Kirsten Oswald Portrait

Kirsten Oswald

Scottish National Party - East Renfrewshire

SNP Deputy Westminster Leader

(since July 2020)

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Women)

(since February 2021)

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities)

(since February 2021)
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)
7th Jan 2020 - 1st Feb 2021
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales)
7th Jan 2020 - 1st Feb 2021
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work, Pensions and Inclusion)
7th Jan 2020 - 1st Feb 2021
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Armed Forces and Veterans)
20th May 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Armed Forces Bill Committee
26th Oct 2015 - 24th Nov 2015


Oral Question
Wednesday 20th October 2021
12:00
Cabinet Office
Oral Question No. 2
If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 20 October.
Division Votes
Monday 7th June 2021
Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 45 Scottish National Party Aye votes vs 0 Scottish National Party No votes
Tally: Ayes - 263 Noes - 364
Speeches
Thursday 23rd September 2021
Oral Answers to Questions

5. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential effect of proposed voter ID requirements on …

Written Answers
Monday 27th September 2021
Wholesale Trade: Alcoholic Drinks
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many and what proportion of applications under the Alcohol Warehouse Registration Scheme …
Early Day Motions
Thursday 23rd September 2021
Clarkston gas explosion of 21 October 1971
That this House recalls, fifty years on, the dreadful events of 21 October 1971, when Scotland’s worst peace-time explosion ripped …
Bills
Tuesday 2nd February 2021
Driving Tests (Repayment of Test Fees) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to authorise the repayment of fees for driving tests delayed as a result of an emergency.
MP Financial Interests
Monday 2nd March 2020
1. Employment and earnings
Payments from City of Glasgow College, Cathedral Street, Glasgow G4 0RF:
EDM signed
Thursday 23rd September 2021
Anthony Nolan and Blood Cancer Awareness Month
That this House recognises Blood Cancer Awareness Month from 1-30 September; notes its importance for raising awareness of blood cancers …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Kirsten Oswald has voted in 211 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Kirsten Oswald 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
Brandon Lewis (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
(16 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(14 debate interactions)
Dominic Raab (Conservative)
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
(13 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(26 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(24 debate contributions)
Department for Work and Pensions
(24 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Kirsten Oswald's debates

East Renfrewshire Petitions

e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.

If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.

If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).

Petitions with highest East Renfrewshire signature proportion
Petitions with most East Renfrewshire signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

Much like the existing mandatory requirement for employers with 250 or more employees must publish their gender pay gap. We call upon the government to introduce the ethnicity pay gap reporting. To shine a light on race / ethnicity based inequality in the workplace so that they can be addressed.

I would like the Government to:
• make running conversion therapy in the UK a criminal offence
• forcing people to attend said conversion therapies a criminal offence
• sending people abroad in order to try to convert them a criminal offence
• protect individuals from conversion therapy

12 kids in the UK are diagnosed with cancer daily. 1 in 5 will die within 5 years, often of the deadliest types like DIPG (brainstem cancer) - fatal on diagnosis & other cancers on relapse. Yet there has been little, or no, funding for research into these cancers and little, or no, progress.


Latest EDMs signed by Kirsten Oswald

23rd September 2021
Kirsten Oswald signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Thursday 23rd September 2021

Clarkston gas explosion of 21 October 1971

Tabled by: Kirsten Oswald (Scottish National Party - East Renfrewshire)
That this House recalls, fifty years on, the dreadful events of 21 October 1971, when Scotland’s worst peace-time explosion ripped through the Clarkston Toll shopping precinct, quickly reducing the shops to rubble; recognises the devastating impact on the local community, with 22 people losing their lives and more than 100 …
1 signatures
(Most recent: 23 Sep 2021)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 1
23rd September 2021
Kirsten Oswald signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Thursday 23rd September 2021

East Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau 50th anniversary

Tabled by: Kirsten Oswald (Scottish National Party - East Renfrewshire)
That this House congratulates East Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau on reaching its 50th Anniversary; acknowledges that the charity, which offers free, confidential and independent advice to local people on any problem, has been serving East Renfrewshire since opening its doors on 1 November 1971; echoes the words of Rory Mair, …
1 signatures
(Most recent: 23 Sep 2021)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 1
View All Kirsten Oswald's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Kirsten Oswald, 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.


Kirsten Oswald has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Kirsten Oswald has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Kirsten Oswald


A Bill to authorise the repayment of fees for driving tests delayed as a result of an emergency.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Tuesday 2nd February 2021

Kirsten Oswald has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


285 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
3 Other Department Questions
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps she is taking to ensure that employers with a headcount of 250 or more continue to report gender pay gap data ahead of the usual annual deadlines.

On 23 February, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced that employers will have until 5 October 2021 to report their gender pay gap information. The EHRC enforces the regulations, contacting any late reporters and follows up on potentially inaccurate data. For the 2020/21 reporting year, enforcement activity will commence after the additional time period ends on 5 October 2021.

The government is fully committed to women’s economic empowerment but, given the impact of the pandemic on businesses, extending the deadline by six months is the correct decision.

Lots of positive work has been done by employers to encourage equality in the workplace, and although ONS figures show that the gender pay gap stands at a record low, we need to continue making progress, including making sure that we are tackling the causes of the gender pay gap.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Prime Minister, if he will appoint a new Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief before the Open Doors World Watch List launch event to be held in January 2021.

An appointment will be announced in the usual way.

All Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Ministers raise concerns about human rights violations and abuses, including on Freedom of Religion or Belief, where appropriate. As the UK Minister for Human Rights, my Hon Friend Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon also champions and leads on Freedom of Religion or Belief as part of his wider responsibilities and through multilateral fora including the United Nations.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
29th Jun 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what plans he has to publish equality impact assessments of the move by the House of Commons from hybrid to physical proceedings on House staff by ethnic origin.

The House of Commons Commission has previously committed to publish any mitigations identified as part of the equality impact assessment, alongside any other steps taken in the Covid-19 risk assessment. Following the publication of Public Health England advice, the House authorities are currently reviewing the mitigations and will be providing an updated version of the risk assessment ahead of the House rising for summer recess.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Attorney General, what steps she is taking to ensure the prosecution of people whose acts towards fellow passengers on domestic flights are perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability or perceived disability.

Courts in the United Kingdom have the power to deal with offences which are committed on board any aircraft whilst on the ground or in the air over the United Kingdom, and on “British-controlled aircraft” whilst “in flight” outside United Kingdom airspace. In such instances, as with any crime, the CPS will prosecute cases that are referred to it by the police and other law enforcement agencies where the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors is met.

The Code makes it clear that where an offence involves hostility or prejudice based upon race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, disability, gender or age, it is more likely that a prosecution will be required in the public interest. Where a crime is found by a court to involve hostility based on a disability, this will be an aggravating factor in the sentence and the court must openly state the crime involved this hostility.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
20th May 2021
Whether his Department has received representations on the incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law.

The Member for East Renfrewshire will be aware of my decision, alongside the Advocate General’s for Scotland, to refer the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill to the Supreme Court on legislative competence grounds. We have also referred the European Charter of Local Self-Government (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill.

It would not be appropriate for me to comment in detail on what are live proceedings.

Ultimately, our concerns with regards to these Bills do not relate to their policy content, nor to the approach the Scottish Parliament has taken in incorporating these international agreements into Scots law. Rather they relate to specific provisions in the Bill and whether they fall outside the Scottish Parliament’s legislative powers.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the proportion of people who died from covid-19 who were (a) disabled and (b) not disabled.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have, therefore, asked the Authority to respond.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he last met representatives of Barclays to discuss the closure of the Barclays Identity Service; and if he will make a statement.

Barclays entered into a contract with the Cabinet Office in April 2017 to provide an identity verification service to support GOV.UK Verify. As scheduled, this contract expires on 23rd March 2021. Cabinet Office officials have been in regular contact with Barclays to ensure a good level of service is maintained until the end of their contract.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office have not met Barclays to discuss this contract expiry.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what equality impact assessment his Department has undertaken on the potential (a) legal and (b) socioeconomic effects of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on different groups with protected characteristics.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster made a statement under section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 regarding the provisions of the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill. This Bill, now Act, implements the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Further to this, relevant requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and other relevant legislation have been followed.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department last met with representatives of each of the devolved Administrations to discuss the implementation of the 10 year Veterans Strategy.

The 2018 Strategy for our Veterans is the UK’s commitment to those who have served in the Armed Forces. Each nation in the Union is responsible for delivering the outcomes for veterans contained in the Strategy.

Officials regularly engage with counterparts in the Devolved Administrations to discuss progress made on the delivery of their respective Strategy action plans and wider veterans matters. I have also met ministerial counterparts from the Scottish and Welsh Government this year to discuss veterans issues including the Strategy.

25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the National Audit Office report, Investigation into Verify, published on 5 March 2019, HC1926, what assessment he has made of the findings in paragraph 2 on page 5 on the Infrastructure and Projects Authority's report that the Verify platform has been an innovative technical success and is performing to specification, but it is not producing the promised benefits.

GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway provide millions of citizens with access to essential government services. The number of users can be accessed publicly at any time through the GOV.UK Verify performance dashboard, and is updated weekly. Currently, 7.2 million users use their GOV.UK Verify identity accounts to access 22 government services across 9 departments. HMRC has 25.1 million unique individual users who have confirmed their identity and who have accessed their personal tax account, with a total of 96 million authentication credentials. For Government Gateway these include individual, business and agent users.

GOV.UK Verify keeps its accessibility under review and has consistently reduced barriers to make access to services simpler, focusing on the customer's end-to-end experience, and ensuring members of the public can access online government services simply and securely.

We are constantly looking to balance the need of inclusion and demographic coverage of government services with the need for strong digital identity assurance to reduce the risk of fraud. Both GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway use ongoing user research, user testing and service monitoring to improve, simplify and reduce friction in users’ experience of these services. Offline channels and support are offered to users unable to use either GOV.UK Verify or Government Gateway identity verification services.

Government Gateway is currently used to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). CJRS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment, and SEISS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment.

GOV.UK Verify can be adapted to reflect requirements relating to name changes to support departmental service requirements, provided there is suitable evidence of their change in name. Government Gateway Identity Verification allows online service access where sufficient confidence can be gained on a user’s identity and the ownership of the name in question.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report recognised that the Verify programme has delivered on three of its four original objectives. The Verify programme has successfully developed world-leading standards that are used by governments across the world. It has also developed a secure technical platform and a procurement framework for identity services.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether (a) GOV.UK Verify and (b) Government Gateway identity verification systems facilitate women registering for some Government services under their maiden surname even if they also register for some services under a surname they adopt on marriage.

GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway provide millions of citizens with access to essential government services. The number of users can be accessed publicly at any time through the GOV.UK Verify performance dashboard, and is updated weekly. Currently, 7.2 million users use their GOV.UK Verify identity accounts to access 22 government services across 9 departments. HMRC has 25.1 million unique individual users who have confirmed their identity and who have accessed their personal tax account, with a total of 96 million authentication credentials. For Government Gateway these include individual, business and agent users.

GOV.UK Verify keeps its accessibility under review and has consistently reduced barriers to make access to services simpler, focusing on the customer's end-to-end experience, and ensuring members of the public can access online government services simply and securely.

We are constantly looking to balance the need of inclusion and demographic coverage of government services with the need for strong digital identity assurance to reduce the risk of fraud. Both GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway use ongoing user research, user testing and service monitoring to improve, simplify and reduce friction in users’ experience of these services. Offline channels and support are offered to users unable to use either GOV.UK Verify or Government Gateway identity verification services.

Government Gateway is currently used to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). CJRS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment, and SEISS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment.

GOV.UK Verify can be adapted to reflect requirements relating to name changes to support departmental service requirements, provided there is suitable evidence of their change in name. Government Gateway Identity Verification allows online service access where sufficient confidence can be gained on a user’s identity and the ownership of the name in question.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report recognised that the Verify programme has delivered on three of its four original objectives. The Verify programme has successfully developed world-leading standards that are used by governments across the world. It has also developed a secure technical platform and a procurement framework for identity services.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when registered users of the (a) GOV.UK Verify and (b) Government Gateway identity verification systems will be able to view payments made on their behalf under the (i) Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and (ii) Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway provide millions of citizens with access to essential government services. The number of users can be accessed publicly at any time through the GOV.UK Verify performance dashboard, and is updated weekly. Currently, 7.2 million users use their GOV.UK Verify identity accounts to access 22 government services across 9 departments. HMRC has 25.1 million unique individual users who have confirmed their identity and who have accessed their personal tax account, with a total of 96 million authentication credentials. For Government Gateway these include individual, business and agent users.

GOV.UK Verify keeps its accessibility under review and has consistently reduced barriers to make access to services simpler, focusing on the customer's end-to-end experience, and ensuring members of the public can access online government services simply and securely.

We are constantly looking to balance the need of inclusion and demographic coverage of government services with the need for strong digital identity assurance to reduce the risk of fraud. Both GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway use ongoing user research, user testing and service monitoring to improve, simplify and reduce friction in users’ experience of these services. Offline channels and support are offered to users unable to use either GOV.UK Verify or Government Gateway identity verification services.

Government Gateway is currently used to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). CJRS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment, and SEISS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment.

GOV.UK Verify can be adapted to reflect requirements relating to name changes to support departmental service requirements, provided there is suitable evidence of their change in name. Government Gateway Identity Verification allows online service access where sufficient confidence can be gained on a user’s identity and the ownership of the name in question.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report recognised that the Verify programme has delivered on three of its four original objectives. The Verify programme has successfully developed world-leading standards that are used by governments across the world. It has also developed a secure technical platform and a procurement framework for identity services.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many Government services can be accessed by registered users of (a) GOV.UK Verify and (b) Government Gateway identity verification systems.

GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway provide millions of citizens with access to essential government services. The number of users can be accessed publicly at any time through the GOV.UK Verify performance dashboard, and is updated weekly. Currently, 7.2 million users use their GOV.UK Verify identity accounts to access 22 government services across 9 departments. HMRC has 25.1 million unique individual users who have confirmed their identity and who have accessed their personal tax account, with a total of 96 million authentication credentials. For Government Gateway these include individual, business and agent users.

GOV.UK Verify keeps its accessibility under review and has consistently reduced barriers to make access to services simpler, focusing on the customer's end-to-end experience, and ensuring members of the public can access online government services simply and securely.

We are constantly looking to balance the need of inclusion and demographic coverage of government services with the need for strong digital identity assurance to reduce the risk of fraud. Both GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway use ongoing user research, user testing and service monitoring to improve, simplify and reduce friction in users’ experience of these services. Offline channels and support are offered to users unable to use either GOV.UK Verify or Government Gateway identity verification services.

Government Gateway is currently used to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). CJRS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment, and SEISS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment.

GOV.UK Verify can be adapted to reflect requirements relating to name changes to support departmental service requirements, provided there is suitable evidence of their change in name. Government Gateway Identity Verification allows online service access where sufficient confidence can be gained on a user’s identity and the ownership of the name in question.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report recognised that the Verify programme has delivered on three of its four original objectives. The Verify programme has successfully developed world-leading standards that are used by governments across the world. It has also developed a secure technical platform and a procurement framework for identity services.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many Government departments have signed up to use (a) GOV.UK Verify and (b) Government Gateway identity verification systems.

GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway provide millions of citizens with access to essential government services. The number of users can be accessed publicly at any time through the GOV.UK Verify performance dashboard, and is updated weekly. Currently, 7.2 million users use their GOV.UK Verify identity accounts to access 22 government services across 9 departments. HMRC has 25.1 million unique individual users who have confirmed their identity and who have accessed their personal tax account, with a total of 96 million authentication credentials. For Government Gateway these include individual, business and agent users.

GOV.UK Verify keeps its accessibility under review and has consistently reduced barriers to make access to services simpler, focusing on the customer's end-to-end experience, and ensuring members of the public can access online government services simply and securely.

We are constantly looking to balance the need of inclusion and demographic coverage of government services with the need for strong digital identity assurance to reduce the risk of fraud. Both GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway use ongoing user research, user testing and service monitoring to improve, simplify and reduce friction in users’ experience of these services. Offline channels and support are offered to users unable to use either GOV.UK Verify or Government Gateway identity verification services.

Government Gateway is currently used to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). CJRS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment, and SEISS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment.

GOV.UK Verify can be adapted to reflect requirements relating to name changes to support departmental service requirements, provided there is suitable evidence of their change in name. Government Gateway Identity Verification allows online service access where sufficient confidence can be gained on a user’s identity and the ownership of the name in question.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report recognised that the Verify programme has delivered on three of its four original objectives. The Verify programme has successfully developed world-leading standards that are used by governments across the world. It has also developed a secure technical platform and a procurement framework for identity services.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment the Government has made of potential barriers to people signing up for (a) GOV.UK Verify and (b) Government Gateway identity verification systems.

GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway provide millions of citizens with access to essential government services. The number of users can be accessed publicly at any time through the GOV.UK Verify performance dashboard, and is updated weekly. Currently, 7.2 million users use their GOV.UK Verify identity accounts to access 22 government services across 9 departments. HMRC has 25.1 million unique individual users who have confirmed their identity and who have accessed their personal tax account, with a total of 96 million authentication credentials. For Government Gateway these include individual, business and agent users.

GOV.UK Verify keeps its accessibility under review and has consistently reduced barriers to make access to services simpler, focusing on the customer's end-to-end experience, and ensuring members of the public can access online government services simply and securely.

We are constantly looking to balance the need of inclusion and demographic coverage of government services with the need for strong digital identity assurance to reduce the risk of fraud. Both GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway use ongoing user research, user testing and service monitoring to improve, simplify and reduce friction in users’ experience of these services. Offline channels and support are offered to users unable to use either GOV.UK Verify or Government Gateway identity verification services.

Government Gateway is currently used to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). CJRS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment, and SEISS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment.

GOV.UK Verify can be adapted to reflect requirements relating to name changes to support departmental service requirements, provided there is suitable evidence of their change in name. Government Gateway Identity Verification allows online service access where sufficient confidence can be gained on a user’s identity and the ownership of the name in question.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report recognised that the Verify programme has delivered on three of its four original objectives. The Verify programme has successfully developed world-leading standards that are used by governments across the world. It has also developed a secure technical platform and a procurement framework for identity services.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if the numbers of users registered on (a) GOV.UK Verify and (b) Government Gateway identity verification systems have met departmental targets.

GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway provide millions of citizens with access to essential government services. The number of users can be accessed publicly at any time through the GOV.UK Verify performance dashboard, and is updated weekly. Currently, 7.2 million users use their GOV.UK Verify identity accounts to access 22 government services across 9 departments. HMRC has 25.1 million unique individual users who have confirmed their identity and who have accessed their personal tax account, with a total of 96 million authentication credentials. For Government Gateway these include individual, business and agent users.

GOV.UK Verify keeps its accessibility under review and has consistently reduced barriers to make access to services simpler, focusing on the customer's end-to-end experience, and ensuring members of the public can access online government services simply and securely.

We are constantly looking to balance the need of inclusion and demographic coverage of government services with the need for strong digital identity assurance to reduce the risk of fraud. Both GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway use ongoing user research, user testing and service monitoring to improve, simplify and reduce friction in users’ experience of these services. Offline channels and support are offered to users unable to use either GOV.UK Verify or Government Gateway identity verification services.

Government Gateway is currently used to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). CJRS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment, and SEISS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment.

GOV.UK Verify can be adapted to reflect requirements relating to name changes to support departmental service requirements, provided there is suitable evidence of their change in name. Government Gateway Identity Verification allows online service access where sufficient confidence can be gained on a user’s identity and the ownership of the name in question.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report recognised that the Verify programme has delivered on three of its four original objectives. The Verify programme has successfully developed world-leading standards that are used by governments across the world. It has also developed a secure technical platform and a procurement framework for identity services.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many people have registered as users of (a) GOV.UK Verify and (b) Government Gateway identity verification systems to date.

GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway provide millions of citizens with access to essential government services. The number of users can be accessed publicly at any time through the GOV.UK Verify performance dashboard, and is updated weekly. Currently, 7.2 million users use their GOV.UK Verify identity accounts to access 22 government services across 9 departments. HMRC has 25.1 million unique individual users who have confirmed their identity and who have accessed their personal tax account, with a total of 96 million authentication credentials. For Government Gateway these include individual, business and agent users.

GOV.UK Verify keeps its accessibility under review and has consistently reduced barriers to make access to services simpler, focusing on the customer's end-to-end experience, and ensuring members of the public can access online government services simply and securely.

We are constantly looking to balance the need of inclusion and demographic coverage of government services with the need for strong digital identity assurance to reduce the risk of fraud. Both GOV.UK Verify and Government Gateway use ongoing user research, user testing and service monitoring to improve, simplify and reduce friction in users’ experience of these services. Offline channels and support are offered to users unable to use either GOV.UK Verify or Government Gateway identity verification services.

Government Gateway is currently used to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). CJRS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment, and SEISS claimants (employers or their authorised agent) can log into the claims service and see the claims made and the date they were sent for payment.

GOV.UK Verify can be adapted to reflect requirements relating to name changes to support departmental service requirements, provided there is suitable evidence of their change in name. Government Gateway Identity Verification allows online service access where sufficient confidence can be gained on a user’s identity and the ownership of the name in question.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report recognised that the Verify programme has delivered on three of its four original objectives. The Verify programme has successfully developed world-leading standards that are used by governments across the world. It has also developed a secure technical platform and a procurement framework for identity services.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 4 May 2020 to Question 40706 on Subversion: Russia and the Answer of 18 June 2020 to Question 59573 on Intelligence and Security Committee, what timeframe is for the Intelligence and Security Committee to be established; and whether the current circumstances referred to have affected that timeframe.

I refer the Hon. member to the answer given to PQ 59573 on 18 June 2020. The Committee is being formed in the normal way and as quickly as current circumstances allow. An announcement will be made in due course.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many suspicious emails have been reported to the National Cyber Security Centre by (a) people and (b) organisations in (i) Northern Ireland, (ii) Scotland, (iii) Wales and (iv) each of the English Regions since the start of the (A) Cyber Aware campaign and (B) covid-19 lockdown.

The public has been able to report suspicious emails to the NCSC through the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) since 21 April 2020 when it was launched alongside the Cyber Aware campaign. Since its launch, the SERS has received over 800,000 reports, and removed over 7,500 URLs and over 2,000 sites. Safeguards protecting the anonymity of reporters means that a regional breakdown cannot be conducted.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Paymaster General on 1 March 2021, Official Report, column 51, what progress the Government has made on its legislative proposals for shared parental leave and adoption leave; and if he will make a statement.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay was introduced in Great Britain in 2014 for parents of children who were due or placed for adoption from April 2015. We are currently evaluating the scheme and will report on the evaluation later this year. Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay has been available to eligible employees since 2002, and in 2014 we made changes to the scheme to bring it into line with arrangements for Maternity Leave and Pay. Since 2014, Adoption Leave has been a “day 1” right and the first six weeks of Statutory Adoption Pay have been paid at an earnings-related rate (90% of the employee’s weekly earnings with no upper limit).

As part of the evaluation of Shared Parental Leave and Pay we commissioned large, representative, surveys of parents and employees which asked about a broad range of parental leave and pay entitlements. We have also consulted on high-level options for reforming parental leave and pay. The information that we have collected through these surveys and the consultation will give us a fuller picture of how well the current system of parental leave and pay is working for parents and employers.

We are currently processing and analysing this information and we will publish our findings later in the year.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of introducing statutory bereavement leave.

Since April 2020, parents who lose a child under the age of 18 have a right to take up to 2 weeks of paid leave in the 56 weeks following the death of their child. This right extends to parents of babies who are stillborn after 24 complete weeks of pregnancy. We have not assessed the potential merits of extending entitlements to bereavement leave and pay to other groups, and it is too early to conduct a formal evaluation of the Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay scheme.

We recognise that the death of a close family member, friend, or colleague can be deeply upsetting. The Government believes that individuals are best placed to understand their own specific needs and we encourage their employers to respond in an appropriate and sensitive way.

Although there is no statutory entitlement to bereavement leave for employees who lose a close relative who is not a child, all employees have a ‘day 1’ right to take unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. This entitlement can be used, for example, to make arrangements for the funeral.

Individuals who do not feel able to return to work following a bereavement may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay whilst they are off work. All employees are also entitled to 5.6 weeks of Annual Leave a year.

Many employers offer ‘Compassionate Leave’ in these circumstances and we encourage employers to respond sensitively to each individual’s specific needs.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will introduce statutory bereavement leave for the loss of an immediate family member or partner.

