to Grow: Management Programme will be delivered by Business Schools who have obtained the Small Business Charter (SBC) accreditation.

A list of the SBC schools can be found here: https://smallbusinesscharter.org/find-business-school/.

We are currently in the process of determining the criteria for eligible providers for the Help to Grow Digital scheme. These will be published in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the types of businesses that the 'help to grow' scheme announced 3 March 2021 is seeking to support.

The Government’s new ‘Help to Grow’ scheme will help small businesses across the UK learn new skills, reach new customers, and boost profits. We have consulted with key stakeholders from industry when designing this scheme including those who represent the breadth of UK SMEs.

Businesses across all sectors are welcome to apply for the Help to Grow Scheme so long as they meet the eligibility criteria as follows:

- Size of 5 to 249 employees​

- More than a year old​

- Attendee should be a decision-maker within the business e.g. CEO, Finance Director​​

- Must have at least one line of management in business employment structure

Those interested in participating can find further details about the Help to Grow Scheme by visiting: https://helptogrow.campaign.gov.uk/.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what comparative assessment he has had made of the difference in covid-19 transmission rates for in-store shopping and click and collect services.

Throughout the national restrictions, we have sought to keep as much of the retail sector open as possible, whilst balancing the need to reduce our day-to-day contact. All along we have taken evidence from SAGE into account when making decisions.

Click-and-collect services allow goods to be pre-ordered and collected without customers entering the premises. Customers thus remain in well ventilated spaces - which are, by definition, safer environments and where transmission is less likely to occur.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will (a) list the types of business that are eligible to operate a click-and-collect delivery policy during the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021 and (b) provide the risk assessment for covid-19 transmission for each of those business types.

All retailers, both essential and non-essential, can offer click-and-collect services during the current national restrictions.

We have published safer workplace guidance which provides information to help employers make their workplaces COVID-Secure for their employees, visitors, and customers. The guidance does not replace existing employment, health and safety or equalities legislation. It provides information to employers on how best to meet these responsibilities in the context of COVID-19.

Each individual business should complete a risk assessment which should be shared with their employees.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what scientific evidence on the transmission of covid-19 was used to determine that essential retail should remain open whilst non-essential retail should close during lockdown periods.

Throughout the national restrictions, we have sought to keep as much of the retail sector open as possible, whilst balancing the need to reduce our day-to-day contact. Throughout this we have taken evidence from SAGE into account when making decisions.

It is also important that consumers have access to food and essential items that they need.

Restrictions have been brought in because we have to limit social contact. That is why the decision to close non-essential retail is part of a wider package of measures to make clear that people should stay at home except for a limited set of exemptions – allowing non-essential retail to remain open would run contrary to that aim.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has in place for the gradual and safe reopening of the wedding industry to help the people who work in and support that sector.

On 22 February, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister published the Government’s COVID-19 Response-Spring 2021. The roadmap is a step-by-step plan to ease restrictions in England gradually , starting with education. Across the four steps, the roadmap sets out the sequencing and indicative timing for easing restrictions, including those on the wedding sector.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of (a) Coronavirus Interruption Business Loan applications and (b) Bounce Back Loan applications have been declined.

A breakdown on the number of loans provided through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, as of 24 January 2021, are provided in the table below.

Scheme

Number of Facilities Approved

Value of Facilities Approved

Total Number of Applications

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

87,529

£20.84 billion

201,343

Bounce Back Loan Scheme

1,471,001

£44.74 billion

1,953,564

The figures reported under the heading Total Number of Applications includes: approved applications; applications that are still to be processed; applications that have been declined; and applications that may turn out not to be eligible or cases where customers will decide not to proceed.

Decisions on whether to specifically capture information relating to declined loans are at the discretion of the lender.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps were taken during the trial of the Pfizer covid-19 vaccine to test its effect on people with allergies.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has met the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s robust standards of safety, quality, and effectiveness, and the safety data from the trials has set out how the COVID-19 vaccine works in different types of people. A robust and proactive safety monitoring strategy for COVID-19 vaccines is in place, which allows for rapid, real-time safety monitoring at population level.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the cost to the public purse of the Pfizer covid-19 vaccine to date; and when he plan to publish details of the estimated cost to all stakeholders for the manufacturing and rollout of that vaccine.

We are not able to disclose details of commercially sensitive contracts between the Government and vaccine manufacturers while negotiations are ongoing.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of the use of waste incinerators on the Government's progress on the 2050 net zero emissions target.

The latest data shows that, in 2018, an estimated 6.0 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) were emitted from waste incineration in the energy supply sector and 0.3 MtCO2e from waste incineration in the waste sector.

The UK’s climate change framework enables the Government to determine how best to balance emissions reductions across the economy. Emissions are managed within the Government’s overall strategy for meeting carbon budgets and the 2050 net zero target, as part of an economy-wide transition.

The UK Government has reduced carbon emissions by over 40% since 1990.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of including waste incineration in the UK Emissions Trading scheme.

The Government Response to the Future of UK Carbon Pricing set out that the scope of the UK Emissions Trading Scheme will provide continuity and a smooth transition for participants. Most consultation respondents agreed with this approach. Energy from waste plants will not be in scope of the UK ETS for the period of 2021 to 2025. We do recognise the case for expanding carbon pricing and we committed to considering the option of expanding the scope of the UK ETS in the 2023 review.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of UK Research and Innovation's decision to withdraw extra grants for PhD students whose research has been affected by covid-19 on (a) those students and (b) long term research environment in the UK.

UKRI have acted to support PhD students during the pandemic. In March, UKRI worked to ensure that all the students it funds would continue to receive their maintenance stipend during the lockdown and would not have to suspend their studies; UKRI-funded students in receipt of a costed extension will continue to receive this stipend during their extension period. In April it was announced that UKRI-funded PhD students in the final year, whose studies have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic would be provided with additional support.

A review of the initial UKRI COVID-19 extension policy was published, bringing together evidence from students, grant holders and university management teams. On the 11th November, UKRI provided a further £19.1 million of funding, which particularly aims to support students who have recently gone into their final year of study (funding end date before or on 30 September 2021) and those with ongoing support needs. Students with ongoing support needs include disabled students, students with a long-term illness, those who are neurodivergent or those with caring responsibilities.

Combined, these two interventions have meant that UKRI has made over £60 million of financial support available to students most impacted by the pandemic. It is estimated that this funding is available for up to 12,000 students (over half of the students that UKRI funds). We are encouraging all PhD students to discuss with their supervisors how projects can be adjusted to complete their doctoral education within their funded period. We will continue to monitor how the pandemic is affecting PhD students and the wider research system.

In regard to the long term research environment, all UKRI funded PhD students are guaranteed their funding within their funded period. The support noted above should ensure the vast majority of students are able to complete their studies on time, or later with support, and able to embark on the next step of their research career.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to provide tailored support to the wedding industry during the covid-19 outbreak.

My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has laid out the Government’s Winter Economy Plan. This includes measures to support all businesses, such as extending the current government-backed loan schemes and introducing the Pay as You Grow and Job Support Schemes. There are also specific measures to support the self-employed, such as the SEISS Grant Extension.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the economic effect on the wedding industry of the further restrictions announced on 22 September 2020.

The Government has put in place a package of support to help employees and businesses through these exceptional times. These include business support grants for qualifying businesses, extended government-backed loans and the Job Support Scheme.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to provide specific support to the wedding industry during the covid-19 outbreak.

My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has laid out the Government’s Winter Economy Plan. This includes measures to support all businesses, such as extending the current government-backed loan schemes and introducing the Pay as You Grow and Job Support Schemes. There are also specific measures to support the self-employed, such as the SEISS Grant Extension.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reason wedding venues that ensure table service, social distancing and prevent dancing are subject to different restrictions to restaurants.

Celebrations such as wedding receptions pose increased risks for transmission of COVID-19 as they involve people from multiple households meeting and spending extended periods of time together. They are by their nature events which bring people closely together. Wedding receptions and celebrations are one of the few exceptions to the gatherings limit of 6 people, which has applied from 14 September 2020.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that soft tissue therapists can return to work.

We have now provided close contact services like Soft Tissue Therapists in England, except Leicester, with the certainty they need to reopen from Monday 13 July, subject to them following the COVID-secure guidelines.

We appreciate that this has been difficult for some businesses. Our approach is guided by the scientific and medical advice, and every step is weighed against the evidence, remembering that the more we open up the more vigilant we will need to be.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reason soft tissue therapists were not included in the 4 July 2020 reopening plans for people dealing with medical issues.

There is clearly a risk of greater transmission in close contact services. That is why we have had to phase their introduction. We had to make difficult choices to keep the R rate below 1.

We have now provided close contact services like Soft Tissue Therapists in England, except Leicester, with the certainty they need to reopen from Monday 13 July, subject to them following the COVID-secure guidelines.

We appreciate that this has been difficult for some businesses. Our approach is guided by the scientific and medical advice, and every step is weighed against the evidence, remembering that the more we open up the more vigilant we will need to be.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the economic merits of full-fibre broadband roll out in the context of the findings of the CEBR report, Ultra Fast Full Fibre Broadband: A Platform for Growth, published April 2021.

The Government notes the CEBR report, commissioned by Openreach, which predicts a huge productivity boost from nationwide gigabit connectivity, suggesting a £59 billion boost to the UK’s Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2025.

Increased productivity is one of reasons why the Government remains committed to delivering national gigabit connectivity as soon as possible. Today, over two in five premises can access gigabit-capable networks, up from just one in ten in November 2019. By the end of the year, 60% will have access, and by 2025 the Government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage, working with industry to reach as close to 100% as possible.

On the report’s suggestion that 270,000 people could move from urban to more rural areas as a result of changing attitudes towards home working, the Government recognises the importance of strong digital connectivity in rural areas. That is why we are investing £5bn to ensure those living in hard-to-reach areas get the gigabit connectivity they deserve. This is consistent with the Government's wider ambition to level-up the UK.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans his Department has to include provisions in the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill, announced in the Queen's Speech, to quicken the process by which wayleaves are granted.

We are currently analysing the responses to the consultation and will publish the Government response in due course. This will include our proposals for measures to ensure that the Electronic Communications Code continues to support the faster deployment of digital infrastructure. We expect any legislative measures to be taken forward in the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when his Department plans to publish the Government's response to the consultation into the Electronic Communications Code.

We are currently analysing the responses to the consultation and will publish the Government response in due course. This will include our proposals for measures to ensure that the Electronic Communications Code continues to support the faster deployment of digital infrastructure. We expect any legislative measures to be taken forward in the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the practicability of rolling out fibre broadband in rural and hard-to-reach areas.

The government remains committed to delivering nationwide gigabit connectivity as soon as possible and is investing £5bn to deliver gigabit-capable broadband in the hardest to reach parts of the UK.

To achieve this, the government has published the first phase of its gigabit procurements, as part of Project Gigabit. These initial procurements will deliver gigabit capable networks to an estimated one million homes and businesses in areas that are harder to reach.

In addition, the government has implemented a number of other measures to help people in rural and hard to reach areas upgrade their broadband connection including Gigabit Broadband Vouchers and the broadband Universal Service Obligation.

For the most remote premises, the government has also published a call for evidence to explore all possible options for improving broadband connectivity. The evidence provided will allow us to develop our understanding of these areas and seek more information on demand, benefits, barriers and future technology approaches.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the digital divide during the covid-19 outbreak.

In March, the government agreed a set of voluntary commitments with telecommunications providers to support and protect vulnerable consumers and those who might become vulnerable as a result of Covid-19. This included a commitment to work with customers who are finding it difficult to pay their bills to ensure that they are treated fairly and appropriately supported. The Government also brokered a deal with providers which have allowed half a million NHS staff to benefit from better connectivity, and also ensured that a number of websites, including the NHS website, are zero-rated.

My Department has been promoting the DevicesDotNow campaign, which is working with community organisations to distribute devices to vulnerable adults and help them get online. The aim is to enable elderly and vulnerable people, particularly those to who are shielding, to communicate with the outside world and get access to vital services. Over 11,000 devices have been distributed by community partners. Futuredotnow are working with their founding partners, government and industry to continue to collect devices and distribute them to the local community organisations so they are able to reach the most vulnerable during this time.

In August 2020, government introduced an entitlement to fully funded digital qualifications which mirror the existing legal entitlements for English and maths. Adults with no or low digital skills will have full funding to undertake improved digital skills qualifications, based on new national standards for essential digital skills, up to Level 1.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if the Government will allow the events industry to reopen under similar restrictions to other businesses that have been allowed operate during the covid-19 outbreak.

We recognise the events industry’s disappointment at the delayed reopening of large business conferences and exhibitions.

We have always been clear that our roadmap to recovery is dependent on continued progress against the virus. Due to the sharp rise in cases over recent weeks, we needed to pause the planned 1st October reopening of business conferences and exhibitions.

