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Written Question
Water Charges: Private Rented Housing
2 Dec 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make (a) an assessment of the role of the Landlord TAP scheme in helping water companies to identify financially vulnerable tenants before they fall into debt and (b) the Landlord TAP scheme mandatory in England, in line with existing arrangements in Wales.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 24 November 2021, PQ UIN 75976.


Written Question
Water Charges
2 Dec 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the level of stakeholder support for the introduction of the single social tariff scheme proposed by the CCW independent affordability review; and if he will bring forward legislative proposals to implement that scheme.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

Initial stakeholder reaction to a single social tariff scheme has been positive. However, further analysis is needed to understand the implications, costs and benefits of a possible new scheme. Legislation will be required to implement any such scheme.


Written Question
Water Companies: Data Protection
24 Nov 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will ensure that the data sharing powers conferred under the Digital Economy Act 2017 are being fully utilised to help ensure that water companies (a) identify and (b) support financially vulnerable households.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

Eight water companies have established data sharing agreements with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The water sector and DWP are working together to roll out agreements with the remaining companies.

Initial feedback from water companies who have secured data sharing agreements has been positive. The data shares have enabled water companies to identify financially vulnerable customers who may benefit from specially discounted and capped water tariffs, and where appropriate, to proactively add eligible customers to these tariffs.


Written Question
Water Charges
24 Nov 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the recommendation of the CCW independent affordability review to implement a single social tariff scheme; and if he will bring forward legislative proposals to implement that scheme.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

Defra has established a Development Group, consisting of representatives from the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), Ofwat, water companies and charities to explore the review’s recommendations of a single social tariff scheme.


Written Question
Water Direct Scheme
24 Nov 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of expanding the Water Direct scheme; and if he will ensure that that scheme enables customers to pay water bills through deductions from universal credit regardless of whether they are in debt with water chargers.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

Water Direct is not intended as a budgeting tool or an alternative method of paying bills for those receiving benefit.

All water companies offer WaterSure and social tariffs to help reduce bills for households who struggle to pay their bills in full. Water companies also offer a range of financial support measures to assist households to better manage their budgets including payment holidays, bill matching, benefit entitlement checks and money/debt advice referral arrangements.


Written Question
Water Charges: Private Rented Housing
24 Nov 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the role of the Landlord TAP scheme in helping water companies to identify financially vulnerable tenants before they fall into debt; and if he will make that scheme mandatory in England.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

The Consumer Council for Water's (CCW) Affordability Review suggested that Defra should make the Landlord and Tenant Address Portal compulsory in England to raise the visibility of residents who may need help.

Since the publication of CCW's report, Defra has had initial discussions with CCW and Landlord Tap Ltd on this recommendation and look forward to further engagement. Data sharing agreements enabled under the Digital Economy Act 2017 and the pilots that have evolved out of the CCW's report, should also help identify vulnerable tenants. We will work with CCW and industry on how water companies can better identify and support their customers.


Written Question
Recreation Spaces: Ministerial Responsibility
21 Oct 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which Minister has responsibility for parks and green spaces.

Answered by Kemi Badenoch

Parks and green spaces share joint responsibility between the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). DLUHC is responsible for urban parks and green spaces and I am the responsible minister. In DEFRA, the responsible minister for the domestic natural environment, is Rebecca Pow MP and Lord Benyon is responsible for landscape, including national parks.


Written Question
Pre-school Education: Standards
29 Sep 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of early years provision.

Answered by Will Quince

High quality, accessible childcare is important in ensuring that every child has the best possible start in life. The overall quality of provision within the early years sector remains high and, as of 31 March 2021, 96% of providers on the Ofsted Early Years Register were judged good or outstanding, which is a substantial increase from 74% in 2012. Ofsted are responsible for monitoring the quality of provision.

We continue to monitor the sufficiency of childcare through regular attendance data collection and monitoring the open or closed status of providers. We also discuss sufficiency of provision in our regular conversations with local authorities. Local authorities are not currently reporting any significant sufficiency or supply issues and we have not seen any significant number of parents unable to secure a childcare place, either this term or since early years settings re-opened fully on 1 June 2020.

Ofsted data shows that as of March 2021 the number of childcare places available on the Early Years Register has remained broadly stable since August 2015.


Written Question
Pre-school Education: Finance
29 Sep 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on funding for early years services.

Answered by Will Quince

We are making our usual preparations for the imminent Spending Review, which will set departmental budgets for all financial years from 2022-23 to 2024-25.

Ministers and officials from the department will continue to have discussions with HM Treasury as the Spending Review progresses.


Written Question
Pre-school Education
29 Sep 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the role of early years services is in the Government's Levelling Up agenda.

Answered by Will Quince

Levelling up is at the heart of the agenda to build back better after the COVID-19 outbreak and to deliver for every part of the UK. The department takes a dual approach to disadvantage: tackling outcome inequalities nationally while tilting efforts to, and working specifically in, places of greatest need.

