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Written Question
Poverty
30 Sep 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to develop a new measure of poverty in line with the recommendations of the Social Metrics Commission.

Answered by David Rutley

Our current priority is to improve the quality of our statutory measures before considering any further work on the Social Metric Commission’s measure specifically.

However, we are making changes to the Family Resource Survey which will benefit the Social Metrics Commission, including improved measurement of assets, adding in new questions on debt, doubling the sample size and further linking with administrative data.


Written Question
Universal Credit
28 Sep 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what forecasts her Department has made on the potential impact of the end of support under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on claimant rates for universal credit.

Answered by David Rutley

The Department works with the Office for Budget Responsibility to produce Universal Credit forecasts, including ahead of the Autumn Budget. The next forecast is due to be published on 27th October.


Written Question
Government Departments: Disability
24 Sep 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she plans to update the list of Departmental Ministerial Disability Champions as announced in the National Disability Strategy after the Government reshuffle on 15 September 2021.

Answered by Chloe Smith

The updated list of Departmental Ministerial Disability Champions will be announced shortly, and published on GOV.UK.

Ministerial Disability Champions drive the delivery of the National Disability Strategy in their respective departments.


Written Question
Government Departments: Disability
24 Sep 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will outline the responsibilities of Disability Ministerial Champions set out in the National Disability Strategy.

Answered by Chloe Smith

The first Ministerial Disability Champions were appointed in summer 2020, at the request of the Prime Minister, to drive the development and delivery of the National Disability Strategy.

Their role includes championing disabled people and driving the delivery of the National Disability Strategy in their respective departments.

An updated list of Departmental Ministerial Disability Champions will be announced shortly, and published on GOV.UK.


Written Question
State Retirement Pensions
22 Sep 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 3 September to Question 41749 on State Retirement Pensions, Administrative Delays, how many staff have been redeployed from universal credit to retirement services.

Answered by Guy Opperman

The Department is re-deploying circa 700 staff from other areas across DWP to help to stabilise the service further.


Written Question
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
20 Sep 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure that Job Centre Pluses can manage potential increased demand after the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Answered by Mims Davies

The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the UK labour market, leading to an increase in demand for DWP’s services. As part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to support claimants back into work, the Department has recruited 13,500 additional Work Coaches to respond effectively to this increase and to help provide the full range of Jobcentre services to both existing and new customers so they can receive benefit payments as well as being supported into work.

The Department has seen, and anticipates further, an increase in demand for our services and as a result, we are rapidly expanding the space available, on a temporary basis. This increase cannot be contained within existing premises both due to the scale of the increase in demand and social distancing requirements.

Through our Plan for Jobs, we are targeting tailored support schemes to help claimants prepare for, get into and progress in work. These include: Kickstart, delivering tens of thousands of six-month work placements for Universal Credit claimants aged 16-24 at risk of unemployment; Restart, which provides 12 months’ intensive employment support to Universal Credit claimants who are unemployed for a year; and Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS), which provides light touch employment support for people who are claiming either Universal Credit or New Style Jobseekers Allowance, for up to 6 months, helping participants effectively re-engage with the labour market and focus their job search.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Staff
20 Sep 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many staff working for her Department are employed on a fixed-term contract; and how many of those contracts are due to end each month in the next 12 months.

Answered by Guy Opperman

DWP has 14,651 employees on Fixed Term Contracts as of 31 August 2021.

The full breakdown by month is not currently held centrally. We have recently extended a number of contracts and are in the process of updating our records on the HR and Payroll system.


Written Question
Restart Programme: Food Supply
8 Sep 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have successfully moved into work in food distribution after participation in the Restart scheme.

Answered by Mims Davies

The information requested is not available. No information is collected on the numbers of people moving into work in food distribution.

The Restart Scheme is aimed at supporting people who have been on Universal Credit in the Intensive Work Search Regime for 12-18 months into sustained employment. Referrals to Restart began in July 2021 and participants can spend up to 12 months on the scheme.


Written Question
Vacancies
8 Sep 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to help tackle labour shortages in food distribution.

Answered by Mims Davies

The Department is helping jobseekers move into roles within the haulage and logistics sectors with a driver training pilot to support people to become HGV drivers and we encourage industry to access their local Jobcentre Plus network to take advantage of the range of support on offer.

Provisions such as the Sector Based Work Academy Programme (SWAPs) gives jobseekers the skills and qualifications they need to take up driver roles.

We are partnering with DfT and industry to collaborate on content for JobHelp, our virtual platform to advise and guide people looking for work. This includes video case studies; myth-busting documents; promoting vacancies in the sector; and guides to working in logistics.


Written Question
Kickstart Scheme: Food Supply
8 Sep 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many Kickstart placements have been created in food distribution industries.

Answered by Mims Davies

I refer the honourable member to the answer given for PQ 36791 for Kickstart Scheme jobs created by sector.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Artificial Intelligence
8 Sep 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect of using algorithms, such as for fraud risk scoring, on benefits claimants' rights to privacy and non-discrimination.