Meetings of up to 30 for training, education and work purposes can still take place in permitted venues, as per the Covid-19 Secure guidance for the visitor economy. Since 11 July, a range of outdoor events have been able to take place, although again this is subject to COVID secure guidelines.

We are also aware that many in the sector support the notion of an events reopening roadmap. We continue to engage with stakeholders, including through the Visitor Economy Working Group and the Events Industry Senior Leaders Advisory Panel, to assess how we can best support the sector’s safe reopening. The business events pilots we carried out in September will ensure that the correct advice and guidance is put in place to help larger events reopen when it is safe to do so.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what progress his Department has made in upgrading broadband infrastructure in the UK.

According to Thinkbroadband (https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/), coverage at UK premises for different broadband speeds is currently:

  • Superfast (30Mbps) = 96.48%

  • Ultrafast (100Mbps) = 63.02%

  • Gigabit (1,000Mbps) = 27.22%

  • Full Fibre (Gigabit+) = 17.12%

Virgin Media are in the process of activating gigabit services across their entire network by the end of 2021, and this currently covers over 52% of the UK. BT Openreach and CityFibre also have multi-billion pound fibre rollout programmes underway so a leap in gigabit coverage during 2021 is anticipated. This planned build predominantly covers urban areas so DCMS’s focus is on stimulating build in the more rural and disadvantaged areas of the UK where the commercial market will not build unaided.

The government has invested significant amounts in digital infrastructure over the last decade. The DCMS portfolio of active projects is currently c.£4 billion (detailed below) and in the Spring Budget, a further £5 billion of investment was announced for the hardest to reach areas of the UK. More details regarding the programme will follow in the Autumn Spending Review.

Current and future programmes are as follows:

  • The Building Digital UK (BDUK) Superfast Broadband Programme is investing over £1.9 billion of public money (much of this match funded on top of this figure by local bodies, EU funds and suppliers) to ensure over 96.4% of UK premises have access to superfast broadband.

  • The Local Full Fibre Networks Programme (LFFN) is investing £278 million to stimulate commercial investment in full fibre networks in both rural and urban locations across the whole of the UK. Currently 17% of UK premises have access to a full fibre connection, up from 0.9% in 2016. 27.2% of UK premises have access to gigabit-capable broadband.

  • The Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme (RGC) is investing up to £200 million on gigabit broadband connections in rural areas. This includes a rural voucher scheme where up to £3,500 is available to rural SMEs and up to £1,500 for rural premises is available to support the installation of gigabit-capable broadband when part of a group scheme. To date, the programme has issued vouchers to the value of £33.5 million. Top-up schemes are also operating across the UK where Local Authorities / Devolved Administrations provide their own funding on top of our values.

  • The Shared Rural Network Programme (SRN) is investing £500 million of public funding with a further £500 million of match funding from industry to improve rural 4G coverage across the UK. The programme has just started but has already seen the first handful of new 4G sites go live.

  • The 700MHz Spectrum Clearance Programme is investing up to £400 million on reconfiguring the use of the airwave in the UK to make more capacity available for 5G broadband. That programme completed its airwave clearance activity in August 2020.

  • The 5G Trials and Testbeds Programme is investing c.£250 million in a number of 5G projects across the UK.

  • We are in the process of mobilising our new £5 billion UK Gigabit Programme which was announced in the Spring Budget. Procurements will commence in early 2021.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much of the UK has one gigabit capability; and what assessment he has made of the geographical distribution of one gigabit capability in (a) towns, (b) cities and (c) rural areas.

Building Digital UK (BDUK) uses information collected from Ofcom’s Connected Nations Report. This dataset distinguishes between urban and rural premises, and an easy to read version can be found in the Commons Library (https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/constituency-data-broadband-coverage-and-speeds/).

However, Connected Nations does not yet hold information on specific Gigabit connectivity and therefore we use the next best source, Thinkbroadband, which does provide gigabit statistics. According to Thinkbroadband, at this moment in time 27.2% of the UK have access to gigabit capable speeds, up from 0.9% in 2016. A full list of Gigabit availability by area can be found here: http://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/england.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what progress his Department has made with Building Digital UK in rolling out full-fibre broadband throughout the UK.

According to Thinkbroadband, currently 27.1% of premises have access to gigabit-capable broadband - up from 0.9% in 2016. 17.1% of premises have access to full fibre connections.

The Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme is investing £278 million to stimulate commercial investment in full fibre networks in both rural and urban locations across the whole of the UK. There are 36 projects ongoing across the UK, 34 of which are in delivery.

The Superfast Programme has delivered superfast broadband to 5.3 million premises, which constitutes 17% of all households in the UK. In 2019, the majority of delivery on the Superfast Programme moved from Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) to Fibre to the Premise (FTTP). For example, for the financial quarter April-June 2020, ~90% (27k premises out of 30k) of delivery through the programme was FTTP. The Superfast Programme, therefore, is now a significant contributor to the government’s gigabit ambitions, as well as satisfying its commitment to Superfast coverage.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessments his Department made to inform decisions on reopening (a) secondary schools and (b) university campuses as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

At every stage since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, decisions have been informed by the scientific and medical evidence, including the risk of COVID-19 infection, transmission and illness, and the known risks to children and young people not attending school.

On 22 February the Department published its COVID-19 evidence summary which is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963639/DfE_Evidence_summary_COVID-19_-_children__young_people_and_education_settings.pdf.

The return of the remaining university students is not considered in isolation but as part of the Government’s overall roadmap. All areas included in the roadmap, as well as higher education, are informed by advice from scientific and medical experts, where data and evidence are considered regularly. This includes the Joint Biosecurity Centre, Public Health England, and the Chief Medical Officers.

The Department is working closely with scientists and The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to understand and model various scenarios to inform plans that seek to enable us to re-open the country without putting unsustainable pressure on the NHS. We have also examined economic and social data to get a balanced understanding of the impacts of carefully easing restrictions. The Government has also carefully considered data on the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on ethnic minority communities, the vulnerable, the young, and low income groups.

SAGE also regularly publish papers and minutes following each SAGE meeting, including a collection of papers from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, on the re-opening of schools and the Independent Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours on return to campus for the spring terms and the risk of increased transmission from student migration. The list of papers published are available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/scientific-evidence-supporting-the-government-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19.

A wealth of data, papers and evidence is being published at the same time as the roadmap, to ensure transparency on the information the Government has had available to it in reaching its decisions. This includes information from Public Health England on the Pfizer vaccinations effectiveness and reports with detailed findings from Sarscov2 Immunity & REinfection EvaluatioN (SIREN) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections-Watch.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Higher education coronavirus (COVID-19) operational guidance published on 10 May 2021, if he will publish the evidential basis for the return to in-person teaching and learning being no earlier than 17 May 2021.

We have worked extremely closely with scientists and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to understand and model various scenarios to inform our plan to re-open the country without putting unsustainable pressure on the NHS. We have also examined economic and social data to get a balanced understanding of the impacts of carefully easing restrictions. The government has also carefully considered data on the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on ethnic minority communities, the vulnerable, the young, and low-income groups.

The government considered all the scientific advice and models that suggested that allowing additional indoor mixing at an earlier stage when prevalence was higher and fewer people had been vaccinated could result in significantly higher numbers of infections and that is why restrictions outdoors were eased before restrictions on most indoor activity. As the number of people vaccinated increased, we have been able to take steps to ease restrictions further.

A wealth of data, papers and evidence is being published at the same time as the roadmap, to ensure transparency on the information the government has had available to it in reaching its decisions. This includes the following information from Public Health England:

  • Information on vaccine effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccination
  • A surveillance report with a more detailed summary of the findings so far from the Sarscov2 Immunity and Reinfection Evaluation (SIREN) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections-Watch
  • A technical paper on the SIREN analysis being published (as a pre-print) by the Lancet

The papers from SAGE include:

  • Minutes from the last 4 SAGE meetings
  • Children’s Task and Finish Group paper: ‘COVID-19 in higher education settings’, 10 February 2021
  • 3 papers from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) with a summary of modelling on scenarios for easing restrictions, together with the supporting papers from modellers at Warwick University and Imperial College London
  • A collection of papers from SPI-M on “relaxation of Non-pharmaceutical interventions and the re-opening of schools” and the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (the behavioural experts’ sub-group of SAGE) on return to campus for the Spring term and the risk of increased transmission from student migration

Additional papers published by SAGE in relation to Step 3 of the roadmap can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/sage-meetings-may-2021.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of slow broadband speeds on the education of children living in rural areas.

Access to gigabit capable broadband for communities and schools is being addressed through programmes rolled out in partnership between the Department for Education and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. We are investing an unprecedented £5 billion of subsidy to support the deployment of gigabit broadband in the hardest to reach areas of the country. This coverage will also include even more rural schools that would otherwise not be reached without the Government taking action.

To support children and young people to connect with remote education, the Get Help with Technology programme has partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help over 30,000 disadvantaged children get online as well as delivering over 70,000 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home.

Where pupils continue to experience barriers to digital remote education, we expect schools and further education institutions to work to overcome these barriers. This could include distributing school or further education institution-owned laptops or supplementing digital provision with different forms of remote education such as printed resources or textbooks. This should be supplemented with other forms of communication to keep pupils on track or answer questions about work.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the need for new skills training on working in a remote environment.

The government appreciates how difficult it can be for both employers and employees to adjust to new and different working environments and recognises they have adapted well across the country during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, remote working arrangements and any training needed for remote working are matters for relevant employers and not this department. Many employers and organisations have developed best practice and guidance in their areas, such as the Local Government Association, which has made available advice on remote working here: https://local.gov.uk/our-support/workforce-and-hr-support/wellbeing/remote-working-top-tips.

We recognise the importance of digital skills for employability and participation in society. Therefore, we introduced a legal entitlement in August 2020 for adults with no or low digital skills to study new Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQs) at entry level and level 1 for free. The digital entitlement mirrors the existing legal entitlements for English and maths and will provide adults with the digital skills needed for life and work. EDSQs are a new qualification type, based on new national standards for essential digital skills, designed to meet the diverse needs of adults with no or low digital skills.

We also support the provision of basic digital skills training for adults in community settings through the Adult Education Budget.

The department funds a wide range of support and training to help teachers to develop their skills and confidence in using technology and teaching effectively online.


Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to ensure career guidance has been delivered to secondary schools pupils since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

We remain committed to supporting young people to access high quality careers guidance during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Through The Careers & Enterprise Company, we continue to work to support schools and colleges to deliver the Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance and increase young people’s exposure to the world of work. There are more than 4000 secondary schools and colleges in the Enterprise Adviser Network working with business volunteers to strengthen links with employers, and over 2200 schools and colleges working together in Careers Hubs to drive improvements in the Gatsby Benchmarks through local collaboration.

We have also provided additional support to schools and colleges since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Through the “My Choices” programme, The Careers & Enterprise Company have developed a collection of resources to support careers leaders in helping young people as they prepare for their next stages of education, employment, or training. This consisted of ‘on-demand’ virtual events, developed in collaboration with Learn Live UK, where young people heard directly from employers and apprenticeship providers about the opportunities available to them. Funding was also provided to Careers Hubs and Local Enterprise Partnerships for an ongoing series of local “My Choices” careers events and specific guides have been made available for Careers Leaders, students, and parents/carers via The Careers & Enterprise Company’s website: https://www.careersandenterprise.co.uk/schools-colleges/my-choices-transition-resources.

In line with the Gatsby Benchmarks, schools and colleges are expected to provide a personal guidance interview for every student by age 16 and another by age 18. We are working closely with The Careers & Enterprise Company to support schools and colleges to maximise the value and impact of personal guidance interviews. This includes providing resources and practical advice to support the delivery of activity online, by telephone and face to face: https://resources.careersandenterprise.co.uk/resources/careers-context-2020-can-do-guide-career-leaders.

Through the National Careers Service, we continue to offer in-depth information, advice, and guidance for everyone over the age of 13 via telephone-based advisers, web chat or the National Careers Service website. This includes the exam results helpline, which operated between 12 August and 18 September 2020 to ensure that young people who received their exam results last summer got advice from qualified advisers.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to work with providers of student accommodation to reimburse fees where students have been prohibited from occupying rooms during covid-19 lockdowns.

Universities and private accommodation providers are autonomous and responsible for setting their own rent agreements. The government plays no direct role in the provision of student accommodation.

This has been a very difficult time for students, and we encourage universities and accommodation providers to review their accommodation policies to ensure they are fair, transparent and have the best interests of students at heart.

Officials speak regularly with representatives of private and university owned accommodation, as well as sector bodies. The government worked closely with universities to ensure they were well prepared for the return of students in the autumn term, and we have published updated guidance to help them keep students and staff as safe as possible.

