Marco Longhi Portrait

Marco Longhi

Conservative - Dudley North

Environmental Audit Committee
2nd Mar 2020 - 8th Mar 2021


Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 8th December 2021
13:45
Oral Question
Thursday 9th December 2021
09:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Oral Question No. 1
What steps he is taking to help agri-food businesses export their goods.
Save to Calendar
Division Votes
Friday 3rd December 2021
Prayers
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 59 Conservative No votes vs 1 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 1 Noes - 79
Speeches
Friday 3rd December 2021
Copyright (Rights and Remuneration of Musicians, etc.) Bill

I will try to think of colleagues and reduce a 33-minute speech to about three minutes.

It is no secret …

Written Answers
Wednesday 21st July 2021
Investment and Job Creation: Northern Ireland
What steps the Government is taking to help create jobs and attract investment in Northern Ireland.
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
Wednesday 7th October 2020
Conveyancing Standards Bill 2019-21
A Bill to establish minimum standards regarding searches and assessments of risk for solicitors and licensed conveyancers acting on behalf …
Tweets
Thursday 2nd December 2021
20:27
MP Financial Interests
Monday 12th October 2020
1. Employment and earnings
Until 1 August 2020, Director, Justmove (Lettings) Ltd, 9 Norton Road, Pelsall, Walsall, WS3 4AY. I received £8,000 per year, …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Marco Longhi has voted in 377 divisions, and 2 times against the majority of their Party.

24 Jun 2020 - Demonstrations (Abortion Clinics) - View Vote Context
Marco Longhi voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 43 Conservative No votes vs 56 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 213 Noes - 47
27 Apr 2021 - Delegated Legislation - View Vote Context
Marco Longhi voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 77 Conservative No votes vs 222 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 431 Noes - 89
View All Marco Longhi Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

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

Sparring Partners
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(21 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(16 debate interactions)
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(12 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(28 debate contributions)
Home Office
(19 debate contributions)
Department for International Trade
(18 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Marco Longhi's debates

Dudley North 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

Current legislation allows for public use of fireworks 16 hours a day, every day, making it impossible for vulnerable groups to take precautions against the distress they can cause. Better enforcement of existing law is insufficient; limiting their sale & use to licensed displays only is necessary.


Latest EDMs signed by Marco Longhi

Marco Longhi has not signed any Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Marco Longhi, 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.


Marco Longhi has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Marco Longhi has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Marco Longhi


A Bill to establish minimum standards regarding searches and assessments of risk for solicitors and licensed conveyancers acting on behalf of purchasers of residential properties; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Wednesday 7th October 2020
(Read Debate)

Marco Longhi has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


148 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
1 Other Department Questions
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities is taking to ensure people in (a) the UK and (b) Dudley North constituency can engage with the work of the Commission.

Since the Prime Minister established the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in July of this year, the Commission has been busy meeting with key delivery partners and agencies from around the UK in each of its priority areas of health, education, employment and enterprise and crime and policing. They have also held evidence gathering sessions with a range of external stakeholders and influencers, and will shortly be setting out a public call for evidence; details of which will be announced in due course.

Its work will be crucial in informing and improving the national conversation on race and ethnicity, and demonstrates this government’s mission to level up opportunity for everyone whatever their background.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Attorney General, what steps she has taken to ensure (a) offences against emergency workers are prosecuted and (b) the CPS is effective in prosecuting offenders against emergency workers.

The Law Officers regularly discuss CPS performance across a range of offence types with the DPP, including with relation to offences against emergency workers. This includes scrutiny through the Ministerial Strategic Board.

Our frontline emergency workers provide vital protection to public safety, and it is essential that we also protect them. The CPS works hard to hold perpetrators to account and led on taking 23,628 offences against emergency workers to court in 2019/20.

Protecting emergency workers has also been a focus for the CPS during the pandemic – the DPP has made it clear that when an individual threatens to ‘infect’ an emergency worker by deliberately coughing or spitting, it will be treated extremely seriously by prosecutors.

The Government welcomed the introduction of the interim Charging Protocol by CPS and the police, which came into effect on 1 April 2020. This protocol prioritises assaults against emergency workers, including COVID-19 related offending.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department has taken to prevent voter fraud at the upcoming local elections in response to the increase in postal vote requests.

Postal voting has a well-established place in our electoral system and many voters find it a convenient way to cast their vote. All existing security measures will remain in place to ensure the integrity of the postal vote process, including the requirement for postal voters to provide personal identifiers (their date of birth and signature) at application and again when they return their postal ballot at an election.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has made an assessment of the effect of fireworks on veterans suffering from (a) PTSD and (b) mental health disorders.

The Government recognises that the use of fireworks can affect veterans and other groups due to the loud noise or flashes associated with fireworks and remains committed to promoting the safe and considerate use of fireworks. Advice for veterans about the potential impact of fireworks is available on the Veterans Gateway https://support.veteransgateway.org.uk/app/answers/detail/a_id/732/~/five-tips-to-help-you-deal-with-bonfire-night-and-fireworks

Advice on how to use fireworks safely and in a considerate manner, that includes the considerations of vulnerable people, can be found as a part of the Office for Product Safety and Standards 2020 campaign that launched in October.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/opss-launches-firework-safety-campaign

26th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate he has made of the number of homeless people who (a) are veterans and (b) have been provided with support through the Armed Forces Covenant.

As we enter the winter months, it is more important than ever to ensure that no veteran or member of the Armed Forces community should be without a home to call their own. I would like to thank all those across the public sector and charities for their tireless efforts to support these efforts. More generally, for 2020/21 the Government has put in place over £600 million of funding to tackle homelessness across the UK, marking a 65% increase from the previous year.

Homelessness data monitoring veterans is currently available through H-CLIC (Homelessness Case Level Information Collection). Other independent research shows that the rough sleeping figures for veterans are around 3% across the UK.

Serving personnel and veterans benefit from a range of services delivered under the Armed Forces Covenant, such as the MOD’s Forces Help to Buy scheme which has helped around 21,000 Service personnel purchase their own property. All service leavers can now remain in Service Family Accommodation for up to a year after departure and can access military accommodation for up to a year after leaving the military, an extension of six months. Every service leaver also has access to the MOD’s Defence Transition Service to help them find adequate housing, and enhanced support to those who need it through the Veterans Welfare Service. In June 2020, we also published new statutory guidance for local authorities to improve access to social housing for the Armed Forces and veterans community.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans he has to relocate public bodies to the West Midlands.

The Government has committed to relocating a minimum of 22,000 Civil Service roles outside of central London over the next decade. This will include the West Midlands alongside other parts of the UK. There is now a policy presumption against the creation of new public bodies in London.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to (a) support and (b) make it easier for single parents and guardians to stand in elections.

The Government is committed to ensuring that our democracy is more accessible and more representative of the public. People from all walks of life are encouraged to stand in elections and participate in the democratic process.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support he plans to provide to people at risk of losing their jobs in Dudley North constituency due to Liberty Steel selling off plants in West Bromwich and Kidderminster.

We recognise that this is an unsettling time for Liberty Steel’s workforce. The Government stands ready to support Liberty’s dedicated employees and their families affected by any developments, should the need arise. However, it is first and foremost the responsibility of the company to manage commercial decisions regarding the future of the organisation.

We hope the company is successful in their endeavours in selling these assets. We will continue to engage closely with company and trade unions as the situation develops. Conversations with Liberty or any other company are, of course, commercially confidential

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the capacity of AstraZeneca to deliver sufficient quantities of its covid-19 vaccine to meet the Government target of offering a first vaccine to everyone in the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February 2021.

The Government has procured 100 million doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca/ vaccine.

The UK was the first country in the world to start a vaccination programme using this vaccine. Due to our swift and decisive action there has been a regular and steady supply of vaccine doses arriving in the UK since early December 2020.

We remain in close contact with all our vaccine suppliers. The UK’s vaccine supply and scheduled deliveries will fully support vaccination of priority cohorts 1 to 4, as advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. We are on track to offer a first vaccine to every person in these cohorts by 15 February 2021.

As of 4 February 2021, nearly 10.5 million people across the UK have been vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine. The UK COVID-19 Vaccines Delivery Plan sets out how the Government will work with the NHS, devolved administrations, local councils, and the Armed Forces to deliver the largest vaccination programme in British history.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to enable all hospitality venues to re-open when January 2021 covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.

As my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said, we intend to publish our plan for taking the country out of lockdown in the last week of February. That plan will depend on the continued success of our vaccination programme, and on Covid-related deaths falling at the pace we would expect as more people are inoculated.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reasons caterers are not able to resume teaching lessons in their home in areas under tier 3 covid-19 restrictions.

From 6 January, a national lockdown applies in all of England. The message is to stay at home. Training can be provided online or through other means of remote learning.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many jobs the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution will create in the Dudley North constituency.

Spanning clean energy, buildings, transport, nature and innovative technologies, the Ten Point Plan will mobilise £12 billion of government investment to unlock three times as much private sector investment by 2030. In doing so we will support a further 90,000 green jobs across the UK by 2024, and up to 250,000 by 2030, building on the 460,000 jobs that already exist in the low carbon economy today.

Support for green jobs across the UK, including the West Midlands, will be delivered by:

  • Investing £1 billion to make our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, supporting around 50,000 jobs across the UK
  • Doubling the Green Recovery Challenge Fund with an extra £40 million
  • Backing our world-leading automotive sector, including in the West Midlands, the North East and Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles. To support this acceleration, nearly £500 million will be spent in the next four years for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries, and other strategic technologies as part of our commitment to provide up to £1 billion. This will boost international investment into our strong manufacturing bases, and safeguard 169,000 jobs in the automotive sector.

The Energy White Paper, published in December, drives forward the Ten Point Plan commitments, reaffirming how clean energy means green jobs and economic growth for the whole country. Leading up to COP26, we will set out further ambitious plans across key sectors of the economy – including our Heat and Buildings Strategy and the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits for businesses of using (a) hydrogen and (b) electricity as a fuel source.

There are a range of fuels and technologies that could play an important role in decarbonising energy use for business and industry including hydrogen, electrification, heat networks and biogas. Our understanding of the respective roles of hydrogen and electricity continues to develop informed by internal and external analysis, innovation and demonstrator projects.

We already have a number of policies and programmes that support business and industry to decarbonise, including Climate Change Agreements, energy audits under the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS), the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund and the Industrial Heat Recovery Support Programme, as well as our wide-reaching Energy Innovation Programme. For example, the £20m Industrial Fuel Switching competition aims to stimulate early investment in fuel switching processes and technologies, such as biomass, hydrogen and electricity, as part of our innovation programme to support the decarbonisation of heavy industry.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what comparative assessment his Department has made of the (a) medium and (b) long term environmental effects of (i) hydrogen and (ii) electricity as energies across their sourcing dispensing and consumption cycles.

BEIS has undertaken a number of studies looking at the environmental performance of hydrogen and electricity in a number of scenarios. The comparative environmental advantages of each depend on how they are produced (‘green’, ‘blue’ or ‘grey’ hydrogen and renewable or fossil fuel electricity generation) and the end use for the energy vector (for example in transport or heating applications). The studies do not differentiate between medium and long-term environmental effects.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will review the eligibility criteria for Government green subsidies to enable more community buildings to access funding to install renewable energy sources.

The £10m Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) provides non-capital grant support to rural communities in England. RCEF grants cover the costs for feasibility and further project development work to bring community renewable energy projects to an investment-ready stage. The RCEF eligibility criteria ensures funding is only allocated to projects that demonstrate value to the taxpayer.

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) gives small scale low-carbon electricity generators, including community energy projects, the right to be paid for the renewable electricity they export to the grid. There are currently more than 10 SEG tariffs on offer from electricity suppliers, which small scale generators can choose from.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support environmentally-friendly industry and manufacturing in Dudley North constituency.

In April 2020, a consortium led by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was awarded funding from UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge. The LEP was invited to compete for a total of up to £8 million in phase two of the competition, to develop plans for decarbonising the local industrial cluster through the ‘Repowering the Black Country’ project.

This project aims to agree a roadmap for the Black Country’s industry to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040. The roadmap will provide a framework for securing significant commercial funding and investment to support clean industrial growth within the region.

In July 2020, the Government announced plans to publish an Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy in Spring 2021. The Strategy will set out the Government’s vision for a prosperous, low carbon UK industrial sector by 2050.The Government is also investing £147 million towards the Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge, which is open to firms across the UK. This competition will support innovation in industrial digital technology that will accelerate the drive to net zero, raise productivity by 30%, and create thousands of new highly-skilled jobs.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of applications to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme have been declined to date.

As of 20 September, 66,585 loans have been approved under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, with a total value of £15.45 billion.

The Scheme has received 142,076 applications. The applications figure includes: approved applications; applications that are still to be processed; applications that have been declined; and applications that may turn out not to be eligible or cases where customers will decide not to proceed. Decisions on whether to specifically capture information relating to declined loans are at the discretion of the lender.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for International Trade on maximising regional benefits for SMEs in trade discussions and negotiations.

My Rt. Hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Secretary of State for International Trade regularly discuss a range of issues relating to domestic and international objectives.

Trade is essential to the UK’s success in the longer-term. For example, removing trade barriers with the US through a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement could deliver significant gains to every part of the UK, especially for the 31,600 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) across the UK already exporting to the US and providing new opportunities to businesses and entrepreneurs.