Since April 2020, parents who lose a child under the age of 18 have a right to take up to 2 weeks of paid leave in the 56 weeks following the death of their child. This right extends to parents of babies who are stillborn after 24 complete weeks of pregnancy. We have not assessed the potential merits of extending entitlements to bereavement leave and pay to other groups, and it is too early to conduct a formal evaluation of the Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay scheme.

We recognise that the death of a close family member, friend, or colleague can be deeply upsetting. The Government believes that individuals are best placed to understand their own specific needs and we encourage their employers to respond in an appropriate and sensitive way.

Although there is no statutory entitlement to bereavement leave for employees who lose a close relative who is not a child, all employees have a ‘day 1’ right to take unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. This entitlement can be used, for example, to make arrangements for the funeral.

Individuals who do not feel able to return to work following a bereavement may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay whilst they are off work. All employees are also entitled to 5.6 weeks of Annual Leave a year.

Many employers offer ‘Compassionate Leave’ in these circumstances and we encourage employers to respond sensitively to each individual’s specific needs.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to protect workers in (a) the social care sector and (b) other sectors from exploitative employment practices following the March 2021 decision of the Supreme Court that social care staff are not entitled to the national minimum wage for every hour of sleep-in shifts.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous judgment published on 19 March provides legal clarity. The Government has published updated guidance on sleep-in shifts and the National Minimum Wage, which applies to all sectors of the economy throughout the UK.

HM Revenue and Customs is responsible for enforcing National Minimum Wage legislation, and since 2015 has ordered employers to pay arrears of £100 million to one million workers. HMRC follows up on every worker complaint received, even those which are anonymous. This includes complaints made via the online complaint form or the Acas helpline and those received from other sources. In recent months, HMRC has also produced and advertised a webinar aimed at helping care providers understand particular issues in the social care sector.

My Hon. Friends the Minister of State for Care and the Minister for Children and Families have written to commissioners of social care services to emphasise that Local Authorities should be working with providers to ensure that they are complying with legislation and also ensuring that care workers are supported and remunerated so to retain a stable workforce.

The Government is also committed to sustainable improvement of the adult social care system and will bring forward proposals later in 2021.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what funding he has allocated to support employers to conduct pilot programmes on flexible working.

The Government is committed to supporting employers with their flexible working practices across all sectors of the economy. While we do not currently fund flexible working pilot programmes, we are providing employers with the support they need to make informed decisions on their future approach to flexible working. Through reconvening the Flexible Working Taskforce – a partnership across business groups, trade unions, charities, and government departments – we are bringing together the necessary expertise to provide this support.

The Taskforce has been asked to help take forward the best of what we have learned through the pandemic about more flexible ways of working as the economy starts to fully open up. In the immediate phase, the Taskforce will consider the essential practical and legal issues associated with a return to a workplace and an increase in hybrid working.

The Taskforce will move on to provide wider advice on best practice, so that employers are better able to support all forms of flexible working – whether the flexibility relates to the amount, timing or location of work.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to prevent firms from revoking an employee's right to work flexibly other than in exceptional circumstances.

The Government is committed to bringing forward an Employment Bill when Parliamentary time allows, to protect and enhance worker’s rights as we build back better from the pandemic.

Given the profound effects the pandemic is having on the economy and on the labour market, the Government has taken unprecedented but necessary steps to support business and protect jobs and will continue to do so.

In 2019 the Government committed to encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to. The consultation will happen in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to make flexible working the default employment status for all employees.

The Government is committed to bringing forward an Employment Bill when Parliamentary time allows, to protect and enhance worker’s rights as we build back better from the pandemic.

Given the profound effects the pandemic is having on the economy and on the labour market, the Government has taken unprecedented but necessary steps to support business and protect jobs and will continue to do so.

In 2019 the Government committed to encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to. The consultation will happen in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to introduce a right to flexible working from day one of employment.

The Government is committed to bringing forward an Employment Bill when Parliamentary time allows, to protect and enhance worker’s rights as we build back better from the pandemic.

Given the profound effects the pandemic is having on the economy and on the labour market, the Government has taken unprecedented but necessary steps to support business and protect jobs and will continue to do so.

In 2019 the Government committed to encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to. The consultation will happen in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will urgently review the requirement that employees are only permitted to request the right to work flexibly after they have served a 26-week period in post.

The Government is committed to bringing forward an Employment Bill when Parliamentary time allows, to protect and enhance worker’s rights as we build back better from the pandemic.

Given the profound effects the pandemic is having on the economy and on the labour market, the Government has taken unprecedented but necessary steps to support business and protect jobs and will continue to do so.

In 2019 the Government committed to encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to. The consultation will happen in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress the Government is making on bringing forward (a) legislative proposals for an Employment Bill and (b) proposals for a consultation on flexible working.

The Government is committed to bringing forward an Employment Bill when Parliamentary time allows, to protect and enhance worker’s rights as we build back better from the pandemic.

Given the profound effects the pandemic is having on the economy and on the labour market, the Government has taken unprecedented but necessary steps to support business and protect jobs and will continue to do so.

In 2019 the Government committed to encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to. The consultation will happen in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the adequacy of scrutiny of the recovery practices of coronavirus business loan lenders.

Covid-19 loan scheme lenders are expected to pursue appropriate recovery processes in line with existing industry standards. Lenders undergo periodic audits to check that scheme eligibility rules and processes are being followed.

Under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), lenders, the British Business Bank and Government have agreed a set of principles relating to collections and recoveries, in order to facilitate fair and consistent treatment of BBLS borrowers.

For the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), lenders retain some of the risk and so are expected to utilise their usual industry practices.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what arrangements are in place in the event that a claim is made against a Government guarantee for a coronavirus business loan that has been used to repay existing loans.

The arrangements in place for a claim made against a Government Guarantee for a Coronavirus Business Loan are the same whatever the purpose of the loan.

Borrowers remain liable for the outstanding debt. Lenders are required to pursue borrowers for repayment of all outstanding debt, in accordance with their normal processes for the recovery of a loan. Provided the facility was eligible when it was offered, claims on the guarantee can be made within a reasonable time period following the lender making a Formal Demand to the borrower.

Once a claim has been made, the lender is still obliged to seek further potential recoveries if the process has not been completed. Lenders should apply their normal commercial judgement to decide when it is appropriate to cease recovery activity. If a recovery is made after the settlement of the Guarantee Claim, lenders should refund the British Business Bank in respect of the Guarantee Claim they received.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, a) what assessment he has made of the extent to which financial support intended for disabled people, such as the Warm Home Discount, is reaching those who need it most and b) what action he has taken in response to this assessment.

The Warm Home Discount is a key policy in the Government’s programme to tackle fuel poverty and the effects of rising energy prices on low-income households. Launched in April 2011, it has helped over 2.2 million low-income and vulnerable households, including individuals with a disability, each year with their energy costs. However, we do not hold specific data about the number of disabled people receiving the Warm Home Discount.

In recognition of the positive and significant impact of the scheme, the Energy White Paper 2020 committed to: extending the scheme to at least 2025/26; expanding the spending envelope from the current £351m to £475m (in 2020 prices) per year, to enable us to reach over 750,000 more households in, or at risk of, fuel poverty; and consulting later this year on reforms to the scheme from 2022 to better target fuel poverty. This will ensure that funds reach those most at risk and in deepest fuel poverty, including supporting the most vulnerable individuals with a disability. This is in line with our updated vulnerability principle included within the fuel poverty strategy ‘Sustainable Warmth’, published in February 2021.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 11 January 2021 to Question 132959, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to amend section 44(1)(d) and (e) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to extend the provisions to apply to all limb (b) workers, and on what timescale; and if will he make a statement.

Following the High Court Judgment on the 13th of November 2020, work is underway to amend section 44(1)(d) and (e) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to extend the health and safety protections contained in these provisions to all limb (b) workers, as well as employees. The Government is committed to making these legislative changes as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment she has made of the implications of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement for existing EU-derived labour standards.

Our high standards have never been dependent on EU membership, and this agreement recognises the importance of these employment standards, whilst retaining flexibility for us to tailor our approach to what works for the UK and maintaining our strong levels of employment protections.

Our ambition is to be the best place in the world to work and grow a business. This agreement provides us with the flexibility to make our own decisions on how to best do this, whilst upholding our high standards.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 applies to limb b workers.

Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (protection from detriment in health and safety cases) currently applies to employees.

Following the High Court Judgment of 13th November 2021, work is underway to amend section 44(1)(d) and (e) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to extend the rights in these provisions to apply to all limb (b) workers as well as employees.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 7 December 2020 to Question 123620 on Sharing Economy: Industrial Health and Safety, whether the HSE plans to bring forward proposals to extend to all workers the protections that employees are granted by sections 44 and 100 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Following the High Court Judgment of 13th November, work is underway to amend section 44 (d) and (e) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (protection from detriment in circumstances of danger) to extend it to all limb (b) workers as well as employees.

We remain committed to ensuring that all workers are adequately protected from workplace risks.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 7 December 2020 to Question 124215 on Sharing Economy: Industrial Health and Safety, whether she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to transpose Council Directive 89/391/EC into domestic law to protect workers from detriment if they take steps to protect their health and safety at work in the event of serious, imminent and unavoidable danger.

Following the High Court Judgment of 13th November, work is underway to amend section 44 (d) and (e) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (protection from detriment in circumstances of danger) to extend it to all limb (b) workers as well as employees.

We remain committed to ensuring that all workers are adequately protected from workplace risks.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that the views of the Scottish Government and other devolved Administrations are reflected in the UK position in negotiations on continued UK participation in EU programmes Erasmus Plus and Horizon Europe after the transition period.

The Minister of State for Universities and I have regular conversations with our counterparts in the Scottish Government and other Devolved Administrations across a wide range of education and science, research and innovation issues, including those relating to possible future participation in Erasmus Plus and Horizon Europe.

The Government is open to participation in Horizon Europe if a fair and balanced deal can be reached. Alongside this, BEIS is working with the Devolved Administrations to develop credible options should alternative schemes be required. Funding for any continued participation in EU research and innovation Programmes or EU replacement schemes is subject to allocations at the Spending Review.

The Minister of State for Universities’ discussions include the UK’s approach to EU study and exchange programmes, including Erasmus+, where the government remains open to considering participation in some elements of the next programme. This will be subject to our ongoing negotiations with the EU. In parallel with the negotiations we are continuing to develop a UK-wide domestic alternative to Erasmus+, as a contingency measure. Decisions on funding beyond 2020-21 will be considered at future spending review processes, including Spending Review 2020 which will set out 2021-22 departmental budgets in November. The Devolved Administrations are also part of the governance and development process for the domestic alternative scheme, and we will continue to co-operate closely with them.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with (a) the Scottish Government and (b) other devolved Administrations on potential alternatives to the (i) Erasmus Plus and (i) Horizon Europe programmes.

I have regular conversations with our counterparts in the Scottish Government and other Devolved Administrations across a wide range of R&D issues.

These discussions include the UK’s approach to EU research programmes, where the Government is seeking to negotiate with the EU a fair and balanced deal for the UK’s participation including in Horizon Europe. Alongside this, BEIS is working with the Devolved Administrations and other stakeholders to develop credible options should alternative schemes be required. We will continue to engage the Devolved Administrations actively in policy development.

On Erasmus+, the Government remains open to considering participation in some elements of the next programme. This will be subject to our ongoing negotiations with the EU. We will, in parallel with the negotiations, continue to develop a domestic alternative to Erasmus+. My Hon. Friend the Minister of State for Universities regularly engages with her counterparts in the Devolved Administrations on matters relating to education and EU exit, including Erasmus+ and the potential domestic alternative. The Devolved Administrations are also part of the governance and development process for the domestic alternative scheme, and we will continue to co-operate closely with them.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
29th Sep 2020
What assessment he has made of the potential effect on the post office network of the end of the post office subsidy in 2021.

Future funding is obviously a matter for the ongoing Spending Review processes, but I can assure the hon Member that the Government remains committed to the long-term sustainability of the Post Office network, which has achieved so much during the Covid-19 crisis.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will extend eligibility for the Coronavirus Bounceback Loan Scheme to incoming proprietors of long-established premises in the hospitality sector where the date of registration of the business entity through that premises was after 1 March 2020.

Almost all viable UK-based businesses are eligible to apply for a loan under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS). You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • is based in the UK;
  • was established before 1 March 2020;
  • has been adversely affected by coronavirus.

Whether or not a business is liable for Business Rates, or occupies business premises, is not a consideration under the scheme.

The Government-backed loan schemes are part of a broad package of support measures for businesses, which include the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, deferral of VAT and income tax payments, grant funding for small businesses, and more. For more information on the support available to them, businesses should visit the Government’s business support website.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions the Government had with representatives of Rolls Royce on job retention in the last three months; and whether any future meetings are scheduled.

The Government holds many meetings with companies, including Rolls-Royce, to discuss a wide range of business issues.

Details of meetings held by Ministers in the Department are recorded in our transparency data, which is published at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/beis-ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what contact his Department has had with regulatory agencies on the business practices of Yell Ltd.

The Department has not been in contact with regulatory agencies in connection with the business practices of Yell Ltd.

Business-to-business contract disputes are generally a matter for the parties involved, except in a small number of regulated sectors.

We would encourage any business that is being offered a service to read the contract carefully, and research the reputation of the service provider before making any commitment.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to increase the number of lenders accredited to provide revolving finance and overdraft facilities under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Accredited Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) lenders offer a wide range of business finance products including term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance. The British Business Bank has put in place substantial additional resource to accredit new lenders to CBILS as quickly as possible, which will further widen the choice of finance options for smaller businesses.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if she will commission an inquiry into the events around the recent collapse in the share price of Sirius Minerals PLC.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the regulator responsible. If the FCA suspects serious misconduct, it has the powers to launch investigations and to hold companies or individuals to account.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether her Department has conducted an equality impact assessment of the introduction of fees to exercise data subject access requests.

The right of access is one of the fundamental rights in data protection legislation and the government will protect it. Subject access requests are a critical transparency mechanism under this right, allowing individuals to check the accuracy of their personal data, learn more about how their data is being used and with whom their data is being shared, and obtain a copy of the data held about them.

The consultation paper Data: A New Direction, published on 10 September, considers whether to re-introduce fees for responding to subject access requests. Any fee regime would be structured fairly so as not to undermine an individual's right to access their personal data.

An initial equality impact assessment has been conducted and a final assessment will be developed during and after the consultation process. Through the consultation, the government is seeking views on what, if any, safeguards should apply in order to mitigate any adverse impacts were this proposal to be pursued further.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when the Government plans to publish a draft AI Strategy.

The Government published its National AI Strategy on 22nd September 2021. It can be viewed here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-ai-strategy . The Strategy will ensure that the UK continues our global leadership in the research, development, commercialisation and adoption of responsible AI.

The Strategy sets out our ambition to drive prosperity across the UK and ensure everyone can benefit from AI.

In particular, the Strategy recognises that issues such as the equalities impacts of AI will be an important consideration as we continue to develop policy on the governance and regulation of AI. We will involve relevant regulators and equalities groups in this work. It also recognises the need to give more people the skills to work with AI, developing an AI-literate workforce.

The diversity of people working with and developing AI is an important component of the AI Strategy. We are already supporting 2,500 new Masters conversion courses in AI and data science across universities in England. Included in this program are up to 1,000 scholarships, which aims to increase the number of people from underrepresented groups and encourage graduates from diverse backgrounds to consider a future in AI and Data Science.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what definition of equality will be used in the Government's AI Strategy; and what consultation has taken place with equalities groups in the development of that strategy.

The Government published its National AI Strategy on 22nd September 2021. It can be viewed here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-ai-strategy . The Strategy will ensure that the UK continues our global leadership in the research, development, commercialisation and adoption of responsible AI.

The Strategy sets out our ambition to drive prosperity across the UK and ensure everyone can benefit from AI.

In particular, the Strategy recognises that issues such as the equalities impacts of AI will be an important consideration as we continue to develop policy on the governance and regulation of AI. We will involve relevant regulators and equalities groups in this work. It also recognises the need to give more people the skills to work with AI, developing an AI-literate workforce.

The diversity of people working with and developing AI is an important component of the AI Strategy. We are already supporting 2,500 new Masters conversion courses in AI and data science across universities in England. Included in this program are up to 1,000 scholarships, which aims to increase the number of people from underrepresented groups and encourage graduates from diverse backgrounds to consider a future in AI and Data Science.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of how productivity gains from artificial intelligence can be shared with workers.

The Government published its National AI Strategy on 22nd September 2021. It can be viewed here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-ai-strategy . The Strategy will ensure that the UK continues our global leadership in the research, development, commercialisation and adoption of responsible AI.

The Strategy sets out our ambition to drive prosperity across the UK and ensure everyone can benefit from AI.

In particular, the Strategy recognises that issues such as the equalities impacts of AI will be an important consideration as we continue to develop policy on the governance and regulation of AI. We will involve relevant regulators and equalities groups in this work. It also recognises the need to give more people the skills to work with AI, developing an AI-literate workforce.

The diversity of people working with and developing AI is an important component of the AI Strategy. We are already supporting 2,500 new Masters conversion courses in AI and data science across universities in England. Included in this program are up to 1,000 scholarships, which aims to increase the number of people from underrepresented groups and encourage graduates from diverse backgrounds to consider a future in AI and Data Science.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department plans to take to ensure that the equalities impacts of artificial intelligence will be taken into account in the development of the Government's AI Strategy.

The Government published its National AI Strategy on 22nd September 2021. It can be viewed here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-ai-strategy . The Strategy will ensure that the UK continues our global leadership in the research, development, commercialisation and adoption of responsible AI.

The Strategy sets out our ambition to drive prosperity across the UK and ensure everyone can benefit from AI.

In particular, the Strategy recognises that issues such as the equalities impacts of AI will be an important consideration as we continue to develop policy on the governance and regulation of AI. We will involve relevant regulators and equalities groups in this work. It also recognises the need to give more people the skills to work with AI, developing an AI-literate workforce.

The diversity of people working with and developing AI is an important component of the AI Strategy. We are already supporting 2,500 new Masters conversion courses in AI and data science across universities in England. Included in this program are up to 1,000 scholarships, which aims to increase the number of people from underrepresented groups and encourage graduates from diverse backgrounds to consider a future in AI and Data Science.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to assess a potential correlation between company procurement of artificial intelligence platforms and the level of transition to zero-hours contracts.

The Government published its National AI Strategy on 22nd September 2021. It can be viewed here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-ai-strategy . The Strategy will ensure that the UK continues our global leadership in the research, development, commercialisation and adoption of responsible AI.

The Strategy sets out our ambition to drive prosperity across the UK and ensure everyone can benefit from AI.

In particular, the Strategy recognises that issues such as the equalities impacts of AI will be an important consideration as we continue to develop policy on the governance and regulation of AI. We will involve relevant regulators and equalities groups in this work. It also recognises the need to give more people the skills to work with AI, developing an AI-literate workforce.

The diversity of people working with and developing AI is an important component of the AI Strategy. We are already supporting 2,500 new Masters conversion courses in AI and data science across universities in England. Included in this program are up to 1,000 scholarships, which aims to increase the number of people from underrepresented groups and encourage graduates from diverse backgrounds to consider a future in AI and Data Science.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with refence to David Perry QC's TV Licence Fee Enforcement Review, published 2015, what steps his Department took to implement the recommendation that gender disparity in TV licence prosecutions be the subject of investigation and consideration in the BBC Charter Review.

In the White Paper ‘A BBC for the future: a broadcaster of distinction’ published in 2016, the government considered the findings of the Perry Review and agreed with its assessment that the current regime represents a broadly fair and proportionate response to the problem of licence fee evasion and provides good value for money (both for licence fee payers and taxpayers).

The White Paper set out that, as part of the Charter Review process, the government saw evidence from the BBC that it was looking to address the recommendations from the Perry Review, including further work on gender disparity.

TV Licensing subsequently completed a review of the gender disparity in TV licence evasion prosecutions and published a Gender Disparity Report in 2017. The report explored some of the reasons why a gender imbalance exists but noted that there is no evidence of any discriminatory enforcement practices on the part of TV Licensing.

7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of changes implemented by the BBC in response to the recommendations in the TV Licence Fee Enforcement Review conducted by David Perry QC, including the recommendation that the BBC change the tone and content of its written communications with households.

The BBC and TV Licensing are independent of the government and the government has no say over their day-to-day decisions, including the content and tone of their written communications with households.

Under the Royal Charter, it is for the BBC Board to ensure that arrangements for the collection of the licence fee are efficient, appropriate and proportionate.

As noted in the consultation on decriminalisation of TV licence evasion, the government remains concerned about the considerable stress and anxiety that TV Licensing communications and the criminal sanction can cause for individuals.

The government is keeping the issue of decriminalisation under active consideration as part of the wider roadmap of reform of the BBC.

7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he has taken to help ensure that the BBC change the tone and content of its written communications with households as recommended in the TV Licence Fee Enforcement Review conducted by David Perry QC.

The BBC and TV Licensing are independent of the government and the government has no say over their day-to-day decisions, including the content and tone of their written communications with households.

Under the Royal Charter, it is for the BBC Board to ensure that arrangements for the collection of the licence fee are efficient, appropriate and proportionate.

As noted in the consultation on decriminalisation of TV licence evasion, the government remains concerned about the considerable stress and anxiety that TV Licensing communications and the criminal sanction can cause for individuals.

The government is keeping the issue of decriminalisation under active consideration as part of the wider roadmap of reform of the BBC.

7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the reasons for the gender imbalance in people prosecuted for TV licence evasion identified by the TV Licence Fee Enforcement Review conducted by David Perry QC.

TV Licensing completed a review of the gender disparity in TV licence evasion prosecutions and published a Gender Disparity Report in 2017. The report explored some of the reasons why a gender imbalance exists but noted that there is no evidence of any discriminatory enforcement practices on the part of TV Licensing.

The government also noted its concern about the ongoing gender disparity of prosecutions for TV licence evasion in the consultation on decriminalisation of TV licence evasion launched in 2020.

The government is keeping the issue of decriminalisation under active consideration as part of the wider roadmap of reform of the BBC.

12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 25 February 2021 to Question 156495 on Arts: EU Countries, what progress the Government has made on (a) negotiating a bespoke Visa Waiver Agreement with the EU for the creative sector, (b) reaching bilateral agreements with EU Member States regarding the introduction of cultural exemptions for work permits and (c) mitigating the impact of new road haulage and cross-trade rules on pan-European cultural tours.

This government recognises the importance of our world leading creative and cultural industries. That is why the UK took an ambitious approach during negotiations that would have ensured that touring musicians, performers and their support staff did not need work-permits to perform in the EU. Regrettably, our proposals were rejected by the EU, but our door remains open if the EU wants to reconsider its position.

A bespoke visa waiver agreement with the EU would require the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) to be renegotiated. The TCA is the basis of our trading relations with the EU, and this is not going to be renegotiated.

The Commission would be likely to argue that any EU-wide visa waiver agreement can only be part of a wider package with a binding non-discrimination clause and a reciprocal visa waiver agreement covering all current and future Member States. This was what the Commission proposed in the negotiations and would be incompatible with our manifesto commitment to retain control of our borders.

We have spoken to every Member States about the importance of touring, and we have established that at least 18 out of 27 Member States, including France and Germany, allow some visa and permit free touring. Furthermore, we are now working closely with individual Member States to encourage them to adopt a more flexible approach, in line with the UK’s own rules which allow creative professionals to tour easily here.

We are aware that the new provisions in the TCA around haulage will require the sector to adapt to new requirements and ways of working with the EU now we are no longer a Member State. The Department for Transport published a call for evidence on 30 June to seek views and evidence on two possible options that could help support these sectors adapt to the new requirements.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of negotiating a reciprocal touring artist visa waiver programme with the EU to ensure that artists, musicians and performers can tour freely.

The Government recognises the importance of touring for UK musicians and other creative professionals. We acknowledge that there will be some additional processes for those in creative industries working across the EU now that the transition period has come to an end. However, our agreement with the EU contains Transparency and Procedural Facilitation measures that will help ensure visa processes are as prompt and smooth as possible.

During our negotiations with the EU, the UK proposed measures, reflecting the views of the music industry itself, that would have allowed musicians to travel and perform in the UK and the EU more easily, without needing work-permits. Specifically, we proposed to capture the work done by musicians, artists and entertainers, and their accompanying staff through the list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors.

In practice this would have delivered an outcome that is closer to the UK’s approach to incoming musicians, artists and entertainers from non-visa national countries, such as EU Member States and the US, who can come to perform in the UK without requiring a visa. Unfortunately, these proposals were repeatedly rejected by the EU.

