Luke Evans Portrait

Luke Evans

Conservative - Bosworth

Luke Evans is not a member of any APPGs
2 Former APPG memberships
East Midlands, Health
Luke Evans has no previous appointments


Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 21st September 2021
09:00
Health and Social Care Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Clearing the backlog caused by the pandemic
21 Sep 2021, 9 a.m.
At 9.30am: Oral evidence
Helen Lunt Davies, Expert by experience
Lere Fisher, Expert by experience
At 10.00am: Oral evidence
Dr Adrian James - President at The Royal College of Psychiatrists
Professor Martin Marshall CBE - Chair at Royal College of General Practitioners
Ondine Sherwood - Co-Founder at LongCovidSOS
Dr Melissa Heightman - Clinical lead, Post-COVID assessment service at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
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Oral Question
Wednesday 22nd September 2021
11:30
Oral Question No. 6
What steps the Government is taking to support people with disabilities after the covid-19 outbreak.
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Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 22nd September 2021
14:30
Division Votes
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Information Commissioner (Remuneration)
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 359 Conservative Aye votes vs 0 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 369 Noes - 2
Speeches
Tuesday 14th September 2021
Covid-19 Update

I have a clarification and a request. On the clarification, I welcome the boosters, but could the Secretary of State …

Written Answers
Monday 13th September 2021
Kickstart Scheme: Leicestershire
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
Tuesday 15th September 2020
Digitally Altered Body Images Bill 2019-21
A Bill to require advertisers, broadcasters and publishers to display a logo in cases where an image of a human …
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
8. Miscellaneous
I am a self-employed GP. (Registered 09 January 2020)

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Luke Evans has voted in 284 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
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Debates during the 2019 Parliament

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

View all Luke Evans's debates

Bosworth Petitions

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

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

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

Petition Debates Contributed

Many missing microchipped pets are never reunited as it’s optional to scan & check microchip registration. It’s time veterinary professionals, authorities and rescues checked pet & keeper match on the original database at a pets 1st consultation or yearly checkup. It’s their only chance to get home

A healthy young dog with RBU was euthanised. The person who requested euthanasia was not the registered keeper.

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 Luke Evans

Luke Evans has not signed any Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Luke Evans, 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.


Luke Evans has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Luke Evans has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Luke Evans


A Bill to require advertisers, broadcasters and publishers to display a logo in cases where an image of a human body or body part has been digitally altered in its proportions; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Tuesday 15th September 2020
(Read Debate)

Luke Evans has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


280 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
2 Other Department Questions
12th Oct 2020
To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps he is taking to support churches across Leicestershire to conduct Christmas services in 2020.

The Church of England’s seasonal campaign ‘Comfort and Joy’ will provide online, booklet and social media resources for all parishes and worshippers to use and enjoy this Advent and Christmas. More information is available here: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/preparing-advent-christmas-2020-comfort-and-joy

Following the Government announcement of a second lockdown, churches have been required to close again for public worship, though I am hopeful this will lift at the end of lockdown on 2nd December and that public worship can resume, with the necessary social distancing rules in place, during Advent and Christmas. The Church of England remains in dialogue with the Government about this as part of the Government’s Places of Worship Task Force. I commend the work of clergy and volunteers across the country during this very challenging time.

Andrew Selous
Second Church Estates Commissioner
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to encourage the use of British companies as part of public sector procurement for construction projects.

The £292bn of annual public sector procurement spend has a key role to play in the economic recovery of the UK.

The UK’s exit from the EU offers a huge opportunity to reform public procurement so that it better meets this country’s needs. Simpler, less bureaucratic processes for businesses and better commercial outcomes for our public bodies. We will publish our reform proposals in due course.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Attorney General, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the CPS has adequate enforcement powers to tackle fraudulent activity linked to the covid-19 outbreak.

CPS prosecutors are continuing to ensure that justice is delivered during the Covid-19 outbreak. The CPS and National Police Chief Counsel have pushing joint charging protocol for responding to the current situation, under this protocol all Covid related offence, including Covid related fraud will be prioritised for an immediate charging decision. This decision will be made by the CPS applying Code for Crown Prosecutors to determine whether there is enough evidence to charge and if it is in the public interest to bring a case to court.

The CPS have already authorised charges following reports that a man had been selling fake treatment kits. The CPS continues to work alongside government and law enforcement to provide a multi-agency response to combat this criminal activity and protect the public.

Suella Braverman
Attorney General
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to use the work of the Border Protocol Delivery Group to inform the UK's trade policy and arrangements with the EU.

The terms of our future trading relationship with the EU are set out in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that we agreed last year. The Border and Protocol Delivery Group, part of the Cabinet Office, are responsible for coordinating the Government's approach to the border, both in relation to our leaving the EU and in developing our longer term strategy for the most effective border in the world. Insights generated by the work of the BPDG are being and will continue to be used to inform our policy towards the EU in the normal way.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps the Government is taking to reduce covid-19 misinformation and suspected scam-related phone calls to the general public.

Government takes the issue of disinformation very seriously. The Cross-Whitehall Counter Disinformation Unit was stood up on 5 March 2020 to look for trends on social media platforms so that we can work with them and other partners to respond to misleading content rapidly.

The Rapid Response Unit in the Cabinet Office has also tackled a range of harmful narratives online. Up to 70 incidents a week have been identified and resolved - from false public health advice to criminal fraudsters running phishing scams. When alerted to Covid-19 vaccination fraud or scams in particular, the unit works alongside partners across the government and beyond, including NHS England to address and resolve the issues quickly.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what progress he has made in negotiations with the EU on the future of reciprocal healthcare arrangements after the transition period.

The UK and EU have agreed to consider addressing future arrangements on social security coordination and healthcare, in the light of future movement of persons. These arrangements will be without prejudice to the rights protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. The Government will continue to update Parliament on the progress of our negotiations with the EU.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to support the skills training and reskilling of workers to play an active role in the UK's green economy.

BEIS and DfE jointly convened the independent Green Jobs Taskforce formed of business, unions and skills providers, to advise on how we can develop plans for new, long-term, good quality green jobs, and support industries and their employees as they transition to net zero. The Taskforce has assessed how the UK jobs market and the skills sector will need to adapt to support net zero, developing ideas and solutions for how the UK can deliver the green jobs of the future.

In addition to the anticipated report from the Taskforce (published today), we have the programmes in place now – including Apprenticeships, Skills Bootcamps, Traineeships, T Levels, and the forthcoming National Skills Fund - to help us grow future talent pipelines and deliver the skilled individuals we will need. The Lifetime Skills Guarantee announced by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister will help people train and retrain at any stage of their lives and so develop the skills most valued by employers.

The Government will consider the Taskforce’s rich evidence base and comprehensive recommendations ahead of setting out, later in the year, our Net Zero Strategy and future skills policy.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he (a) has had and (b) is planning to have with Ministerial colleagues in the (i) Department for Education and (ii) Department for Work and Pensions to support people with skills and training for employment in the green economy in (A) Leicestershire and (B) the UK.

The Climate Action Strategy Committee, chaired by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and the Climate Action Implementation Committee provide two important ministerial forums for discussion on climate, including skills and training for the green economy.

We are determined to seize the once-in-a-generation economic opportunities of the net zero transition by creating new business opportunities and, by one estimate, supporting up to 2 million green jobs by 2030 across all regions of the UK. For example, the policies set out in the Ten Point Plan, support 90,000 green collar jobs across the UK by 2024, and up to 250,000 by 2030.

In order to ensure we have the skilled workforce to deliver net zero and our Ten Point Plan, my Hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills and I convened the Green Jobs Taskforce, to help us develop plans for new long-term good quality, green jobs by 2030 and advise what support is needed for people in transitioning industries. The Taskforce is currently preparing its report and independent recommendations for the Government, industry and the skills sector, which will feed into the development of our Net Zero Strategy to be published later in the year.

In Leicester and the surrounding area, Leicester and Leicestershire’s Growth Hub (Biz Gateway) is working to support businesses to become greener through workshops, including sustainable packaging, renewable energy and behavioural change. For instance, green recovery is one of four key priorities running through the Leicester and Leicestershire Local Skills Report.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress the Government has made on tackling the availability of counterfeit electrical goods on online platforms.

The Government takes the issue of IP infringement seriously, including counterfeit electrical goods. The Intellectual Property Office works closely with law enforcement and government partners such as Trading Standards and Border Force to prevent counterfeit electrical goods from being sold in the UK. Industry initiatives such as the Real Deal have also reduced the availability of counterfeit electrical goods at local markets and online marketplaces.

The Police IP Crime Unit, launched in September 2013, has had a significant impact having investigated intellectual property crime worth more than £100 million and suspended over 30,000 internet domains. Ongoing enforcement initiatives include Operation Beorma tacking counterfeits and organised crime groups, and work by National Trading Standards and the Intellectual Property Office to deal with the risks posed by sellers who use self-storage units to distribute counterfeit items.

BEIS officials have also met online retailers to discuss the availability of counterfeits on their platforms and to help co-ordinate law enforcement action against sellers.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Mar 2021
What steps his Department is taking to help facilitate the smooth opening of high street businesses under Step Two of the Government's roadmap for the easing of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

We have established a weekly ‘Reopening Retail Working Group’ to bring together businesses, Local Authorities, PHE, the police and relevant Departments to discuss the operational challenges of reopening and to agree practical steps that can be taken to support this.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to develop a road map to support the wedding sector to open up in a safe and controlled manner following the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021.

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

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of requiring British manufacturers to clearly market the origin of their product on their items to assist buyers to consider buying British brands.

Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, traders are banned from using misleading statements about the geographical or commercial origin of products. Aside from certain specified products such as food there is no requirement for goods to be labelled with their country of origin.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will take steps with his Cabinet colleagues to develop a road map to support the trading of the hospitality and tourism sectors in 2021.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic the Government has worked closely with the hospitality and tourism sectors to understand the impact of the pandemic on their businesses. In 2021 we will continue to provide a package of support including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, government-backed loans, Local Restrictions Support Grants, additional funding provided to Local Authorities to support businesses and the Cultural Relief Fund. We keep all support under review.

In the Global Travel Taskforce Review, the Government committed to producing a Tourism Recovery Plan. This is being led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of creating a Hospitality and Tourism Recovery Fund to help support the recovery of those sectors after the covid-19 outbreak.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic the Government has worked closely with the hospitality and tourism sector to understand the impact of the pandemic on their businesses.

Hospitality and tourism businesses have been able to benefit from Government support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Government-backed loans, Local Restrictions Support Grants, additional funding provided to Local Authorities to support businesses and the Cultural Relief Fund.

On 5 January, when the new National Lockdown began, the Chancellor announced a one-off top up grant for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the spring.  A £594 million discretionary fund has also been made available to support other impacted businesses.

The Government has announced that it intends to publish a Tourism Recovery Plan, and we will bring forward further details in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of covid-19 outbreak and national lockdowns on the length of the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending that scheme until December 2022.

Green Homes Grant installers may continue to carry out installations in people’s homes during the national lockdown provided they follow the government guidance for working safely in other people’s homes.[1]

We understand that some customers may not feel comfortable having an installer visit their home during a period of national lockdown. To reduce risk, installers can provide a quote remotely using a video call or detailed photographs, rather than physically attending a customer’s home.

In November, the scheme was extended from March 2021 to March 2022 to give customers longer to complete home improvements under the grant. We do not currently have plans to extend the scheme beyond this date but keep the scheme under continual review.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/homes#national-lockdown

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the level of take up of the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme in (a) Leicestershire and (b) Bosworth.

The Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme launched for applications on 30 September and as announced on 18 November, will run until 31 March 2022. As of 13 January, the number of grant applications within (a) and (b) are as follows:

(a) Leicestershire County - 1,641

(b) Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council - 94

The value presented in (a) Leicestershire County is inclusive of (b) Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to support retail workers encourage public compliance of covid-19 restrictions in retail premises.

The Safer Workplaces guidance includes robust health and safety measures to ensure businesses are supported or, where required, challenged. Alongside legal requirements covered in the guides, they outline the enforcement powers held by the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking with Ofgem to help consumers save money on their energy bills.

In October we extended the Energy Price Cap until at least the end of 2021, which means that 15 million households across the UK will continue to be protected from overcharging on their energy bills. Since its introduction in January 2019, the Cap has saved customers around £1 billion a year.

We have also introduced energy efficiency measures to further reduce bills and tackle fuel poverty. The Green Homes Grant voucher scheme, which opened in September 2020, provides low income homeowners in England up to £10,000 each to install energy efficiency and low-carbon heating measures in their homes. An additional £640m per year is available through the Energy Company Obligation scheme to help fuel poor and low-income households stay warm while reducing their energy bills.

In addition, the Warm Home Discount provides over 2 million low-income and vulnerable households with a £140 rebate off their winter energy bill.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to encourage consumers to support local businesses during the Christmas 2020 trading period.

The Government is committed to supporting local businesses during this crucial trading period. BEIS and MHCLG have been working closely with retailers and Local Authorities for a safe and successful reopening of non-essential retail on 2 December.

In order to further support retailers, planning rules limiting opening hours will be eased to allow shops to be open for longer Monday to Saturday from 2 December, giving consumers greater flexibility to choose when they shop. These measures will run through the January sales.

We have modified the closing time for hospitality to last orders at 10pm and closing time at 11pm. This allows customers to depart gradually and provides greater flexibility.

The excellent Small Business Saturday UK event took place on the 5 December and was a great way to celebrate small and micro businesses across the UK, raise awareness of the importance of SME’s to our local communities and help them get back on their feet.

My ministerial colleagues across Government and I were delighted to be able to take part on the day itself to champion our small businesses and draw attention to the brilliant campaign.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment the Government has made of the ability of the electricity network to support the mass charging of electric vehicles.

The Government is investing more than £1.3bn to support new EV charging infrastructure, including £950m on future proofing electricity network capacity along the Strategic Road Network.

Electricity network operators at both the distribution and transmission levels are responsible for assessing the need for new investment to support electric vehicle charging as part of their business plans, which are then approved by Ofgem, the independent regulator. My officials regularly meet with network operators across Great Britain to discuss the impacts of the electric vehicle transition, including how the increasing demand will be managed.

Electric vehicles also present an opportunity for consumers to contribute to the efficient management of electricity supply and demand and share the benefits of doing so through smart technologies.

The necessary investment in infrastructure and the adoption of smart charging will ensure that the electricity network is able to support the mass charging of electric vehicles.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential role of hydrogen hybrid boilers in replacing natural gas boilers from 2025.

The Department has been considering the potential contributions of different technologies to decarbonise heat, including the deployment of heat pumps and the potential use of hydrogen on the grid.

In order to support this, prototype ‘hydrogen-ready boilers’ are being developed under the £25m BEIS Hy4Heat programme. This programme is seeking to investigate if it is technically possible and safe to replace methane with hydrogen in appliances for residential and commercial buildings and evaluate the likely costs and performance.

The Government is also supporting the uptake of heat pumps and hybrid heat pumps through the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme. We are continuing to develop our position on the potential role of hybrid heating systems in meeting net zero by 2050 and they have been included in our large scale ‘Electrification of Heat Demonstration Project’. The project aims to gather further evidence on how these systems operate in practice, which will provide more in-depth understanding of hybrids’ role in decarbonising heating going forwards.

We will be setting out the immediate actions we will take for reducing emissions from buildings in our Heat and Buildings Strategy which we plan to publish in due course.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the increase in the level of covid-19 cases, what steps he is taking to encourage (a) supermarkets and (b) other retail stores to consider re-introducing measures to support vulnerable shoppers such as dedicated shopping hours.

The Government remains engaged with key stakeholders in public health, the retail industry, and trade unions to ensure the sector can continue to operate safely. Guidance issued to employers and employees is helping them take all the necessary precautions to limit the spread of the virus in working environments including shops.

The Government welcomes efforts by supermarkets and other retail stores to ensure vulnerable groups and older people can shop safely but this is a decision for each business.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what work has been undertaken by the Jet Zero Council on producing the first zero carbon transatlantic passenger jet.

The Jet Zero Council met on 28 July, creating a partnership between industry and the Government to drive high ambition in the delivery of new technologies and innovative ways to cut aviation emissions.

The Council has been set up to develop bold, new thinking on ways to develop UK capability to tackle zero emission commercial flight.

This includes considering how to develop and industrialise clean aviation and aerospace technologies, establish UK production facilities for sustainable aviation fuels, and develop a coordinated approach to the policy and regulatory framework needed to deliver net zero aviation.

The Department, alongside the Department for Transport, will continue to engage with a wide range of stakeholders on delivering our Jet Zero ambitions.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he will take to involve precision engineering companies in (a) Bosworth and (b) the UK in the post-covid-19 recovery of the UK’s aeronautical industry.

We regularly discuss post-Covid-19 recovery with aerospace companies across the UK, including through the Aerospace Growth Partnership.

The UK’s aerospace and aviation sectors are benefiting from over £8.5 billion from the Government’s Covid-19 business support measures, including the Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility, support for research and development, supply chain performance improvement programmes, and export finance.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the ability of UK businesses to increase their production of hydrogen supply.

Ministers and officials are engaging extensively with UK hydrogen stakeholders to inform development of hydrogen as a strategic decarbonised energy carrier for the UK, including business models to support investment in low carbon hydrogen production.

Engagement has covered interests from production to end use, including the UK’s industrial clusters with representatives from carbon capture and storage enabled hydrogen projects and potential users of hydrogen; and electrolytic hydrogen producers such as Ryse and ITM Power.

We are formalising our engagement with such stakeholders through the establishment of a Hydrogen Advisory Council, which met for the first time this week. This will enable Government to work in partnership with Industry to drive commercial demonstration and deployment of low carbon hydrogen in the 2020s.

The UK is well placed to be a world leader in both the leading low carbon hydrogen production routes - electrolysis and carbon capture and storage enabled methane reformation. We are home to the world’s largest offshore wind market, have depleted oil and gas reservoirs off our coastline that could potentially store more than 78 billion tonnes of CO2 and significant underground salt beds which could provide tens of gigawatts of cost effective hydrogen storage.

The UK has world leading companies in both these production routes who are already developing major scale production projects, and a world leading innovation base that will contribute to development of the next generation of hydrogen production technologies.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential for Enterprise Zones as part of his plans for covid-19 recovery planning.

Enterprise Zones (EZs) are designated areas that create local economic growth by supporting businesses to grow.

Currently, the Government has no plans to extend or create new EZs. However, the Government remains committed to creating up to ten new innovative Freeports across the UK, to level up the country and make sure businesses and communities benefit from the opportunities of leaving the EU. The consultation concludes on the 13th July, after which the Government will make further announcements.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking with businesses to ensure the safety of people with (a) diabetes and (b) other underlying medical conditions who are returning to work as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

It is critical that employers offer safe workplaces. The Government has published guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These guides cover a range of working environments and are available at www.gov.uk/workingsafely.

Nothing in this guidance affects employers’ existing responsibilities under employment and equalities legislation. Employers therefore need to bear in mind the particular needs of different groups or individuals, and make sure that the steps they take to address the risk of COVID-19 do not unjustifiably impact on some groups compared with others.

The safer workplaces guidance provides information to employers on how best to meet these responsibilities in the context of COVID-19.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that local enterprise partnerships play a key role in regional economic recovery after the covid-19 outbreak.

The Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government chairs an Economic Recovery Working Group, bringing together representatives of local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, and Combined Authorities. This Group works with local regions to understand the full scale of the challenges they face in the short to medium-term.

We are not starting recovery planning from a blank page. Through the Local Industrial Strategies programme, Local Enterprise Partnerships have done excellent work to develop an evidence base and to scope long-term priorities for their areas. In the short-term, we encourage partners to prioritise those issues their existing strategies –have not considered. This will include how to restart the economy whilst maintaining social distancing in line with Government guidance.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that shops are supported to implement social distancing measures in advance of opening as covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

As you are aware, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister confirmed on 25 May that retail shops (including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, books and electronics) will begin to reopen more widely from 15 June, subject to progress against the five tests and only where the business is able to follow the safer working guidance.

The Government has updated the guidance on working safely in shops and branches to allow venues to prepare. The updated guidance takes into account the best practice demonstrated by the many retailers which have been allowed to remain open and have applied social distancing measures in store.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy chaired a taskforce meeting involving businesses, business representative organisations and unions. In addition, a questionnaire was issued to approximately 60 businesses covering the retail outlets captured by the updated guidance.

The guidance on safer working has been welcomed and many sectors appreciate the joint work between government, business and trade unions.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the hospitality industry to ensure the safe resumption of their trade in line with relevant social distancing measures.

As per the announcement and publication of the Government’s roadmap, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy leads on the Pubs and Restaurants Taskforce. Its engagement group was convened on May 22nd.

Venues like restaurants and pubs are naturally crowded by design and require more contact between people, which means it is more difficult to socially distance. It is the government’s ambition to reopen these types of businesses as part of Step 3 of the roadmap, subject to further scientific advice and the risk assessment at the time.

The BEIS taskforce is considering how these businesses can reopen safely in line with the phasing ambitions and public health directions. We are working with the sector to develop guidance on safer ways for them to open at the earliest point at which it is safe to do so.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking ensure that redundancy procedures undertaken as a result of the covid-19 outbreak follow statutory guidance.

The Government is supporting businesses and their employees through a package of measures, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, during this period of unprecedented disruption to help firms keep people in employment, and reduce the need for redundancies. The Government is continually reviewing what further support can be offered to business and whether amended guidance is appropriate

The legislation relating to collective redundancies remains in force and employers are expected to comply with these requirements. If there are special circumstances which mean that it is not reasonably practicable for an employer to comply in full with some of the requirements, the employer should still take all such steps towards compliance with that requirement which it reasonably can. This is a matter for employers to consider based on their own situation.

Employees who feel their rights have been denied may complain to an employment tribunal, which may make a protective award of up to 90 days’ pay to each affected employee.

Businesses and employees can get advice on individual employment issues by visiting the Acas website. Acas has detailed best practice guidance online for employers on handling large-scale redundancies. Businesses can also ring the BEIS Business Support Line for further advice on support for business.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that small travel companies can afford to process refund requests from customers that booked holidays under the Package Holiday Charter.

The Government recognises the extremely difficult circumstances small travel companies are currently facing, which is why on 17 March the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a wide range of support for businesses, in addition to the £30bn support announced in the budget. The Government is keeping package travel regulations under review and are collecting intelligence on how businesses are adapting to these challenges.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking with supermarkets to ensure that supermarket workers that engage with shoppers are provided with (a) protective equipment and (b) other forms of support they may need to carry out their work during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is clear that we will support people in work during the Covid-19 outbreak. We are regular engaging with industry stakeholders, including the British Retail Consortium and supermarket CEOs, to ensure they are well prepared and that their operations remain in line with the latest health guidance.

The Government is collaborating with businesses across the manufacturing sector to ensure additional personal protective equipment (PPE) can be provided to frontline workers as quickly as possible to ensure their safety. While PPE supplies are currently being prioritised for health and social care workers, we are working to ensure additional requirements for PPE and consumables can continue to be sourced through normal distributors.

Food shops that remain open at this time will be expected to comply with social distancing requirements This approach is clinically led, based on the expert advice of the UK’s Chief Medical Officer.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that sub-postmasters who are found to be innocent of accusations of theft due to the Post Office's Horizon IT system fault have related criminal records removed quickly.

Government is unable to comment on individual cases given that the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC) is independent in their determination of applications. The CCRC is working hard to progress these cases at speed though and is treating the cases as a group to enable them to review the cases more efficiently. However, within the group of cases the CCRC will still need to assess each case individually, so that they can make a decision as to whether the case meets the statutory test to be referred to the appeal courts. Post Office Ltd has assured Government that it is fully cooperating with the CCRC. ?

More widely in respect of the Horizon case, the Post Office, under its new chief executive officer, has accepted that it got things wrong, apologised and said that it aims to re-establish a positive relationship with postmasters. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is working actively with the Post Office on this matter and will hold it to account on its progress. We are also looking into what more needs to be done.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to support local businesses in (a) Hinckley and (b) Bosworth.