If students have concerns about their accommodation fees, they should first raise their concerns with their accommodation provider. If their concerns remain unresolved, and their higher education provider is involved in the provision of the accommodation, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

If a student thinks their accommodation provider is treating them unfairly, they can raise a complaint under the accommodation codes of practice as long as their provider is a code member. The codes can be found at: https://www.thesac.org.uk/, https://www.unipol.org.uk/the-code/how-to-complain and https://www.rla.org.uk/about/nrla-code-of-practice.shtml

We recognise that in these exceptional circumstances some students may face financial hardship. The Department for Education has worked with the Office for Students to clarify that providers are able to draw on existing funds, worth around £256 million for academic year 2020/2021, towards hardship support. On the 2 February 2021 we announced that we are making available a further £50 million of hardship funding for this financial year, for higher education providers to use to support students in greatest need. This funding is in addition to the £20 million of hardship funding made available in December 2020.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the viability due to the covid-19 outbreak of the decision to allow IGCSEs to take place in the 2020-21 academic year.

International GCSEs are not regulated by Ofqual and are not part of the arrangements we have put in place for summer 2021 for GCSEs and A/AS levels. We are in contact with the exam boards that provide international GCSEs and understand that they have not yet taken final decisions on whether or not exams should go ahead in England this summer.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to work with (a) Cloud Learn and (b) other online education providers to create a secure online learning platform for secondary school pupils.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people.

Since April 2020, we have been working with Google and Microsoft to support all state-funded primary and secondary schools in England who did not have student user accounts already set up on an appropriate online platform.

Schools can choose to use their Government funded support to get set up on a free-to-use digital education platform: either a G Suite for Education (Google Classroom) or Office 365 Education (Microsoft Teams).

Once a school applies, Google or Microsoft confirm their eligibility for the programme and assign the school to an IT supplier. The IT supplier then sets up the platform for all staff and pupil/student accounts.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to provide alternative arrangements to students without teacher-assessed grades to substitute their A-level grade.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Government considers that exams cannot be held in a way which is fair. We have therefore announced that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has asked the Chief Regulator at Ofqual to find a clear and accessible route for private candidates, and those not in school this year, to be assessed and receive a grade. The Department and Ofqual 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, including consulting specifically on four different approaches for private candidates to receive a grade.

The consultation will be open until 23:45 on 29 January 2021. The Department and Ofqual strongly encourage all our stakeholders, including private candidates and their representatives, to respond. 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.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure (a) consistency of the curriculum and (b) the quality of pupils' education during January 2021 covid-19 lockdown.

It is critically important to ensure that all children and young people continue to learn during the national lockdown. That is why we have updated the expectations for schools to clarify and strengthen what is expected during the period of restricted attendance and drawing on our evolving understanding of best practice in remote education. Further details on best practice can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak#section-5-contingency-planning-for-outbreaks.

With most children now being taught remotely and schools and colleges having made huge progress in developing their remote education provision, it is right that we have high expectations on what remote education they receive. The number of hours expected for different age groups has changed. Hours include either recorded or live direct teaching alongside time for pupils to work independently to complete assignments that have been set. Schools are now expected to provide, as a minimum:

  • 3 hours a day for KS1, on average across the cohort with less for younger children
  • 4 hours a day for KS2
  • 5 hours a day for KS3 and KS4

Schools are also expected to have a system in place for checking on a daily basis whether pupils are engaging actively with their work. Schools will need to work with families to identify swiftly where pupil engagement is a concern and find effective solutions.

Schools and colleges are expected to teach a planned and well sequenced remote curriculum, and to consider how to transfer into remote education what we already know about effective teaching in the classroom. This includes, for example: providing clear explanations of new content; providing opportunities for interactivity and reflective discussion; and using assessment to ensure teaching is responsive to pupils’ and students’ needs. Schools need to be confident that pupils are taught the necessary knowledge and skills required for them to progress through the curriculum as expected. We also expect schools and colleges to identify a senior leader with overall responsibility for remote education provision. This role would include responsibility for reviewing the school or college’s remote education offer and ensuring that school and college policies are in place to effectively meet the remote education expectations.

A comprehensive package of support continues to be available to schools and colleges to help them meet these expectations which can be accessed via our get help with remote education page: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-remote-education. This includes helping schools and colleges to access technology that supports remote education, as well as peer-to-peer training and guidance on how to use technology effectively. It also includes practical tools, a good practice guide and school-led webinars to support effective delivery of the curriculum. Information is also available on issues such as safeguarding, statutory duties and expectations, supporting pupils and students with special educational needs and disabilities, and recovery and catch up to stop pupils and students falling behind.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to prepare for the future role of remote learning in the education system.

Technology in education has been essential for continuing to teach remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent school and college closures. In the long term, it also has the potential to support teacher workload reductions, flexible working, cost savings, inclusive teaching practice and improved pupil outcomes.

A number of programmes which have been in place across the COVID-19 outbreak are providing valuable intelligence on the most impactful uses of remote education to deliver the curriculum to all pupils. The EdTech Demonstrator programme, which supports schools and colleges to use technology to strengthen remote education arrangements and develop a sustainable digital strategy, will provide an important evaluation of the impact of effective use of digital technology to improve outcomes for pupils. The Department’s digital platforms offer allows schools to provide remote online education and develop blended learning approaches for the longer term.

The Government has invested over £400 million in support for remote education, including securing over 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children. We will build on the foundations of this significant investment in technology and explore options for a strategy to create a more resilient digitally enabled education system which improves outcomes for all children and adults in education.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the (a) accessibility and (b) effectiveness of the university refund procedure.

Higher education (HE) providers are autonomous institutions and as such they are responsible for providing clear systems for handling students’ complaints and appeals, including requests for refunds. The university’s formal complaints procedures should be easily accessible and available on the university’s website. We expect student complaints and appeals processes to be operated flexibly, accessibly, and sympathetically by providers to resolve any concerns.

Where a student completes the formal complaints process and they are dissatisfied with the outcome, they can take a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). The OIA offers a free service to students and can review complaints from students made against a higher education provider.

All higher education providers registered with the Office for Students provider must co-operate with the requirements of the student complaints scheme run by the OIA and make students aware of their ability to use the scheme. The OIA is independent of the government, and as such, is responsible for case allocation and timing. The OIA’s ‘Good Practice Framework on Handling Complaints and Appeals’ states that HE providers should normally be completed within 90 calendar days of the start of the formal complaints process: oia-good-practice-framework.pdf (oiahe.org.uk).

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department has had with representatives of university students on their needs in the context of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on university education.

On 18 August, a higher education (HE) taskforce made up of various sector representatives was launched to initially advise on HE admissions. The scope of the taskforce has since been extended to include discussions on broader COVID-19 related challenges faced by the HE sector and students. We are aware of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on students’ mental health, wellbeing, and future life chances, and must do all we can to mitigate its effects. Several taskforce subgroups have looked at these areas in more detail.

The student mental health subgroup, for instance, had representatives from the Student Minds charity and the Office for Students (OfS) to discuss responses from students. The group also heard from a current second year student who attended to share their personal experience and thoughts directly.

I also regularly meet with the National Union of Students and have engaged in several Facebook live sessions organised by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service where I have had the opportunity to discuss with students the issues affecting them the most, as well as engaging with students through the student panel of the OfS, virtual visits and The Student Room.

We will continue to work with the sector and student representative bodies and engage students, as our top priority for January will be the welfare of students, staff, and the communities around higher education providers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will increase the eligibility threshold for sparsity funding in the national funding formula.

The Department recognises the financial challenges that small schools in rural areas can face, and frequently assesses evidence on this. We have increased the amount distributed through the national funding formula’s sparsity factor for the 2021/22 funding year, from £26 million to £42 million. This will help with the provision of extra support to small, remote schools.

The Department reviews the national funding formula on an ongoing basis, including the sparsity factor. We have made minimal changes to the design of the formula next year, in light of pressures caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. As such, the thresholds determining which schools attract sparsity funding will be unchanged in the 2021/22 funding year.

Increased funding through the sparsity factor next year is a first step toward wider changes in the 2022/23 funding year to further support small, remote schools. The Department plan to consult on exact changes, and the design of the factor in 2022/23, in the New Year.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect on small, rural schools of ineligibility for sparsity funding in the national funding formula.

The Department recognises the financial challenges that small schools in rural areas can face, and frequently assesses evidence on this. We have increased the amount distributed through the national funding formula’s sparsity factor for the 2021/22 funding year, from £26 million to £42 million. This will help with the provision of extra support to small, remote schools.

The Department reviews the national funding formula on an ongoing basis, including the sparsity factor. We have made minimal changes to the design of the formula next year, in light of pressures caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. As such, the thresholds determining which schools attract sparsity funding will be unchanged in the 2021/22 funding year.

Increased funding through the sparsity factor next year is a first step toward wider changes in the 2022/23 funding year to further support small, remote schools. The Department plan to consult on exact changes, and the design of the factor in 2022/23, in the New Year.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he made of the availability of strong internet connections for students studying from home during the covid-19 outbreak.

It is vital that students have access to high quality and consistent remote education. The Department believes that through the hard work of teachers and staff, pupils will continue to receive the education they deserve, whatever the circumstances.

As part of over £195 million invested in technology to enable access to remote education, over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers have already been delivered during the summer term for disadvantaged children in Year 10, children receiving support from a social worker and care leavers.

The Department estimated the number of disadvantaged pupils without access to an internet connection using data on pupils eligible for Free School Meals in each school, taking into consideration estimations by Ofcom and reflecting that some pupils would already have access to a private internet connection.

The 4G wireless routers come with free data for the autumn term and will allow local authorities and academy trusts to support children who may have their face-to-face education and care disrupted because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Local authorities and trusts are responsible for identifying the children who need internet access and providing the routers to them.

The Department is also working with the major telecommunications companies to improve internet connectivity for disadvantaged and vulnerable families who rely on a mobile internet connection. We are piloting an approach where mobile network operators are providing temporary access to free additional data, offering families more flexibility to access the resources that they need the most. In the pilot, schools, trusts, and local authorities identified children who need access to free additional data.


Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to provide fiscal support to students in financial difficulty as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

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. Higher Education (HE) providers take their responsibilities seriously and are best placed to identify the needs of their student body as well as how to develop the services needed to support it.

Many 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 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 £23 million per month for April, May, June and July, towards student hardship funds.

Students with a part-time employment contract should speak to their employer about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19), which has been set up to help pay staff wages and keep people in employment. We have also asked that HE providers pay particular attention to the additional financial hardships that are being faced by student staff who have been reliant on income from campus-based jobs at this time.

Departmental officials are working hard with the sector to continue to monitor the situation.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support students that are dissatisfied with the support provided by their university during the covid-19 outbreak; and what processes are in place for students to obtain a refund if that support has not met the guidelines set out by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

We welcome the series of guides which the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has published to support providers to secure academic standards and to support student achievement during the outbreak.

The government expects universities to continue delivering a high-quality academic experience and help students to achieve qualifications that they and employers value.

We are working with the Office for Students (OfS) to make sure all reasonable steps are being taken to enable students to continue their studies to the best of their abilities. Where it is clear to the OfS that reasonable steps have not been taken by providers, the OfS has a range of sanctions at its disposal.

The OfS has published guidance on student and consumer protection during the COVID-19 outbreak. This sets out that providers must make sure students can access complaints processes which are accessible, clear and fair.

If students have concerns, they should first raise their concerns with their university. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the decrease in the number of international students starting at UK universities in the 2020-21 academic year.

In the 2018/19 academic year, tuition fees from international students at UK higher education providers accounted for around £7 billion of sector income. The government recognises that the COVID-19 outbreak will have an unparalleled impact on all elements of the global and UK economy. The higher education sector, including student recruitment, is no exception. We have been working closely with the sector to monitor the likely impacts of COVID-19 on international student numbers, including restrictions on travel. We understand that the COVID-19 outbreak and a possible reduction in the number of international students poses significant challenges and we stand ready to help the sector with various mitigations.

On Monday 4 May, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced the package of measures to stabilise university admissions this autumn and ensure sustainability in higher education at a time of unprecedented uncertainty. Full details of the package have been published on GOV.UK: www.gov.uk/government/news/government-support-package-for-universities-and-students.

The government is also working to ensure that existing rules and regulations, including visa regulations, are as flexible as possible for international students under these unprecedented circumstances. For example, on 16 June, the government confirmed that distance/blended learning will be permitted for the 2020/21 academic year, provided students intend to transition to face-to-face learning as soon as circumstances allow. In addition, higher education providers will be flexible in accommodating applicants’ circumstances where possible, including if applicants are unable to travel to the UK in time for the start of the academic year.

The new graduate route, due to be launched in summer 2021, provides an opportunity for international students who have been awarded their degree to stay and work in the UK at any skill level for 2 years. This week, the government also confirmed that those studying by distance/blended learning will be eligible to apply for the graduate route provided they are in the UK by 6 April 2021.