The EU did not propose and wouldn’t accept a tailored deal for musicians, artists and their support staff to tour across the EU and UK.

Going forward, we will continue our close dialogue with the creative and cultural sectors to ensure that they have the support they need to thrive.The Government recognises the importance of touring for UK musicians and other creative professionals, and has engaged extensively with the creative industries and arts sector since the announcement of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement to ensure they are aware of the new requirements.

Oliver Dowden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to improve awareness of the Suspicious Email Reporting Service among the public and businesses in East Renfrewshire constituency.

The Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) was launched on 21 April as part of the government’s Cyber Aware campaign. This is a UK-wide campaign promoted through paid activity, press and stakeholder engagement.

The campaign materials were shared with Scottish Government and other Scottish public sector organisations, including Education Scotland, Scottish Business Resilience Centre and Trading Standards Scotland. We have also worked closely with Police Scotland. All have played an essential role in helping to amplify the SERS in local communities.

The SERS was promoted on social media and through paid search, both of which were targeted at audiences in Scotland. Results show specific engagement within East Renfrewshire.

We plan to run the campaign for the remainder of this financial year with sustained engagement and paid activity in Scotland.

11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to improve awareness of the Cyber Essentials scheme among the public and businesses in East Renfrewshire constituency.

As part of the National Cyber Security Strategy, the Government is helping organisations across the economy and society improve their digital security. We are promoting the uptake of the Cyber Essentials (CE) scheme, which is targeted at businesses and organisations, in a number of ways, including through the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) extensive engagements with industry sectors and via police regional organised crime units, which engage with businesses locally.

The Government’s Cyber Aware campaign helps the public and small businesses take up secure online behaviours, including signposting businesses towards Cyber Essentials and other guidance and support.

Up to the end of April 2020, 44,443 Cyber Essentials certificates have now been awarded to organisations, including 5,534 since the start of 2020.

11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many businesses in East Renfrewshire constituency have enrolled on the Cyber Essentials Scheme.

From 2016 until the end of April 2020, seven Cyber Essentials certificates have been awarded to organisations in the East Renfrewshire constituency. This is an estimate, as there is incomplete location data for some historical certificate entries.

A total of 44,443 certificates have been awarded to organisations across the UK.

A search function to find organisations with Cyber Essentials certificates is available at www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberessentials/search.

22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the difficulties facing parents who are working from home and supporting school-age children with remote learning.

Attendance has been mandatory for all pupils of compulsory school age since 8 March 2021. There will be specific instances where an individual, small group, or class of pupils or students cannot attend school on-site because they are, for example, self-isolating or shielding in line with guidance or law relating to COVID-19.

Where it is needed, schools are expected to provide as a minimum 3-5 hours of remote education depending on Key Stage. This includes either recorded or live direct teaching alongside time for pupils to work independently to complete assignments that have been set.

We recognise that different expectations are appropriate for younger and older age groups when teaching remotely. We also expect schools to consider the remote education expectations in relation to pupils’ age, stage of development or special educational needs.

We know this is a challenging time for parents, carers and children. This is why we have published guidance for parents and carers on remote education and how they can best support their child while educating from home: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/supporting-your-childrens-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19. This includes resources and advice to help parents and carers on how to establish a routine with their child, and how best to support mental health and wellbeing during this period.

Parents and carers should not feel that they need to set work for their child. If parents or carers feel they need further support or additional teaching materials for their children, they are encouraged to discuss this with their school or college first.

In our guidance for parents and carers, we have provided links to some educational resources which parents may also find it helpful to be aware of, such as Oak National Academy, BBC Bitesize, LendED, and specialist resources for supporting children with special educational needs and disability with their remote education: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/supporting-your-childrens-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

1st Mar 2021
What assessment he has made of the effect of the end of the transition period on (a) further and (b) higher education.

The department has considered all aspects of how exiting the EU might affect further and higher education. This included consideration of participation in EU-funded programmes, future arrangements for migration and for access to student finance support. We have been committed to ensuring the country is prepared for every eventuality.

My officials also regularly engage with sector stakeholders on a range of issues, including EU exit and the transition period.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the cost to the public purse is of setting up the Turing scheme; and whether that cost was included in the £100 million of funding recently announced for that scheme.

The UK is already a significant net contributor to Erasmus+. Government estimates that the UK’s notional contribution to the current (2014-2020) programme over its seven-year duration will be around €1.8 billion, whilst the UK expected to receive around €1 billion in receipts over the course of the programme.

The budget for the next programme is nearly doubling from €14 billion to €26 billion. In order to participate in Erasmus+, the EU proposed new terms of participation for the UK which included a participation fee in addition to a GDP-based contribution. The only terms on offer to the UK for Erasmus+ participation would mean that we would likely make a gross contribution in the region of £600 million per annum and pay in around £2 billion more than we would get out over the course of the next programme. We obviously respect the right of the EU to set the terms for participation in its programmes but, in this case, we did not believe those terms represented value for money for the UK taxpayer.

Therefore, as an independent and sovereign country, it is also right that we will proceed with the introduction of a new international educational exchange scheme that has a genuinely global reach. The government remains committed to international education exchanges and that is why we have committed to funding the Turing scheme.

The Turing scheme will be backed by over £100 million for the academic year. This includes the costs of administering the scheme and I am pleased to confirm that the new scheme will be administered by the same consortium of British Council and Ecorys which have been delivering Erasmus+ in the UK for a number of years, drawing on their experience of working with education providers across the UK, and ensuring continuity. This will fund similar levels of student outbound mobilities as under Erasmus and provide funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on study and work placements overseas, starting in September 2021.

The Turing scheme will also go further than Erasmus+ by including countries across the world, while delivering greater value for money to taxpayers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what cost-benefit analysis his Department has conducted comparing continued UK participation in Erasmus with the establishment of the Turing Scheme.

The UK is already a significant net contributor to Erasmus+. Government estimates that the UK’s notional contribution to the current (2014-2020) programme over its seven-year duration will be around €1.8 billion, whilst the UK expected to receive around €1 billion in receipts over the course of the programme.

The budget for the next programme is nearly doubling from €14 billion to €26 billion. In order to participate in Erasmus+, the EU proposed new terms of participation for the UK which included a participation fee in addition to a GDP-based contribution. The only terms on offer to the UK for Erasmus+ participation would mean that we would likely make a gross contribution in the region of £600 million per annum and pay in around £2 billion more than we would get out over the course of the next programme. We obviously respect the right of the EU to set the terms for participation in its programmes but, in this case, we did not believe those terms represented value for money for the UK taxpayer.

Therefore, as an independent and sovereign country, it is also right that we will proceed with the introduction of a new international educational exchange scheme that has a genuinely global reach. The government remains committed to international education exchanges and that is why we have committed to funding the Turing scheme.

The Turing scheme will be backed by over £100 million for the academic year. This includes the costs of administering the scheme and I am pleased to confirm that the new scheme will be administered by the same consortium of British Council and Ecorys which have been delivering Erasmus+ in the UK for a number of years, drawing on their experience of working with education providers across the UK, and ensuring continuity. This will fund similar levels of student outbound mobilities as under Erasmus and provide funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on study and work placements overseas, starting in September 2021.

The Turing scheme will also go further than Erasmus+ by including countries across the world, while delivering greater value for money to taxpayers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with (a) the Scottish Government and (b) other devolved Administrations on potential alternatives to the (i) Erasmus Plus and (i) Horizon Europe programmes.

I have regular conversations with our counterparts in the Scottish government and other devolved administrations across a wide range of research and development issues.

These discussions include the UK’s approach to EU research programmes, where the government is seeking to negotiate with the EU a fair and balanced deal for the UK’s participation, including in Horizon Europe. Alongside this, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is working with the devolved administrations and other stakeholders to develop credible options, should alternative schemes be required. We will continue to actively engage with the devolved administrations in policy development.

On Erasmus+, the government remains open to considering participation in some elements of the next programme. This will be subject to our ongoing negotiations with the EU. We will, in parallel with the negotiations, continue to develop a domestic alternative to Erasmus+. I regularly engage with my counterparts in the devolved administrations on matters relating to education and the EU exit, including Erasmus+ and the potential domestic alternative. The devolved administrations are also part of the governance and development process for the domestic alternative scheme, and we will continue to co-operate closely with them.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward legislative proposals on animal sentience before the end of the transition period.

The Government is committed to further strengthening our world-leading animal welfare standards. We have committed to bringing in new laws on animal sentience following a clear manifesto commitment. Any necessary changes required to domestic legislation will be made in an effective and credible way and will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows.

In the meantime, the Government’s policies on animal welfare continue to be driven by our recognition that animals are sentient beings. We ensure animal welfare needs are met by placing direct obligations on keepers of animals under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Our commitment to the protection of animal welfare is demonstrated by the Government’s continued support for the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, sponsored by Chris Loder MP, which passed its second reading in the House of Commons on 23 October.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how he plans to involve devolved administrations in the regulation and enforcement of marine protected areas after the end of the transition period.

Marine management is a devolved matter. The devolved administrations will be responsible for the regulation and enforcement of Marine Protected Areas within their waters at the end of the transition period, as they are currently. We will continue to work with them to ensure a coherent approach to marine management in UK waters.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what is the total sea area around the UK designated as a marine protected area; and how many areas designated as protected areas are in adjacent waters to (a) Scotland, (b) England, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland.

36% of the UK’s waters are now designated as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). There are 136 MPAs in Scottish waters, 177 in English waters, 29 in Welsh waters and 25 in Northern Irish waters.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions the Government has had with the Competitions and Markets Authority on supermarket pricing levels during the covid-19 outbreak.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and representatives of our leading supermarkets are working to ensure people have the food and products they need. Retailers will work hard to mitigate any disruption to their supply chain that could impact on their costs, to keep customer prices down as far as possible.

The Business Secretary met the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), business, trade and consumer organisations on Thursday 9 April to discuss ways in which profiteering could be tackled. The Prime Minister has been clear the Government will look at further action, including legislation if necessary, to address any significant issues.

We have not seen any evidence that profiteering on food is a significant or widespread issue across the UK at present. We are in regular communication with all major retailers, who have been responsible, committed and co-operative in their response to Covid-19. We are aware, however, of concerns that a small minority of businesses are exploiting consumers through harmful sales and pricing practices, and the CMA has created a COVID-19 taskforce to address such issues. They have already approached traders and trade associations on this matter.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the humanitarian effect of the covid-19 pandemic on children in the developing world.

Children are particularly vulnerable during infectious disease outbreaks. As many as 1.5 billion children have been out of school as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic has resulted in considerable changes to the essential environment that a child’s well-being, development and protection rely upon.

Whilst children were already facing a learning crisis before COVID-19, school closures also put children at risk of malnutrition, making them more susceptible to illness, but also child labour, neglect, abuse and lost learning.

In light of the pandemic, the UK has pivoted its education programmes in 18 countries to provide education and keep pupils safe. For example, DFID Syria has expanded its education programmes to protect vulnerable children by providing hygiene kits, stipends for teachers and home learning materials. At a global level, we have provided £20 million to UNICEF to support the continuity of essential social services for children, women and vulnerable populations, including child protection.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to the Answer of 29 June 2020 to Question 64205 on Department for International Development: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, what estimate she has made of the effect on the number of staff currently employed by each Department of the merger of those Departments.

Merging the Departments will mean changes for how teams are structured. Some roles and responsibilities will change, and we will be working this through over the next few months. It is too early to be able to estimate the impact on staff numbers. We can confirm that there will be no compulsory redundancies for DFID employees as a result of the decision to create the new Department and any changes will be handled in accordance with relevant civil service policy and guidance.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to the Answer of 22 June 2020 to Question 59888, what assessment the Government has made of the effect on staffing numbers in East Kilbride of the planned merger between her Department and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

DFID’s existing office in East Kilbride will become part of the new Department’s estate. Some roles in East Kilbride may change due to business needs and any changes will be handled in compliance with relevant civil service policy and guidance. It is too early to be able to say precisely what effect those changes will be. We can confirm that there will be no compulsory redundancies for DFID employees as a result of the decision to create the new Department and any changes will be handled in accordance with relevant civil service policy and guidance.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what risk assessment his Department carried out before 31 January 2020 on the effect of the UK leaving the EU on the domestic road haulage sector; and what steps he took in response to the findings of that risk assessment.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) allows EU hauliers to continue to operate to, from, through and within the UK without the need for permits. The TCA ensures that the vast majority of journeys will continue as they did before the end of the transition period. The agreement also entirely respects the UK’s right to decide for ourselves how we regulate the domestic transport sector since domestic transport standards are out of scope of the Agreement.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department made of the potential implications for his policies for the domestic road haulage sector of the combined effect of the UK leaving the EU and the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) allows EU hauliers to continue to operate to, from, through and within the UK without the need for permits. The TCA ensures that the vast majority of journeys will continue as they did before the end of the transition period. The Agreement also entirely respects the UK’s right to decide for ourselves how we regulate the domestic transport sector since domestic transport standards are out of scope of the Agreement.

On the impact of Covid-19 on the domestic haulage market, Covid-19 necessitated a suspension in commercial driver testing, pausing supply of domestic talent, but the DVSA have now restarted and ramped up testing to address the backlog. This shortage of HGV drivers is longstanding and predates the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure priority access to (a) theory (b) practical driving tests for people with additional needs or their carers.

Emergency practical driving tests are available for critical workers in England or Wales who work for the NHS, in health or social care, the emergency services or a local council, who also need to drive as part of their job or respond to ‘threats to life’ as part of their job. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has not been able to offer critical worker tests in Scotland following advice from the Scottish Government.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the (a) backlog and (b) processing time is to renew lorry and bus licences that have expired since 31 December 2020.

The number of applications awaiting processing fluctuates on a daily basis as driving licences are issued and new applications received. All driving licence applications are currently being processed within published target times.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a six month extension of the policy of automatically extending lorry or bus driving licences or entitlement to drive in the UK; and if he will make a statement.

All applications to renew lorry and bus (Group 2) driving licences are being prioritised by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. There are no plans to further extend driving licence validity periods. Group 2 drivers who have previously benefited from an extension to their driving licence must obtain the necessary medical report in the interests of road safety.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 11 January 2021 to Question 131307 on Driving Tests: Employment, what steps the DVSA is taking to prioritise applicants for whom a driving licence is a requirement for maintaining or taking up employment.

During the lockdown period, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has been offering a limited theory test and practical test service in England and Wales to NHS health and social care workers, emergency services and local council workers who need to both drive as part of their job and respond to 'threats to life' as part of their job. The DVSA has contacted eligible organisations, such as NHS Trusts, to explain how to nominate candidates; candidates cannot apply themselves.

Mobile emergency worker tests cannot be currently offered in Scotland due to Covid restrictions determined by the Scottish Government.

The DVSA has no current plans to expand this priority service.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much of the £4.2 billion for intra-city transport settlements referred to in Build Back Better: our plan for growth will be invested in the existing rail network.

As announced at Budget 2020 and confirmed in the subsequent Spending Review, the Government is investing £4.2 billion in the transport networks of eight city regions across England from 2022/23.

This funding will be delivered through multi-year consolidated transport settlements negotiated with central Government and based on plans put forward by city regions.

It will be for the eligible Combined Authorities, in their role as the local transport authorities, to prioritise projects within their local areas.

The Department is looking forward to working towards and agreeing settlements based on each eligible city region’s transport priorities.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when a Project Speed review of investment planning for the rail network will be undertaken.

We continue to develop our rail portfolio in line with the rail industry’s Project SPEED principles, reflecting the need to deliver fast and efficient outcomes for the significant investment this government is making in rail. That means we are embedding the rail industry’s Project SPEED principles in every one of our investment decisions. We are also working with colleagues across Government to ensure that the HMT led Project Speed initiatives are also embedded in rail projects.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much of the £4.2 billion for intra-city transport settlements referred to in Build Back Better: our plan for growth published by the Treasury in March 2021 will be allocated to extending step-free access to existing stations on the rail network.

As announced at Budget 2020 and confirmed in the subsequent Spending Review, the Government is investing £4.2 billion in the transport networks of eight city regions across England from 2022/23.

This funding will be delivered through multi-year consolidated transport settlements negotiated with central Government and based on plans put forward by city regions.

It will be for the eligible Combined Authorities, in their role as the local transport authorities, to prioritise projects within their local areas.

The Department is looking forward to working towards and agreeing settlements based on each eligible city region’s transport priorities.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the timescale for delivering step-free access to all stations on the rail network.

We will shortly be commissioning accessibility audits of all mainline stations that will allow us to prioritise future investment in station accessibility.

Further measures to improve rail accessibility will be included in the forthcoming rail reform White Paper.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress has been made in assessing the need for investment to extend step-free access to all stations on the rail network.

We will shortly be commissioning accessibility audits of all mainline stations that will allow us to prioritise future investment in station accessibility.

Further measures to improve rail accessibility will be included in the forthcoming rail reform White Paper.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to provide early access post-lockdown to (a) driving theory tests and (b) practical driving tests for (i) key workers including those who work in health or social care, (ii) essential workers including those in waste management, distribution and infrastructure, (iii) other workers for whom a driving licence is an essential requirement and (iv) people with disabilities and their carers; and if he will make a statement.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is in discussions with Transport Scotland to provide driving theory tests and practical driving tests for frontline mobile emergency workers. Transport Scotland is working to ensure it has the relevant legislation is in place before offering the service.

The DVSA is working with its theory test contract provider, Pearson VUE, to respond to requests for theory tests in England and Wales from organisations such as Ambulance Authorities on behalf of frontline mobile emergency workers who require a driving licence to carry out duties in their employment role. The DVSA will also respond to requests for practical driving tests in England and Wales from organisations on behalf of frontline mobile emergency workers, who require a driving licence to carry out duties in their employment role.

This is a limited service subject to examiner resource and is restricted to candidates working in health and social care, and other public bodies involved in work responding to ‘threats to life’ such as the Environment Agency’s flood rescue staff, or local authority gritter truck drivers. The DVSA is contacting NHS Trusts to explain how to nominate candidates; candidates cannot apply themselves. Applications from other organisations will be considered if the mobile emergency worker criteria is met.

The DVSA is in the process of planning for the resumption of services and increasing test capacity when it is safe to do so. Arrangements will be announced in due course.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many practical driving tests have been conducted since 14 September 2020; and what proportion of the additional 375,000 tests have been conducted as set out by the DVSA in a 9 September 2020 letter to the hon. Member for East Renfrewshire since 14 September 2020.

295,373 practical car driving tests were conducted between 14 September 2020 and 21 January 2021.

The practical driving test booking system does not identify how many of those test conducted were part of the additional 375,000 test slots allocated.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reasons Highways England is responsible for determining the future development of the bridges between Neilston and Uplawmoor on a former rail line in East Renfrewshire.

In addition to its primary role as highway authority for the strategic road network in England, Highways England manages the Historical Railways Estate on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport across England, Scotland and Wales. It is planning to infill up to twenty-three bridge structures in Scotland over the next five years for the purpose of maintaining the safety of nearby communities and the drivers who use the roads which cross them.

East Renfrewshire Council has indicated that there are future plans for the former Lanarkshire and Ayrshire railway. There will be further discussions between Highways England and the local authority about plans for the three bridges. Highways England enjoys a strong working relationship with local councils, allowing for an open dialogue about local authority responsibilities and the potential future use or transfer of ownership of bridges.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 21 October to Question 102858 on Driving Tests: Coronavirus, how many theory test certificates expired during the 6 months following the passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020 without the candidate sitting their practical test within the required timescale; and what the comparable figures are for the same six month period in the previous three years.

A total of 99,892 theory test certificates expired during the 6 months following the passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020 without a practical test being passed.

The table below shows the comparable figures for the same 6-month period in the previous 3 years are as follows:

2019

97,573

2018

96,378

2017

89,462

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent estimate he has made of the number of theory test certificates that will expire during the 12 months following the passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020 without the candidate being able to sit a practical test within the required timescale.

The validity period of the theory test certificate is 2 years.

The total number of theory test passes between 25 March 2018 – 25 March 2019 is 1,005,789.

It is not possible to estimate how many of those will expire without the candidate being able to sit a practical test.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 21 October 2020 to Question 102859 on Driving Tests: Coronavirus, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to amend Section 91 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to permit the repayment of theory test fees where a candidate's theory test certificate expires after the passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020 without the candidate being able to sit their practical test within the required timescale.

There are no plans to bring forward such legislative proposals.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 21 October 2020 to Question 102859 on Driving Tests: Coronavirus, what consultation he has conducted regarding legislative proposals to amend Section 91 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to permit the repayment of theory test fees where a candidate's theory test certificate expires after the passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020 without the candidate being able to sit their practical test within the required timescale.

A candidate whose theory test certificate expires will have received the service for which they paid the fee. Therefore, no consultation has been conducted. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency continues to refund the fee for the practical driving test as soon as a candidate’s theory test certificate expires.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the backlog of (a) theory and (b) practical driving tests in (i) Scotland and (ii) Great Britain; and how long he estimates it will take to clear each backlog.

The attached table shows the practical driving test backlogs as at 21 December 2020:

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working hard to reduce the backlog of tests whilst adhering to Government guidance to suspend its testing services to help stop the spread of coronavirus and keep people safe. It will continue to reschedule tests that are suspended in line with Government restrictions to the next available test dates.

Unlike driver practical tests, the DVSA is unable to make an estimate of the backlog of theory tests as these appointments are managed by re-scheduling candidates into a virtual centre, giving candidates the opportunity to choose an alternative date and time.

Demand for theory test services has increased as a result of national and local restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scottish Government’s initiative to support vocational drivers, and the shortage of delivery and goods drivers due to Brexit.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the number of applicants waiting for (a) theory and (b) practical driving test in (i) Scotland and (ii) England and (iii) Wales for whom a driving licence is a requirement of their current or potential employment.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency does not record, or hold, information to show candidates whose driving licence is a requirement of their current, or potential, employment.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the economic cost to the (a) applicant and (b) wider economy of the wait for driving tests in (i) Scotland, (ii) England and (iii) where a driving licence is a requirement for the applicant maintaining or taking up employment.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is responsible for the delivery of driver and vehicle testing. It does hold data on the economic cost to the applicant or wider economy.

The DVSA does not record, or hold, information to determine if a driving licence is a requirement for the applicant maintaining or taking up employment.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many applicants resident in Scotland have (a) been offered and (b) accepted an appointment for a driving test elsewhere in Great Britain since the passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020.

Candidates select the test centre of their choice when booking a driving test. Some candidates may be residing temporarily in an area away from their home address, for example, for study or work purposes.

In the period 25 March 2020 to 30 November 2020, there were 754 candidates with Scotland postcodes who took their driving tests in England or Wales.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 21 October 2020 to Question 102854, what steps Network Rail (a) is taking and (b) plans to take to implement recommendations four and six from the 2018 Varley Review.

Network Rail will develop a baseline database of habitats and biodiversity across its estate such that long-term management plans can be developed in the same way as those for other railway assets such as track and embankments.

Network Rail are creating a culture dedicated to enhancing natural habitats and, will continue to strive towards demonstrating leadership by partnering with experts, communities and lineside neighbours. Training and recruitment will ensure that the organisation has specialist skills and competencies.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what restrictions apply to conducting practical driving tests under the very high local covid-19 alert levels implemented in England.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) priority has been to restore its testing services with new protective measures and procedures in place that keep people safe and stop the spread of COVID-19. The safety measures applied when conducting a practical driving test in England are therefore the same regardless of which Tier level the test centre falls under.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether it is Network Rail's policy to implement the recommendations of the (a) Varley Review and (b) Network Rail Vegetation Management Review.

Network Rail welcomed John Varley's independent report on its approach to vegetation management and set out how it would respond to the review’s recommendations when it was published.

In its Environmental Sustainability Strategy published in September 2020 Network Rail commits to exceeding the review’s recommendation to achieve no net loss of biodiversity across the network by 2024 and net gain by 2040, instead achieving biodiversity net gain by 2035. Further details will be set out in the forthcoming biodiversity action plan.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 17 June 2020 to Question 57396 on Driving Tests: Coronavirus, what consultation he has undertaken on whether to bring forward amending legislation to allow (a) refunds of theory test fees and (b) applicants to resit the test free of charge where a theory test certificate expired during the covid-19 outbreak resulting in a candidate being unable to sit their practical test.

The two-year validity period of the theory test certificate is set in legislation and the Government has decided not to lay further legislation to extend it; therefore, no consultation has been undertaken.