Government provides businesses in Hinckley and Bosworth with support through Leicester and Leicestershire’s LEP Growth Hub.

We have made specific investments in Horiba MIRA to support the future automotive industry.

This has included £9.5m to establish the MIRA Technology Institute to develop state of the art training facilities to nurture automotive engineers of the future.

21st Jan 2020
What steps the Government is taking to support local businesses in Hinckley and Bosworth.

Government provides businesses in Hinckley and Bosworth with support through Leicester and Leicestershire’s LEP Growth Hub.

We have made specific investments in Horiba MIRA to support the future automotive industry.

This has included £9.5m to establish the MIRA Technology Institute to develop state of the art training facilities to nurture automotive engineers of the future.

20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment her Department has made of the potential economic merits of Local Enterprise Partnerships for (a) Hinckley, (b) Bosworth constituency and (c) the East Midlands.

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) play an important role in providing a business voice to inform investment decisions and drive economic growth. The Leicester and Leicestershire LEP has supported Hinckley and Bosworth through a total of £13.1m of Local Growth Funds since 2014. This has included:

  • £9.5m for the MIRA Technology Institute – training 2,500 learners per annum in advanced manufacturing and automotive technologies for the future.

  • £3.6m for the Local Sustainable Transport Fund Rd 2 (Hinckley) - introducing 13 miles of new cycle paths and walking routes, thereby reducing journey times on the highway network.

There are 3 LEPs in the East Midlands: Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (D2N2); Leicester and Leicestershire; and Greater Lincolnshire. Through these LEPs, the Government has invested £539m in projects to create infrastructure, drive job creation, and accelerate skills development.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of internet search providers to tackle the presence of advertisements encouraging additional payments for tasks of minimal financial cost or no cost, including driving licence renewal and health cards.

My department continues to work closely across government to support the development of a coherent and robust approach to dealing with online fraud, including with the Home Office as the lead department responsible for setting out the government’s approach to tackling fraud. The Government is aware this type of advertising exists and depending on the final scope of the policy, this type of advertising may fall within the scope of the Online Advertising Programme. The programme is seeking to reduce harms through online advertising.

Following a call for evidence in 2020, DCMS will be launching the Online Advertising Programme later this year to examine how best to strengthen standards around the placement and content of online advertising to minimise these types of financial harm, and to ensure they can be effectively enforced, including through new legislation where required.

More information about the Online Advertising Programme can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/online-advertising-call-for-evidence/online-advertising-call-for-evidence

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to support county-based test events across the UK to monitor the rate of covid-19 transmission as covid-19 restrictions are eased to enable the events industry to reopen.

The Events Research Programme aims to examine the risk of transmission of Covid-19 from attendance at events and explore ways to enable people to attend a range of events safely. To achieve this, the programme will explore how a combination of testing and non-pharmaceutical interventions (actions that people can take to mitigate the spread of coronavirus) can inform decisions on safely lifting restrictions at events.

We have confirmed 8 events that will run as ERP pilots to inform the safe removal of social distancing from Step 4 of the Roadmap. The pilots will be run across a range of settings, venue types, and activity types so that findings could support the full reopening of similar settings across multiple sectors.

These pilots will be held in locations across England, including Liverpool, London, and Sheffield. All events will be subject to national and local approvals (including the Directors for Public Health and local authorities), and further events may be announced in due course.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to support the reopening of the events and exhibition sector in line with the easing of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

My Department is taking a number of steps to support the reopening of the events and exhibition sector.

We seek to reopen business events and conferences in Step 3, subject to a capacity cap. Attendees at outdoor business events will be capped at 50% capacity, up to 4,000 people. Attendees at indoor business events will be capped at 50% capacity, up to 1,000 people.

Step 3 will take place no earlier than 17 May, and at least five weeks after Step 2, following a further review of the data and the four tests.

As part of our efforts to get such events back in full operation, we have launched the Events Research Programme to explore when and how large events can return with reduced social distancing requirements.

The Government’s Covid-19 Secure guidance for the visitor economy will be kept up to date over the coming months, in line with the reopening process for the sector.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to support the participation of non-smartphone users without access to specific apps to take part in forthcoming covid-19 test events in the culture, media and sport sectors.

Attendees will take a LFD test at an assisted testing site the day before an Events Research Programme pilot event. A smartphone is not required to receive this test result, though some event organisers may require text confirmation of a negative LFD test result.

Ticketing arrangements are managed by individual event organisers, and will vary from event to event. Further details on the ticketing requirements will be made available by individual event organisers, and may include app-based tickets, print-at-home tickets, or text confirmations. Individual event organisers will confirm ticketing and test requirements with attendees ahead of each event. We will continue to engage with stakeholders, and the scientific community to help shape these plans.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had relevant stakeholders on developing the Tourism Recovery Plan; and what the timeframe is for publishing that plan.

The Global Travel Taskforce last year committed the Government to publish a Tourism Recovery Plan in support of the sector. We are continuing to hold discussions with stakeholders, including via the Tourism Industry Council, to assess how this plan can support the sector’s short and long term recovery from the pandemic.

The Government intends to set out proposals in the Spring, including plans for a marketing campaign to welcome visitors back to the UK as soon as it is safe to do so.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of whether there has been an increase in the number of nuisance (a) calls, (b) text messages and (c) emails during the covid-19 outbreak.

DCMS have provided over £1 million in the last 3 years to the National Trading Standards for distribution of call blocking devices to vulnerable people. This funding helped to protect some of the most vulnerable in society from unsolicited calls including those originating from overseas. The devices have proven to be very effective, blocking 99% of scam and nuisance calls to date.

The level of nuisance calls made to UK numbers is monitored by independent bodies. Both the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) have responsibility to reduce the levels of nuisance calls, with the ICO being responsible for enforcing the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). Further information about the level of nuisance calls and enforcement action taken by the ICO is available on the ICO’s website at https://ico.org.uk/action-weve-taken/nuisance-calls-and-messages/.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of introducing director liability for nuisance calls.

DCMS have provided over £1 million in the last 3 years to the National Trading Standards for distribution of call blocking devices to vulnerable people. This funding helped to protect some of the most vulnerable in society from unsolicited calls including those originating from overseas. The devices have proven to be very effective, blocking 99% of scam and nuisance calls to date.

The level of nuisance calls made to UK numbers is monitored by independent bodies. Both the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) have responsibility to reduce the levels of nuisance calls, with the ICO being responsible for enforcing the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). Further information about the level of nuisance calls and enforcement action taken by the ICO is available on the ICO’s website at https://ico.org.uk/action-weve-taken/nuisance-calls-and-messages/.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many fines have been imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office since the introduction of director liability for nuisance calls.

DCMS have provided over £1 million in the last 3 years to the National Trading Standards for distribution of call blocking devices to vulnerable people. This funding helped to protect some of the most vulnerable in society from unsolicited calls including those originating from overseas. The devices have proven to be very effective, blocking 99% of scam and nuisance calls to date.

The level of nuisance calls made to UK numbers is monitored by independent bodies. Both the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) have responsibility to reduce the levels of nuisance calls, with the ICO being responsible for enforcing the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). Further information about the level of nuisance calls and enforcement action taken by the ICO is available on the ICO’s website at https://ico.org.uk/action-weve-taken/nuisance-calls-and-messages/.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the (a) take up and (b) engagement of televised learning programmes provided to enable children’s learning to continue during the national lockdown.

The BBC is responsible for assessing the take up and engagement of audiences with its services, including those which provide televised learning programmes. However, in its most recent Annual Report, the BBC said that, over the first week of school closures (23-29 March 2020), there were 37.7m iPlayer requests for CBeebies and CBBC.

Education policy and the impact of the national lockdown on learning in England is the responsibility of the Department for Education.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with the (a) Premier League, (b) EFL and (c) National League on a timeframe for assessing the merits of supporters returning to stadiums to watch football.

We are committed to getting spectators back into stadiums as soon as it is safe to do so.

We will continue to work closely with a whole range of sporting bodies, including the football authorities, to understand the latest thinking that might allow spectators to return. This includes the creation of a new Sports Technology Innovation Working Group of sporting bodies and health experts to analyse new technologies which might support this.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with (a) the RFU (b) Premiership Rugby on a timeframe for assessing the merits of supporters returning to stadiums to watch football.

The Government recognises the impact that Covid-19 is having on the sporting sector and our multi-billion-pound package of business support has enabled many of our sports clubs to survive. But we know that the decision not to reopen stadia to spectators on 1 October will have economic consequences for sports and clubs across the country who relied on those fans for income, including professional rugby union teams.

I meet regularly with representatives from rugby union, and we will continue to engage directly with both the RFU and with Premiership Rugby as part of this process.

The safety and security of players and spectators remains of paramount importance. Work continues at pace to find solutions that will allow crowds safely back into stadia as soon as possible. The Government will continue to work closely with the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) and a whole range of sports to understand the latest thinking that might allow spectators to return. This includes the creation of a new Sports Technology Innovation Working Group of sporting bodies and health experts to analyse new technologies which might support this. Ministers and officials will continue to engage with the RFU and Premiership Rugby as part of this process.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions hew has had with (a) public health officials and (b) the Rugby Union authorities on the (a) timescale for and (b) safety of admission of spectators to sports stadia during the covid-19 outbreak.

DCMS Ministers and officials are in regular discussions with both public health officials and rugby union authorities across a range of matters, including the admission of spectators to sports stadia.

We recognise the news that stadia would not be reopening from 1 October was disappointing to many fans and sports, particularly after all the work on test events and preparations. However we have to take difficult decisions that give us the best chance of containing the virus this winter. The safety and security of spectators and players is of paramount importance.

The Government will also continue to work closely with the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) and a whole range of sports to understand the latest thinking that might allow spectators to return. This includes the creation of a new Sports Technology Innovation Group of sporting bodies and health experts to analyse new technologies which might support this.

Ministers and officials will continue to engage directly with both the Rugby Football Union and with Premiership Rugby as part of this process.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking through the Entertainment and Events Working Group to ensure that the arts and culture sector can safely reopen as soon as possible as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Secretary of State and DCMS are committed to supporting the cultural sector to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so, and ensure appropriate support and guidance is provided.

To that end, DCMS has established the Cultural Renewal Taskforce and the Entertainment and Events working group which include extensive membership from across the artistic and creative industries sectors. The Taskforce and Working Groups will be focusing on ensuring that COVID-19 secure guidelines are developed in line with the phasing ambitions and public health directions, building on the existing guidance and providing intelligence and sector-specific expert input.

Further details on the Entertainment and Events Working Group can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/cultural-renewal-taskforce-and-supporting-working-groups#entertainment-and-events-members.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he is holding with national sports bodies to ensure that mass participation and competitive community sport can recommence following covid-19 lockdown measures.

It is vital that the sport and physical activity sector is supported to come through this difficult period and it has a crucial role in supporting the nation back into activity once the pandemic has abated and as lockdown measures start to ease.

Both I and the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage are holding regular discussions with a range of sport and physical activity organisations to ensure that the sector is in the best possible place to support a return to physical activity and competitive sport.

On 20 May, the Government established the Cultural Renewal Taskforce which will examine the most effective and creative ways to support the reopening of the recreation and leisure sectors, with membership drawn from those sectors. The Taskforce is being supported by working groups specifically focused on individual sectors, including sport and physical. Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/culture-secretary-announces-cultural-renewal-taskforce.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he is holding with theatres, cinemas and music venues to ensure that the arts and entertainment sectors can reopen while observing appropriate social distancing measures.

We are committed to working with the arts and entertainment sectors to reopen their doors as soon as it is safe to do so.

As part of the Government’s roadmap for recovery from Covid-19, DCMS has launched the Cultural Renewal taskforce which will develop plans for reopening across DCMS sectors. Its work is supported by the Entertainment and Events working group, which brings together representatives from key sector bodies and organisations in these sectors.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the tourism industry to ensure the safe resumption of tourism with relevant social distancing measures in summer 2020.

My officials and I continue to regularly discuss this matter in detail with representatives from across the tourism industry.

My Department has launched the Cultural Renewal Taskforce to help our sectors prepare to reopen when it is safe to do so. To inform this taskforce, we have set up a Visitor Economy Working Group to specifically focus on developing guidance for restarting tourism activity. We remain in regular contact with tourism stakeholders through both this group and the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that the National Citizens Service continues to operate in 2020 during the covid-19 outbreak.

Given the uncertainty about how long social distancing restrictions will be in place, the 2020 NCS summer programme will not take place in its traditional format. Instead, the Department is working closely with the NCS Trust, the Government Arms’ Length Body commissioned to deliver the programme, to develop an alternative offer for this summer.

The details of the alternative summer programme are being developed at pace between DCMS and the NCS Trust. Any offer will be fully compliant with Government guidelines in response to COVID-19.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of whether the UK’s major broadband companies have effectively supported extra demand for broadband during the early weeks of the covid-19 outbreak.

The telecoms sector has undertaken a significant amount of work over recent years to prepare for a pandemic. DCMS is working closely with the main broadband providers to ensure the network remains stable and continues to have sufficient capacity for the increases in home-working and remote learning the country has seen as a part of its response to Covid-19.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department has taken to involve (a) gyms and (b) personal trainers in promoting health and fitness during the covid-19 outbreak.

Physical activity is crucial to the health and wellbeing of the nation. We have been working closely with our national sports council Sport England to continue to promote health and fitness during lockdown. Sport England have launched the Join the Movement campaign which provides tips, advice and guidance on how people can keep or get active in and around the home.

Join the Movement has involved the health and fitness industry, including partners like ukactive, in the development of the campaign. Its online hub offers free exercise content and advice from organisations such as the NHS. Workouts from fitness brands and influencers such as Les Mills on Demand, The Body Coach (Joe Wicks) and FiiT are also available via the hub, many of whom are offering extended free trials to help people get active at home.

As part of the campaign, Sport England are keen to hear from those who have more content to share and they have also urged those who share their ambitions and values to help spread the message of Join the Movement across the nation.

In addition, the 450 school games organisers, funded by government have been redeployed to help children and families to get active at home using online content.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) mass participation sporting events and (b) spectator sports can function effectively after the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises the impact that covid-19 is having on the sporting sector. The Chancellor has announced an unprecedented package of measures to help businesses in this period, including £330 billion worth of government-backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses across the UK.

The Government is keen to ensure mass participation sporting events and spectator sports can function effectively once the covid-19 outbreak has subsided. We are engaging regularly across the sector, including working with competition organisers, to understand how sports are planning to return and the circumstances in which they foresee it may be possible for events to go ahead. But we have been clear throughout that this can only happen when it is safe to do so and in line with the public health guidance of at the time.


Advice on sporting events has at all times been in accordance with the latest scientific and medical advice. The Government has been taking a clear, phased approach to tackling the virus, led by our medical experts and our absolute priority is to protect people's health. However the situation continues to evolve and we will update guidance as the medical advice changes.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure the adequate supply of cabinet space for routing superfast broadband to individual properties.

I refer the Honourable Member for Bosworth to my answer to his question, reference number 28001, on Monday 23 March.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to meet the demands placed on the national broadband infrastructure to support people using the internet whilst in self-isolation.

Overall, the telecoms sector is well prepared for the impacts of Covid-19 on national broadband infrastructure; its plans are extensive and there is currently sufficient network capacity to support the various needs of consumers during the pandemic.

The Government recognises how important good connectivity is across the United Kingdom, as an increasing number of people have to self isolate. With that in mind, I am pleased that we have worked with the industry to announce additional measures to protect and support consumers, including the vulnerable and those who may become vulnerable due to Covid-19 related circumstances. A joint statement from the Government, industry and Ofcom was published on 29 March 2020 highlighting these commitments.

This can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-agrees-measures-with-telecoms-companies-to-support-vulnerable-consumers-through-covid-19

I remain in regular touch with Ofcom and the relevant companies and will continue to keep the situation under review.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the financial stability of (a) gyms, (b) amateur sports clubs and (c) community sport event organisations and (d) other parts of the fitness industry during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Chancellor has announced an unprecedented support package including: a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, where small and large employers will be eligible to apply for a government grant of 80% of workers’ salaries; a deferral of the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June, representing a £30bn injection into the economy; £330bn worth of government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses; and a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will help eligible freelance workers receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least three months.

During the Coronavirus outbreak I have engaged regularly with the sport sector to understand how it can benefit from this support, and address any remaining issues.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure the adequate supply of cabinet space for routing superfast broadband to individual properties in Bosworth.

Openreach has a standard internal process whereby they monitor the capacity available within individual cabinets. Where cabinets are nearing maximum capacity they will deploy additional capacity. It is in Openreach’s commercial interest to do this as additional take-up of broadband services equates to additional revenue.

Building Digital UK (BDUK), the broadband delivery arm within DCMS, has standard arrangements within their Superfast contracts such that if take-up of these services exceeds a certain threshold - where a given postcode is more commercially viable than Openreach predicted - then a proportion of the public subsidy is returned to BDUK via what is termed “Take-up Clawback”.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to improve mobile phone connectivity in Bosworth constituency.

The Government announced in-principle support in October 2019 for the mobile network operators’ (MNOs) Shared Rural Network (SRN) proposal. The proposal would share investment costs between the MNOs and government and increase 4G mobile coverage throughout the United Kingdom to 95% by 2025. It will be underpinned by a legally binding coverage commitment from each operator.

The Government's in-principle support is subject to detailed negotiations. While this is not yet a done deal, the Prime Minister has made improvements to rural mobile coverage part of his first 100 days pledge. I will continue to work with the sector to make that happen.

The exact site deployment plans and timescales will be managed by the MNOs themselves in order for them to best deliver the agreed coverage outcomes. So until the operators’ final radio planning exercise is complete, neither the Government nor the operators will know the precise location or number of new or upgraded masts. However, the operators will be consulting with local communities as their roll out plans become clearer.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department will take to use the legacy of Euro 2020 to improve grassroots football facilities in Bosworth constituency.

The Government is committed to ensuring people across the country have access to football facilities, which is why we committed to investing £550m into grassroots football facilities over the next 10 years.

The government has also committed £1m to support The Football Association’s and Sport England’s programme to raise awareness and promote Euro 2020 across England. This includes improving football facilities around the country - known as the ‘National Promotion Programme’. The ‘National Promotion Programme’ will focus on both new and existing community football facilities, forming part of the existing National Football Facilities Strategy.

The Football Foundation, who provide Exchequer funding on behalf of Sport England as well as other investments funded by the FA and Premier League, have already invested £1,803,840 for football projects in the constituency of Bosworth. This includes £1,750,044 for facilities that have supported Hinckley United FC, the Richmond Park Sporting Hub, Market Bosworth Sports Club, and Greentowers FC Hinckley.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Jan 2020
What steps her Department is taking to improve broadband connections in Bosworth constituency.

The government has made good progress in Bosworth, with over 97% of premises able to access superfast speeds. This is up from 57% in 2010.

Only 1% of premises in the constituency of Bosworth have speeds below 15 Megabits per second. This is testament to the great work undertaken by the Superfast Leicestershire superfast broadband rollout programme, which has been boosted by just under £8 million of central government funding. In October 2018 the 600th Superfast Fibre cabinet in Leicestershire was unveiled in Market Bosworth.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress he has made with the QAA, professional bodies and the Office for Students on ensuring that (a) undergraduate and (b) postgraduate students studying during the pandemic leave university with valuable qualifications that reflect their achievements and give them parity in future job markets.

I have met with key professional bodies and providers to discuss how we can ensure students can graduate with professional status and move into their chosen fields and will continue to do so.

Higher education (HE) providers are responsible for the administration of their own exams and assessments and will build on the experience of last year’s arrangements.

We expect providers to ensure that continuing and prospective students receive the clear, accurate and timely information needed to make informed decisions. This includes making students aware of any potential for changes to arrangements for the administration of exams and/or assessment at the earliest opportunity. Providers will make their own judgements based on the latest national and local public health guidance, taking account of the need to minimise risk to staff and students.

The Office for Students (OfS), the HE regulator in England, has produced information and guidance setting out expectations about provider approaches to teaching and assessment of both undergraduates and postgraduates during this time, further details are available here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/guidance-on-quality-and-standards-during-coronavirus-pandemic/. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has also published resources for providers on practical ways in which students can complete their studies whilst ensuring quality and standards are upheld – further details can be found here: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/news-events/support-and-guidance-covid-19.

The government will continue to work closely with the QAA, professional bodies and the OfS to ensure students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow them to progress.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
18th Jan 2021
What steps he is taking to support university students during the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021.

We understand that this is a very difficult and uncertain time for students, and we are working with universities, higher education (HE) institutions, mission groups, unions and professional Sector Bodies to make sure that all reasonable efforts are being made to enable all students to continue their studies and provide the support required for them to do so. Our expectation is that universities should maintain the quality and quantity of tuition and the Office for Students (OfS) will continue to actively monitor universities to ensure that quality of provision is maintained and accessible for all.

Students undertaking courses that would normally require attendance on-site will qualify for loans for living costs in the 2020/21 academic year, even if universities are providing course lectures and/or tutorials online only due to COVID-19, provided students continue to engage with their HE provider.

Students who suspend their studies for a variety of reasons, including shielding, can apply to Student Finance England for their living costs support to be continued while they are absent from their course. Students who suspend their studies due to illness automatically receive living costs support for the first 60 days of their illness.

Students who have applied for a loan for living costs for 2020/21 and have been awarded a lower amount than the maximum and believe their household income for the current tax year (2020-21) will drop by at least 15% compared to the household income they provided when they were initially assessed, can apply for their entitlement to be reassessed.

In these exceptional circumstances, we recognise that some students may face financial hardship or experience mental health issues. We have asked universities to prioritise mental health support and ensure that students required to self-isolate receive the support they need. I have also set up a sub-group of the HE taskforce to ensure there is appropriate focus on this important matter. To support with this further, we have worked closely with the OfS to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. Providers are able to use OfS Student Premium funding worth around £256 million for this academic year towards student hardship funds. We are also currently making available up to £20 million of additional hardship funding to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students. In addition, the £3 million OfS funded mental health and well-being platform, Student Space, has been extended for the whole of the 2020/21 academic year to provide extra support during these unprecedented times. The platform is designed to work alongside existing services.

I continue to emphasise to Vice Chancellors at every opportunity that student welfare should remain a priority. We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust sector guidance and support where necessary.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support schools in Bosworth constituency to build new (a) classrooms and (b) other education facilities.

The statutory duty to provide sufficient school places sits with local authorities. We provide funding for all the places that are needed, based on local authorities’ own data. Local authorities can use this funding to provide places in new schools, or through expansions of existing schools, and can work with any school in their local area, including academies and free schools.

The Department does not collect information at parliamentary constituency level, only at local authority and at sub-local authority planning area level. Bosworth is within the local authority of Leicestershire. Leicestershire has been allocated £139.2 million to provide new school places from 2011-2022, and there are now 5,819 more places than there were in 2010. The next set of basic need allocations, for places needed in September 2023, will be determined as part of the Spending Review.

In addition, we have allocated £9.5 billion in condition funding since 2015 to maintain and improve the school estate, including an extra £560 million this financial year. This funding is provided through an annual school condition allocation to responsible bodies, such as local authorities, large academy trusts and voluntary aided bodies. Smaller academy trusts, sixth form colleges and other voluntary aided schools are able to bid into the Condition Improvement Fund each year.

Capital allocations are published at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/school-capital-funding. For the financial year 2020-21, Leicestershire local authority was allocated £3.4 million to invest in its maintained schools, including schools in Bosworth. Large academy trusts and voluntary aided bodies receive their own allocations, but as they typically cross local authority boundaries we cannot provide a figure for Leicestershire. Ten projects in Bosworth were successful in the Condition Improvement Fund this year. All schools are also allocated Devolved Formula Capital to spend on projects which meet their own priorities.

On top of capital allocations to the school system, the Priority School Building Programme is rebuilding or refurbishing school buildings in the worst condition in England, covering over 500 schools. In June, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, announced a new, transformative 10-year school rebuilding programme, which will replace poor condition and ageing buildings with modern, energy efficient facilities. Further details will be set out following the Spending Review.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress he is making in supporting universities to manage the increased number of places available to students for the 2020-21 academic year.