The UK and US have set out a mutual commitment to rapidly agree a standalone SME chapter and continue the UK-US SME dialogue. We will continue to seek SME-friendly provisions throughout a UK-US FTA.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent steps he has taken to support small businesses in (a) Dudley and (b) throughout the West Midlands.

The Government-backed British Business Bank (BBB) is working alongside LEPs in the Midlands to deliver the Investment Strategy for the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF). To date is has made over £80m of investments in firms located across the Midlands and includes £31 million of private sector leverage.

The Chancellor’s has announced temporary measures to support businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. This support is comprised of two packages that we are asking local authorities in England to administer to support small businesses. They are the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund.

The first scheme is a £10,000 grant per eligible business. Eligible businesses will be those with a rateable value of £15,000 or less and thus eligible for relief under the Small Business Rates Relief scheme (full relief and tapered relief) or the Rural Rate Relief Scheme. We estimate that this will apply to some 730,000 businesses across England.


The second scheme is the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund. This fund is intended to support businesses in sectors that we know are being profoundly impacted and which are crucial to local economies across England. The businesses that are eligible will be those that eligible for a discount under the Expanded Retail Discount scheme. Grants will be provided in respect of each property (hereditament); so businesses with multiple outlets would receive more than one grant and may receive grants from separate local authorities.

There will be two levels to this grant: £10,000 for properties with a rateable value for £15,000 or less; £25,000 for properties with a rateable value of more than £15,000 but less than £51,000.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking with broadcasters to ensure the (a) political impartiality of news commentators and (b) live disclosure of affiliations where impartiality is not possible.

Trusted news is vital to a strong and fully functioning democracy. It has an essential role in holding power to account and keeping the public informed of local, national and international issues. We expect news broadcasters and their journalists and commentators to adhere to the highest standards of accuracy, whilst respecting their right to freedom of expression.

Decisions on broadcasting regulation, including impartiality in broadcast news, are a matter for Ofcom. Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code contains rules to ensure that broadcast news is reported with due accuracy and impartiality​. The Broadcasting Code clarifies that any personal interest of a reporter or presenter, which would call into question the due impartiality of the programme, must be made clear to the audience.

25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department plans to take to encourage visits to zoos as soon as relevant covid-19 restrictions are eased.

My Department plans to take a number of steps to encourage a range of tourism activities following the easing of restrictions.

The Global Travel Taskforce last year committed the Government to publish a Tourism Recovery Plan in support of the sector. 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.

When holidays are permitted again, we will work with VisitBritain, VisitEngland and local partners to champion the UK’s diverse tourism offer once again - just as we did with last year’s Enjoy Summer Safely and Escape The Everyday campaigns.

We will continue to work with industry to provide assurance regarding when people can safely visit attractions - as demonstrated through the We’re Good to Go industry standard, which has been used by over 45,000 businesses, including several zoos.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when he plans to publish the outcome and data of the consultation on decriminalising TV licence evasion, which closed on 1 April 2020.

The consultation closed in April 2020 after receiving 150,000 responses.

The government intends to publish the response to the consultation on decriminalisation of TV licence evasion shortly.

26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government plans to take to help Dudley benefit from increased trade and tourism from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The Government is working in partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority to deliver a Tourism, Trade and Investment Programme to run alongside the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The Government is investing £21.3m, alongside £2.6 million from the West Midlands Combined Authority, into the programme, which will attract investment, businesses and visitors to the region.

This significant investment demonstrates the Government's commitment to ensuring that we maximise the economic legacy of the Games for the city, the West Midlands and the whole of the UK.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the accessibility of (a) community and (i) green-space amenities for children in (i) Dudley and (ii) England with special education needs and/or disabilities.

The provision of community and green space amenities, including their design and equipment is the responsibility of the Local Authority. The Local Authority has a duty of care under the Equality Act of 2010 to make reasonable adjustments to prevent those protected characteristics, including disability, experiencing a disadvantage. Section 149 of the Act places an over-arching duty on Local Authorities to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and foster good relations between those who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. The duty expressly includes taking steps to meet the needs of disabled persons. Further detail can be found in the Act which can be accessed here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents. The responsibility for local authorities falls to MCHLG.

The Children and Nature Programme is a major programme funded by Department for Education which aims to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds to have better access to natural environments. The programme prioritises pupils’ mental health and wellbeing, and engagement with school. The main target audience for the programme are schools with the highest proportion of disadvantaged pupils, Alternative Provision Institutions (API) including but not limited to Pupil Referral Units, and importantly special schools, so many of the children who are impacted by the programme will have special educational needs and/or disabilities.

The Programme comprises three delivery projects and an evaluation project. The largest project in the programme is the Nature Friendly Schools Project, which is delivering greener grounds and pupil visits to green spaces for schools with the highest proportion of disadvantaged pupils. The Government is planning to start delivery to two schools in the Dudley area from April; Hawbush Primary School in Brierley Hill and Crestwood Secondary School in Kingswinford. We are also supporting the Community Forest and Woodland Outreach Project, which aims to increase and help sustain community forest and woodland outreach activities being delivered to school children, particularly those in disadvantaged areas. In addition to this the Growing Care Farming Project aims to achieve a transformational change in the scale, scope and uptake of care farming services in England for children and adults facing disadvantage or social exclusion, to benefit their health and wellbeing and their social and educational development. The evaluation project will deepen our understanding of the effectiveness of nature-based interventions and how activities in nature impact pupils’ health and wellbeing. We are also supporting national landscapes in their aim of helping everyone, including children and young people, discover and engage with protected landscapes to benefit the health and wellbeing of the whole nation. The responsibility for these programmes falls under DEFRA.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to make an assessment of the effectiveness of the TV licence fee.

The BBC’s funding model is agreed with the BBC as part of the Royal Charter. It was last considered as part of Charter Review 2015-16, following which the Government committed to maintain the licence fee funding model for the BBC for the duration of the current Charter period, until 2027.

The Government is committed to ensuring that the BBC and the wider public service broadcasting system adapt to a fast changing market, remaining at the heart of our world class TV sector. We have been clear that, ahead of the next Charter Review process, we will undertake a detailed look at the future of the TV licence model itself.

The Government recently announced the formal opening of the process to agree the level of the licence fee from 2022. This will determine the BBC and S4C’s public funding for at least 5 years from April 2022. The full announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/negotiations-on-the-future-cost-of-the-tv-licence-kick-off

9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what funding his Department has (a) made available and (b) allocated in 2020 within the Dudley North constituency to promote exercise and fitness.

Sport England has had a number of public funds available in 2020, including their Small Grants Fund, Community Asset Fund, and Community Emergency Fund.

Sport England made 8 awards in the Dudley North constituency from January to June 2020, totalling £29,895. All 8 awards were through Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund. Please note that this does not include awards in the period July to September which are yet to be published.

The £35 million Community Emergency Fund has delivered immediate financial support to those grassroots and physical activity clubs or community organisations most in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including those across the Dudley North constituency.


Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of using targeted interventions in relation to physical activity in his recovery plan for education.

The Government published its cross-government School Sport and Activity Action Plan in July 2019, which aims to increase levels of physical activity for all children in England through providing them with greater opportunities to do 60 minutes of physical activity every day inside and outside school. The Government has confirmed its intention to publish an update to this action plan later in 2021 and is working closely with sport organisations through the School Sport and Activity Sector Forum to discuss the Government’s long term approach to physical activity in schools.

Since 2013, the Department has funded a series of grant programmes to increase and improve access to physical education, school sport and physical activity for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

The Department has provided £10.1 million to open school sport facilities outside of the school day and continues to support the Holiday Activities and Food Fund and Summer Schools programme, which are targeted towards children from lower socio-economic groups and can help to maintain activity over the summer holidays. The Department has confirmed £320 million funding for the physical education and sport premium into the next academic year. Schools are provided with the flexibility to use this funding to meet the needs of their pupils.

28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to help ensure that children with disabilities can participate in appropriate physical activity at school in (a) the UK and (b) Dudley North constituency.

The Government published its cross-government School Sport and Activity Action Plan in July 2019, which aims to increase levels of physical activity for all children in England through providing them with greater opportunities to do 60 minutes of physical activity every day inside and outside school. The Government has confirmed its intention to publish an update to this action plan later in 2021 and is working closely with sport organisations through the School Sport and Activity Sector Forum to discuss the Government’s long term approach to physical activity in schools.

Since 2013, the Department has funded a series of grant programmes to increase and improve access to physical education, school sport and physical activity for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

The Department has provided £10.1 million to open school sport facilities outside of the school day and continues to support the Holiday Activities and Food Fund and Summer Schools programme, which are targeted towards children from lower socio-economic groups and can help to maintain activity over the summer holidays. The Department has confirmed £320 million funding for the physical education and sport premium into the next academic year. Schools are provided with the flexibility to use this funding to meet the needs of their pupils.

28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a long-term strategy to improve physical activity and wellbeing in young people in (a) the UK and (b) Dudley North constituency.

The Government published its cross-government School Sport and Activity Action Plan in July 2019, which aims to increase levels of physical activity for all children in England through providing them with greater opportunities to do 60 minutes of physical activity every day inside and outside school. The Government has confirmed its intention to publish an update to this action plan later in 2021 and is working closely with sport organisations through the School Sport and Activity Sector Forum to discuss the Government’s long term approach to physical activity in schools.

Since 2013, the Department has funded a series of grant programmes to increase and improve access to physical education, school sport and physical activity for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

The Department has provided £10.1 million to open school sport facilities outside of the school day and continues to support the Holiday Activities and Food Fund and Summer Schools programme, which are targeted towards children from lower socio-economic groups and can help to maintain activity over the summer holidays. The Department has confirmed £320 million funding for the physical education and sport premium into the next academic year. Schools are provided with the flexibility to use this funding to meet the needs of their pupils.

15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure adequate provision is made for private students to sit exams or be graded at a minimum cost to families.

The Department and Ofqual have ensured there is a clear and accessible route for private candidates to receive a grade this year, at the same time as other candidates.

Private candidates can work with a centre to be assessed on a range of evidence, which could include evidence from an established educational provider and the board-provided assessment materials. The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has issued guidance for centres about assessing private candidates, taking into account their different circumstances. These candidates should have the same opportunity as other candidates to be assessed on what they were taught, and centres can conduct assessments remotely if needed. Further guidance on assessing all candidates (including private candidates) will be published before the end of March 2021.

The Department is working with the sector to ensure there are enough centres available to support private candidates, and JCQ will publish a list of available centres by the end of March, giving private candidates the opportunity to find a centre at a similar cost to a normal year. The exam boards have committed that private candidates will not be charged late fees if entries are received by 26th April 2021. To support centres with the particular additional requirements of assessing private candidates this year, especially given they will not have been taught alongside a wider cohort, and avoid the cost being passed on to candidates, we are providing additional funding for centres. Centres can claim £200 per private candidate entry. We encourage all available exams centres to help these candidates achieve their qualifications in this exceptional year.

2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has reduce the schools' six week summer break to four weeks, to allow school children to receive additional classroom-based education.

Despite restrictions to schools for the majority of pupils, teachers and school staff are working extremely hard to give face-to-face education to vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. In addition, schools are offering robust remote learning for those who are not attending in person.

On 3 February 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, and my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, confirmed the appointment of Sir Kevan Collins as the Education Recovery Commissioner. He will advise on the approach for education recovery, with a particular focus on helping students catch up on learning lost because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Department will be working in collaboration with the education sector to develop short, medium and long-term plans to make sure children and young people have the chance to make up their learning over the course of this Parliament, further details will be made available in due course.

17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the Christmas 2020 holidays for students in schools and universities by one week to provide a circuit breaker for the covid-19 virus.

On 4 January, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, announced new national restrictions in England. During this period, primary, secondary, alternative provision, special schools and colleges will remain open to vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers only. In universities, we are prioritising the return to face to face teaching only for courses which are most important to be delivered in-person in order to support the pipeline of future key workers. Wherever possible, teaching should be provided online. The list of subjects where face to face learning can continue is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/950583/Students_returning_to_and_starting_higher_education_in_Spring_Term_2021_FINAL_v3.pdf.

The reason for restricting attendance, more broadly, is to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by reducing mixing of households in the community. This decision to restrict attendance in the spring term does not suggest that schools and colleges are no longer safe places for children and young people. Instead, limiting attendance is about reducing the number of contacts that all of us have with people in other households.

The Government is doing all it can to minimise the risks to those working and studying in our registered childcare settings, schools, colleges, and universities in this unprecedented situation, while mitigating the impact on education.

On the 7 January, the Department published:

On the 8 January, the Department published guidance on actions for further education colleges and providers during the COVID-19 outbreak: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision.

On the 14 January, the Department published additional guidance for special schools, specialist post-16 providers and alternative provision during the national lockdown: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/952377/Guidance_for_special_schools__specialist_post-16_providers_and_alternative_provision_during_the_national_lockdown.pdf. This provides further information on actions schools can take to support and encourage the attendance of vulnerable children and young people, as attending their school is crucial so that they can receive high quality teaching, remain engaged in education and are kept safe from harm, and receive the specialist professional support they need.

The Department will continue to keep its plans under review and ensure our position is informed by the latest evidence.

2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of cancelling examinations for (a) Key Stage 4 and (b) Key Stage 5 students in 2021 in response to the loss of in-person teaching time as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is clear that exams will take place in summer 2021. Exams are the fairest form of assessment.

GCSEs are an important assessment of attainment at a crucial stage of a pupil’s progression at age 16, in England 71% of young people change institution. A levels open the door to the next stages of higher and vocational education at age 18. There is broad consensus backing the decision to hold exams because they are a critical part of the education system, giving students the foundations that they need to move on to the next stage of their life.