On Friday 5 June, the Department for Education announced Sir Steve Smith as the International Education Champion, a key deliverable of the 2019 International Education Strategy. Sir Steve will assist with opening up export growth opportunities for the whole UK education sector, tackling international challenges such as those posed to attracting international students and forging lasting global connections. 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 by COVID-19.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of universities' response to the covid-19 outbreak.

We are very proud and grateful for the leadership that we have seen from our higher education providers in the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the incredibly creative and pragmatic ideas they have managed to develop in such a short space of time.

This sector is one of those at the frontline in the battle we are facing – from developing ground-breaking research and supplying equipment to releasing thousands of volunteers to support our NHS.

We also know this has been a difficult and uncertain time for students, but we are working with the sector to make sure all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies. We have seen some fantastic and innovative examples of high-quality online teaching being delivered by providers across the country.

Furthermore, for the next academic year, providers are planning for a blended approach where teaching is delivered through a mix of online and face-to-face provision, or a dual approach with face-to-face provision replicated online to support those who are unable to attend in person and to allow self-isolation as and when required as societal and personal circumstances change. This will ensure a high quality academic experience can be delivered for students during 2020-21.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to support students that wish to defer their 2020-21 academic year as a result of their academic tuition potentially being taught in-part or fully online.

There is no need for students to defer entry this year unless they want to.

We understand this has been a difficult and uncertain time for students, but we are working with the sector to make sure all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies. We have seen some fantastic and innovative examples of high-quality online teaching being delivered by providers across the country.

Furthermore, for the next academic year, providers are planning for a blended approach, where teaching is delivered through a mix of online and face-to-face provision, or a dual approach with face-to-face provision replicated online to support those who are unable to attend in person and to allow self-isolation as and when required as societal and personal circumstances change.

If students do want to defer, it is a matter for individual providers and not the government, so students should speak to their providers directly to determine what flexibility exists.

Given the exceptional circumstances, the government would encourage all providers to offer as much flexibility as possible for all students, whether they are international or domestic.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of online education compared to face to face learning in universities.

For many years, UK higher education (HE) providers have delivered education online successfully and effectively, and a leading proponent of this has been the Open University, which in 2018/19 was the largest UK university - with over 63,000 UK full-time equivalent students.

The growth in the use of educational technology has enabled HE providers to develop and grow their online offers, something which has been significantly accelerated by the recent COVID-19 outbreak, where online provision has been key to ensuring that effective teaching, learning and assessment have been able to continue. A recent report [1] from the Higher Education Policy Institute, attached, suggested the possibility that remote learning post-lockdown had brought some closer engagement between teaching staff and students and that this had even led to improved directed independent learning.

To support the effectiveness of continued online provision, the Office for Students (OfS) has published information and guidance for providers and students, and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education has also published a series of guides to support providers to secure academic standards and to support student achievement during the outbreak.

The OfS has made it clear that all higher education providers must continue to meet conditions related to the quality of their courses and the standard of qualifications they award. This means ensuring that courses are high quality, students are supported and achieve good outcomes and standards are protected. The OfS will monitor outcomes to assess quality, using measures such as continuation rates, completion rates, student surveys and what students move onto after completing their studies. They will also be polling students in the next academic year to identify any providers or courses that are a cause for concern. This will allow for a targeted and focused approach to tackle any areas of concern.

[1] https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/The-Student-Academic-Experience-Survey-2020.pdf

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the level of evidence a student is required to provide to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education in the event that that student is dissatisfied with the level of education that their university has provided during the covid-19 outbreak.

The statutory independent student complaints scheme for higher education is run by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). The scheme, guidance for students and the level of evidence has not changed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Students are still expected to raise formal complaints with their own university in the first instance, and if those cannot be resolved, students can approach the OIA. The OIA website outlines the process and the information required to submit a complaint: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/students/how-to-complain-to-us/.

On 22 June, the OIA published specific guidance outlining its approach to handling complaints that arose from the COVID-19 outbreak, including complaints on course delivery. The OIA will take a number of issues into account when considering a complaint and will consider what was promised against what was delivered. The OIA will also take into account the relevant legislation and related guidance (such as that published by the Competition and Markets Authority), and whether the higher education provider has been fair and reasonable in developing its policies.

The guidance is available at: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/resources-and-publications/latest-news-and-updates/oia-briefing-note-2-our-approach-to-complaints-arising-from-the-effects-of-coronavirus-covid-19-june-202/.

There are some issues that the OIA is unable to consider. These issues include matters relating to admissions and academic judgement. Guidance on the issues that the OIA can consider is available at: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/students/can-you-complain-to-us/.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department provides to students that do not have access to (a) a laptop and (b) an internet connection; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the digital support packed offered to lower year students to university students.

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.

Higher education providers take their responsibilities seriously and are best placed to identify the needs of their student body as well as how to develop the services needed to support it. When making changes to the delivery of their courses, providers need to consider how they support all students, particularly the most vulnerable, to achieve successful academic and professional outcomes.

Many providers will have hardship funds to support students in times of need, including emergencies. The expectation is that where any student requires additional support during this exceptional period (for example, they have no access to the internet, no computer at home or cannot afford to purchase a computer), providers will support them through their own hardship funds.

We have worked closely with the higher education regulator in England, 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 COVID-19. Providers can use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April, May, June and July, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment.

The OfS has provided guidance for providers on the use of existing student premium funding to support students facing hardship:
www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/coronavirus/provider-guide-to-coronavirus/provider-faq/.

Details of the technology support available for children and schools are here: www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-technology-for-remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19. These measures are the result of a £100 million allocation to support remote education, including providing routers and laptops to vulnerable students, prioritising care leavers, including those at university.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to support students that find themselves in financial difficulty during the covid-19 outbreak.

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.

Higher education providers take their responsibilities seriously and are best placed to identify the needs of their student body as well as how to develop the services needed to support it. When making changes to the delivery of their courses, providers need to consider how they support all students, particularly the most vulnerable, to achieve successful academic and professional outcomes.

Many providers will have hardship funds to support students in times of need, including emergencies. The expectation is that where any student requires additional support during this exceptional period (for example, they have no access to the internet, no computer at home or cannot afford to purchase a computer), providers will support them through their own hardship funds.

We have worked closely with the higher education regulator in England, 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 COVID-19. Providers can use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April, May, June and July, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment.

The OfS has provided guidance for providers on the use of existing student premium funding to support students facing hardship:
www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/coronavirus/provider-guide-to-coronavirus/provider-faq/.

Details of the technology support available for children and schools are here: www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-technology-for-remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19. These measures are the result of a £100 million allocation to support remote education, including providing routers and laptops to vulnerable students, prioritising care leavers, including those at university.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with representatives from the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in England on ensuring that universities maintain a high quality of education during the covid-19 pandemic.

The department is working closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) to ensure that higher education providers are given advice on the practical steps they can take to support students during the COVID-19 outbreak. The QAA has published a series of guides on how providers can maintain quality and standards. This guidance has been developed in consultation with the government, regulators and funders of higher education as well as sector representative bodies. We will remain in close contact with the QAA throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many refunds have been issued by universities to students who made complaints about the quality of tuition provided during the covid-19 pandemic.

Higher education (HE) providers in England are independent and autonomous bodies. They are responsible for the management of their own internal affairs, complying with any relevant legislation and for addressing student complaints. As such, responsibility for handling student complaints in the first instance and offering redress, including refunds where they consider it appropriate, is a matter for the relevant HE provider.

Regarding how many universities have offered refunds to students, this information is not held centrally.

For students who exhaust the internal university procedures and remain dissatisfied with the final outcome, they can contact the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education.

The OIA publishes an annual report each year which sets out the number and outcomes of complaints they received and closed as well as examples of complaints and the OIA’s recommendations.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support is available to students that have found themselves in financial difficulty during the covid-19 outbreak.

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.

Higher education providers take their responsibilities seriously and are best placed to identify the needs of their student body as well as how to develop the services needed to support it. When making changes to the delivery of their courses, providers need to consider how they support all students, particularly the most vulnerable, to achieve successful academic and professional outcomes.

Many providers will have hardship funds to support students in times of need, including emergencies. The expectation is that where any student requires additional support during this exceptional period (for example, they have no access to the internet, no computer at home or cannot afford to purchase a computer), providers will support them through their own hardship funds.

We have worked closely with the higher education regulator in England, 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 COVID-19. Providers can use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April, May, June and July, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment.

The OfS has provided guidance for providers on the use of existing student premium funding to support students facing hardship:
www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/coronavirus/provider-guide-to-coronavirus/provider-faq/.

Details of the technology support available for children and schools are here: www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-technology-for-remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19. These measures are the result of a £100 million allocation to support remote education, including providing routers and laptops to vulnerable students, prioritising care leavers, including those at university.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what funding has been allocated by (a) his Department and (b) universities to support students during the (i) 2017-18, (ii) 2018-19 and (iii) 2019-20 academic year.

In the academic year 2017/18, the total amount paid/awarded through the Student Loans Company to students domiciled in England and students domiciled in the EU and studying in England was £16.5 billion [1]. This included grants, allowances and tuition fee and maintenance loans. The equivalent figure for 2018/19 was £17.1 billion. Equivalent figures are not yet available for the 2019/20 academic year.

The value of the government’s contribution via the Student Loans Company loans is contingent upon future repayments and interest rates.

The Office for Students (OfS) is responsible for distributing funding to the sector on behalf of the Department for Education. While the OfS distributes funding to higher education providers based on the academic year, the department allocates funding based on the financial year.

In the financial year 2017/18, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (the OfS’s predecessor) allocated £1.607 billion [2] in recurrent and capital teaching funding. The equivalent figures for 2018/19 and 2019/20 were £1.538 billion and £1.487 billion respectively. The 2019/20 allocation was published in February 2019.

The teaching grant is allocated to providers to support various activities, including high-cost subject funding, where tuition fees alone do not cover the full costs of provision, and the costs of supporting students most at risk of discontinuing their studies.

Information on the full range of financial support made available to students from their providers is not held by the department.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/student-support-for-higher-education-in-england-2019

[2] https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/regulation/guidance-from-government/

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals to ban the sale of peat for use in domestic gardens.

We are committed to phasing out the use of peat in horticulture in England. The biggest user of peat is the amateur sector, and this is an important part of our policy focus. We signalled to the industry that if we have not seen sufficient movement to peat alternatives by 2020, then we would look at further measures that could be taken. We are working towards publishing a formal consultation this year on further measures to end the use of horticultural peat.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent progress his Department has made on banning the sale of peat for use in domestic gardens.

We are committed to phasing out the use of peat in horticulture in England. The biggest user of peat is the amateur sector, and this is an important part of our policy focus. We signalled to the industry that if we have not seen sufficient movement to peat alternatives by 2020, then we would look at further measures that could be taken. We are working towards publishing a formal consultation this year on further measures to end the use of horticultural peat.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of poor broadband speeds and connectivity on the agriculture and horticulture industry.

The Government has delivered superfast broadband to over five million premises, mainly in rural areas, which means that 97% of UK premises have access to superfast speeds and the UK has one of the highest rates of rural superfast coverage in Europe.

However, the Government recognises that further investment in rural broadband is needed. That is why the Government is investing an unprecedented £5 billion to further subsidise deployment of gigabit broadband in the hardest to reach 20% of the country. The majority of this funding will be deployed in rural areas, and this approach will help to directly connect farms in these areas, or bring connectivity much closer to them, opening the possibilities of other technical solutions. The £5 billion investment will prioritise deployment to premises without access to superfast broadband, where possible.

The Government also recognises more information is needed on how to reach the remotest areas and published a call for evidence on improving connectivity for very hard to reach premises on 19 March. We are exploring effective approaches to how the Government and broadband providers can deliver improved broadband connectivity to businesses in remote and very hard to reach areas of the UK, including farm businesses in these areas.

For mobile broadband coverage, the Shared Rural Network programme, launched in March 2020, will also help to improve coverage in rural areas. The Government and industry will jointly invest over £1 billion to increase 4G mobile coverage throughout the UK to 95% geographic coverage by the end of the programme.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to (a) incentivise and (b) encourage farmers and growers to use digital technology to boost productivity in the agriculture and horticulture sectors.

We want to encourage a thriving and competitive farming sector where farms can be profitable and economically sustainable without subsidy.

Digital technology has a significant role to play. For farmers and growers, a reliable mobile and broadband connection can unlock a range of benefits, such as increased farm productivity through improved planning, monitoring and delivery of farming operations and aiding the diversification of their businesses.

We are helping farmers and growers through a number of schemes designed to incentivise and encourage the use of digital technology.

In autumn 2021, we will launch the Farming Investment Fund, formed of two strands.

The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund will support smaller investments from a prescribed list of items which we are developing. This will provide farmers and growers with the opportunity to invest in the equipment, technology and infrastructure that will help their businesses to prosper, while improving their productivity and enhancing the environment.