The main reason the two-year validity of a theory test certificate is in place is to ensure a candidate’s theoretical knowledge of driving remains current. Extending the validity would erode that assurance. It is important that road safety knowledge and hazard perception skills are up to date as learners prepare to take their practical test. Learners will therefore need to pass another theory test if their certificate expires. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency realises this will affect and disappoint some learners.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 17 June 2020 to Question 57396 on Driving Tests: Coronavirus, what estimate he has made of the number of theory test certificates that will expire during the six months following the passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020 without the candidate being able to sit their practical test within the required timescale.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 came into effect on 25 March 2020. Around 118,000 theory test pass certificates were due to expire by the end of September 2020. However, on average 14,000 candidates let their certificate expire each month in the normal course of events.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 17 June 2020 to Question 57396 on answered on 17 June 2020 on Driving Tests: Coronavirus, what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of providing (a) refunds of theory test fees or (b) a free replacement test where a candidate's theory test certificate expires during the six months following the passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020 without the candidate being able to sit their practical test within the required timescale.

No estimate has been made of the cost of refunding theory test fees as this is expressly forbidden by the Road Traffic Act 1988 section 91 (except in limited cases not relevant here). The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) pays its contractor, Pearson, per theory test delivered.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 came into effect on 25 March 2020. Around 118,000 theory test pass certificates were due to expire by the end of September 2020. However, on average 14,000 candidates let their certificate expire each month in the normal course of events.

If candidates were exempted from having to pay for one-retest, then the DVSA would have incurred costs of up to £1.5m if all of the 118,000 learners chose to retake the theory test. In addition, applications for a re-test would need to have been validated and systems amended to remove the requirement for payment in these cases. No estimate was made of these additional costs to the DVSA. The fee for any practical test booking was refunded on expiry of the candidates’ theory test certificate.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many regulations he has brought forward under provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 since the passing of that Act.

The Secretary of State for Transport has not bought forward any regulations under the provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with National Air Traffic Services on its decision to terminate the contracts of trainee air traffic controllers before they have completed their training.

Ministers have regular contact with NATS to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their business. We understand that the decision NATS have taken to place at risk the contracts of 122 trainees in their training college, whilst regrettable, has been carefully considered. NATS have committed to staying in contact with the trainees and looking for opportunities to restart their training as soon as possible.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 9 June 2020 to Question 52100, on High Speed 2 Railway Line: Tree Planting, who fulfils the role of Early Works Contractors on HS2; when those contractors were appointed; what the procurement route used in those appointments was; and how many (a) defective and (b) failed plant materials those contractors have replaced.

The Enabling Works Contracts (EWC) for Phase One were awarded to joint venture (JV) organisations in November 2016, covering three geographic Areas (North, Central and South). The enabling works contractors are Laing O’Rourke and Murphy Group (LM-JV) for Area North; Morgan Sindall, BAM Nuttall and Ferrovial Agroman (Fusion JV) for Area Central; and Costain and Skanska (CS-JV) for Area South. The Procurement route used for the EWC Contracts was the OJEU negotiated procedure. The announcement regarding the awarding of contracts can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hs2-names-enabling-works-contractors

No plants have been rejected by the Independent Inspector as being defective. Out of a total of 553,233 trees planted between 2017 and 2020, 122,208 have been replacement trees, leaving a net total 431,025 trees successfully planted.

The loss of HS2 plants during hot weather, particularly in 2018, has been consistent with planting carried out by others at the same time, including the Forestry Commission which increased its rates under their grant schemes to allow replacement of the additional losses. The cost of maintaining sufficient water supplies for saplings would have been higher than replanting, and using the quantities of water required to maintain the planting would not have been an appropriate or responsible use of resources at the height of summer. Replacing plants lost is considered a much more cost effective solution, as well as being a more ethical use of resources during unprecedented conditions.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 9 June 2020 to Question 52100, who fulfils the role of HS2 independent inspector; when that appointment was made; what procurement method was used in making that appointment; and where the independent inspector's reports are published.

The Independent Assessor of Plant Material role is undertaken through Aecom Infrastructure and Environment Limited. There are a number of qualified individuals that support that contract. The contract was awarded following a competitive tender process and for a period of two years from 23rd January 2017. The Contract has since been extended until 31st March 2021. The reports are not published, as their intent is to help provide an independent view of plant quality to help ensure that planting is successful, and are not designed to be a public record of the status of the planting that is taking place.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the answer of 9 June 2020 to Question 52101, within what parameters are potential breaches of (a) wildlife and (b) environmental protection legislation investigated by HS2 Ltd.

Every report or allegation of a breach of wildlife or environmental protection legislation is investigated to assess whether a breach has taken place. Allegations may come from a wide range of sources, including direct correspondence, phone calls to the HS2 helpline, media reports, tweets and campaign websites. There are no discretionary parameters as to whether a report is investigated or not.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 9 June 2020 to Question 52101 on High Speed 2 Railway Line: Environment Protection, how many credible potential breaches of (a) wildlife and (b) environmental protection legislation have been recorded using HS2 Ltd's process of live recording and reporting of breaches.

HS2 Ltd’s live reporting over the past 5 years has recorded 93 possible breaches of Wildlife legislation, and 307 possible breaches of Environmental Protection legislation. HS2 takes credible potential breaches very seriously and each is investigated as necessary with the involvement of the relevant statutory authority where applicable.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the health of saplings planted as part of HS2 mitigation measures; and what steps he is taking to ensure regular monitoring of those saplings.

HS2 Ltd has appointed an independent inspector responsible for checking the quality of cultivated plant material. Plant material is inspected twice a year, including a pre-delivery inspection of its size and quality. The independent inspector also carries out inspections of material delivered to sites to further confirm that it meets the required specifications. The inspector produces a report for each inspection, which includes recommendations for HS2 Ltd or its supply chain as necessary. Material is planted by the Early Works Contractors, who have the responsibility for regular inspection and maintenance during tree establishment, including the replacement of any defective or failed plant material.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 7 January 2020 to Question 18, how many potential breaches of (a) wildlife and (b) environmental protection legislation have been reported against (i) HS2 Ltd and (ii) their contractors in each of the last five years; and what processes are in place to record and learn from potential breaches.

There have been no prosecutions for breaches in wildlife or environmental protection legislation in relation to HS2 Ltd or its contractors in the last 5 years. HS2 Ltd has a process for live reporting and recording of credible potential breaches and these are reviewed daily, with reporting on a monthly basis at both the programme and senior level. HS2 Ltd takes the risk of breaches very seriously. Were one to occur, this would be investigated as necessary with the involvement of the relevant statutory authority where applicable.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
6th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to engage with British Airways to help facilitate job retention in that company.

The Chancellor has set out unprecedented support for workers of airline companies and Ministers and officials regularly meet with airline representatives to discuss the challenges they face and possible areas of support. Measures such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are being used across the aviation industry to protect the sector against the Covid-19 economic crisis.

These measures, alongside other Government support measures such as Coronavirus Large Business Loan Interruption Scheme and the Covid Commercial Finance Facility are helping airlines of all sizes get through this crisis and beyond. The Chancellor has noted that under exceptional circumstances bespoke support could be provided to airlines.

10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of 3 March 2020, Official Report, column 760, what steps he is taking to ensure that international travel operators serving the UK adopt the enhanced biosecurity measures required to minimise the transference of covid-19 into the UK; and if he will make a statement.

The department is working closely with the transport sector and Public Health England to ensure that transport operations reflect the latest public health advice.

PHE and their counterparts in the devolved administrations, are responsible for determining and publishing health advice in relation to Covid-19. PHE has published guidance for staff in the transport sector which was made available on the GOV.UK website and DfT will continue to work with PHE to ensure this remains up to date.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury on 22 June 2021, Official Report, col 748, whether it is her Department's policy (a) that the matter of changes to women's state pension age is settled and (b) to continue to engage with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's investigation into the communication of those changes.

The Government has no plans to reverse changes to State Pension age brought in under successive Governments since 1995.

The Government decided over 25 years ago that it was going to make the State Pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality. Raising State Pension age in line with life expectancy changes has been the policy of successive administrations over many years.

Changes to State Pension age were made over a series of Acts by successive governments from 1995 onwards, following public consultations and extensive debates in both Houses of Parliament.

Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have held that adequate and reasonable notification was given by the DWP and the Supreme Court refused the claimants’ permission to appeal.

We have been working and will continue to work with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman in relation to the investigation into the communication of State Pension age increases.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the impact of the £20 uplift in universal credit on levels of child poverty in (a) Scotland and (b) East Renfrewshire.

No assessment has been made.

This Government is wholly committed to supporting those on low incomes, including by increasing the living wage, and by spending an estimated £111 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2020/21. This included around £7.4 billion of Covid-related welfare policy measures.

As the economy recovers, our ambition is to help people move into and progress in work as quickly as possible based on clear evidence around the importance of employment, particularly where it is full-time, in substantially reducing the risks of poverty. We are investing over £30 billion in our ambitious Plan for Jobs which is already delivering for people of all ages right across the country.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the levels of child poverty in (a) Scotland and (b) East Renfrewshire constituency.

This Government is wholly committed to tackling poverty. Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to support the most vulnerable including through spending an additional £7.4billion to strengthen the welfare system, taking our total expenditure on welfare support for people of working age to an estimated £112 billion in 2020/21.

National Statistics on the number and percentage of children in low income are published annually in the “Households Below Average Income” publication. Data for East Renfrewshire constituency is unavailable due to insufficient sample size.

Latest statistics for the levels of children who are in low income in Scotland, covering 2019/20, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-for-financial-years-ending-1995-to-2020 in data table 4.16ts (relative low income, before and after housing costs) and in data table 4.22ts (absolute low income, before and after housing costs).

In the three years to 2019/20, the absolute child poverty rate, before housing costs, in Scotland was 17%, down 3 percentage points since the three years to 2009/10.

The Department now publishes supplementary official statistics on the number of children in low income families at constituency level. Children in Low Income Families data is published annually. The latest figures on the number of children who are in low income in East Renfrewshire constituency, covering 2019/20, can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-in-low-income-families-local-area-statistics-2014-to-2020/children-in-low-income-families-local-area-statistics-fye-2015-to-fye-2020.

Due to methodological differences, the figures in these two publications are not comparable.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for which social security benefits her Department is using artificial intelligence to assist in the (a) processing and (b) auditing of applications; and what plans she has to extend the use of artificial intelligence for the processing and auditing of other categories of social security benefit applications.

The Department does not use artificial intelligence software or machine learning to make automated decisions regarding people’s benefit entitlement. The Department will increasingly use intelligent forms of automation to focus on everyday repetitive tasks which then enables colleagues to spend more time supporting vulnerable claimants. Our use of machine learning is about making the system simpler for people.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many applicants for a personal independence payment have waited for longer than four months from the (a) lodging an application to (b) receipt of an initial assessment in the most recent period in which that information is available.

We are committed to ensuring that people can access financial support through Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in a timely manner. We always aim to make an award decision as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to review all available evidence.

We are currently operating within expected levels. Average clearance times from initial claim to a decision being made for new claims are currently 19 weeks (January 21), including the time permitted to complete and return their “How your disability affects you” questionnaire, which is the same as average clearance times achieved in January 2020.

In September 2020, 64,600 people registered a claim for PIP, of which 58,130 were referred for an assessment.

In the latest available data, to 31st January 2021, 32,330 of these were returned from the Assessment Provider within 4 months of registration, and 25,800 of these were returned after 4 months/are still outstanding.

Notes

Source: PIP ADS

  • PIP analytical data held by the Department does not contain the date the assessment takes place. As a proxy, we use the date an assessment was returned from the Assessment Providers to the Department. This is usually a few days following the assessment.
  • Figures are for Great Britain only.
  • These figures include claims made under normal rules and special rules for terminally ill claimants and include new claims and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP reassessment claims.
  • Not all claimants are referred for assessment, claims can be disallowed prior to assessment, for example, for not returning the PIP2 form.
  • This is unpublished data. It should be used with caution and it may be subject to future revision.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many companies are signed up to the Disability Confident scheme; and what estimate she has made of the impact that scheme has had on the number of disabled people in employment.

There are currently over 20,000 employers signed up to the Disability Confident scheme, covering over 11m employees.

In November 2018, we published the results of survey research which explored the effect that signing up to the Disability Confident scheme had on recruitment and retention attitudes towards disabled people. The researchers interviewed employers of all sizes, ranging from very small organisations with low levels of staff turnover to large companies employing thousands, and a key finding was that signing up to Disability Confident resulted in half (49%) of employers interviewed taking on at least one disabled member of staff, rising to 66% amongst larger firms. The full report may be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disability-confident-survey-of-participating-employers.

We will be conducting further research this year, to establish the value added by Disability Confident and explore the behaviours of employers and their recruitment and retention practices. Disability Confident employers have also offered over 60,000 specific work opportunities, which include: work experience, work trials, Apprenticeships, Traineeships, job shadowing, student placements, Sector Based Work Academy Placements as well as job vacancies.

The Government is committed to a goal of seeing a million more disabled people in work in the decade to 2027 and reducing the disability employment gap. In the first three years of the goal (between 2017 and 2020), the number of disabled people in employment increased by 800,0001. Between 2014 and 2020 the disability employment gap also reduced by 5.2 percentage points.

1The underlying data behind this figure is currently under review by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and is therefore subject to change.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that companies that are signed up to the Disability Confident Scheme are supporting their disabled employees.

Employers that have signed up to the Disability Confident (DC) scheme are provided with the knowledge, skills and free resources they need to attract, recruit, retain and develop disabled people in the workplace. The scheme is designed as a learning journey with all employers starting at Level 1 and encouraged to progress through the scheme to Levels 2 and 3. No employer is too small or new to start the journey and even the most experienced employer will still find new techniques and best practice that can help better support their employees. For example, employers signing up to the scheme are committing to ‘Ensure their recruitment process is inclusive and accessible’ and ‘Supporting any existing employee who acquires a disability or long term health condition, enabling them to stay in work’.

Throughout the pandemic, we have ensured that employers have received timely and appropriate support through the delivery of a series of practical national webinars, covering a range of employer hot topics, ranging from: New Ways of Working, Access to Work, Mental Health and Wellbeing, Virtual Hiring and Autism and Neurodiversity. We have also delivered a number of employer events, focusing on the support available to employees. In addition, all Disability Confident employers receive regular Disability Confident newsletters and other communications to support them and their employees. There are currently over 20,000 employers signed up to the Disability Confident scheme, covering over 11million employees.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many applications for personal independence payment lodged by people with epilepsy were referred to a tribunal in each of the last three years; and how many of those referrals resulted in (a) an award of benefit where this had previously been refused and (b) an increase in the level of benefit.

The tables below provide information on initial decisions following a Personal Independence Payment assessment for claimants with a primary disabling condition of epilepsy:

Financial year of initial decision

MRs registered

Disallowed at initial decision – award changed at MR

Awarded at initial decision and award changed at MR

2018-19

4,690

570

370

2019-20

3,870

490

670

2020-21 (to September)

1,110

180

210

Financial year of initial decision

Appeals lodged

Disallowed at initial and MR decisions – award changed at tribunal hearing or appeal lapsed

Awarded at initial or MR decision – award changed at tribunal hearing or appeal lapsed

2018-19

2,160

980

760

2019-20

1,460

430

590

2020-21 (to September)

300

50

80

Notes:

  • Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.
  • The volumes of MRs and appeals for the more recent periods of initial decision could increase as claimants’ progress to MR and appeal.
  • Data is based on primary disabling condition as recorded on the PIP computer system. Claimants may often have multiple disabling conditions upon which the decision is based but only the primary condition is shown in these statistics.
  • Appeal lapsed is where DWP changed the decision (in the customer’s favour) after an appeal was lodged but before it was heard at a tribunal hearing.
  • Some decisions which are changed at the Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) stage, and where the claimant continues to appeal for a higher PIP award, are then changed again at tribunal appeal.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many applications for mandatory reconsideration of an application for a personal independence payment were lodged by people with epilepsy in each of the last three years; and how many of those mandatory reconsiderations resulted in (a) an award of benefit where this had previously been refused and (b) an increase in the level of benefit.

The tables below provide information on initial decisions following a Personal Independence Payment assessment for claimants with a primary disabling condition of epilepsy:

Financial year of initial decision

MRs registered

Disallowed at initial decision – award changed at MR

Awarded at initial decision and award changed at MR

2018-19

4,690

570

370

2019-20

3,870

490

670

2020-21 (to September)

1,110

180

210

Financial year of initial decision

Appeals lodged

Disallowed at initial and MR decisions – award changed at tribunal hearing or appeal lapsed

Awarded at initial or MR decision – award changed at tribunal hearing or appeal lapsed

2018-19

2,160

980

760

2019-20

1,460

430

590

2020-21 (to September)

300

50

80

Notes:

  • Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.
  • The volumes of MRs and appeals for the more recent periods of initial decision could increase as claimants’ progress to MR and appeal.
  • Data is based on primary disabling condition as recorded on the PIP computer system. Claimants may often have multiple disabling conditions upon which the decision is based but only the primary condition is shown in these statistics.
  • Appeal lapsed is where DWP changed the decision (in the customer’s favour) after an appeal was lodged but before it was heard at a tribunal hearing.
  • Some decisions which are changed at the Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) stage, and where the claimant continues to appeal for a higher PIP award, are then changed again at tribunal appeal.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many applications have been processed for (a) universal credit, (b) jobseekers allowance and (c) employment support allowance in each of the last three years.

The available information for daily claims made to Universal Credit to 8 April 2021 is published and available at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk

Guidance for users is available at:

https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

The available information for Jobseeker’s Allowance monthly on-flows to April 2021 is published on the NOMIS website and available at:

https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/default.asp

Guidance for users is available at:

https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/home/newuser.asp

Employment and Support Allowance Work Capability Assessments statistics for initial assessments, including those still in progress, by month of claim start to June 2020, are published in Table 1a of the data tables available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/esa-outcomes-of-work-capability-assessments-including-mandatory-reconsiderations-and-appeals-march-2021

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing a statutory requirement on companies to report their disability pay gap.

We want employers to better understand the composition of their workforce and recognise external reporting as a positive step on the journey towards driving a culture of transparency and openness around health at work. In November 2018, we published a voluntary reporting framework, aimed at large employers (with over 250 employees) that recommends that they publicly report on disability employment and mental health and wellbeing. The framework can also be used to support smaller employers who are keen to drive greater transparency in their organisation or industry. In November 2019, it also became a requirement for new and renewing Disability Confident Leaders to publically report on disability and mental health.

Whilst we recognise the merits of disability reporting, we would not propose to extend this to pay gap reporting due to the risk of dis-incentivising employers from recruiting more disabled people.

Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith is also leading a time-limited independent Commission looking at how DWP, wider Government and employers can best support people to progress out of low pay, especially for those groups more likely to be in persistent low pay. A report will be published shortly. The ONS identified in 2018 that disabled employees were over-represented in lower-skilled and lower paying occupations when compared to their non-disabled counterparts.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to support disabled employees during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on disabled people using existing and new data sources. The Department has had discussions with charities, disabled people's organizations’ and individuals to understand the range of experiences disabled people have had during the pandemic and to identify the support needed.

DWP offers financial support for people who are affected by the pandemic, or who need employment-related support in general through Universal Credit, New Style ESA or Pension Credit, all of which can be applied for online. Employer led support is available through Statutory Sick Pay. In addition, people with a condition arising from exposure to the Covid-19 virus are able to access PIP in the same way as other people with long-term health conditions or disabilities

A range of DWP initiatives are supporting disabled people to stay in and enter work. These include the Work and Health Programme, one-to-one support and training through the Intensive Personalised Employment Support programme, Access to Work, Disability Confident and support in partnership with the health system, including Employment Advice in NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapy services. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have provided specialist employment support remotely and made programmes easier to access.

Government will also shortly publish the National Strategy for Disabled People which will take into account the impacts of the Covid-19 impact on disabled people and focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them most in all aspects of life.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what measures are in place to ensure that up-to-date information is publicly available on the (a) number and (b) outcome of complaints to her Department about poor customer service.

The Department defines a complaint as, ‘any expression of dissatisfaction about the Department’s service which is not resolved by operational staff as normal business.’

At the end of each quarter of the financial year, the Department publishes transparency data, which sets out the cumulative total of customer complaints received about our services. In addition, data is published which confirms the number of complaints received - and accepted for investigation - by the Independent Case Examiner (ICE).

Data in relation to complaint numbers can be viewed by accessing the following link to www.gov.uk:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/complaints-about-dwp-financial-year-2020-to-2021

The Department does not routinely publish statistics in relation to complaint outcomes.

The Department also publishes complaint volume data – and information about how customer feedback is used to improve our level of service - in our Annual Report and Accounts publication. This provides details of the full complaint journey which includes the outcomes of ICE and Ombudsman investigations. The reports can be viewed by accessing the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-annual-report-and-accounts-2019-to-2020

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what quality assurance processes her Department has in place for the administration of (a) universal credit, (b) jobseekers allowance and (c) employment support allowance.

The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Quality Assurance Framework sets out the Department’s quality controls

There are three tiers of assurance within the Framework, with each tier aspiring to report lower levels of error as a means of supporting continuous improvement.

Tier 1 provides an assurance at local centre level and focuses on known areas of highest risk of error or complexity

Tier 2 measures official error and gives an independent assurance of financial accuracy via a review of randomly selected cases.

Tier 3 assurance constitutes a formal review of cases for financial error in relation to fraud, customer error and official error.

These assurances apply to all product lines, including UC, JSA and ESA. Wherever possible, award types identified as being high risk are selected for assurance ahead of any payment being made.

DWP reports Tier 3 assurance via its published Monetary Value of Fraud Error statistics. The latest published version can be found via this link.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/fraud-and-error-in-the-benefit-system-financial-year-2020-to-2021-estimates

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many complaints about poor customer service lodged in each of the last three years for (a) universal credit, (b) jobseekers allowance and (c) employment support allowance have been about delays in departmental responses.

The Department does not measure complaints as described in the question and to determine this request, we would need to examine each individual case, which the Department considers to be cost prohibitive to provide.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many complaints about poor customer service have been lodged in respect of applications for (a) universal credit, (b) jobseekers allowance and (c) employment support allowance in each of the last three years.

The Department does not measure complaints as described in the question and to determine this request, we would need to examine each individual case, which the Department considers to be cost prohibitive to provide.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the communication to customers of her Department's complaints processes.

The Departments complaints process which considers formal complaints about our service can be found on Gov.uk (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/complaints-about-the-department-for-work-and-pensions)

As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to make changes to our complaints model to allow staff to be deployed to support processing claims and payments. From 9 July 2020, the Department triage complaints to prioritise vulnerable claimants who may be at risk, and those with benefit payment issues for example.

We continue to look into all complaints as quickly as we can and, as part of the triage process, we write or call those customers where there may be a delay in answering their complaint.

We are reviewing the approach we have taken throughout the pandemic as part of developing the future complaints operating model.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what customer feedback procedures are used in assessing departmental performance in the administration of (a) universal credit, (b) jobseekers allowance and (c) employment support allowance.

The national customer experience survey is the vehicle DWP uses to assess customers’ experiences with the services they receive from DWP. The survey seeks feedback from a range of DWP customers including ESA and UC customers. The last published survey can be found on DWP’s research publication page:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-claimant-service-and-experience-survey-2018-to-2019--2  

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,how many people with epilepsy receive (a) the daily living component and (b) the mobility component of the personal independence payment.

The latest available data on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claims with entitlement which can be split by Daily Living and Mobility award status and by main disabling condition can be found at https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/.

‘Epilepsy’ is found under the disability category ‘Neurological disease’.

Guidance on how to use Stat-Xplore can be found here: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/index.html.

19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with (a) pension providers and (b) trade unions on the effects on women of increases to the state pension age and clawback clauses in occupational pension schemes.

No such discussions on this specific subject have taken place with Cabinet colleagues, pension providers or trade unions.

The Government does not collect the specific data sought.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effects on women of increases to the state pension age and clawback clauses in occupational pension schemes.

No such discussions on this specific subject have taken place with Cabinet colleagues, pension providers or trade unions.

The Government does not collect the specific data sought.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of women who are members of occupational pension schemes for which the scheme rules have not been adjusted to prevent pensions clawback being applied before a member reaches state pension age.

No such discussions on this specific subject have taken place with Cabinet colleagues, pension providers or trade unions.

The Government does not collect the specific data sought.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the number of women who have had a pensions clawback deduction from their occupational pension before they reached state pension age in each year since 2011.

No such discussions on this specific subject have taken place with Cabinet colleagues, pension providers or trade unions.