The Department recognises that there could be challenges for pupils being assessed in summer 2021, and we are preparing for all eventualities. The Department has announced a wide range of contingency measures, including an additional contingency paper for most subjects. We also recognise that pupils taking exams this year have faced disruption, and that is why grades in 2021 will be more generous, in line with outcomes from 2020. There will also be adaptions to exams, such as giving students advance notice of topic areas and exam support materials to ensure fairness at this exceptional time.

The Department will continue to work with Ofqual, exam boards, and representatives of the sector to ensure exams can take place successfully in the summer.

2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many Free School Meal vouchers have been issued to parents in Dudley North constituency during the covid-19 outbreak; and how many of those vouchers have been redeemed.

Our supplier Edenred reported that over £380 million worth of voucher codes had been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme, as of 19 August 2020. This funding was in addition to existing free school meal budgets.

The number and proportion of students who qualify for free school meals is published in the ‘Schools, pupils and their characteristics’ publication and its underlying data files. The 2019 publication is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/schools-pupils-and-their-characteristics-january-2019. We do not collect data at constituency level.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase the (a) recruitment and (b) retention of teachers in (i) Dudley and (ii) England.

It is a top priority of the Government to ensure that we continue to attract, retain, and develop the high quality teachers we need to inspire the next generation. The Department is moving forward with delivering the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, which the Government published in January 2019: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/786856/DFE_Teacher_Retention_Strategy_Report.pdf. This includes commitments to reduce teacher workload, improve continuing professional development, and offer greater opportunities for flexible working.

The Department has started to roll out the Early Career Framework (ECF) – the biggest teaching reform in a generation – to provide the solid foundations for a successful career in teaching: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/early-career-framework-reforms. This will be backed by up to £130 million a year in funding when fully rolled out in 2021. Early roll-out from autumn 2020 is taking place in selected areas (such as the North East, Greater Manchester, Bradford, and Doncaster).

The new Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework, published in November 2019 for implementation from September 2020, is a mandatory core minimum entitlement for all trainees, and will work coherently with the ECF to ensure that all new teachers benefit from at least 3 years of evidence-based training, across ITT and into induction. More information about the ITT Core Content Framework is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/initial-teacher-training-itt-core-content-framework.

The Department is also launching new National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) from September 2021. The new NPQs will offer high quality professional development for teachers and school leaders at all levels, from those who want to develop expertise in high quality teaching practice, to those leading multiple schools across trusts. More information about the reform of NPQs is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-professional-qualifications-npqs-reforms/national-professional-qualifications-npqs-reforms.

We know there is further to go in some subjects. That is why we have put in place a range of measures, including bursaries worth up to £24,000 and scholarships worth up to £26,000, to encourage talented trainees towards key subjects such as chemistry, computing, Mathematics, and physics. Further guidance about early career payments for teachers is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/early-career-payments-guidance-for-teachers-and-schools.

Whilst the implementation of these commitments will support all schools, the Department recognises that some schools and local areas face greater challenges with recruitment and retention than others.

To supplement the national strategy, we are also delivering targeted programmes to support recruitment and retention in challenging areas, including funding a range of regionally targeted initiatives. Eligible Mathematics teachers in Dudley will be able to apply for uplifted early-career payments of £7,500 in their third and fifth years of teaching if they started their training in the 2018/19 or 2019/20 academic years. Eligible Mathematics, physics, chemistry, and languages teachers in Dudley will also be able to apply for £3000 per year in their second, third, and fourth years of teaching if they started training in the 2020/21 academic year.

26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure children in Dudley who require Speech and Language Therapy receive the support they need in schools.

Supporting the most vulnerable children and young people, including those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), is a priority for us, especially at this time. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, educational settings have been asked to ensure that vulnerable children and young people can attend where appropriate.

Through our contract with nasen, we have funded the Whole School SEND consortium to produce information for families and resources for schools, including training to support teachers to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. A range of resources to equip the workforce to deliver high-quality teaching for all types of SEND, including SLCN, can be found at https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/resources. A number of speech and language organisations are members of the Whole School SEND Consortium, including I CAN, Afasic and The Communication Trust.

Speech and language therapists working with children are employed by local authorities, the health service or directly by schools in response to children’s and young people’s needs in each area, rather than being employed or funded centrally by the department. For this reason, the department does not map services centrally.

Individual local authorities are responsible for their own strategic planning and have statutory requirements to offer SLCN provision where a child or young person requires it as part of their education, health and care plan.

This year we are providing local authorities with £7.2 billion in high needs funding, including an additional £780 million in the 2020-21 financial year.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure children and young people in (a) Dudley, (b) Sedgley and (c) Gornal and Woodsetton can catch up on the education missed during the 2019-20 school year as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises that all children and young people have had their education disrupted due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Department has committed to a £1 billion catch-up package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time on children in England.

The catch-up premium, worth £650 million, provides universal funding which is delivered in 3 payments to schools over the 2020/21 academic year. The Department expects this funding will be spent on the additional activities required to support pupils to catch up in their education.?To help schools make the best use of this funding, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published a support guide for schools with evidence-based approaches to catch up, available here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/#nav-covid-19-support-guide-for-schools1. EEF have published a further school planning guide: 2020 to 2021, available here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/guide-to-supporting-schools-planning/.

The first payment of the catch-up premium funding has been made to schools. The autumn payment and provisional allocations for schools in the local authority of Dudley is available to view here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-catch-up-premium-provisional-allocations. These allocations are based on the published rates and school census data from October 2019. The final allocations will be re-calculated once the October 2020 school census data is available.

Alongside this, the catch-up package includes a National Tutoring Programme (NTP) for disadvantaged children and young people. This scheme will provide additional, targeted support for disadvantaged 5 to 16 year olds who need the most help to catch up. The programme has 2 pillars which can be accessed by schools. Firstly, schools will be able to access high-quality, subsidised tuition from approved Tuition Partners. Schools in Dudley, Sedgley or Gornal and Woodsetton can access Tuition Partners in their area here: https://nationaltutoring.org.uk/ntp-tuition-partners. The second pillar supports schools in the most disadvantaged areas to employ in-house academic mentors who can provide small group and one-to-one tuition to selected pupils. If schools in Dudley, Sedgley or Gornal and Woodsetton would like to check their eligibility or register their interest for a mentor, they can do so here: https://www.teachfirst.org.uk/hire-academic-mentors.

In addition to the 5 to 16 programme, the NTP will also provide funding to support to small group tuition for 16 to 19 years olds and the improvement of early language skills for reception-aged children. Information about tuition for 16 to 19 year olds is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/16-to-19-funding-16-to-19-tuition-fund. Information about the improvement of early language skills for reception-age children is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/catch-up-premium-coronavirus-covid-19/the-reception-year-early-language-programme-neli.

19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will ensure that university students receive high-quality teaching following the reduction in their average direct contact time and limited online teaching.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State of Education, and I hold regular meetings with the Office for Students (OfS) leadership. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, these meetings have also involved regularly reviewing and monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on teaching and assessment, including the level of in-person teaching provided by universities and the value for money that students are receiving. I have consistently made it clear to the OfS that quality and standards must be maintained.

As I set out in a letter to MPs on 9 October and in a letter to Vice-Chancellors on 2 November, the government’s clear and stated expectation is that, whether higher education providers are delivering face-to-face, online or blended provision, they must continue delivering a high quality academic experience that helps all students achieve qualifications that they and employers value. If there are concerns, the OfS has the powers to act. The OfS has made it clear that HE providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and standards, which set out requirements to ensure that courses are high-quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected.

HE providers must continue to comply with their legal obligations under the Equality Act (2010), ensuring that education and learning is accessible to all students. When making changes to the delivery of their courses, HE providers need to consider how they support all students, particularly the most vulnerable, to achieve successful academic and professional outcomes.

The OfS has published information for HE providers, providing practical guidance on how best to ensure students continue to receive a high quality academic experience. The OfS will keep this guidance under review to ensure it remains relevant to the developing circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education has also published a series of guides to support providers to secure academic standards and to support student achievement during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The OfS is taking very seriously the potential impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on teaching and learning and is regularly engaging with all registered HE providers. It is actively monitoring those providers which have moved provision predominantly online due to COVID-19 restrictions to ensure that they maintain the quality of their provision, that it is accessible for all and that they have been clear in their communications with students about how arrangements for teaching and learning may change throughout the year.

The OfS is also following up directly with HE providers where they receive notifications from students, parents or others raising concerns about the quality of teaching on offer. The OfS is also requiring HE providers to report to them when they are not able to deliver a course or award a qualification. If the OfS has concerns, it will investigate further.

Students have rights under consumer law that they can rely on if they are dissatisfied with their HE provider’s response to COVID-19. In the first instance, students should speak to their provider to see if they can resolve their issue. We expect student complaints and appeals processes to be operated flexibly, accessibly and sympathetically by providers to resolve any concerns. If a student at a provider in England or Wales is not satisfied with their provider’s final response, they should go to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, which has published guidance on this issue.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that university students receive high quality teaching during the covid-19 outbreak.

This is a difficult and uncertain time for students, but we are working with the sector to make sure that all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies.

As I set out in a letter to MPs on 9 October, the government’s expectation is that, whether providers are delivering face-to-face, online or blended provision, quality and academic standards must be maintained. The Office for Students (OfS) has made it clear that higher education (HE) providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and standards, which set out requirements to ensure that courses are high-quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected. The OfS have also set out that HE providers must continue to provide sufficient and appropriate facilities, learning resources and student support services to deliver a high-quality academic experience.

HE providers must also continue to comply with their legal obligations under the Equality Act (2010), ensuring that education and learning is accessible to all students. When making changes to the delivery of their courses, providers need to consider how they support all students, particularly the most vulnerable, to achieve successful academic and professional outcomes.

The OfS has published information and guidance for providers and students. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education has also published a series of guides to support providers to secure academic standards and to support student achievement during the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance is available here: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/news-events/support-and-guidance-covid-19.

The OfS is taking very seriously the potential impacts of the outbreak on teaching and learning and ensuring that they have a clear picture of what students are receiving. The OfS published a statement on 9 October that sets out how it is actively monitoring the quality of online provision at HE providers that have moved predominantly to online provision as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions.

The OfS is directly engaging with those providers to ensure that they maintain the quantity and quality of their provision that is accessible for all. The government fully supports the OfS’s approach – we believe unequivocally that all students deserve a high-quality HE experience and we will continue to work closely with the OfS and providers to ensure that students receive this.

Providers should make all reasonable efforts to provide alternative teaching and support for students broadly equivalent to the provider’s usual arrangements, in circumstances where face-to-face contact is no longer possible. On 3 November, the department published guidance on how the national COVID-19 restrictions affect HE. This guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-new-national-restrictions-guidance. We have been clear throughout the COVID-19 outbreak that HE providers must maintain the quality of their tuition at all times, regardless of whether a HE provider is delivering its courses through face-to-face teaching, remote online learning, or a combination of both. We have worked with the OfS, who are regularly reviewing online tuition.

Students have rights under consumer law that they can rely on if they are dissatisfied with their provider’s response to COVID-19. In the first instance, students should speak to their provider to see if they can resolve their issue. We expect student complaints and appeals processes to be operated flexibly, accessibly and sympathetically by providers to resolve any concerns. If a student at a provider in England or Wales is not satisfied with their provider’s response, they can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what after-school services are available to children of parents that have returned to work during the covid-19 outbreak in (a) the UK and (b) Dudley North constituency.

We recognise that after-school provision is an important source of additional childcare for working parents and carers.

As of 4 July, all providers offering wraparound childcare and out-of-school activities to children have been able to operate with safety measures in place, both nationally and in Dudley North specifically. The department has updated the guidance for providers who run before and after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school settings for children to support them to operate as safely as possible now that all children have returned to school. The guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/protective-measures-for-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

Schools should be working towards resuming any breakfast and after-school provision, as outlined in the guidance for the full opening of schools. Schools should also be working closely with any external wraparound childcare providers, which their pupils may use, to ensure parents can continue to work. The guidance for the full opening of schools is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to implement a summer school programme to help the education of pupils who have not received any teaching during covid-19 lockdown.

As plans continue for a full return to education from September, we have announced a £1 billion COVID “catch-up” package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time.

This includes £650 million that will be shared across state schools over the 2020-21 academic year. This one-off grant to support pupils recognises that all young people have lost time in education as a result of the outbreak, regardless of their income or background.

The grant has been designed so that school leaders have flexibility and autonomy when choosing how best to support their pupils.??The guide published by the Education Endowment Foundation to help schools make effective choices includes advice on summer schools and a link to a Teach First toolkit for schools that choose to offer this.

Separately, a National Tutoring Programme, worth £350 million, will increase access to high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people. This will help accelerate their academic progress and tackle the attainment gap between them and their peers.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to protect freedom of speech and promote diverse debate within universities.

This government has committed to strengthen free speech and academic freedom and ensure our universities are places where debate can thrive. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education has made it clear that if required he will look at changing the underpinning legal framework. We have made it clear that if universities do not uphold free speech, the government will.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking with the Department for Health and Social Care to prevent the spread of covid-19 amongst vulnerable students in schools.

COVID-19 is clearly an unprecedented situation and preventing its spread is the Government’s and Department’s highest priority.

We are working closely with colleagues across Government to ensure that all appropriate arrangements, and support, are in place for all Department for Education sectors – from the early years and childcare to schools and children’s social care, and for vulnerable groups including children with long-term medical conditions.

Schools should continue to support their pupils’ health needs and should follow Public Health England advice at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure Dudley College has the (a) funding and (b) teaching staff to deliver effectively the skills required for the future.

The government is committed to developing world-class technical and vocational education in order to level up skills and opportunities across the country and is therefore investing significantly in our further education (FE) institutions and their people.

Dudley College, like all 16-19 providers, will benefit in 2020-21 from £400 million of additional funding announced last August. This is the biggest injection of new money into 16-19 education in a single year since 2010, with 16 to 19 funding increasing at a faster rate than 5 to 16 school funding. This includes an additional £120 million of funding for high cost and high value subjects, £35 million to support students on level 3 courses who did not achieve a grade 4 in GCSE Maths or GCSE English (or who did not achieve a grade 4 in GCSE Maths and GCSE English) and a £10 million increase in resources allocated for the Advanced Maths Premium.

As a 2020 T level provider, Dudley College will also benefit from additional funding for the delivery of T levels, including funding for the extra hours and industry placements, as well as the Early Adopter Development Fund to enable early providers to support the department to co-create high quality courses.

Our ambitions can only be achieved if our FE institutions are able to recruit, retain and develop outstanding FE teachers. We are therefore investing an additional £24 million in programmes designed to boost the FE workforce in 2020-21. This includes £11 million for training bursaries and grants worth up to £26,000 each in priority subjects and £10 million to expand the government’s successful Taking Teaching Further programme, which brings industry professionals into FE teaching. It also includes £3 million for a new high-quality mentor training programme to support FE teachers.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of regulating veterinary services to (a) strengthen animal welfare and (b) ensure affordability for pet owners.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the UK regulatory body for the veterinary profession, is currently undertaking a consultation on potential regulatory reform, including changes to the way vets and the wider veterinary team are regulated. They aim to report the consultation’s findings to Defra later in 2021.

The RCVS also advises it’s members on fees in its Code of Conduct: https://www.rcvs.org.uk/setting-standards/advice-and-guidance/code-of-professional-conduct-for-veterinary-surgeons/supporting-guidance/practice-information-and-fees/.

The fees are generally set by the market between the vet and their clients, but the RCVS could intervene if individual vets charged prices to pet owners that were so disproportionate, they amounted to disgraceful professional conduct.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will hold discussions with the Leader of the House on ensuring that there is parliamentary time to enable the Environment Bill to receive Royal Assent before the end of the transition period.

I would like to thank my honourable friend for his work on the Committee scrutinising the Environment Bill so far and I share his anticipation for the Bill’s return. I would like to assure him that the Government is working to resume the Bill’s consideration as soon as the parliamentary timetable allows us to do so. I and my department are in close contact with counterparts in the Leader’s and Whips’ Offices as to the resumption of scrutiny of the Bill.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what plans her Department has to engage with stakeholders in the higher education and research sector on potential free trade agreements with Brazil.

I refer my hon. Friend for Dudley North to the answer given to the hon. Member for Harrow West by my hon. Friend the Minister for Exports on 22nd March 2021 (UIN: 168823).

The Department for International Trade engages regularly with higher education and research stakeholders through the United Kingdom-Brazil Education Working Group for Higher Education and is in discussions with the Group’s members to facilitate greater collaboration on transnational education, including mutual recognition of degrees (under- and post-graduate degrees), industry-academia relationship, and language policies to internationalisation. We aim to promote a virtual trade mission later in the year to foster further partnerships between British and Brazilian universities.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what the timeframe is for implementation of the trade agreement with Brazil announced in December 2020.

The United Kingdom does not currently have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Brazil, but it remains a priority to deepen our trading relationship. Brazil is in a Customs Union – Mercosur – so, at the United Kingdom-Brazil Joint Economic Trade Committee held on 11th November 2020, we discussed the potential of a future United Kingdom-Mercosur FTA. We continue our work with Brazil and other Mercosur partners to open markets and strengthen the rules based international trading system too.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what progress her Department has made on negotiations with Brazil on a free trade agreement.

The United Kingdom does not currently have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Brazil, and it remains a priority to deepen our trading relationship. Brazil participates in free trade agreements via regional bloc – Mercosur – so, at the United Kingdom-Brazil Joint Economic Trade Committee held on 11th November 2020, we discussed the potential of a future United Kingdom-Mercosur FTA. We continue our work with Brazil and other Mercosur partners to open markets and strengthen the rules based international trading system too.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department is taking to support small and medium sized enterprises in (a) Dudley North, (b) Dudley Borough and (c) the West Midlands to increase their exports.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) delivers a range of export services across the West Midlands, Dudley North and Dudley Borough. These include providing support in accessing international opportunities and trade missions; providing export credit and insurance through UK Export Finance (UKEF); access to DIT’s international network; and support provided by experienced International Trade Advisers (ITAs).

DIT recently announced further support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with the introduction a new Internationalisation Fund, providing grants of up to £9k to SMEs to enhance their export potential, and the founding of a new Export Academy, providing businesses with the knowledge, skills and tools to develop and implement an export plan. SMEs will also benefit from direct local support through dedicated Local Enterprise Partnership ITAs that focus on key local priorities.

23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will undertake a comprehensive review of UK trade policy once negotiations and continuity work with (a) the EU and (b) other international partners is complete.

The Government has ambitious goals for UK trade policy to maximise the opportunities of leaving the EU and overcoming the unprecedented economic challenge posed by COVID-19. We aim to have agreements with countries accounting for 80% of UK trade within the next three years. Our work to secure a trade agreement with the EU, and to replicate the effects of existing EU trade agreements with international partners, contributes to this ambition. My department reviews progress against these priorities on a regular basis and will continue to do so as agreements are completed.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if his Department will extend foreign driving licences beyond the one year cut-off point due to the fact that foreign nationals are unable to take a driving test during the covid-19 lockdown period.

There are no plans to extend the 12-month period for which holders of foreign driving licences can drive in Great Britain using that licence. To continue driving after the 12-month period the driver must either exchange their licence, if it was issued by a country which has been designated for licence exchange purposes, or apply for a provisional driving licence and pass both a theory and practical driving test.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is looking at a range of measures to increase testing capacity once current restrictions are eased. Immediately, it is responding to requests for driving tests from organisations on behalf of frontline mobile emergency workers, who require a driving licence to carry out duties in their employment role. This is a limited service but extends to foreign licence holders where they meet the criteria and are nominated by eligible organisations.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his department is taking to (a) improve road safety for pedestrians and (b) tackle pavement parking in Dudley North constituency.

The Department recently consulted on proposed changes to The Highway Code. These include clarifying existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements and providing more clarity on the need for drivers and riders to give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road. The consultation closed on 27 October 2020 with over 20,000 responses received and we are currently undertaking a full analysis of all replies.

The Department also carried out a public consultation on possible solutions to the complex pavement parking problem, which closed on 22 November 2020 with over 15,000 responses received. The Department is now carefully analysing the responses and the results will inform future policy decisions.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment has he made of the effect on transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 of the introduction of biofuels in the (a) automotive sector and (b) rail sector.

Low carbon fuels, including biofuels, play a significant role in decarbonising road transport. The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), a certificate trading scheme, has been successful since 2008 in supporting a UK market for renewable fuels. In 2019, biofuel supplied under the RTFO saved 5,368kt of CO2 emissions; the equivalent of taking 2.3 million vehicles off the road for a full year.

Low carbon fuels will continue to contribute to meeting UK carbon budgets for decades to come, initially from conventional road vehicles but gradually shifting to heavier sectors such as aviation.

Biofuels are currently used in rail and are supported under the RTFO. In future assessments of long-term biofuel use in rail, we will consider the likely need for biofuels in other sectors, their potentially limited supply, and the existence of other viable low-carbon options available for powering trains.

In March 2020 the Department launched the consultation ‘Introducing E10 Petrol’ which proposed introducing petrol that contains up to 10% bioethanol, an increase from the current level of up to 5%. We are working hard to publish the Government Response as quickly as possible, and anticipate that any requirement to provide E10 would come into force in 2021. If combined with an increase in RTFO targets, the introduction of E10 could reduce CO2 emissions from road transport by a further 750,000 tonnes per year. This would be the equivalent of taking around 350,000 cars off the road.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of using ethanol as a substitute for petrol in the automotive sector.

Low carbon fuels, including biofuels, play a significant role in decarbonising road transport. The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), a certificate trading scheme, has been successful since 2008 in supporting a UK market for renewable fuels. In 2019, biofuel supplied under the RTFO saved 5,368kt of CO2 emissions; the equivalent of taking 2.3 million vehicles off the road for a full year.

Low carbon fuels will continue to contribute to meeting UK carbon budgets for decades to come, initially from conventional road vehicles but gradually shifting to heavier sectors such as aviation.

Biofuels are currently used in rail and are supported under the RTFO. In future assessments of long-term biofuel use in rail, we will consider the likely need for biofuels in other sectors, their potentially limited supply, and the existence of other viable low-carbon options available for powering trains.

In March 2020 the Department launched the consultation ‘Introducing E10 Petrol’ which proposed introducing petrol that contains up to 10% bioethanol, an increase from the current level of up to 5%. We are working hard to publish the Government Response as quickly as possible, and anticipate that any requirement to provide E10 would come into force in 2021. If combined with an increase in RTFO targets, the introduction of E10 could reduce CO2 emissions from road transport by a further 750,000 tonnes per year. This would be the equivalent of taking around 350,000 cars off the road.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the local transport connectivity improvements that will be required for Dudley to benefit from High Speed Two.

As part of the devolution deal that created the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), a £4.4bn HS2 Growth Package was agreed for the region. This has provided the means to implement a comprehensive package of interventions and investments, to maximise the true impact and ensure the DfT and WMCA’s vision for HS2 becomes a reality.

The WMCA has made an assessment of the transport connectivity improvements that will be required for the all parts of the region to benefit from HS2. This has been published as the Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy and is a publicly available document.

An extension of the Midland Metro tram from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill via Dudley town centre includes a contribution of £207m from the West Midlands Combined Authority Transforming Cities Fund allocation. Proposals are also being developed by the rail industry and Birmingham City Council to improve the connectivity between Birmingham Moor Street station and the new HS2 terminus at Curzon Street. This will benefit those people in Dudley who use the Snow Hill Line, as they will be able to enjoy a seamless connection between their local rail network and the high speed network.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the viability of existing retail fuel stations (a) to include hydrogen as a fuel dispensed and (b) for hydrogen to replace petrol and diesel as the stored and dispensed fuel.

The Government is supporting development of the infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), recognising that the market is at an early stage. The Government’s £23m Hydrogen for Transport Programme is increasing the uptake of FCEVs and growing the number of publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling stations. The programme is delivering new refuelling stations, upgrading some existing stations as well as deploying hundreds of new hydrogen vehicles. Government is supporting public and private sector fleets to become early adopters through the £2m FCEV Fleet Support Scheme.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has made a comparative assessment of the (a) costs and (b) benefits of (i) hydrogen and (ii) electricity as energy sources to power motor vehicles.

In 2018, the Department for Transport published the outputs of the Transport Energy Model. The model provides a clear assessment of the relative environmental impacts of a range of fuel and powertrain options for cars, vans, buses and heavy goods vehicles over the period to 2050, including battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The Department is further assessing the potential role of hydrogen and electricity in vehicles and this will be published in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan by Spring 2021.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans the Government has to ensure the continuation of public transport services during the covid-19 outbreak.

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.

We are encouraging everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel.

However, it is vital that our public transport services continue to run in order to ensure that critical workers can get to work, and that the country can return to normal life once this epidemic is over.

We are in daily contact with transport providers across all modes and will do whatever we can to ensure vital public services continue throughout this period.

We will continue to anticipate and adapt to needs as the situation develops, as demonstrated by the extensive package of measures the Chancellor has announced to support the economy.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps his Department has taken to support the roll-out of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in Dudley.

We have doubled the funding available for the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCs) to £10 million. This scheme provides grant funding to local authorities looking to install chargepoints for residents that lack off-street parking.

In October last year, the Secretary of State wrote to all LAs encouraging them to send their strategies for infrastructure deployment and to take advantage of ORCS funding.

For major roads the Government is providing £500 million over the next five years to support the rollout of a fast-charging network for electric vehicles, ensuring that drivers will never be further than 30 miles from a rapid charging station. Our jointly funded £400 million Chargepoint Infrastructure Investment fund’s first investment round, worth a total of £70 million, will also ensure the delivery of a further 3,000 rapid charging devices across the UK by 2024, more than doubling the current number of rapid charging devices.

Homeowners and businesses in Dudley (as with the rest of the country) will continue to be able to apply for grants in 2020/2021 to help with the purchase of an electric vehicle (via HMG’s Plug-in Car Grant) and for help with installing an electric vehicle chargepoint (via either HMG’s Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme or Workplace Charging Scheme).

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve bus connectivity between rural areas of the West Midlands.

In September 2019 £220 million was announced to improve bus connectivity, including £30 million to restore and improve bus services and £20 million to trial demand responsive transport pilots in rural areas. £5 billion was also committed in February 2020 to transform bus services and cycling links, with further details to be announced in the National Bus Strategy.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many sector-based Work Academy Programme starters there were in financial year 2020-21 in each region and nation; and how many of those have started a new job as a result.

Data for the financial year 2020 – 21 shows that there were a total of 64,500 starts to a Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP). The breakdown of these starts by nation and region is displayed in the following tables:

Table 1: SWAP starts by nation

Nation

Starts

England

58,320

Scotland

6,120

Unknown

60

Total

64,500

Table 2: SWAP starts by region

Region

Starts

West Midlands

5,000

Central, East & North Scotland

4,340

South & West Scotland

1,780

London & Essex

12,950

North & East Midlands

7,800

North Central

6,960

North East

5,550

North West

5,340

South East

8,200

South West

6,510

Unknown

60

Total

64,500

Note on above: Figures are rounded to the nearest 10; components may not sum due to rounding. These figures reflect the number of starts by claimants in receipt of Universal Credit (UC), Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Income Support (IS). We do not hold data on the number of participants who have started a job as a result of starting a SWAP.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department's new temporary site on High Street Dudley, will be used to support (a) new and (b) existing customers; and whether that site will be made a permanent location.

The Department has seen an increase in demand for its services and, as a result, is rapidly expanding the space available, on a temporary basis. These offices will supplement the existing Jobcentre network and will serve both existing and new customers.

As the economy recovers and/or social distancing requirements are eased, the Department will look to close the temporary sites, ensuring there is balance in providing essential services for customers with value for money for taxpayers. If, however, any of the new sites offer better, more suitable accommodation than our existing offices the Department may look to retain them.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her Department will take steps to investigate the matter of unclaimed child maintenance payments made by fathers when the child and mother have moved abroad.

The Child Maintenance Service is only able to make a maintenance calculation when the paying parent, receiving parent and qualifying children are all habitually resident in the UK.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to deliver civil service jobs in her Department to Dudley North constituency.

Our Jobcentre Employment Advisers within Dudley North work closely with other Government Departments located in the area to ensure any planned recruitment is fully supported. Work Coaches undertake job-matching to identify customers in the area who have indicated an interest in joining the Civil Service, and provide assistance to register on the Civil Service Jobs website, including support with searching for vacancies and setting up job alerts.

Jobcentres across Dudley Borough have a partnership with the ‘Skills Shop’ at the Merry Hill Centre, where customers can be referred for further assistance with Civil Service applications and interview techniques. They also have a partnership with Go Train, a local provider, to provide support to customers with applying for the recent Work Coach recruitment exercise, including help and advice with the application process.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many job work coaches her Department is planning to deploy in (a) Dudley, (b) the Black Country and (c) the West Midlands region.

The Department currently has 71 Work Coaches allocated to two Jobcentres in the Dudley North constituency; 21 at Tipton and 50 at Dudley. A proportion of a further 55 new entrants are due to be deployed by early 2021.

In the Black Country as a whole we are looking to deploy a total of 574 by early 2021, and there is projected to be a total of 1702 Work Coaches across West Midlands by the time that our current recruitment concludes.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to help ensure equality of employment opportunity in Dudley North constituency.

DWP offers significant support to unemployed people across Great Britain to access employment opportunities through our network of Jobcentres. Our Work Coaches provide support on finding a job, help with retraining or skills advice, CV, job applications and access to the new vacancies we record every day, as well as signposting to our new Jobhelp website. We adopt a blended approach of channels to connect with customers, to reflect current restrictions and comply with COVID safety.

The Department is working closely with other government departments, external organisations and local partners to support people into work.

The Kickstart scheme was recently launched to help young people aged 16-24 find 6-month work places in Dudley, and we have developed Youth Hubs locally to provide outreach support. There are two Youth Hubs which can be accessed by young people in Dudley, one at The Archives in Dudley Town Centre and one at the Merry Hill Centre in Brierley Hill. We have also partnered with employers in the area to deliver Mentoring Circles and Sector-based Work Academy Programmes.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to support people with mental disabilities (a) into and (b) to remain in employment.

The Government is committed to reducing the disability employment gap and seeing a million more disabled people in work by 2027.

We help disabled people, including those with mental health conditions and learning disabilities, return to and stay in work through programmes including the Work and Health Programme, the new Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme, Access to Work and Disability Confident.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if the Government has plans to extend financial support for people that need to take time off work to care for vulnerable relatives suffering from covid-19.

It is likely that many employees who have received a shield letter will be able to work from home and therefore be entitled to normal pay. We would encourage employers to make this happen where possible. For those that cannot work from home, we would encourage employers to furlough these staff.

Under the scheme employers will be eligible to apply for a government grant of 80% of workers’ salaries up to £2,500 a month. The scheme will be backdated to 1st March and available for at least three months, with the first grants expected to be paid within weeks.

There is also the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme which will help eligible freelance workers receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least three months.

The Government has set up an advice contact centre and website exclusively to help those who have been identified as shielding to access support.

A new Local Support System in England will make sure those individuals that have been identified by the NHS to stay at home, and who are without a support network of friends and family, will receive essential supplies such as groceries and medicine.

Everyone infected with Covid-19 or required to self-isolate will be treated as having Limited Capability for Work in ESA and UC without the requirement for fit notes or undergoing a Work Capability Assessment. Those applying for Contributory ESA will be able to claim from day 1 – as opposed to day 8 - and we have removed the need for face-to-face assessment.

14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to tackle mental health issues in men; and how many people have accessed mental health services, by gender in each of the last three years.

We know that men are less likely to seek help or talk about mental health issues and the National Suicide Prevention Strategy highlights men, especially middle-aged and young men, as a group at high risk of suicide. Every local authority now has a multi-agency suicide prevention plan in place and we are working with local government to assure the effectiveness of those plans. We have issued guidance to local authorities that highlights the importance of working across all local services, including the voluntary sector, to target high risk groups such as men.

We are expanding and transforming mental health services through the NHS Long Term Plan, to ensure that 380,000 more adults can access psychological therapies by 2023/24. For those with severe needs or in crisis, all National Health Service mental health providers have established 24 hours a day, seven days a week urgent mental health helplines.

The following table shows numbers of referrals and starts for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services and numbers in contact with secondary mental health, learning disability and autism services in each of the last three years for which data is available.

Year* and gender**

Number of people in contact with NHS-funded secondary mental health, learning disabilities and autism services

Number of referrals to IAPT services

Referrals entering treatment for IAPT services

2019-20

2,878,636

1,694,790

1,165,653

Males

1,347,739

584,151

398,153

Females

1,479,739

1,094,413

761,270

2018-19

2,726,721

1,603,643

1,092,296

Males

1,310,418

561,121

378,602

Females

1,403,057

1,026,442

707,910

2017-18

2,510,745

1,439,957

1,009,035

Males

1,207,679

508,477

351,017

Females

1,295,791

918,305

653,308

Notes:

*The number of providers submitting data has increased over the 2017-18 to 2019-20 period, which may account for some of the increase in rates.

** Gender subtotals do not add up to the total number of people because the total includes those for whom gender was invalid or missing.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to deliver civil service jobs in his Department to Dudley North constituency.

Departmental staff predominantly work in the London and Leeds offices, with a smaller number of staff based in the Reading, Runcorn and Burnley sites. The majority of staff have been working at home due to the pandemic and the Department is currently considering future ways of working once restrictions support a physical return to our sites. As part of and the Places for Growth programme, we are considering locations and are engaging with staff and partners in health and social care to consider our future geographic footprint. This may result in an expansion of existing locations and the Department will consider the potential benefits of any additional locations for recruitment, retention, capability and staff diversity.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Feb 2021
What steps his Department is taking to support the provision of non-covid-19 healthcare treatment.

In addition to the funding already provided to the National Health Service, we are providing an additional £3 billion next year, on top of the long-term settlement, to support recovery from COVID-19.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that all unpaid carers will have access to the covid-19 vaccine, including those carers not in receipt of state benefits.

On 15 February, Primary Care Networks and the National Booking Service began issuing the first vaccination appointment invitations to those eligible within cohort six of the priority groups as set by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. This includes eligible unpaid carers who care for those vulnerable to COVID-19 and does not exclude on the basis of whether the carer is in receipt of state benefits.

We recognise the vital role that unpaid carers play in caring for vulnerable individuals and we are developing bespoke guidance for this group set out in a Standard Operating Protocol which has been developed in close cooperation with carers organisations and local authorities. This will be published shortly.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support the healthcare needs of disabled people and their families in Dudley North constituency during the covid-19 outbreak.

During the pandemic, Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has supported the healthcare needs of disabled people through a number of actions. These include maintaining provision of NHS Continuing Healthcare for adults with long-term health conditions and NHS Continuing Care for children with the most complex needs, continuing to provide personal health budgets and continuing to provide health checks in general practice for people with a learning disability. Nationally, the Department has advised people with specific health conditions, including disabled people who are deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, to shield and has provided direct support to the shielded population.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department made an assessment of the potential merits of altering a person's priority in the covid-19 vaccine rollout if they were about to undergo lifesaving surgery with a substantial stay in hospital, to minimise the risk of that person contracting covid-19 during treatment and recovery.

If someone is due to undergo lifesaving surgery, it is likely they will have already been captured in priority cohort four as clinically extremely vulnerable or cohort six as clinically vulnerable. Included in the description of those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable are those identified based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs. If someone undergoing lifesaving surgery is deemed to be at high risk of mortality from COVID-19 by their clinician then they will have been offered their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by 14 February 2021.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential effect of covid-19 vaccines on fertility.


Based on the available pre-clinical data, the vaccines are not expected to affect a woman’s fertility.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he made of the effect of the covid-19 tier restrictions on people's wellbeing who could not attend community lunches over Christmas 2020.

The Government ensured that the regulations allowed charitable lunches over the festive period to continue.

The Government acknowledges the impact the restrictions can have on mental health and wellbeing. Public Health England published guidance on social distancing and self-isolation and advice on looking after mental health and wellbeing during the outbreak.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding he plans to allocate to improve access to affordable physiotherapy services in Dudley North constituency.

The Government is committed to ensuring the continuity of access to non-COVID-19 health services such as physiotherapy. The ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign is underway to encourage the public to access the NHS services they need and our message is unequivocal - anyone who is concerned or needs treatment should come forward.

The National Health Service has been allocated an extra £3 billion funding, which includes funding to support the recruitment of additional primary care professionals, such as physiotherapy posts in primary care networks. In Dudley, this recruitment is ongoing with support from the community provider.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) formally recognise the roles that armed forces nurses and doctors have played in hospitals during the covid-19 outbreak, (b) ensure that those individuals receive salary increases in recognition of their contribution.

The Government is incredibly grateful to all healthcare staff, including armed forces doctors and nurses for the part they are playing in hospitals and across the health and social care system during the pandemic.

The Spending Review announced that the Government will be taking three steps regarding public sector pay awards in 2021-22. First, taking account of the pay review bodies' advice, over a million nurses, doctors and others working in the NHS we receive a pay rise. Secondly, to protect jobs, pay rises in the rest of the public sector will be paused. Thirdly, to protect those on lower incomes, 2.1 million public sector workers who earn below the median wage of £24,000 will continue to receive a pay increase. Military personnel will still benefit from a progressive pay model that is not affected by the pay pause.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of people who have been asked to self-isolate through Track and Trace who did not qualify for the £500 isolation payment; and what plans he has to tackle financial hardship faced by individuals and families who follow government guidelines for self-isolation but do not qualify for the £500 payment.

The information requested is not available.
Those who do not meet the eligibility criteria for the main £500 Test and Trace Support Payment may be eligible for a £500 discretionary payment from their local authority, provided they meet the eligibility criteria set by their local authority.
People on low incomes who cannot work from home may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from their employer. Those on low incomes who cannot work from home and are not eligible for SSP may be able to claim Universal Credit.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of covid-19 transmission events in (a) wet only pubs and (b) as a proportion of total covid-19 cases.

Public Health England publishes weekly influenza and COVID-19 surveillance reports here and this includes data on suspected and confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks by setting which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/national-flu-and-covid-19-surveillance-reports

Table service will help reduce the likelihood of people in hospitality venues coming into close contact with others they would not normally meet, for example if queuing at a bar and waiting to collect orders. The Government keeps all of its COVID-19 restriction measures under review and will closely monitor the impact of this policy.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what comparative assessment he has made of the risk of covid-19 transmission in wet pubs with table only service with covid-safe, managed individual customers approaching bars for service in the same pubs.

Public Health England publishes weekly influenza and COVID-19 surveillance reports here and this includes data on suspected and confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks by setting which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/national-flu-and-covid-19-surveillance-reports

Table service will help reduce the likelihood of people in hospitality venues coming into close contact with others they would not normally meet, for example if queuing at a bar and waiting to collect orders. The Government keeps all of its COVID-19 restriction measures under review and will closely monitor the impact of this policy.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of air pollution on the NHS.

In 2018 Public Health England (PHE) published an estimation of the potential health burden and costs to the National Health Service and social care system arising due to diseases related to air pollution.

Between 2017 and 2025, the total cost to the NHS and social care from air pollution in England is estimated to be £1.60 billion for fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide combined, where there is robust evidence for an association between exposure and disease. Where the evidence is less robust the cost is £2.81 billion for fine particulate matter and £2.75 billion for nitrogen dioxide.

PHE also published a tool which allows local authorities to quantify the number of expected disease cases and costs in their local area. The tool includes NHS and social care cost data for England and is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/air-pollution-a-tool-to-estimate-healthcare-costs

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to prioritise people in (a) care homes and (b) BAME communities in the roll of a covid vaccine.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccine/s the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level. The JCVI have advised that the first priorities for any COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems.

For the first phase, the JCVI have advised that the vaccine be given to care home residents and staff, as well as frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors. Included in this are those with underlying health conditions, including severe and profound learning disability, which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.

There is clear evidence that certain black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups have higher rates of infection, and higher rates of serious disease and mortality. The reasons are multiple and complex.  There is no strong evidence that ethnicity by itself or genetics is the sole explanation for observed differences in rates of severe illness and deaths. What is clear is that certain health conditions are associated with increased risk of serious disease, and these health conditions are often overrepresented in certain BAME groups.  Prioritisation of people with underlying health conditions will also provide for greater vaccination of BAME communities who are disproportionately affected by such health conditions.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if will he make an assessment of the potential merits of reclassifying (a) myalgic encephalomyelitis and (b) chronic fatigue syndrome as a disability.

The Department, NHS England and NHS Improvement accept the World Health Organization’s classification of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis as a neurological condition of unknown origin, and therefore health and social care professionals are expected to manage it as such.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to publish the Government’s response to the 2018 Green Paper on the Mental Health Act 1983.

The Government’s response to the 2018 Green Paper ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’ was published in July 2018.

We have also committed to publishing a White Paper which will set out the Government’s response to Sir Simon Wessely’s Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 1983 and pave the way for reform of the Act.

We will publish our White Paper as soon as it is possible to do so. We will consult publicly on our proposals and will bring forward a Bill to amend the Act when parliamentary time allows.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to improve the energy rating of Russells Hall Hospital; and whether there are plans to install (a) solar panels and (b) wind turbines at that hospital.

Russells Hall Hospital is owned and managed by Summit Healthcare (Dudley) Limited as part of a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) established in 2001. Any decisions to invest in energy efficiency schemes in relation to the building are made by Summit Healthcare (Dudley) Limited. Summit Healthcare (Dudley) Limited would need to provide the investment and would benefit from any cost savings. The Trust does encourage all staff to reduce their energy usage wherever possible and they work with their PFI partners to ensure the use of the building is energy efficient.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support his Department provides to veterans in Dudley with mental ill health.

In Dudley, veterans can access mainstream National Health Service mental health services along with the veteran specific mental health services NHS England and NHS Improvement have put in place, the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service and the Complex Treatment Service.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to facilitate the return of retired medical professionals to help the NHS during the covid-19 outbreak.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has powers to temporarily register medical practitioners during an emergency situation with the threat of loss of life and serious illness.

We are working closely with the GMC to ensure they have plans in place to identify, contact and register key groups of staff (including recently retired doctors) using these powers.

The National Health Service in each of the four countries will be responsible for overseeing the deployment of doctors who come forward to provide services in response to COVID-19.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to extend the range of healthcare professionals permitted to administer and prescribe low-risk medicines.

The Department has no current plans to extend the range of healthcare professionals permitted to administer low-risk medicines. Under a patient specific direction, a registered prescriber can give a third-party clear instruction to enable them to administer prescribed medicines to a patient. This means of administering medicines is used widely in the health service under current powers.

A range of National Health Service professionals can train to prescribe medicines now including nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, midwives, physiotherapists and optometrists.

The Medicines and Medical Devices Bill, currently before Parliament, will allow us to continue to update the professions who can train to supply medicines or prescribe them where it is safe and appropriate to do so, replacing the European Communities Act 1972. Any regulatory change to supply or prescribing powers would be subject to public consultation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure the adequacy of funding for the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust.

National Health Service providers (NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts) such as Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, are not funded centrally but instead fund their spending from income mostly received from NHS commissioners in return for the provision of healthcare services to their local population.

The NHS Long Term Plan, backed by the Government’s funding of £33.9 billion in cash terms by 2023-24, has been developed to take the health system forward. As part of this the Government has set clear objectives for the NHS in the form of five financial tests, including a financial sustainability commitment to return the provider sector to balance in 2020-21.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Iranian counterpart since Iran’s announcement that it has started enriching uranium to 60 per cent purity.

Iran's announcement on 16 April that they have started uranium enrichment up to 60% using advanced centrifuges is a serious and deeply worrying development in violation of its nuclear commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). This is the latest step in Iran's continued and systematic non-compliance with the JCPoA. The production of highly enriched uranium is an important step in the production of a nuclear weapon. Iran has no credible civilian need for enrichment at this level.

The UK has made multiple official level representations to the Iranians on this issue, both bilaterally and as the E3 alongside the governments of France and Germany. As the E3 said in a statement on 14 April, this step is contrary to the constructive spirit and good faith of discussions in Vienna that have the objective of finding a rapid diplomatic solution to revitalise and restore the JCPoA.

We continue to work with the parties to the JCPoA and the US Administration to seize the diplomatic opportunity for a full return to the JCPoA. We call upon Iran to avoid any escalatory measures which make a return to mutual compliance harder to achieve.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent progress has been made on the international review of the content of Palestinian Authority school textbooks.

We understand the review is in the final stages and the final report is due to be completed shortly. We continue to engage with the EU at a senior level and push for timely publication. We will review the findings carefully before deciding on any next steps.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions his Department has had with the Indian Government on promoting the (a) safety of protesters and (b) right of press freedom in that country.

The Foreign Secretary discussed protests about agricultural reforms with his Indian counterpart during his visit to India in December. It is our view that the right to gather lawfully and demonstrate a point of view is common to all democracies. Governments also have the power to enforce law and order if a protest crosses the line into illegality. We consider an independent media essential to any robust democracy. Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South Asia and Minister responsible for Human Rights, discussed the UK's commitment to promoting media freedom, through the Media Freedom Coalition, with India's Minister of State for External Affairs in July.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to repatriate UK citizen's unable to leave Myanmar.

The British Embassy is following the situation carefully and we will continue to update the travel advice. British Nationals in Myanmar are advised to stay home and stay safe and check the Travel Advice, which contains information on how to contact the British Embassy or Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Consular officials are working hard to respond to the concerns of British Nationals. If British Nationals have concerns for their safety in the current situation they should consider leaving Myanmar by commercial means. Travel advice is currently advising against all but essential travel to Myanmar based upon recent events.

British Nationals in Myanmar are advised to stay at home, and those that are concerned for their safety are advised to leave by commercial means, which are available. The travel advice contains phone numbers for those who are in Myanmar to ring should they need assessment. These phones will be answered by Embassy staff.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the International Criminal Court.

The UK has always been, and remains, a strong supporter of an effective International Criminal Court (ICC). We want to see reform of the ICC so it can fulfil its mandate as intended under the Rome Statute and we are working with the Court and other States Parties to achieve this


The UK welcomed the establishment of the Independent Expert Review as part of an inclusive State Party driven process for identifying and implementing measures to strengthen the Court and improve its performance. The Independent Experts published their final report in September 2020; now we need to see those recommendations implemented.

The election of two highly qualified UK nationals, Judge Joanna Korner QC and Karim Khan QC to the roles of Judge and Prosecutor to the ICC respectively, will further serve reform of the Court

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to the chairman and chief executive of HSBC UK on its policy of freezing the accounts of Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigners.

We are in close contact with a wide range of businesses in Hong Kong, but it is for businesses themselves to make their own judgement calls. We are concerned that a number of recent decisions by the authorities in Hong Kong are further evidence of a determined campaign to stifle opposition and silence dissent. As a signatory to the Sino-British Joint Declaration, China must abide by the legally binding commitments it made to uphold fundamental rights and freedoms, and respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years from 1997. The UK will continue to pursue an approach in Hong Kong that is rooted in our values, defends the rights of the people of Hong Kong and respects the provisions of the Joint Declaration.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether additional flights are being planned to repatriate British citizens who missed the deadline to apply for chartered flights during the covid-19 pandemic.

Since the outbreak in Wuhan, we estimate that over 1.3 million people have returned to the UK via commercial routes - the majority supported by our work to keep vital routes open. We have brought home over 38,000 people on 186 special charter flights organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, from 57 countries and territories.

We believe the vast majority of British travellers seeking to return to the UK - who don't have commercial options - have now done so. Through our embassies, and a dedicated central team, we continue to support British nationals who need consular support and are working to ensure commercial routes are maintained. While no charter flights are currently planned, we are monitoring risks globally and continue to review how best to provide assistance where necessary. Our travel advice and social media pages are also regularly updated to ensure that those wishing to return are aware of further developments.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to strengthen consular support for UK nationals overseas facing quarantine as a result of covid-19.

We are aware of cases where British nationals have been quarantined. We are in close contact with the local authorities in the countries concerned and are providing consular assistance to all those who request it. This includes maintaining contact with family members; helping them understand the local situation, providing assistance in securing medication or liaising with tour operators and airlines about onward travel once they are allowed to leave.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of exempting (a) employers of people aged 25 and (b) people aged under 25 from national insurance contributions to (i) boost youth employment and (ii) increase and improve training of employees under 25.

The Government has taken significant action to reduce the cost of employing young people. Since April 2016, employers do not pay employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) for apprentices under the age of 25 on earnings up to the Apprentice Upper Secondary Threshold (£967 a week in 2021-22). This builds on action the Government has already taken to remove employer NICs on those aged under 21 up to the Upper Secondary Threshold (£967 a week in 2021-22) in April 2015.

The Government is committed to keeping taxes low to support working people to keep more of what they earn and to encourage individuals to progress, ensuring work always pays. In April 2020, the NICs Primary Threshold – the level of earnings at which employees start paying NICs – was increased to £9,500. This provided a tax cut to about 31 million people, with a typical employee saving about £104. As announced at the recent Spending Review, the Primary Threshold will increase to £9,568 in 2021-22.

28th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will confirm that business rates for hospitality and non-essential retail businesses will be waived for a further 12 months covering the 2021-22 financial year to aid them in their recovery from the covid-19 outbreak.

This year the Government has provided an unprecedented business rates holiday for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties due to the direct adverse effects of COVID-19, worth about £10 billion, and has frozen the business rates multiplier for all businesses for 2021-22.

The Government is considering options for further COVID-19 related support through business rates reliefs. In order to ensure that any decisions best meet the evolving challenges presented by COVID-19, the Government will outline plans for 2021-22 reliefs in due course.

13th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend stamp duty holiday period beyond 31 March 2021 to protect employment in the property industry.

The temporary SDLT relief was designed to create immediate momentum in a property market where property transactions fell by as much as 50 per cent during the COVID-19 lockdown in March. This will also support the jobs of people whose employment relies on custom from the property industry, such as retailers and tradespeople.

The Government will continue to monitor the market. However, as the relief was designed to provide an immediate stimulus to the property market, the Government does not plan to extend it.

13th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect in Dudley North on confidence among high street businesses and shoppers of extending business rates relief for the hospitality, retail, and leisure sector for an additional year.

This year the Government has provided an unprecedented business rates holiday for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties due to the direct adverse effects of COVID-19, worth about £10 billion, and has frozen the business rates multiplier for all businesses for 2021-22.

The Government is also considering options for further COVID-19 related support through business rates reliefs. In order to ensure that any decisions best meet the evolving challenges presented by COVID-19, the Government will outline plans for 2021-22 reliefs in due course.

8th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the IR35 reforms for twelve months in light of the effect on businesses of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has been clear that the reform of the off-payroll working rules will be introduced on 6 April 2021. The Government remains committed to introducing this policy in order to address the unfairness of non-compliance with the existing off-payroll working rules. Organisations should continue to prepare for the implementation of the reform. Since the reform was delayed in April 2020, Parliament has passed legislation enacting the reform from April 2021.

Many businesses have already made significant preparations to ensure they are ready for the reform and HMRC are committed to supporting businesses and individuals in the run up to and beyond the reform being implemented. HMRC are providing webinars, workshops and one-to-one calls as well as publishing updated guidance and factsheets to enable businesses to prepare.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) adequacy and (b) effectiveness of Government support for hospitality businesses during the covid-19 outbreak; and whether businesses that were ineligible for Government covid-19 support during the first national lockdown may be eligible for support retrospectively.

The Government understands that this is a very challenging time for the UK’s hospitality sector, and it recognises that the hospitality sector has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Throughout the crisis the Government’s priority has been to protect lives and livelihoods. The Government has acted to deliver support to this sector 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.
  • Businesses forced to close can claim grants of up to £3,000 per month. In addition, on 5th January, the Government announced an extra £4.6 billion to protect jobs and support affected businesses as restrictions get tougher. This includes retail, hospitality and leisure businesses forced to close can claim a one-off grant of up to £9,000. Businesses can receive multiple grants, as they are eligible on a per premises basis. The Government expect over 600,000 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure business premises in England to benefit from these grants.
  • Local Authorities (in England) will also be 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’ in tiers 2, 3 and 4 who missed out on business during the busy Christmas period.
  • A VAT deferral for up to 12 months.
  • Access to affordable, Government backed finance through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBLS) for and larger firms, along with the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) for small and micro enterprises.
  • 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 £10bn.

These measures have kept people in work, supported their incomes and supported businesses, delivering one of the most generous and comprehensive packages of support globally. However, as measures to control the virus change, it is right that Government support should also evolve. The Government keeps all policies under review, and will continue to work with businesses and representative groups to inform our efforts to support the hospitality sector.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to tackle the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on levels of household debt in Dudley North constituency.

The Government has delivered unprecedented support for living standards during this challenging time, protecting livelihoods with the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and temporary welfare measures


The Government has extended the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme until 30 April 2021. Eligible employees will continue to receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

The Government has increased the overall level of the third grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to 80 per cent of average trading profits, meaning that the maximum grant available has now increased to £7,500


The Government has provided Local Authorities with £500 million to support people who may struggle to meet their council tax payments this year. The Government expects that this will provide all recipients of working age local council tax support with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of £150 this financial year


These measures are in addition to the changes this Government has made to make the welfare system more generous, worth over £7 billion according to recent OBR estimates. This includes a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1 billion increase in support for renters through increases to Local Housing Allowance rates


We have also worked with mortgage lenders, credit providers and the Financial Conduct Authority to ensure the financial sector provides support for people across the UK to manage their finances by providing payment holidays on mortgages and consumer credit products


The Government has also provided unprecedented support for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This support includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme, Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund which, as of 13 December, have collectively supported over 1.5 million businesses with facilities worth over £68bn. The Chancellor has announced that the Government has extended the application deadline for these schemes to a single date, 31 January 2020, meaning that even more businesses will have access to financial support


To help people in problem debt get their finances back on track, an extra £37.8 million support package is being made available to debt advice providers this financial year, bringing this year's budget for free debt advice in England to over £100 million


In May, the Government also announced the immediate release of £65 million dormant assets funding to Fair4All Finance, an independent organisation that has been founded to support the financial wellbeing of people in vulnerable circumstances. The funding is used to increase access to fair, affordable and appropriate financial products and services for those in financial difficulties


From May 2021 the Breathing Space scheme will offer people in problem debt a pause of up to 60 days on most enforcement action, interest, fees and charges, and will encourage them to seek professional debt advice.

Data on levels of over-indebtedness in Dudley North was last published in 2018 by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), who continue to fund local delivery of debt advice through Dudley Citizens Advice. MaPS will be publishing updated figures in 2021.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the (a) administrative and (b) financial burden of business rates on retail and hospitality businesses once the business rates holiday expires in April 2021.

The Government has supported retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England with over £10 billion of business rates relief. It will continue to look at how to adjust its support in a way that ensures people can get back to work, protecting both the UK economy and the livelihoods of people across the country. The Government is conducting a fundamental review of business rates and will outline plans for future business rates reliefs in the New Year.

23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to support veterinary practices affected by the covid-19 outbreak through business rate relief.

The Government has provided enhanced support through business rates relief to businesses occupying properties used for retail, hospitality and leisure given the direct and acute impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on those sectors.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published guidance for local authorities on eligible properties. As set out in the guidance, support is targeted at premises that are wholly or mainly being used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues; for assembly and leisure; or as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation. It is for local authorities to determine eligibility for reliefs, having regard to guidance issued by the Government.

A range of further measures to support all businesses, including those not eligible for the business rates holiday, such as veterinary practices, has also been made available.

23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether short-term measures in the terms of reference of the Government’s business rates review will be implemented at the end of the business rates holiday for retail and hospitality in April 2021.

On 28 April, HM Treasury set out timelines for tax policy consultations in light of the current Covid-19 crisis. As set out in that update, the call for evidence for the fundamental review of business rates will be published in the coming months. This review will be comprehensive, including looking at potential changes that could be made with effect from 1 April 2021. Stakeholders will be invited to contribute their views and engage throughout the review.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to help people in Dudley with problem debt.

The government is committed to supporting people in problem debt. We have established the Money and Pensions Service to provide free-to-use support on all aspects of people’s financial lives and have increased public funding for free professional debt advice to almost £56m this year, providing support to?560,000 people in England.

But there is more to do to support people who fall into problem debt. We are delivering a 60-day breathing space period that will see enforcement action from creditors halted and interest frozen for people with problem debt. We expect over 700,000 people to benefit from breathing space in its first year alone.

And to help prevent debt problems, the government is bringing together the UK’s world-leading fintech sector with community and social lenders through the Affordable Credit Challenge Fund to develop technological solutions that raise awareness of and access to affordable credit as an alternative to high-cost lenders.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Jan 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the equity of child benefit payment reductions in relation to (a) an individual earning more than £50,000 and (b) a couple with a combined income of nearly £100,000 where each individual earns less than £50,000.

The Government introduced the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) from January 2013 to ensure that support is targeted at those who need it most. It applies to anyone with an individual income over £50,000, who claims Child Benefit or whose partner claims it, regardless of the make-up of their household.

Basing HICBC on household incomes would mean finding out the incomes of everyone in each of the eight million households eligible for child benefit. This would effectively introduce a new means test.

14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to reduce the number of school age children linked with knife crime in (a) the UK and (b) Dudley North constituency.

This Government is determined to turn the tide on knife crime in all areas, wherever it occurs.

Through the Serious Violence Fund (SVF), the Home Office has invested a total of £242 million over three years in the 18 police force areas most affected by serious violence. Over three years £105.5 million of the SVF has been invested in multi-agency Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) in the 18 areas, with £10,110,000 allocated to the West Midlands PCC to develop the West Midlands 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. The remaining £136.5 million of the SVF has been allocated to the same 18 police forces to fund a surge in police operational activity. West Midlands Police have been allocated £15,541,485.00 of this funding.

In addition to the Serious Violence Fund, we 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). Moreover, this government has awarded an extra £5 million towards the expedited development of a national Centre of Excellence (CofE) to help guide government investment and national policies. In total, 12 grantees in the West Midlands are in receipt of funding from all grant rounds.

Through the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts bill, we have also introduced legislation which will place new duties on a range of specified agencies across different sectors, such as local government, youth offending, and health and probation, to work collaboratively, share data and information, and put in place plans to prevent and reduce serious violence.

In the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 we have introduced specific measures to address knife crime, including the introduction of Knife Crime Prevention Orders to help the police target those most at risk of being drawn into serious violence, to set them on a more positive path.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to deliver civil service jobs in her Department to Dudley North constituency.

The Home Office employs Civil Servants across the UK and is already a major employer in many communities outside of London.

The Home Office intends to go beyond the conventional Government footprint and size to identify appropriate locations where we could locate future job opportunities. This will further enhance representation within the Home Office of the communities we serve and support economic growth across the UK.

Our long-term plans are being developed and we will share them in due course.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much her Department spent on the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers in (a) hotels and (b) other forms of accommodation for the financial year 2020-21; and how many asylum seekers have been so housed as a result of that provision.

We expect the highest standards from our providers and the accommodation provided must be safe, habitable, fit for purpose and is required to comply with the Decent Homes Standard, in addition to standards outlined in relevant national or local housing legislation.

Providers are expected to conduct regular checks across the accommodation estate with the Home Office having access to their systems. Throughout the pandemic the ability to inspect accommodation has faced some challenges; ensuring that we protect the safety of our staff and the people we support adhering to PHE guidance; whilst maintaining safe, habitable, fit for purpose accommodation.

We receive regular intel from calls to our AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) providers Migrant Help. Service Users can raise issues relating to accommodation through the Issue Reporting service provided by Migrant Help.

The Asylum Accommodation and Support Services contracts (AASC) have a robust performance management system, against which providers are expected to deliver. Where performance falls short of the required standard, failures are recorded and can result in the award of points and, ultimately, service credits being applied.

Providers’ performance is monitored closely by dedicated staff in each contract area, who are in daily contact with them. This is supplemented by a formal governance process which includes quarterly Strategic Review Management Boards and monthly Contract Management Groups. Service credits and subsequent improvement plans are discussed and monitored as part of this process.

The current global pandemic has presented us with significant challenges when it comes to the provision of asylum accommodation, including sourcing sufficient suitable accommodation to meet demand.

The use of hotels and wider government facilities are a short-term measure and we are working to move people to longer-term dispersal accommodation as soon as it becomes available.

The latest published Immigration Statistics detail the number of asylum seekers accommodated in each local authority area, which includes those in hotel and wider government facilities. These statistics can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/asylum-and-resettlement-datasets#asylum-support.

The Home Office does not publish a breakdown of these statistics which disaggregates the type of accommodation being used to accommodate asylum seekers.

As described above, accommodation for supported asylum seekers is arranged by private sector providers through contractual arrangements with the Home Office. Details of these contracts can be found here https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Search/Results

Accommodation costs are considered to be commercially confidential, therefore the Home Office does not published this information, however total expenditure on asylum is published in the Home Office Annual Report and Accounts, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/ho-annual-reports-and-accounts

The AASC providers receive payments for providing services consistent with those requirements.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much her Department has spent on agencies sourcing the provision of hotel and other accommodation for asylum seekers in the financial year 2020-21; what the durations are of her Department's contracts with each of those agencies; what the renewal dates are of each of those contracts; and what the procurement processes were for each of those contracts.

We expect the highest standards from our providers and the accommodation provided must be safe, habitable, fit for purpose and is required to comply with the Decent Homes Standard, in addition to standards outlined in relevant national or local housing legislation.

Providers are expected to conduct regular checks across the accommodation estate with the Home Office having access to their systems. Throughout the pandemic the ability to inspect accommodation has faced some challenges; ensuring that we protect the safety of our staff and the people we support adhering to PHE guidance; whilst maintaining safe, habitable, fit for purpose accommodation.

We receive regular intel from calls to our AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) providers Migrant Help. Service Users can raise issues relating to accommodation through the Issue Reporting service provided by Migrant Help.

The Asylum Accommodation and Support Services contracts (AASC) have a robust performance management system, against which providers are expected to deliver. Where performance falls short of the required standard, failures are recorded and can result in the award of points and, ultimately, service credits being applied.

Providers’ performance is monitored closely by dedicated staff in each contract area, who are in daily contact with them. This is supplemented by a formal governance process which includes quarterly Strategic Review Management Boards and monthly Contract Management Groups. Service credits and subsequent improvement plans are discussed and monitored as part of this process.

The current global pandemic has presented us with significant challenges when it comes to the provision of asylum accommodation, including sourcing sufficient suitable accommodation to meet demand.

The use of hotels and wider government facilities are a short-term measure and we are working to move people to longer-term dispersal accommodation as soon as it becomes available.

The latest published Immigration Statistics detail the number of asylum seekers accommodated in each local authority area, which includes those in hotel and wider government facilities. These statistics can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/asylum-and-resettlement-datasets#asylum-support.

The Home Office does not publish a breakdown of these statistics which disaggregates the type of accommodation being used to accommodate asylum seekers.

As described above, accommodation for supported asylum seekers is arranged by private sector providers through contractual arrangements with the Home Office. Details of these contracts can be found here https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Search/Results

Accommodation costs are considered to be commercially confidential, therefore the Home Office does not published this information, however total expenditure on asylum is published in the Home Office Annual Report and Accounts, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/ho-annual-reports-and-accounts

The AASC providers receive payments for providing services consistent with those requirements.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, which body undertakes the inspection of the (a) quality and (b) safe provision of accommodation of asylum seekers; and what the frequency is of those inspections.

We expect the highest standards from our providers and the accommodation provided must be safe, habitable, fit for purpose and is required to comply with the Decent Homes Standard, in addition to standards outlined in relevant national or local housing legislation.

Providers are expected to conduct regular checks across the accommodation estate with the Home Office having access to their systems. Throughout the pandemic the ability to inspect accommodation has faced some challenges; ensuring that we protect the safety of our staff and the people we support adhering to PHE guidance; whilst maintaining safe, habitable, fit for purpose accommodation.

We receive regular intel from calls to our AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) providers Migrant Help. Service Users can raise issues relating to accommodation through the Issue Reporting service provided by Migrant Help.

The Asylum Accommodation and Support Services contracts (AASC) have a robust performance management system, against which providers are expected to deliver. Where performance falls short of the required standard, failures are recorded and can result in the award of points and, ultimately, service credits being applied.

Providers’ performance is monitored closely by dedicated staff in each contract area, who are in daily contact with them. This is supplemented by a formal governance process which includes quarterly Strategic Review Management Boards and monthly Contract Management Groups. Service credits and subsequent improvement plans are discussed and monitored as part of this process.

The current global pandemic has presented us with significant challenges when it comes to the provision of asylum accommodation, including sourcing sufficient suitable accommodation to meet demand.

The use of hotels and wider government facilities are a short-term measure and we are working to move people to longer-term dispersal accommodation as soon as it becomes available.

The latest published Immigration Statistics detail the number of asylum seekers accommodated in each local authority area, which includes those in hotel and wider government facilities. These statistics can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/asylum-and-resettlement-datasets#asylum-support.

The Home Office does not publish a breakdown of these statistics which disaggregates the type of accommodation being used to accommodate asylum seekers.

As described above, accommodation for supported asylum seekers is arranged by private sector providers through contractual arrangements with the Home Office. Details of these contracts can be found here https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Search/Results

Accommodation costs are considered to be commercially confidential, therefore the Home Office does not published this information, however total expenditure on asylum is published in the Home Office Annual Report and Accounts, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/ho-annual-reports-and-accounts

The AASC providers receive payments for providing services consistent with those requirements.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what incentives her Department has put in place to help increase the diversity of local police officers in (a) Dudley North constituency and (b) the UK.

This Government’s commitment to recruit an additional 20,000 officers provides a once in generation opportunity to improve diversity and this Government has been clear that all forces should be striving to become representative of the communities served. Through the Police Uplift Programme, we are supporting all forces, including West Midlands Police, with a variety of attraction and recruitment strategies, whilst delivering a national campaign that’s been designed to reach the widest and most diverse audience possible.

Some forces have made significant improvements in the rate of Black, Asian and minority ethnic joiners through successful positive action measures. Information is available on police.uk that shows the ethnicity and gender representation for each police force compared to local force area populations. This allows the public to hold forces to account.

The Government has also supported innovative schemes, such as Police Now, which are making the police workforce more diverse than ever before; showing that we can attract the brightest and best into policing, whilst introducing new perspectives from some of the country’s most challenging neighbourhoods.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of trends in the level of offences against emergency workers in (a) Dudley, (b) Sedgley and (c) Gornal and Woodsetton.

Our brave workers across the emergency services do an extraordinary job in the most difficult situations, keeping us safe, day in and day out. It is absolutely unacceptable for them to be assaulted.

The Home Office collects data from police forces on police recorded crime including “Assaults on a constable” and ‘Assaults with injury on an emergency worker other than a constable’. Data for ‘Assaults with injury on an emergency worker other than a constable’ is only available from April 2020 to June 2020.

Data is broken down by Police Force Area and Community Safety Partnership Area, including Dudley. Data is not collected at ward level. The latest data for the year ending June 2020 can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/police-recorded-crime-open-data-tables

Assaults specifically against emergency workers are punishable by up to 12 months in prison and could be charged as common assault. We have also announced our intention to double the maximum sentence for assaults on emergency workers, from 12 months to two years, showing our commitment to ensuring these attacks are not tolerated.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many illegal immigrants have been housed in Dudley borough in the last six months.

We do not provide accommodation to illegal immigrants. Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with free, fully furnished accommodation while applications are considered.

The number of asylum seekers accommodated in each local authority can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/asylum-and-resettlement-datasets#asylum-support

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if the Government will seek to overrule devolved responsibilities over policing to maintain public order during protests.

Peaceful protest is a vital part of a democratic society. It is a long-standing tradition in this country that people are free to gather together and to demonstrate their views provided that they do so within the law.

The right to protest does not extend to violent or threatening behaviour and the police have powers to deal with any such acts. The use of these powers and the management of demonstrations are an operational matter for the police. Policing is devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Her Majesty’s Government respects the devolution settlements.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to protect victims of domestic abuse in Dudley.

Domestic abuse is a horrific crime that shatters the lives of those affected.

The Home Office has provided over £1.6m for projects to support domestic abuse victims and their children in the West Midlands and Black Country.

The landmark Domestic Abuse Bill, reintroduced on 3 March, will help to better protect and support victims of domestic abuse and their children across the country.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
7th Dec 2020
What steps his Department is taking to support defence exports to NATO partner countries.

The Ministry of Defence leads on strategic campaigns but engages fully with our NATO partners more widely on defence exports. The Department is keen to support our allies with excellent British capabilities and in doing so support British jobs. Many such roles and export opportunities are embedded across the Midlands.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Armed Forces Covenant in supporting veterans in (a) Dudley, (b) the Black Country and (c) the UK.

This Government is committed to making the UK the best place to be a veteran and to do more to ensure that each veteran is valued, contributing and supported. This is why we published the Strategy for our Veterans in November 2018, and its Action Plan in January 2020, and have been working with a range of partners, including those in local Government, to make this vision a reality: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/strategy-for-our-veterans

Our commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant has seen tangible progress in 2020, including through the launch of the Veterans Gateway app in May, which provides local information on services available to support veterans. Since signing the Armed Forces Covenant, we have worked closely with Dudley Council through our local liaison officers and the Council now guarantees job interviews to Service leavers and veterans who meet the minimum criteria. All past and serving personnel and their families also qualify for the half price Options Leisure Plus scheme at sports halls, swimming pools and most events at borough halls. In June, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government published new statutory guidance for local authorities to further improve access to social housing for members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

Dudley Council now allows any veteran or Service leaver family applying for social housing to have their service years classed as years spent on its housing waiting list. All four Black Country Local Authorities are participating in the West Midlands working group supporting the Covenant legislation engagement process, ahead of the legislation being introduced to Parliament in the Armed Forces Bill next year.

26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he has taken to ensure the armed forces are prepared to support the roll out of covid-19 vaccines as soon as they become available; and what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on using the armed forces to assist in the distribution of the vaccine.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has prepared a Winter Support Force of 13,500 personnel to respond to a range of challenges over the winter including COVID-19. 115 personnel are currently supporting vaccine delivery tasks (as at 30 November) and the MOD is working closely with other Departments on future plans. Relevant Ministers, including the Secretary of State for Defence, discuss this subject routinely.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the UN in preventing sexual violence in conflict areas.

Over recent years, we have supported and driven the adoption of several landmark UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) which seek to prevent Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) by demonstrating that these acts will not go unpunished. These resolutions have secured language committing to a survivor-centric approach to CRSV; highlighted the need to support children born of sexual violence, and promoted specific language on sexual violence in sanction regimes.

UK leadership resulted in the unanimous adoption of UNSCR 2379 on Daesh Accountability, pushing for justice for the survivors of sexual violence in Iraq, and to ensure that Daesh can be held accountable for their crimes. Since 2011, prevention of CSRV has grown in international prominence, as evidenced by the UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict's Team of Experts working closely with 14 countries to strengthen national capacities and expertise to investigate and prosecute acts of CRSV.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans he has to prioritise British firms in the procurement of goods and services to increase employment and growth as the covid-19 lockdown eases.

Our intention is always to secure the best capability for the Armed Forces at best value for money for the taxpayer.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) recognises the vital contribution the UK defence industry makes to our prosperity. In 2018-19 the MOD spent £19.2 billion with UK industry and commerce, directly supporting 119,000 jobs across the country and indirectly supporting many thousands more. Our UK supply chain has a wide regional footprint and supports the prosperity of the UK across every region, stimulating high-value, high-skilled jobs. We have launched a number of activities to support the growth and competitiveness of the UK defence sector, including through the defence prosperity programme. More broadly, the MOD is leading a cross-Government review into the UK's defence and security sectors. This will identify how we can enhance our strategic approach to ensure we have competitive, innovative and world-class defence and security industries that drive investment and prosperity across the Union, now and in the future.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will make it his policy that in the event that a change in his policies on energy ratings requires owners of private dwellings to undertake building works those changes in policies will be limited to new build properties.

The Government is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Both new and existing homes will need to become more energy efficient and switch to low carbon heating to meet this ambitious target. The Government recently consulted on raising minimum energy performance standards in private rental sector homes and is currently consulting on measures to improve energy performance of homes through lenders. Our Heat and Building Strategy will set out further actions we will take for reducing emissions from buildings.

The Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, published in November 2020, also set out a range of measures to support all property owners to improve the energy performance of their homes, including extending the Green Homes Grant scheme for a further year.

The minimum energy efficiency standards that we set for buildings through Part L of the Building Regulations must put us on the right path to achieve our net zero commitment. The Future Buildings Standard consultation, which was published on 19 January 2021, builds on the Future Homes Standard by setting out energy and ventilation standards for non-domestic buildings, existing homes and to mitigate against overheating in residential buildings. Together, the Future Homes Standard and proposed Future Buildings Standard provide a pathway towards creating homes and buildings that are fit for the future and a built environment with lower carbon emissions

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what representations he has received on the adequacy of public consultation on future local planning decisions in Dudley North constituency.

Local planning authorities are required to undertake a formal period of public consultation for most planning applications, of no less than 21 days. By law, planning applications are determined in accordance with the local development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Each application is judged on its own individual merit and the weight given to these considerations is a matter for the local planning authority as the decision taker.

The planning reforms set out in the Planning for the Future White paper will make it simpler, quicker and more accessible for local people to engage with the planning system. The best way to bring forward new, significant development is by improving community engagement and input at an earlier stage in the planning process. At the plan making stage, people will have the opportunity to comment on local plans and deciding where proposed development should go. There will still be the opportunity for people to comment on planning applications where these are required.

We have received no recent representations concerning the adequacy of public consultation for current planning applications in Dudley North.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will make it his policy to (a) encourage the allocation of (i) the £25 million Towns Fund funding and (ii) other recent funding for Dudley to the redevelopment of the town centre and (b) ensure that the widest possible consultation is carried out so that local people help decide what is right for their town.

As set out in the Towns Fund further guidance, we know town centres and high streets are facing particular challenges. We are leaving flexibility for towns to prioritise investment across the town – for example, in gateway areas, key education or employment sites.

The Town Deal Board is responsible for producing the final Town Investment Plan, including putting forward suitable projects which align with the objectives of the Towns Fund. It is crucial that interventions supported through the Towns Fund should have the support of the community, through early and ongoing engagement and genuine partnership arrangements.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans the Government has to strengthen the rights of local communities on section 106 agreements.

The Government has introduced a requirement for all local authorities that receive developer contributions, including from section 106 agreements, to publish an annual Infrastructure Funding Statement.

The statements, which must first be published by 31 December 2020 should identify income and spend on infrastructure and affordable housing and the choices local authorities have made about how future contributions will be used.

This transparency will help local people to understand what contributions are being collected towards infrastructure. The neighbourhood allocation of the Community Infrastructure Levy also enables communities to have a say in how funds should be used to help support their local area.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if his Department will take steps to help reduce the level of local authority burial fees; and what support the Government provides to people who cannot meet the cost of burials.

Local authorities are responsible for their own budgets and making decisions on local spending in line with local priorities. This is entirely appropriate, given that central government cannot predict exactly what the cost of a local service will be. In line with this principle, public burial authorities have the power to set their charges at levels they consider to be appropriate.

The Funeral Expenses Payments scheme provides a significant contribution towards the cost of a simple, respectful funeral arranged by recipients of certain income based benefits or tax credits. The scheme pays necessary burial and cremation costs in full, as defined by legislation, plus up to £1000 for other expenses such as the cost of a coffin, church and funeral director fees, Scotland has a similar scheme, the Funeral Support Payment scheme. Support for funeral costs for all young people under 18 is provided by the Children’s Funeral Fund for England, with similar schemes in Scotland and Wales. Interest-free Social Fund Budgeting Loans and Universal Credit Budgeting Advances can also be used for funeral expenses. Further financial support is available through Bereavement Support Payments which help working age people whose spouse or civil partner dies.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether his Department has plans to bring forward proposals to set a minimum set of standards for conveyancing solicitors.

Under the framework established by the Legal Services Act 2007, the legal profession is regulated independently of government. Solicitors are regulated by the independent Solicitors Regulation Authority, and it is a matter for them to set standards for their practitioners.

Service complaints relating to authorised persons under the Legal Services Act 2007 (including solicitors and licenced conveyancers) are within the remit of the Legal Ombudsman which operates independently of government. Conduct matters regarding solicitors and licensed conveyancers are addressed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Council of Licensed Conveyancers respectively.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent assessment he has made of the level of complaints made about (a) conveyancing solutions and (b) other parties undertaking property conveyancing activities.

Under the framework established by the Legal Services Act 2007, the legal profession is regulated independently of government. Solicitors are regulated by the independent Solicitors Regulation Authority, and it is a matter for them to set standards for their practitioners.

Service complaints relating to authorised persons under the Legal Services Act 2007 (including solicitors and licenced conveyancers) are within the remit of the Legal Ombudsman which operates independently of government. Conduct matters regarding solicitors and licensed conveyancers are addressed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Council of Licensed Conveyancers respectively.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
21st Jul 2021
What steps the Government is taking to help create jobs and attract investment in Northern Ireland.

The UK Government is committed to creating jobs and attracting investment in Northern Ireland - a key part of our plans to level up across the UK.

The Government’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ has protected jobs and livelihoods. And we have committed £600m to City & Growth Deals to help boost the economy, enhancing skills and creating new jobs such as the 100+ announced by Tech firm Igale.

We are also working with DIT and Invest NI to attract inward investment, including by highlighting Northern Ireland's strengths at a NI showcase event in London in September.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jun 2021
What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on co-ordinating a UK-wide response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Secretary of State and I continue to hold regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues and Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive on this important issue.

Although each devolved administration controls its own public health policy, we have been coordinating our responses to Covid, seeking alignment in policy and approach where appropriate, to ensure we were able to tackle the pandemic.

This joined up approach resulted in the UK-wide vaccine rollout for which over 75% of Northern Ireland’s adult population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. It will be important that we maintain this collective approach as we seek to recover from the pandemic.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
1st Jul 2020
What assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the level of additional fiscal support allocated to the Scottish Government in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

We are working closely with the Scottish Government to ensure it has the necessary funds to help secure jobs and protect the economy through the pandemic.

The Scottish Government has been allocated a total of nearly £3.8 billion of Barnett consequentials to support public services and businesses, with over £2.3 billion for business support alone.

This is on top of the unprecedented UK-wide measures the Chancellor announced since the start of the pandemic, including help for the self-employed, three-month mortgage holidays, funding for research, and extending Statutory Sick Pay.

Iain Stewart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scotland Office)
3rd Feb 2021
What progress his Department has made on signing new Growth Deals in Wales.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that we signed a Final Deal Agreement for the North Wales Growth Deal on 17 December 2020.

We also successfully agreed Heads of Terms for a Mid Wales Growth Deal on 22 December with a view to negotiating a Final Deal Agreement at pace.

When this is signed, it will mean that the whole of Wales will be covered by £790m of UK Government City and Growth Deal funding.

David T C Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Wales Office)
3rd Jun 2020
At what level discussions have taken place between the Government and the Welsh Government on tackling the covid-19 outbreak.

There are regular and productive discussions between the UK Government and Welsh Government at both Ministerial and official level on all aspects of our response to covid-19 to maintain our joined-up response.

Only last week I was pleased to join the Healthcare Ministerial Implementation Group with the Welsh Government Minister for Health and Social Services.

David T C Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Wales Office)