The Farming Transformation Fund will support more substantial investments in equipment, technology or infrastructure. Eligible investments could include precision slurry application equipment, efficient irrigation systems, and robotic systems for example.

In 2022, we will launch an ambitious innovation programme, putting farming businesses at the centre of R&D for new technologies and practices - including digital capabilities - to transform the productivity, profitability and sustainability of agriculture.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the findings of the National Farmers Union's Digital Technology Survey, published in January 2021, if he will take steps to improve access for farmers to the 4G mobile network.

The Government recognises that businesses and communities in rural areas need improved access to 4G mobile connectivity. The Shared Rural Network programme, launched in March 2020, is targeted at improving mobile coverage in rural areas. The Government and industry will jointly invest over £1 billion to increase 4G mobile coverage throughout the UK to 95% geographic coverage by the end of the programme, underpinned by legally binding coverage commitments. With funding now available, the Government and the operators remain confident that combined coverage will be delivered to 95% of the UK by the end of 2025, with areas around the UK starting to see improvements to 4G coverage long before completion. There have already been over 700 sites announced by the operators so far this year to help close not-spots across the UK. This will benefit consumers and businesses, including farm businesses.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Mar 2021
To the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Government's target that at least 85 per cent of UK premises will have access to gigabit-capable broadband by 2025, what steps his Department is taking to help support farmers and growers who do not have access to gigabit-capable broadband; and if he will take steps with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure that that access is made available to all farmers and growers in advance of that 2025 deadline.

Under the £5 billion Project Gigabit Programme we are working with industry to target a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025 but will seek to accelerate rollout further to get as close to 100% as possible. We remain committed to investing £5 billion in bringing gigabit coverage to the hardest to reach areas and will continue to work with suppliers to accelerate this investment.

On 19 March we announced the launch of the new gigabit broadband voucher scheme which will go live on 8 April 2021. We will work closely with agricultural organisations, including the National Farmers Union, to promote the scheme with their members.

The call for evidence on improving connectivity for very hard to reach premises, also launched on 19 March, will help government explore all possible options for improving broadband connectivity in remote and very hard to reach areas of the UK. In particular, it references the need for, benefits of, and barriers to, improved broadband for agricultural businesses including both farming and horticulture.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a land-matching scheme, similar to schemes in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland, to match existing farmers with younger farmers to manage joint financial and operational ventures.

As part of our engagement work with stakeholders to co-design a new entrant scheme we will explore and discuss the merits and impacts of establishing a land matching service drawing on the examples from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and other countries. We will report more details of the outcomes of our co-design process for a new entrant scheme in the summer of 2021 and aim to launch the scheme in 2022.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to incentivise local authorities to retain and invest in their farm estates.

This Government values the role that county farm estates play in providing a route into farming for new entrants. We want to encourage local authorities to retain and invest in their farm estates. That is why we are developing a new entrant funding scheme to create lasting opportunities for new entrants to access the land, infrastructure and support they need to establish successful and innovative businesses.

We want to encourage applications from local authorities, cooperative and community land organisations, local partnerships, and private and institutional landowners who have innovative ideas and the capability to provide long-term opportunities for talented new entrants.

The details of the scheme including the funding criteria are being developed through a consultative co-design process with stakeholders which includes representatives of local authorities with county farm estates. We aim to report more details about the scheme in summer of 2021 and launch the scheme in 2022.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with (a) local authorities, (b) landowners and (c) stakeholders on improving land accessibility to new entrants to the farming industry.

As set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan this Government will provide funding to create lasting opportunities for new entrants to access land, infrastructure and support to establish successful and innovative businesses.

Funding for this new entrant scheme will be allocated from savings resulting from reducing direct payments helping new farmers to access opportunities in the sector in future.

The details and eligibility criteria of the new entrant scheme are being developed through a consultative co-design process with stakeholders. The co-design steering group includes representatives of local authorities with council farm estates, new entrant farmers, providers of innovation support for new farmers, cooperative and community land organisations and private landowners. We will also be engaging a wide range of stakeholders through workshops on key issues between February and May 2021. We will report more details of the scheme in the summer of 2021 and aim to launch the scheme in 2022.

During the agricultural transition the Government also intends to offer eligible farmers the option of a lump sum payment in place of future Direct Payments if they wish to leave the industry. By making it easier for those farmers who wish to retire to do so, the lump sum payment should free up more land for new entrants to start up. We plan to consult farmers on the details of our lump sum scheme shortly.

In addition, the Government is working with the Skills Leadership Group to introduce a professional body for agriculture and horticulture creating clear career pathways and promoting the sector as a progressive career choice to those wishing to enter the industry.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if will he provide further information on the new entrant support schemes outlined in the Agricultural Transition Plan 2021-2024.

As set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan this Government will provide funding to create lasting opportunities for new entrants to access land, infrastructure and support to establish successful and innovative businesses.

Funding for this new entrant scheme will be allocated from savings resulting from reducing direct payments helping new farmers to access opportunities in the sector in future.

The details and eligibility criteria of the new entrant scheme are being developed through a consultative co-design process with stakeholders. The co-design steering group includes representatives of local authorities with council farm estates, new entrant farmers, providers of innovation support for new farmers, cooperative and community land organisations and private landowners. We will also be engaging a wide range of stakeholders through workshops on key issues between February and May 2021. We will report more details of the scheme in the summer of 2021 and aim to launch the scheme in 2022.

During the agricultural transition the Government also intends to offer eligible farmers the option of a lump sum payment in place of future Direct Payments if they wish to leave the industry. By making it easier for those farmers who wish to retire to do so, the lump sum payment should free up more land for new entrants to start up. We plan to consult farmers on the details of our lump sum scheme shortly.

In addition, the Government is working with the Skills Leadership Group to introduce a professional body for agriculture and horticulture creating clear career pathways and promoting the sector as a progressive career choice to those wishing to enter the industry.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to improve affordability and accessibility of land to prospective new entrants to the agriculture and horticulture industry.

As set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan this Government will provide funding to create lasting opportunities for new entrants to access land, infrastructure and support to establish successful and innovative businesses.

Funding for this new entrant scheme will be allocated from savings resulting from reducing direct payments helping new farmers to access opportunities in the sector in future.

The details and eligibility criteria of the new entrant scheme are being developed through a consultative co-design process with stakeholders. The co-design steering group includes representatives of local authorities with council farm estates, new entrant farmers, providers of innovation support for new farmers, cooperative and community land organisations and private landowners. We will also be engaging a wide range of stakeholders through workshops on key issues between February and May 2021. We will report more details of the scheme in the summer of 2021 and aim to launch the scheme in 2022.

During the agricultural transition the Government also intends to offer eligible farmers the option of a lump sum payment in place of future Direct Payments if they wish to leave the industry. By making it easier for those farmers who wish to retire to do so, the lump sum payment should free up more land for new entrants to start up. We plan to consult farmers on the details of our lump sum scheme shortly.

In addition, the Government is working with the Skills Leadership Group to introduce a professional body for agriculture and horticulture creating clear career pathways and promoting the sector as a progressive career choice to those wishing to enter the industry.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the oral contribution of Lord Gardiner of Kimble of 23 November 2020, Official Report, column 808, what progress his Department has made on creating an advisory body for young people seeking careers in agriculture and horticulture.

Attracting bright new talent into agricultural and horticultural careers is vital for the future of food and farming.

In the recently published Agricultural Transition Plan document, the Government committed to contributing towards the establishment of a new industry-led professional body, the Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture. The Institute will be the home of professional development and training for the agriculture and horticulture industry in England.

Through raising awareness of agriculture as an exciting and attractive career path, the Institute will promote the opportunities available within the farming and land management industry.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will allocate funding saved from reducing direct payments to farmers into schemes to attract young people to the agricultural and horticultural sector.

As set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan this Government will provide funding to create lasting opportunities for new entrants to access land, infrastructure and support to establish successful and innovative businesses.

Funding for this new entrant scheme will be allocated from savings resulting from reducing direct payments helping new farmers to access opportunities in the sector in future.

The details and eligibility criteria of the new entrant scheme are being developed through a consultative co-design process with stakeholders. The co-design steering group includes representatives of local authorities with council farm estates, new entrant farmers, providers of innovation support for new farmers, cooperative and community land organisations and private landowners. We will also be engaging a wide range of stakeholders through workshops on key issues between February and May 2021. We will report more details of the scheme in the summer of 2021 and aim to launch the scheme in 2022.

During the agricultural transition the Government also intends to offer eligible farmers the option of a lump sum payment in place of future Direct Payments if they wish to leave the industry. By making it easier for those farmers who wish to retire to do so, the lump sum payment should free up more land for new entrants to start up. We plan to consult farmers on the details of our lump sum scheme shortly.

In addition, the Government is working with the Skills Leadership Group to introduce a professional body for agriculture and horticulture creating clear career pathways and promoting the sector as a progressive career choice to those wishing to enter the industry.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of creating strategic partnerships between schools and local farms to introduce pupils to career opportunities in agriculture and horticulture.

The Government supports the excellent work already underway to connect classrooms and farmyards. Industry-led initiatives such as the ‘countryside classroom’, Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) and Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) Education are doing a fantastic job delivering educational experiences to young people and promoting the career opportunities available in agriculture and horticulture.

Employers and professional bodies in the agriculture and horticulture 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 this sector.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking under the Agricultural Transition Plan 2021-2024 to help young farmers to gain a foothold in the industry.

As set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan this Government will provide funding to create lasting opportunities for new entrants to access land, infrastructure and support to establish successful and innovative businesses.

Funding for this new entrant scheme will be allocated from savings resulting from reducing direct payments helping new farmers to access opportunities in the sector in future.

The details and eligibility criteria of the new entrant scheme are being developed through a consultative co-design process with stakeholders. The co-design steering group includes representatives of local authorities with council farm estates, new entrant farmers, providers of innovation support for new farmers, cooperative and community land organisations and private landowners. We will also be engaging a wide range of stakeholders through workshops on key issues between February and May 2021. We will report more details of the scheme in the summer of 2021 and aim to launch the scheme in 2022.

During the agricultural transition the Government also intends to offer eligible farmers the option of a lump sum payment in place of future Direct Payments if they wish to leave the industry. By making it easier for those farmers who wish to retire to do so, the lump sum payment should free up more land for new entrants to start up. We plan to consult farmers on the details of our lump sum scheme shortly.

In addition, the Government is working with the Skills Leadership Group to introduce a professional body for agriculture and horticulture creating clear career pathways and promoting the sector as a progressive career choice to those wishing to enter the industry.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which aspects of The Agricultural Transition Plan 2021-2024 are planned to help young farmers to gain a foothold in the industry.

As set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan this Government will provide funding to create lasting opportunities for new entrants to access land, infrastructure and support to establish successful and innovative businesses.

Funding for this new entrant scheme will be allocated from savings resulting from reducing direct payments helping new farmers to access opportunities in the sector in future.

The details and eligibility criteria of the new entrant scheme are being developed through a consultative co-design process with stakeholders. The co-design steering group includes representatives of local authorities with council farm estates, new entrant farmers, providers of innovation support for new farmers, cooperative and community land organisations and private landowners. We will also be engaging a wide range of stakeholders through workshops on key issues between February and May 2021. We will report more details of the scheme in the summer of 2021 and aim to launch the scheme in 2022.

During the agricultural transition the Government also intends to offer eligible farmers the option of a lump sum payment in place of future Direct Payments if they wish to leave the industry. By making it easier for those farmers who wish to retire to do so, the lump sum payment should free up more land for new entrants to start up. We plan to consult farmers on the details of our lump sum scheme shortly.

In addition, the Government is working with the Skills Leadership Group to introduce a professional body for agriculture and horticulture creating clear career pathways and promoting the sector as a progressive career choice to those wishing to enter the industry.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the environmental effect of restored peatland; and what steps he is taking to ban the sale of peat.

Research has shown that restored peatland achieves a variety of natural capital objectives, including carbon sequestration, water regulation and quality, optimising biodiversity, preserving archaeology, and minimising wildfire hazards. A 2019 BEIS report stated that a near natural bog can remove the equivalent of 3.54 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare per year, and a near natural fen can remove 5.44 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare per year. We are working towards reducing England’s peatland annual greenhouse gas emissions through restoration, and the Government has committed £640 million through the Nature for Climate Fund part of which will deliver 35,000 hectares of peatland restoration by 2025.

The Government also continues to be committed to phasing out the use of peat in horticulture in England. The biggest user of peat is the amateur sector and this is an important part of our policy focus. We signalled to the industry that if we have not seen sufficient movement to peat alternatives by 2020, then we would look at further measures that could be taken, and we are currently considering what these potential further measures could look like.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has made an assessment of the need to bring forward the 2029 deadline for Network Rail to install tactile indicators across operational platforms.

We have continued to support the Access for All programme that upgrades railway stations, including Handforth station, for disabled passengers, and also for those with visual impairments.

I have asked Network Rail to develop a programme to aim to install platform edge tactile strips on every platform in Great Britain.

I will make a further announcement in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of Network Rail on work to improve station platforms for passengers with impaired vision.

We have continued to support the Access for All programme that upgrades railway stations, including Handforth station, for disabled passengers, and also for those with visual impairments.

I have asked Network Rail to develop a programme to aim to install platform edge tactile strips on every platform in Great Britain.

I will make a further announcement in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the suitability of station platforms in (a) Tatton constituency and (b) England for passengers with impaired vision.

We have continued to support the Access for All programme that upgrades railway stations, including Handforth station, for disabled passengers, and also for those with visual impairments.

I have asked Network Rail to develop a programme to aim to install platform edge tactile strips on every platform in Great Britain.

I will make a further announcement in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department has taken to support National Rail to complete improvements to station platforms in Tatton constituency that are hazardous to passengers with impaired vision.

We have continued to support the Access for All programme that upgrades railway stations, including Handforth station, for disabled passengers, and also for those with visual impairments.

I have asked Network Rail to develop a programme to aim to install platform edge tactile strips on every platform in Great Britain.

I will make a further announcement in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on transparency of public bodies of the decision to permit HS2 Ltd to enter into non-disclosure agreements with local authorities.

The use of confidentiality agreements is a matter for HS2 Ltd and its counter signatory. HS2 Ltd sign these agreements to ensure that it can continue to work with businesses, communities and councils on issues that are sensitive. These agreements are voluntary and enable conversations about options under consideration to take place in a way that protects the commercial interests of both parties. The Government has committed HS2 Ltd to publishing the cumulative number of confidentiality agreements it has signed in its Annual Report & Accounts.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential employment opportunities of remote working for (a) vulnerable, (b) disabled and (c) elderly people who might struggle to physically attend a workplace.

The Government is aware of the employment opportunities which flexible working can help create for vulnerable, disabled, older workers and more generally for those who might struggle to attend a workplace.

The Government has committed to consult on making flexible working the default unless employers have good reasons not to. The consultation will consider flexible working in all its forms – it is not just about where people work, but also about when they work and the associated number of hours. The consultation will be launched in due course.

In March 2018, the Flexible Working Taskforce – a partnership across business groups, trade unions, charities, and government departments – was set up and ran for a period of 18 months to advise the Government on policies and proposals around flexible working. Earlier this year the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets wrote to the co-chair of the Taskforce, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), to commission a further 18 months’ work from the Taskforce to help inform the Government’s thinking as we develop the detail of new policies and navigate the impact of Covid-19 on future ways of working.

In recognition of the changes brought by the pandemic, Access to Work introduced a more flexible offer to support disabled people move into and remain in employment. The new flexible offer complements support provided by employers and contains a combination of support that can be tailored to meet the needs of new Covid-19 working arrangements, including for remote working.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment his Department has made of the potential cost to the public purse of the 2.9 million people excluded from covid-19 financial support claiming universal credit in the event of becoming unemployed during the covid-19 outbreak.

At each fiscal event the department works closely with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to estimate welfare spend based on latest unemployment projections. The OBR’s latest projections are available here: http://cdn.obr.uk/CCS1020397650-001_OBR-November2020-EFO-v2-Web-accessible.pdf

The latest Universal Credit forecasts, for number of households, estimated each year are published in the Benefit Expenditure and Caseload Tables, which can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/benefit-expenditure-and-caseload-tables-2020

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has made an estimate of the potential additional costs to welfare benefit spending in the event that (a) one million, (b) two million and (c) three million people were to become unemployed.

At each fiscal event the Department works closely with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to estimate welfare spend based on latest unemployment projections. The OBR’s latest projections are available here: http://cdn.obr.uk/CCS1020397650-001_OBR-November2020-EFO-v2-Web-accessible.pdf

The latest Universal Credit forecasts for number of households, estimated each year are published in the Benefit Expenditure and Caseload Tables and can be found in, Table 1c, Table 2c and Table 3c, at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/953118/outturn-and-forecast-autumn-budget-2020-revised.xlsx

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the projected number of universal credit claimants by April 2022.

At each fiscal event the Department works closely with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to estimate welfare spend based on latest unemployment projections. The OBR’s latest projections are available here: http://cdn.obr.uk/CCS1020397650-001_OBR-November2020-EFO-v2-Web-accessible.pdf

The latest Universal Credit forecasts for number of households, estimated each year are published in the Benefit Expenditure and Caseload Tables and can be found in, Table 1c, Table 2c and Table 3c, at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/953118/outturn-and-forecast-autumn-budget-2020-revised.xlsx

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish his Department's proposed timetable for the introduction of social care reform policies.

The Government is committed to sustainable improvement of the adult social care system and will bring forward proposals for reform this year.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Care Quality Commission's report Protect, respect, connect - decisions about living and dying well during covid-19, what estimate he has made of the number of patients who died as a result of a Do Not Resuscitate order at the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak.

In October 2020, the Department asked the Care Quality Commission to review how Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) decisions were made during the COVID 19 pandemic. The review focused on whether DNACPR decisions had been inappropriately applied. The Department does not hold data on the numbers or assessment of DNACPRs.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to his Department's Tackling Obesity strategy, published in July 2020, whether it is his Department's policy to restrict the promotion or sale of Easter eggs; and if he will make a statement.

In December 2020 we published our response to the 2019 consultation on restricting promotions of products that are high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) by location and price. The response confirmed the categories in scope of the restrictions and that the 2004/05 Nutrient Profiling Model will be used to define whether a product in these categories is HFSS.

Meal deals are generally targeted as lunch options for adults to consume on the go that day rather than being stockpiled at home and they aim to reduce the cost of a single meal. Therefore, it was decided that these types of price promotion will not be in scope of the volume price promotion restrictions. However, HFSS products that come under a category in scope of the policy would still be subject to the location restrictions, regardless of whether it is part of a meal deal.

Easter eggs can be found on the shelves and in key prominent locations in stores, such as end of aisle, checkouts and store entrances, up to three months before Easter and consumers typically buy these products as soon as they are available in shops and offered on promotion. Therefore, these products are in scope of the promotion restrictions.

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, with reference to his Department's Tackling Obesity strategy, published in July 2020, whether it is his Department's policy to restrict the promotion or sale of lunchtime meal deals; and if he will make a statement.

In December 2020 we published our response to the 2019 consultation on restricting promotions of products that are high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) by location and price. The response confirmed the categories in scope of the restrictions and that the 2004/05 Nutrient Profiling Model will be used to define whether a product in these categories is HFSS.

Meal deals are generally targeted as lunch options for adults to consume on the go that day rather than being stockpiled at home and they aim to reduce the cost of a single meal. Therefore, it was decided that these types of price promotion will not be in scope of the volume price promotion restrictions. However, HFSS products that come under a category in scope of the policy would still be subject to the location restrictions, regardless of whether it is part of a meal deal.

Easter eggs can be found on the shelves and in key prominent locations in stores, such as end of aisle, checkouts and store entrances, up to three months before Easter and consumers typically buy these products as soon as they are available in shops and offered on promotion. Therefore, these products are in scope of the promotion restrictions.

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, with reference to his Department's Tackling Obesity strategy, published in July 2020, what assessment he has made of the potential financial effect of bringing forward legislative proposals on imposing restrictions on the (a) promotion and (b) location of food products in shops on (i) small shops, (ii) medium-sized shops and (ii) shops located on high streets.

We carefully consider all views and potential impacts of our measures to reduce obesity. This includes feedback from a wide range of experts and stakeholders on specific policy proposals and in response to our public consultations.

Micro and small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) are exempt from both the volume price restrictions and the location restrictions. Stores that are smaller than 185.8 square metres (2,000 square feet) (even if they are part of a medium or large business with 50 or more employees) will be exempt from the restrictions on location.

The final impact assessments on the proposals to restrict the promotion of foods high in fat, salt and sugar by location and by volume is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/restricting-promotions-of-food-and-drink-that-is-high-in-fat-sugar-and-salt)

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of (a) the accessibility of online talking therapies for patients with mental health needs and (b) the effectiveness of those online therapies compared to face-to-face therapies since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

Talking therapies delivered by Improved Access to Psychological therapies services will continue to be made available remotely so people can access help safely from home and the National Health Service will work to ensure the option of face to face support is provided to people with serious mental health illnesses across all ages where it is clinically safe to do so.

At present, we have not accumulated a sufficient number of patients who have completed a course of treatment that would allow the observation of improvement and recovery rates for each consultation medium. However, the recovery target, which states that at least 50% of people who complete treatment should move to recovery, was met in August 2020 where the rate was 51.9%.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme in response to the effects of the covid-19 outbreak on people's mental health.

Talking therapies delivered by Improved Access to Psychological therapies (IAPT) will continue to be made available remotely so people can access help safely from home and the National Health Service will work to ensure the option of face to face support is provided to people with serious mental health illnesses across all ages where it is clinically safe to do so.

Since April 2020, the IAPT programme has hosted a webinar series on delivering condition specific treatment during COVID-19, including on the role IAPT can play in the treatment of ‘long’ COVID-19


Furthermore, the NHS have been working with local health systems and Health Education England, to support ongoing trainee recruitment and expansion to ensure the programme can deliver the planned expansion needed to deal with the effects of the pandemic in future years.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of access to dialectical behaviour therapy.

We are committed to continuing our investment in expanding and transforming mental health services in England and to investing an additional £2.3 billion a year in mental health services by 2023/24. This means a further 380,000 more adults a year accessing specialist National Health Service treatment, which includes dialectical behaviour therapy by 2023/24.

Since 2019/20 NHS England and NHS Improvement have been working with Health Education England to provide new training places for staff to undertake courses in evidence-based psychological therapies, including dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) courses. Along with continued year-on-year investment in DBT training so that more trained staff can provide therapies over the course of the NHS Long Term Plan, NHS England and NHS Improvement and Health Education England are supporting all mental health providers to improve timely access for patients in need of DBT by bringing down waiting times.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what provisions the NHS has made to deliver dialectical behavioural therapy online.

The National Health Service has worked hard to keep mental health services including dialectical behavioural therapy open during the pandemic, using technology such as online where needed. Talking therapies will continue to be made available remotely so people can access help safely from home.

To support mental health services, NHS England and NHS Improvement have published guidance for providers which is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/guidance-managing-capacity-and-demand-within-inpatient-and-community-mental-health-learning-disabilities-and-autism-services-for-all-ages/

This guidance contains advice on maximising the use of digital technologies with considerations applicable across a range of services and settings including the provision of dialectical behavioural therapy.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the standard procedure is for assessing the effect on people with allergies of a vaccine during the trial stages.

Entry of patients into a clinical trial is managed by the implementation of inclusion and exclusion criteria that are defined in the trial protocol and approved by the regulator. The inclusion and exclusion criteria will have been carefully selected by the trial sponsor to enable the objectives of the trial to be achieved and also to maximise safety for all patients enrolled into the trial. Allergic reactions can occur to any constituent of a medicinal product, including vaccines and clinical trials may exclude subjects who are known to have had a severe allergic reaction in the past to the same or similar constituents.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the prison population has received (a) a lateral flow test and (b) a PCR test for covid-19; and what estimate he has made of the number of false (i) positives and (i) negatives within each of those groups.

We do not publish the data requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent progress has been made in the Cambridge University and AstraZ lighthouse Laboratory PCR testing.

The Cambridge University and AstraZeneca Lighthouse Laboratory’s most recent innovation of heat inactivation of samples and the direct to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) process, in conjunction with GSK, accelerates PCR testing and thereby increases the laboratory’s potential capacity whilst reducing processing times. They have also developed novel solutions to some of the logistical challenges faced by the network including the development of a system that allows samples to be delivered in racks direct to the laboratory and data monitoring software to reduce the risks to data uploads.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress has been made in the Cambridge University and AstraZ lighthouse Laboratory PCR testing on the proportion of (a) false positives and (b) false positives over an accompanying timeline since testing began.

We do not hold data in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to remove inaccurate data from its decision making where a significant number of false positives are found within a covid-19 testing centre.

The current tests are very specific and the risk of false positives where the test is reacting to other viruses is extremely low. Independent, confirmatory testing of positive samples indicates a test specificity that exceeds 99.3% or a false positive rate of 1% and additional guidance has been provided to laboratories to reduce the rate even further.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of false positives of testing PCR and LFT is deemed acceptable to still be used in Government decision making and tier setting in the context of the covid-19 outbreak.

The current tests are very specific and the risk of false positives where the test is reacting to other viruses is extremely low. Independent, confirmatory testing of positive samples indicates a test specificity that exceeds 99.3% or a false positive rate of 1% and additional guidance has been provided to laboratories to reduce the rate even further.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to release an updated version of the Impact of false-positives and false-negatives in the UK’s COVID-19 RT-PCR testing programme.

There are currently no plans to do so.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, which of the eight recommendations of the Impact of false-positives and false-negatives in the UK’s COVID-19 RT-PCR testing programme published on 3 June 2020 his Department has actioned.


Recommendation number six is currently being reviewed. All other recommendations have either been completed or are ongoing.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of (a) false positive and (b) false negative test results during Liverpool’s mass testing programme from 6 November 2020.

Specificity relative to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing was extremely high at around 99.9% or a false positive rate of around 0.1%. Many individuals detected with PCR were no longer infectious and the lateral flow device tests detected 91% of cases with higher viral loads. This means around 9% were not detected or false negatives.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of false positive covid-19 test results on (a) the overall number of covid-19 cases in the UK and (b) subsequent covid-19 policy decisions.

The current tests are very specific and the risk of false positives is extremely low. Independent confirmatory testing of positive samples indicates a test specificity that exceeds 99.3%, or a false positive rate of 1% and additional guidance has been provided to laboratories to reduce the rate even further.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will (a) support Marie Curie’s National Day of Reflection campaign and (b) meet representatives of Marie Curie to discuss their plans for that campaign.

The Government is committed to supporting initiatives that provide people the opportunity to come together, to reflect upon their grief and loss and to remember those that are no longer with us. We welcome this campaign and we will continue to work with charities and other organisations to ensure that support and time for reflection are available to those in need.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to recover the capacity of (a) antenatal care, (b) maternity units and (c) post-natal care in the NHS to pre-covid-19 outbreak levels.

Throughout the pandemic, NHS England and NHS Improvement have been guiding maternity services to prioritise maintaining safe and personalised maternity care by making adjustments to service provision only where necessitated by the local impact of COVID-19. Wherever possible, services have been asked to reinstate a fully personalised approach to meeting the needs of individual women and their families and the level of care contacts and choice options available to women and their partners across the maternity pathway.

Some changes have been made to the way that women receive their antenatal and postnatal care, however, women are still being offered their required number of appointments as per guidelines set by the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department took to put in place precautionary measures to help protect (a) antenatal care, (b) maternity units and (c) post-natal care from the effects of the covid-19 outbreak during the covid-19 lockdown announced in (i) March 2020 and (ii) November 2020.

NHS England and NHS Improvement and its partners have published a range of guidance and public communication messages for pregnant women to help maternity services meet the challenge of the pandemic. In addition, 16,000 blood pressure monitors were procured for distribution free of charge to ensure blood pressure self-monitoring was available for all pregnancies with chronic hypertension, gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia.

In March 2020, four healthcare professional regulators, including the Nursing and Midwifery Council, put in place emergency registers of former professionals in order to increase capacity during the pandemic. Emergency education standards were also introduced to enable students in the last six months of the final year of undergraduate midwifery degrees to be spent in supervised clinical placements.

These measures are continuing to help protect maternity services from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent estimate his Department has made of the proportion of the UK population who have been infected with covid-19 to date.

The cumulative proportion of the United Kingdom population who have been infected with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic is not definitively known. Government-funded population studies aim to understand the prevalence and rate of COVID-19 infection, and how the virus is spreading across the UK.

Antibody studies from the Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) Study estimate that 3.36 million people were infected with COVID-19 in England to end June 2020. Other surveillance studies such as COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS) and REACT provide estimates at a given time. Most recent estimates of the population in England who have had COVID-19 are 1.20%, from 31 October to 6 November, and 1.30%, from 16 October to 2 November, for CIS and REACT respectively.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent estimate his Department has made of the proportion of the UK population who remain susceptible to covid-19 infection.

The proportion of people in the United Kingdom who are susceptible to COVID-19 is unknown at present. Government-funded research is ongoing to understand immunity to the virus.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the proportion of the UK population who had some level of resistance to covid-19 before the covid-19 outbreak.

There is no current estimate of the level of resistance to COVID-19 across the United Kingdom population. Government-funded research is ongoing to understand immunity to the virus.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what infection fatality ratio was applied in the Imperial model used to estimate casualties from covid-19 in the UK.

These data are published online at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/slides-to-accompany-coronavirus-press-conference-31-october-2020

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the operational false positive rate has been of community mass testing for SARS-CoV-2 by polymerase chain reaction testing during each of the last four weeks; and if he will publish the quality assurance report supporting the calculation of that rate.

The information is not available. All tests have been assessed as performing to manufacturers’ specifications before being used. The current tests are very specific and the risk of false positives, where the test is reacting to other viruses, is extremely low in the order of less than 1 in 500. Like any diagnostic test however, there is always the small possibility of a false negative or a false positive result.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate SAGE has made of the infection fatality ratio for infection by SARS-CoV-2.

These data are published online at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/slides-to-accompany-coronavirus-press-conference-31-october-2020

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of false positive covid-19 test results on (a) the overall number of covid-19 cases in the UK and (b) subsequent covid-19 policy decisions.

The information is not held in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what information his Department holds on the average cost of disposable mask used in dentistry practises in (a) Jan 2020, (b) Feb 2020, (c) March 2020, (d) April 2020, (e) May 2020, (f) June 2020 and (g) July 2020; and what the projected cost is of such disposable masks up to the end of 2020.

This information is not available.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will provide clearer guidance to dentists on what services they are able to provide during the covid-19 outbreak; and whether dentists are permitted to make their own risk assessments on what services they can deliver.

Dentists are already able to provide all treatments, including aerosol generating procedures, where they can do so safely. NHS England and NHS Improvement has issued a series of guidance notes setting out the personal protective equipment and infection control procedures required to deliver the full range of dentistry safely while COVID-19 is still circulating in the community. Routine National Health Service dental treatment was suspended during the pandemic peak and face to face urgent care was restricted to over 600 urgent dental centres to minimize risk of transmission. NHS England and NHS Improvement guidance at the end of May authorized a restart of NHS care including routine care from all practices from 8 June. Dentists have been encouraged to reopen as fast as possible as is compatible with safety.

Detailed guidance has been issued to dentists as they reopen for face to face care. The guidance can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/preparedness-letters-for-dental-care/

All dentists, whether offering NHS or private care, are responsible for ensuring the care they offer is safe. Dentistry is regulated by the Care Quality Commission and the General Dental Council as well as, for NHS dentistry, NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that dentists will soon be able to provide (a) services that involve the use of aspirators and (b) other services currently not permitted during the covid-19 outbreak.

Dentists are already able to provide all treatments, including aerosol generating procedures, where they can do so safely. NHS England and NHS Improvement has issued a series of guidance notes setting out the personal protective equipment and infection control procedures required to deliver the full range of dentistry safely while COVID-19 is still circulating in the community. Routine National Health Service dental treatment was suspended during the pandemic peak and face to face urgent care was restricted to over 600 urgent dental centres to minimize risk of transmission. NHS England and NHS Improvement guidance at the end of May authorized a restart of NHS care including routine care from all practices from 8 June. Dentists have been encouraged to reopen as fast as possible as is compatible with safety.

Detailed guidance has been issued to dentists as they reopen for face to face care. The guidance can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/preparedness-letters-for-dental-care/

All dentists, whether offering NHS or private care, are responsible for ensuring the care they offer is safe. Dentistry is regulated by the Care Quality Commission and the General Dental Council as well as, for NHS dentistry, NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to guidance for dentists on the requirement to have air circulation equipment during the covid-19 outbreak, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing support to dentists who need to purchase that equipment.

Dental practices have been able to open for face to face National Health Service care, including routine care, since 8 June. The guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement to NHS contract holders was clear that the pace of the restart should be only as fast as possible compatible with maximizing safety for patients and dental staff.

Dental practices must follow Public Health England guidance on infection protection control procedures (IPC) and appropriate levels of personal protective equipment. IPC recommendations include minimizing risk of transmission during or following aerosol generating procedures. However, the guidance does not require dentists to buy equipment to force air changes. The guidance sets out the length of time a room needs to be rested between treatments and the circumstances where that time can be reduced by forcing air changes. It is for practices to consider whether they wish to reduce that time. For their NHS activity dentists are receiving their full funding during this restart period without any expectation that they deliver a given number of treatments. The requirement is that they are open to patients and deliver as much care as they safely can, given their individual surgery set ups. Where the dentistry provided is private not NHS any investment in equipment or practice is a matter for the dentist concerned.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the maximum number of 30 attendees for large events during the covid-19 outbreak (a) applies to both local authority and privately run crematoria and (b) is enforceable; and who is responsible for enforcing attendance limits within private crematoria.

From 14 September 2020 there is a gathering limit of six people in England with set exemptions, including attending funerals. This exemption applies in both private and local authority crematoria, but limits the gathering to 30 people. Some premises may limit capacity further based on how many people they can safely accommodate with social distancing in place. The police currently have responsibility for enforcing the gatherings provisions.

We expect crematoriums to follow the guidance to protect mourners.

Further guidance can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the treatment of soft tissue therapists for patients in pain when no other solution is available.

No specific assessment of soft tissue therapy for patients in pain, when no other solution is available, has been made. However, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline ‘Low back pain and sciatica in over 16s: assessment and management’, published in 2016, sets out that clinicians should consider “manual therapy (spinal manipulation, mobilisation or soft tissue techniques such as massage) for managing low back pain with or without sciatica, but only as part of a treatment package including exercise, with or without psychological therapy”.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if the Government will include imports of coal from Russia in the list of sanctions against that country; and if he will make a statement.

The UK is committed to playing a leading role in sanctions against Russia. Sanctions are one of a range of measures we have taken, in concert with others, to defend our security and enhance our capabilities against Russian malign activity. During the transition period, EU sanctions on Russia will continue to apply in the UK. These measures do not currently include sanctions on the import of coal.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Centre for Economics and Business Research report, How covid-driven digital change could transform the UK economy, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of exempting full fibre deployment from business rates tax to help meet the Government's 2025 target for fibre broadband.

The Government notes the CEBR report, commissioned by Openreach, which predicts a huge productivity boost from nationwide gigabit connectivity, suggesting a £59 billion boost to the UK’s Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2025. On the report’s suggestion that 270,000 people could move from urban to more rural areas as a result of changing attitudes towards home working, the Government recognises the importance of strong digital connectivity in rural areas. That is why it is investing £5bn to ensure those living in hard-to-reach areas get gigabit connectivity.

The Government is providing 100 per cent business rates relief for new full-fibre infrastructure for a five-year period from 1 April 2017. Telecoms providers are also significant beneficiaries of the £3.6 billion transitional relief scheme. A fundamental review of business rates was announced by the Chancellor at last year’s Budget. A call for evidence was published in July 2020 to seek stakeholders’ views on all elements of the business rates system including reliefs, and the Government is currently considering its responses. The final report will be published in the Autumn.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many (a) promoters and (b) operators of schemes now subject to the Loan Charge have been prosecuted.

I refer the Right Honourable Member to the answer given on 29 April 2021 to UIN 187240.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of establishing a Government-backed insurance scheme to support wedding (a) consumers and (b) businesses.

The Government recognises the essential role of the insurance industry in providing the cover businesses need to operate. We are working closely with the insurers, the trade bodies and regulators to understand what more the industry can do to help individuals and businesses in their time of need, and how the insurance market delivers the support firms need as the economy reopens.

Over the course of the pandemic the Government has worked closely with the weddings sector to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and has responded with a substantial package of business support, which we keep under regular review.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the (a) expected amount of tax to be accrued to the Exchequer in the year to 31 January 2021 and (b) amount of tax accrued in the year to 31 January 2020.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility produced a monthly profile consistent with their November 2020 forecast showing Central Government Current Receipts (CGCR) from April 1st 2020 to 31st January 2021 are forecast to be £578.6bn.

In comparison, in the Public Sector Finances (jointly produced by the Office for National Statistics and HM Treasury) CGCR for the same period in the previous year was £626.9bn.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of the proposed directors income support scheme in the context of Northern Ireland’s limited company directors support scheme.

The Government recognises that taxpayers have faced immense challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has prioritised targeting support to those who most need it as quickly as possible, while guarding against the risk of fraud or abuse.

The Government welcomes constructive proposals from stakeholders to improve the design of its COVID-19 business support measures, including the suggestion of a Directors Income Support Scheme (DISS). The Government has been reviewing this proposal.

Company directors who pay themselves a salary through PAYE are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Directors also have access to Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at: www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will remove VAT on energy efficient measures retro-fitted to older homes; and what assessment he has made of the effect of leaving the EU on the UK's ability to undertake that removal.

Applying VAT relief to the retrofitting of residential buildings would come at a significant cost to the Exchequer.

The Government keeps all taxes under review and assesses them against a range of fiscal and environmental considerations. Any future decisions on VAT will continue to be taken in line with the normal Budget process.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will publish a list of the 100 companies and organisations that have received the highest amount of money from (a) the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and (b) other Government financial support during the covid-19 outbreak; and how much each of those organisations has received.