I refer my hon. Friend, the Member for Bosworth, to the answer I gave on 9 September 2020 to 84361.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the ability of universities to manage the increased number of places available to students for the 2020-21 academic year.

I have written directly to all Vice Chancellors and have set up a Higher Education Taskforce so that the government can work with the sector to build capacity, harness expert views and tackle challenges. Together, we have agreed that all students who achieved the required grades will be offered a place at their first-choice university, wherever possible.

We have taken a number to steps to support this commitment. We have announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, we will completely remove temporary student number controls to help ensure there are no additional barriers to students being able to progress to higher education.

We have announced that we will lift caps on domestic medicine and dentistry courses in the next academic year. We will support providers to offer places to as many students who have met the grades for their current offer as they have capacity for, and where there are clinical placements available, through additional grant funding to support the costs of this provision.

We will also provide additional teaching grant funding to increase capacity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and other high-cost subjects, which are vital to the country’s social needs and economy. The Office for Students (OfS) will consult the sector on the details of how the allocations are made.

Providers will also be eligible to bid for a share of up to £10 million in funding to support capital expenditure. This funding will be used to support the infrastructure required to accommodate additional students recruited as a result of the changes to policy on A level grades.

The fund will be administered by the OfS, and providers will be eligible to bid for projects that support expansion in 2020-21.

We will continue to monitor the situation and to consider the effects that deferrals will have on future years. Funding decisions for future years will be taken at the Spending Review.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether it is his policy that all children will return to school at the start of the 2020-21 academic year.

We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers.

We are working to bring all children and young people back into education in September and engaging with stakeholders to achieve this.

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

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the potential to the use civic buildings as venues for educational capacity during the covid-19 outbreak.

As part of national social distancing measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, we have had to limit the numbers of children and young people attending schools to ensure that pupils and staff attending could do so safely. Scientific advice indicates that a phased return that limits the number of children in education settings and how much they mix with each other will help to control the rate of transmission.

Additionally, to reduce social contact, the Government has required by law certain businesses and venues to close to members of the public – with some legal exceptions. Details of these requirements are available on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance.

Therefore, it is not possible at this time for schools to use these venues.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review.

We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers. We are working to bring all children and young people back into education from September.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps he has taken to ensure that vulnerable children are engaging in learning and skills development during the covid-19 outbreak.

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

Vulnerable children are encouraged to attend educational provision where it is appropriate for them do so. We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions.

Since 23 March, in line with the scientific advice, nurseries, schools and colleges have remained open to children of critical workers and vulnerable children. From week commencing 1 June 2020, primary schools have been welcoming back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and Year 6. From 15 June, we are asking secondary schools to offer some face-to-face support to year 10 and year 12 students, and sixth form colleges and further education colleges to do the same for 16 to 19 students who are due to take key exams in 2021. For all providers, this is alongside provision they are already offering to vulnerable children and children of critical workers of all ages.

The Department is committed to ensuring that any children, including vulnerable pupils, who cannot yet return to school continue to learn at home. It is up to each school to determine how to deliver education to its pupils and we recognise that many schools have already shared resources for children who are at home. Our latest guidance on remote education during COVID-19 outbreak is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The Government has also committed over £100 million to boost remote education. This includes providing devices and internet access for vulnerable children who need it most, ensuring every school that wants it has access to free, expert technical support to get set up on Google for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 Education, and offering peer support from schools and colleges leading the way with the use of education technology. Provision of internet access, and technical support, will continue to be available to schools during the phased return of children and young people. Devices will be owned by schools and organisations and will benefit children’s education long after schools have opened to all pupils.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that his Department is able to respond to concerns raised by the teaching sector and teachers on the safe reopening of schools as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Department for Education continues to engage closely and constructively with unions, serving school leaders and other school stakeholder organisations to respond to sector concerns and support schools as they open for more pupils.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking with education and skills providers to develop materials for year 11 pupils due to take GCSE examinations in summer 2020 to prepare those pupils for their post-16 education and training after the covid-19 outbreak.

From Friday 20 March, all educational settings were closed to everyone except the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. Therefore, exams for summer 2020 have been cancelled. Year 11 and year 13 students who were due to sit A level, AS level or GCSE exams this summer will receive a calculated grade in August, and separate guidance from Ofqual on awarding GCSE, AS and A levels was published in April.

The guidance makes clear that there is no requirement for schools and colleges to set additional mock exams or remote education tasks for the purposes of determining a calculated grade, and no student should be disadvantaged if they are unable to complete any work set after schools and colleges were closed.

In relation to vocational or technical qualifications (VTQs), our priority is to ensure that students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses, apprenticeships in the autumn, getting a job or progressing in work. Ofqual published a consultation on its proposed measures for the assessment and awarding of VTQs on 24 April and this closed 8 May. A response will be published shortly.

In terms of support and materials for the next stage of their education, we have taken action to make sure students that can still access high quality careers information, advice and guidance.

In particular, the Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) continues to support schools and colleges to provide young people and their parents with careers education and guidance, working with the network of local partners and providers across the country. The CEC is collating and disseminating existing ideas and resources that can be used by schools, colleges and students while pupils are working remotely. In the longer term, they are considering ways they can continue to deliver the CEC mission of (virtually) connecting schools, colleges, young people, employers and training providers.

The National Careers Service (NCS) is also continuing to provide careers information, advice and guidance to young people, their parents and adults through its helpline, website and web chat facility. The NCS is also supporting the delivery of the online Skills Toolkit. This is a new online platform which aims to give people easy access to free, high quality digital and numeracy courses to help them improve their skills, progress in work and raise their job prospects.

We are also investigating with colleges and other further education (FE) providers what further practical support might be offered to those students leaving FE, particularly regarding careers advice and employment.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking with education and skills providers to develop materials for year 13 pupils due to take examinations in summer 2020 to prepare those students for (a) university education, (b) vocational based training and (c) entry to the employment market.

From Friday 20 March, all educational settings were closed to everyone except the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. Therefore, exams for summer 2020 have been cancelled. Year 11 and year 13 students who were due to sit A level, AS level or GCSE exams this summer will receive a calculated grade in August, and separate guidance from Ofqual on awarding GCSE, AS and A levels was published in April.

The guidance makes clear that there is no requirement for schools and colleges to set additional mock exams or remote education tasks for the purposes of determining a calculated grade, and no student should be disadvantaged if they are unable to complete any work set after schools and colleges were closed.

In relation to vocational or technical qualifications (VTQs), our priority is to ensure that students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses, apprenticeships in the autumn, getting a job or progressing in work. Ofqual published a consultation on its proposed measures for the assessment and awarding of VTQs on 24 April and this closed 8 May. A response will be published shortly.

In terms of support and materials for the next stage of their education, we have taken action to make sure students that can still access high quality careers information, advice and guidance.

In particular, the Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) continues to support schools and colleges to provide young people and their parents with careers education and guidance, working with the network of local partners and providers across the country. The CEC is collating and disseminating existing ideas and resources that can be used by schools, colleges and students while pupils are working remotely. In the longer term, they are considering ways they can continue to deliver the CEC mission of (virtually) connecting schools, colleges, young people, employers and training providers.

The National Careers Service (NCS) is also continuing to provide careers information, advice and guidance to young people, their parents and adults through its helpline, website and web chat facility. The NCS is also supporting the delivery of the online Skills Toolkit. This is a new online platform which aims to give people easy access to free, high quality digital and numeracy courses to help them improve their skills, progress in work and raise their job prospects.

We are also investigating with colleges and other further education (FE) providers what further practical support might be offered to those students leaving FE, particularly regarding careers advice and employment.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
24th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the sustainability schools remaining open in the event of an increase in self-isolation rates of teachers during the covid-19 outbreak.

If some schools are experiencing high demand for places or severe staff shortages, local authorities will coordinate support from other schools in the area. Schools are expected to be flexible and work together where required.

If a school is unable to open, local authorities should try to coordinate provision for pupils in other schools in their area. If this is not possible, local authorities should consider working with neighbouring local authorities while keeping in mind the impact on children. Regional school commissioners can support conversations between local authorities where necessary.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
24th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support childcare providers in supporting the families of key workers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government has asked providers to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – those who are vulnerable and those whose parents are critical to the COVID-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home. Providers should try to be as flexible as possible for critical workers who work shifts or atypical hours.

We urge all childcare providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents, given the great uncertainty they will be facing too. That is one of the reasons why we announced on 17 March that we will continue to pay funding to local authorities for the early years entitlements for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds and that funding would not be clawed back from local authorities during closures, or where children are withdrawn, because of COVID-19.

The government has already introduced a range of measures to support businesses and workers during this period. Further details of support available for early years providers can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures#funding.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with universities on ensuring that students remain enrolled at their institution in the event (a) that they lose their part-time employment and (b) of another change in their financial situation as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The government is working closely with the sector on a wide range of issues, and student wellbeing is at the heart of those discussions. It will be for universities to deal with individual students’ situations.

Universities know how best to provide support and maintain hardship funds, which can be deployed where necessary, which is especially important for students who are estranged from their families, disabled or have health vulnerabilities.

Students will continue to receive scheduled payments of loans towards their living costs for the remainder of the current, 2019/20, academic year. If they are employed or self-employed, they may also be able to benefit from the wider measures of support announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

If agreed with their employer, their employer might be able to keep them on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for them to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is known as being ‘on furlough’.

They could get paid 80% of their wages, up to a monthly cap of £2,500. More information can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that arrangements for Summer 2020 GCSE and A Level examinations are communicated to parents, pupils and schools.

As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced to the House on 18 March, the Government has taken the difficult decision to cancel all examinations due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer, as part of the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Department’s priority is to ensure that students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses, jobs or apprenticeships, in the autumn. For GCSE, AS and A-level students, we will ensure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. Our intention is that a calculated grade will be awarded this summer based on the best available evidence, including any non-examination assessment that students have already completed. Ofqual, the qualifications regulator is working urgently with examination boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and more information will be provided as soon as possible.

The Department recognises that some students may nevertheless feel disappointed that they have not been able to sit their examinations. If they do not believe the correct process has been followed in their case, they will be able to appeal on that basis. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an examination, as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the new academic year. Students will also have the option to sit their examinations in summer 2021.

This information was published on GOV.UK and was communicated directly to all schools and colleges, and further information will be communicated via the same channels as it becomes available. We expect schools and colleges to ensure that all students and parents are aware of all relevant information.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Mar 2020
What progress his Department is making on improving school facilities.

We have allocated over £7.4 billion since 2015 to maintain and improve the school estate. On top of this, the Priority School Building Programme is rebuilding or refurbishing buildings in the worst condition at over 500 schools.

We are looking carefully at capital funding for education in preparation for the next Spending Review.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress his Department is making on the preparations for an update to the Marine strategy part three.

Defra and the Devolved Administrations have carried out a comprehensive review of existing and new measures that will contribute to the achievement and maintenance of Good Environment Status. This review has been synthesised into a proposed update to the UK Marine Strategy Part Three, and we intend to launch a consultation for the Part Three Programme of Measures during September. The consultation period will last 12 weeks and will allow stakeholders the opportunity to review our proposals and shape the development of the Programme of Measures. We will carefully consider stakeholder feedback to guide the final iteration of the updated UK Marine Strategy Part Three.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the timeframe is for the call for evidence in respect of the development of the Chemicals Strategy.

The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan commits to a new Chemicals Strategy to tackle chemicals of national concern. Following the end of the Transition Period and our departure from the EU, the Government is developing an ambitious Chemicals Framework which will set out our immediate priorities, alongside any actions we will need to take to achieve safer and more environmentally sustainable management of chemicals for present and future generations. We are continuing to gather evidence and engage with stakeholders as an important part of developing our Framework, including reviewing the timeframe for a Call for Evidence with the aim of publishing the Framework in 2022.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to promote the Petfished campaign to the general public.

Petfished was launched in March 2020 ahead of Lucy's Law coming into force. The campaign aims to encourage prospective owners to stop and question 'who's the person behind the pet?', and to research the seller before visiting the animal.

The campaign has been delivered in three phases. This included a launch in March 2020 followed by subsequent pushes around the traditional peak seasons for sales (summer and pre-Christmas). Alongside the media launch in March 2020 the campaign was promoted at Crufts where our campaign video "Hero" was played in the arena. In July 2020 the campaign was promoted by an open letter signed by pet-loving celebrities and charity and veterinary organisations, as well as in interviews given by the Chief Veterinary Officer with BBC Breakfast and Sky News to discuss campaign messaging. In November 2020 the Petfished campaign was promoted in the media through the '12 Days of Petfished' video which outlined the risks posed by deceitful sellers.

Defra has promoted Petfished through its social media channels, supported by key stakeholders including the charity and veterinary sectors. The campaign has also been supported by a number of commercial partners who have provided support through pro-bono activities such as social media support, blogs, email marketing and website advertising space. Petfished messages have been promoted on popular search engines and social media sites. All the communications led back to our Petfished website where prospective buyers can obtain further advice and resources.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Petfished campaign.

Initial indications are that the Petfished campaign has successfully raised awareness of how to source a new pet in the right way. Overall our campaign has secured 106 pieces of coverage in the media, and content posted on social media by Defra and supportive stakeholders has received over 215,000 engagements. Campaign activity has led to over 270,000 visits to our campaign site.

Our latest YouGov polling of prospective pet owners reveals that Petfished has contributed to the doubling of awareness of low-welfare pet sellers and has generated an increase in confidence recognising the signs of a deceitful seller when looking to buy or adopt a cat, dog, puppy or kitten.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of a follow-up independent study of the research undertaken in 2013 on the effect of sky lanterns and helium balloons on the health and welfare of livestock.

Defra’s study of 2013 Sky lanterns and helium balloons: an assessment of impacts on livestock and the environment suggested that, while anecdotal reports and media coverage could imply that there is widespread concern from farming groups and others over the impacts of sky lanterns and balloons on the health and welfare of livestock, the evidence presented indicated that the number of cases reported each year of animals affected through ingestion of sky lantern and balloon debris is very small in the context of the wider livestock population. While it is recognised that there may be a significant level of under-reporting, on the basis of the evidence presented, we have concluded that the overall impact is very limited. No further assessment has been done on this.

General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (SI 1803) make it an offence to place a product on the market that is not safe. In addition, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute has published a Code of Practice for sky lanterns, which aims to provide guidance for manufacturers, importers, and retailers.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to develop a Chemicals Strategy.

Work on the Chemicals strategy is underway. It will build on a robust statutory regime and our international obligations and set out direction of travel on important policies. The next key milestone is the Call for Evidence in 2021. It will help inform the development of a draft Strategy for consultation.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to work with the farming community to tackle difficulties arising from the bad harvest in 2020.

Defra has established the UK Agricultural Market Monitoring Group (UKAMMG) which is meeting on a trial basis during the transition period and will go ‘live’ on 01/01/21. It monitors UK agricultural markets, which includes barley and other grains, including price, supply, trade and recent developments, enabling it to provide forewarning of any atypical market movements. We engage regularly with arable stakeholders to understand and respond to concerns and issues raised by the farming community.

An extremely wet winter followed by a dry spring, have provided us with difficult harvest conditions this year. In March this year, the Government announced new measures to help farmers recover from recent flooding. The Government has supported farmers through relaxing crop diversification requirements, known as the "three crop rule", as farmers in flooded areas had suggested they would have difficulty complying with the rule this year.

We are actively supporting farmers in their planting decisions as the transition period ends and we head into 2021. The landmark Agriculture Act, which has just received Royal Assent, allows the Government to simplify the Basic Payment Scheme and cut red tape faced by farmers. With effect from the 2021 scheme year, farmers will no longer have to comply with the so-called greening requirements.

The Government has granted approximately 1,700 farmers and land managers financial support to build resilience in their business models ahead of the changes through the agricultural transition period between 2021-27.The projects cover a range of business and wellbeing support approaches and measures across different sectors and regions to improve the resilience and mental health of farmers. Defra will closely monitor and evaluate these projects to support decisions on how to provide stronger support throughout the beginning of the transition period.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has has made of the robustness of flood defences in Bosworth following the 2019 floods; and what steps he is taking to prevent further flooding in advance of autumn and winter 2020-21 in Bosworth.

The Environment Agency (EA) is not aware of any fluvial (river) flood event that impacted Bosworth in 2019. There is a flood storage area in the district of Bosworth that requires routine low key maintenance.

Looking ahead to autumn and winter 2020-21, the Environment Agency is continuing to deliver its annual routine maintenance programme to ensure any blockages or debris that may cause an increase in flood risk are managed and Leicestershire is ready should flooding occur.

Across England, the Environment Agency works with Councils and other partners to prepare for, manage, and recover from flood incidents. The Environment Agency shares information, forecasts and advice with partners via daily telephone conferences and email communications during flood events – with all partners working together collectively under the banner of a Local Resilience Forum (LRF) to respond.

The Environment Agency provides a Flood Warning Service, to help residents prepare for potential flooding. Residents can visit www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings or call 0345 988 1188 to sign up to get Flood Alerts and Warnings by phone, email and/or text message. This is a free service. Alternatively they can contact Flood Resilience Engagement Advisors Floodresilience@environment-agency.gov.uk

Operationally, the Environment Agency is the lead authority for managing the risk of flooding from main rivers, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea, as well as being a coastal erosion risk management authority. County Councils act as a Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) and have the 'lead' role in managing flood risk from surface water including from most highways and roads, groundwater and ordinary watercourses. Furthermore, the local water company may be able to provide information on local flood risk associated with the sewage network.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid 19 outbreak on recycling rates in (a) the UK and (b) Leicestershire.

Kerbside residual and recycling collections are a high priority for the Government. There has not yet been a formal assessment made of the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on recycling rates in the UK or in Leicestershire. Publication of local authority waste data for England by Defra is on an annual basis and figures covering the period April 2020 to March 2021 are due to be published in November 2021.

However, a survey of local authorities by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Transport and Planning indicates that most local authorities were able to maintain recycling collections to a near normal level. Both recycling and residual waste from households were reported by many authorities to be significantly higher than normal, but the effect of COVID-19 on recycling rates at this time is unknown.

www.adeptnet.org.uk/covid-19-waste-survey-results

At the start of lockdown in March, Defra officials worked with local authorities to help them continue their waste collections, including collections of recycling. We published guidance to help local authorities prioritise waste collection services and to keep their household waste and recycling centres open while observing social distancing guidance.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the practice of puppy smuggling in the UK.

Defra takes the issue of puppy smuggling and other illegal importation of pets seriously. It is an abhorrent trade which causes suffering to puppies and puts the health of pets and people in the UK at risk. We have legislation in place to ensure those guilty of offences are duly punished.

Defra is in regular contact with the companion animal welfare sector to discuss matters including dog breeding and sales activity. There has been a high level of demand for pets as more people have been staying at home during the COVID-19 outbreak. We recognise that there are risks of people unknowingly buying puppies which have been bred in poor welfare conditions whether at home or abroad.

Defra’s “Petfished” campaign was launched in March 2020 to support the third party sales ban by raising the public’s awareness of the consequences of buying from a low-welfare seller and challenging the assumption that it is easy to spot bad practice. The campaign also signposts to resources available to help them make a good decision.

By its very nature, robust data and evidence on the extent of illegal criminal puppy smuggling is not readily available. However, many countries applied restrictions to the movement of individuals in response to COVID-19, and these restrictions may also have impacted on the number of journeys to the UK involving illegal puppy smuggling.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with animal welfare charities on the effect of lifestyle changes in response to the covid-19 outbreak on trends in the level of unwanted pets.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Defra’s animal welfare team has been in regular contact with the sector to understand the impacts and what is needed from government. I am grateful for the work done by animal welfare charities to promote advice for pet owners and look after animals during this difficult time.

The Association of Dogs & Cats Homes and the National Equine Welfare Council undertook surveys in May 2020 of their members and wider rescue and rehoming organisations to establish the extent of the impact of Covid-19 on the sector. The surveys were carried out when many restrictions were still in place, many of which have now been lifted. In relation to unwanted pets, findings showed that:

  • 30% of equine organisations reported that more horses were being abandoned compared to 5% reporting less.
  • 15% of rescues reported that more cats are being abandoned. Only 15% of rescue organisations reported an increase in dogs being abandoned with 22% reporting fewer dogs being abandoned than normal. 20% of members reported taking in less strays. Only 22% reported that more people wish to hand over their dogs.
  • 68% of rescues reported more people wish to foster equines, dogs or cats and 58% wish to rehome an equine, dog or cat.

We shall continue to engage with the sector to keep monitoring trends in the level of unwanted pets.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to encourage the general public to respect the natural environment and avoid littering as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Defra has released a range of digital content over social media that explains what individuals can do to protect others and the environment. This includes advice on how to enjoy outdoor spaces responsibly, such as by taking rubbish home when there are no bins available, and how to dispose of personal protective equipment appropriately. This digital content is available at:

www.linkedin.com/posts/defra_coronavirus-stayalert-activity-6672424604566376449-R-Iy;

twitter.com/DefraGovUK/status/1272770631780700162; and

twitter.com/DefraGovUK/status/1276046970621173760.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he plans to take to stabilise the price of milk during the covid-19 outbreak.

Defra is working closely with the dairy industry to manage the impact of Covid-19. Demand for milk and some dairy products has increased in supermarkets and the vast majority of Britain’s dairy farmers continue to supply their contracts at the usual price. However, between 5 and 10 per cent of total milk production goes to the service trade, and these farmers have been impacted by the significantly reduced demand.

In order to support affected farmers, we have eased some elements of competition law to make it easier for processors to come together to maximise production and processing and storage efficiency until shops, restaurants and pubs are able to open again. This SI will be laid shortly and will apply retrospectively from the 1 April 2020. We have asked the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and Dairy UK to work with farmers and processors to help industry take advantage of these easements.

Public intervention for skimmed milk powder and butter also continues to be available. Industry can sell skimmed milk powder and butter into public intervention when the price they would receive on the open market falls below the intervention price. This provides a floor price for dairy products.

Furthermore, the dairy industry can access various Government backed loan schemes. The Covid-19 Business Interruption Loans scheme is available to farmers, milk buyers and milk processors. In addition, the new Bounce Back Loan scheme, which will apply to businesses operating in agriculture, will ensure that the smallest businesses can access up to £50,000 loans. The government will provide lenders of this latter scheme with a 100% guarantee on each loan, to provide them with the confidence they need to support the smallest businesses in the country. We will also cover the first 12 months of interest payments and fees charged to the business by the lender.

We will continue to engage closely with representatives from all parts of the dairy supply chain to support the sector throughout this challenging period.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to prevent an increase in the level of animal cruelty during the covid-19 outbreak.

I am very aware of the issues currently facing organisations who are on the frontline as regards tackling animal cruelty. My department is in regular contact with the main bodies representing the animal welfare sector, including the RSPCA, Canine and Feline Sector Group, the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes and the equine welfare charities to understand their position and offer advice.

The Government has supported the sector providing guidance which enables it to continue to operate within the current restrictions, available here: www.cfsg.org.uk/coronavirus/SiteAssets/SitePages/Home/CFSG%20Guidance%20for%20Pet%20Rescues.pdf.

We have also encouraged the sector to consider all the various financial support already announced by the Chancellor, and issued guidance for the charity sector which provides further information, available here: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-the-charity-sector.

Social enterprises such as community interest companies can benefit from all of the measures set out by the Chancellor to benefit small businesses. We are also exploring options for and giving advice to the sector on the possibility of assistance from the additional specific fund recently announced by the Chancellor to support charities. We have also exempted veterinary practices from having to close so that they continue to treat animals in need of veterinary attention and to help provide for their good welfare.

Powers are available under existing legislation to tackle anyone who commits cruelty on an animal. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, local authorities and police have powers to investigate complaints about poor welfare or animal cruelty. In addition, the RSPCA can also investigate such complaints. Animal charities carry out valuable work to ensure that the health and welfare needs of sick, abandoned and stray animals in their care continue to be met.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that animal charities are able to continue working with animals during the covid-19 outbreak.