Answered by Will Quince

DWP have been exploring the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence where appropriate, focussing on everyday repetitive tasks so that our colleagues can spend more time supporting vulnerable claimants. We have identified value in developing algorithms in relation to assessing fraud and error risks, monitoring cyber-security, tailoring non-financial support offered to customers and reducing verification demands. We intend to use such technologies carefully in ways that improve citizen experiences and outcomes, along with operational efficiency. DWP does not use artificial intelligence to make decisions regarding people’s benefit entitlement.

We have adopted a cautious approach and are evolving our governance in relation to such technologies. Our Data Protection Office and Legal team ensure we are applying legislation in relation to claimant’s rights to privacy and non-discrimination. Our Central Analysis and Science Division provide methodological oversight. We also have a senior Data Board that will scrutinise the use of algorithms.

The opportunities and considerations associated with the use of algorithms continues to evolve, as outlined in the guidance on building and using artificial intelligence in the public sector, published on GOV.UK.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Ventilation
6 Sep 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 8 July 2021 to Question 29793 on Department for Work and Pensions: Coronavirus, what budget her Department has allocated to enforcement activities in respect of ventilation in (a) Jobcentre Plus premises and (b) other buildings owned and managed by her Department in each of the last ten years; what steps her Department has taken to enforce activities in respect of ventilation in (i) Jobcentre Plus premises and (ii) other buildings owned and managed by her Department in each of the last ten years; and when she last held a meeting to discuss ventilation with (A) staff of her Department’s central office, (B) representatives of managers of Jobcentre Plus premises and (C) recognised trade unions representing Jobcentre Plus staff.

Answered by Mims Davies

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) allocates resources based on planned levels of activity to deliver its published strategy and plans. It does not allocate budgets by specific risk areas such as business premises ventilation, but inspectors will take action to respond to poor ventilation if identified during regulatory activity.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the risks associated with poor general ventilation in a workplace increased due to the risk of transmitting coronavirus. HSE has carried out more than 300,000 interventions since the start of the pandemic, to check how businesses are implementing measures to reduce transmission of coronavirus at their sites, including whether employees are working in poorly ventilated spaces. Where contraventions are identified, HSE inspectors will take action to secure compliance by providing verbal advice, written correspondence or serving enforcement notices.

HSE has also updated their website guidance to support businesses in addressing the issue of ventilation in businesses www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/equipment-and-machinery/air-conditioning-and-ventilation/index.htm.

HSE does not collate all enforcement action taken specifically in respect of ventilation. However, HSE’s operational database shows that in the last ten years, there have been 7 enforcement notices specifically citing Regulation 6 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (as amended), which imposes general requirements for ensuring workplaces are adequately ventilated. Please see table below for figures:

Year

Number of enforcement notices citing contraventions of Regulation 6 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (as amended)

2011

2

2012

1

2013

0

2014

1

2015

0

2016

0

2017

0

2018

0

2019

3

2020

0

Total

7

This table does not, however, provide a full picture of HSE enforcement in respect of ventilation, for example because enforcement action on coronavirus-related ventilation deficiencies may be taken under the general provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, without reference to the above-mentioned regulation (and in such cases cannot readily be identified on HSE systems). Further, HSE does not collate information to identify how often verbal advice or written correspondence has been provided by inspectors to deal specifically with ventilation deficiencies.

Within the Department, we have issued updated guidance on ventilation to our on-site Senior Responsible Officers and Health & Safety Business Partner team and estates field teams support local managers to ensure that measures identified in the site-level risk assessment are in place and will meet them as appropriate to ensure any issues identified can be resolved swiftly. No ventilation issues have been raised at the Department’s head office. The Department holds fortnightly meetings with Trade Union representatives. These cover a range of Coronavirus related topics, including ventilation.


Written Question
Universal Credit: Restart Programme
21 Jul 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claimants are eligible for support through the Restart scheme.

Answered by Mims Davies

Over the course of 3 years of referrals, the Restart Scheme will provide intensive, tailored employment support to help over 1 million Universal Credit claimants back towards sustained employment.


Written Question
Universal Credit
20 Jul 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect of removing the uplift to the universal credit standard allowance on food bank usage.

Answered by Will Quince

No assessment has been made.

Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and we announced the temporary uplift as part of a £400 billion package of measures put in place that will last well beyond the end of the roadmap. Our focus now is on our multi-billion Plan for Jobs, which will support people in the long-term by helping them learn new skills and increase their hours or find new work.

Foodbanks are independent, charitable organisations and the Department for Work and Pensions does not have any role in their operation. There is no consistent and accurate measure of food bank usage at a constituency or national level.

We recognise the data limitations in this area, so from April 2021 have introduced a set of questions into the Family Resources Survey (FRS) on food bank usage. The first results of these questions are expected to be published in March 2023 subject to usual quality assurance.


Written Question
Restart Scheme
20 Jul 2021

Questioner: Jonathan Reynolds (LAB - Stalybridge and Hyde)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claimants have found work through the Restart scheme to date.

Answered by Mims Davies

The Restart Scheme is still in its initial stages. Conversations with claimants about the Restart Scheme began on the 28th June 2021, and referrals to providers started on the 12th July 2021.

Restart Scheme providers will deliver an intensive and tailored support offer to Participants, aimed at helping them to get into sustained work. With each Participant having a unique set of needs and aspirations, we can expect transitions to employment to happen at different points in their journeys.