The Government does not collect the specific data sought.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effects on women of so-called clawback clauses in occupational pension schemes.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Dissolution.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she has taken to prevent (a) people over state pension age, (b) disabled people and (c) other recipients of means-tested payments from experiencing (i) a reduction in benefit, (ii) an overpayment reclaim and (iii) becoming ineligible for a means-tested payment as a result of changes to their savings due to economic disruption during the covid-19 outbreak.

No such assessment has been made.

There have been no steps to change the savings threshold limits, which allow people to continue to receive means tested benefits even though they may have an increased amount of capital, by gradually reducing the level of their entitlement.

The capital thresholds strike a balance between protecting less well-off people and the taxpayer, whilst at the same time recognising the conscientious efforts of people who have built up capital. This limit also ensures that the help which comes from taxpayers, many of whom are themselves on low incomes and have limited capital, is directed to people who need it most. Whilst it is important to encourage saving, it has never been thought right for substantial amounts of capital to be ignored, therefore it is also reasonable that there should be a capital limit above which benefits are not available.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the number of recipients of (a) means tested benefits, (b) Pension Credit and (c) other means tested payments administered by her Department whose savings or capital may breach a relevant savings or capital limit due to economic disruption during the covid-19 outbreak.

No such assessment has been made.

There have been no steps to change the savings threshold limits, which allow people to continue to receive means tested benefits even though they may have an increased amount of capital, by gradually reducing the level of their entitlement.

The capital thresholds strike a balance between protecting less well-off people and the taxpayer, whilst at the same time recognising the conscientious efforts of people who have built up capital. This limit also ensures that the help which comes from taxpayers, many of whom are themselves on low incomes and have limited capital, is directed to people who need it most. Whilst it is important to encourage saving, it has never been thought right for substantial amounts of capital to be ignored, therefore it is also reasonable that there should be a capital limit above which benefits are not available.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment the Government's Disability Unit has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the health and wellbeing of disabled or seriously ill children; and what steps that Unit is taking with other Government departments to provide support for disabled or seriously ill children during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published data assessing the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on disabled people.

The 11 March 2021 ONS release can be found on this link: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/disability/datasets/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsondisabledpeopleingreatbritainmay2020

Alongside this, insights from qualitative research commissioned by the Cabinet Office Disability Unit and conducted by Policy Lab with disabled people were used to understand the impact of the pandemic on the day-to-day lives of disabled people.

This Government is committed to supporting everyone’s mental health and wellbeing, and to ensuring that the right support is in place. Mental health services have remained open throughout the pandemic, and, for those with severe needs or in crisis, all National Health Service mental health providers have established 24/7 urgent mental health helplines.

We have provided over £10million of additional funding for mental health charities to support adults and children struggling with their mental wellbeing during this time. We have also provided a further £6 million to support various charities, including those working with people with learning disabilities, autistic people and complex needs.

We recognise that the COVID-19 outbreak has hit families of children with disabilities or serious illnesses particularly hard. Supporting vulnerable children is a priority for this Government, and their wellbeing has been central to our response throughout the pandemic. We are, for example, providing £40.8 million for the Family Fund in 2020-21 to support over 80,000 families on low incomes raising children with disabilities or serious illnesses. This includes £13.5m to specifically respond to needs arising from the pandemic, which may include for example assistive technology to aid remote learning.

The Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Cabinet Office Disability Unit works with disability stakeholders and across Government Departments to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the Government’s response to COVID-19.

The Government remains committed to improving the lives of disabled people, and will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People this year. The strategy will take into account the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on disabled people and will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects of life.

11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment the Government's Disability Unit has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the mental health of disabled people; and what steps that Unit is taking with other Government departments to tackle the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the mental health of disabled people.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published data assessing the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on disabled people.

The 11 March 2021 ONS release can be found on this link: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/disability/datasets/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsondisabledpeopleingreatbritainmay2020

Alongside this, insights from qualitative research commissioned by the Cabinet Office Disability Unit and conducted by Policy Lab with disabled people were used to understand the impact of the pandemic on the day-to-day lives of disabled people.

This Government is committed to supporting everyone’s mental health and wellbeing, and to ensuring that the right support is in place. Mental health services have remained open throughout the pandemic, and, for those with severe needs or in crisis, all National Health Service mental health providers have established 24/7 urgent mental health helplines.

We have provided over £10million of additional funding for mental health charities to support adults and children struggling with their mental wellbeing during this time. We have also provided a further £6 million to support various charities, including those working with people with learning disabilities, autistic people and complex needs.

We recognise that the COVID-19 outbreak has hit families of children with disabilities or serious illnesses particularly hard. Supporting vulnerable children is a priority for this Government, and their wellbeing has been central to our response throughout the pandemic. We are, for example, providing £40.8 million for the Family Fund in 2020-21 to support over 80,000 families on low incomes raising children with disabilities or serious illnesses. This includes £13.5m to specifically respond to needs arising from the pandemic, which may include for example assistive technology to aid remote learning.

The Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Cabinet Office Disability Unit works with disability stakeholders and across Government Departments to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the Government’s response to COVID-19.

The Government remains committed to improving the lives of disabled people, and will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People this year. The strategy will take into account the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on disabled people and will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects of life.

11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment the Government's Disability Unit has made of the effect on disabled people of the ending of temporary easements in the welfare system introduced during the first lockdown, including a pause on sanctions, a suspension of benefit reassessments, and a suspension of benefit recovery; and what steps she has taken in response to that assessment.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer I gave to PQ UIN 161760 on 8 March 2021.

11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment the Government's Disability Unit has made of the potential effect on disabled people of the proposed ending of the £20 uplift to universal credit; and what steps she has taken in response to that assessment.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer I gave to PQ UIN 161760 on 8 March 2021.

11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment the Government's Disability Unit has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the employment rate among disabled people; and what steps that Unit is taking with other Government departments to support disabled people who are unemployed due to the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer I gave to PQ UIN 161760 on 8 March 2021.

11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made on the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the finances of households with one or more disabled residents.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer I gave to PQ UIN 161760 on 8 March 2021.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in what circumstances a diagnosis of active epilepsy is a criterion for an individual to be placed on the PIP Light Touch Review.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is an extra costs benefit based on assessment of disability-related needs rather than medical condition. Reviews of PIP are a key part of the benefit and ensure that not only do awards remain correct where needs may change but that we also maintain contact with the claimant. Importantly, the length of an award is based on an individual’s needs, rather than their condition or disability, and can vary from nine months to an on-going award, with a light touch review at the ten-year point.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people who are subject to the PIP Light Touch Review and have active epilepsy are (a) above and (b) below the state pension age.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people under state pension age are subject to the PIP Light Touch Review.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 11 January 2021 to Question 132962 on Epilepsy, how many of the 47 staff members that have declared having epilepsy are paid staff members; and how many of those with a declared disability are on (a) full-time and (b) part-time contracts.

Declaring a health condition is voluntary, therefore the figures provided are specifically from staff members who have declared a disability or long-term health condition.

Of the 47 department staff members declaring epilepsy 46 are paid staff members.

Of all colleagues declaring a disability or long-term health condition, 7,045 are full time, 5,778 are part-time.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of her Department's staff have declared that they have a disability.

As at 31 December 2020, 92 per cent of 85,041 department colleagues had declared their disability status on our central systems. Of these, 13,894 colleagues had declared themselves to have a disability or long term health condition. This represents 18 per cent of all colleagues who have updated their records to show their disability status.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has any plans to reassess the potential merits of the state pension being offset against entitlement to carer's allowance.

There are no plans to reassess this policy. Successive Governments have supported the policy that where someone is entitled to two benefits for the same contingency then only one will be paid. Entitlement to State Pension and Carer’s Allowance differ but are both paid as an income replacement.

Carer’s Allowance replaces income where the carer has given up the opportunity of full-time employment in order to care for a severely disabled person, while State Pension replaces income in retirement. To avoid duplicate provision for the same need, social security “overlapping benefit” rules - operate to prevent them being paid together.

If a carer’s State Pension is less than Carer's Allowance, State Pension is paid and topped up with Carer's Allowance to the basic weekly rate of Carer's Allowance which from April 2020, increased to £67.25.

Entitlement to Carer’s Allowance also gives access to the additional amount for carers in Pension Credit of £37.50 a week. If a pensioner’s income is above the limit for Pension Credit, they may still be able to receive Housing Benefit.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason the contribution-based state pension is being offset against entitlement to carer's allowance.

There are no plans to reassess this policy. Successive Governments have supported the policy that where someone is entitled to two benefits for the same contingency then only one will be paid. Entitlement to State Pension and Carer’s Allowance differ but are both paid as an income replacement.

Carer’s Allowance replaces income where the carer has given up the opportunity of full-time employment in order to care for a severely disabled person, while State Pension replaces income in retirement. To avoid duplicate provision for the same need, social security “overlapping benefit” rules - operate to prevent them being paid together.

If a carer’s State Pension is less than Carer's Allowance, State Pension is paid and topped up with Carer's Allowance to the basic weekly rate of Carer's Allowance which from April 2020, increased to £67.25.

Entitlement to Carer’s Allowance also gives access to the additional amount for carers in Pension Credit of £37.50 a week. If a pensioner’s income is above the limit for Pension Credit, they may still be able to receive Housing Benefit.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on pensioners’ consumer rights.

There is no change. The UK will continue to provide the same protections to pension savers, as were in place before the end of the transition period.

Anyone who has accrued benefits in a UK occupational pension scheme in the UK can continue to access their pension savings or pension rights regardless of whether they live outside of the UK in either an EU or a non-EU state. Existing forms of protection for those savings, will continue to be available.

The Pension Regulator will continue to supervise UK occupational pension schemes, taking action where appropriate, so that UK employers, trustees and providers comply with UK laws that protect members’ rights and benefits.

The Pension Protection Fund, will continue to pay compensation to members of eligible Defined Benefit pension schemes administered in the UK even if the employer is based in the EU. The PPF pays compensation to eligible pension schemes whose sponsoring employer has become insolvent, and the pension scheme is unable to meet its pension liabilities.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 7 December 2020 to Question 123620 on Sharing Economy: Industrial Health and Safety, whether the HSE plans to bring forward proposals to transpose article 3 of the Council Directive 89/656/EC to extend to all workers the protections that employees are granted by Regulation 4(1) of the PPE at Work Regulations.

The Health and Safety Executive will amend health and safety legislation to extend the PPE at Work Regulations to all workers as soon as possible. Work is underway to timetable the legislative changes in accordance with parliamentary processes.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to help companies support employees who have active epilepsy.

People with active epilepsy and classed as disabled are protected from discrimination at work under The Equality Act. Employers have a duty to provide reasonable workplace adjustments where necessary. If employees with epilepsy need workplace support beyond the cost of reasonable adjustment, Access to Work can help. Access to Work is supporting thousands more people with disabilities and health conditions than ever before. In 2019, Access to Work funded tailored and flexible support for 43,000 people, a 20% increase on the previous year.

Access to Work has actively worked with employers during the pandemic. For example, Access to Work worked with employers to transport assistive technology from the workplace to the home to enable home working. And where the support cannot be removed from the workplace, Access to Work has put in place alternative adjustments or supported adaptations to standard equipment.

We also, through Disability Confident, provide employers with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to attract, recruit, retain and develop disabled people in the workplace.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to support employees in her Department who have active epilepsy.

As at September 2020, 47 staff declared themselves on Departmental systems as having epilepsy. This figures include unpaid staff.

Please note that it is not mandatory for staff to declare a disability or long-term health condition, and if they have declared this, to state the type of condition, so this is likely to be an underestimate. It also does not differentiate between active/inactive epilepsy.

The Department is committed to becoming the most inclusive employer and increasing the representation of under-represented groups to make DWP more diverse. In order to maintain our focus on disability issues we have developed and agreed a Disability Action Plan for the forthcoming year. We implement all practical steps to remove barriers for our employees with any kind of disability, including epilepsy. Specifically:

  • We have a comprehensive reasonable adjustments provision in place to support line-managers and colleagues, they can involve specialist equipment, assistive software and/or non-physical adjustments such as changing work patterns.
  • We have developed strong employee networks and our disability network THRIVE is providing invaluable support to colleagues.
  • We are members of Business Disability Forum who provide specific guidance on epilepsy, which we signpost via our intranet pages.
Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of employees in her Department who have active epilepsy.

As at September 2020, 47 staff declared themselves on Departmental systems as having epilepsy. This figures include unpaid staff.

Please note that it is not mandatory for staff to declare a disability or long-term health condition, and if they have declared this, to state the type of condition, so this is likely to be an underestimate. It also does not differentiate between active/inactive epilepsy.

The Department is committed to becoming the most inclusive employer and increasing the representation of under-represented groups to make DWP more diverse. In order to maintain our focus on disability issues we have developed and agreed a Disability Action Plan for the forthcoming year. We implement all practical steps to remove barriers for our employees with any kind of disability, including epilepsy. Specifically:

  • We have a comprehensive reasonable adjustments provision in place to support line-managers and colleagues, they can involve specialist equipment, assistive software and/or non-physical adjustments such as changing work patterns.
  • We have developed strong employee networks and our disability network THRIVE is providing invaluable support to colleagues.
  • We are members of Business Disability Forum who provide specific guidance on epilepsy, which we signpost via our intranet pages.
Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of companies in Scotland with employees who have active epilepsy.

The specific information requested is not held by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Background

The number of disabled people (aged 16 to 64) in the UK who are employed and report epilepsy as their main health condition is 38,0001. Sample sizes are too small to draw robust estimates for Scotland from this data.

1Figure shown in table 3.3 of ‘The employment of disabled people 2019’ Official Statistics publication using data from Annual Population Survey, April 2018 to March 2019. This can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/the-employment-of-disabled-people-2019.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of new applicants for universal credit who are self-assessment taxpayers, since the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak.

Around 913,000 people made a claim to Universal Credit, between 16 March 2020 and 12 November 2020, that have been required to report self-employed earnings at some point during their claim.

Notes:

- Figure rounded to the nearest thousand.

- This figure does not include people who made a UC claim but did not subsequently make it onto the official UC caseload.

- Not everybody would have been required to report self-employed earnings from the outset of their claim.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of new applicants for universal credit since the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak who are self-assessment taxpayers and have been (a) refused benefit or (b) had their benefit reduced as a result of having savings set aside to meet their tax bill for tax year 2019- 20 .

The information requested is not available as we do not record reasons as to what purpose an individual’s savings are used for.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the Government's timescale is for bringing forward legislative proposals to increase health and safety protections for workers in the gig economy following the judgement of High Court of 13 November 2020 in the case of R (Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and another.

Following the High Court Judgment of 13 November 2020, the Health and Safety Executive is now preparing the necessary legislative changes to the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 and will implement them as soon as possible.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with devolved Administrations on an adequate response to the November 2020 High Court finding that the Government has failed properly to implement measures to encourage improvements in the health and safety and set minimum health and safety requirements for use of personal protective equipment for limb b workers including those in the gig economy and other precarious occupations.

Health and safety is a reserved matter for Scotland and Wales. However, health and safety is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland. The Health and Safety Executive has discussed this case with the Northern Ireland Office and they are aware of the need to make corresponding legislative changes in order for the UK as a whole to give effect to the judgment and ensure proper implementation of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with Health and Safety Executive on responding to the finding by the High Court that the Government has not provided health and safety protections to gig economy and other precarious workers as required by EU health and safety directives; and if she will make a statement.

The Government is considering the judgment and will respond according to the timetable set down by the High Court.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on what date her Department became a Living Wage Employer.

In April 2016, the government introduced a higher statutory minimum wage rate for all employees over 25 years of age - the National Living Wage. All employers in the UK are required to pay the National Living Wage. The Department for Work and Pensions pays all employees, regardless of age, at least the statutory National Living Wage which is revaluated each April. From April 2020 the rate increased to £8.72 per hour.

The Living Wage Foundation is an initiative by Citizens UK which advocates employers paying an alternative hourly rate known as the Living Wage. Employers can apply to be accredited Living Wage employers. DWP is not an accredited Living Wage employer.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, which Minister of the Government has responsibility for tackling child poverty.

Tackling child poverty is a key priority for this Government.

We are working closely with counterparts across government, ensuring a collective approach to the policies and interventions that can make a difference to children’s outcomes, now and in the future.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether there is a central point in the Government co-ordinating (a) policy responses and (b) financial responses to tackling child poverty.

Tackling child poverty is a key priority for this Government.

We are working closely with counterparts across government, ensuring a collective approach to the policies and interventions that can make a difference to children’s outcomes, now and in the future.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the criteria is for the issuing of an employment support assessment as a paper form.

A paper Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) medical questionnaire form is issued to all ESA claimants that require a work capability assessment. On DWP’s website there is a version of the form available which provides claimants with an option to download and complete the form on a computer. This allows the form to be saved and completed in stages.

8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many families with children received the £20 per week uplift in universal credit standard allowance payments, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 20 March 2020, in East Renfrewshire constituency in each month since it was introduced.

The available information on the number of households with children with Universal Credit in payment, by parliamentary constituency, is published and can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

The following special points should be noted:

For 1 year from 6 April 2020, the standard allowance of Universal Credit has been increased by £20 per week from 6 April 2020 above the already announced annual uprating, raising the standard allowance from £317.82 to £409.89 per month (for claimants aged 25 and over).

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she next plans to review the benefit cap.

The Secretary of State has a statutory obligation to review the levels of the benefit cap at least once in each Parliament unless an early election is called, as it was last year. A review will take place at an appropriate point in the future.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to extend suspension of benefits deductions for the recovery of (a) Universal Credit and legacy benefit overpayments, (b) Social Fund loans and (c) Tax Credit debts beyond 2 July 2020.

We are currently in the process of reviewing this measure, and will confirm next steps as soon as possible.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of permanently removing waiting days for statutory sick pay for all illnesses and impairments.

As part of the Government’s strategy to support people affected by coronavirus (COVID 19), my department has made a number of limited changes to the operation of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). In doing so, we have balanced the need to provide additional support for employees who are sick, self-isolating or shielding due to coronavirus and are unable to work as a result, with considerations about the burden on employers.

Temporarily suspending waiting days ensures SSP is payable from day one of a period of absence, rather than day four, to encourage people to follow government advice to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

We consulted last year on a range of measures, including reform of SSP, designed to reduce ill-health related job loss. We will bring forward proposals on next steps later this year.

SSP is just one part of the government’s safety net. Where an employee’s income is reduced while off sick and they require further financial support they may be able to claim Universal Credit and new style Employment and Support Allowance, depending on individual circumstances.

Background

  • SSP is paid at £95.85 per week for up to 28 weeks by the employer.
  • Employers can choose to go further than their statutory requirements and provide more financial support to their employee throughout their sickness absence.
  • We have increased the standard rate in Universal Credit by £20 a week for one year – this will mean claimants will be up to £1040 a year better off.
  • The consultation: Health is everyone’s business was published in July 2019 and closed in October 2019.


22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will extend the temporary suspension of sanctioning in the welfare system beyond 30 June 2020.

We made the decision to temporarily suspend the requirement for face-to-face Jobcentre Plus appointments for all claimants in Universal Credit, New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), old-style JSA and ESA, and Income Support.

Arrangements after the 30th June will be communicated in due course.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many households in Scotland with children have been sanctioned through the (a) withholding or (b) reduction of payments under universal credit since 1 April 2020.

The information requested, for the number of households on Universal Credit that have received a sanction while also receiving the child or limited capability elements, is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

The Department only publishes the number of Universal Credit claimants who have been sanctioned. The latest figures for Universal Credit sanction rates are up to February 2020 and can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions/about/statistics

Geographical breakdowns of the figures can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance for users is available at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many households in Scotland receiving an extra payment under universal credit because of a resident's limited capacity for work have been sanctioned through the (a) withholding or (b) reduction of payments under universal credit since 1 April 2020.

The information requested, for the number of households on Universal Credit that have received a sanction while also receiving the child or limited capability elements, is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

The Department only publishes the number of Universal Credit claimants who have been sanctioned. The latest figures for Universal Credit sanction rates are up to February 2020 and can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions/about/statistics

Geographical breakdowns of the figures can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance for users is available at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that universal credit claimants are not penalised as a result of delays in being placed on furlough under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and having backdated payments treated as current income.

Universal Credit replaces a highly complex system of multiple benefits with a single monthly payment. It introduces a simple taper system to ensure that claimants are better off in work and keeping more of what they earn compared to the legacy benefit system.

The amount of Universal Credit paid to claimants reflects, as closely as possible, the actual circumstances of a household during each monthly assessment period. Monthly assessment periods align to the way the majority of employees are paid and also allows Universal Credit to be adjusted each month. This means that if a claimant’s income falls, they will not have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been identified that some employers are reporting earnings incorrectly as a result of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We are working closely with HM Revenue and Customs on this issue who have re-enforced guidance and are contacting employers on the cases we identify.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of the advertising campaigns notifying women affected by changes to the age of eligibility for the state pension.

Communications around the changes to State Pension age have been clear and comprehensive. Since 1995, people have been notified with leaflets, an extensive advertising campaign and individual letters. During 2012-13, the Department wrote to individuals directly affected by the 2011 Act, informing them of the change to their State Pension age (5.7 million letters sent). Between April 2000 and the end of January 2020, the Department provided more than 33 million personalised State Pension statements to people who requested them (either online or by telephone or post; and based on both old and new State Pension rules). We continue to encourage people to request an estimate, as part of their long-term financial planning.

The workplace pension campaign continues to drive the positive benefits of saving into a workplace pension, maintaining awareness and understanding, whilst the Retirement Provision campaign encourages people to go and check their state pension forecast online to better understand their retirement provision.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many former Thomas Cook employees are facing deductions from payment of (a) universal credit and (b) legacy social security benefits as a result of being defined as being in a couple.

The data for this request is not held.

The Department is offering a range of support to anyone affected by the closure of Thomas Cook, through our Rapid Response Service (RRS) and wider services. This is designed to give practical support and advice to employers and their employees when faced with redundancy.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the personal independence payment assessment process in (a) identifying the most vulnerable applicants and (b) ensuring that those applicants receive adequate support.

DWP are committed to providing a quality, sensitive and respectful service to everyone. In advance of attending a face-to-face consultation, individuals will be given the opportunity to alert their assessment provider of any additional requirements they may have and the providers will meet any such reasonable requests. Individuals identified as being vulnerable, including having mental health or learning disabilities, can access additional support at any point in the claim or assessment process, for example help filling in the form or the questionnaire and additional protections for failing to return the questionnaire or for failing to attend a face-to-face assessment.

Companions are encouraged to attend and can play an active role in assessments. This can be particularly helpful for individuals with mental, cognitive or intellectual impairments who may not be able to provide an accurate account of their condition due to a lack of understanding or unrealistic expectations of their ability.

7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the mental health of former armed forces personnel.

In June, the Office for Veterans Affairs announced a study with King’s College London to understand the effect of COVID-19 on former service personnel.

The study will look at whether COVID-19 has had any specific impact on the veteran community in the United Kingdom. This will allow policy makers across Government to understand potential issues affecting veterans and respond accordingly based on expert advice and evidence.

The first results are expected to be published in autumn/winter 2020.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the General Dental Council on rebating fees for registrants to mitigate the effect of the covid-19 lockdown on the income of dental care professionals.

The General Dental Council (GDC) is an independent regulator and is therefore responsible for determining the level of the annual fee it charges for registration. The GDC uses the income from fees to carry out its statutory duties. In October 2019, the GDC reduced its Annual Retention Fee for all dental professionals following a strategic review of its operating processes and costs and a public consultation on its three-year costed plan.

On 20 May 2020, the Chair of the GDC wrote to all registrants to advise that the GDC would not be making any changes to its Annual Retention Fee, or introducing an emergency payment by instalments scheme, in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what equality impact assessments have been undertaken with reference to House staff in respect of (a) age, (b) gender and (c) disability to support decision making on moving the House from hybrid to physical proceedings.

An equality impact assessment has been carried out to understand the impact of Covid-19 on different groups of staff, including in respect of physical or hybrid proceedings. This has been used to inform actions taken and the design of risk mitigations, and will be published by 15 June.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what (a) instructions and (b) guidance (i) he and (ii) NHS England has issued to recruiters of staff to temporary roles in the test, trace, isolate phase of virus control on the recruitment of people on furlough from private sector jobs.

The Government is recruiting contact tracers to support enhanced contact tracing as part of the new NHS Test and Trace Service. Recruitment could include staff who are currently furloughed and would be subject to approval from their employers.

The Department is contracting with a number of organisations to provide the contact tracing outbound calling workforce. NHS England is not co-ordinating this service.