I am very aware of the issues currently facing organisations in this sector with falls in income and pressure on staff. My department is in regular contact with the main bodies representing the sector, including the Canine and Feline Sector Group, the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes and the equine welfare charities to understand their position and offer advice.

The Government has supported the sector providing guidance which enables it to continue to operate within the current restrictions, available here: www.cfsg.org.uk/coronavirus/SiteAssets/SitePages/Home/CFSG%20Guidance%20for%20Pet%20Rescues.pdf.

We have also encouraged the sector to consider all the various financial support already announced by the Chancellor, and issued guidance for the charity sector which provides further information, available here:

www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-the-charity-sector.

Social enterprises such as community interest companies (CICs) and charitable zoos can benefit from the measures set out by the Chancellor to benefit small businesses. We are also exploring options for and giving advice to the sector on the possibility of assistance from the additional specific fund recently announced by the Chancellor to support charities. We have already announced, for zoos in severe financial distress, a Zoos Support Fund for licensed zoos in England. Zoos policy is devolved. Funding is being provided to the Devolved Administrations in line with the Barnett formula. Where a zoo is in severe financial distress and has fully explored and exhausted all other reasonable avenues to generate income and reduce costs, including the existing COVID-19 business support schemes, then they should approach Defra as quickly as possible. Defra has already written to all licensed zoos in England to make them aware of the COVID-19 support schemes available as well as the new Zoo Support Fund.

We have also exempted veterinary practices from having to close so that they continue to treat animals in need of veterinary attention and to help provide for their good welfare.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to prevent an increase in fly-tipping in rural areas during the covid-19 outbreak.

Fly-tipping is illegal, unacceptable wherever it occurs, and the Government is committed to tackling this crime.

We are aware of reports of an increase in fly-tipping, although this is not consistent across the country. Local authorities are maintaining the vast majority of household waste collections, with 99% of councils responding to a weekly survey by ADEPT reporting residual and recycling collections as operational. We have published guidance to help local authorities prioritise waste services. This recommends that the clearance of fly-tipped material should be given a high priority.

The Government is working with local authorities to explore ways in which household waste recycling centres that have been closed might be re-opened, whilst observing social distancing and other requirements. We will be publishing guidance for local authorities on the re-opening of household waste recycling centres shortly.

Through the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group, chaired by Defra, we have disseminated messaging promoting the secure storage of waste, use of registered waste carriers and reiterating that waste must not be fly-tipped.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with representatives of the supermarket industry on introducing mobile supermarkets to enable key workers to shop for food at (a) hospitals, (b) schools, (c) police stations and (d) other places of work.

The Government has well-established ways of working with the food industry during disruption to supply situations. Our retailers already have highly resilient supply chains and they are working around the clock to ensure people have the food and products they need. Industry is adapting quickly to these changes in demands, and food supply into and across the UK is resilient.

The Government has not had discussions with industry on introducing mobile supermarkets to enable key workers to shop for food. We welcome efforts by supermarkets to ensure that key workers can continue to get the food and groceries they need and will continue to work with industry to discuss any additional support Government can provide.

To help industry respond to this unprecedented demand we have introduced other measures to keep food supply flowing. We have issued guidance to local authorities to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets so that shelves can be filled up more quickly, and we have implemented extensions to drivers’ hours. We are also temporarily relaxing certain elements of competition law to ensure retailers are able to collaborate effectively in the national interest.

Representatives of our leading supermarkets have asked customers to shop considerately and we echo their call.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to classify keepers of animals in zoos and conservation centres as key workers so that they can continue to care for animals in the event that their site is closed during the covid-19 outbreak.

We value the very important work undertaken by zoos in ensuring that the health and welfare needs of the diverse range of animals they care for are well met. Zoos support much appreciated conservation and educational activities which are highly valued by society.

The Government has published guidance at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others which clarifies that zoos are not on the list of businesses and venues that have been ordered to close. This guidance also confirms that people may travel for work purposes where they cannot work from home. Those caring for zoo animals are unable to do so from home.

The Government has published guidance at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision which indicates which workers may secure places in schools and nurseries to enable them to continue to work. This includes those essential to the running of charities and workers delivering key frontline services.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the feasibility of relaxing restrictions on the transportation of pets for British nationals repatriating to the UK as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Defra is monitoring the situation and at the current time we do not consider there to be a need to relax restrictions on the transportation of pets for British nationals repatriating to the UK as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. We will continue to monitor this closely and will consider specific cases where individuals are not able to fulfil the requirements. Protecting biosecurity and the health of the UK pet population remains a high priority.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress he is making to ensure that the UK will maintain food standards in trade policy after the transition period.

Defra has worked closely with the Food Standards Agency and Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that the regulatory regime for food safety remains robust now the UK has left the European Union, in order to protect public health and retain the confidence of consumers and international trading partners. We will continue to ensure that without exception all imports of food meet the stringent food safety standards required of our domestic producers and we will not compromise on this in trade negotiations. Our Food Standards Agency’s independent advice will ensure this will remain the case.

We will keep our existing UK legislation, and the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 will carry over EU law into UK law. Now that we have left the EU the UK will take its own sovereign decisions on standards and regulations in line with the principles of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and other relevant internationally recognised guidance. The Government remains committed to promoting robust food standards nationally and internationally, to protect consumer interests and ensure that consumers can have confidence in the food they buy.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress his Department has made on the development of the legal recognition of animal sentience.

I refer my Hon. Friend to the reply given to the Hon. Member for City of Chester, Christian Matheson, on 20 January 2020, PQ 3774.

Any necessary changes required to domestic law will be made in a rigorous and comprehensive way after the transition period.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of dredging rivers on flood prevention.

The Environment Agency (EA) prioritises those activities which achieve the greatest benefit in terms of better protecting people and property from flooding. Dredging and clearing channels are important parts of the EA’s maintenance regime, when it improves the channel’s ability to carry increased river flows and manage flood risk.

In 2010, the EA carried out a comprehensive series of trials to review and update understanding of the benefits and effectiveness of dredging as one method for maintaining channel conveyance. The trials showed that dredging can reduce flood risk, but its effectiveness and value for money varies significantly depending on the location. Since then, further studies have been carried out, validating the results of this trial, including the Thames bathymetry review, which reached a similar conclusion. In many cases, rivers naturally return to their pre-dredged state very quickly, and therefore any flood risk benefits are so short lived that the work cannot be economically justified. The implications for downstream communities also need to be considered.

The Somerset Rivers Authority and internal drainage boards have trialled alternative methods for dredging. These included small-scale trials of both cutter suction and water injection dredging, and a full-scale 5km trial using water injection dredging on the River Parrett. The trials demonstrated some potential to reduce costs of dredging in tidal rivers.

In 2014, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management produced an independent report entitled ‘Floods and dredging, A reality check’. This explored the effectiveness of dredging and is available at:

https://www.ciwem.org/assets/pdf/Policy/Reports/Floods-and-Dredging-a-reality-check.pdf

The EA uses the results of such trials and studies to decide where and how dredging will be effective, on a case-by-case basis.

Typically over each of the past three years the EA has spent between £45 million and £55 million a year on channel maintenance of which between £5 million and £11 million is for dredging. Channel maintenance includes a range of activities to maintain conveyance such as dredging, weed cutting and removing blockages.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to tackle fly tipping in Bosworth constituency.

Fly-tipping is an unacceptable blight on local communities, wherever it occurs, and a crime that the Government is committed to tackling. In recent years we have bolstered local authorities’ powers to tackle fly-tipping.

Local authorities, such as Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, have a range of powers available to tackle fly-tipping. This includes the power to take those accused of fly-tipping to court. If a fly-tipper is convicted in a Magistrates’ Court, the offence is punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment. If they are convicted in a Crown Court, the offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to five years’ imprisonment.

We have cracked down on offenders by working with the Sentencing Council to strengthen the guidance for environmental offences. We will keep this guidance under review as we deliver on our manifesto commitment to secure tougher penalties. We will continue to work with magistrates and the Judicial Office to ensure magistrates are effectively trained in the use of the guidance and are aware of the prevalence of waste crime and the significance of its impact on local communities. This will help to ensure that fly-tippers receive appropriate sentences for the offence they have committed.

Local authorities have powers to search and seize vehicles of suspected fly-tippers, and the power to issue fixed penalty notices of up to £400 for fly-tipping offences and for those who breach their duty of care by passing their waste to a fly-tipper. In August 2019 we published publicity materials aimed at helping householders better understand their responsibilities under the waste duty of care. The materials have been provided to the Local Government Association to circulate to local authorities and published on the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group’s website.

Powers to tackle fly-tipping are also being enhanced through the newly introduced Environment Bill, in particular through amendments to the powers to search for and seize evidence, as well as amendments to the powers of entry in the Environment Act 1995, to make it easier for enforcing authorities to use them. In addition to the measures in the Environment Bill, Defra is developing proposals to fundamentally reform the waste carrier, broker, dealer regime and introduce electronic waste tracking which will ensure those transporting waste can be better regulated, and that we are able to track waste through the system at all points.

Defra is also developing a fly-tipping toolkit, which will be a web-based tool to help local authorities and others work in partnership to tackle fly-tipping. It will cover the use of new technology to report fly-tipping, the presentation of cases to court, the sharing of intelligence within and between partnerships and will promote the duty of care to individuals and businesses.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to tackle the farming of puppies.

In October 2018, The Animal Welfare (licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into force which updated and improved the laws on the breeding and selling of dogs in England.

The new regulations require dog breeders and sellers to adhere to strict statutory minimum welfare standards linked to the welfare needs set out in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This includes prohibiting the sale of puppies below the age of 8 weeks; preventing licensed breeders from selling dogs not bred by them and preventing breeders from breeding dogs if it can be reasonably expected on the basis of their genotype, phenotype or health that this would lead to welfare problems for the mother or the puppies. In addition, licensed breeders must show puppies to purchasers in the presence of the mother and licensed pet sellers must complete the sale of a dog in the presence of the purchaser on the licensed premises. This prevents online sales of puppies.

Any licensed breeder advertising puppies for sale must include their licence number in the advert to improve traceability. In addition, from 6 April 2020, the regulations will prohibit the commercial third party sale of puppies and kittens to directly tackle low welfare, high volume breeding, known as puppy farms. In advance of this ban coming into force, the Government will launch a public awareness campaign on the responsible sourcing of puppies and kittens.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support farmers to prevent the spread of bovine TB.

The Government’s 25-year bovine TB eradication strategy published in 2014 aims to secure officially bovine TB free status for England by 2038 and is the basis of all we are doing to combat the disease.

The cornerstone of our strategy is a policy of regular testing and removal of infected cattle from herds. We have also incrementally introduced tougher controls on cattle movements from herds at risk of infection and more sensitive tests. We have introduced measures to encourage greater risk management and more information for the keepers of cattle. We have also deployed wildlife controls in areas where infection in badgers is linked to cattle breakdowns, and we have deployed new biosecurity measures to try to break the cycle of infection between cattle and badgers.

In 2018, the Secretary of State commissioned Professor Sir Charles Godfray and a team of experts to conduct an independent review of the strategy and provide advice on how to take it to the next phase (‘the Godfray Review’). Sir Charles submitted his report to Ministers in October 2018. The Government’s formal response will be published in due course.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that (a) pets are protected from violence and (b) people who perpetrate violence against domestic animals are prosecuted.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal or to fail to provide for its welfare needs. Under the Act, anyone can take forward a prosecution if they consider that they have the necessary evidence. Around 800 people are successfully prosecuted each year for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

The maximum penalty for causing unnecessary suffering or failing to provide for an animal’s welfare needs is six months’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. However, the Government has committed to introducing tougher penalties for animal cruelty. This will increase the maximum custodial penalty for causing unnecessary suffering to five years’ imprisonment which will make it among the highest maximum penalties for such an offence in the world. This will be taken forward when Parliamentary time allows.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to support local authorities in their (a) assessment and (b) future prevention of flooding issues in Bosworth constituency.

The Government is investing £2.6 billion to better protect the country from flooding between 2015 and 2021. This will deliver over 1,000 flood defence schemes, which will better protect 300,000 homes by 2021.

Of the £2.6 billion Defra funding, approximately £650 million will be allocated to local authorities for their defence improvement projects.

Local authorities have access to a range of information provided by the Environment Agency on flood risk from all sources. The Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government provides funding to local government to carry out functions including managing flood risk and coastal erosion, through the local government finance settlement.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what Official Development Assistance is being provided by the Government to (a) Idlib and (b) Syria.

The UK has committed over £3.1 billion since 2012 in response to the Syria Crisis, our largest ever response to a single humanitarian crisis. Since 2012, across Syria and the region, we have provided over 28 million food rations, over 18 million medical consultations, and over 12 million vaccines. Our aid provides life-saving support to millions of Syrians, supporting refugees to remain in countries in the region, and enabling their host communities to accommodate them.

We do not calculate our spend by region, as our funding is allocated to partners operating from multiple crossing points. However, in financial year 2019/20, DFID has allocated £118 million to projects implemented by organisations delivering cross-border aid, primarily into North West Syria, including into Idlib. This has helped to provide hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people with food, clean water, shelter and healthcare, including mental health support.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to increase (a) international and (b) domestic consumer awareness of non-food and drink products made in Britain.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is responsible for promotion of UK products in international markets. Some of the measures this department is taking to boost exports of non-food and drink products made in the UK are: trade promotion campaigns in key markets; UK presence at tradeshows; leveraging DIT’s teams in 110 countries; providing finance and insurance from UK Export Finance; global promotion via the GREAT campaign; export hubs in all Nations; and working in partnership with UK companies and trade associations.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to build (a) international and (b) domestic consumer awareness of non-food and drink products made in the UK.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is responsible for promotion of UK products in international markets. Some of the measures this department is taking to boost exports of non-food and drink products made in the UK are: trade promotion campaigns in key markets; UK presence at tradeshows; leveraging DIT’s teams in 110 countries; providing finance and insurance from UK Export Finance; global promotion via the GREAT campaign; export hubs in all Nations; and working in partnership with UK companies and trade associations.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what progress she is making to secure a free trade agreement with Canada.

The UK-Canada Trade Continuity Agreement (TCA) was signed on 9 December 2020 and completed Constitutional Reform and Governance (CRaG) in Parliament on 3 February 2021. Once ratified in Canada, the TCA will lock in preferential trade in goods and services worth £23 billion in 2019. We also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Canada on 21 December 2020 ensuring continued preferential goods trade pending full ratification. The TCA sets out a clear path to begin negotiating a new, more ambitious trade deal, which will be tailored to the British economy and interests. The Department is currently preparing for these talks with a view to beginning negotiations later in the year.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent discussions she has had on a future trade deal with her (a) Australian, (b) Canadian and (c) New Zealand counterparts.

Strengthening and enhancing our bilateral trading relationships with Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, are key priorities for the Government’s trade negotiations programme.

The Department for International Trade is committed to negotiating and securing ambitious free trade deals with Australia and New Zealand as soon as possible, harnessing the opportunity to negotiate a high-quality agreement with like-minded, liberal trading nations. Officials have just closed the second round of negotiations with Australia, with the third expected to take place in November, and they will open the second round of negotiations with New Zealand on 19th October.

Similarly, both the United Kingdom and Canada agree on the importance of protecting and strengthening our trading relationship, now that we have left the European Union. Our shared goal with the Government of Canada is a seamless transition of our trading relationship beyond 1st January 2020, so that British and Canadian businesses and consumers can continue to benefit. Officials have been in regular contact to discuss this since trade talks recommenced in August, with technical discussions taking place on a rolling basis.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of using digital platforms to progress trade negotiations during the covid-19 pandemic.

This Government aims to agree Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with countries accounting for 80% of current UK trade within the next three years.

We have used digital platforms to launch our negotiation programme with the priority countries of the USA, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. These negotiations are now proceeding at pace on a remote basis mirroring the long-established structures for engagement on trade.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the ability of the DVLA to improve the six week turnaround time for (a) HGV and (b) car driving licences.

The quickest and easiest way to make an application to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is by using its extensive suite of online services. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their documents within a few days.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application. The DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day and social distancing measures coupled with industrial action by members of the Public and Commercial Services union and the current increased demand for DVLA services has led to delays for customers.

The DVLA is currently prioritising applications for HGV driving licences as these cannot currently be made online.

The DVLA continues to explore opportunities to reduce turnaround times for paper applications and has introduced additional online services and recruited additional staff. The DVLA is exploring the possibility of securing extra office space to house more staff. This will be surge capacity accommodation and resource to help reduce backlogs while providing future resilience and business continuity.

Paper driving licence applications are currently taking between six and ten weeks to process. There may be additional delays in processing more complex transactions, for example, if medical investigations are needed.

The DVLA has a number of channels of communication in order for applicants to seek updates on their driving licence applications. As well as the contact centre, email and webchat services are available. The DVLA also uses a Notify service for customers applying for an HGV driving licence which sends an email confirming receipt of their application. The latest information on turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found here.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to support the DVLA to be contactable by applicants seeking updates on (a) HGV and (b) car driving licence applications.

The quickest and easiest way to make an application to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is by using its extensive suite of online services. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their documents within a few days.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application. The DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day and social distancing measures coupled with industrial action by members of the Public and Commercial Services union and the current increased demand for DVLA services has led to delays for customers.

The DVLA is currently prioritising applications for HGV driving licences as these cannot currently be made online.

The DVLA continues to explore opportunities to reduce turnaround times for paper applications and has introduced additional online services and recruited additional staff. The DVLA is exploring the possibility of securing extra office space to house more staff. This will be surge capacity accommodation and resource to help reduce backlogs while providing future resilience and business continuity.

Paper driving licence applications are currently taking between six and ten weeks to process. There may be additional delays in processing more complex transactions, for example, if medical investigations are needed.

The DVLA has a number of channels of communication in order for applicants to seek updates on their driving licence applications. As well as the contact centre, email and webchat services are available. The DVLA also uses a Notify service for customers applying for an HGV driving licence which sends an email confirming receipt of their application. The latest information on turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found here.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the work of the DVLA to improve paperwork turnaround times during summer 2021 for (a) HGV and (b) car driving licences.

The quickest and easiest way to make an application to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is by using its extensive suite of online services. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their documents within a few days.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application. The DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day and social distancing measures coupled with industrial action by members of the Public and Commercial Services union and the current increased demand for DVLA services has led to delays for customers.

The DVLA is currently prioritising applications for HGV driving licences as these cannot currently be made online.

The DVLA continues to explore opportunities to reduce turnaround times for paper applications and has introduced additional online services and recruited additional staff. The DVLA is exploring the possibility of securing extra office space to house more staff. This will be surge capacity accommodation and resource to help reduce backlogs while providing future resilience and business continuity.

Paper driving licence applications are currently taking between six and ten weeks to process. There may be additional delays in processing more complex transactions, for example, if medical investigations are needed.

The DVLA has a number of channels of communication in order for applicants to seek updates on their driving licence applications. As well as the contact centre, email and webchat services are available. The DVLA also uses a Notify service for customers applying for an HGV driving licence which sends an email confirming receipt of their application. The latest information on turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found here.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to (a) encourage passenger growth and (b) support passenger capacity on the (i) Birmingham to Leicester and (ii) Birmingham to Derby via Tamworth railway routes.

The rail industry has launched the “Get back on track” advertising campaign to attract passengers back to the railway. CrossCountry also has its own advertising campaign. Passenger demand is increasing across the network which is to be welcomed.

In May 2021, all contractual train services were reinstated on the CrossCountry Class 170 routes including between Birmingham and Leicester and Nottingham. Investment by the DfT has provided six additional carriages for these routes. As a result there are more services on the Birmingham - Leicester – Stansted and the Nottingham – Cardiff routes, which are now formed of three rather than two carriages.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what initial assessment he has made on the progress of the e-scooter trials taking place across the UK.

We are running e-scooter trials in 32 areas to assess their safety and wider impacts.

E-scooter trials will run until 31 March 2022. This is an extension to the original deadline of 30 November 2021. It takes into account the slower start to trials as a result of the pandemic and will allow us more time to gather evidence as restrictions ease.

We have put in place a national monitoring and evaluation programme and data continues to be collected from the e-scooter trials. An interim report summarizing findings from the data collected so far will be published in autumn 2021, with a final report due in spring 2022.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with motorway service station operators to ensure adequate and workable electric car charging provision at their sites.

By 2023, the Government expects to see six high-powered chargers at every motorway service area in England, installed by the private sector. The Government has regular engagement with motorway service area operators to ensure that this charging provision is in place ahead of customer demand. This includes a quarterly questionnaire to monitor progress against this target, and ad hoc bilateral engagement to discuss plans to help support early adoption of electric vehicles and remove range anxiety concerns for drivers on long journeys. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Rachel Maclean held a roundtable on 20th July 2021 with motorway service area operators from across England to discuss their participation of Ofgem’s Green Recovery Scheme, under which funding is released to allow distribution network operators to upgrade network capacity in order to facilitate electric vehicle charging.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to encourage the development of high quality rest stops for the benefit of HGV drivers.

On the 24 July 2018, the Government issued a revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework that now indicates that the need for sufficient overnight lorry parking should be considered in planning policies and decisions. My Department continues to work with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to enhance this further with Local Authorities and to highlight the criteria and consideration for HGV lorry parking applications.

I recognise that there are long standing issues around driver welfare, including adequate safe and secure HGV parking with acceptable facilities for drivers. We are committed to progressing work to support the strategic and long-term development of lorry parking provisions and are looking at both established and new approaches to increase the provision for improved overnight lorry parking in England. We are also keen to explore with the industry innovative alternative approaches to provide more parking capacity and better facilities to improve HGV driver welfare

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of reports that 10,000 drivers hold a valid licence despite accruing 12 penalty points; and what assessment he has made of trends in the level of penalty points accrued by drivers in each of the last five years.

Only a court can disqualify an individual from driving under the “totting up” provisions where a driver has accrued 12 or more penalty points. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s role is to maintain a record of the endorsement information received from the courts on the individual’s driver record.

If the DVLA receives a notification from a court for a driver with 12 or more penalty points who has not been disqualified, the DVLA will alert the court to this. This enables the court to consider whether to re-open the case and disqualify the driver where appropriate. The DVLA cannot overturn a court’s decision not to disqualify a driver where more than 12 penalty points have been accrued.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to monitor the (a) effectiveness of and (b) adherence to the Passenger Covid 19 Charter.

The Passenger COVID-19 charter provides a central point of information and guidance to help consumers understand their rights, responsibilities and reasonable expectations, when booking and travelling internationally whilst COVID-19 restrictions remain in place. We are monitoring through existing frameworks.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of (a) the safety of the distance between refuges on smart motorways (b) the potential need to review those distances as a result of safety issues and risk assessments.

The Smart Motorway Safety Evidence Stocktake and Action Plan, published in March 2020, committed to a new standard for spacing of places to stop in an emergency. For future All Lane Running (ALR) Motorway schemes, places to stop in an emergency will be ¾ of a mile apart where feasible, with a maximum spacing of 1 mile apart. Highways England published the new design standard – GD 301 – in October 2020.

The Stocktake Action Plan also made a commitment to consider a national programme of retrofitting on ALR motorways where places to stop in an emergency are more than one mile apart, drawing on evidence from the programme to deliver additional areas on the M25. That review will be completed by April 2022.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress the Global Travel Taskforce has made on the safe normalisation of post-Covid international travel policy.

The Government’s priority is to protect public health. That is why we introduced the Traffic Light System on 17 May as a cautious approach to reopening international travel.

The government will review the travel measures in place through the Global Travel Taskforce at a series of checkpoints, no later than 28 June, 31 July and 1 October, taking into account the latest domestic and international data.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress the DVLA is making in tackling backlogs in (a) HGV and (b) car driving licences.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online services have been available and unaffected throughout the pandemic and are the quickest and easiest way to renew a driving licence. However, many people still choose or have to apply for their driving licence using a paper application. The DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day which must be dealt with in person.