In education, ability is evenly spread but opportunity is not. We know that differences in outcomes start early. To really tackle our levelling up challenge, we must look at our support for children and young people at every level, from support for families and childcare, through to university, and to develop skills throughout life.

We are already making progress. On 2 June 2021 we announced an additional £1.4 billion education recovery package, which includes a £153 million investment in evidence-based professional development for early years practitioners, including through new programmes focusing on key areas such as speech and language development.

This is in addition to the £27 million which we are already investing to support children’s early language development in light of the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • £17 million is to deliver the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) in schools that would particularly benefit. Two thirds of primary schools have already signed up for the programme.
  • £10 million will support language development for pre-reception children in the next academic year.

What happens outside of schools and settings is also important. The government is investing over £34 million to champion family hubs. This approach will help to support children of all ages and their families across a broad range of needs in their localities. This investment includes establishing a new national centre for family hubs, run by the Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families; a new transformation fund to open family hubs in around 10 local authorities; an evaluation innovation fund; and work with local authorities to develop data and digital products that will support the practical implementation of family hubs.

The government will publish a landmark Levelling Up White Paper later this year, setting out bold new policy interventions to improve livelihoods and opportunity in all parts of the UK.


Written Question
NHS: Overtime
13 Sep 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the (a) amount of overtime worked and (b) cost of that overtime worked by NHS staff throughout the course of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Helen Whately

The amount of overtime worked is not held centrally. The total value of overtime worked by National Health Service staff working in the hospital and community health sector between March 2020 and December 2020 is £1,340 million.


Written Question
Water Supply: Environment Protection
10 Sep 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to provide long-term investment certainty for water companies to assist them in playing a greater role in delivering on the Government’s environmental objectives.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

The Government is consulting on a draft strategic policy statement for Ofwat. This will set priorities for the economic regulator in the following areas:

  • Protecting and enhancing the environment – including supporting delivery of the 25 Year Environment Plan, net zero, nature-based solutions and catchment approaches by water companies,
  • Delivering a more resilient water sector; and
  • Serving and protecting customers, including those who are vulnerable.

The consultation for the strategic policy statement can be accessed via the link here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/water-industry-governments-strategic-policy-statement-for-ofwat


Written Question
Water Supply: Carbon Emissions and Environment Protection
10 Sep 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of enabling the use of catchment approaches and nature-based solutions by water companies in delivering their regulated obligations in the forthcoming Strategic Policy Statement to Ofwat.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

The Government is consulting on a draft strategic policy statement for Ofwat. This will set priorities for the economic regulator in the following areas:

  • Protecting and enhancing the environment – including supporting delivery of the 25 Year Environment Plan, net zero, nature-based solutions and catchment approaches by water companies,
  • Delivering a more resilient water sector; and
  • Serving and protecting customers, including those who are vulnerable.

The consultation for the strategic policy statement can be accessed via the link here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/water-industry-governments-strategic-policy-statement-for-ofwat


Written Question
Carbon Emissions and Environment Protection
10 Sep 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of mandating Ofwat to incentivise long-term outcomes on (a) net-zero and (b) the delivery of the 25 Year Environment Plan through the forthcoming strategic policy statement.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

The Government is consulting on a draft strategic policy statement for Ofwat. This will set priorities for the economic regulator in the following areas:

  • Protecting and enhancing the environment – including supporting delivery of the 25 Year Environment Plan, net zero, nature-based solutions and catchment approaches by water companies,
  • Delivering a more resilient water sector; and
  • Serving and protecting customers, including those who are vulnerable.

The consultation for the strategic policy statement can be accessed via the link here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/water-industry-governments-strategic-policy-statement-for-ofwat


Written Question
Water Supply: Carbon Emissions and Environment Protection
7 Sep 2021

Questioner: Liz Twist (LAB - Blaydon)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to reconcile (a) low average bills, (b) the need to support vulnerable customers and (c) other short-term deliverables in the water industry with long-term investment needs to deliver on net-zero commitments and environmental objectives.

Answered by Rebecca Pow

(a) Ofwat, the independent economic regulator, is responsible for ensuring that water companies charge fair prices and deliver quality services, through a process called the Price Review.

(b) All water companies offer reduced bills for eligible customers via the WaterSure scheme and social tariffs. Water companies also offer a range of other financial support measures such as payment holidays, bill matching and advice on debt management and water efficiency. Last October, Defra commissioned the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) to review the effectiveness of existing support schemes in water to ensure they are fit for purpose now and in the future. Defra is working with CCW and industry to explore CCW’s recommendations (see Independent Affordability Review | CCW (ccwater.org.uk)) further.

(c) As part of Ofwat's 2019 Price Review process, water companies have set out their investment needs and associated costs up to 2024/2025. The Government has set its future expectations for Ofwat in a new strategic policy statement ( The government's strategic priorities for Ofwat: draft for consultation (defra.gov.uk)) which sets out the significant Government ambitions on the environment and climate change, and how the water industry should contribute to that work.