NHS Employers has issued a FAQ on the recruitment of furloughed workers from the private sector at the following link:

https://www.nhsemployers.org/news/2020/04/staff-terms-and-conditions-covid19-faqs

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress he has made on implementing recommendation 6 of the Truro Review in accordance with the Government’s Manifesto commitment to (a) establish suitable instruments and roles to monitor and implement his Department's approach to freedom of religion and belief, taking into consideration other international approaches, (b) establish permanently the role of Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, (c) provide that Special Envoy with appropriate resources and authority to work across his Department and (d) appoint a Director General level champion for freedom of religion and belief; and what work on that recommendation remains outstanding.

The UK Government has committed to implementing in full the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro's review, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvement to the lives of those persecuted due to their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022.

On Recommendation 6, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Minister of State responsible for Human Rights, and Rehman Chishti MP previously served as the Special Envoy. In December 2020 the Prime Minister appointed Fiona Bruce MP as his Special Envoy for freedom of religion and belief. The Special Envoy works with Lord (Tariq) Ahmad, and through the Foreign Secretary to the Prime Minister. The Envoy also works closely with FCDO Ministers in promoting FoRB in their respective geographic areas, and through her Private Secretary in the FCDO, with support from the FCDO FoRB team and other officials on specific aspects of her role, as well as the FCDO media office and Special Advisers. In addition and furthering the establishment of instruments and roles, a DG-level Board Sponsor for FoRB was appointed, replacing the FCO FoRB Board Champion.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent steps the Government has taken to progress the implementation of recommendation two of the Truro Review in accordance with the Government’s Manifesto commitment.

The UK Government has committed to implementing in full the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro's review, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvement to the lives of those persecuted due to their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022. On Recommendation 2, freedom of religion and belief is a priority in the FCDO's multilateral work. It was a key strand of the UK's successful campaign to be re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent steps the Government has taken to progress the implementation of recommendation two of the Truro Review in accordance with the Government’s Manifesto commitment to champion freedom of religion and belief through the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review process.

The UK Government has committed to implementing in full the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro's review, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvement to the lives of those persecuted due to their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022. On Recommendation 2, freedom of religion and belief is a priority in the FCDO's multilateral work. It was a key strand of the UK's successful campaign to be re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to recommendation 2 of the Truro Review, what recent steps he has taken to champion freedom of religion and belief through the (a) UN Human Rights Council, (b) Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe and (c) Council of Europe.

The UK Government has committed to implementing in full the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro's review, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvement to the lives of those persecuted due to their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022. On Recommendation 2, freedom of religion and belief is a priority in the FCDO's multilateral work. It was a key strand of the UK's successful campaign to be re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress he has made on implementing recommendation 2 of the Truro Review in accordance with the Government’s Manifesto commitment on (a) making the UK a global leader in championing freedom of religion and belief and (b) ensuring the UK’s engagement in multilateral institutions; and what work on that recommendation remains outstanding.

The UK Government has committed to implementing in full the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro's review, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvement to the lives of those persecuted due to their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022. On Recommendation 2, freedom of religion and belief is a priority in the FCDO's multilateral work. It was a key strand of the UK's successful campaign to be re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to progress the implementation of recommendation 3 of the Truro Review in accordance with the Government’s Manifesto commitment.

The Government has committed to implementing in full the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro's review, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvement to the lives of those persecuted due to their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022. On Recommendation 3, research has been commissioned into the phenomenon of Christian Persecution and this will be used to guide and inform future work.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to progress the implementation of recommendation four of the Truro Review in accordance with the Government's Manifesto commitment.

The Government has committed to implementing in full the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro's review, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvement to the lives of those persecuted due to their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022. On Recommendation 4, a number of mechanisms to gather data and information already exist. The effectiveness of these is being assessed, and how they can be used to understand and track issues related to freedom of religion and belief (FoRB). In addition, an FCDO-funded project with the Religious Freedom Institute developed additional indicators on FoRB where needed.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress he has made on implementing recommendation 5 of the Truro Review in accordance with the Government’s Manifesto commitment to (a) bolster research into the critical intersection of freedom of religion and belief and minority rights with both broader human rights issues and other critical concerns such as security and economic activity and (b) use such research to articulate freedom of religion and belief focussed policies to address those matters; and what work on that recommendation remains outstanding.

The Government has committed to implementing in full the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro's review, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvement to the lives of those persecuted due to their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022. On Recommendation 5, various research activities have already been funded, including establishing the John Bunyan Fund, which amongst other things, has looked at the links between gender and freedom of religion and belief. We continue to look for opportunities to support quality research.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress has been made on implementing recommendation 7 of the Truro Review in accordance with the Government’s Manifesto commitment to recognise that the ultimate determination of genocide must be legal not political; what steps his Department is taking to determine its policy in relation to genocide; if his Department will make public statements condemning such atrocities; and what work on that recommendation remains outstanding.

The Government has committed to implementing in full the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro's review, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvement to the lives of those persecuted due to their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022. On Recommendation 7, the UK remains strongly committed to early and effective action to prevent all mass atrocities including violence against religious groups. As most atrocities occur in and around armed conflict, the Government has dedicated significant resources to preventing conflict as a means of reducing the risk of atrocities occurring.

The UK uses early warning tools, diplomacy, development and programmatic support, and defence tools, including the armed forces, to strengthen the international system's prevention and response. Our work in this area is long-standing, both in terms of preventing atrocities and of securing accountability and justice for atrocities committed. The UK's thematic atrocity prevention work is set in the context of our wider approach to conflict prevention, but we also look for the risk of atrocities in specific geographical settings.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress his Department has made on implementing recommendation 7 of the Truro Review in accordance with the Government’s Manifesto commitment to (a) ensure that there are mechanisms in place to facilitate an immediate response to atrocity crimes, including genocide and (b) take steps in response to atrocity crimes by (i) setting up early warning mechanisms, (ii) using diplomacy to help de-escalate tensions and resolve disputes and (iii) developing support to help with upstream prevention work.

The Government has committed to implementing in full the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro's review, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvement to the lives of those persecuted due to their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022. On Recommendation 7, the UK remains strongly committed to early and effective action to prevent all mass atrocities including violence against religious groups. As most atrocities occur in and around armed conflict, the Government has dedicated significant resources to preventing conflict as a means of reducing the risk of atrocities occurring.

The UK uses early warning tools, diplomacy, development and programmatic support, and defence tools, including the armed forces, to strengthen the international system's prevention and response. Our work in this area is long-standing, both in terms of preventing atrocities and of securing accountability and justice for atrocities committed. The UK's thematic atrocity prevention work is set in the context of our wider approach to conflict prevention, but we also look for the risk of atrocities in specific geographical settings.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress he has made on implementing recommendation 8 of the Truro Review in accordance with the Government’s Manifesto commitment on ensuring that the UK is prepared to impose sanctions against perpetrators of freedom of religion and belief abuses; and what work on that recommendation remains outstanding.

The Government has committed to implementing in full the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro's review, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvement to the lives of those persecuted due to their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022. On Recommendation 8, the Global Human Rights Sanctions regime was launched on 6 July 2020. It is not appropriate to speculate on who may be designated under the regime in the future, as to do so could reduce the impact. We will continue to consider further designations, guided by the human rights objectives of the sanctions regime and the evidence.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress he has made on implementing recommendation 9 of the Truro Review in accordance with the Government’s Manifesto commitment to establish a John Bunyan freedom of religion and belief stream within his Department's Magna Carta Fund; and what work on that recommendation remains outstanding.

The Government has committed to implementing in full the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro's review, and work continues to implement them in a way that will bring real improvement to the lives of those persecuted due to their faith or belief. Of the 22 recommendations we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022.

On Recommendation 9, The John Bunyan Fund for Freedom of Religion or Belief was launched in August 2019, funding 15 research projects FY 2019-20. These projects have all concluded, and work is in hand to implement some of the key recommendations. Subsequently we have used the Fund to deepen understanding of the intersecting vulnerabilities experienced by religious minorities living in poverty in the shadows of Covid-19, providing training to local data gatherers in two affected countries and producing reports on the scale of the problem.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 29 October 2020 to Question 107130 on Nigeria: Police, what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) the protection of human rights and (b) respect for the rule of law of the disbandment of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad and redeployment of its members.

The UK Government welcomes President Buhari's decision to disband the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) following the #ENDSARS protests, and notes the intention to redeploy FSARS officers. We continue to support police reform in Nigeria, and to advocate for improvements in the human rights compliance and accountability of the Nigerian police. To this end, we welcome the establishment of judicial panels of inquiry to investigate alleged incidents of brutality by the security services.

We will continue to push for the Nigerian police, armed forces and wider security services to uphold human rights and the rule of law in all operations, investigate any incidents of brutality, illegal detentions and use of excessive force, and hold those responsible to account.

2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the last three months.

The Government is deeply concerned by the military action in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and has been in regular contact with both the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan urging de-escalation and a return to the negotiating table. Since the renewed hostilities began, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood has spoken to the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers three times, most recently on 28 October, to raise UK concerns over civilian casualties and fatalities, urge immediate de-escalation and reinforce the importance of engagement with the OSCE Minsk Group. Additionally, officials have continued to engage with the Azerbaijani Ambassador and the Armenian Charge d'Affaires in London and our Embassies in Baku and Yerevan have continued to work with their hosts on a range of topics, including at Foreign Minister level.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to de-escalate tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The Government is deeply concerned by the military action in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and the resulting humanitarian situation. The Foreign Secretary and Canadian Foreign Minister have delivered two joint statements calling for de-escalation and for both parties to return to the negotiating table without preconditions. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood has spoken to the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers three times, most recently on 28 October. The Minister raised UK concerns over civilian casualties and fatalities, urged immediate de-escalation and reinforced the importance of engagement with the OSCE Minsk Group. The UK will continue to engage the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan and all regional partners, including to push for a return to substantive negotiations without pre-conditions.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with representatives from travel insurance providers to ensure that travel insurance continues to be available to people whose trips have been extended as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

We are in regular contact with the insurance industry on the impact of COVID-19. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) announced on 2 April that UK-based insurers will look to extend travel insurance policies for up to a minimum of 60 days to ensure British travellers abroad will be covered for emergency medical treatment they might need, provided that the customer is making every effort to return home. Anyone affected should speak to their insurance company to discuss the options available to them.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of UK nationals who remain stranded at sea as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is working around the clock, through our Posts overseas and in London, to make sure all British travellers who need and want to return to the UK are receiving the support and information they need. We have now brought home over 36,100 people on 173 flights organised by the Foreign Office from 39 countries and territories and supported repatriation of over 19,000 Britons from cruise ships, either by providing consular assistance, or by working with local authorities and cruise operators to allow ships to dock.

No British national passengers remain on cruise ships, but we recognise this is a worrying time for British crew on board cruise ships and other vessels around the world. It is primarily the responsibility of their employers - the cruise ship and vessel operators - to ensure the welfare and safety of their crew.??The Government is in direct contact with these operators, as well as directly with many crew members and their families.

Our overseas missions are liaising closely with local authorities in an effort to facilitate disembarkation and ensure British crew can access flights home. The Government restated its commitment to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) at the start of this crisis, ensuring we lead globally on our obligations to seafarers welfare, and this is a position we intend to uphold.

Not all British crew are seeking to return to the UK. Some may wish to stay with the ship (with their employer's consent), while others may be required by their role to do so as part of the minimum safe manning requirements for the vessel. This is a legislative and flag state requirement to ensure the continued seaworthiness of vessels.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the welfare of UK citizens who are (a) crew members and (b) passengers and who remain stranded on vessels at sea as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is working around the clock, through our Posts overseas and in London, to make sure all British travellers who need and want to return to the UK are receiving the support and information they need. We have now brought home over 36,100 people on 173 flights organised by the Foreign Office from 39 countries and territories and supported repatriation of over 19,000 Britons from cruise ships, either by providing consular assistance, or by working with local authorities and cruise operators to allow ships to dock.

No British national passengers remain on cruise ships, but we recognise this is a worrying time for British crew on board cruise ships and other vessels around the world. It is primarily the responsibility of their employers - the cruise ship and vessel operators - to ensure the welfare and safety of their crew.??The Government is in direct contact with these operators, as well as directly with many crew members and their families.

Our overseas missions are liaising closely with local authorities in an effort to facilitate disembarkation and ensure British crew can access flights home. The Government restated its commitment to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) at the start of this crisis, ensuring we lead globally on our obligations to seafarers welfare, and this is a position we intend to uphold.

Not all British crew are seeking to return to the UK. Some may wish to stay with the ship (with their employer's consent), while others may be required by their role to do so as part of the minimum safe manning requirements for the vessel. This is a legislative and flag state requirement to ensure the continued seaworthiness of vessels.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions his Department is having with (a) commercial companies, (b) other relevant organisations and (c) other governments on facilitating the return home of UK nationals who remain stranded on vessels at sea as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is working around the clock, through our Posts overseas and in London, to make sure all British travellers who need and want to return to the UK are receiving the support and information they need. We have now brought home over 36,100 people on 173 flights organised by the Foreign Office from 39 countries and territories and supported repatriation of over 19,000 Britons from cruise ships, either by providing consular assistance, or by working with local authorities and cruise operators to allow ships to dock.

No British national passengers remain on cruise ships, but we recognise this is a worrying time for British crew on board cruise ships and other vessels around the world. It is primarily the responsibility of their employers - the cruise ship and vessel operators - to ensure the welfare and safety of their crew.??The Government is in direct contact with these operators, as well as directly with many crew members and their families.

Our overseas missions are liaising closely with local authorities in an effort to facilitate disembarkation and ensure British crew can access flights home. The Government restated its commitment to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) at the start of this crisis, ensuring we lead globally on our obligations to seafarers welfare, and this is a position we intend to uphold.

Not all British crew are seeking to return to the UK. Some may wish to stay with the ship (with their employer's consent), while others may be required by their role to do so as part of the minimum safe manning requirements for the vessel. This is a legislative and flag state requirement to ensure the continued seaworthiness of vessels.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what plans he is making on UK attendance and participation in the fourth round of the postponed Global Ocean Treaty negotiations at the UN.

The FCO and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have been closely involved in the negotiation of a new Implementing Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction - the BBNJ Agreement - as an important step forward in addressing the challenges that the ocean faces. The UK is pressing for an ambitious Agreement. It will be a key mechanism in enabling the designation of at least 30 per cent of the global ocean as Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

Unfortunately, due to the impacts of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the fourth session of the Inter-Governmental Conference, scheduled for 23 March to 3 April in New York, was postponed. The UK is supportive of re-scheduling the fourth session for the earliest possible opportunity that will enable all delegations to be present for the negotiations in New York. The precise make-up of the UK delegation will need to take into account any social distancing measures that may be in place for the re-scheduled session, but it will be a strong delegation. The UK also strongly supports intersessional work, which is vital to ensure that we maintain momentum towards the successful conclusion of these important negotiations.

27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 19 March 2020 to Question 32097, what steps he is taking to ensure that British citizens who purchased travel insurance before leaving the UK and extended their trip to avoid international travel due to the covid-19 pandemic, and who are now trying to return to the UK on commercial flights, are able to secure travel insurance for their return journey.

We are in regular contact with the insurance industry to understand the impact on them and keep the information on our travel advice pages up to date. The Association of British Insurers announced on 2 April that UK-based insurers will look to extend travel insurance policies for 60 days to ensure British travellers abroad will be covered for emergency medical treatment they might need, provided that the customer is making every effort to return home. Anyone affected should speak to their insurance company to discuss the options available to them.

Nigel Adams
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many and what proportion of responses received to the technical consultation on Small Brewers Relief were from (a) breweries producing less than 5,000 hectolitres a year, (b) breweries producing more than 5,000 hectolitres a year and (c) breweries producing more than 60,000 hectolitres a year.

We will publish our response to the technical consultation in due course. This will contain information on those who responded to the consultation.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
17th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many and what proportion of applications under the Alcohol Warehouse Registration Scheme since that scheme's introduction have been (a) approved and (b) revoked in (i) Scotland and (ii) the UK.

This information is not held in the form requested as HM Revenue and Customs does not record Alcohol Warehouse Registration Scheme (AWRS) data by ‘nation’.

AWRS Data showing the number of applications received and numbers approved up to April 2019 was published on 10th June 2021 and is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-alcohol-smuggling-outputs/tackling-alcohol-smuggling-outputs-april-2016-to-april-2019.

Data up to April 2021 will be published in the normal way in October 2021.

Please note the numbers for approved and revoked applications do not total the number of applications received. The reason for this is because withdrawals, deregistrations and stock on hand have not been included.

For Scotland:

Applications received 1343

Applications approved 980 (73%)

Applications revoked 24 (2%)

For the UK:

Applications received 15410

Applications approved 10880 (71%)

Applications revoked 546 (4%)

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many new parents received (a) statutory paternity pay, (b) statutory maternity pay and (c) maternity allowance in each financial year since 2010-11.

The information is not held in the form requested. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) do hold information on claimants of statutory parental payments, but this is not limited to new parents and will include claimants in each year in which they received statutory payments.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) publish statistics about benefits, including Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/benefit-expenditure-tables.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will consider the operational challenges facing self-employed driving instructors, who are unable to operate their businesses at full capacity as a result of the need to mitigate against the transmission of covid-19, when deciding which types of businesses are eligible for funding in the future under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The Government recognises that many self-employed people have encountered immense challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) provides substantial support to self-employed people who meet the eligibility criteria, including self-employed driving instructors.

Together, the five SEISS grants combined will have provided an individual with support of up to £36,570, making it one of the most generous self-employment income support schemes in the world.

At the Spring Budget 2021, the Chancellor announced a generous extension of economic support for businesses and individuals, with many schemes including the SEISS continuing well beyond Step 4 of the Roadmap in order to accommodate even a cautious view about the time it might have taken to exit restrictions. The Government has confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the SEISS will be closing at the end of September 2021 and the Government will maintain its focus on helping people back into work.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for which taxes artificial intelligence is being used to assist in (a) processing and (b) auditing returns; and what plans he has to extend its use to other taxes.

HMRC are using the most up to date technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities to deliver data and insight into the hands of their decision makers. This will help HMRC to focus on minimising the tax gap and make the tax system more intuitive for taxpayers.

HMRC use AI methods across all their business areas. AI outputs are validated with human oversight before being implemented.

HMRC are in the process of standardising their AI ethical framework in order to ensure it is consistently applied across the organisation. They are working with other public sector bodies to produce an AI strategy publication this autumn.

10th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of (a) tax returns for the tax year 2019-20 that were outstanding as at 31 January 2021 and (b) recipients of support under the third round of Self-Employed Income Support Scheme grants whose tax returns for tax year 2019-20 were outstanding as at 31 January 2021.

HMRC waived the late filing penalty for tax returns filed online by 28 February in order to provide relief to all Self-Assessment taxpayers and agents at a time of significant pressure. The statutory filing deadline of 31 January did not change.

According to HMRC, 11.4 million people had submitted their 2019-20 Self-Assessment tax returns by 28 February. About 1.1 million returns are outstanding. Not all of these cases will ultimately file a return or will be self-employed.

HMRC analysis of filing volumes around this period suggests that an estimated 97% of individuals who claimed the third Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant, about 2.1 million people, had submitted their 2019-20 Self-Assessment tax return by 28 February.

An estimate of the number of self-employed individuals who will be ineligible for the fourth SEISS grant as a result of their tax return for the tax year 2019-20 not having been submitted by 2 March 2021 is not available. This will depend on the number of individuals that file a 2019-20 return after that date and the information they submit.

At Spring Budget the Government announced a major improvement in access to the SEISS. HMRC will use 2019-20 tax returns to determine eligibility for the fourth and fifth grants, provided they were submitted by 2 March.

This means about 600,000 people, many of whom became self-employed in 2019-20, may now be able to claim the fourth and fifth grants, bringing the total number of people who could be eligible to about 3.7 million.

10th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of self-employed people who will be ineligible to apply for the fourth round of Self-Employed Income Support Scheme grants as a result of their tax return for the tax year 2019-20 not having been submitted by 2 March 2021.

HMRC waived the late filing penalty for tax returns filed online by 28 February in order to provide relief to all Self-Assessment taxpayers and agents at a time of significant pressure. The statutory filing deadline of 31 January did not change.

According to HMRC, 11.4 million people had submitted their 2019-20 Self-Assessment tax returns by 28 February. About 1.1 million returns are outstanding. Not all of these cases will ultimately file a return or will be self-employed.

HMRC analysis of filing volumes around this period suggests that an estimated 97% of individuals who claimed the third Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant, about 2.1 million people, had submitted their 2019-20 Self-Assessment tax return by 28 February.

An estimate of the number of self-employed individuals who will be ineligible for the fourth SEISS grant as a result of their tax return for the tax year 2019-20 not having been submitted by 2 March 2021 is not available. This will depend on the number of individuals that file a 2019-20 return after that date and the information they submit.

At Spring Budget the Government announced a major improvement in access to the SEISS. HMRC will use 2019-20 tax returns to determine eligibility for the fourth and fifth grants, provided they were submitted by 2 March.

This means about 600,000 people, many of whom became self-employed in 2019-20, may now be able to claim the fourth and fifth grants, bringing the total number of people who could be eligible to about 3.7 million.

10th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what notice his Department provided to people already in receipt of a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant that they would be required to submit their tax return for the 2019-20 financial year by 2 March 2021 to be eligible to apply for the fourth round of grants under that scheme.

The Government announced at Budget 2021 that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue until September, with a fourth and a final fifth grant.

This means more than 600,000 people are brought into scope who either became self-employed in 2019-20, or were ineligible for previous grants but now may be eligible for the fourth grant on the basis of submitting their 2019-20 Self-Assessment tax return.

HM Revenue & Customs waived the late filing penalty for Self-Assessment tax returns filed online by 28 February to provide relief to taxpayers and agents at a time of unprecedented pressure. The statutory filing deadline of 31 January did not change.

Taxpayers who are registered for Self-Assessment will have been issued with a notice to file their return.

HMRC run a prominent, annual communications campaign to prompt taxpayers to file their return by the due date. This year, in addition, they issued further press releases during February, complemented by messaging via social media and, where possible, direct emails and SMS texts to taxpayers who had not yet filed returns, and their agents.

25th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will amend the earnings criteria for the Self Employed Income Support Scheme in the context of the periods of lockdown that have taken place since the commencement of that scheme.

The Government recognises the impact that periods of lockdown across the country have had on the self-employed and remains committed to supporting them through the impact of the virus.

The self-employed are very diverse and have a wide mix of turnover and profits, with monthly and annual variations even in normal times, and in some cases with substantial alternative forms of income too. The design of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), including the eligibility requirement that an individual’s trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income, means it is targeted at those who need it the most, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income.

The SEISS has already provided generous support to self-employed individuals, with claims across the first three grants totalling over £19.7 billion. The Government has also confirmed that there will be a fourth SEISS grant, covering the period from February to April 2021.

Further details of the SEISS, including the fourth grant, will be released on 3 March.

24th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make available funding to abolish the household benefit cap.

The Government firmly believes that there has to be a limit on working-age benefits the state should provide to households. It is not reasonable or fair for taxpayers to pay for people to live on out of work benefits at higher incomes than they themselves receive from work. Exemptions to the cap apply for those in work and the most vulnerable claimants. £180 million has been made available for Local Authorities in 2020/21 to use Discretionary Housing Payments to address shortfalls arising from the benefit cap where they deem this justified.

DWP Secretary of State has a statutory obligation to review the levels of the benefit cap at least once in each Parliament unless an early election is called, as in 2019. A review will take place at an appropriate point in the future.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make available funding to increase local housing allowance to cover average rents.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates have been relinked to the 30th percentile for 2020-21, at a cost of almost £1 billion. Over 1.5 million households have gained just over £600 per year on average this year in additional support, while for people renting in the highest demand areas the gain will be even higher, for example, around 500,000 claimants had an increase of more than £100 per month. We are maintaining LHA rates at the same cash level next year to ensure that claimants continue to benefit from this increase, rather than reverting back to previous rates, which were significantly less generous.

For claimants with higher rents, additional support is also available through Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs). Local authorities have a combined budget of £180m for DHPs for this financial year.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on companies of introducing a reverse VAT charge for the building and construction services sector with effect from 1 March 2021 in the context of the ongoing covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The Government remains committed to introducing the VAT reverse charge for building and construction on 1 March 2021. VAT fraud in this sector still presents a significant risk to the Exchequer.

There are several UK anti-fraud reverse charge measures already in operation and their impact on business and supply chains is well understood and explained in the Impact Assessment for this measure. The Government provided a very long lead-in time for this measure ahead of the original implementation date of 1 October 2019 and has listened carefully to industry concerns, especially those in relation to cashflow and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector. The Government has subsequently delayed the introduction of the reverse charge on two occasions to give businesses even more time to prepare.