The DVLA has had a reduced number of operational staff on site to allow for social distancing, in line with Welsh Government requirements. The DVLA has leased an additional building to accommodate more operational staff and has extended the opening hours of its contact centre.

The number of applications awaiting processing fluctuates on a daily basis as driving licences are issued and new applications received. The DVLA is currently processing paper applications for both HGV and car driving licences within around six weeks of receipt. However, drivers with a medical condition may experience further delays because the DVLA is often reliant on receiving information or test results from medical professionals before a licence can be issued, to ensure drivers can meet the required medical standards.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to learn lessons from the recent blockage of the Suez Canal in the context of strategic planning for the UK’s future maritime trade.

The Department has been working closely with maritime operators throughout the pandemic, and in particular major shipping lines and ports regarding the unprecedented global surge in container freight that was experienced at the end of 2020 and early 2021. The lessons learned from that meant that there was a swift response across Government Departments to assess impacts on supply chains following the Suez incident. The Department will continue to engage with shipping lines and container ports. It is clear that whilst some disruption is hard to avoid, industry has established operational plans and flexibility to enable them to respond to crisis and maintain continuity of trade, as evidenced by the re-routing of vessels around the Cape of Good Hope

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to assess proposals for Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges; and what criteria is used to ensure that those projects meet stated objectives.

Under the Planning Act 2008, prospective developers of Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges (SRFIs) must submit a Development Consent Order (DCO) application to the Planning Inspectorate. If the Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State, accepts the application they must carry out an examination of the proposed SRFI and produce a report and recommendation. The Secretary of State must then make a decision on the proposal.

Both the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State use the framework of the National Networks – National Policy Statement (NN-NPS) as the primary basis for making decisions on DCO applications for SRFIs, including taking into account the potential benefits and adverse impacts of the scheme.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he plans to take to ensure that projects, such as Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges approved as National Significant Infrastructure Projects meet project projections after operations commence.

Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) proposals should meet market requirements and the National Networks – National Policy Statement (NN-NPS) states that they should be located near the business markets they will serve. The NN-NPS states that at a minimum SRFIs should be capable of handling four trains per day.

The Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State use the policy framework of the NN-NPS as the primary basis for making decisions on Development Consent Order (DCO) applications for SRFIs, including considering the potential benefits and adverse impacts of the scheme. Currently, it is for the private sector operators of SRFIs to ensure market conditions remain favourable to ensure SRFI operation is sustained and viable once operational.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent progress has been made on the (a) Union Connectivity Review and (b) needs of the A5 as a major trunk road from Bosworth; and what the timeframe is for publishing that review.

The Union Connectivity Review is an independent review led by Sir Peter Hendy. The Interim Report will be published shortly with final recommendations expected in summer 2021.

The focus of the Review is on improving connectivity between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and Sir Peter will be prioritising transport links that help to achieve that objective. The Review published a Call for Evidence in November 2020 to which several stakeholders with an interest in the A5 have responded.

These will be part of Sir Peter’s deliberations and will inform the development of his final recommendations. Highways England’s work to update its Route Strategies, starting this year, will also consider the needs of the trunked A5 and inform future road investment decisions.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress has been made on trialling noise emission cameras on public highways; and what steps he is taking to enable local authorities to engage in trial schemes.

The Department’s initial trials of a prototype acoustic camera have concluded. The Government anticipates the results will be published in the spring following a re-phasing of the work due to pressures arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Options for future work are still under consideration and so the Government cannot commit to trials with any local authorities at this point. Nonetheless, if future research involves road trials, then we would welcome involvement of local authorities to help ensure that any new system is robust.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what criteria he uses to determine the site of rail freight interchanges.

The Government’s support for Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges (SRFIs) is set out in the National Networks National Policy Statement which provides a clear framework for SRFI developers, local authorities and the Planning Inspectorate. The Secretary of State for Transport uses the framework as a primary basis for making decisions on development consent applications for SRFIs.

The National Policy Statement does not, however, specify where SRFIs should be located. Instead, it provides a framework for private sector developers to bring forward proposals through the planning system if they are deemed to be operationally and commercially viable.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to improve infrastructure for the charging of vehicles away from drivers’ homes in (a) Bosworth constituency and (b) the UK.

While the Government believes the majority of electric vehicle (EV) charging will take place at home, we understand that many consumers want to see sufficient charging infrastructure in place across destinations, workplaces and the Strategic Road Network, before they will make the leap to purchasing an EV.

The roll out of rapid charging is an opportunity to remove range anxiety for electric vehicle drivers across the roads network. To ensure the private sector can continue to expand the charging network at pace in the 2020s, the Government will invest £950 million in future proofing grid capacity along the Strategic Road Network to prepare for 100% uptake of zero emission cars and vans ahead of need. In May, we published an ambitious vision for rapid charging infrastructure along strategic roads in England over the next decade. This vision sets out the number of rapid chargepoints that will be located across motorways and major A roads to meet the future demand for electric vehicles.

Through our Workplace Charging Scheme, businesses, charities and the wider public sector can get grants of up to £350 per socket for installing up to 40 charging sockets for their employees and fleets. Over?11,000 installations have been?funded?using the scheme, including 21 in the Bosworth constituency, as of 1 October 2020. Local authorities across the country are able to take advantage of the On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS), which assists them with the cost of installing chargepoints on residential streets.

To increase confidence in the charging network and reduce range anxiety the Government is working with industry to make?chargepoint?data available, helping drivers easily locate and access available?chargepoints. Government will consult on using its powers under the Automated Electric Vehicles Act to mandate minimum standards, such as requiring contactless payment for rapid chargepoints, to improve the consumer experience of charging.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that the A5 Watling Street railway bridge near Hinckley does not become the most bashed bridge in Britain in 2020-21 as it reportedly was in 2019-20.

Network Rail revealed the most-struck bridges in the country (including Hinckley bridge) to remind drivers and operators of their obligations to prevent costly and dangerous bridge strikes. It has worked with industry bodies - including Highways England and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) - and hauliers as part of a Bridge Strike Prevention Group to help companies and their employees to avoid striking bridges, resulting in an 11% decrease in incidents in the last financial year (April 1 2019 - March 31 2020).

Highways England has undertaken many studies in the past and has installed extra signage on the approach to, and on the bridge, in an effort to raise drivers’ awareness of the risks. Highways England are currently in discussions with a developer about the possibility of lowering the carriageway in the vicinity of the low bridge, as part of the developer’s scheme proposal.

A new campaign ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ will feature on petrol pumps at motorway service stations across Britain along with posters, reminding drivers to check their routes before setting off and the Senior Traffic Commissioner, Richard Turfitt, issued a letter last month to all goods vehicle and Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence holders, warning that regulatory action, which could result in the loss of their operator’s licence, could follow should they fail to take appropriate measures to prevent bridge strikes.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Global Travel Taskforce is taking to ensure that a robust testing regime is in place as soon as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.

The Global Travel Taskforce has been considering a range of testing options and non-testing measures to ensure passenger safety and give travellers confidence once current restrictions ease. The Taskforce has also undertaken extensive consultation with the transport industry, international partners, tourism sector, business leaders and the private testing sector and will submit its recommendations to the Prime Minister in November.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to fund public transport in (a) Bosworth and (b) Leicestershire.

Last year Leicestershire County Council received £534,721 from the £43m Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) grant to subsidise socially necessary bus services. In addition, Leicestershire has this year been provided with additional allocation of £556,627 as part of ‘Better Deal for Bus Users’ package. Bus operators running services in the area have also benefitted from the Government’s Covid Bus Services Support Grant.

The new operator of East Midlands Railway, Abellio, is bringing a package of more than £600 million investment in improvements to rail services across their area. Leicestershire will also benefit from the Midland Main Line upgrade, which will increase rail capacity and shorten journey times into London as well as and the introduction of new Bi-Mode Trains on the Midland Main Line.

Like all government departments, DfT is engaging with HM Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review process to agree a financial settlement which will enable the department to deliver on the Government’s priorities over the coming years.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to support the development of disability friendly pavements and crossings.

As set out in the Inclusive Transport Strategy, the Department wants to see well maintained pavements, appropriately placed dropped kerbs and navigable and legible routes in our public realm.

Local authorities are responsible for the design of their streets and public realm. It is for them to ensure their streets, including pavements and crossings, are designed to be inclusive and meet the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.

To help deliver this, we are updating Inclusive Mobility, the key piece of design guidance covering the pedestrian environment as a whole. This will also include advice covering the much greater knowledge and understanding now available of the needs of those with hidden disabilities, including autism, dementia and mental health conditions.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much and what proportion of the funding announced by the Government on 9 May 2020 for cycling and walking is planned to be allocated to Bosworth constituency.

On the 29th May, indicative allocations to local authorities from the Emergency Active Travel Fund were published on gov.uk. Leicestershire County Council has been allocated £335,164 from tranche 1 of the Emergency Active Travel Fund and indicatively allocated £1,451,000 from tranche 2. The Department will invite bids from authorities for tranche 2 of the fund shortly. Before receiving any funding, authorities must submit satisfactory plans to the Department, and the amount each authority receives will depend on it satisfying the Department that it has ambitious plans in place to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to ensure that (a) driving theory tests and (b) driving practical tests are able to recommence for prospective drivers.

As the health and safety of staff and customers is key, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has produced detailed standard operating procedures and is working closely with the Department for Transport to prepare for a safe return to testing.

At present, the DVSA’s testing services are under review and it will announce details of resumption in due course.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with representatives of regional transport providers on ensuring that support is provided to passengers with sight loss as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Our guidance is clear that regional transport providers and national operators have the same obligations to support visually impaired passengers as they did before the Covid-19 pandemic. As a Department we are working closely with stakeholders, to understand the experiences of disabled passengers and identify the correct support needed as lockdown restrictions are eased.

All local transport and highway authorities across England are ensuring the needs of disabled transport users are included as part of their Restart plans.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with representatives of the DVSA on ensuring that driving (a) theory and (b) practical tests resume after the covid-19 outbreak.

As the health and safety of staff and customers is key, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency is currently working closely with the Department for Transport to prepare for a safe return to testing.

At present, its testing services are under review and it will announce details of resumption in due course.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking with the Secretary of State for Education to to promote (a) cycling, (b) walking and (c) other sustainable transport for journeys to and from school as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Department for Transport is making £225 million available to local authorities this financial year for urgent measures to make it easier for people to walk and cycle for all short journeys, including to school. The Department for Education has produced guidance on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings. This guidance sets out that schools should ‘ensure parents and young people are aware of recommendations on transport to and from education or childcare settings’ and encourage parents and children and young people ‘to walk or cycle to their education setting where possible’.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to involve UK manufacturing and construction companies in the construction of HS2.

On 15 April 2020 the Government provided the construction sector with certainty by confirming ‘Notice to Proceed’ for the first phase of High Speed 2. This marks formal approval for main construction works to begin on the route between London and Birmingham.

An estimated 400,000 supply chain contract opportunities for UK businesses will be created during phase one of HS2, supporting thousands of jobs on site and many more around the country. It is estimated that around 95% of those contract opportunities will be won by UK based businesses and around two thirds of those will be small and medium sized businesses.

To support UK suppliers since 2013, HS2 Ltd has undertaken an unprecedented level of supplier engagement. This has been achieved through publishing a contract opportunities table on its website, targeted ‘meet the contractor’ events as well as regular engagement with UK businesses, industry and supply chain groups including Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), Chambers of Commerce and Trade Associations. To date, this approach has ensured that over 98% of contracts on the HS2 programme have been awarded to UK based organisations, over 70% of which are Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). HS2 Ltd has mandated the use of the subcontracts opportunity portal CompeteFor in its Tier1 contracts to ensure visibility of subcontract opportunities arising from the HS2 programme.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to work with road user groups to ensure that the sustainable transport strategy adopted by communities includes the increase in walking and cycling experienced during the covid-19 outbreak and is balanced with car use.

On the 9th May the Government announced a £2bn package of funding for cycling and walking over the next five years. This includes £250m to be spent this financial year on measures to enable increased cycling and walking. Local authorities will be responsible for ensuring that they have considered the impact of these measures on other road users.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans the Government has to introduce penalties for (a) cyclists and (b) horse riders found to have caused road accidents as a result of using their mobile phone while (i) cycling and (ii) riding.

The Government has no current plans to introduce new penalties for cyclists and horse riders using mobile phones while riding. All road users are required to comply with road traffic law in the interests of their own safety and that of other road users. For those who do not adopt a responsible attitude, there are already laws in place that can make them liable for prosecution. The Official Highway Code explains the law and gives advice for cyclists and horse riders on how to safely use our roads.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that social distancing measures can be introduced at airports and by airlines to ensure the safety of (a) air crews, (b) passengers and (c) visitors to UK airports.

Officials are continuing to engage with the aviation sector to ensure they are supported in implementing new operational practices. This includes facilitating a weekly phone call with Public Health England to enable the aviation industry to raise operational questions directly wherever necessary.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency's requirement that aircraft be disinfected after every flight also applies to London Heathrow Airport; this will further mitigate health risks to staff and passengers.

Public Health England has developed specific guidance for flight crews on keeping themselves and their passengers safe, including guidance on safe principles of working and on the use of personal protective equipment.

A General Aircraft Declaration (GAD) process will now be required for all flights coming to the UK requiring crew to identify symptomatic passengers before arrival, with a similar process being implemented for maritime and international rail.

5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to (a) monitor increases in (i) walking and (ii) cycling during the covid 19 outbreak and (b) develop a post-covid-19 sustainable transport strategy.

The Government recognises that walking and cycling have great potential as a means of enabling people to move around safely while maintaining social distancing, thus helping to relieve pressures on public transport as well as delivering other health benefits. We are already continually gathering evidence in order to monitor changes in cycling and walking levels.

The Government continues to keep its sustainable transport response under review. We recognise that reallocating road space to give pedestrians and cyclists more room can be a good way of enabling more people to use these modes safely. We support the steps many local authorities are taking to deliver this, but decisions on where and how to do it are a matter for local authorities who are responsible for managing their roads, and who already have the necessary powers. The Transport Secretary announced on 9 May a £250 million emergency active travel fund, to create new bike lanes, wider pavements and safer junctions in England.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to help ensure that social distancing measures can be effectively introduced for regional public transport during the covid-19 outbreak.

On the 12 May, the Government published guidance for passengers and transport operators to help them keep themselves and their staff safe, including how social distancing rules should be interpreted to do this. This guidance will be kept up-to-date as restrictions on travel change.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
30th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the rail to refuge initiative.

The ‘Rail to Refuge’ initiative is a scheme that complements our wider safeguarding activity to protect vulnerable children and adults at risk.

Since the start of the lock down on 23 March 2020, 40 bookings for travel have been made using the system. This has resulted in more than 50 adults and children in a vulnerable position being helped. Critically these are individuals who would not have been able to travel to a place of safety without the assistance of the scheme.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency can schedule driving tests for critical workers using existing appointment systems during the covid-19 outbreak.

From 21 March 2020, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) suspended most practical driver testing for up to three months to support the Government’s efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus.

As a matter of priority, the DVSA is supporting the NHS and key workers by making practical driving tests available for those whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or who work in critical sectors such as health and social care.

Critical workers can apply for an emergency driving test by emailing: critical.worker.driving.test@dvsa.gov.uk

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will hold discussions with representatives of airlines on ensuring that the costs of tickets for repatriation flights are comparable with the price of tickets originally paid by passengers.

The Department is working to support the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who are leading the efforts to ensure that British tourists can return home from across the Globe.

The Government is working closely with the aviation sector, and we welcome continued efforts by airlines to ensure that passengers can return to the UK.

Whilst ticket pricing remains a commercial matter for the airlines, we are monitoring the situation closely.

19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he will take to ensure the DVSA reinstates driving tests for those who seek to become key workers needing a driving licence during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has suspended most driver testing for up to three months to support government’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. The DVSA will continue, as a major priority, to make tests available for those whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response or who work in critical sectors.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of postponing routine HGV medicals during the covid-19 outbreak.

The department is considering the issues around the renewal of driving entitlement for HGV drivers and will take into account the developing situation and the need to balance the risks to road safety.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of granting an automatic six month extension for HGV licences to ensure continuity of goods transportation around the UK during the covid-19 outbreak.

The department is considering the issues around the renewal of driving entitlement for HGV drivers and will take into account the developing situation and the need to balance the risks to road safety.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure the adequate provision of transport options for (a) Bosworth and (b) other constituents to watch the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022.

A key part of delivering a successful Commonwealth Games is about making sure transport works effectively, both for those living and working around Games locations and for those involved in or who wish to watch the Games. Local Games transport partners, such as the West Midlands Combined Authority, Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee, are working together leading on transport preparations and planning for the Birmingham Games.

Government is supporting the preparations by bringing forward the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill. The Bill includes a small number of temporary measures which are essential to the successful operation of the Games, including on transport. The measures set a statutory basis for a Games Transport Plan - to minimise the risk of relying on voluntary arrangements to coordinate Games transport planning- and provide bespoke traffic regulatory powers, allowing short term changes of road use - where needed - to ensure minimal disruption to those travelling to and from the Games.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to support agencies to simplify the rail ticketing system.

The Government has supported industry initiatives for reform in both simplifying fares and improving the ticket buying process. To improve the ticket buying process, we supported the Rail Delivery Group’s mobile barcode ticketing programme and made an additional £80m available to operators so that smart tickets are accepted at stations across almost all the network. We are now working with the industry to maximise the benefits of this investment.

In addition, we welcome the Rail Delivery Group’s contribution to the Williams Rail Review through its publication of the Easier Fares Consultation. The Williams Review is the first root and branch review of the rail industry in a generation and will set out ambitious proposals early this year. On 2 January a trial of simpler, single-leg fares was launched on some London North Eastern Railway routes, and we announced our intention to establish a new ‘fares trials fund’ to explore the benefits and costs of a clearer, more flexible and fairer fares system.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Jan 2020
A5
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of (a) Highways England and (b) local authorities on the (i) safety of the A5 and (ii) adequacy of that road to support economic growth in Bosworth constituency.

Officials meet regularly with Highways England and local authorities to discuss conditions on the road network. They are well appraised of the work of the A5 partnership, of which the local authorities of Bosworth are committed members, as well as the advocacy of Midlands Connect for this corridor’s potential.

3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the (a) introduction and (b) initial operation of the Restart Scheme for jobseekers in (i) the UK and (ii) Leicestershire.

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

At this stage, it is too early to give an assessment of the effectiveness of the introduction and initial operation. However, a comprehensive, multi-strand evaluation will be undertaken to provide a robust analysis of Restart delivery and impact.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Kickstart scheme in (a) Leicestershire and (b) Bosworth.

We are pleased to say that, as of the 8th September, over 69,000 young people have started Kickstart jobs. Over 188,000 jobs have been made available for young people to apply for through the Kickstart Scheme with over 281,000 jobs approved for funding by the Scheme.

Below are tables listing the number of Kickstart jobs which have been made available and started by young people to date by geographical area of Great Britain and work sector. The figures used are correct as of the 8th September and these figures have been rounded according to departmental standards.

We are currently not able to publish a breakdown below the regional and national level although expect to be able to do so in due course, this is because the information is contained across multiple systems and the work to gather and quality assure it would be a disproportionate cost.

From 18/08/2021 to 08/09/2021, over 4,800 jobs were made available each week, and over 2,800 started each week.

Although care is taken when processing and analysing Kickstart applications, referrals and starts, the data collected might be subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system, which has been developed quickly.

The management information presented here has not been subjected to the usual standard of quality assurance associated with official statistics, but is provided in the interests of transparency. Work is ongoing to improve the quality of information available for the programme.

Location

Jobs Made Available

Total Jobs Started

East Midlands

11,900

4,170

East of England

14,900

4,870

London

38,400

15,170

North East

7,500

3,170

North West

24,000

8,830

Scotland

13,800

6,140

South East

21,700

7,460

South West

14,000

4,660

Wales

10,600

3,390

West Midlands

16,900

6,150

Yorkshire and The Humber

14,600

5,250

*These numbers are rounded and so may not match provided totals. Jobs Made Available include 1,000 non-grant funded vacancies and Total Starts include around 900 starts to non-grant funded jobs

Sector

Jobs Made Available

Total Jobs Started

Administration

46,900

17,420

Animal Care

1,000

540

Beauty & Wellbeing

1,300

520

Business & Finance

6,700

2,540

Computing Technology & Digital

13,100

6,110

Construction & Trades

5,800

2,200

Creative & Media

14,500

6,980

Delivery & Storage

5,500

1,970

Emergency & Uniform Services

400

160

Engineering & Maintenance

6,200

2,110

Environment & Land

3,500

1,450

Government Services

700

130

Healthcare

5,200

1,530

Home Services

1,400

360

Hospitality & Food

21,100

5,360

Law & Legal

400

210

Managerial

1,100

340

Manufacturing

4,600

1,890

Retail & Sales

29,200

11,370

Science & Research

700

330

Social Care

4,700

1,120

Sports & Leisure

4,300

1,690

Teaching & Education

8,900

2,570

Transport

500

150

Travel & Tourism

600

210

*These numbers are rounded and so may not match provided totals. Jobs Made Available include 1,000 non-grant funded vacancies and Total Starts include around 900 starts to non-grant funded jobs

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he is taking to consult (a) people with disabilities and (b) representative groups on any developments of her Department's strategic objectives following the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer I gave on 23rd March 2021 to question number 169969.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to consult (a) people with disabilities and (b) representative groups on her Department's strategic objectives following the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department for Work and Pensions places a strong emphasis on engaging with stakeholders to inform health and disability policy. Before the Covid-19 outbreak we hosted a series of workshops across the country where local disability organisations and disabled people shared their experiences of DWP services and priorities for future changes. We have continued this engagement since Covid-19 with a series of virtual events with charities and disabled people, where we heard from people about the impact of the pandemic on their lives. The forthcoming Health and Disability Green Paper will reflect themes coming out of those conversations and ask for views on how best to address them. We will continue this engagement with further events with disabled people and their representatives in the run up to the publication of the Green Paper, during the consultation period, and beyond.

To support the development of the National Strategy for Disabled People and future work, the Government has already engaged widely with a diverse range of stakeholders, including the Disability Charities Consortium, the Regional Stakeholder Networks, individual disabled people and others.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress she is making on increasing the number of work coaches in (a) Leicestershire and (b) Bosworth.

Bosworth constituency is home to Hinckley Jobcentre Plus, one of our smaller sites and has already had an additional Work Coach join the team since March 2020

Across the Leicestershire and Northamptonshire District, we have recruited an additional 302 Work Coaches so far with a further 52 joining us by the end of March 2021.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of initiatives to progress the awareness and take up of pension credit.

The precise updated data on the effectiveness of the spring 2020 campaign is not yet able to be provided.

The purpose of the campaign was to raise Pension Credit awareness and test impact.

There was a 20% increase in telephone calls to the Pension Credit claim line (during the course of the campaign the weekly average was 2,493 phone calls compared to a weekly average in 2019 of 2,079 phone calls).

There was also significant engagement with social media and a spike of activity on viewing the Pension Credit website pages with more than 5,000 sessions on the launch day, 10 February (compared to 1,000 on 3 February).

However, it should be stressed that other factors may affect these numbers, including the BBC TV licensing decision and the effect of the Pandemic.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to support people into jobs or training opportunities aligned to the development of the Green Economy.

Across Government we are developing policies to support people to pivot to high demand, growth sectors, including low-carbon and climate resilient jobs. There are already over 460,000 people working in low carbon businesses and their supply chains across the country and by 2030 the UK could support up to 2 million green jobs.

DWP’s Jobcentre Plus network supports thousands of jobseekers each year to move into the labour market, including jobs in the Green Economy. The Government’s pledge to double the number of Work Coaches to 27,000 by March 2021 will ensure that jobseekers continue to have access this expert and tailored support. As announced on 8th July, we are continuing to support jobseekers by increasing participation in our sector-based work academy programmes (SWAP). We will continue to establish bespoke opportunities, including those within the Green Economy, working with employers and training providers to support jobseekers to fill job vacancies and pivot into new careers.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure the efficient roll out of the Kickstart scheme in Bosworth constituency.