As part of their commitment to transparency and to deter fraudulent claims, HMRC will publish information about employers who claim for periods starting on or after 1 December 2020, as set out in guidance published on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to increase the £5 billion of Government funding for the delivery nationwide one-gibibit-capable broadband.

The government recognises the importance of connectivity both to the economy and to people’s lives. We are committed to nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible, and are taking a number of steps to achieve this.

The March Budget this year committed £5 billion to support the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband in the hardest to reach areas. This is the largest ever public investment by a UK government in digital connectivity.

As well as this, the government is encouraging competition and making it easier for commercial investment in gigabit-capable broadband. For example, we have introduced legislation to make it easier to install gigabit-capable broadband in blocks of flats, and confirmed we will legislate to ensure new build homes are built with gigabit-capable broadband.

The Comprehensive Spending Review, which will be published in the autumn, will set out the government’s spending plans.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing financial support to independent businesses who have limited internet access.

The government recognises the importance of digital connectivity both to the economy and to people’s lives and is committed to delivering nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible. At Budget we committed £5 billion to support its rollout in the hardest to reach areas. This will benefit homes and businesses across the UK. In addition, we are currently providing vouchers worth up to £3,500 to rural businesses to help them pay connection fees for gigabit-capable broadband.

Furthermore, this autumn the Chancellor has announced a targeted package of measures to support jobs and business through the winter months following the introduction of further measures to control the spread of COVID-19.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps the Government took to support the pub industry during the covid-19 lockdown; and what steps he is taking to support the pub industry as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The pub industry continues to have access to a range of government support measures including, but not limited to:

•A 12-month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England, saving around 350,000 ratepayers a combined £10bn.

•A VAT deferral for up to 12 months

•Measures to make it easier to claim back duty on spoiled beer, wine and cider.

•A business grant worth £10,000 or £25,000 for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors

•The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which has supported 1.4 million jobs across the hospitality sector and which runs until October

•Access to affordable, government backed finance through Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBLS) for and larger firms, along with the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) for small and micro enterprises.

•Protection for commercial leaseholders against automatic forfeiture for non-payment until September 30, 2020

In addition to this unprecedented package of support for businesses, the Summer Economic Update announced a VAT rate reduction from 20% to 5% - worth £4.1bn – for hospitality, accommodation and attractions, and the £500m Eat Out to Help Out scheme which entitles every diner to a 50% discount of up to £10 per head on their meal, at any participating restaurant, café or pub to encourage people to return to eating out and to support the sector’s recovery. This move will support up to 129,000 businesses, including the majority of pubs that serve food. Over 85% of pubs serve food and will benefit from both schemes. All pubs, including wet-led pubs will also benefit from the proposed regulatory easements in the Business and Planning Bill, which will make it easier, quicker and cheaper to set up furniture in adjacent outdoor spaces and to automatically convert all current licenses to allow pubs to sell off-licence.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to provide financial support to wet-led pubs as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The pub industry continues to have access to a range of government support measures including, but not limited to:

•A 12-month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England, saving around 350,000 ratepayers a combined £10bn.

•A VAT deferral for up to 12 months

•Measures to make it easier to claim back duty on spoiled beer, wine and cider.

•A business grant worth £10,000 or £25,000 for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors

•The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which has supported 1.4 million jobs across the hospitality sector and which runs until October

•Access to affordable, government backed finance through Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBLS) for and larger firms, along with the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) for small and micro enterprises.

•Protection for commercial leaseholders against automatic forfeiture for non-payment until September 30, 2020

In addition to this unprecedented package of support for businesses, the Summer Economic Update announced a VAT rate reduction from 20% to 5% - worth £4.1bn – for hospitality, accommodation and attractions, and the £500m Eat Out to Help Out scheme which entitles every diner to a 50% discount of up to £10 per head on their meal, at any participating restaurant, café or pub to encourage people to return to eating out and to support the sector’s recovery. This move will support up to 129,000 businesses, including the majority of pubs that serve food. Over 85% of pubs serve food and will benefit from both schemes. All pubs, including wet-led pubs will also benefit from the proposed regulatory easements in the Business and Planning Bill, which will make it easier, quicker and cheaper to set up furniture in adjacent outdoor spaces and to automatically convert all current licenses to allow pubs to sell off-licence.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what comparative assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the level of business taxation for the (a) physical and (b) digital economy.

The widespread adoption of digital technologies means it is difficult to distinguish between the physical and digital economy.

However, the Government recognises the need to ensure that business taxes deliver fair and sustainable outcomes when applied to different operating models.

It is for this reason that the Government has introduced the Digital Services Tax, while also seeking long-term reform of international corporate tax rules.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of jobs protected in industries eligible for the business rates suspension in the financial year 2020-2021.

About 400,000 businesses are expected to receive over £10 billion in business rates relief as part of the Government’s support for the economy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Combined with Small Business Rate Relief this means that over half of all ratepayers will pay no business rates in 2020/21.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what formal assessment his Department undertook prior to the removal of 300 jobs from the MOD Cheadle Hulme site at Dairy House Lane; what process was followed; how the decision was determined; what procedure was used to notify the affected individuals; what procedure was adapted regarding the notification of the hon. Member for Tatton; and what reasons the hon. Member for Tatton was not notified of that decision.

The decision to rehome Defence Business Services (DBS), who currently occupy the Cheadle Hulme site, to new facilities was first announced in Parliament on 24 March 16 (statement UIN HCWS659). The disposal was also included in the Better Defence Estate announcement published in November 2016, which is being delivered by the Defence Estate Optimisation (DEO) Portfolio, and letters were sent to local MPs. DEO will deliver a better structured, more economical and modern estate that more effectively supports defence capability.

The intent remains to dispose of the site, and over the past year DBS has been assessing where to locate the c300 posts currently working from Cheadle Hulme as part of a workplace Programme to consolidate its three North West sites. This work continues.

Trade Unions have been kept informed throughout the process, and a series of meetings have been held to inform all affected staff. These will continue, and local MPs will be notified at the conclusion of this Programme, which is currently scheduled to be in early 2022.

15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to help ensure the continued operation of enabling hubs for community groups building their own houses following the closure of the Community Housing Fund.

Through the Community Housing Fund, my department provided £6 million in grant funding over 2018/19 and 2019/20 to a consortium of leading community-led housing stakeholder groups to support the development of a national network of enabling hubs. These enabling hubs provide impartial advice and guidance to community-based organisations wishing to take forward local housebuilding schemes to help meet local housing needs. Part of the justification for providing grant funding to the hubs was to enable them to develop to the point where they become financially self-sustaining through the fees that they are able to charge community-based housebuilding groups.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether he has put arrangements in place for support for community groups building their own homes following the closure of the Community Housing Fund.

The Community Housing Fund closed at the end of March. Departmental budgets for 2021/22 have been confirmed at the recent Comprehensive Spending Review and my department is now undertaking a process of allocation of budgets to individual programmes. The needs of the community-led housing sector will be taken into consideration alongside the full range of the department’s priorities. In the meantime, organisations that are registered as providers of social housing may seek capital funding from the over £12 billion Affordable Homes Programme operated outside London by Homes England.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, for what reasons the Community Housing Fund was not renewed.

The Community Housing Fund closed at the end of March. Departmental budgets for 2021/22 have been confirmed at the recent Comprehensive Spending Review and my department is now undertaking a process of allocation of revenue budgets to individual programmes. The needs of the community-led housing sector will be taken into consideration alongside the full range of the department’s priorities. In the meantime, organisations that are registered as providers of social housing can seek capital funding from the over £12 billion Affordable Homes Programme operated outside London by Homes England.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to set zero carbon standards for new housing.

The Government remains committed to meeting its target of net zero emissions by 2050 and recognises the important contribution that the energy efficiency of buildings has to make in meeting it. We must ensure that the energy efficiency standards we set through the Building Regulations for new homes put us on track to meet the 2050 target.

In October 2019, we launched the first stage of a two-part consultation on Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations, which proposed an ambitious uplift in the energy efficiency of new homes through the introduction of a Future Homes Standard from 2025. We expect that homes built to the Future Homes Standard will have carbon dioxide emissions 75-80 per cent lower than those built to current Building Regulations standards, which means they will be fit for the future, with low carbon heating and very high fabric standards. These homes will be ‘zero carbon ready’, with the ability to become fully zero carbon homes over time as the electricity grid decarbonises, without the need for further costly retrofitting work.

We will be publishing the Government response to the Future Homes Standard interim uplift consultation as soon as possible. This will set out a roadmap to the Future Homes Standard.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has in place to support housing associations in retrofitting their older housing stock with energy efficient measures.

In the Charter for Social Housing Residents – Social Housing White Paper published on 17 November 2020, we committed to review the Decent Homes Standard. We will consider if it should be updated, including how it can better support the decarbonisation and energy efficiency of social homes.

At the Chancellor’s summer economic update, the Government announced a £50 million demonstrator project to start the decarbonisation of social housing during 2020/21. At the Spending Review 2020, The Chancellor announced £60 million of further funding for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, to continue upgrading the least efficient social housing.

The Prime Minister announced an extension to the Green Homes Grant which social landlords are eligible to bid for. This will fund up to two thirds of the cost of hiring tradespeople to upgrade the energy performance of homes.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what plans his Department has to bring forward legislative proposals to ensure that sentencing is commensurate with the severity of the crime.

This government is serious about fighting crime, protecting the public and creating a criminal justice system that people have confidence in. Sentencing plays a crucial role in this: it is one of the key ways through which the public, victims, and offenders see justice being done, and this government is clear that sentencing must be commensurate with the severity of the crime committed.

On the 9th March the government introduced the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSC Bill). This legislation will bring forward the new, smarter approach to sentencing laid out in the Sentencing White Paper published in September 2020.

Serious sexual and violent offenders must spend as much of their sentence behind bars as possible in order to reflect the severity of their crimes. The PCSC Bill will:

    • End automatic halfway release from prison for an additional cohort of serious sexual and violent offenders;
    • Make a Whole Life Order the starting point for the premeditated murder of a child, as well as allowing judges to hand out this maximum punishment to 18-20 year olds in exceptional cases;
    • Introduce a new power to prevent the automatic early release of prisoners who become a significant public protection concern while in custody; and
    • Double the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker.

Delivering public protection and ensuring that sentencing is commensurate with the severity of the crime is not just about better use of custody. The PCSC Bill will make community sentences more effective so that they offer an appropriate level of punishment but also address the underlying drivers of offending, by:

    • Piloting a problem-solving court approach for certain community and suspended sentence orders;
    • Improving national consistency for adult Out of Court Disposals; and
    • Extending the use of Electronic Monitoring.

The government is pleased that the PCSC Bill was given a Second Reading on 16th March by a large majority. As we are approaching the end of the current session, the House of Commons agreed to carry over consideration of the Bill to the next session. Given the size of the Bill, it is right to allow time for MPs to consider the detail before starting their line-by-line scrutiny.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what prediction Public Health England made of the number of deaths on the prison estate at the start of the covid-19 outbreak; and how many deaths there have been on the prison estate from covid-19 to date.

Verified data on the total number of prisoners, children in custody and probation service users who have died having tested positive for COVID-19 or where there was a clinical assessment that COVID-19 was a contributory factor in their deaths is published on GOV.UK. The latest published figures are for November which confirm 47 deaths. Non-cumulative weekly data is also released, these series can be found via the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hm-prison-and-probation-service-covid-19-statistics-monthly

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmpps-covid-19-management-information-weekly

In the COVID-19 population management strategy for prisons published in April it was estimated that approximately 2,700 prisoners would die if there were no changes to regimes in prison. The strategy can be found using the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-population-management-strategy-for-prisons

We took decisive action to avoid thousands of prisoners and staff becoming infected with the virus. These included minimising movement between prisons and introducing measures to shield the vulnerable, isolate those with symptoms, and quarantine new entrants to custody. All our actions have been informed by the advice of experts from PHE and will be kept under constant review.

Lucy Frazer
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the use of export health certificates for products of animal origin moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK after the transition period.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has regular discussions with the DEFRA Secretary of State on a wide range of issues relating to implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Responsibility for the requirement for and recruitment of veterinary and other technical staff within Northern Ireland, including at points of entry from Great Britain, rests with the Northern Ireland Executive with whom we work closely.

Our commitment to unfettered access for Northern Ireland goods to the rest of the UK remains unequivocal and we have brought forward draft regulations that establish the definition of Qualifying Northern Ireland Goods, ensuring no changes in how Northern Ireland businesses move goods directly to the rest of the UK from 1 January 2021. In addition to this, the UKIM Bill will ensure that qualifying Northern Ireland goods can continue to be placed on the whole UK market, even where the Protocol applies different rules in Northern Ireland - and prohibit checks and controls as goods move from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)