HMRC continue to work closely with the construction industry, providing support and communications to ensure that businesses are fully aware and can prepare for cashflow challenges ahead of implementation on 1 March 2021.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of taxpayers who will be unable to meet the deadline of 31 January 2021 for payment of tax for the tax year 2019-20 as a result of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the income levels of self-assessment taxpayers.

The Government recognises that because of the exceptional circumstances posed by COVID-19, some taxpayers will have difficulty paying their 2019/20 Self-Assessment (SA) liabilities on time.

For that reason, the Chancellor announced in March 2020 that SA taxpayers could defer paying their July 2020 Payment on Account until 31 January 2021. This provided an immediate financial easement to about 1.5 million taxpayers who took up the option and deferred a total of about £5.8 billion.

The Government understands that many taxpayers will still struggle to pay their SA payments becoming due on 31 January 2021. Although it is not possible accurately to estimate the number of taxpayers who will be affected in this way, the numbers may be considerably higher than in previous years.

Therefore, in order to support taxpayers facing financial difficulty, HMRC have made significant changes to their online self-service Time to Pay Service, enabling taxpayers to set up a Direct Debit instalment payment arrangement with HMRC without having to contact HMRC beforehand.

Previously, this service was only available to taxpayers with Self-Assessment liabilities of up to £10,000. That threshold has been increased to £30,000 to enable more taxpayers to use the service, allowing payment in up to 12 monthly instalments.

Taxpayers with Self-Assessment liabilities over £30,000 will still be able to contact HMRC directly to agree a Time to Pay arrangement.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on income levels for self-assessment taxpayers, what assessment he has made of the level of (a) interest and (b) penalties that will be charged to self-assessment taxpayers who do not meet the deadline of 31 January 2021 for payment of tax for tax year 2019-20.

The Government recognises that because of the exceptional circumstances posed by COVID-19, some taxpayers may have difficulty paying their 2019/20 Self-Assessment (SA) liabilities on time.

Although the numbers may prove to be considerably higher than in previous years, it is not possible to make an accurate assessment of the level of interest and penalties that will be charged to SA taxpayers who do not meet the deadline of 31 January 2021 for payment of tax for tax year 2019-20.

In order to support taxpayers facing financial difficulty, HMRC have made significant changes to their online self-service Time to Pay Service, enabling taxpayers to set up a Direct Debit instalment payment arrangement with HMRC without having to contact HMRC beforehand.

Where a taxpayer does this within 30 days of the 31 January deadline they will not have to pay a late payment penalty as long as they keep to the terms of the Time To Pay agreement. However, late payment interest will still be payable on any amounts which remain unpaid after the 31 January due date.

A late payment penalty will not be payable if a taxpayer has a reasonable excuse for not paying their tax on time. HMRC will consider the impact of coronavirus as a reasonable excuse for missing return deadlines.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much (a) interest and (b) penalties was charged to self-assessment taxpayers who failed to meet the deadline for payment of tax for the previous financial year in each of the last three years; and how many taxpayers received such a charge in each year.

The value of interest raised on late tax return payments and late payment of penalties, and the number and value of penalties charged to self-assessment taxpayers for late payments of tax for each of the previous three tax returns, are provided in the following tables. It has not been possible to separate interest for late tax payments from interest for late payment of penalties.

These figures are correct as at 28 December 2020 but are not final. The 2018-19 figures are particularly subject to change because they do not include the 12-month late payment penalties due to timing and large value penalties which can be raised based on information held at the time, but which are subsequently cancelled or reduced once the correct information is provided. For this reason it is not possible to make meaningful comparisons between figures from different years.

Late payment penalties can only be issued following receipt of a Self Assessment tax return, or where HMRC make a determination of tax liability for the financial year where no return has been delivered. As HMRC receive further late returns or amended returns from taxpayers, additional late payment interest and penalties may be issued or cancelled for earlier years.

1. The value of interest charged on late tax payments

Tax Year to which Interest Relates

Value of Late Payment Interest (£)

2016-17

£73,757,000

2017-18

£64,990,000

2018-19

£43,528,000

1a. The number of customers with interest charged on late tax payments

Tax Year to which Interest Relates

Number of Customers

2016-17

1,195,800

2017-18

1,191,700

2018-19

922,700

2. The value of penalties raised for late tax payments

Tax Year to which Penalties Relate

Value of Late Payment Penalties (£)

Raised

Cancelled or reduced to nil

Net remaining

2016-17

£161,219,000

£46,701,000

£114,518,000

2017-18

£146,004,000

£34,376,000

£111,628,000

2018-19

£311,867,000

£196,420,000

£115,447,000

2a. The number of customers with penalties raised for late tax payments

Tax Year to which Penalties Relate

Number of Customers

Raised

Cancelled or reduced to nil

Net remaining

2016-17

363,100

62,100

301,000

2017-18

336,800

49,300

287,500

2018-19

348,500

31,500

317,000

3. The value of interest charged and penalties raised for late tax payments

Tax Year to which Interest/Penalties Relate

Value of Late Payment Interest and Penalties (£)

2016-17

£188,275,000

2017-18

£176,619,000

2018-19

£158,975,000

3a. The number of customers with interest and/or penalty charges raised for late tax payments

Tax Year to which Interest/Penalties Relate

Number of Customers

2016-17

1,210,300

2017-18

1,227,300

2018-19

1,034,400

Notes on the tables:

All counts have been rounded to nearest 100; all values have been rounded to nearest 1000. As such, totals may not always sum due to rounding.

Interest is chargeable on late payments on account and late balancing charge payments. Penalties are chargeable on late balancing charge payments only. As such a taxpayer may be liable to late payment interest charges or late payment penalties, or both.

These figures have been produced using an extract of the data provided for analytical purposes, and there may be small differences between this and the live Self-Assessment system.

Penalties are not used as a means of generating revenue. HMRC want taxpayers to comply with their obligations.

HMRC charge penalties to encourage taxpayers to meet their tax obligations and to act as a sanction for those who do not, so the majority who do pay correctly and on time are not disadvantaged.

HMRC recognise that because of the exceptional circumstances presented by COVID-19 some taxpayers will not be able to meet their tax obligations on time, or appeal or review HMRC decisions within the usual time limit; HMRC’s approach has been to collect the tax and penalties due in a way that recognises the very real needs and challenges that businesses and individuals are facing, supporting those in difficulty, including considering coronavirus as a reasonable excuse for missing return deadlines.

17th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 15 December 2020 to Question 127486 on Retail Trade: Coronavirus, what plans he has to ensure that online retailers make a significant contribution towards the cost of reopening local high streets across the UK.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the retail sector. People are shopping online more frequently, however, online sales and click and collect services have provided many high street businesses with an important revenue stream during this period. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that despite many store closures in November, nearly 90% of retail businesses continued to trade in some form through this month. This suggest that despite store closures, many high street businesses were able to continue to trade online.

Online retailers have also provided a vital lifeline for those self-isolating or shielding. ?Goods ordered online have helped people receive the food and supplies they need,?supported home working, education, entertainment, helped friends and family stay connected, and enabled people to have the parts they need to carry out home repairs?.

The Government has always been clear that online retail can continue to operate and is encouraged. These online retail businesses however must meet legal and tax obligations like any other. For example, the threshold for VAT registration is the same whether you sell online or from a physical store.

The Government will continue to support high street businesses as it has done through the the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, and the Future High Streets and Towns Funds. This is in addition to the wide-ranging support the Government has already delivered to these sectors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including extending the CJRS until April; and protecting businesses with cash grants, Government backed finance through loan schemes, a VAT deferral, a 12-month business rates holiday; and a moratorium on evictions to protect commercial tenants.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 20 November 2020 to Question 114262 on Coronavirus Job Retention Incentive, what discussions he has had with (a) trade unions (b) representatives of SMEs and (c) the devolved Administrations on the details of the fund.

Treasury ministers and officials have had meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors (including MPs, businesses, professional representative bodies, and the unions) throughout the development of the COVID-19 support package.

Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-gifts-and-overseas-travel.

13th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the total value was of claims made by registered businesses with more than 25 outlets under the Eat Out to Help Out scheme up to 27 August 2020.

HMRC have published data about the number of registered establishments and claims totals and will publish a detailed analysis of the scheme. This will include breakdowns of claims values between small and larger businesses (those with more than 25 establishments).

13th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many businesses with more than 25 outlets registered to participate in the Eat Out to Help Out scheme; and how many outlets were registered by those businesses.

HMRC have published data about the number of registered establishments and claims totals and will publish a detailed analysis of the scheme. This will include breakdowns of claims values between small and larger businesses (those with more than 25 establishments).

8th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many families with children received the £20 per week uplift in working tax credit basic element payments, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 20 March 2020, in East Renfrewshire constituency in each month since it was introduced.

The latest available information on the number of families with children receiving Working Tax Credit at the parliamentary constituency level is for April 2020. In April 2020, the number of families with children receiving Working Tax Credit in the East Renfrewshire constituency was 800.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-and-working-tax-credits-statistics-provisional-awards-geographical-analyses-december-2013

Information on following months is not readily available. The next update to this publication will provide statistics relating to December 2020 and will be available in January 2021.

Finalised annual information on families with children receiving Working Tax Credits is published once a year and updated each July.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-and-working-tax-credits-statistics-finalised-annual-awards-2018-to-2019

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on changes to the benefit cap.

In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of ministerial discussions are not normally disclosed. Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has a statutory obligation to review the levels of the benefit cap at least once in each Parliament unless an early election is called, as it was last year. A review will take place at an appropriate point in the future.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he plans to respond to Question 52095 tabled by the hon. Member for East Renfrewshire on 1 June 2020.

A response was provided on 4 June, and I wrote to the Honourable Member on 7 September to provide further information. A copy of that letter has been placed in the Library of the House.

22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many subject access requests under section 7 of the Data Protection Act 2000 have been received by HMRC in relation to payments claimed or made under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

As of 21 August, HMRC have received five Subject Access Requests (SARs) relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Two have been granted and the remaining three are under consideration.

The first two SARs took six weeks to complete. HMRC have now implemented a new process for SARs relating to the CJRS and aim to complete requests within 28 days.

22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 11 June 2020 to Question 56027, how many subject access requests under section 7 of the Data Protection Act 2000 were received by HMRC in relation to payments claimed or made under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; how many and what proportion of those access requests were granted; and what the average time was for responding to those requests.

As of 21 August, HMRC have received five Subject Access Requests (SARs) relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Two have been granted and the remaining three are under consideration.

The first two SARs took six weeks to complete. HMRC have now implemented a new process for SARs relating to the CJRS and aim to complete requests within 28 days.

22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer to Question 48486 on 2 June 2010, how many submissions of the iForm had been received by (a) 30 June 2020, (b) 30 June in each of the last three tax years; and if he will estimate the number of submissions expected during the 2020-21 tax year.

The total number of iForm submissions made to the tax fraud hotline on GOV.UK in the first quarter of each tax year (April to June) for the last three tax years, was:

2019/20: 15,951

2018/19: 14,265

2017/18: 12,856

23,272 submissions were made between 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020.

HM Revenue and Customs do not routinely produce estimates of the volume of expected allegations submitted through this reporting pathway.

1st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 February 2020 to Question 12439 on Sirius Minerals: Shares, whether his Department has had discussions with the Financial Conduct Authority on Sirius Minerals.

The Treasury regularly holds discussions with the FCA on a range of issues. The Treasury does not routinely comment on specific companies.

29th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 February 2020 to Question 12439 on Sirius Minerals: Shares, and to the meeting on 21 March 2018 between Right hon. Robert Jenrick, then Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, and businessman Idan Ofer, whether there has been a review of the handling of Sirius Minerals' application for financial support by his Department; and if he will make a statement.

The Treasury has no plans to review the handling of Sirius Minerals' application.

29th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 17 June 2020 to Question 57401 on PAYE, how many limited companies that registered an annual PAYE scheme for the financial year 2018-19 made an RTI notification of payment to HMRC after 20 March 2019; and what assumption his Department made about the volume of such notifications in respect of the 2019-20 tax year when he set the rules for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

It is not possible to provide an answer in the time available.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, including the cut-off for RTI notifications, was designed in a way that mitigated the risk of fraud and could be delivered quickly in order to provide the support that employers and employees needed in April. Where individuals are not eligible to be furloughed the Government has put in place a significant package of temporary welfare measures including a £20 per week increase in the Universal Credit standard allowance and working tax credit basic element, and a nearly £1 billion increase in support for renters through increases to the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit Claimants.

29th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 17 June 2020 to Question 57401 on PAYE, how many employees who paid PAYE under an annual scheme in financial year 2018-19 were the subject of an RTI notification of payment to HMRC after 20 March 2019; and what assumption his Department made about the volume of such notifications in respect of 2019-20 tax year when he set the rules for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

It is not possible to provide an answer in the time available. PAYE schemes may apply to operate on an annual scheme basis and later relinquish their annual scheme status. The time period for which each PAYE scheme has operated on an annual basis is not readily available for analysis.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, including the cut-off for RTI notifications, was designed in a way that mitigated the risk of fraud and could be delivered quickly in order to provide the support that employers and employees needed in April. Where individuals are not eligible to be furloughed the Government has put in place a significant package of temporary welfare measures including a £20 per week increase in the Universal Credit standard allowance and working tax credit basic element, and a nearly £1 billion increase in support for renters through increases to the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit Claimants.

29th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many (a) employers and (b) employees have (i) registered and (ii) operated annual PAYE schemes in each tax year since the introduction of HMRC's Real Time Information system.

It is not possible to provide an answer in the time available. PAYE schemes may apply to operate on an annual scheme basis and later relinquish their annual scheme status. The time period for which each PAYE scheme has operated on an annual basis is not readily available for analysis.
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he next plans to review the (a) operation and (b) adjusted net income limits of the High Income Child Benefit Charge.

The Government introduced the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) from January 2013 to ensure that support is targeted at those who most need it. HICBC applies to anyone with an individual income over £50,000, who claims Child Benefit or whose partner claims it.

HM Revenue and Customs use a number of channels to reach those who may be liable to pay HICBC to explain what they need to do to pay the charge, and when it is due.

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

22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that parents are able to access the funds remaining in their Childcare Voucher accounts to help them support their children during the covid-19 outbreak.

As part of the country’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 virus, the Government announced that childcare settings (including nurseries, pre-schools, childminders and wrap around childcare for school aged children)?would close to everyone except children of critical workers and vulnerable children. As childcare settings gradually re-open, parents currently on the childcare vouchers scheme will be able to use their vouchers as a valid form of payment for eligible childcare services. The childcare vouchers scheme remains closed to new entrants, so parents not currently in the scheme should register for its successor, Tax-Free Childcare.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of evidence from the Law Society of Scotland that 32 per cent of Scotland's law firms are limited companies which are excluded from the Self Employed Income Support Scheme and being mainly sole traders are entitled to support under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme only if they fully withdraw from providing legal services to their clients.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is available to individuals who are self-employed and who report their trading income through Income Tax Self-Assessment. Those who pay themselves a salary through their own company are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim a CJRS grant for the hours not worked.

Firms may have access to a range of grants and loans depending on their circumstances, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme,?Bounce Back Loans,?and the deferral of tax payments.

8th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 2 June 2020 to Question 48488, on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, what discussions he has had with with representatives from (a) the Information Commissioner's Office, (b) the National Audit Office and (c) Action Fraud on his decision not to advise holders of National Insurance numbers when payments have been made on their behalf under that scheme and to which employer.

HMRC will comply with their obligations under Article 15 of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) to provide information relating to an identified natural person, including information relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, upon request. Subject Access Requests are processed on a case by case basis depending on the data requested and applying any relevant exemptions.

HMRC do not routinely issue employees with information about returns or claims made by their employers. Employees can report concerns to HMRC if they suspect their employer is abusing the scheme.

8th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May 2020 to Question 43961 on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, whether HMRC will provide holders of National Insurance numbers with information about payments made to employers on their behalf under that scheme when that information is sought through a subject access request under section 7 of the Data Protection Act 2000.

HMRC will comply with their obligations under Article 15 of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) to provide information relating to an identified natural person, including information relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, upon request. Subject Access Requests are processed on a case by case basis depending on the data requested and applying any relevant exemptions.

HMRC do not routinely issue employees with information about returns or claims made by their employers. Employees can report concerns to HMRC if they suspect their employer is abusing the scheme.

8th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May 2020 to Question 43961, whether HMRC is exempt from the obligation to provide people with information in response to subject access requests under section 7 of the Data Protection Act 2000 in relation to payments claimed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme against their National Insurance number.

HMRC will comply with their obligations under Article 15 of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) to provide information relating to an identified natural person, including information relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, upon request. Subject Access Requests are processed on a case by case basis depending on the data requested and applying any relevant exemptions.

HMRC do not routinely issue employees with information about returns or claims made by their employers. Employees can report concerns to HMRC if they suspect their employer is abusing the scheme.

3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many and what proportion of (a) taxi drivers (b) people awarded funds for the first three months of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme received a payment of (i) £100 or less, (ii) £101 to £500, (iii) £501 to £1,000 and incrementally thereafter in £500 steps to the maximum of £7,500.

Applications for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) opened on 13 May. By midnight 31 May 2020, HMRC had received 2.5m claims representing a total of £7.2bn claimed.

SEISS is a new scheme and HMRC are currently working through the analysis they will be able to provide based on the data available. HMRC will update in due course on the types of data available and timescales for publication.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much income has been declared by people that work in the hospitality sector in the form of tronc payments that attract income tax and national insurance deductions in each of the last three financial years.

It is not possible to answer the question in the required timeline. This is due to the way in which the data held by HMRC is structured as it relates to payments made to tronc schemes in terms of liability for Income Tax or National Insurance Contributions.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May 2020 to Question 41968, how many annual PAYE reports were submitted between 19 March 2020 and the end of that tax year, and how many of those reports were submitted on behalf of taxpayers whose PAYE report had also been submitted on an annual basis for the 2018-19 tax year.

It is not possible to provide an answer in the time available.

18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May 2020 to Question 43961, by what means holders of National Insurance numbers will be made aware that funds have been disbursed to an employer in response to a claim submitted under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme quoting that number; and what the timescale is for that notification.

HMRC will not contact individual employees in respect of CJRS claims; if an individual employee has a query in respect of a claim, they should direct this query to their employer.

If an employee is concerned that their employer could be abusing the scheme, they should make a report using the Report Fraud to HMRC iForm on GOV.UK; a link to this iForm is included in the CJRS employee guidance on GOV.UK.

18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May 2020 to Question 43961, what discussions he has had with the devolved Administrations on enforcement of the obligation on employers to utilise funds paid under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in accordance with clause 2.2 of the Schedule to the Treasury Direction dated 15 April 2020.

The Government expects the vast majority of employers to do the right thing, but HMRC reserve the right to follow up on claims and take whatever action is necessary if people abuse the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Fraudulent claims put at risk the provision of public services and the protection of livelihoods.

The CJRS is a reserved matter and the responsibility for compliance remains with HMRC.

The Government has engaged and is continuing to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including the Devolved Administrations, to inform the development and use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May 2020 to Question 43961 on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, how many submissions of the iForm referred to in that Answer have been made in each of the last five tax years; what estimate he has made of the number of submissions that will be made in the 2020-21 tax year; and how many submissions of that iForm had been received by 12 May 2020.

The total number of iForm submissions made to the tax fraud hotline on GOV.UK in each tax year, for the last 5 tax years (1 April to 31 March) were:

2019/20: 65,169

2018/19: 58,664

2017/18: 57,631

2016/17: 49,686

2015/16: 40,044

6,613 iForm submissions were made between 1 April to 12 May 2020. HM Revenue and Customs do not routinely produce estimates of the volume of expected allegations submitted through this reporting pathway.

18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May 2020 to Question 43961 on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, what support he is providing to bodies representing workers on part-time and zero hours contracts to ensure that the obligation on employers to properly utilise funds paid under that scheme is widely known among qualifying PAYE employees.

The Government has published clear guidance for employers and employees, and has supported employers through the provision of webinars, and dedicated communications.

HMRC have provided a clear link for employees to report any suspicions about employers abusing the scheme (using the iForm on GOV.UK). Furthermore, the claims process for employers makes clear that grants need to be paid to the employee in full.

HMRC have included messaging about the proper use of funds paid under the scheme in their emails to agents (about 80,000) and employers (just over 2 million). HMRC have also included information in messaging that has gone out to key stakeholders, which include bodies representing a wide range of interests.

The Government keeps its communication strategy under regular review.

18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May 2020 to Question 43961 on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, what engagement he has had with employers’ representatives and trade unions to ensure that the obligation on employers to properly utilise funds paid under that scheme is widely known among qualifying PAYE employees.

The Government has published clear guidance for employers and employees, and has supported employers through the provision of webinars, and dedicated communications.

HMRC have provided a clear link for employees to report any suspicions about employers abusing the scheme (using the iForm on GOV.UK). Furthermore, the claims process for employers makes clear that grants need to be paid to the employee in full.

HMRC have included messaging about the proper use of funds paid under the scheme in their emails to agents (about 80,000) and employers (just over 2 million). HMRC have also included information in messaging that has gone out to key stakeholders, which include bodies representing a wide range of interests.

The Government keeps its communication strategy under regular review.

18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May 2020 to Question 43961 on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, what support he is providing to bodies representing black and minority ethnic communities to ensure that the obligation on employers to properly utilise funds paid under that scheme is widely known among qualifying PAYE employees in those communities.

The Government expects that the vast majority of employers will do the right thing, but HMRC reserve the right to follow up on claims and take whatever action is necessary if people abuse the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Fraudulent claims put at risk the provision of public services and the protection of livelihoods.

The Government has published clear guidance for employers and employees, and has supported employers through the provision of webinars, and dedicated communications.

HMRC have provided a clear link for employees to report any suspicions about employers abusing the scheme (using the iForm on GOV.UK). Furthermore, the claims process for employers makes clear that grants need to be paid to the employee in full.

HMRC have included messaging about the proper use of funds paid under the scheme in their emails to agents (about 80,000) and employers (just over 2 million). HMRC have also included relevant information in messaging to other key stakeholders.

The Government keeps its communication strategy under regular review.

18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May 2020 to Question 43961 on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, what offence will be committed in (a) England and Wales, (b) Scotland and (c) Northern Ireland by an individual who (i) uses or (ii) authorises the use of funds paid under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for any purpose other than those specified in clause 8.1 of the Schedule to the Treasury Direction dated 15 April 2020.

HM Treasury’s Direction to HMRC under the Coronavirus Act 2020 in respect of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the guidance published in respect of the CJRS scheme, and the online portal through which claims are made, all make clear that any payments are for the purposes specified in paragraph 8.1 of the HM Treasury Direction and for no other purpose. The Direction and associated guidance also make clear that any money paid out under the scheme must be returned to HMRC if the claimant becomes unwilling or unable to use the payment for the specified purposes.

Those who submit claims to HMRC for payment under CJRS are required to state that any money paid by HMRC will be used for the specified purposes. Any claimant who states that the payment will be used for the proper purposes when this is not the case is likely to have committed a criminal offence.

In England and Wales, and in Northern Ireland, it is a crime of fraud, contrary to the Fraud Act 2006, dishonestly to make a false representation with intent to make a gain. Those who dishonestly state in their claims to HMRC that any money they receive under CJRS will be used for the specified purposes, when this is not the case, are likely to have committed fraud. Those who encourage or assist the commission of a crime can also be found guilty of the offence. Those who aid and abet another’s crime can also be convicted.

In Scotland, those who engage in a false pretence with an intention to deceive HMRC will commit a common law fraud. Such a false pretence could include stating that the payment under CJRS will be used for the specified purposes when this is not the case. Those who act in concert with the perpetrator of such crimes can also be convicted and punished.

In all parts of the UK, where claimants obtain payments from HMRC through fraudulent claims to the CJRS scheme, any money obtained would be the proceeds of crime. Any dealing with this fraudulently obtained money could amount to the offence of money laundering, contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The money laundering offences contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 are punishable with a sentence of imprisonment of up to 14 years, a fine without limit, or both. Fraudulently obtained payments can also be recovered through the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act dealing with summary forfeiture of assets representing the proceeds of crime.

HMRC will subject CJRS claims to scrutiny and use their usual compliance tools to carry out proportionate risk-based compliance checks before and after payment to test the veracity of CJRS claims. HMRC will take robust steps to prevent fraudulent claims being paid, to recover any payments made to those who are not eligible, and to respond to those who make fraudulent claims. In doing so, HMRC aim to protect essential public services and the livelihoods at risk during these challenging times.