We are pleased to confirm that the department is now processing many applications from across the UK, this is currently a clerical process, so reliable management information, particularly on geographical areas, is not yet available.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she is taking to steps to support (a) Citizens Advice and (b) other third sector advice organisations on managing covid-19-related queries during the outbreak of that disease.

As both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we have been clear in our intention that everyone should be supported to do the right thing.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to encourage people to take up careers in (a) the pharmaceutical sector and (b) high street pharmacies.

Reforms to pharmacist initial education and training will ensure that all new pharmacists entering the profession, regardless of where they choose to practice, will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to take on greater clinical roles including qualifying as prescribers. There are also a range of post-graduate programmes available to strengthen their skillset and progress within the profession.

Health Education England is also encouraging students to apply to study pharmacy at university and career information is available from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. There are also a range of funded apprenticeships schemes provided by pharmacy employers for a variety of roles in pharmacy teams.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that patients are signposted, when presenting, to the correct NHS service.

Under Primary Care Network (PCN) Direct Enhanced Services, PCNs are able to recruit new roles to expand their care team with 100% reimbursement through the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS). Care coordinators are one of several roles funded by the ARRS and their responsibilities include signposting patients to National Health Service and other appropriate services. In addition, NHS England and NHS Improvement’s and Public Health England’s ‘Help us help you’ campaign encourages the public to access the NHS services they need.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to record data on the number of users of Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs.

No recent assessment has been made.

Public Health England (PHE) records the numbers of people who are in drug treatment reporting a problem with image and performance enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids. These numbers are low and are included in the figures for ‘other’ drugs in PHE’s annual reports on alcohol and drug treatment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the harms caused by Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs.

No recent assessment has been made.

Public Health England (PHE) records the numbers of people who are in drug treatment reporting a problem with image and performance enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids. These numbers are low and are included in the figures for ‘other’ drugs in PHE’s annual reports on alcohol and drug treatment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has undertaken of the needs of members of the public without smartphone or internet access in the context of his future covid-19 related strategic planning as the UK completes its covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Invitations for the COVID-19 vaccine are currently being issued in a number of ways. The National Booking Service is primarily sending letters to people’s registered addresses. These letters give the option of booking by the free 119 phone line. This phone line includes BSL and text relay services. Follow up phone calls and letters are made to those who have been sent an initial letter but not responded. Local vaccination services are for the most part using text messages or phone calls as the first approach. Follow up ‘phone calls would also be made to those who have not responded to initial invitations. Others can make an appointment on behalf of individuals who are not able to make it themselves.

Community Champions also work with councils to identify barriers to accessing accurate information and to provide tailored support, such as phone calls for people who are digitally excluded. We are clear that no matter how citizens choose to interact with services, they should receive the same levels of access, consistent advice and the same outcomes of care.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support NHS leaders to bring down Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service waiting lists for autism diagnosis in (a) Leicestershire and (b) the UK.

In line with commitments in the NHS Long Term Plan, NHS England and NHS Improvement are working to test and implement the most effective ways to reduce waiting times for an autism diagnosis for children in England over the next three years. To support NHS leaders in England, NHS England and NHS Improvement have commissioned work to evaluate how different autism diagnostic pathways work for children and young people. This includes considering the workforce requirements to deliver effective diagnostic pathways and the appropriate pre and post-diagnostic support.

The Leicestershire Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service is working to reduce the length of time children and young people wait for an autism diagnosis through the introduction of additional capacity.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that people with disabilities are not disadvantaged by legislation on covid-19 restrictions.

From 2 December, a regionally differentiated approach was put in place where different tiers of COVID-19 restrictions apply in different parts of the country. We have taken several actions to support disabled people who may be impacted by these restrictions. A person caring for someone with a disability at home can now form a support bubble with another household, a ‘linked household’. Carers in all three tiers are allowed to arrange for another family member or friend to provide respite care so they can take a break. We have also recognised the need for support groups, including day services, which are vitally important to many disabled people, to continue and as such formally organised groups of up to 15 can continue to meet. For example, on 1 December we published accessible ‘easy read’ guidance regarding the local restriction tiers.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much funding his Department has provided to research into cauda equina syndrome in each of the last five years.

The Department’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including cauda equina syndrome. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality. Information on individual projects funded by the NIHR is available at the following link:

https://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/

The NIHR has not funded any research specifically into cauda equina syndrome in the last five years. However, the NIHR funded over £270,000 between 2015/16 and 2019/20 on a research project which investigated chronic neurogenic bladder dysfunction, which can result from cauda equina syndrome.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has for the long-term use of NHS covid-19 testing capacity when the outbreak is over.

On 18 August, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced the establishment of a new organisation to provide a world-leading approach to public health protection and resilience. The National Institute for Health Protection brings together the health protection expertise of Public Health England (PHE), Joint Biosecurity Centre and National Health Service Test and Trace under unified leadership. It will start work immediately to boost the United Kingdom’s ability to deal with COVID-19 and meet health challenges of the coming winter.

Preventing ill-health and reducing health inequalities remains one of our top priorities. The Department has established a senior Stakeholder Advisory Group to help identify and consider the right future for PHE’s important wider work.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to expand laboratory capacity for covid-19 testing in (a) Leicestershire and (b) the rest of England.

We have rapidly built the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history from scratch since the pandemic began. Our laboratories are processing more than 1 million tests a week and we recently announced the addition of new Lighthouse laboratories in Charnwood, Newcastle and Bracknell. The latest and fifth addition – the Newport lab – is already live and is taking samples and operates alongside labs at Milton Keynes, Alderley Park, Glasgow and Cambridge.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support the provision of healthcare by community pharmacies during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has put in place an unprecedented financial package during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing support to all businesses, including community pharmacies. We have also made £370 million in advance payments to alleviate cash flow pressures and have provided extra funding to cover the costs of Bank Holiday opening, a new medicine delivery service for shielded patients, and measures taken by community pharmacy to support social distancing. For June to September 2020, there has also been an increase of £15 million per month to reimbursement prices of the most commonly prescribed generic medicines.

Additional funding, for costs incurred during the peak of the pandemic, is being actively discussed with the sector. We will also carefully consider other representations on how we can further support community pharmacy so they can continue to deliver.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support the NHS to tackle any backlog of dental treatment in (a) Leicestershire and (b) the UK.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have set out guidance that dentists should focus on care that is urgent, care to vulnerable groups and then overdue routine appointments.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have commissioned additional clinical sessions across the Midlands region, Leicestershire and Rutland. It will enable participating National HS dental practices to deliver more face-to-face care providing up to two sessions, of three and half hours, at the weekends from January to March this year.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to tackle health inequalities in (a) Leicester and (b) Leicestershire.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities (Kemi Badenoch MP) is reviewing the findings from Public Health England’s reports to better understand the drivers behind the disparities and the relationships between the different risk factors so we can build on the existing action we are taking across England to tackle health inequalities. This includes our childhood obesity plan, NHS Health Checks, our tobacco control plan and diabetes prevention programme.

The NHS Long Term Plan commits all major national programmes and every local area across England, including Leicestershire, to set out specific measurable goals and mechanisms by which they will contribute to narrowing health inequalities over the next five and 10 years.

Public Health England works with NHS England and NHS Improvement to support and assure the delivery of the health inequalities ambitions set out in the NHS Long Term Plan and local systems, which incorporate local authorities.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress has been made on the development of a robust and reliable antibody test for covid-19; and what the timetable is for that test to be rolled out to the general public.

We believe a national antibody testing programme may provide a critical role in the next phase of this pandemic. We are already offering antibody tests to National Health Service and care staff in England, with patients and social care residents eligible at their clinician’s request. We are also using antibody tests to support research studies.

In order to better understand the role that an antibody test could play in our response to the pandemic, we need to improve our understanding of how the immune system responds to the virus that causes COVID-19. We do not currently know how long an antibody response to the virus lasts, nor whether having antibodies means a person cannot transmit the virus to others. Our understanding of the virus will grow as new scientific evidence and studies emerge.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of (a) the suitability of work transferred from secondary to primary care during the covid-19 outbreak and (b) the level of compliance of those transfers with the terms of the NHS Standard Contract.

No services have transferred from secondary to primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of steps have been taken to ensure patients can be treated safely, and that sufficient capacity was available in hospitals to treat patients with COVID-19. No updates to the NHS Standard Contract were required to facilitate these changes, which included:

- All practices have adopted total triage model, allowing them to appropriately treat patients either face to face or remotely;

- COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Service arrangements were put in place to supplement existing 111 services, to ensure patients were assessed and referred to appropriate treatment in the community or in hospital as required, and;

- New discharge funding arrangements have been in place to ensure allow the safe and rapid discharge of those people who no longer need to be in a hospital bed. This funding has allowed patients to be quickly discharged either to their homes, for rehabilitation or short-term care, or for ongoing nursing care, often in a bedded setting.

Ongoing collaboration between secondary and primary care providers is essential to ensuring patients are treated appropriately, led by local systems.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the cost to the public purse is of the (a) establishment of the NHS Test and Trace system and (b) recruitment of 25,000 NHS Test and Trace caseworkers.

The Government launched its new NHS Test and Trace service on 28 May 2020. This includes enhanced contact tracing which brings together testing, contact tracing and outbreak management into an end-to-end service.

We have recruited 25,000 contact tracing staff in England to support this service. These staff are a mix of call handlers and health professionals. Final agreed contract values of procuring the call handling service will be published in the individual Contract Award Notices in the Official Journal of the European; and we publish certain information on Contracts Finder about contracts awarded.

These staff are in addition to existing public health experts from Public Health England (PHE) and local government. PHE staff are not employed exclusively as ‘contact tracers’. Contact tracing is undertaken by local health protection teams and the field epidemiology service who are trained in contact tracing and undertake more complex contact tracing work but also carry out other roles.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing covid- 19 free safe spaces within hospitals for the treatment of cancer patients.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 21 Cancer Alliances across England now have arrangements in place for cancer hubs. These are hospitals dedicated to cancer care away from hospitals dealing with COVID-19 to keep often vulnerable cancer patients safe.

A letter was issued to trusts on 29 April 2020 detailing the Second Phase of Response to COVID-19 setting out local systems and Cancer Alliances must continue to identify ring-fenced diagnostic and surgical capacity for cancer, and providers must protect and deliver cancer surgery and cancer treatment by ensuring that cancer surgery hubs are fully operational. Full use should be made of the available contracted independent sector hospital and diagnostic capacity locally and regionally.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the (a) per unit cost of covid-19 home testing kits from dispatch to test result and (b) rate of return of those kits.

This is commercially sensitive information. As such, the Department is unable to release the information requested.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2020
To ask the right hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps is the Government taking to work with churches and dioceses to ensure the safe opening of churches for religious worship.

The Church of England is committed to the reopening of buildings in a phased way, in accordance with the rules, restrictions and timetable established by Government. On 5th May the House of Bishops issued guidance, which can be seen here: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/house-bishops-backs-phased-approach-revising-access-church-buildings

We are working with Government and with representatives of the heritage planning sector to assess the need for building adaptations related to public safety in our cathedral and church buildings, and in particular temporary additions or changes that might need to be made to enable social distancing and proper hygiene. We are committed to enabling our churches and cathedrals to make such changes as might be needed to allow them to reopen safely.

Andrew Selous
Second Church Estates Commissioner
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) availability of access to emergency dental treatment based on clinical need and (b) quality of that treatment during the covid-19 outbreak.

To meet the Government social distancing measures and to contain the spread of Covid-19 all routine dentistry has currently been suspended.

We expect all NHS dental practices to provide urgent telephone advice and triage. Dentists are giving urgent advice remotely and, if needed, prescriptions for painkillers or antibiotics. All urgent face to face treatment that is clinically necessary is available for patients who are triaged by their dentist or NHS111 into one of the 550 urgent dental care centres set up by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

The urgent dental centres are expected to provide, where urgently needed, the full range of dental treatment normally available on the National Health Service and we expect this treatment to be of high quality standards.

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced on 28 May that NHS dentistry outside urgent care centres will begin to restart from 8 June with the aim of increasing levels of service as fast as is compatible with maximising safety.

A copy of the letter that was published can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-ontent/uploads/sites/52/2020/03/Urgent-dental-care-letter-28-May.pdf

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the number of patients presenting with advanced cancer symptoms; and what steps his Department is taking to respond to a potential increase in the number of patients presenting with advanced cancer symptoms as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

It is too soon to say whether more patients are presenting with symptoms of advanced cancer. The National Health Service continues to monitor referral rates and emergency presentations.

Many areas in England have set up ‘cancer hubs’ to coordinate treatment and ensure it can continue safely while other hospitals focus on treating patients with COVID-19.

NHS England and NHS Improvement encourage anyone with worrying symptoms to continue to contact their general practitioner and have issued clear guidance to the NHS to maintain urgent referral and diagnostic services for suspected cancer.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what mental health support he has put in place for people working in the care sector responding to increased numbers of people dying as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

This is clearly a very challenging time for our frontline workers. The Government wants everybody working in social care to feel like they have somewhere to turn, or someone to talk to, when they are finding things difficult.

‘Our Frontline’ has recently been launched, a collaboration between Samaritans, Shout, Hospice UK and Mind to provide information, emotional support and access to a crisis text service for those working on the frontline, including in social care.

Later this month we will also be introducing a website and app aimed at providing timely information for the social care workforce. It will include resources dedicated to help individuals and their teams manage in this new situation, understand what they might need to be doing differently to support each other, and pay attention to their mental and physical wellbeing.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of syringe drivers required to ensure the maintenance of palliative care regimes during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department is aware of recent shortages of syringe drivers and has taken direct action to source additional equipment to alleviate the situation. New supply is now arriving in the United Kingdom from abroad with several thousand units now being checked and distributed in to the National Health Service. Further quantities are becoming available through the usual suppliers to the NHS to further increase the availability of these devices which will be distributed through a national allocation process.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 lockdown on the birth rate; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure that there is adequate provision to respond to a potential increase in the birth rate as a result of the covid-19 lockdown.

We do not yet know what impact the COVID-19 lockdown might have on the birth rate in England.

The National Health Service is making arrangements to ensure that women are supported and cared for safely through pregnancy, birth and the period afterwards, during and following this pandemic, when there will be extra pressures on healthcare services. We expect any changes to the configuration of maternity services to be temporary.

NHS England and NHS Improvement’s ‘Clinical guide for the temporary reorganisation of intrapartum maternity care during the coronavirus pandemic’ states that recovery plans are essential and should bear in mind the regional modelling of how the virus is likely to spread.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that patients with mental health issues are regularly reviewed and supported during the covid-19 outbreak.

It is imperative that mental health services continue to offer access to mental health support, including for people who are already accessing. Mental health providers are part of their local emergency preparedness and response hubs. They are working closely with colleagues in social care, education, substance misuse, the police and the voluntary sector to ensure that vulnerable patients get the support they need.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are holding weekly information and update sessions with mental health service providers to support the implementation of local Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans. These plans include meeting needs by managing fluctuations in demand.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is providing to support working carers who may be without full time work during the Covid-19 outbreak and who are not entitled to carers allowance.

People who have caring responsibilities and are currently unable to work should speak to their employer who may be able to keep them on the payroll if the business is unable to operate or have no work for employees to do because of COVID-19. This is known as being ‘on furlough’ leave. Under this scheme, employees could get paid 80% of their wages up to a monthly cap of £2,500.

If an employee’s salary is reduced as a result of these changes, they may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

Those affected check if they could be covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

More guidance on what their rights are at work, what benefits they are entitled to and what further support is available can be found at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you/

https://www.nationaldebtline.org/EW/factsheets/Pages/coronavirus-advice-and-support/help-and-advice.aspx

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase the level of testing for (a) NHS and (b) social care frontline staff for covid-19.

The Prime Minister has called on industry to work with the Government to urgently develop a new test to determine whether people have developed immunity. Rapid upscaling will help National Health Service and other critical public sector staff back to work as fast as possible.

With a focus on ensuring the highest priority cases are tested first, officials are working to rapidly increase the number of tests that can be conducted by Public Health England and the NHS in laboratories, with the expected surge in capacity ready within weeks.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase the five-year survival rates for (a) lung, (b) liver, (c) brain, (d) stomach, (e) pancreatic and (f) oesophageal cancer.

Although survival rates are at a record high and continue to improve, the Government know that there is more to do. Survival rates for all cancers will be improved by diagnosing cancers earlier and beginning treatment at an earlier stage. This is why in October 2018 the Government announced a package of measures that will be rolled out across the country with the aim of seeing three quarters of all cancers detected at an early stage by 2028. The plan will radically overhaul screening programmes, provide new investment in state of the art technology to transform the process of diagnosis, and boost research and innovation.

As set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, NHS England and NHS Improvement will shortly be introducing a Faster Diagnostic Standard of 28 days for all cancer patients, including those with lung, liver, brain, stomach, pancreatic, and oesophageal cancer, which when taken together with the 62-day referral to treatment standard, will mean that all patients should expect to start their treatment within 34 days of diagnosis.

NHS England is rolling out Rapid Diagnostic Centres (RDCs) across the country to bring together the latest diagnostic equipment and expertise, in line with the NHS Long Term Plan commitment. This programme builds on the Multidisciplinary Diagnostic Centre (MDC) model piloted through the Accelerate, Coordinate and Evaluate (ACE) programme, which focussed on diagnosing cancers where patients often present with non-specific symptoms and may go to their GP many times before being sent for appropriate tests. As of March 2020, 17 RDCs are currently live.

NHS England is extending lung health checks, targeting clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) with the lowest survival rates. In Greater Manchester introducing low dose CT health checks saw an almost five fold reduction in stage 4 disease, with 80% of cancers diagnosed at an early stage.

NHS England has committed funding of over £1.3 billion over the next five years to deliver the commitments on cancer in the Long Term Plan.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to prevent the interruption of supply of repeat medications to patients.

The Department understands that maintaining access to medicines is vitally important to many people in this country.

The Department’s Medicine Supply team has well established processes to manage and mitigate the small number of supply problems that may arise at any one time due to manufacturing or distribution issues. The team also works on longer term strategies to ensure a more robust supply chain including the introduction of a mandatory requirement on the pharmaceutical industry to notify shortages and the restriction of certain medicines being parallel exported out of the United Kingdom.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of waiving the NHS surcharge for new staff coming from abroad to work in the NHS.

The Government fully recognises the contribution that international professionals make to the United Kingdom and we remain committed to ensuring that this country still attracts highly skilled people to work here, including for the National Health Service. That is why we have set out plans to introduce a new NHS visa, which will offer an attractive package for NHS staff. The details of the NHS visa will be announced in due course by the Home Secretary.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase (a) research into and (b) awareness of prostate cancer.

On 10 April 2018, the Government pledged £75 million towards clinical trials for prostate cancer which will focus on improving early diagnosis and survival rates as well as exploring options for different treatments for men affected by the disease.

In 2014, Public Health England ran a Be Clear on Cancer local pilot campaign focusing on ‘Prostate Cancer’ in London. This included posters (by the roadside and in barber shops), print, tailored public health messaging on local radio, street ambassadors and public relations. Further information on this campaign for prostate cancer can be viewed at the following link:

https://prostatecanceruk.org/media/2457630/Be-Clear-on-Cancer-Web-Accessible-GP.pdf

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress has been made on returning X-ray facilities to Hinckley hospital.

X-ray facilities will be returning to Hinckley and District Hospital to provide much needed services to the local population, after funding was secured from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

In addition, the local area will benefit from the Government’s £7 million sustainability and transformation partnerships capital investment to refurbish Hinckley Health Centre, which includes works to accommodate diagnostics (x-ray and ultrasound) machines.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of (a) the Primary Care Network draft outline service specifications and (b) primary care enhanced services on the workload of GPs.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have assessed that the Primary Care Network (PCN) draft outline service specifications and Network Contract Direct Enhanced Service (DES) will reduce workload pressures on general practitioners (GPs) and support improved primary care services to patients. This will be through a combination of the additional workforce capacity which is being created within primary care, and the redesign of community services provision to link with and support PCNs. For further information, the Network Contract DES draft Outline Service Specifications public consultation document published in December 2019 is available at the following link:

https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/survey/primary-care-networks-service-specifications/supporting_documents/Draft%20PCN%20Service%20Specifications%20December%202019.pdf

The PCN service specifications form part of annual GP contract negotiations between NHS England and the GP Committee of the British Medical Association. Feedback received during engagement on the drafts published in December will inform ongoing negotiations on the 2020/21 GP contract. NHS England and NHS Improvement will take a deal to Government for sign-off shortly. A statement on the engagement and the wider GP contract negotiations has been published at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/2020/01/primary-care-network-service-specifications-and-the-network-des-close-of-engagement/

The Government recognises that it is vital that PCNs are a success. We have instructed NHS England and NHS Improvement to address the concerns raised by the primary care profession following the closure of the NHS England and NHS Improvement consultation on 15 January. The final text of these specifications, and the primary care enhanced services, are not yet finalised.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what objectives he plans to pursue as co-chairman of the Global Partnership for Education's Replenishment Summit in July 2021.

The primary objective of the Global Education Summit (GES) is to raise as much as possible of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE)'s $5 billion over five years. At the G7 Summit, the Prime Minister announced the UK pledge of £430 million to GPE, which is our largest ever pledge, and an uplift of 15 per cent from our current position as top bilateral donor. This significant pledge meant we were able to secure commitment from G7 partners of at least $2.7 billion to GPE ahead of the GES.

The UK intends to support the GPE in diversifying its funding base with new sovereign and private donors, and is working closely with our co-hosts, Kenya, to galvanise domestic financing to education from developing nations. At the Summit, we hope to secure up to $4 billion, which is 80 per cent of GPE's $5 billion 5-year target, providing the single biggest ever boost to children's education opportunities around the world.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress the UK has made as President of the G7 to remove barriers to education across the world.

Meeting under the UK Presidency, G7 Foreign and Development Ministers endorsed two new global targets on girls' education in low-income and lower-middle income countries, which we are calling on the world to help deliver by 2026. Ministers also endorsed a girls' education declaration which specifically states that the G7 will work in collaboration with developing country partners, multilateral institutions, civil society, girl-led groups and youth leaders to remove the obstacles to education that stand in the way of girls. This includes addressing the social, environmental and institutional barriers to education such as reducing violence in and out of schools, reducing harmful cultural practices such as child marriage and FGM, and amending restrictive policies or legislation that prevent girls from thriving in school.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the UK’s logistical support to India during the covid-19 pandemic.

The UK has worked closely with the Indian Government on our package of support to ensure that it focuses on India's most urgent needs. The first shipment was delivered on 27 April. On 2 May, the Prime Minister announced that the UK would send a further 1,000 ventilators to support India's response, these arrived in Delhi on 9 May bringing the total package of equipment to 495 oxygen concentrators, 1,200 ventilators and three oxygen generating units.

Given the importance of effective coordination of the large quantities of assistance arriving in India, the UK is channelling its support through the Indian Government and Indian Red Cross. Decisions on exactly where support provided by the UK will be deployed are for the Indian Government. Ministers and officials remain in regular contact with their counterparts to ensure the transfer of medical equipment is as efficient as possible.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress he is making in tackling malnutrition through programmes in (a) Somalia, (b) Yemen and (c) Ethiopia.

Since 2013, the UK has responded to chronic levels of malnutrition in Somalia through a multi-year approach that incorporates both humanitarian and development funding and helps to build longer-term resilience. The Somalia programme is addressing malnutrition by focusing on both the prevention and curative treatment of malnutrition. Our resilience programmes have helped over 300,000 people, with interventions that address the underlying causes of humanitarian need, including malnutrition. This has been complemented by our work in providing healthcare and clean water. In 2020 the UK provided 2.5 million vulnerable Somalis with life-saving cash assistance (874,409), nutrition (303,938), health (453,639) and emergency WASH-Water and Sanitation (895,002).

The UK is playing a leading role in combating hunger in Yemen by contributing over £1 billion in UK aid since the conflict began in 2015. Over the course of our next financial year (2021/22), we will provide at least £87 million to the UN Humanitarian Appeal for Yemen, making us the 5th largest donor. Our funding will feed an additional 240,000 of the most vulnerable Yemenis every month, support 400 healthcare clinics and provide clean water for 1.6 million people. We will also provide one-off cash support to 1.5 million of Yemen's poorest households to help them buy food and basic supplies.

In Ethiopia, the UK is working closely with humanitarian and development agencies to make sure aid reaches civilians affected by the fighting. UK-funded aid agencies in Tigray are delivering support in challenging circumstances, including food, shelter, water and healthcare. The Foreign Secretary visited Gondar, in the neighbouring Amhara region, on 22 January and saw first-hand how £11 million of UK Aid is supporting the World Food Programme and NGOs to ensure the delivery of aid to those affected by the Tigray conflict.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to highlight education as part of the global policy agenda of the UK’s presidency of the G7.

Girls' education is a key priority for the UK's G7 Presidency. We will encourage G7 Leaders to endorse two global outcome targets: 40 million more girls in education by 2025, and an improvement of one-third in girls' reading by age 10. We will also be working with G7 partners to raise collective ambition, and ensure a successful replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which supports governments in taking vital steps to strengthen national education systems.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to help tackle global child malnutrition during the covid-19 pandemic.

Prevention and treatment of malnutrition remains a priority for the UK as part of our commitment to end the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children, particularly as malnourished people are likely to be more severely affected by COVID-19. The wider impacts of COVID-19 are also predicted to increase malnutrition across Africa and Asia in particular.

The Foreign Secretary has appointed the UK's first Special Envoy on Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs to make sure malnutrition is averted in countries where food insecurity, conflict and COVID-19 have increased risk. FCDO is continuing to deliver programmes to address malnutrition in countries such as Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan and Ethiopia. We are also supporting UNICEF to maintain provision of treatment for child wasting and to adapt relevant services in light of the pandemic.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking with his international counterparts to (a) progress the equality agenda for girls throughout the world and (b) eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

The UK is widely recognised for its leadership on gender equality and women and girls' rights. The challenges of advancing girls' education, sexual and reproductive health and rights, women's political empowerment and participation, women's economic empowerment, and ending gender-based violence, including conflict related sexual violence, are more acute now, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to engage virtually with our international partners and champion gender equality in multilateral fora including in the UN. Promoting gender equality and advancing women and girls' rights on the international stage are core elements of the UK's role as a force for good in the world, including fulfilling every girl's right to 12 years of quality education.

The UK is proud to be a world leader on efforts to prevent Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), and Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict as part of our broader ambitions on gender equality. The UK's continued leadership on these issues was most recently demonstrated at the UN Security Council Open video-conference on Women, Peace and Security on 17 July, which focused on conflict-related sexual violence. The UK will also co-lead the new global Generation Equality Action Coalition on gender-based violence to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action on Gender Equality. We will drive more concerted, coordinated and scaled-up global action across the international system to prevent gender-based violence.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress his Department is making on facilitating a positive solution to the conflict in Yemen.

The UK continues to support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to secure the Yemeni parties' agreement to his proposals for a nationwide ceasefire, humanitarian confidence-building measures and a resumption of the UN-led political process. We engage regularly with international partners on Yemen, including through our role as penholder in the UN Security Council. On 2 September, the Prime Minister discussed Yemen with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On 24 August I spoke with Yemeni Foreign Minister Hadhrami about the peace process and developments in the South. On 1 July, the Foreign Secretary wrote a joint op-ed with his Swedish and German counterparts calling for the international community to back peace efforts.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with his counterparts in OPEC member states on ensuring the stabilisation of the oil price.

Her Majesty's Government closely monitors the oil market, and assesses its implications for the economy, businesses, and wider geopolitics. This includes the impact of the reduction in oil demand as a result of Coronavirus; the failure of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) + meeting on 5-6 March to reach an agreement on supply cuts; and Saudi Arabia's subsequent decision to increase oil production and reduce prices. No ministerial level discussions have taken place with OPEC members on the oil market since the OPEC+ meeting.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to help end the conflict in Syria.

Our priority is to end the conflict in Syria through a negotiated political settlement, in accordance with UNSCR 2254. The UK has repeatedly made clear our full support for the UN-led political process. We are active diplomatically in pressing for an immediate and lasting ceasefire in Idlib, including by calling for an emergency UN Security Council discussion on 28 February. On 28 January, the UK hosted a meeting of Special Envoys of the Small Group on Syria to discuss how to advance the political process. We are also committed to supporting the victims of this appalling conflict. The Syria crisis has been the UK's biggest ever humanitarian response, with the UK committing £3.1 billion of support to Syria and the region since 2012.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to provide additional support to the hospitality and night time sector during the second wave of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government understands that this is a very challenging time for the UK’s hospitality sector and night-time businesses, and recognises that the hospitality sector has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Throughout the crisis the Government’s priority has been to protect lives and livelihoods. The Government is delivering support to this sector and these businesses through:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which has supported 1.4 million jobs across the hospitality sector and has been extended until the end of April 2021.
  • Cash grants of up to £3,000 for businesses forced to close. In addition, the Government has announced one-off top up grants worth £4 billion for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property. The Government expect over 600,000 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure business premises in England to benefit from these grants. Previously, the Small Business Grant Fund; Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund; and the Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund all provided around a million business properties with over £11.6 billion worth of grants.
  • Local Authorities (in England) have been given an additional £500 million of discretionary funding to support their local businesses. This builds on the £1.1 billion discretionary funding which local authorities in England have already received to support their local economies and help businesses impacted.
  • An additional £1,000 Christmas grant for ‘wet-led pubs’ who missed out on business during the busy Christmas period.
  • A VAT deferral ‘New Payment Scheme’ whereby businesses which deferred their VAT due between March and June until March 2021 will have the option of making 11 payments spread throughout the year rather than one lump sum.
  • Access to affordable, Government-backed finance through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBLS) for larger firms, along with the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) for small and micro enterprises.
  • A reduced rate of VAT (5 per cent) to goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors.
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England, saving around 350,000 ratepayers a combined £10 billion.

The Government is continuing to collect evidence on the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality industry and work with businesses and representative groups to ensure that support provided is right for this industry and the economy as a whole.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he is having with representatives of the banking sector on potential further extensions of bounce back loans for businesses.

On the 2nd November, the Government announced that it would extend the application deadlines on the BBLS to the end of January 2021. This will give businesses two extra months to make loan applications, relative to the previous deadline of 30th November.

The Government will also adjust the BBLS rules to allow those businesses who have borrowed less than their maximum (i.e. less than 25% of their turnover) to top-up their existing loan. Businesses will be able to take-up this option from next week; where they can make use of this option once.

The Government understands that some businesses didn’t anticipate the disruption to their business from the pandemic would go on for this long; this will ensure that they are able to benefit from the loan scheme as intended.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what support he is making available to eradicate fuel poverty through the insulation of homes in Bosworth.

The Government recognises the importance of energy efficiency in tackling fuel poverty.

Through the new £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme announced by the Chancellor in July, homeowners and landlords across England, including in Bosworth, will be able to apply for vouchers to fund at least two thirds of the cost of upgrading the energy performance of their homes, up to £5,000. Low income households will be eligible for up to 100% government funding, up to £10,000.

Leicestershire County Council also has the opportunity to bid for part of the £500m of the scheme that is being made available to local authorities to directly help low income households.

The scheme could support more than 100,000 green jobs, upgrade more than 600,000 homes, and save households hundreds of pounds a year on their energy bills. This is in addition to existing measures to support improvements in energy efficiency in the homes of those in fuel poverty, such as the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a time-limited reduction in VAT to support economic recovery as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

VAT raised over £130 billion in 2019/2020. It is a vital source of revenue for the Exchequer and plays an important part in funding the Government’s spending priorities including hospitals, schools and defence.

A temporary VAT reduction therefore would come at a considerable cost to the Exchequer.

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Treasury have implemented a range of measures to help individuals and businesses through the crisis, including grants, loans and relief from business rates worth more than £300 billion.

The Government keeps all taxes under review.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate his Department has made of the proportion of applications for the Self Employed Income Support Scheme which have been unsuccessful; and whether he plans to introduce an appeals process for those applicants.

The 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 make the timescales for publication and the types of data available in due course.

A self-employed person can check if they are eligible for the SEISS using an online checker and if eligible, the self-employed person can make a claim. HMRC are using information that taxpayers have provided in their tax returns to determine eligibility. If the online checker states that a person is not eligible, they can check the guidance on GOV.UK to understand why that may be. Taxpayers can also contact their accountant or tax agent for advice, if they have one. If the taxpayer considers that they meet the criteria, they can request a review using a simple online form.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of increasing the value of gift aid from 25 per cent to 50 per cent that gift aid charities can claim on donations until the end of August 2020.

The Government recognises the vital work charities are doing to the support the country during the coronavirus pandemic and on 8 April pledged £750 million to ensure charities can continue their vital work. Additionally, many charities can also benefit from the other support schemes put in place by the government, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme.

However, there are no plans to increase Gift Aid tax repayments from 25% to 50% on donations made to charities. Full tax relief is already available on donations made with Gift Aid, with basic rate relief being claimed by the charity and higher rate relief available to the taxpayer where relevant.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, whether he has plans to review the regulations of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 to allow (a) businesses and (b) financial providers to negotiate the terms of loans.

The Government is committed to doing whatever it takes to get our nation through the impacts of COVID-19 and, as part of this, is continually assessing ways of supporting the financial sector, where evidence shows that interventions are required. This includes the Consumer Credit Act 1974. The Government is working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the financial sector on this issue to assess whether further action is necessary.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the measures implemented to deal with the financial effect of the covid-19 outbreak; and what estimate he has made of the timescale for repaying the level of borrowing required for implementing those measures.

The Government has announced unprecedented support for public services, business and workers to protect against the current economic emergency. These steps are necessary to ensure that the country, economy and public finances are stronger in the longer-term.

Precise costs are difficult to estimate at present due to a range of factors. For example, costs are heavily dependent on the impact of the crisis on the wider economy and the level of scheme take up.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) have published a coronavirus reference scenario which provides insight into the potential fiscal costs under a particular set of economic circumstances. In their scenario, the OBR estimate the direct cost of Government decisions to be £99.7 billion. The OBR note that the measures taken should help limit the long-term damage to the economy and public finances – and the costs of inaction would have been higher.

A full assessment of the economic and fiscal position will be made at the next Budget alongside an updated OBR forecast.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that multiple businesses residing in multi occupancy business premises are able to directly access funds from the Small Business Grants scheme during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund have been designed to support the smallest businesses, and smaller businesses in the some of the sectors which have been hit hardest by measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The two schemes have been tied to the business rates system and rating assessments, which together provide a framework for Local Authorities to make payments as quickly as possible. Businesses in the business rates system are also likely to face particularly high fixed costs, such as fixed rents.

In some cases, businesses operating in multi-occupancy spaces will have their own rating assessments and may therefore be eligible for the grants schemes. In these cases, Local Authorities are urging landlords and management agents to support them in ensuring that the grants reach the correct ratepayers.

Businesses operating in multi-occupancy spaces which do not have their own ratings assessment are not eligible for the grants schemes. Extending eligibility to these businesses would not be practicable as it would require Local Authorities to create an entirely new system and to put in place appropriate anti-fraud checks. This would significantly increase Local Authorities’ workloads at a time when they are already working under pressure to support struggling businesses as quickly as possible.

Small businesses which are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund should still be able to benefit from other measures in the Government’s unprecedented package of support for business, including:

  • An option to defer VAT payments by up to twelve months;
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, now extended to cover all businesses including those which would be able to access commercial credit;
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, to support businesses with their wage bills;
  • The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, to provide support to the self-employed.
Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that local radio stations residing in multi occupancy business premises are able to access funds from the Small Business Grant scheme during the outbreak so they can continue broadcasting to their local communities.

The Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund have been designed to support the smallest businesses, and smaller businesses in the some of the sectors which have been hit hardest by measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The two schemes have been tied to the business rates system and rating assessments, which together provide a framework for Local Authorities to make payments as quickly as possible. Businesses in the business rates system are also likely to face particularly high fixed costs, such as fixed rents.

In some cases, businesses operating in multi-occupancy spaces will have their own rating assessments and may therefore be eligible for the grants schemes. In these cases, Local Authorities are urging landlords and management agents to support them in ensuring that the grants reach the correct ratepayers.

Businesses operating in multi-occupancy spaces which do not have their own ratings assessment are not eligible for the grants schemes. Extending eligibility to these businesses would not be practicable as it would require Local Authorities to create an entirely new system and to put in place appropriate anti-fraud checks. This would significantly increase Local Authorities’ workloads at a time when they are already working under pressure to support struggling businesses as quickly as possible.

Small businesses which are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund should still be able to benefit from other measures in the Government’s unprecedented package of support for business, including:

  • An option to defer VAT payments by up to twelve months;

  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, now extended to cover all businesses including those which would be able to access commercial credit;

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, to support businesses with their wage bills;

  • The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, to provide support to the self-employed.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that charities are financially supported during the covid-19 outbreak.

Many charities and social enterprises will benefit from the existing measures announced to support employers and businesses. Under these measures, like other businesses, charities can defer their VAT bills and pay no business rates for their shops next year. All charities are eligible for the job retention scheme and the right answer for many charities will be to furlough their employees with the government paying 80% of wages.

However, we know that some charities are providing critical services and wider support to vulnerable people and communities during the pandemic. On 8 April the Chancellor announced a £750 million package of support for charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis. This new package of support will enable such organisations to continue providing essential services to those most in need.

This funding package will help charities providing essential services to continue their operations and to weather the storm until we return to more normal times. Funding for charities will be made available in the coming weeks and further information will be announced on Gov.uk. The Government’s aim is to get funding to those in greatest need as soon as possible.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what additional fiscal steps he is taking to support agricultural businesses subject to exemption from business rates but experiencing acute financial difficulties during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has set out a package of measures to support businesses, including agricultural businesses, through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19, including those businesses not eligible for business rate relief.

This support for business includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, a statutory sick pay relief package, the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms continue to keep people in employment, and a new lending facility from the Bank of England for larger firms.

These measures provide a comprehensive, coordinated and coherent response to what is a serious and evolving economic situation. As the wider economic picture becomes clearer, the Government will continue to act to get the nation through the impacts of COVID-19 and the Government stands ready to announce further action wherever necessary.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the feasibility of cancelling (a) beer duty and (b) VAT payments that are to be paid due at the end of March 2020 for (i) pubs, (ii) restaurants and (iii) other businesses in the hospitality industry.

The Chancellor has announced an unprecedented package of support for pubs, restaurants and hospitality businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Firms eligible for small business rate relief or rural rate relief will be eligible for cash grants of up to £10,000, and firms in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with eligible properties with a rateable value below £51,000 will be eligible for cash grants of up to £25,000.

A business rates holiday has been put in place for all eligible businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors.

In addition, all VAT registered businesses will be able to defer their VAT payments due on VAT returns for the period until the end of June, to be repaid by the end of the financial year, and access support worth up to 80% of their employees’ wages.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of provisions of the Finance Act 2017 due to be implemented in 2020 on potential additional costs for emergency service personnel using their own vehicles to attend emergencies.

New rules for valuing the taxable benefit of the use of assets were introduced in April 2017. As these might have adversely affected a small number of individuals using emergency vehicles for private use, the Government introduced transitional arrangements in 2018 so that the previous basis for valuing any benefit for users of emergency vehicles would apply until April 2020.

In addition, the Government extended the existing tax exemption for users of emergency vehicles to include ordinary commuting. Where the only private use of the vehicle is for ordinary commuting or for journeys made while on call, there is no income tax liability.

Employers and employees have had time to review any contractual arrangements for the provision of an emergency vehicle for private use and have had the option to limit private use of the vehicle so that it is compatible with the extended tax exemption.

This legislation applies where an individual is using an emergency vehicle provided by their employer and not to individuals using their own vehicles.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the forthcoming changes to IR35 legislation on the willingness of large companies to employ self-employed contractors.

The Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) published in July 2019 set out HMRC's assessment that extending the reform to large and medium sized organisations in public and third sectors is not expected to have any significant macro-economic impacts. The TIIN can be found here: https://bit.ly/2YTbOaA. In addition, independent research conducted by IFF Research and Frontier Economics, following the implementation of the off-payroll reform in the public sector in 2017, showed that the reform had not resulted in significant disruption to the sector, or to its use of contingent labour.

The Government announced a review of changes to off-payroll working rules on 7 January 2020 to determine if any further steps can be taken to ensure the smooth and successful implementation of the reform due to come into force in April 2020. The review will also consider whether any additional support for businesses is needed to ensure that the self-employed, who are not in scope of the rules, are not affected. The review will conclude in mid-February 2020.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what additional funding his Department has allocated to reducing knife crime in (a) the UK and (a) Leicestershire.

This Government is determined to turn the tide on knife crime in all areas, wherever it occurs.

On 4 February 2021, the Government published a total police funding settlement of up to £15.8 billion in 2021/22, an increase of up to £636 million compared to 2020/21. Leicestershire Police will receive up to £215.0 million in 2021/22; an increase of up to £11.1 million from the previous year.

The Home Office has invested a total of £242 million over three years in the 18 police force areas most affected by serious violence through the Serious Violence Fund (SVF). Over three years, £105.5 million of the SVF has been invested in multi-agency Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) in the 18 areas, with £2,640,000 allocated to the Leicestershire PCC to develop the Leicestershire VRU. VRUs bring together police, local government, health and education professionals, community leaders and other key partners to identify the local drivers of serious violence and agree a multi-agency response to them. In addition, Leicestershire Police have been awarded £2,855,990 of the remaining £104.9 million of the SVF, which has been allocated to the same 18 police forces to fund a surge in police operational activity.

In addition to the Serious Violence Fund, the Home Office have invested £200 million in early intervention and prevention support initiatives over 10 years to support children and young people at risk of exploitation and involvement in serious violence, through the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF). On 6 May 2020, the YEF launched a new £6.5 million Covid-19 grant round to support vulnerable young people, aged 10 to 14, at risk of youth violence. In total, 2 grantees in Leicestershire are in receipt of funding from all grant rounds.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs plans to (a) conclude its inquiry and (b) produce its recommendations on Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs.

As the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) is independent from Government, the timings concerning its report on image and performance enhancing drugs is a matter for the ACMD.

The ACMD publishes its advice concurrent to its presentation to ministers.

I expect to receive an update from the ACMD on its priorities and ongoing commitments later this year.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of establishing a national (a) task force and (b) strategy to tackle pet theft.

Further to the reply I provided to my Hon. Friend’s question on 22 March, I can assure him the Government is working with the police and others and will consider the evidence and what more could be done to prevent pet theft.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Mar 2021
What steps her Department is taking to reduce pet theft.

The Government recognises the distress pet theft causes.

It is for Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables to determine how to tackle this crime. The Government’s role is ensuring police forces have sufficient resources to respond to the challenges they face.

We have committed to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers by March 2023, with over 6,000 already in place.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of aligning the time limit for professional investigations of police officers with the time limit for police investigations of suspected criminals.

In February 2020, the Government introduced a package of reforms to strengthen the police discipline system and help speed up proceedings, including the introduction of a 12-month trigger on police discipline investigations which requires the investigating body - whether the IOPC or a Professional Standards Department in a police force - to provide a written explanation for the delays, the planned steps to bring the investigation to a conclusion and the estimated completion date. This is sent to the local policing body.

There are no plans to align the time limits for investigations into police officers with investigations of suspected criminals.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of trends in the level of covid-19 related fraud; and what steps she is taking to prevent those offences.

The Government is aware that criminals are exploiting the pandemic to commit opportunistic crimes such as fraud. Although Covid-19 related fraud represents a small proportion of overall fraud reporting, we understand the devastating impact it can have on individuals. Along with partners, we have been implementing measures to ensure the public has the protection and advice needed to shield themselves from these crimes. We have published guidance for the public to spot potential frauds and the steps they can take to avoid them. This advice can accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-fraud-and-cyber-crime

Our efforts include working alongside the National Cyber Security Centre to establish a new Suspicious Email Reporting Service. This service allows the public to report potential scams safely and effectively. To date, this has led to the removal of over 22000 scams. Members of the public can forward suspicious emails to the dedicated email address: report@phishing.gov.uk

We are also working with the Cabinet Office, who lead on the response to public sector fraud, around tracking and mitigating the risk of fraud against the unprecedented levels of stimulus funding including the bounce back loan scheme.

11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of extending the time limit on entertainment licences from 28 days to 56 days in 2021.

A premises licence which gives permission for licensable activities defined as entertainment can allow those activities to take place on every day of the year. Temporary event notices (TENs) permit licensable activities to take place on unlicensed premises. TENs can also be given for licensed premises where the proposed event would not be permitted under the terms of the licence.

The maximum total duration of the events authorised by TENs in relation to individual premises is 21 days in a calendar year. The TENs system is intended as a light touch process. In the light of this, it is right that the numbers and duration of temporary events in each year are limited as they are.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what support her Department is providing to police officers to enforce covid-19 lockdown restrictions in Bosworth.

The Government has been clear that it will provide police forces with the support they need to continue protecting the public and keeping communities safe through the coronavirus pandemic.

On 8 October, the Government announced an additional £30m funding for police forces in England and Wales to step up their enforcement of coronavirus rules. Leicestershire Police has received £446,094 from this additional funding.

In addition to this, we have provided the police the powers and guidance they need to support compliance with covid-19 social distancing and lockdown restrictions.

The department continues to work closely with the policing sector to monitor and make decisions on their current and future needs.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of progress made on tackling violent crime since the implementation of the Serious Violence Strategy.

The Government is committed to delivering on the people’s priorities by tackling violent crime and giving the police the resources and powers they need to fight crime. Building on the implementation of the 2018 Serious Violence Strategy, in January this year we announced the biggest funding increase in a decade for the police system and we are recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers over next three years including 6,000 additional officers by the end of financial year 2020/21.

In the 18 Police Force areas worst affected by serious violence, we have invested a total of £176.5 million over 2 years (2019-21) to deliver a whole-systems response. Of this funding £106.5 million has been deployed to enhance the Police’s operational response and £70 million has funded the establishment of local, multi-agency Violence Reduction Units to address the drivers of serious violence. Tackling serious violence will be backed with £119 million in 2020-21, which includes £20 million to tackle county lines drug dealing.

In 2018, this Government also invested £200 million in a 10-year Youth Endowment (YEF) Fund to prevent children most at risk, from becoming involved in violent crime. An extra £5 million has been awarded to the YEF in 2020 to develop a National Centre for Excellence to help transform how the UK tackles serious violence.

It was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 19 December that we will be bringing forward legislation that will place new duties on a range of specified agencies across different sectors to work collaboratively, share data and information, and put in place plans to prevent and reduce serious violence.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to support individuals of all ages to gain British Citizenship after being born to parents serving in the UK armed forces overseas.

Under current legislation a person born overseas to a member of the UK armed forces will be a British citizen automatically if this parent is a British citizen.

A person born after 13 January 2010 to a parent who is not a British citizen but was serving in the UK armed forces has an entitlement to register as a British citizen.

In other cases, a child under the age of 18 can apply for registration at the Home Secretary’s discretion; adults would need to meet the requirements for naturalisation. The Ministry of Defence will provide the necessary support and guidance, with the tri services welfare teams and Family Federation welfare groups providing a reliable source of information for those who may be eligible for this.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the Government's press release of 2 May 2020, Emergency funding to support most vulnerable in society during pandemic, how much of that funding has been allocated to support survivors of domestic abuse in Bosworth constituency.

The Home Office, Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have all published guidance on bidding for the additional funding designed to support domestic abuse charities during this period. The bidding and assessment processes are currently underway.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure the adequacy and appropriateness of immigration policy during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Home Office regularly reviews immigration policy and has taken a number of steps to ensure no one will be penalised for circumstances outside of their control.

We have acted on feedback from customers and stakeholders and worked with other Government departments to take a compassionate and pragmatic approach to an unprecedented situation.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Office, what steps her Department is taking to protect individuals from abusive partners during the covid-19 lockdown.

We are working closely with domestic abuse charities, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and police to monitor the impact of covid-19 on incidents of domestic abuse.

The Government has posted advice regarding national helplines on gov.uk to guide victims to the most appropriate support for their individual needs. This has been extensively promoted through our awareness raising campaign #YouAreNotAlone.

The Home Office has provided £2m of funding including to help bolster such helplines at this time; £1.2m of this has been allocated. This is in addition to the £750 million funding package announced by the Chancellor, £76 million of which will support survivors of?domestic abuse, sexual violence and modern slavery?as well as ensure that vulnerable children and young people continue to get the help they need. From this funding the HO launched a £2m fund for national and regionally based domestic abuse organisations, bids to which are currently being assessed.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to prevent an increase in the level of domestic violence cases during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is working to ensure that support services continue to be available to those that need them that information on these is widely available, and that perpetrators will be brought to justice. The police will continue to respond to any reports of domestic abuse and to prioritise 999 calls. We have made clear that advice to remain at home does not apply to those who need to leave home for safety reasons.

The Chancellor has announced a funding package of some £750m to support charities including those providing domestic abuse services to support vulnerable adults and children during the crisis.

The Home Secretary has announced £2 million of funding to immediately bolster technological capabilities of domestic abuse services to ensure that those at risk of domestic abuse, including vulnerable adults and children, are able to access support they need.

The Government has also launched the #YouAreNotAlone awareness raising campaign to signpost those at risk of domestic abuse to support.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that personal protective equipment is available for police officers undertaking duties during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is working closely with its partners including the emergency services on a range of issues including the availability of suitable PPE, and the development and availability of suitable testing.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the ability of (a) pubs and (b) the hospitality industry to recruit adequate numbers of workers after the introduction of the proposed points-based immigration system.

Now we have left the EU, Free movement is ending and we will not simply replicate it in a future system.

Skilled hospitality workers who meet the relevant criteria will be able to come to the UK through the points-based immigration system.

We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe and consider immigration alongside investment in technology, innovation, automation and development of the UK’s domestic labour force.

Employers need to adjust and adapt and make jobs more attractive for resident workers.

Business can continue to rely on those EU/EEA nationals, and their family members, living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, and on those who come to the UK through other rates such as our youth mobility schemes.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that Windrush compensation payments are processed and resolved efficiently.

We are processing claims as quickly as possible, but all claims are different, and the time taken will depend on many factors, including the complexity of the case. We are committed to working with the claimant to ensure all possible information is taken into account and this will have an impact on the length of time it takes to process the claim. Wherever possible, we make interim payments on parts of the claim that are straightforward to determine, such as immigration fees, thereby speeding up the provision of compensation.

Our recently published statistics on the payments made under the Windrush Compensation Scheme, show a clear increasing trajectory of payments: £362,997 paid in the first 12 months of the scheme, of which £300,799 was paid in the most recent three months of that period.

The Home Office has now offered a total of more than £1 million in compensation through the scheme. Once the offers are accepted by the applicants, the payments will be made.

We work with claimants throughout the process to obtain as much information about the claim as possible. This approach ensures that claimants receive the maximum possible amount to which they are entitled under the scheme.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the training needs required to provide for 20,000 new police officers.

The Government has committed to increasing the number of police officers by 20,000 over the next three years. The Home Office is working with the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council to ensure all forces are supported in the recruitment of new officers.

Since 2018, there are now three new entry routes to become a police officer: Apprenticeship, degree-holder entry and pre-join degree. These routes are accompanied by a new, improved training curriculum for recruits, including cyber-enabled crime, vulnerability and risk, well-being and resilience, criminology and crime prevention, as well as separate modules on leadership and teamworking.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she had made of the potential merits of establishing a national police academy to support the training of police officers.

The College of Policing was established in 2012 as the professional body for everyone working in policing in England and Wales. Its purpose is to provide police officers and staff with the skills and knowledge necessary to prevent crime, protect the public and secure public trust.

The College has three complementary functions: building a knowledge base, setting standards and education. The consistency of this national approach will contribute to the professionalism of the police service and put policing in line with other professions with regard to its formal education standards.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to tackle knife crime in (a) Hinckley and (b) Bosworth; and what progress has been in the last 12 months.

This Government is determined to turn the tide on knife crime in all areas, wherever it occurs. Across England and Wales, we are recruiting 20,000 more police officers over the next three years and increasing sentences for violent criminals. We have made it easier for the police to use enhanced stop and search powers and we will introduce a new court order to make it easier for the police to stop and search those who have been convicted of knife crime.

We will also ensure that anyone charged with knife possession will appear before magistrates within days and we are also making £10 million available to the police to equip more officers with tasers. In addition, we have legislated through the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 to give the police more powers and to ensure knives are less likely to make their way on to the streets and we will also be introducing the Serious Violence Bill to place a duty on the police, councils and health authorities to work together to prevent and tackle serious violence.

Over the last 12 months, we have increased police funding, by £1 billion this year and announced that the amount of funding available to the policing system in 2020 to 2021 will increase by more than £1.1 billion. We have also announced a targeted £25 million to tackle county lines drug gangs, given the links between drugs, county lines and serious violence and we have provided the £100 million Serious Violence Fund to provide support to the 18 police force areas most affected by serious violence.

This has seen an extra £1.4 million provided to Leicestershire Police for operational, surge activity against serious violence, and £880,000 this year to the Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner, with a similar amount next year, to develop a Violence Reduction Unit to help build capacity across the area to tackle serious violence. In addition, the first grant round of the Youth Endowment Fund has also taken place, with 23 successful projects across England and Wales are sharing £17.1m over 2 years for work to support children and young people most vulnerable from becoming involved in crime and violence.

This includes £486,000 to Leicestershire County Council for an Advanced Lifeskills project across schools in Leicestershire. In addition, through our Early Intervention Youth Fund, the Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner has received £347,272 to help fund a project in the most deprived areas of Leicester and Leicestershire where serious violence is most prevalent, and under year 3 of the anti-knife crime Community Fund two community based projects in Leicester have received funding support.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to help ensure that armed forces veterans have access to housing at the end of active service.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) works closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure that veterans have access to housing when they leave their Service. However, the MOD does not have primary responsibility for housing veterans.

MOD recognises that many Service personnel seek stability for their families and a key part of this is helping personnel buy their own home. Since its introduction, the MOD’s Forces Help to Buy scheme has helped around 21,000 Service personnel purchase their own property. We have also amended our policies to help Services leavers transition to civilian life by allowing them to remain in Service Family Accommodation for up to a year after departure.

MOD assists Service personnel and their dependants wishing to move to civilian accommodation at any time in their career, including during resettlement, through its Joint Service Housing Advice Office which acts as a tri-service focal point for civilian housing information.

New statutory guidance to improve access to social housing for members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families was published in June 2020. This guides local authorities in ensuring that housing applications from this group are identified, considered and prioritised appropriately, and that they are not disadvantaged as a result of the circumstances of their Service.

As part of the Homelessness Reduction Act’s Duty to Refer, which came into force in October 2018, the Secretary of State for Defence and other public named authorities are required to refer consenting members of the Regular Armed Forces in England, to a local housing authority within 56 days, if they believe they may be homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Service personnel can also be provided with a certificate of cessation six months before they leave the Armed Forces demonstrating when their entitlement to Service accommodation ends. This can be considered by local authorities as evidence of impending homelessness and will allow them to conduct an assessment of individual housing needs.

1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what guidance on the use of personal protective equipment has been issued to the armed forces when conducting covid-19 testing at mobile units; and what steps he is taking to ensure that guidance is followed.

Guidance on the wearing of covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) by personnel has been issued, including for armed forces personnel conducting covid-19 testing at mobile units. This guidance is coherent with Public Health England direction.

Staff from the Standing Joint Command Defence Medical Services are responsible for assuring measures to protect Defence workforce in collaboration with the requesting agency (DHSC), who provide the PPE and introductory training. Commanders on the ground maintain standards and ensure that guidance is followed.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate he has made of the number of troops that can be deployed to support key services during the covid-19 outbreak.

Defence is dedicated to supporting the Government's COVID-19 response, primarily through support to other Government Departments, principally the Departtment for Health and Social Care and the NHS. Currently 19,069 personnel are available for COVID tasking. Of these, 2,848 members of the Armed Forces are currently deployed to assist Civil Authorities with the response, currently working on 73 Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) activities, with a further 30 MACA tasks completed (as of 21 April).

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what his timeline is for decision-making under the Levelling Up Fund.

The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund will invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets.

Applications for the first round of the Levelling Up Fund closed at midday on 18 June. It is expected that investment decisions will be made by the UK Government for this funding round by autumn 2021.

The approach set out in the Prospectus available on GOV.UK will be kept under review for future rounds. Announcements about the future of the Fund will be made later this year.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to help ensure that professional standards of (a) competence and (b) quality management are enforced in the sectors of (i) fire door installation, (ii) fire door manufacturing and (iii) fire-stopping in high rise buildings needing repairs.

The Building Safety Bill will strengthen the regulatory framework for construction products, including fire doors, by creating powers to require construction products to be safe before they can be placed on the United Kingdom market, and creating a statutory list of 'safety critical' construction products. For products deemed to be 'safety critical', manufacturers will be required to declare the performance of these products to a specific standard and to put in place factory control processes to make sure they are consistently met. The Government is also establishing a national regulator in the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to lead and co-ordinate enforcement, confront poor practice, remove unsafe products from the market, and deal with safety concerns early through improved market surveillance.

The industry-led Competence Steering Group has produced frameworks and recommendations to improve the competence of professionals working in safety-critical roles across the sector, including installers. The Government is supporting the Group's ongoing work by sponsoring the British Standards Institution to develop a suite of national competence standards, and intends through the Building Safety Bill to introduce regulations to ensure that those involved in design and construction are competent to do so.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to engage with representatives of regional shopping centre providers to ensure that the needs of those centres are considered as part of the economic recovery from the covid-19 outbreak.

Government meets regularly with representatives of both landlord and tenant sector bodies including those with interests in regional shopping centres. These meetings have informed Government policy towards the commercial property sector throughout the pandemic and continue to do so.

The Government is committed to supporting the retail sector and we are working closely with industry through these unprecedented times. To support businesses through the next stage of the pandemic, the Government is extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of September 2021, will continue to provide eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties in England with 100% business rates relief until 30 June 2021, and will provide additional one-off ‘Restart Grants’ for businesses in England in the non-essential retail and hospitality, leisure, personal care and accommodation sectors.

The Government has also announced a call for evidence from the wider commercial property industry, including lenders, investors and industry professionals, to help monitor the overall progress of negotiations on rent and other matters between landlords and tenants and to ensure that the voices of the harder to reach businesses in the sector are heard.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how much Rural Services Delivery Grant funding he has allocated to Leicestershire in (a) 2018, (b) 2019 and (c) 2020; and what plans he has to increase that funding allocation.

The allocations of Rural Services Delivery Grant to local authorities in Leicestershire in the years 2018-19 to 2020-21 are published here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/core-spending-power-provisional-local-government-finance-settlement-2021-to-2022 . I am pleased to say that under our proposals as part of the provisional local government finance settlement for 2021-22, the national total for Rural Services Delivery Grant will be increased from £81 million to £85 million.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of requiring new build accessible property developers to ensure that their new dwellings meet category three needs.

Government recently consulted on various options to raise the accessibility of new homes, including proposals related to category three homes for wheelchair users. We are currently considering responses and will be publishing a Government response.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps he is taking to ensure that places of worship can open for (a) private prayer and (b) active worship in compliance with social distancing measures as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.

The Government has announced that from the 15th June Church of England places of worship may be opened for individual prayer, alongside those of other faiths.

The Church of England has been developing advice, following information from Public Health England and other bodies, to enable its churches to be opened safely, and has been communicating that to dioceses for planning purposes. Not all buildings will be able to open for individual prayer on the 15th June, and bishops will be discussing with local clergy the needs of each parish. We expect a phased reopening that takes into account local circumstances and the available resources to enable it to be done safely.

The House of Bishops will be issuing revised advice once the Government has published its own guidance, further to the statement made by Lord Greenhalgh on Saturday 6th June.

Andrew Selous
Second Church Estates Commissioner
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to clarify with local enterprise partnerships the level of funding that they will receive to support the recovery of the economy.

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are due to receive Local Growth Funding for 2020-21 to support the delivery of the Growth Deals agreed with Government. We have communicated with all LEPs clarifying our approach, and how we will support them manage funding and delivery at this challenging time. That confirmed LEPs will receive two thirds of their Local Growth Fund allocation in May to ensure they have adequate funding to drive forward their programmes where delivery is happening. The final third will be released pending a short light touch review over the summer to understand what if any slippage or disruption the effects of Covid-19 may have caused to individual LEP programmes. This will help everyone understand where further work and support from Government may be required, whilst ensuring funding is awarded when it is needed.

The March 2020 Budget also confirmed up to £387 million in 2021-22 to provide certainty for local areas that they will be able to continue with existing priority Local Growth Fund projects that require funding beyond 2020-21. We have said that we will work closely with LEPs and Mayors to understand the changing needs of local economies, and will look at how this funding could be used alongside other resources to support local economic recovery efforts. Future funding decisions will be announced in due course.

11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local, what the planned role is of Local Resilience Forums in working with local communities to develop post-covid-19 local recovery plans.

The role of Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) in recovery is set out in “The Role of Local Resilience Forums: A Reference Document”

It states that “recovery management is best approached from the perspective of community development and is most effective when conducted at a local level, with the active participation of the community and a strong reliance on local capacities and expertise. Recovery is not just a matter for the statutory agencies – the private sector, the voluntary sector and the wider community will play a crucial role.”

MHCLG continues to engage frequently with all LRFs to discuss the Covid-19 response and will work with them as they develop and implement their post-Covid-19 recovery strategies.

30th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of working with (a) hotels and (b) hotel groups to provide refuge for victims of domestic violence.

On 2 May, the Government announced an unprecedented £76?million package of support to ensure the most vulnerable in society get the support they need during the pandemic. We have secured £10 million of this package specifically for safe accommodation


The MHCLG COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Domestic Abuse Safe Accommodation launched on 7 May and will ensure refuge charities can continue to operate, whilst also helping more victims access vital services during the COVID-19 emergency.

Where refuge charities judge hotels and other temporary accommodation to be necessary, safe and appropriate, they can apply to fund such costs through this new £10 million MHCLG fund


Local authorities can now also secure additional rooms for victims through Crown Commercial Services.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) building regulations and (b) thermal insulation standards facilitate the development of zero carbon heated homes.

The Government is fully committed to meeting its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and recognises the important contribution that the energy efficiency of buildings has to make in meeting it.

We have committed to introduce a Future Homes Standard from 2025 which means that new homes in England will be fit for the future, with low carbon heating and lower energy use through high levels of thermal insulation. In October 2019 we published a consultation on the Future Homes Standard which proposed that new homes built to this standard should have carbon dioxide emissions 75-80 per cent lower than those built to current building regulations standards. These homes will be zero carbon ready: once the electricity grid decarbonises they will become zero carbon heated homes.

As a stepping stone to the Future Homes Standard, we have also consulted on a meaningful and achievable increase to the energy efficiency standards for new homes to be introduced through the Building Regulations in 2020.

The Future Homes Standard consultation closed on 7 February 2020. The responses we have received will be considered carefully and a Government response will be published in due course.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) private and (b) social renters are able to remain in their homes after the covid-19 outbreak in the event of (i) redundancy and (ii) other changes in their financial and personal circumstances.

The Government has introduced significant financial measures to help support tenants to continue to pay their living costs, including rental payments. This includes support for businesses to pay staff salaries, strengthening the welfare safety-net with a £7 billion boost to Universal Credit, and increasing the Local Housing Allowance rates so that they are set at the 30th percentile of market rents in each area.

Emergency legislation is now in place so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict their tenants for at least a three-month period. The courts have also suspended housing possession proceedings. As a result of these measures, no tenant in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction during this time. We have?also?been clear?in guidance?that there is a need for landlords to offer support and understanding to tenants – and any guarantor – who may see their income fluctuate.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to the guidance on social distancing published by Public Health England and the covid-19 outbreak, what assessment he has made of the feasibility of proceeding with large scale planning applications that require public consultations and meetings to be held.

The Government has made clear that local planning authorities should continue to prioritise decision-making during these challenging times to ensure that the planning system continues to function, especially when this when this will support the local economy.

Local planning authorities are still required to undertake a formal period of public consultation of no less than 21 days, prior to deciding a planning application.

Effective consultation allows local planning authorities to identify and consider all relevant planning issues associated with a proposed development. Where relevant considerations are raised by local residents, these must be taken into account by the local authority.

Most planning applications are determined by planning officers through a local authority’s scheme of delegation. Where decisions need to be made by committee, we have introduced legislation that allow council planning committee meetings to be held virtually.

Local planning authorities should take an innovative approach, using all options available to them including their use of technology and electronic communication, to ensure that planning decisions are made and sufficient public participation in the planning process is maintained. The Government is working with the Planning Advisory Service to publish further advice on ways this can be achieved.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to ensure that people who may not have access to the internet are able to take part in the consultation process for large scale planning applications.

The Government has made clear that local planning authorities should continue to prioritise decision-making during these challenging times to ensure that the planning system continues to function, especially when this when this will support the local economy.

Local planning authorities are still required to undertake a formal period of public consultation of no less than 21 days, prior to deciding a planning application.

Effective consultation allows local planning authorities to identify and consider all relevant planning issues associated with a proposed development. Where relevant considerations are raised by local residents, these must be taken into account by the local authority.

Most planning applications are determined by planning officers through a local authority’s scheme of delegation. Where decisions need to be made by committee, we have introduced legislation that allow council planning committee meetings to be held virtually.

Local planning authorities should take an innovative approach, using all options available to them including their use of technology and electronic communication, to ensure that planning decisions are made and sufficient public participation in the planning process is maintained. The Government is working with the Planning Advisory Service to publish further advice on ways this can be achieved.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
24th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to ensure that Business Improvement Districts play an active roll in encouraging the return of footfall to the high street after the covid-19 outbreak.

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have a significant role to play in regeneration of high streets and towns across England and their role will be even more important in the recovery phase from the current crisis.

We have announced changes to BID legislation, to delay BIDS’ ballots between now and 31 December 2020 by extending the BID arrangements until 31 March 2021, allowing businesses to focus on recovery from economic shock before deciding whether to participate in BID arrangements for the following five-year period.

We are currently exploring other ways we can support BIDs directly, but their business communities will benefit from the substantial package of direct support to businesses already announced by the Chancellor.


23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of a planning moratorium for the next 12 weeks.

The Government has put in place a package of measures that will help keep firms in business and people in jobs and prevent Covid-19 from causing long-lasting economic harm. It is important that local planning authorities continue to provide the best service possible in these stretching times and prioritise decision-making to ensure the planning system continues to function, especially where this will support the local economy.

We are asking local planning authorities to take an innovative approach and explore every opportunity to use technology to ensure that discussions and consultations can go ahead. We would encourage councils to consider delegating committee decisions where appropriate. The Government has introduced legislation to allow council committee meetings to be held virtually for a temporary period which we expect will allow planning committees to continue.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to protect people renting residential properties during the covid-19 outbreak.

On 18 March, we announced a radical package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus. Emergency legislation has been taken forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. As a result of these measures, no renter in private or social accommodation needs to be concerned about the threat of eviction.

More information on these plans can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/complete-ban-on-evictions-and-additional-protection-for-renters.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that permission fees and service charges are clearly explained to prospective leaseholders.

The Government is clear that prospective home buyers should have access to clear and accurate information on potential fees and charges. Individuals selling a leasehold property provide a ‘Leasehold Information Pack’ about their property to prospective purchasers and this contains information relating to the property, including on ground rents and service charges.

The Government has committed to introducing legislation to stop freeholders and managing agents from taking as long as they like and charging what they like for this information by ensuring these packs are provided to a fixed cost and timetable.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to ensure the clear explanation of ground rent fees to prospective leaseholders.

The Government is clear that prospective home buyers should have access to clear and accurate information on potential fees and charges. Individuals selling a leasehold property provide a ‘Leasehold Information Pack’ about their property to prospective purchasers and this contains information relating to the property, including on ground rents and service charges.

The Government has committed to introducing legislation to stop freeholders and managing agents from taking as long as they like and charging what they like for this information by ensuring these packs are provided to a fixed cost and timetable.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to ensure equitable funding for (a) Hinckley and Bosworth borough council and (b) Leicestershire county council.

We are committed to undertaking a review of the relative needs and resources of local authorities in England. The review will consider the drivers of local authorities’ needs, the local resources available to them to fund services, and how to account for these in a way that draws a more transparent and understandable link between local circumstances and local authority funding.

We aim to develop a funding methodology that will give a more up-to-date and robust assessment of the needs and resources for every local council, including those in Leicestershire.

We are working closely with local government representatives and others to examine all elements of the review. We aim to share emerging results with the sector shortly, followed by a full consultation in the Spring. Our aim is to implement the review in 2021-22.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of longer sentences on deterring people from carrying knives without good reason.

We understand the devastating impact knife crime has on victims and their families and are determined to do all we can to break the deadly cycle of violence that devastates the lives of individuals, families and communities. We are taking significant action to both prevent and respond to crimes involving weapons through the Serious Violence Strategy, the introduction of Knife Crime Prevention Orders, the recruitment of 20,000 new police officers, and increasing stop and search powers.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, currently before Parliament, introduces Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs). These will give the police powers to make it easier to stop and search those already convicted of knife and offensive weapon offences. A person who is subject to an order will know that if they persist in carrying a weapon, there is a greater chance they will be searched, detected and arrested.

In respect of sentencing, deterrence is one of the purposes, but there are other important aims. These include public protection and a strong punitive element, to help make our streets and communities safer and to give victims confidence that justice has been served.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether his Department has plans to increase sentences for people convicted of fraudulent activity that is related to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is committed to ensuring a robust response to those who exploit the covid-19 outbreak through criminal means.

Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for our independent courts. Fraud is a serious offence and Parliament, in setting a maximum penalty of 10 years’ custody, has provided the courts with the full range of sentencing powers to deal effectively with offenders.

If a victim is particularly vulnerable for any reason (this applies regardless of the Covid context) then the sentencing guidelines do provide an aggravating factor for the victim’s vulnerability. This means a more severe penalty could be imposed than would have been the case absent the aggravating factor (subject always to the maximum penalty for the offence).

The Government continues to work alongside the CPS to provide a multi-agency response to criminality associated with covid-19. A joint interim charging protocol has been agreed between the police and CPS which gives the highest priority to custody cases and all covid-19 related cases, including related fraud offences.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will take steps to increase sentencing for people found guilty of spitting at police officers during the covid-19 outbreak.

It is vital that offenders using coronavirus to threaten our emergency workers as they strive to protect us during this pandemic face the full force of the law.

Such behaviour is an assault and where this is directed at an emergency worker we have recently doubled the maximum penalty for assault from 6 to 12 months’ imprisonment. We have already seen significant sentences imposed on those using coronavirus as a threat.

Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for our independent Courts. On 8 April 2020, the Sentencing Council also published interim guidance for sentencers in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The interim guidance clarifies that, when sentencing common assault offences involving threats or activity relating to transmission of Covid-19, courts should treat this as an aggravating feature of the offence, meaning a more severe penalty could be imposed than would have been the case absent the aggravating factor (subject always to the maximum penalty for the offence).

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th Nov 2020
What steps he is taking to ensure that the A5 is included in Government plans to improve transport connectivity between Wales and England.

Sir Peter Hendy has been asked by the Government to consider how best to improve connectivity between the nations of the United Kingdom, as part of the Union Connectivity Review. I recently met with him, urging him to include cross-border roads like the A5 in his considerations.

David T C Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Wales Office)