18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May 2020 to Question 43961 on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, what discussions he has had with (a) the Home Secretary and (b) other Cabinet colleagues on enforcement of the obligation on employers to utilise funds paid under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in accordance with clause 2.2 of the Schedule to the Treasury Direction dated 15 April 2020.

The Government expects that the vast majority of employers will do the right thing, but HMRC reserve the right to follow up on claims and take whatever action is necessary if people abuse the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Fraudulent claims risk the provision of public services and the protection of livelihoods.

The CJRS is a reserved matter and the responsibility for compliance remains with HMRC.

The Government is continuing to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including other departments and the Devolved Administrations, to inform the development and use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May 2020 to Question 43961 on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which of the 20,024 weblinks that are returned when the search query HMRC iForm is entered into the search facility of the GOV.UK website contains the iForm referred to in that Answer.

The iForm referred to in the answer to Question 43961 is located at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/customs-excise-and-vat-fraud-reporting. A link to this page is included in the CJRS guidance for employees on GOV.UK.
15th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of removing penalties from savers who need to withdraw funds from lifetime ISAs to enable them to tackle financial difficulties as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

As announced on 1 May 2020, to help investors withdraw funds from their Lifetime ISA during the COVID-19 pandemic the withdrawal charge has been temporarily reduced from 25% to 20%. The reduced withdrawal charge applies to all unauthorised withdrawals made in the period from Friday 6 March 2020 until Monday 5 April 2021. This means savers will get back all the money they originally put in, subject to any investment losses incurred on stocks and shares Lifetime ISAs. There is no withdrawal charge if it is made to buy a first home or the investor has a terminal illness.

Further information on the reduced charge is available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/lifetime-isa-withdrawal-charge-reduced-to-20

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he has taken to enable people to check (a) if their National Insurance number is registered on the HMRC Real Time Information system, (b) the last date of registration, (c) the identity of their registered employer and (d) whether their National Insurance number is (i) registered and (ii) proposed for registration under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and by which employer.

HMRC’s Real Time Information system can only be accessed by an employer or an agent authorised to act on an employers’ behalf.

HMRC are not be able to provide information about individual Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) applications to employees.

If an employee is concerned that their employer has not claimed on their behalf when entitled to do so, the employee should speak to their employer.

If an employee suspects that their employer is abusing the scheme, they should report them to HMRC using the iForm on GOV.UK.

27th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allowing people aged under fifty-five whose income has been affected by the covid-19 outbreak to access some of their pension funds.

The government has introduced an unprecedented package of measures to help individuals and businesses affected by the crisis, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, changes to Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay that make it quicker and easier to access support as well as more generous, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, a business rates holiday, grants to smaller businesses, and a package of government-backed and guaranteed loans.

The government wishes to encourage pension saving. This is why, for the majority of savers, pension contributions are tax-free. This makes pensions tax relief one of the most expensive reliefs in the personal tax system. In 2017/18 income tax and employer National Insurance Contributions relief cost £54 billion.

The government therefore imposes a charge on early withdrawals, which can be from 40% to 55% depending on the circumstances, both to recoup its investment through tax relief and to provide individuals with a strong incentive to save through their pension for the long-term. There are no plans to change this aspect of tax policy.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the advertising campaigns on (a) changes to child benefit and (b) the implementation of the High-income Child Benefit Charge.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have taken considerable steps to raise awareness of HICBC. HMRC wrote to about 800,000 families affected by the charge when it was launched, and ran a high profile advertising and media campaign in 2013. They also sent letters to two million higher rate tax payers in 2013, containing a prominent message about the charge.

The Government has made two recent changes to Child Benefit. The first is an uprating of Child Benefit payments from 6th April 2020 to a weekly rate of £21.05 for the first child and £13.95 for each additional child. The second enables people to claim Child Benefit during the COVID-19 outbreak, without registering the birth of a child.

These changes have been advertised on GOV.UK guidance pages, in a press notice, on HMRC social media channels and through stakeholder engagement; HM Revenue and Customs will continue to advertise the changes.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) use a wide array of channels to reach those who may be liable to pay the High Income Child Benefit Charge. This includes putting information about the charge in packs made available to new parents which tell them how to claim Child Benefit.

HMRC have also ramped up communications aimed at people whose financial circumstances have changed since they claimed Child Benefit by using social media, GOV.UK, and via third parties such as family websites.

22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what direct mailings have been sent since 2012 to advise parents of the High-income Child Benefit Charge.

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

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have taken considerable steps to raise awareness of HICBC. HMRC wrote to about 800,000 families affected by the charge when it was launched, and ran a high profile advertising and media campaign in 2013. HMRC also sent letters to two million higher rate tax payers in 2013, containing a prominent message about the charge.

HMRC use a wide array of channels to reach those who may be liable to pay the High Income Child Benefit Charge. This includes putting information about the charge in packs made available to new parents which tell them how to claim Child Benefit. In addition, where HMRC hold all the relevant information, HMRC write to parents who may have become liable for HICBC, explaining what they need to do to pay the charge when it is due and avoid penalties.

14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the effect of the Nationality and Borders Bill on (a) equality, (b) personal safety and (c) the process of providing evidence of one’s identity in the asylum process for LGBTQ+ people.

An Equality Impact Assessment has been completed for the policies being delivered through the Nationality and Borders Bill. This includes consideration of possible impacts on people who are LGBTQ+. The Equality Impact Assessment will be published in due course.

Tom Pursglove
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to tackle increases of reported violent hate crimes towards LGBTQ+ people.

All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable.

We have a robust legislative framework to respond to hate crimes which target race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity.

The Government published the hate crime action plan (Action Against Hate: The UK government’s plan for tackling hate crime) in 2016 and refreshed this plan in October 2018 and has committed to publish a new strategy to tackle hate crime this autumn.

The Government has commissioned a Law Commission review of the adequacy of current hate crime legislation. The review will report this year and we will respond to it when it is complete.

Government action to tackle broader discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people includes:

  • A commitment to holding an international conference on LGBT rights; the “Safe To Be Me” conference will be held in 2022.
  • The September 2020 announcement of a further £3.2 million of UK-funded projects to help Commonwealth governments and civil society groups reform outdated laws and end the legacy of discrimination and violence.
  • Bringing forward legislation to ban conversion therapy as soon as Parliamentary time allows and making new funds available to ensure that victims have better access to the support they need.

The Government will continue to work with the police, stakeholders including Galop and others to understand the concerns of LGBTQ+ communities and what more can be done to address those concerns.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her policy to resettle 5,000 vulnerable people from Afghanistan in the next 12 months is in addition to her pre-existing plan to resettle about 5,000 refugees in the first year of operation of the UK Resettlement Scheme.

On Wednesday 18 August, the Government announced the launch of a new bespoke Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), to welcome up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghans to the UK. The scheme will focus on those most at risk and in its first year will resettle up to 5,000 vulnerable Afghans. This scheme delivers on the Government’s commitment in the New Plan for Immigration to create safe and legal routes for those in fear of persecution and oppression in their home country. The Government is working urgently to open this route and further details will be announced in due course on gov.uk.

The new route is separate from, and in addition to, the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which offers any current or former locally employed staff who are assessed to be under serious threat to life priority relocation to the UK.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that UK resettlement programmes will offer protection to women and children still in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday 18 August, the Government announced the launch of a new bespoke Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), to welcome up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghans to the UK. The scheme will focus on those most at risk and in its first year will resettle up to 5,000 vulnerable Afghans. This scheme delivers on the Government’s commitment in the New Plan for Immigration to create safe and legal routes for those in fear of persecution and oppression in their home country. The Government is working urgently to open this route and further details will be announced in due course on gov.uk.

The new route is separate from, and in addition to, the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which offers any current or former locally employed staff who are assessed to be under serious threat to life priority relocation to the UK.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 17 December 2020 to Question 127570 on Asylum: Employment, when she plans to publish a final report on the review of policy regarding asylum seeker right to work.

Asylum seeker right to work is a complex issue. A review of the policy is ongoing, and we are considering the evidence put forward on the issue. The findings of the review will be announced once the work has been completed.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 17 December 2020 to Question 127570 on Asylum: Employment, where on the Government website it is possible to view documents related to the review of policy on asylum seeker right to work.

Asylum seeker right to work is a complex issue. A review of the policy is ongoing, and we are considering the evidence put forward on the issue. The findings of the review will be announced once the work has been completed.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 4 May 2020 to Question 40657, whether she asked the Migration Advisory Committee to consider and make recommendations on the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the ability of non-EEA spouses and partners to meet minimum income requirements.

The Home Office has proactively established a range of measures to support those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the situation closely and take these exceptional circumstances into account.

To ensure spouses or partners applying for entry clearance, leave to remain or indefinite leave are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control, for the purpose of the minimum income requirement:

  • a temporary loss of employment income between 1 March and 31 July 2020 due to COVID-19 will be disregarded, provided the requirement was met for at least six months up to March 2020;
  • an applicant or sponsor furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be deemed as earning 100% of their salary;
  • a temporary loss of annual income due to COVID-19 between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 will generally be disregarded for self-employment income, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications. Income received via the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will also be taken into account;
  • evidential flexibility may be applied where an applicant or sponsor experiences difficulty accessing specified evidence due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Guidance for our customers is available on GOV.UK here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/chapter-8-appendix-fm-family-members

This also sets out the ways in which the minimum income requirement can be met using other sources of income instead of, or along with, income from employment or self-employment. For example, income from the couple’s investments, property rental or pension may also be taken into account, together with their cash savings.

These are unprecedented times. We continue to monitor the situation closely and may make further adjustments to requirements where necessary and appropriate to ensure people are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 4 May 2020 to Question 40657, whether the Migration Advisory Committee made recommendations on measures needed to tackle the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the ability of non-EEA spouses and partners to meet minimum income requirements.

The Home Office has proactively established a range of measures to support those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the situation closely and take these exceptional circumstances into account.

To ensure spouses or partners applying for entry clearance, leave to remain or indefinite leave are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control, for the purpose of the minimum income requirement:

  • a temporary loss of employment income between 1 March and 31 July 2020 due to COVID-19 will be disregarded, provided the requirement was met for at least six months up to March 2020;
  • an applicant or sponsor furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be deemed as earning 100% of their salary;
  • a temporary loss of annual income due to COVID-19 between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 will generally be disregarded for self-employment income, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications. Income received via the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will also be taken into account;
  • evidential flexibility may be applied where an applicant or sponsor experiences difficulty accessing specified evidence due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Guidance for our customers is available on GOV.UK here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/chapter-8-appendix-fm-family-members

This also sets out the ways in which the minimum income requirement can be met using other sources of income instead of, or along with, income from employment or self-employment. For example, income from the couple’s investments, property rental or pension may also be taken into account, together with their cash savings.

These are unprecedented times. We continue to monitor the situation closely and may make further adjustments to requirements where necessary and appropriate to ensure people are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 4 May 2020 to Question 40657, what changes she made to tackle the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the ability of non-EEA spouses and partners to meet minimum income requirements.

The Home Office has proactively established a range of measures to support those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the situation closely and take these exceptional circumstances into account.

To ensure spouses or partners applying for entry clearance, leave to remain or indefinite leave are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control, for the purpose of the minimum income requirement:

  • a temporary loss of employment income between 1 March and 31 July 2020 due to COVID-19 will be disregarded, provided the requirement was met for at least six months up to March 2020;
  • an applicant or sponsor furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be deemed as earning 100% of their salary;
  • a temporary loss of annual income due to COVID-19 between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 will generally be disregarded for self-employment income, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications. Income received via the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will also be taken into account;
  • evidential flexibility may be applied where an applicant or sponsor experiences difficulty accessing specified evidence due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Guidance for our customers is available on GOV.UK here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/chapter-8-appendix-fm-family-members

This also sets out the ways in which the minimum income requirement can be met using other sources of income instead of, or along with, income from employment or self-employment. For example, income from the couple’s investments, property rental or pension may also be taken into account, together with their cash savings.

These are unprecedented times. We continue to monitor the situation closely and may make further adjustments to requirements where necessary and appropriate to ensure people are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 4 May 2020 to Question 40657, what assessment she she made of (a) the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the ability of non-EEA spouses and partners to meet minimum income requirements and (b) the changes required to the criteria to enable those spouses and partners to meet that requirement.

The Home Office has proactively established a range of measures to support those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the situation closely and take these exceptional circumstances into account.

To ensure spouses or partners applying for entry clearance, leave to remain or indefinite leave are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control, for the purpose of the minimum income requirement:

  • a temporary loss of employment income between 1 March and 31 July 2020 due to COVID-19 will be disregarded, provided the requirement was met for at least six months up to March 2020;
  • an applicant or sponsor furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be deemed as earning 100% of their salary;
  • a temporary loss of annual income due to COVID-19 between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 will generally be disregarded for self-employment income, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications. Income received via the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will also be taken into account;
  • evidential flexibility may be applied where an applicant or sponsor experiences difficulty accessing specified evidence due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Guidance for our customers is available on GOV.UK here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/chapter-8-appendix-fm-family-members

This also sets out the ways in which the minimum income requirement can be met using other sources of income instead of, or along with, income from employment or self-employment. For example, income from the couple’s investments, property rental or pension may also be taken into account, together with their cash savings.

These are unprecedented times. We continue to monitor the situation closely and may make further adjustments to requirements where necessary and appropriate to ensure people are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 4 May 2020 to Question 40657, what discussions she has had with the devolved administrations on (a) the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the ability of non-EEA spouses and partners to meet minimum income requirements and (b) the changes required to the criteria to enable those spouses and partners to meet that requirement.

The Home Office has proactively established a range of measures to support those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the situation closely and take these exceptional circumstances into account.

To ensure spouses or partners applying for entry clearance, leave to remain or indefinite leave are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control, for the purpose of the minimum income requirement:

  • a temporary loss of employment income between 1 March and 31 July 2020 due to COVID-19 will be disregarded, provided the requirement was met for at least six months up to March 2020;
  • an applicant or sponsor furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be deemed as earning 100% of their salary;
  • a temporary loss of annual income due to COVID-19 between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 will generally be disregarded for self-employment income, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications. Income received via the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will also be taken into account;
  • evidential flexibility may be applied where an applicant or sponsor experiences difficulty accessing specified evidence due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Guidance for our customers is available on GOV.UK here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/chapter-8-appendix-fm-family-members

This also sets out the ways in which the minimum income requirement can be met using other sources of income instead of, or along with, income from employment or self-employment. For example, income from the couple’s investments, property rental or pension may also be taken into account, together with their cash savings.

These are unprecedented times. We continue to monitor the situation closely and may make further adjustments to requirements where necessary and appropriate to ensure people are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will ask the Migration Advisory Committee to consider and make recommendations on the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the ability of non-EEA spouses and partners to meet Minimum Income Requirements.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the situation closely and take these exceptional circumstances into account.

The minimum income requirement, which was set following advice from the Migration Advisory Committee, can be met in a number of ways in addition to or instead of income from employment or self-employment. For example, income from the couple’s investments, property rental or pension may also be taken into account, together with their cash savings.

These are unprecedented times and we may make further temporary adjustments to requirements where necessary and appropriate to ensure people are not unduly affected by or penalised for circumstances beyond their control.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate she has made of the number of applications from the non-EEA (a) spouse and (b) partner of a UK citizens to (a) extend their leave and (b) apply for indefinite leave to remain that will be made in the next 12 months.

As part of UK Visa & Immigration’s ongoing operational forecasting activities we regularly review and refresh the number of applications we expect from all routes including non-EEA spouses and partners of UK Citizens.

The Home Office publishes data on decisions on applications for leave to remain and indefinite leave to remain in the ‘Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release’ available on GOV.UK

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that non-EEA (a) spouses and (b) partners of UK citizens residing in the UK applying (a) to extend their leave and (b) for indefinite leave to remain are not disadvantaged by the economic effect of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the situation closely and take these exceptional circumstances into account.

These are unprecedented times and we may make further adjustments to requirements where necessary and appropriate. We will ensure people are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of introducing a points based immigration system on the number of people entering the UK to work as au pairs from 2021.

The Government set out its plans for the UK’s future points-based immigration system on 19 February.

As has been the case since 2008, the UK’s points-based immigration system will not offer a dedicated route for Au Pairs, but there are other immigration routes which will exist for people who may wish to take up these roles. For example, the UK operates youth mobility schemes with eight countries.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department last met, in person or virtually, with representatives of the each of the devolved Administrations to discuss the development and implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant.

Ministry of Defence (MOD) Ministers, officials and military officers regularly meet, and correspond, with representatives of the Devolved Administrations to discuss a range of issues.

I met with my counterparts in the Scottish and Welsh Governments in May this year to discuss proposals to strengthen the Covenant in law. The Chief of Defence People met with Ministers from the Welsh Government earlier in October. Officials met with counterparts from the Devolved Administrations on 14 October at a virtual conference hosted by the MOD to discuss the Covenant.

7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of employment preparedness and support programmes offered to military personnel prior to and immediately post-service.

The Ministry of Defence provides comprehensive resettlement support for people leaving the Armed Forces to help them make the transition to civilian life.

The long-established Career Transition Partnership (CTP) provides guidance to Service leavers in their transition from military to civilian life through a range of career and employment support services including skills development workshops, seminars, resettlement training advice, vocational training courses, career consultancy, one-to-one sessions and job finding support. A bespoke service is provided for the most vulnerable leavers through the CTP resettlement pathway.?This function is called CTP Assist and delivers an individualised, needs-based service to those?Service personnel who face the greatest barriers to employment as a consequence of their medical conditions.?This comprehensive employment support is made available to all Service personnel subject to medical discharge in order to maximise their?successful transition to civilian life.?All military personnel can access CTP two years before leaving and within two years of leaving; beyond that point they can access The Forces Employment Charity (RFEA) which provides support for life.

Statistics on the estimated employment outcomes for ex-Service personnel who used the services provided by CTP can be accessed at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/career-transition-partnership-ex-service-personnel-employment-outcomes-statistics-index. Of the 2018-19 UK Regular Service leavers who used a billable CTP service and reported their employment outcomes six months after leaving service, 86 per cent were employed.

As part of the ten-year vision articulated in the Strategy for our Veterans, in October 2019 the Ministry of Defence introduced a ‘Defence Holistic Transition’ policy, which brings together a wide range of support for Service leavers and their families in their transition to civilian life including help with life's basic needs such as registering with a doctor or a dentist, or much more intensive help for those with complex needs (including housing, budgeting, debt, wellbeing and children’s education). ‘Defence Transition Services’ (DTS) was established at the same time, to support those Service leavers who face the greatest challenges to making a successful transition to civilian life, including those who are medically discharged. The full-spectrum service is available to all Service leavers exiting the Armed Forces and is based on the needs of the individual, providing the specific support they may need and interventions to ensure issues are resolved. This support extends for two years after discharge and longer if necessary.

24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will create a covid rent debt fund to support people dealing with rent arrears built up during the pandemic.

This Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support to protect renters whose income has been affected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notably, to help prevent people getting into financial hardship, we have increased the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate in 2020/21 to the 30th percentile of local market rents in each area. The increased LHA rates will be maintained at the current levels in cash terms in 2021/22, even in areas where the 30th percentile of local rents has gone down. We have boosted the welfare system by billions of pounds, including increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by up to £1,040 for the year. In addition, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has offered support for businesses to pay staff salaries, enabling people to continue to pay their rent and has been extended until the end of April 2021.

For those who require additional support, Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) are available. As announced at the spending round for 2020/21, there is already £180 million in DHPs for local authorities to distribute for supporting renters with housings costs in the private and social rented sectors. For 2021-22 the Government will make available £140 million in DHP funding, which takes account of the increased LHA rates.

The recently published English Housing Survey Household Resilience Study found that 93 per cent of private renters are up to date on their rent. This indicates our package of support is working, and has prevented widespread arrears.

We continue to closely monitor the ongoing effects of the pandemic on renters.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to tackle increases in the level of rent arrears in the private rented sector as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

This Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support to protect renters whose income has been affected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notably, to help prevent people getting into financial hardship, we have increased the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate in 2020/21 to the 30th percentile of local market rents in each area. The increased LHA rates will be maintained at the current levels in cash terms in 2021/22, even in areas where the 30th percentile of local rents has gone down. We have boosted the welfare system by billions of pounds, including increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by up to £1,040 for the year. In addition, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has offered support for businesses to pay staff salaries, enabling people to continue to pay their rent and has been extended until the end of April 2021.

For those who require additional support, Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) are available. As announced at the spending round for 2020/21, there is already £180 million in DHPs for local authorities to distribute for supporting renters with housings costs in the private and social rented sectors. For 2021-22 the Government will make available £140 million in DHP funding, which takes account of the increased LHA rates.

The recently published English Housing Survey Household Resilience Study found that 93 per cent of private renters are up to date on their rent. This indicates our package of support is working, and has prevented widespread arrears.

We continue to closely monitor the ongoing effects of the pandemic on renters.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many and what proportion of people prosecuted for TV licence evasion in each year since 2015 were women.

The Ministry of Justice has published information on prosecutions for TV licence evasion in England and Wales, up to December 2020, available in the ‘Outcomes by Offence’ data tool, which can be found here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/987715/outcomes-by-offence-2020.xlsx

For prosecutions of women for this offence, follow the steps below.

  • Select ‘191A Television licence evasion’ in the Offence filter
  • To view male and female prosecutions, click anywhere in the table to bring up the pivot table field list and drag ‘sex’ into the rows field.
  • The number of males prosecuted will be found on Row 24 and the number of females prosecuted will be found on Row 25.
Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what information his Department holds on the (a) average, (b) shortest and (c) longest time taken to grant probate in the last 12 months.

The average wait for people telephoning the national Courts and Tribunal Service centre with queries relating to Probate between April 2019 to March 2020 is 2 minutes 21 seconds.

The most recently published waiting times for a grant of probate covers July 2019 to March 2020 as March to June 2019 data is subject to data quality issues following the move to a new computer system. All calculations have therefore been calculated based on a 9-month period from July 2019 rather than a 12-month period as requested.

The information requested as to the shortest and longest time taken to grant probate in the last 12 months could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

The information requested as to the average time taken to grant probate in the last 12 months can be found in the table below:

Average time to grant issue for grants of representation, by grant type, England and Wales 1,2, 3, 4

Probate

Application submission to grant issue

Document receipt to grant issue3

Mean weeks

Median weeks

Mean weeks

Median weeks

July 2019 to March 2020

8.1

6.6

7.9

6.4

Source HMCTS Core Case Data

1) HMCTS Core Case Data (CCD) came into effect at the end of March 2019, following a transition between data systems recording information regarding The Probate Service

2) The average timeliness figures are produced by calculating the time from application/document receipt (which may be from an earlier period) to the grant issued made in that period. 3) Document receipt occurs after payment has been made and all accompanying paperwork has been received by HMCTS 4) Due to quality issues in the transition between data systems, the breakdown by type of grant has not been published for Q2 2019

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the average wait is for people telephoning the national Courts and Tribunal Service centres with queries relating to probate applications in the last 12 months.

The average wait for people telephoning the national Courts and Tribunal Service centre with queries relating to Probate between April 2019 to March 2020 is 2 minutes 21 seconds.

The most recently published waiting times for a grant of probate covers July 2019 to March 2020 as March to June 2019 data is subject to data quality issues following the move to a new computer system. All calculations have therefore been calculated based on a 9-month period from July 2019 rather than a 12-month period as requested.

The information requested as to the shortest and longest time taken to grant probate in the last 12 months could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

The information requested as to the average time taken to grant probate in the last 12 months can be found in the table below:

Average time to grant issue for grants of representation, by grant type, England and Wales 1,2, 3, 4

Probate

Application submission to grant issue

Document receipt to grant issue3

Mean weeks

Median weeks

Mean weeks

Median weeks

July 2019 to March 2020

8.1

6.6

7.9

6.4

Source HMCTS Core Case Data

1) HMCTS Core Case Data (CCD) came into effect at the end of March 2019, following a transition between data systems recording information regarding The Probate Service

2) The average timeliness figures are produced by calculating the time from application/document receipt (which may be from an earlier period) to the grant issued made in that period. 3) Document receipt occurs after payment has been made and all accompanying paperwork has been received by HMCTS 4) Due to quality issues in the transition between data systems, the breakdown by type of grant has not been published for Q2 2019

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what proportion of calls to his Department have gone unanswered in each of the last six months.

The Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland does not have the facility to capture call data and therefore does not hold data on the proportion of unanswered calls.

Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland