Marion Fellows Portrait

Marion Fellows

Scottish National Party - Motherwell and Wishaw

SNP Whip

(since May 2015)

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Disabilities)

(since January 2020)
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation)
20th Jun 2017 - 7th Jan 2020
Administration Committee
22nd Oct 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Education Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Education, Skills and the Economy Sub-Committee
12th Oct 2016 - 3rd May 2017
Education Committee
6th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017


Oral Question
Monday 28th June 2021
14:30
Department for Work and Pensions
Oral Question No. 13
What recent assessment she has made of the potential effect of reintroducing benefit sanctions on vulnerable claimants.
Save to Calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 6th July 2021
12:30
Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 13th July 2021
12:30
Division Votes
Monday 7th June 2021
Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 45 Scottish National Party Aye votes vs 0 Scottish National Party No votes
Tally: Ayes - 263 Noes - 364
Speeches
Monday 21st June 2021
Protecting Britain’s Steel Industry

I was eager to take part in this debate, as steel is a subject close to my heart. I have …

Written Answers
Wednesday 23rd June 2021
Education: Children
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the Government's commitment to education …
Early Day Motions
Thursday 27th May 2021
The Miracle Foundation - Charitable Organisation of the Year 2021-22
This House congratulates The Miracle Foundation for their award of ‘Charitable Organisation of the Year’ in the Prestige Awards; recognises …
Bills
Child Maintenance Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …
MP Financial Interests
None available
EDM signed
Thursday 24th June 2021
Armed Forces Day 2021
That this House notes that Armed Forces Day 2021 takes place on 26th June; welcomes this recognition and appreciation of …
Supported Legislation
Monday 6th July 2020
Tibet (Reciprocal Access) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to require the Secretary of State to report annually on restrictions on access by UK nationals to Tibet …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Marion Fellows has voted in 208 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Marion Fellows 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
Paul Scully (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
(12 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(10 debate interactions)
Robert Buckland (Conservative)
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
(9 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(9 debate contributions)
Department for International Trade
(7 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(7 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
Legislation Debates
Marion Fellows has not made any spoken contributions to legislative debate
View all Marion Fellows's debates

Motherwell and Wishaw Petitions

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

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

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

Petitions with highest Motherwell and Wishaw signature proportion
Petitions with most Motherwell and Wishaw signatures
Marion Fellows has not participated in any petition debates

Latest EDMs signed by Marion Fellows

23rd June 2021
Marion Fellows signed this EDM as a sponsor on Thursday 24th June 2021

Legacy of David R. Edwards (Dave Datblygu)

Tabled by: Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru - Ceredigion)
That this House mourns the passing of David R. Edwards (Dave Datblygu), musician, poet and and frontman of legendary Welsh band Datblygu at 56 years old in his home in Carmarthen; celebrates the legacy of Mr Edwards, originally from Cardigan, whose radically original music and lyrics including on albums such …
6 signatures
(Most recent: 24 Jun 2021)
Signatures by party:
Plaid Cymru: 3
Scottish National Party: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
21st June 2021
Marion Fellows signed this EDM on Thursday 24th June 2021

Apple Daily and freedom of speech in Hong Kong

Tabled by: Andrew Rosindell (Conservative - Romford)
That this House notes its concern over the recent arrests of a further five employees of Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily on the suspicion of national security violations; recognises the importance of a free, open and robust media for holding the powerful to account and is concerned that these arrests …
11 signatures
(Most recent: 24 Jun 2021)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 3
Liberal Democrat: 3
Conservative: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Independent: 1
Labour: 1
View All Marion Fellows's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Marion Fellows, 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.


Marion Fellows has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Marion Fellows has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Marion Fellows


The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to remove certain fees for child maintenance services; to make provision about the calculation of child maintenance payments; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 6th November 2018
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Date TBA

233 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
4 Other Department Questions
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what plans the Government has to remove the Equality Act 2010 exemption on manufactured goods to ensure that products must be accessible for disabled people.

The protections of the Equality Act 2010 do not extend to manufacturing, so there is no exemption to remove. The Act’s protections, including for disability, are extensive. Service providers have an anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments, including ensuring their facilities and products are accessible to disabled people who wish to use them. What is reasonable will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and will be determined by such factors as practicality, cost and the extent to which people with disabilities are likely to want to use the service.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he estimates each Department will have completed their reviews in relation to the National Strategy for Disabled People.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by Justin Tomlinson MP on 10 September 2020.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the hon. Member representing the House of Commons Commission, if the Commission will enable the introduction of a parliamentary internship scheme for disabled people to improve their inclusion and representation in Parliament.

Disabled people are offered internships with Members of Parliament as part of the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme. There are thirteen places on this Scheme and at least three of these places are ringfenced for disabled people. However, in reality more than three places are offered to disabled people each year.

This placement scheme opens up Parliament to talented individuals who would not have access to the traditional routes into Westminster by providing them with a nine-month paid internship in a Member’s office. At the outset of the expansion of the scheme in 2018 to include disabled people, the House worked closely with Disability Rights UK to ensure that the scheme was inclusive for disabled people.

An accessibility plan is developed for each disabled intern to ensure that they are supported whilst on the programme. All interns are supported by their Member who is their line manager and the Member’s office manager. They are given pastoral support by the House Service as well as a buddy.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if she will replicate the Scottish Government's Access to Elected Office Fund to increase the inclusion of candidates with disabilities at the next general election.

Political parties are responsible for their candidate selection and should lead the way in improving diverse representation, including from people with disabilities, at General Elections.

Successive recent UK Governments have helped in this process. An Access to Elected Office Fund ran on a pilot basis from 2012 to 2015, and was followed by the EnAble Fund launched in 2018 as an interim measure to allow political parties time to put in place more support. We welcome the positive steps taken by some political parties to support their disabled candidates and encourage all parties to embrace this approach.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
5th Nov 2020
What discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on upholding the rule of law.

The freedoms and protections that we all enjoy rely on the rule of law. This is an important constitutional principle which demands: equality under the law; access to independent and impartial justice; government subject to the law; law that is clear and certain.

The duty of the Law Officers is to give the Government full and frank legal advice, and to ensure the Government acts in full knowledge of the legal position. I take that responsibility seriously, and will continue to do so.

Suella Braverman
Minister on Leave (Attorney General)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the timescale is for the full roll-out of new provisions to enable all blind and partially sighted people to vote independently and in private.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to PQ143043 on 28 January.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps the Government is taking to consult an adequate number of blind and partially sighted people in the evaluation of audio voting devices.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to PQ143043 on 28 January.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on people with protected characteristics.

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

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on disabled people.

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

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what equality impact assessments his Department has undertaken on the potential legal and socioeconomic effects of the UK leaving the EU on different groups with protected characteristics.

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

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what proportion of public sector websites (a) comply and (b) do not comply with accessibility requirements mandated by the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is testing websites in accordance with the Accessibility Regulation.

GDS is encouraging organisations to engage with them to increase the accessibility of their websites for users.

GDS will periodically publish information about their monitoring. GDS will also, on behalf of the Minister for Cabinet Office, publish a list of websites with non-compliant accessibility statements.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to ensure compliance with the legal accessibility requirements for public sector websites mandated by the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is testing websites in accordance with the Accessibility Regulation.

GDS is encouraging organisations to engage with them to increase the accessibility of their websites for users.

GDS will periodically publish information about their monitoring. GDS will also, on behalf of the Minister for Cabinet Office, publish a list of websites with non-compliant accessibility statements.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
20th May 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

The Cabinet Office has a target of responding within 20 working days where a response is required.

As you will understand, the Cabinet Office is currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. Officials are ensuring that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised, and are taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 21 January 2021 to Question 133029 on Disability: EU Law, what steps the Government is taking to improve and enhance accessibility through domestic legislation.

The UK has robust legislation on accessibility through the protections covered by the Equality Act 2006, Equality Act 2010, and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland. The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination on grounds of disability and imposes a duty on providers of goods and services to make reasonable adjustments to prevent this.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will consult with relevant organisations before a decision is reached on how the Post Office subsidy will be allocated.

Through the November 2020 Spending Review a total of £227m of funding has been allocated to the Post Office to extend the network subsidy by £50 million and to provide £177 million to invest in the future of the network. This will ensure that post offices in every corner of the country, including our vital rural branches, can keep providing essential services for the people that rely on them – now and in the future.

The subsidy will be used to support the costs of loss-making post offices, in the same way that previous subsidies provided to the Post Office have been used. In order to support Spending Review decisions, the Department considered the impact of subsidy on subpostmasters across the Post Office network.

BEIS has a long track record of engaging with relevant organisations in relation to Post Office, including funding provided for the network, and it continues to meet with them on a regular basis.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department plans to undertake an assessment of the effect of the Post Office subsidy on subpostmasters across the post office network.

Through the November 2020 Spending Review a total of £227m of funding has been allocated to the Post Office to extend the network subsidy by £50 million and to provide £177 million to invest in the future of the network. This will ensure that post offices in every corner of the country, including our vital rural branches, can keep providing essential services for the people that rely on them – now and in the future.

The subsidy will be used to support the costs of loss-making post offices, in the same way that previous subsidies provided to the Post Office have been used. In order to support Spending Review decisions, the Department considered the impact of subsidy on subpostmasters across the Post Office network.

BEIS has a long track record of engaging with relevant organisations in relation to Post Office, including funding provided for the network, and it continues to meet with them on a regular basis.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will bring forward legislative proposals to enshrine the European Accessibility Act into UK law.

The UK has left the EU, and as the Transition Period ended on 31 December 2020 the UK will not be required to transpose the EAA into UK law.

The UK already has robust legislation on accessibility through the protections covered by the Equality Act 2006, Equality Act 2010, and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland. The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination on grounds of disability and imposes a duty on providers of goods and services to make reasonable adjustments to prevent this.

The Government will consider how further to improve or enhance accessibility through domestic legislation, and provide real benefit to citizens with disabilities.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy if he will introduce legislative proposals to ensure workers’ rights and employment standards are maintained after the transition period.

As an independent, sovereign nation we are now ideally placed to capitalise on the wealth of opportunities available to us. We want to go further than ever before to uphold workers’ rights, support UK businesses and ultimately boost productivity in the UK.

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

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when Post Office Ltd will publish its annual report and accounts.

Under the Companies Act, firms have 9 months after the relevant financial year ends to file its accounts, meaning the end of December 2020 for Post Office Limited. Companies House has provided an optional three-month extension of this deadline due to Covid-19. In recent years Post Office Limited has laid its report and accounts before Parliament between September and December.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of the £50 million announced in the 2020 Spending Review for Post Office subsidy and restructuring has been allocated for (a) subsidising and (b) restructuring the branch network.

The Government will provide £227 million of funding through the Spending Review to the Post Office. This extends the £50 million network subsidy and provides Post Office with £177 million to invest in the future of the network.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much Post Office Ltd spent on legal costs in the 2019-20 financial year.

Post Office responded to the BEIS Select Committee Inquiry in June 2020 regarding costs of the group litigation and its consequences and estimated that, since 2016/17 Post Office has incurred costs of approximately £43m in relation to the litigation (which began in April 2016). This figure includes expenditure on legal and consultancy fees connected with the litigation and other costs indirectly related to the litigation, but excludes the settlement amount of £57.75m which was ultimately paid by Post Office in December 2019.

The settlement in relation to the Horizon IT case agreed in December 2019 will be included in Post Office’s annual report and accounts for the financial year 2019/20, as will spend on litigation costs for financial year 2019/20.

Under the Companies Act, firms have 9 months after the relevant financial year ends to file their accounts, meaning the end of December 2020 for 2019/20 accounts. For accounts from the 2019/20 financial year Companies House has provided an optional three-month extension of this deadline due to Covid-19. In recent years, the Post Office has laid its report and accounts before Parliament between September and December.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in which financial year the £58 million legal settlement in relation to the Horizon IT case will be accounted for in Post Office Ltd’s Annual Report and Accounts.

Post Office responded to the BEIS Select Committee Inquiry in June 2020 regarding costs of the group litigation and its consequences and estimated that, since 2016/17 Post Office has incurred costs of approximately £43m in relation to the litigation (which began in April 2016). This figure includes expenditure on legal and consultancy fees connected with the litigation and other costs indirectly related to the litigation, but excludes the settlement amount of £57.75m which was ultimately paid by Post Office in December 2019.

The settlement in relation to the Horizon IT case agreed in December 2019 will be included in Post Office’s annual report and accounts for the financial year 2019/20, as will spend on litigation costs for financial year 2019/20.

Under the Companies Act, firms have 9 months after the relevant financial year ends to file their accounts, meaning the end of December 2020 for 2019/20 accounts. For accounts from the 2019/20 financial year Companies House has provided an optional three-month extension of this deadline due to Covid-19. In recent years, the Post Office has laid its report and accounts before Parliament between September and December.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what financial provision Post Office Ltd is making for future legal costs in response to its decision not to oppose 44 out of 47 appeals in which it acted as prosecutor.

The question of financial provisions relating to future legal costs is an operational matter for the Post Office Limited. Post Office Limited will be following appropriate accounting standards in producing their annual accounts.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department is empowered to turn the inquiry into Post Office Horizon cases into a statutory inquiry.

The Inquiries Act 2005 sets out the legal framework for setting up and running a statutory Inquiry. The Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry is being led by an Independent Chair who can raise any issues with its Terms of Reference or legal footing with Government.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many intention notices proposing a reduction of a Green Deal loan mis-sold by Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd have been carried out without appeal in each of the last 12 months for which information is available.

The Green Deal Framework Regulations require that, before imposing any sanction, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State gives notice to affected parties of his intention to impose a sanction (an initial notice, referred to as an Intention Notice) and provides them with an opportunity to make representations before it is made final.

As of 8th October 2020, there were 117 appeals against mis-selling by Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd (HELMS) for which no Intention Notice or final decision has been issued.

The average time between receipt of an appeal case by the Secretary of State and the Issue of an Intention Notice is 13 months.

The following table shows how many Intention Notices were issued by month proposing reduction or cancellation of Green Deal loans in response to appeals about mis-selling by HELMS, and the number of these cases for which no representations have been received.

Month

Number of Intention Notices Sent

Number of cases for which no representations have been received

October 2019

15

9

November 2019

11

9

December 2019

17

9

January 2020

13

7

February 2020

22

10

March 2020

12

6

April 2020

3

0

Complainants can appeal final decisions (set out in final Sanction Notices) to the General Regulatory Chamber of the First–tier Tribunal. For one case recorded in the above table, the complainant did not submit representations but, following receipt of a final Sanction Notice, appealed to the Tribunal.

No Intention Notices have been issued since April. In April, two decisions were made by the First-tier Tribunal in response to appeals. Following this, the issuing of Intention Notices was paused to allow for full consideration of the First-tier Tribunal decisions in future Intention Notices.

During this period, 43 Sanction Notices have been issued in response to appeals about mis-selling by HELMS.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many cases are awaiting a decision on whether to serve intention notices proposing a reduction of a Green Deal loan mis-sold by Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd.

The Green Deal Framework Regulations require that, before imposing any sanction, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State gives notice to affected parties of his intention to impose a sanction (an initial notice, referred to as an Intention Notice) and provides them with an opportunity to make representations before it is made final.

As of 8th October 2020, there were 117 appeals against mis-selling by Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd (HELMS) for which no Intention Notice or final decision has been issued.

The average time between receipt of an appeal case by the Secretary of State and the Issue of an Intention Notice is 13 months.

The following table shows how many Intention Notices were issued by month proposing reduction or cancellation of Green Deal loans in response to appeals about mis-selling by HELMS, and the number of these cases for which no representations have been received.

Month

Number of Intention Notices Sent

Number of cases for which no representations have been received

October 2019

15

9

November 2019

11

9

December 2019

17

9

January 2020

13

7

February 2020

22

10

March 2020

12

6

April 2020

3

0

Complainants can appeal final decisions (set out in final Sanction Notices) to the General Regulatory Chamber of the First–tier Tribunal. For one case recorded in the above table, the complainant did not submit representations but, following receipt of a final Sanction Notice, appealed to the Tribunal.

No Intention Notices have been issued since April. In April, two decisions were made by the First-tier Tribunal in response to appeals. Following this, the issuing of Intention Notices was paused to allow for full consideration of the First-tier Tribunal decisions in future Intention Notices.

During this period, 43 Sanction Notices have been issued in response to appeals about mis-selling by HELMS.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the average waiting time is for his Department to decide whether to serve an intention notice proposing a reduction of a Green Deal loan mis-sold by Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd on a case.

The Green Deal Framework Regulations require that, before imposing any sanction, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State gives notice to affected parties of his intention to impose a sanction (an initial notice, referred to as an Intention Notice) and provides them with an opportunity to make representations before it is made final.

As of 8th October 2020, there were 117 appeals against mis-selling by Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd (HELMS) for which no Intention Notice or final decision has been issued.

The average time between receipt of an appeal case by the Secretary of State and the Issue of an Intention Notice is 13 months.

The following table shows how many Intention Notices were issued by month proposing reduction or cancellation of Green Deal loans in response to appeals about mis-selling by HELMS, and the number of these cases for which no representations have been received.

Month

Number of Intention Notices Sent

Number of cases for which no representations have been received

October 2019

15

9

November 2019

11

9

December 2019

17

9

January 2020

13

7

February 2020

22

10

March 2020

12

6

April 2020

3

0

Complainants can appeal final decisions (set out in final Sanction Notices) to the General Regulatory Chamber of the First–tier Tribunal. For one case recorded in the above table, the complainant did not submit representations but, following receipt of a final Sanction Notice, appealed to the Tribunal.

No Intention Notices have been issued since April. In April, two decisions were made by the First-tier Tribunal in response to appeals. Following this, the issuing of Intention Notices was paused to allow for full consideration of the First-tier Tribunal decisions in future Intention Notices.

During this period, 43 Sanction Notices have been issued in response to appeals about mis-selling by HELMS.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many Post Offices were temporarily closed in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) each region of England on (i) 31 August 2020 and (ii) 30 September 2020.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the number of temporary closures across the UK on the 31st August and 30th September are operational matters for Post Office Limited.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many Post Offices were temporarily closed in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) each region of England on (i) 31 August 2020 and (ii) 30 September 2020, by branch type.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, the company has the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the number of temporary closures, by branch type, across the UK on the 31st August and 30th September are operational matters for Post Office Limited.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much of the public subsidy to Post Office Ltd was spent on operations in (a) Scotland, (b) England, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland in each of the last five years.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK.

While the Government sets?the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the amount of public subsidy given to Post Office Ltd. to use for operations cross the UK are?operational matter for?Post Office Limited.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 14 July 2020 to Question 71096 on Post Office Horizon IT System Independent Review, whether he plans to maintain the timetable for (a) appointing a chair and (b) beginning the review by the end of September.

The Government wants to see the Horizon Independent Review start as soon as possible. We are making good progress with the appointment of a Chair. Once this process is complete, the Review will be formally launched.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many of each Post Office branch type were temporarily closed in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) each region of England on 31 August 2020.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the number and type of temporarily closed branches across the UK is an operational matters for Post Office Limited.

?I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.??

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many of each Post Office branch type were temporarily closed in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) each region of England on (i) 31 May 2020, (ii) 30 June 2020, and (iii) 21 July 2020.

While the Government sets?the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the number of Post Office branch type temporarily closed across the UK since 31 May, 30 June and 21 July are operational matters for?Post Office Limited.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many Post Offices were temporarily closed in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) each region of England on (i) 31 May 2020, (ii) 30 June 2020 and (iii) 21 July 2020.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, temporarily closed Post Offices across the UK on 31 May, 30 June and 21 July are operational matters for Post Office Limited.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the timeframe is for the Post Office Report and Accounts for the financial year ended 31 March 2020 to be laid before Parliament.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The timeframe for the Post Office Report and Accounts?is an operational matter for Post Office Limited.? I therefore asked?Nick Read,?the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon. Member on this matter. His reply was issued on 26th August and a copy will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy, what steps she is taking to create safe work environments for disabled people as they return to work as covid-19 lockdown restrictions ease.

The Government has published guidance on safer working for a range of working environments, available on gov.uk. The guidance does not change employers’ obligations to make reasonable adjustments for those with disabilities.

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

The safer workplaces guidance provides suggestions to help employers make their workplaces COVID-19 secure for their employees, visitors and customers. We expect all businesses to approach reopening in a sensible way, taking account of the Government’s guidance and discussing with neighbouring businesses and their local authorities where applicable.

The guidance covers England only, but it is drafted in a way that is useful to all employers. The Devolved Administrations were consulted regularly throughout the drafting of this guidance.

Employers should follow all guidance and comply with relevant legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the timescale is for the appointment of the Chair of the Independent Review into the Post Office Horizon system.

We plan to appoint a Chair so that they can start the inquiry by September at the latest.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when the Government plans to make an announcement on its decision on the future of public subsidies for Post Office Limited after March 2021.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services.

Successive Governments?have?invested over £2 billion in the Post Office network since 2010. Looking at the future,?the Government remains committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the network and will continue working with Post Office Ltd to achieve this. Future subsidy requirements will be considered within the Government's fiscal framework.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the length of the new commercial agreement between Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd is planned to be; and whether he plans to alter the terms of that agreement.

The Government has no role in commercial agreements between Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd. The length and terms of such agreements are contractual matters for the businesses concerned.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Post Office Report and Accounts for the financial year ended 31 March 2020 are planned to be laid before Parliament before 22 July 2020.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

Post Office Limited’s Report and Accounts for the financial year ended 31 March 2020 will not be laid before parliament before 22 July 2020. Under the Companies Act, firms have 9 months after the relevant financial year ends to file their accounts, meaning the end of December 2020 for Post Office Limited. Companies House has provided an optional three-month extension of this deadline due to Covid-19. In recent years Post Office Limited has laid its report and accounts before Parliament between September and December.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when will the Fujitsu's contract to provide Post Office Ltd's IT Horizon system will be up for renewal; and whether that contract contains an option to terminate before the scheduled renewal or end date.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The details regarding contracts with Fujitsu, is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the contract to supply Post Office Ltd's IT Horizon system be (a) put out for tender or (b) renegotiated with Fujitsu at the end of the current contract.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The details regarding contracts with Fujitsu, is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the average age is of Sub-Postmasters in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) each region of England.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the average age of Postmasters across the UK is a matter for Post Office Limited.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many of each post office branch type have been temporarily closed in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) each region of England as of (i) 31 March 2020 and (ii) since 1 April 2020.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the number of Post Offices which are temporarily closed across the UK is an operational matter for Post Office Limited.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many post offices have been temporarily closed in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) each region of England since 1 April 2020.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the number of Post Offices which are temporarily closed across the UK is an operational matter for Post Office Limited.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to issue guidance to (a) employers and (b) employees on the application of section 44 of the Employment Relations Act (1996) during the covid-19 outbreak.

Under the law, employers are responsible for health and safety management and should take the necessary steps to ensure safe workplaces. During the Covid-19 crisis, the Government has worked with a wide range of businesses, trade unions and representative organisations to issue guidance on safe return to work.? Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive have also issued guidance on how to ensure social distancing and hygiene measures in the workplace.

In line with employment and health and safety law, this guidance sets out that where employees have health and safety concerns, they should raise this with their employee representative, trade union, or the Health & Safety Executive.

Before restarting work employers should ensure the safety of the workplace by:

  • carrying out a risk assessment in line with the HSE guidance
  • consulting with their workers or trade unions
  • sharing the results of the risk assessment with their workforce and, if possible, publishing on their website

Where?HSE?identifies?employers?who are not taking action to comply with the relevant PHE guidance to control public health risks they will consider taking a range of enforcement action.?The Government recently announced an additional £14 million of funding for HSE to support this work.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the Department aims to respond to all correspondence within 15 working days, where a response is required.

The average response times for each month in the last two years is set out below. The data is correct as of 27 May and relates to correspondence for which a reply has been issued.

Month Due

Days to Complete

Apr-18

14

May-18

15

Jun-18

11

Jul-18

14

Aug-18

17

Sep-18

16

Oct-18

20

Nov-18

21

Dec-18

17

Jan-19

12

Feb-19

11

Mar-19

12

Apr-19

11

May-19

13

Jun-19

14

Jul-19

13

Aug-19

15

Sep-19

11

Oct-19

10

Nov-19

9

Dec-19

16

Jan-20

9

Feb-20

11

Mar-20

13

Apr-20

11

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will extend the public subsidy for Post Office Ltd due to expire in March 2021.

The Government remains committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the network and will continue working with Post Office Ltd to achieve this. The current Funding Agreement runs until the end of the 2020/21 financial year. Subsidy requirements from April 2021 onwards will be considered as part of discussions on the 2020 Spending Review.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what consultations his Department has undertaken on continuing public subsidy to Post Office Ltd after March 2021.

The Government remains committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the network and will continue working with Post Office Ltd to achieve this. The current Funding Agreement runs until the end of the 2020/21 financial year. Subsidy requirements from April 2021 onwards will be considered as part of discussions on the 2020 Spending Review.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many post offices are temporarily closed in each council area of (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) England.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the number of Post Offices which are temporarily closed across the UK is an operational matter for Post Office Limited.

I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much Post Office Ltd paid towards the apprentice levy in each of the last five years.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the amount paid toward the apprentice levy in each of the last five years is an operational matter for Post Office Limited.

I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect on the level of viable Post Office branches of WH Smith's recent fall in revenue.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, the impact of WH Smith’s recent fall in revenue on the viability of post office branches is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon. Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of potential effect of WH Smith's profit warning on the sustainability of Post Office branches in WH Smith's premises.

The Government recognises the critical role that Post Offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

WHSmith have issued a profit warning in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. The Chancellor announced at the Budget a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by Covid-19. Post Office Limited is in conversation with WHSmith and all other retail partners on a regular basis including discussions around contingency planning and cost control.

This government will continue to monitor and communicate with Post Office Limited as the situation with Covid-19 develops.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many post offices each retailer operates.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, number of post office operated by specific retailers is operational to Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions his Department has had with Post Office Ltd on the Horizon IT system; and the purpose of those discussions was.

Ministers and officials have very frequent conversations with Post Office Limited. These have covered a range of issues including the Horizon system and the follow-on actions that Post Office Ltd needs to take as a result of the recent court judgments.

It is important that Government takes the Post Office’s relationship with postmasters very seriously and closely monitors the situation. The Post Office, through its new CEO has since accepted he got things wrong. He has apologised and said it aims at establishing a positive relationship with its postmasters. BEIS is working actively with the Post Office on this matter and will hold them to account on their progress.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many branches involved in the recent group litigation against Post Office Ltd are directly managed by Post Office Ltd.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Details regarding constituencies, branches, postmasters and number of legal cases involved in the Horizon litigation is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in which constituencies the post office branches involved in the recent group litigation against Post Office Ltd are based.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Details regarding constituencies, branches, postmasters and number of legal cases involved in the Horizon litigation is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many (a) sub-postmasters, (b) staff of sub-postmasters, (c) staff of Post Office Ltd, (d) managerial staff and (e) other staff were involved in the recent group litigation against Post Office Ltd.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Details regarding constituencies, branches, postmasters and number of legal cases involved in the Horizon litigation is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the effect of the faulty Horizon IT system on the annual revenue of each Post Office branch.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Details regarding constituencies, branches, postmasters and number of legal cases involved in the Horizon litigation is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many cases of accounting faults with the Horizon IT system Post Office Ltd has been made aware of in each year since the introduction of that system.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Details regarding constituencies, branches, postmasters and number of legal cases involved in the Horizon litigation is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many individual legal cases have been brought against Post Office Ltd (a) in full and (b) in part as a result of (i) accounting and (ii) other faults with the Horizon IT system in each of the last 25 years.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Details regarding constituencies, branches, postmasters and number of legal cases involved in the Horizon litigation is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the reasons for a decision by Post Office Ltd not to renew a licence for an ATM in a branch.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. Any decision regarding renewal of ATM licences for a branch is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about POL’s reasons for not renewing an ATM licence in a branch. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many licences for ATMs in branches of the Post Office are due to expire in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) England in the next 12 months.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The number of licences for ATMs in post office branches due to expire over the next 12 months in the UK is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will take steps to ensure that Post Office Ltd is able to renew the licences of all ATMs based in Post Offices which are due to expire in the next 12 months.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why we committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The renewal of licences for ATMs in Post Offices is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member about Post Office Limited’s plans for renewal of ATM licences due to expire in the next 12 months. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what process is used to determine the price of sale of former Crown Post Office branch premises.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, matters relating to former Crown Post Office premises are operational matters for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many and what proportion of premises that were previously a Crown Post Office branch have been sold to sub-postmasters.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, matters relating to former Crown Post Office premises are operational matters for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many post offices of each type have closed in each of the last three years in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) England.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK, which is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. As such, matters relating to former Crown Post Office premises are operational matters for Post Office Limited. I have asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the Hon Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support his Department is providing to Post Office Ltd to help (a) maintain and (b) increase the number of ATMs in Post Office branches.

The Government recognises that widespread access to cash remains extremely important in the context of bank closures, particularly for the more vulnerable and remote customers and businesses. The Government supports the renegotiated Banking Framework agreement, which is a three-year agreement and took effect in January 2020. This agreement enables 99% of personal banking customers and 95% of business banking customers to do their day-to-day banking at the Post Office, including cash withdrawals.

In addition, LINK, the main provider of ATMs in the UK, has assured Government that they are committed to maintaining an extensive network of free-to-use cash machines, including via Post Offices, and bolstering its Financial Inclusion Programme.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many Crown post offices have (a) operated and (b) closed in (i) Scotland, (ii) Wales, (iii) Northern Ireland and (iv) England in each of the last five years.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The number of Crown Post Office which are either operational or closed throughout the UK is an operational matter for Post Office Limited. I have therefore asked Nick Read, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon Member on this matter. A copy of his reply will be placed in the libraries of the House.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if her Department will bring forward legislative proposals to replicate the European Accessibility Act when the UK leaves the EU.

The UK believes in robust legislation on accessibility as evidenced by the landmark Disability Discrimination Act. We have always supported the aims of the European Accessibility Act (EAA) in seeking to improve the accessibility of a range of products and services to citizens with disabilities. Once we leave the EU, the Government will consider how to improve or enchance accessibility in domestic legislation.

19th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of the settlement reached in court on Post Office Ltd's Horizon accounting software will be paid by the Government.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at is most stable in decades with over 11,600 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Post Office is publicly owned it operates as an independent, commercial business. As such, the legal defence of this litigation and the costs involved in doing so are being handled by Post Office Limited and the settlement is being funded by commercial revenue and not by taxpayers.

19th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the total legal costs were in the group litigation against the Post Office Ltd relating to accounting software Horizon; and what proportion of those legal costs will be paid from the public purse.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at is most stable in decades with over 11,600 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.

While the Post Office is publicly owned it operates as an independent, commercial business. As such, the legal defence of this litigation and the costs involved in doing so are being handled by Post Office Limited and the settlement is being funded by commercial revenue and not by taxpayers.

11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking through the UK Cyber Council to improve online banking security.

DCMS has funded the creation of the new, independent UK Cyber Security Council to establish professional standards and support efforts to address skills shortages in cyber security. We anticipate that its work will reach across the whole UK labour market, including those focused on online banking security, in order to provide the necessary quality assurance and structure to those entering and developing a career in this area.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent representations she has made to HM Treasury on VAT on audiobooks; and if he will make a statement.

The government recognises the value of publishing as one of the UK's most successful industries. In addition to £330Bn of guarantees announced by the Chancellor which have included grants, loans, and the Job Retention Scheme, zero rate of VAT on e-publications was brought forward from December. The extension of the zero rate of VAT has been introduced to provide consistency in approach between certain physical and digital publications. Audiobooks, however, are already taxed consistently at the standard rate in both physical and digital format. The government keeps all taxes under review, including VAT.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, DCMS has a target of responding within 20 working days where a response is required. As you will understand, we are currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. DCMS ensures that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised, and is taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to increase the availability of broadband for smart ticket machines on buses in the rural areas of (a) Scotland, (b) England, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland.

Department for Transport statistics show that in March 2019, 92% of buses in England outside London were enabled for smart ticketing and 72% offered contactless payment. The Department for Transport offers bus operators in England outside London an additional incentive to implement smart ticketing through the Bus Service Operators Grant. Policy on bus services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a devolved matter.

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

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

Smart ticketing is dependent on good mobile coverage, so improvements in geographic coverage, including on major roads will facilitate the option for bus companies to provide smart ticket machines on buses in the rural areas of each nation of the UK, if they choose to do so.

This Government is committed to improving digital connectivity overall. It has committed to investing £5bn to improve broadband connections in the hardest to reach areas of the UK.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to meet the requirements of Article 30 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is committed to protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities to participate in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.

A number of positive measures are being taken forward by DCMS and it’s Arms’ Length Bodies. These include: Arts Council England commissioning ‘Making A Shift’ (published January 2018) to understand barriers preventing disabled people from entering and progressing within the arts and culture sector workforce; the British Film Institute promotes awareness through curated content like Disabled Britain on Screen and ensures that events at the BFI Southbank are open to everyone, including by offering relaxed and accessible screenings; and Sport England's investment of £1.6m from 2017 - 2020 into seven National Disability Sports Organisations that represent specific impairment groups.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make a statement on the importance of financial education at primary level.

It is important that pupils are well prepared to manage their money, make sound financial decisions and know where to seek further information, if required. The Department has introduced a rigorous mathematics curriculum, which provides pupils with the knowledge and skills to make important financial decisions and has also published statutory and non-statutory programmes of study for mathematics and citizenship that outline what pupils should be taught about financial education from Key Stages one to four.

In 2014, for the first time, financial literacy was made statutory within the National Curriculum as part of the citizenship curriculum for 11 to 16 year olds. To enable schools to plan their whole curriculum, we also published a non-statutory citizenship curriculum for Key Stages one and two, which is clear that, by the end of primary education, pupils should be taught how to look after their money and realise that future wants and needs may be met through saving.

In the primary mathematics curriculum, there is a strong emphasis on the arithmetical knowledge that pupils should have. This knowledge is vital, as a strong understanding of numeracy will underpin pupils’ ability to manage budgets and money. There is also some specific content about financial education, including calculations with money.

Primary schools are free to include additional content on financial management in their curricula, including working with external experts. The Department does not monitor this and trusts schools to use their professional judgement and understanding of their pupils to develop the right teaching approach for their particular context.

We will continue to work closely with the Money and Pensions Service and other stakeholders such as Her Majesty’s Treasury, to consider what can be learned from other sector initiatives and whether there is scope to provide further support for the teaching of financial education in schools.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to encourage primary school teachers and staff to have conversations about financial education with their pupils to help build stronger financial resilience among young people.

It is important that pupils are well prepared to manage their money, make sound financial decisions and know where to seek further information, if required. The Department has introduced a rigorous mathematics curriculum, which provides pupils with the knowledge and skills to make important financial decisions and has also published statutory and non-statutory programmes of study for mathematics and citizenship that outline what pupils should be taught about financial education from Key Stages one to four.

In 2014, for the first time, financial literacy was made statutory within the National Curriculum as part of the citizenship curriculum for 11 to 16 year olds. To enable schools to plan their whole curriculum, we also published a non-statutory citizenship curriculum for Key Stages one and two, which is clear that, by the end of primary education, pupils should be taught how to look after their money and realise that future wants and needs may be met through saving.

In the primary mathematics curriculum, there is a strong emphasis on the arithmetical knowledge that pupils should have. This knowledge is vital, as a strong understanding of numeracy will underpin pupils’ ability to manage budgets and money. There is also some specific content about financial education, including calculations with money.

Primary schools are free to include additional content on financial management in their curricula, including working with external experts. The Department does not monitor this and trusts schools to use their professional judgement and understanding of their pupils to develop the right teaching approach for their particular context.

We will continue to work closely with the Money and Pensions Service and other stakeholders such as Her Majesty’s Treasury, to consider what can be learned from other sector initiatives and whether there is scope to provide further support for the teaching of financial education in schools.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to encourage primary schools to introduce the subject of financial education in response to the financial pressures experienced by young people as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

It is important that pupils are well prepared to manage their money, make sound financial decisions and know where to seek further information, if required. The Department has introduced a rigorous mathematics curriculum, which provides pupils with the knowledge and skills to make important financial decisions and has also published statutory and non-statutory programmes of study for mathematics and citizenship that outline what pupils should be taught about financial education from Key Stages one to four.

In 2014, for the first time, financial literacy was made statutory within the National Curriculum as part of the citizenship curriculum for 11 to 16 year olds. To enable schools to plan their whole curriculum, we also published a non-statutory citizenship curriculum for Key Stages one and two, which is clear that, by the end of primary education, pupils should be taught how to look after their money and realise that future wants and needs may be met through saving.

In the primary mathematics curriculum, there is a strong emphasis on the arithmetical knowledge that pupils should have. This knowledge is vital, as a strong understanding of numeracy will underpin pupils’ ability to manage budgets and money. There is also some specific content about financial education, including calculations with money.

Primary schools are free to include additional content on financial management in their curricula, including working with external experts. The Department does not monitor this and trusts schools to use their professional judgement and understanding of their pupils to develop the right teaching approach for their particular context.

We will continue to work closely with the Money and Pensions Service and other stakeholders such as Her Majesty’s Treasury, to consider what can be learned from other sector initiatives and whether there is scope to provide further support for the teaching of financial education in schools.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on access to education for disabled people.

The Withdrawal Agreement Act protects the existing rights to equal treatment and non-discrimination for all EU citizens residing in the UK, UK nationals residing in the EU, and their family members. They have broadly the same entitlements to study and access public services and benefits as they did before withdrawal from the EU, where these entitlements derived from UK membership of the EU.

The government carried out a full Equality Impact Assessment on the Withdrawal Agreement Act and concluded that it is not envisaged that any equality issues will arise due to provisions contained within it. The Equality Impact Assessment can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/841245/EU_Withdrawal_Agreement_Bill_Impact_Assessment.pdf.

Furthermore, the explanatory notes on the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement Act contain a declaration from my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, that under section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998, the provisions of the Act are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The full explanatory notes are published on gov.uk here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-future-relationship-bill.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
7th Sep 2020
What recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on allocating additional funding for (a) further and (b) higher education.

In Further Education, we are providing up to £96 million to support disadvantaged students whose studies have been disrupted.

We have announced a number of measures to help ensure there are no barriers to students being able to progress to Higher Education in 20/21. We have lifted caps on domestic medicine and dentistry courses in the next academic year and we are supporting providers to offer places to as many students who have met the grades for their current offer as they have physical capacity for, and where there are clinical placements available, through additional grant funding to support the costs of this provision. Health Education England and the Office for Students will be contacting all medical and dental schools to discuss their capacity to take on additional students in the 2020/21 academic year.

I can now confirm that providers will be eligible to bid for a share of up to £10 million funding to support capital expenditure on infrastructure required to accommodate additional students recruited as a result of the changed policy on A level grades. The fund will be administered by the Office for Students, and providers will be eligible to bid for projects that support expansion in 2020/21.

Additional teaching grant funding will also be provided to increase capacity in medical, nursing, STEM and other high-cost subjects which are vital to the country’s social needs and economy. All high cost subjects, which already receive additional funding from the Office for Students will potentially see further increases where there is an unexpectedly high distribution of students. The Office for Students will consult the sector on the details of how the allocations are made.

We will also be considering all Departmental funding as part of the Spending Review.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

The Department has a target of responding within 18 working days where a response is required. In 2019 the Department responded to 94% of correspondence from hon. Members within 18 working days, and 89% in 2018. A breakdown of the data by month is available in the attached table.

As you will understand, the Department is currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. The Department ensures that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised wherever possible, and is taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years..

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, Defra has a target of responding within 20 working days where a response is required.

As you will understand, Defra is currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. Defra ensures that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised and is taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what the average length of time was for Ministers of her Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the Department for International Development has a target of responding within 15 working days where a response is required.

As you will understand, we are currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. We ensure that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised and are taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the Department for International Trade has a target of responding within 15 working days where a response is required.

As you will understand, the Department for International Trade is currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. The Department ensures that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised, and is taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
20th May 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what the average length of time was for Ministers of her Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the Government Equalities Office has a target of responding within 20 working days where a response is required.

As you will understand, the Government Equalities Office is currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. Officials are ensuring that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised, and are taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will make it her policy to oppose tariffs on (a) steel and (b) rolled steel in a potential future trade deal with the US.

Existing anti-dumping or countervailing measures against specific goods will not be covered by the UK government’s negotiations with the US over a future trade agreement. Such measures are imposed following independent investigations which are not addressed through bilateral trade deal negotiations.

26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many and what proportion of train stations in (a) the UK, (b) Scotland and (c) Motherwell and Wishaw constituency are fitted with tactile markings at the platform edge.

The Rail Delivery Group are currently responsible collating data on facilities at stations and ensuring this is kept up to date. This is published on the National Rail Enquiries website.

Information on specific National Rail stations is here:

https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/default.aspx

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of covid-19 restrictions on the completion of driving tests.

To help stop the spread of coronavirus, restriction periods were introduced during which time driver testing was suspended.

Driving tests that were booked to take place during the restrictions were rescheduled to the next available slots. Candidates had the option of a test fee refund if their rescheduled date was not suitable.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency continues to work with Transport Scotland to resume testing services in a COVID-secure way and ensure the Scottish Government’s five-level system is adhered to.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when driving lessons and practical driving tests will resume; and whether tests cancelled as a result of covid-19 will be reimbursed in full.

As the health and safety of staff and customers is key, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working closely with the Department for Transport to prepare for a safe return to testing. It will announce details of resumption in due course.

The DVSA recommends that, currently, approved driving instructors (ADI) should only provide lessons to candidates who have an essential need.

Before practical driving tests are reintroduced, the DVSA will inform the driver training industry. This will help candidates prepare and reach the standard of driving needed to pass their test.

Candidates who have had their practical driving test suspended as a result of COVID-19 will receive an email from the DVSA telling them the date of their rescheduled test. The test will be rescheduled automatically, and free of charge. The candidate can, if they prefer, request a refund of their practical test fee.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the Department for Transport has a target of responding within 20 working days where a response is required. In September 2019 the Department adopted its own internal target of 7 Working days.

As you will understand, the Department for Transport is currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. The Department ensures that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised, and is taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

A table showing the average number of days taken to respond to correspondence from Hon. Members is below. Please note, in some cases Ministers had not been appointed to the Department at the time the correspondence was received, however they signed the final reply, leading to some delay due to the handover from previous ministers.

Average Number of Days to Respond - All Ministers by Month

Jan-18

17.32

Jan-19

32.06

Jan-20

10.33

Feb-18

17.50

Feb-19

14.66

Feb-20

8.77

Mar-18

15.66

Mar-19

31.23

Mar-20

13.15

Apr-18

18.99

Apr-19

31.70

Apr-20

8.42

May-18

20.31

May-19

30.27

May-20

4.20

Jun-18

20.48

Jun-19

24.80

Jul-18

21.55

Jul-19

15.22

Aug-18

30.81

Aug-19

13.07

Sep-18

52.62

Sep-19

7.27

Oct-18

49.76

Oct-19

6.63

Nov-18

38.60

Nov-19

6.53

Dec-18

36.34

Dec-19

10.10

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
27th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to provide financial support to companies that need to replace their fleets in order to comply with the requirements of low emission zones.

Local authorities in England can bid for funding from the Government’s £286m Clean Air Fund (CAF) to provide support measures for individuals and businesses impacted by local air quality plans implemented as part of the 2017 UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations. These measures can include support for individuals and businesses to upgrade their vehicles to comply with the requirements of charging Clean Air Zones. £57.5m funding from the CAF has already been allocated including for vehicle upgrade schemes. Air quality is a devolved policy issue in the UK.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the cost of installing audio-visual equipment on (a) mid- and (b) late-life buses.

In 2018 the previous Government consulted on proposals for requiring the provision of audible and visible information on-board local bus and coach services in Great Britain. In particular, it sought evidence on the impact of installing audio-visual equipment on different vehicles.

Responses were received from a range of stakeholders, including representatives of smaller operators. We are finalising our response to the consultation and will announce our next steps in due course.

7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much funding was allocated to installing audio-visual equipment on buses in (a) Scotland, (b) England, (c) Wales, (d) Northern Ireland in the latest period for which figures are available.

Alongside publication of its 2018 Inclusive Transport Strategy, the previous Government allocated £2 million to help smaller local bus and coach operators provide audible and visible information on board their services.

This money will be made available to operators in England, Scotland and Wales through a funding competition later this year, and further information on how they can apply for it will be made available in due course.

Equalities policy is devolved in Northern Ireland and operators there are not covered by this scheme.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the waiting time for a Group 2 licence for applicants who are required to have a medical assessment.

Driving entitlement for Group 2 drivers must be renewed at regular intervals from age 45. The DVLA sends a reminder to the driver three months before the entitlement expires, enabling them to apply in advance.

To improve the time taken to deal with these applications, the DVLA has recruited additional staff to process them. This includes increasing the number of doctors and introducing nurse caseworkers to deal with specific conditions.

The time taken to deal with applications can depend on the information needed by the DVLA from medical professionals. The DVLA is working with medical professionals to reduce the time taken to receive the information it requires to make licensing decisions.

The DVLA continually reviews its processes and has a dedicated team responsible for the improvement of its medical driver licensing services and communications.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will extend the Kickstart employment scheme to include legacy benefit claimants.

There are presently no plans to expand the Kickstart Scheme outside of the current eligibility criteria.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when her Department plans to publish its National Strategy for Disabled People.

The Government is committed to improving the lives of disabled people, and will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People in the coming months.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when the Government plans to bring forward its Health and Disability Green Paper.

Given the necessary focus on the departmental response to Covid-19, we are working to a longer timescale than previously anticipated. We are continuing engagement with disabled people and their representatives and plan to publish the formal consultation document in the coming months.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that assessors of personal independence payment (PIP) assessments communicate effectively with the appointees of people applying for those benefits.

We have interpreted your question to mean what steps her department is taking to ensure that Health Professionals communicate effectively with the appointees of people applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

When a claimant has an appointee, it is flagged in the initial referral to the PIP assessment provider. This ensures that the Health Professional is aware that the claimant has an appointee and that communication, regarding the claimant’s PIP assessment, should be made through the appointee as per the guidance in the PIP Assessment Guide (PIPAG).

The department works extensively with its assessment providers to make improvements to guidance to ensure that Health Professionals communicate effectively with appointees of claimants applying for PIP, and the quality of service provided is continuously improved.

The PIPAG is available on GOV.UK. Section 1.15.14 - Appointees can be found in part 1 of the PIPAG at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/personal-independence-payment-assessment-guide-for-assessment-providers

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to ensure that people in receipt of personal independence payments (PIP) as a result of permanent disability, neurological diversity and lifelong illness will be automatically awarded ongoing PIP with a 10 yearly light touch review at the end of their existing claim period.

Once someone has been awarded Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which can be paid at one of eight rates depending on the level of an individual’s disability-related needs, that award will be reviewed. Reviews of PIP are a key part of the benefit and ensure that not only do awards remain correct where needs may change but that we also maintain contact with the claimant. Importantly, the length of an award is based on an individual’s needs, rather than their condition or disability, and can vary from nine months to an on-going award, with a light touch review at the ten-year point.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people in receipt of personal independence payments (PIP) have been migrated to the 10 yearly light touch review process; what criteria must be met for that migration to take place; and whether her Department is advising people in receipt of PIP that they may migrate to that process.

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

Once someone has been awarded Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which can be paid at one of eight rates, that award will be reviewed. Reviews of PIP are a key part of the benefit and ensure that not only do awards remain correct where needs may change but that we also maintain contact with the claimant. Importantly, the length of an award is based on an individual’s needs and the likelihood of change, regardless of the award outcome, and can vary from nine months to an on-going award, with a light touch review at the ten-year point.

Following changes to the guidance for those who are awarded the highest level of support under PIP, and whose needs are expected to stay the same or increase, and those who are of State Pension age, existing claimants are being identified prior to their award review and being put onto ongoing awards instead. Claimants do not need to contact the Department and decisions on whether someone falls within either group remain subject to Case Manager decision making in line with the guidance. Claimants who are subject to a review of their award may also be placed on to an ongoing award depending on the nature of their needs and the likelihood of change in the future.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment the Disability Unit has made of the potential merits of extending the £20 uplift to universal credit to legacy benefit claimants.

The Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The temporary Universal Credit Standard Allowance uplift was introduced to support those facing the most financial disruption due to the pandemic. There are no plans to extend this temporary uplift to legacy benefits. Claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for Universal Credit if they believe that they will be better off.

Claimants should check their eligibility before applying to Universal Credit as legacy benefits will end when they submit their claim and they will not be able to return to them in the future. For this reason, prospective claimants are signposted to independent benefits calculators on GOV.UK. There are special arrangements for those in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium, who are now able to make a new claim to Universal Credit.

The Government will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People this year taking into account the impacts of the pandemic on disabled people. The strategy will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects of life.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many applications have been received by the Access to Work programme in each year since its launch.

The information requested on number of applications received is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate costs.

However, the Access to Work statistics includes how many applications results in provision being approved from 2007/08 to 2019/20. Please see Table 3 of the Access to Work statistics.

The latest Access to Work statistics can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/access-to-work-statistics-april-2007-to-march-2020

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many disabled workers have had their Access to Work application delayed; and for what reasons those applications were delayed.

The information requested about Access to Work applications that have been delayed is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her Department will collect data on the percentage of applicants who have reported that their employer refused to make reasonable adjustments for their disabilty to inform the proposed National Strategy for Disabled People.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for an employer or potential employer to discriminate against a disabled employee or job applicant because of their disability. Specifically, the Equality Act requires employers to make reasonable adjustments in relation to the disabled employee’s job or application for a job.

The Government plans to publish a National Strategy for Disabled People this year to ensure that all disabled people can play a full role in society. The strategy will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects of life, including employment.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the percentage of employers that (a) have a disability leave policy, and (b) allow homeworking to their staff as a reasonable adjustment to inform the proposed National Strategy for Disabled People.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for an employer or potential employer to discriminate against a disabled employee or job applicant because of their disability. Specifically, the Equality Act requires employers to make reasonable adjustments in relation to the disabled employee’s job or application for a job.

The Government plans to publish a National Strategy for Disabled People this year to ensure that all disabled people can play a full role in society. The strategy will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects of life, including employment.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her department make an assessment of the percentage of employers who publish the percentage of disabled staff (a) they employ, and (b) they employ by pay grade.

Government has worked with large employers and expert partners to develop a voluntary reporting framework (VRF) to support organisations to record and voluntarily report information on disability, mental health and wellbeing in the workplace; thereby encouraging employers to be more transparent and start having open conversations about disability and health at work. We continue to work with employers and expert partners to promote its usage, including requiring new and renewing Disability Confident Leaders (Level 3) to use it. However, there is no requirement for companies to notify Government if they have signed up to the framework and are publishing this data.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she plans to consult on the National Strategy for Disabled People.

The Government is committed to transforming the lives of disabled people, and will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People this year.

It will be informed by insights from the lived experience of disabled people, and will focus on the issues that disabled people say are most important across all aspects of life, from transport to education, and housing to employment. On Friday 15th January, we launched the online UK Disability Survey, which complements the range of engagement already undertaken and ongoing, including lived experience research with disabled people, discussions with the Disabled Charities Consortium, the Regional Stakeholder Networks and others. Contributions to the survey will feed not only into the development of the strategy but also its delivery.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the (a) average and (b) median response time is for disabled workers to receive a decision on their Access to Work application.

The information requested about average and median waiting times for decisions on applications for people who have applied for support from Access to Work is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department has taken to close the disability employment gap since April 2020.

A range of DWP initiatives are supporting disabled people to stay in and enter work. These include the Work and Health Programme, the Intensive Personalised Employment Support programme, Access to Work, Disability Confident and support in partnership with the health system, including Employment Advice in NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapy services.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have provided specialist employment support remotely and made programmes easier to access.

The Department is bringing forward a Green Paper on health and disability support. The Green Paper will consider how we improve our current service so it’s better and easier to use, explore how we provide extra support to navigate the system, and understand how we improve our employment support offer. Additionally, the Government plans to publish a National Strategy for Disabled People this year to ensure that all disabled people can play a full role in society. The strategy will take into account the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on disabled people with focus on the issues that affect them the most.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 26 October 2018 to Question 182811 on Children: Maintenance, what progress she has made on improving case worker training on unearned income.

New caseworker call guidance was developed and was incorporated into a ‘Change to Income’ supporting product that was delivered via Dial and Deliver sessions in 2018 and was supported by a Leaders Briefing. As part of this enhancement to assist caseworkers, the Policy, Law and Decision Making Guidance (PLMDG) was revised on 4th June 2018.

In 2020 the Child Maintenance Group introduced a dedicated national expert domain to help caseworkers with all queries, including those relating to income. These colleagues have delivered local bite sized sessions on upskilling in income & documentation.

Additionally, from a system perspective we have improved the process for processing additional income variations (including Unearned Income variations) to assist caseworkers.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much revenue her Department has collected through the Child Maintenance Service's (a) 20 per cent fee and (b) four per cent fee through collect and pay in each of the last three years.

Income received from the Child Maintenance Service £20 Application fee for the last 3 years is as follows:

Applications Fee

2017/18

2018/19

2019/20

£m

£m

£m

1.510

0.972

0.749

(Application fees reduced due to the waiver introduced in cases of Domestic Abuse)

Income received through collection charges for the last 3 years are below:

2017/18

2018/19

2019/20

£m

£m

£m

PP Collection Charge

20%

16.878

27.905

34.771

RP Collection Charge

4%

3.241

5.430

6.767

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much revenue her Department has collected through the Child Maintenance Service's £20 application fee in each of the last three years.

Income received from the Child Maintenance Service £20 Application fee for the last 3 years is as follows:

Applications Fee

2017/18

2018/19

2019/20

£m

£m

£m

1.510

0.972

0.749

(Application fees reduced due to the waiver introduced in cases of Domestic Abuse)

Income received through collection charges for the last 3 years are below:

2017/18

2018/19

2019/20

£m

£m

£m

PP Collection Charge

20%

16.878

27.905

34.771

RP Collection Charge

4%

3.241

5.430

6.767

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on levels of poverty in (a) the UK and (b) Scotland.

No such assessment has been made.

Estimating the potential impact of individual policies on future levels of poverty is not possible as it would require making judgements about what will happen to every persons’ income in the future and then also isolating potential changes in income due to the effect of specific policies on certain individuals. It is not possible to do this accurately as there is so much uncertainty involved in projecting incomes.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of excluding (a) family benefits, (b) long-term care and (c) special contributory benefits from the Protocol on Social Security Coordination of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Those covered by the social security co-ordination provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement are not impacted by the changes to the rules agreed with the EU under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation agreement. Those individuals will remain covered by the EU Social Security Co-ordination Regulations for as long as they remain scope of the Withdrawal Agreement. UK and Irish nationals travelling between the UK and Ireland are also unaffected.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on access to social security payments for (a) disabled UK citizens in the EU and (b) disabled EU citizens in the UK.

Those covered by the social security co-ordination provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement are not impacted by the changes to the rules agreed with the EU under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation agreement. Those individuals will remain covered by the EU Social Security Co-ordination Regulations for as long as they remain scope of the Withdrawal Agreement. UK and Irish nationals travelling between the UK and Ireland are also unaffected.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of potential effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on reducing the disability employment gap in the UK.

We routinely monitor the employment of disabled people using the quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS) along with other relevant sources. This will continue as we enter the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on pensioners’ lifetime savings.

The position stays the same. UK pensions legislation already ensures that any member of a UK pension scheme has a right to transfer their pension, which includes the option to transfer to any overseas pension scheme. Equally UK pension schemes will continue to be able to receive transfers from overseas pension schemes.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on social security spending in the (a) medium and (b) long term.

DWP will shortly publish an Impact Assessment on the impact of overall changes in DWP areas of social security co-ordination policy, for persons covered by the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. DWP will also be providing an estimate of expenditure/savings as a result of these policy changes at a future fiscal event.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on existing protections available to pension savers.

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

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

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

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 16 October 2020 to Question 102871, what the next steps are for the Green Paper on disability benefits; and what her timetable is for those next steps.

We have held a series of events across the country where local disability organisations and disabled people have shared their experiences of DWP services and priorities for future changes. We are continuing this engagement throughout the Autumn to help shape the Green Paper content and make sure we are addressing the right issues in the health and disability welfare system. This engagement will continue following the publication of the Green Paper.

Given the necessary focus on the departmental response to COVID-19, we are working to a longer timescale than previously anticipated but we remain committed to publishing and will update the House in due course.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she plans to publish a Green Paper on disability benefits.

The Department has announced it will be bringing forward a Green Paper on health and disability support, considering issues that disabled people have told us that they want to see addressed. We will update the house in due course.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness in preventing fraudulent samples being provided of the DNA testing used by the Child Maintenance Service.

The Child Maintenance Service DNA testing process requires the person attending the DNA sampling to provide photographic evidence and the DNA test sampler to verify that the person attending is the person in the photo. The photos are retained in case of future challenge.

If a negative DNA test result is challenged, it is referred to the Financial Investigation Unit’s Criminal Division for investigation.

Those found to be abusing the system are subject to the full extent of our enforcement powers and the Child Maintenance Service will pursue these, where appropriate.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress she has made on the National Strategy for Disabled People.

The National Strategy for Disabled People is a key manifesto commitment for this Government and its delivery remains important for ministers, including No. 10. Its significance is even greater, as we re-build the UK's economy and society in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

We want to achieve practical changes for disabled people, which remove barriers and increase opportunity, and are engaging widely with stakeholders including via Ministerial and official-led roundtables, a Disabled People’s Organisations forum, our Regional Stakeholder Network, and other meetings. We will also, through online engagement and other routes, enable disabled people to directly share views and insights on key challenges, as a central voice as the Strategy is developed. Through this work and further engagement, we plan to publish the high ambition strategy that the Prime Minister has called for in Spring 2021.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy, what steps she is taking to ensure that disabled people can live independent lives as the UK recovers from the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people using existing and new data sources.

The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work has had discussions with charities, disabled people's organisations and individuals to understand the range of experiences disabled people have had during the COVID-19 pandemic and to identify the support needed as lockdown restrictions are eased.

We are ensuring that disabled people continue to have access to disability benefits, food, medicines, essentials, accessible communications, updated guidance, including workplace and transport related guidance, as well as financial and other support during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Government continues to provide disability employment support through initiatives such as Access to Work, Disability Confident, the Work and Health Programme, Intensive Personalised Employment Support, and other forms of support that disabled people need to retain, adapt and move into employment.

The Cabinet Office Disability Unit continues to work with disability stakeholders and across Government Departments to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the UK Government’s response to COVID-19. We are clear that consideration of equality impacts must be integral in all key policy decisions. All equality and discrimination laws and obligations continue to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People taking into account the impacts of the pandemic on disabled people. The Strategy will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects and phases of life, including employment, housing, education and transport.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that all businesses provide reasonable adjustments for (a) disabled employees and (b) people at higher risk from covid-19 as employees return to their workplaces.

I refer the Hon. Members to question 62298 answered by my Hon. Friend the Minster for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets on 30th June. https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-06-22/62298/

I can further advise, DWP’s new Employer Help site provides advice on employment of disabled people, explaining how Access to Work and Disability Confident can help businesses to ensure their practices are fair and inclusive.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of a minimum maintenance payment for parents with care under the Child Maintenance Service to guarantee a minimum maintenance income.

There is no plan for any such assessment. The purpose of the Child Maintenance Service is to facilitate the payment of child maintenance between separated parents.

No one should use the pandemic as an excuse to avoid their child maintenance payments. Where paying parents experience a change in income, we can review their case and check if the amount paid should change. If it does not, they should continue to make payments.

We know the majority of parents take their responsibilities extremely seriously and will do what is needed to ensure their children are supported.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in how many cases child maintenance was not collectable as a result of a Child Maintenance Service administrative error when a deduction from earnings request was made to the armed forces in each quarter of the last three years.

The Child Maintenance Service does not record this data as there is no facility on the Child Maintenance System to record instances when a Deduction from Earning Request has been rejected by MoD or where an administrative error occurred.

As the information requested is not collated centrally it would require examination of individual cases and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much child maintenance was (a) paid and (b) owed in the second quarter of 2020 in (i) Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, (ii) North Lanarkshire, and (iii) Scotland.

Child Maintenance statistics are published quarterly and the latest statistics to March 2020 are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-on-the-2012-statutory-child-maintenance-scheme

Statistics covering the second quarter of 2020 will not be published until September 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of parents registered with the child maintenance service (a) paid and (b) did not pay maintenance in the second quarter of 2020 in (i) Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, (ii) North Lanarkshire, and (iii) Scotland.

Child Maintenance statistics are published quarterly and the latest statistics to March 2020 are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-on-the-2012-statutory-child-maintenance-scheme

Statistics covering the second quarter of 2020 will not be published until September 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many (a) parents with care and (b) children are registered with the child maintenance service in (i) Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, (ii) North Lanarkshire, and (iii) Scotland.

The number of Receiving Parents using the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) and the number of associated children subject to a CMS arrangement, in Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, North Lanarkshire and Scotland in March 2020 are given in the following table:

Number of Receiving Parents using the Child Maintenance Service and the number of associated children, March 2020

Receiving Parents

Children

Scotland

36,500

52,500

North Lanarkshire

2,700

3,900

Motherwell and Wishaw

700

1,100



Source: Child Maintenance Group administrative data

Notes:

  1. These figures do not include cases in which historical child maintenance arrears, originally arranged by the Child Support Agency, have been transferred to the CMS for collection.
  2. Counts of children include all children under the age of 20 who are associated with an open child maintenance arrangement. Some of these children, of age 16 or above, may no longer be considered qualifying children for the purposes of calculating the Paying Parent's liability.
  3. All figures have been rounded to the nearest 100.
Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much is owed in outstanding arrears under the child maintenance service in (a) Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, (b) North Lanarkshire, and (c) Scotland.

As of the end of March 2020, across the whole of Great Britain, a total of £3.6 billion maintenance has been arranged through the Child Maintenance Service since its inception in 2012.

The total amount of arrears for Child Maintenance Service in Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, North Lanarkshire and Scotland in March 2020 are given in the following table:

Total amount of arrears for Child Maintenance Service, March 2020

Total arrears (£)

Scotland

24,019,000

North Lanarkshire

1,752,000

Motherwell and Wishaw

460,000

Source: Child Maintenance Group administrative data

Notes:

  1. These figures do not include cases in which historical child maintenance arrears, originally arranged by the Child Support Agency, have been transferred to the CMS for collection.
  1. The figures have been rounded to the nearest £1000.
Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when and under what conditions her Department plans to re-start enforcing actions to collect maintenance under the Child Maintenance Service.

The purpose of the Child Maintenance Service is to facilitate the payment of child maintenance between separated parents. Paying parents are still expected to pay child maintenance. This was the case during the COVID-19 public health emergency and it remains the expectation as the UK gradually transitions into a post-COVID lockdown phase.

Where payments have been missed we have asked parents to report the changes via the self-service portal.

In order to ensure that receiving parents do not lose out in the long run, we are updating cases with notified changes. Where payments have been missed the Service is taking action to re-establish compliance and collect any unpaid amounts that may have accrued.

Those found to be abusing the system are subject to the full extent of our enforcement powers and the Child Maintenance Service will pursue these, where appropriate.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people working in contact centres (a) are working on site, (b) have been furloughed, (c) are self-isolating and (d) reporting symptoms or have tested positive for covid-19.

DWP is committed to providing support to those who need it during the current Pandemic, we have moved a significant number of staff into priority roles to ensure that benefits claims are dealt with as quickly as possible, therefore most of our staff in service delivery roles will be dealing directly with claims (including establishing a virtual contact centre) and we are not able to break this down into figures for contact centres.

With this caveat in mind then on 8 June 2020, 71,231 people (headcount) were working in the service delivery areas of the Department.

a) The Department has the majority of its frontline workforce working within its offices, operating under social distancing rules. In addition, since April this year we have undertaken a programme of work to deploy IT equipment to enable staff to work from home wherever possible and as at 2 June, 15,980 items had been despatched. This number does not include those who had previously received IT KIT and who were already able to work from home. We are currently updating our Management Information systems to capture additional details on those working from home.

(b) No Departmental staff have been furloughed

(c) On 8 June 2020, 5,189 people were either self-isolating or quarantined for reasons related to covid-19 and unable to work. A high proportion of this group are shielding and, wherever possible, will receive IT equipment to enable them to work from home. Those staff who can work at home while self-isolating are continuing to do so.

(d) On 8 June 2020, 285 people were absent having notified the Department of sickness as a result of covid-19.

Across DWP locations we have a procedure in place that ensures that appropriate deep cleaning is undertaken where Covid-19 cases are reported. In addition, health and safety and social distancing guidance is shared with DWP colleagues on a regular basis.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of removing conditionality and sanctioning for disabled claimants.

We continually evaluate the evidence and the feedback from our claimants and make improvements to guidance and policy, no specific assessment has been made on the potential merits of removing conditionality and sanctioning for disabled claimants.

We engage at a personal and individual level with all of our claimants and are committed to tailoring support for specific individual needs, including agreeing realistic and structured steps to encourage claimants into or towards the labour market. These conditionality requirements are regularly reviewed to ensure that they remain appropriate for the claimant.

When considering whether a sanction is appropriate, a Decision Maker will take all the claimant’s individual circumstances, including any health conditions or disabilities and any evidence of good reason, into account before deciding whether a sanction is warranted, which is always a last resort.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of permanently removing waiting days for statutory sick pay for all illnesses and impairments.

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

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

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

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

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing the rate of employment support allowance in line with universal credit.

Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support were increased by 1.7% in April 2020following the Government’s announcement to end the benefit freeze. .

It has always been the case that claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for UC if they believe that they will be better off. There are special arrangements for those in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium, who will be able to make a new claim to Universal Credit from January 2021.

Claimants should check their eligibility before applying to Universal Credit as legacy benefits will end when they submit their claim and they will not be able to return to them in the future. For this reason, prospective claimants are signposted to independent benefits calculators on GOV.UK. Neither DWP nor HMRC can advise individual claimants whether they would be better off moving to UC or remaining on legacy benefits.

From 22 July 2020, a two-week run on of Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance (IR) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (IB) will be available for all claimants whose claim to UC ends entitlement to these benefits to provide additional support for claimants moving to UC.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average length of time was for Ministers of her Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the Department has a target of responding within 20 working days where a response is required.

As you will understand, the Department is currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. The Department ensures that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised, and is taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the number of parents with care living in poverty as a result of decreases to or cessation of child maintenance payments through the Child Maintenance Service due to a decrease in the income of a non-resident parent.

The Government recognises that the income of many separated parents is being impacted by the public health emergency and some receiving parents may receive less maintenance as a result of a paying parent’s drop in income. There is insufficient data to estimate the precise economic impact on different groups.

Paying parents are still expected to pay child maintenance throughout this period. Our priority is to maintain the flow of maintenance that is currently being paid, by easing the financial pressure on paying parents and ensuring that we transfer the payments as quickly as possible to receiving parents.

Measures have been introduced to support both paying and receiving parents, whose income drops as a result of the public health emergency. These include increasing the standard rate of Universal Credit and working tax credit for this year by over £1000 per year, benefiting over 4 million of the most vulnerable households. We have also increased the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the cheapest third of local rents – which is on average £600 in people’s pockets.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on maintenance payments under the Child Maintenance Service to parents with care.

The Government recognises that the income of many separated parents is being impacted by the public health emergency and some receiving parents may receive less maintenance as a result of a paying parent’s drop in income. There is insufficient data to estimate the precise economic impact on different groups.

Paying parents are still expected to pay child maintenance throughout this period. Our priority is to maintain the flow of maintenance that is currently being paid, by easing the financial pressure on paying parents and ensuring that we transfer the payments as quickly as possible to receiving parents.

Measures have been introduced to support both paying and receiving parents, whose income drops as a result of the public health emergency. These include increasing the standard rate of Universal Credit and working tax credit for this year by over £1000 per year, benefiting over 4 million of the most vulnerable households. We have also increased the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the cheapest third of local rents – which is on average £600 in people’s pockets.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many companies in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK have signed up to the voluntary reporting on disability, mental health and wellbeing framework.

Government has worked with large employers and expert partners to develop a voluntary reporting framework (VRF) to support organisations to record and voluntarily report information on disability, mental health and wellbeing in the workplace; thereby encouraging employers to be more transparent and start having open conversations about disability and health at work. We continue to work with employers and expert partners to promote its usage, including requiring new and renewing Disability Confident Level 3 Leaders to use it however, there is no requirement for companies to notify Government if they have signed up to the framework.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when her Department plans to respond to the consultation, Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss, which closed on 7 October 2019.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 28 January 2020 to Question 7281 [https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-01-23/7281/].

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to notify each person that is eligible for pension credit.

It is important to highlight that in 2017/18 there were around 1.7 million Pension Credit claimants, receiving around £5.1 billion of Pension Credit payments.

The Government wants to make sure that all pensioners eligible can claim the Pension Credit to which they are entitled. That is why on the 10 February we launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of Pension Credit. The aim of the campaign is to encourage those over State Pension age to check whether they’re eligible. We want to make it clear that having savings, a pension or owning a home are not automatic barriers to receiving Pension Credit; as well as explaining that even a small award of Pension Credit can provide access to a range of other benefits such as help with rent, council tax reduction schemes and heating costs.

The campaign includes a short, animated video that is being shown in GP waiting rooms and in Post Offices. It is also being shown to Facebook users over State Pension age and supported by other messaging on social media. We have also made the video and campaign materials available for stakeholders to use, as we know they are often one of the first places people turn to for information about Pension Credit.

An important part of our overall strategy to promote take-up is engaging with people who may be eligible to benefits at pivotal stages, such as when they claim State Pension or Attendance Allowance or report a change in their circumstances which may mean that they could be eligible for Pension Credit.

Pension Credit is an income-related benefit, which means that entitlement to the benefit will depend on an individual’s particular circumstances. It is therefore not possible to identify each person that is eligible, which is why we are encouraging people who think they may be eligible for Pension Credit to use the online Pension Credit calculator https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit-calculator to check if they are likely to be eligible and get an estimate of what they may receive.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many (a) challenges have providers of personal independence payment health assessments made to auditors' rework requests and (b) of those challenges were successful in each of the last five years.

Independent audit data is available from July 2016. The table below shows the number of challenges, and challenges overturned made by providers to auditors for each calendar year since then.

Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10 and have been provided by the Independent Audit team.

Year

2016

2017

2018

2019

Total Challenges

70

400

420

360

Audit results overturned

30

230

250

190

The total number of audit results overturned equates to 1.1% of all audits from 2016 to present.

Independent audit began in 2016; prior to that the audit process was performed by the providers and so we do not hold information earlier than that year.

We have omitted stats for 2020 as there is only one month’s information.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has plans to provide financial support to people that do not qualify for statutory sick pay and have to take time off work to (a) self-isolate and (b) be quarantined as a result of covid-19.

Employers have been urged to make sure they use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay. Gig workers and those on zero hours contracts may be entitled to sick pay and can check here: https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay/eligibility

Those who aren’t entitled to sick pay, including those who are self-employed, can make a claim to Universal Credit and/or new-style Employment and Support Allowance.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will publish the value of deductions due to sanctions for benefit payments by parliamentary constituency in (a) the latest period for which figures are available and (b) 2019.

The Department has no plans to collate and publish this information.

The latest available statistics on benefit sanctions are published here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/benefit-sanctions-statistics-to-october-2019-experimental

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many non-resident parents with child maintenance arrears of more than £1,000 the Child Maintenance Service has been unable to enforce collections on through (a) a deduction from earnings order, (b) a deduction from earnings request and (c) a deduction order.

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

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 6 February 2020 to Question 9726 on Personal Independence Payment: Medical Examinations, for what reasons information on the number of audited health assessment reports by audit grade carried out by Capita was not provided in that answer.

Please find below the number of Audited files for Capita and Independent Assessment Service by audit grade for 2018 and 2019 in raw number format. The audits are a random selection and are undertaken in order for the department to measure contractual quality service levels.

Note the numbers are unpublished and rounded to the nearest 10.

Rounded

IAS (L1&3)

Jan-18

Feb-18

Mar-18

Apr-18

May-18

Jun-18

Jul-18

Aug-18

Sep-18

Oct-18

Nov-18

Dec-18

A

610

630

680

620

610

630

650

630

630

640

600

590

AF

190

160

160

150

180

170

160

170

150

140

160

220

AA

130

130

100

150

130

130

120

140

160

170

190

150

U

60

50

40

70

70

60

40

30

40

30

30

20

Total

980

980

980

980

990

980

980

970

970

980

980

980

Capita (Lot 2)

Jan-18

Feb-18

Mar-18

Apr-18

May-18

Jun-18

Jul-18

Aug-18

Sep-18

Oct-18

Nov-18

Dec-18

A

290

300

310

310

310

320

330

300

310

320

290

310

AF

80

80

70

70

60

70

70

100

100

80

100

100

AA

90

80

80

80

80

70

70

70

70

70

90

60

U

30

20

20

30

30

20

10

10

10

10

10

10

Total

490

480

480

480

480

490

490

480

480

490

490

480

IAS (L1&3)

Jan-19

Feb-19

Mar-19

Apr-19

May-19

Jun-19

Jul-19

Aug-19

Sep-19

Oct-19

Nov-19

Dec-19

A

640

630

630

640

670

620

610

610

560

640

650

670

AF

180

180

150

160

150

170

150

170

170

150

140

140

AA

130

140

160

160

130

140

190

150

200

150

150

140

U

30

30

40

20

30

50

40

50

50

50

40

30

Total

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

Capita (Lot 2)

Jan-19

Feb-19

Mar-19

Apr-19

May-19

Jun-19

Jul-19

Aug-19

Sep-19

Oct-19

Nov-19

Dec-19

A

320

300

320

330

320

300

300

310

320

330

340

330

AF

70

80

80

60

80

80

80

90

70

70

70

50

AA

80

90

70

80

70

80

90

80

80

70

60

90

U

20

20

10

20

20

30

20

20

30

20

20

20

Total

480

480

490

490

490

490

490

490

490

490

490

490

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many parents owe more than £1000 in Child Maintenance Service arrears.

For arrangements setup under the Child Maintenance service only, at the end of September 2019 there were 78,500 parents who owed more than £1,000 in Child Maintenance Service arrears.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, under what circumstances a deduction of earnings order under the Child Maintenance Service is no longer appropriate.

A Deduction from Earnings Order (DEO) is no longer appropriate when there has been a change in circumstances, such as where a business stops trading and / or a paying parent has left employment and no details are held for a new employer. A DEO can also be cancelled in circumstances where it has been successfully applied for six months and the paying parent has requested to pay maintenance via an alternative channel.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will extend the powers that are available to the Child Maintenance Service for the collection of child maintenance.

Since 2018 we have introduced new collection and enforcement powers, including disqualifying non-compliant parents from holding a UK passport. We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the new powers. At present we have no plans to further extend these powers.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claims from a non-resident parent for a recalculation of child maintenance as a result of a change in the income of that parent were received by the Child Maintenance Service in each of the last three years; and how many of those claims resulted in a change after reassessment.

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

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 31 January 2020 to Question 10758 on EnAble Fund for Elected Office, when her Department plans to publish its National Strategy for Disabled People.

I can confirm that the Government will publish a National Strategy for Disabled People in 2020 focusing on removing barriers to ensure disabled people can lead a life of opportunity and fully participate in British society.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the value is of child maintenance debts her Department (a) has written off and (b) estimates will be written off in (i) Scotland and (ii) the UK during the transition from the Child Support Agency to the Child Maintenance Service.

(a) The total amount written off for cases on Child Support Agency systems, as of September 2019, is published in Table 9.2 of the CSA QSS and is £1,480.7m. The statistics in Table 9.2 do not include CSA cases on the CMS system because representation activity on these cases started later than on the CSA system and the data we need to report on them requires more quality assurance. We aim to publish this information in the December 2019 release which is due to be published in Spring 2020.

(b) Table 9.2 provides statistics at a GB level, and the regional split of child maintenance debt that is written off isn’t published. To provide this information for Scotland would require us to link together several complex datasets and it would incur disproportionate cost. The estimate of what will be written off was included in The CSA Historic Arrears business case. Page 25 refers and the figure included was £3.2bn

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/667033/child-maintenance-compliance-arrears-consultation.pdf

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many audited health assessment reports of personal independence payment claimants from each supplier were graded as (a) acceptable, (b) unacceptable, (c) acceptable with amendments required and (d) acceptable with feedback in each month in (i) 2018 and (ii) 2019.

Please see below the percentages of audited files for each supplier, Independent Assessment Services (IAS) and Capita by audit grade, for 2018 and 2019 as requested. Note the numbers are unpublished.

IAS (L1&3)

Jan-18

Feb-18

Mar-18

Apr-18

May-18

Jun-18

Jul-18

Aug-18

Sep-18

Oct-18

Nov-18

Dec-18

A

62%

65%

70%

63%

62%

64%

66%

64%

65%

65%

61%

60%

AF

19%

17%

16%

15%

18%

17%

17%

18%

15%

14%

16%

22%

AA

13%

13%

10%

15%

13%

13%

13%

15%

16%

17%

20%

15%

U

6%

6%

4%

7%

7%

6%

4%

3%

4%

3%

3%

2%

Capita (Lot 2)

Jan-18

Feb-18

Mar-18

Apr-18

May-18

Jun-18

Jul-18

Aug-18

Sep-18

Oct-18

Nov-18

Dec-18

A

60%

62%

64%

64%

65%

67%

68%

63%

64%

66%

59%

64%

AF

17%

16%

15%

15%

13%

14%

15%

21%

20%

17%

20%

21%

AA

18%

17%

17%

16%

17%

15%

15%

15%

14%

15%

19%

12%

U

5%

5%

4%

5%

5%

5%

2%

1%

2%

2%

2%

3%

IAS (L1&3)

Jan-19

Feb-19

Mar-19

Apr-19

May-19

Jun-19

Jul-19

Aug-19

Sep-19

Oct-19

Nov-19

Dec-19

A

65%

64%

65%

66%

69%

63%

62%

62%

58%

65%

66%

69%

AF

18%

18%

15%

16%

15%

17%

15%

18%

17%

15%

14%

14%

AA

14%

14%

17%

16%

13%

15%

19%

15%

20%

15%

16%

14%

U

3%

3%

4%

2%

3%

5%

4%

5%

5%

5%

4%

3%

Capita (Lot 2)

Jan-19

Feb-19

Mar-19

Apr-19

May-19

Jun-19

Jul-19

Aug-19

Sep-19

Oct-19

Nov-19

Dec-19

A

65%

62%

66%

67%

66%

62%

62%

63%

65%

67%

69%

69%

AF

15%

16%

16%

13%

17%

17%

16%

17%

14%

15%

14%

10%

AA

17%

19%

15%

17%

14%

15%

18%

17%

16%

14%

13%

17%

U

3%

3%

3%

3%

3%

6%

4%

3%

6%

4%

3%

4%

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claims of employment and support allowance where the claimant was a member of (a) the support group and (b) the work related activity group were active in each of the last three years.

Statistics on the number of people who have been awarded Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), by phase of claim, can be found at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

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

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claims of employment and support allowance where the claimant was a member of (a) the support group and (b) the work related activity group were closed due to the death of the claimant in each of the last three years.

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

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many audited Independent Assessment Service health assessment reports were graded as (a) acceptable, (b) unacceptable, (c) acceptable with amendments required and (d) acceptable with feedback in each month in (i) 2018 and (ii) 2019.

Please find the figures requested in the tables below. The numbers are unpublished and rounded to the nearest 10.

The first table displays total figures for Lots 1 and 3 for 2018.

The second table displays total figures for Lots 1 and 3 for 2019.

Rounded

Total(Lot 1&3)

Jan-18

Feb-18

Mar-18

Apr-18

May-18

Jun-18

Jul-18

Aug-18

Sep-18

Oct-18

Nov-18

Dec-18

Acceptable

610

630

680

620

610

630

650

630

630

640

600

590

Acceptable with Feedback

190

160

160

150

180

170

160

170

150

140

160

220

Acceptable with Amendment

130

130

100

150

130

130

120

140

160

170

190

150

Unacceptable

60

50

40

70

70

60

40

30

40

30

30

20

Total 2018

980

980

980

980

990

980

980

970

970

980

980

980

Rounded

Jan-2019

Feb-19

Mar-19

Apr-19

May-19

Jun-19

Jul-19

Aug-19

Sep-19

Oct-19

Nov-19

Dec-19

Acceptable

640

630

630

640

670

620

610

610

560

640

650

670

Acceptable with Feedback

180

180

150

160

150

170

150

170

170

150

140

140

Acceptable with Amendment

130

140

160

160

130

140

190

150

200

150

150

140

Unacceptable

30

30

40

20

30

50

40

50

50

50

40

30

Total 2019

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

980

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when her Department plans to publish the outcome of its consultation on statutory sick pay which closed on 7 October 2019.

We plan to publish the response to the consultationHealth is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss’ later this year. The consultation set out proposals to encourage all employers to take positive action to support employees who are managing health conditions in work, and to manage sickness absence more effectively.

Background

The consultation closed in October 2019. We have received a good response from a range of stakeholders and we are currently reviewing the detailed responses to inform decisions on next steps.

The consultation included proposals across four major policy areas:

1. Amend the legal framework to encourage early action to support individuals when they are absent from work and to facilitate more conversations to agree effective workplace modifications;

2. Reform of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) so that it is better enforced, more flexible, and support the lowest paid employees;

3. Measures to improve availability of high-quality, cost-effective occupational health (OH) services for employers; and

4. Advice and support from government for employers to understand and act on their responsibilities

The following special point should be noted:

The precise publication date has to be discussed and agreed with No.10.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 15 January 2020 to Question 3803 on Access to Work Programme, how many people with (a) learning disabilities and (b) autism spectrum disorders received funding in the latest period for which figures are available.

Table 8 of the Access to Work Statistics shows the number of people who have received an Access to Work payment broken down by primary medical condition.

The list of primary medical conditions used is consistent with that used for the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and so includes learning disabilities but not autistic spectrum disorders.

Subject to successful expansion of the list of conditions to include autism in the LFS, we propose to expand the Access to Work list to also include autistic spectrum disorders in future.

The Access to Work Statistics can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/access-to-work-statistics-april-2007-to-march-2019

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much was spent by the Access to Work scheme in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) England and (d) Northern Ireland in each of the last five years.

The Access to Work scheme is only available to those living in England, Scotland and Wales.

Please see below the Access to Work expenditure seen in Table 11 and Table 11a of the official statistics broken down in terms of Scotland, Wales and England.

The Access to Work official statistics can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/access-to-work-statistics-april-2007-to-march-2019

Expenditure by country, 2009/10 - 2018/19 (Nominal Terms)

Financial year

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

Country not recorded*

£369,000

£403,000

£417,000

£516,000

£636,000

England

£85,852,000

£85,764,000

£91,987,000

£98,362,000

£114,441,000

Wales

£4,121,000

£3,816,000

£4,204,000

£4,234,000

£5,322,000

Scotland

£6,658,000

£6,500,000

£7,161,000

£7,712,000

£8,721,000

Total

£96,999,000

£96,483,000

£103,768,000

£110,823,000

£129,120,000

Expenditure by country, 2009/10 - 2018/19 (Real Terms, 2018/19 prices)

Financial year

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

Country not recorded*

£395,000

£428,000

£433,000

£525,000

£636,000

England

£91,951,000

£91,128,000

£95,563,000

£100,166,000

£114,441,000

Wales

£4,413,000

£4,055,000

£4,367,000

£4,311,000

£5,322,000

Scotland

£7,131,000

£6,906,000

£7,440,000

£7,854,000

£8,721,000

Total

£103,890,000

£102,517,000

£107,802,000

£112,856,000

£129,120,000

Source: Disability Service Client (DiSC) administrative system; Single Operating Platform (SOP) payment system; Provider Referrals and Payments System (PRaP).

Notes:

* ‘Not recorded’ is used throughout the Access to Work publication and denotes the customers where that variable is missing. In this case, it is where information relating to a person’s residence is missing, most commonly their postcode.

  1. The expenditure data in these statistics covers payments directly to individuals and employers, as well as to assessment providers and the Mental Health Support Service.
  2. The expenditure data in these statistics does not include DWP’s staffing and operational costs relating to Access to Work.
  3. Real terms expenditure (where actual spending has been adjusted to remove the effects of general price level changes (inflation) over time using price levels from a base year) has been calculated using the Consumer Prices Index published by the Office for National Statistics. Real terms figures provide a more meaningful measurement of change over time.
  4. Expenditure figures have been calculated using a methodology consistent with that used in the published Access to Work statistics. Please see the background information and methodology note for more information, in particular the “Weighting” section on pages 8-9. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-to-work-statistics-background-information-and-methodology
  5. Access to Work expenditure for each country is based on residency of the beneficiary as opposed to place of work.
  6. Figures are rounded to the nearest £1,000 due to the weighting methodology used (see Note 4).

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to maintain the Local Supported Employment scheme.

The Local Supported Employment Proof of Concept ran between November 2017 and May 2019 and was delivered in partnership with 9 Local Authorities. We are currently considering our next steps to build on the findings from this test.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many (a) disability employment adviser leaders and (b) disability employment advisers are employed by her Department in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK.

From April 2019, Jobcentre Plus introduced an enhanced Disability Employment Adviser and a new Disability Employment Adviser Leader role supporting Jobcentre colleagues to provide high quality services to disabled people and those with health conditions. One of the key transformational elements of Universal Credit is that it provides us with the opportunity to support people who are in work to progress and increase their earnings.

As of December 2019, there are 10 full time equivalents Disability Employment Adviser Leader (DEALS) in place across the Jobcentre network in Scotland and 52 full time equivalents Disability Employment Advisers (DEAs). Nationally there are 98 full time equivalents DEALs and 501 full time equivalents DEAs.

The actual headcount will be higher when taking account of part time and dual role workers.

The figures provided are taken from the Departments ‘Activity Based Management’ (ABM) system. The data is derived from unpublished management information, collected and intended for internal departmental use and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many employers are signatories of her Department's Disability Confident scheme.

The latest published figures show that, as of 31 December 2019, 15832 employers were signed up to Disability Confident.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much child maintenance arrears is owed through (a) the Child Maintenance Service and (b) the Child Support Agency.

The information relating to Child Maintenance Service outstanding maintenance (arrears) is published and available online as part of the Child Maintenance Service statistics. The latest publication includes information to September 2019. This is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-maintenance-service-statistics-data-to-september-2019-experimental

The requested information is published in the National Tables, Table 11 (“How much maintenance the Child Maintenance Service has arranged”). This shows as at September 2019 child maintenance that remains be paid as £315.3m.

The information relating to Child Support Agency arrears is published and available online as part of the Child Support Agency Quarterly Summary Statistics. The latest publication includes information to June 2019. This is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-support-agency-quarterly-summary-of-statistics-june-2019-experimental

The requested information is published in the National Tables, Table 2 (“Outstanding maintenance arrears on CSA systems”) and Table 4 (“Child Support Agency arrears transitioned to the Child Maintenance Service”).

Table 2 shows outstanding maintenance on CSA systems as at June 2019 is £70,500 and table 4 shows outstanding maintenance on Child Maintenance Service is £701.4m

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the (a) average and (b) median waiting times were for decisions on applications for people who have applied for support from her Department's Access to Work scheme in the most recent period for which figures are available.

The information requested about average and median waiting times for decisions on applications for people who have applied for support from Access to Work is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support her Department is providing to the Disabled People's Organisation to monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People in relation to the UK Government's social welfare policies.

We submitted the most recent UK Government report to the UN in September 2019, outlining our progress made against the recommendations in the 2016 inquiry into welfare, independent living, legal aid, accessible communications and engagement with disabled people.

The Department for Work and Pensions will be bringing forward a Green Paper in the coming months on how the health and disability welfare system can better meet the needs of people with health conditions and disabilities. We will work with disabled people and disabled people’s organisations to ensure we are addressing the right problems in the system.

The Disability Unit, based in the Cabinet Office, will work closely with disabled people, disabled people’s organisations and charities to develop the National Strategy for Disabled People, with their views and experiences at the forefront of any new policy.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what savings have accrued to the public purse under the £30 reduction for claimants of employment and support allowance in the work-related activity group in each month since that reduction was implemented.

The information requested on the savings accrued from the removal of the Work Related Activity Component (WRAC) is not available. It would incur disproportionate cost to calculate any actual net savings from the removal of the WRAC.

When the WRAC was removed we made a clear commitment to instead provide practical support that will make a significant difference to the life chances of those in the Work-Related Activity Group. We have been investing an additional £330m over 4 years to support those with limited capability for work to move towards and into suitable employment.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her Department will take steps to ensure that Scotland is allocated a proportionate share of the Access to Work budget.

We continue to raise awareness of Access to Work throughout the country, including Scotland, using a targeted marketing approach; focusing on previously underrepresented groups such as young people, people with mental health conditions and people with learning disabilities.

Access to Work funding is not allocated on a regional basis. The scheme is available for anyone aged 16 or over who lives in England, Scotland or Wales and who has a disability or health condition (physical or mental) that makes it hard for them to do parts of their job or get to and from work. The number of people in Scotland receiving support through Access to Work follows trends in the growth of the service overall, and has been increasing year-on-year since 2015/16.

Further statistical information on Access to Work can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/access-to-work-statistics

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her Department's policy is for the collection of child maintenance where a person has been detained in medical care due to their mental health.

Decisions about collection and enforcement action are made on a case by case basis, taking into account the welfare of all parties and using the appropriate methods which have the greatest chance of securing money for children. Where a paying parent is confirmed to be a hospital in-patient or in residential care, the Child Maintenance Service will consider whether it is appropriate to pause the collection of arrears.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Child Maintenance Service's powers to disqualify non-compliant parents from (a) holding and (b) obtaining a (i) passport and (ii) driving licence in (A) enforcing collections and (B) reducing historically owed maintenance.

I can confirm that information related to this query is in the process of being collated by officials, but unfortunately is not yet in a suitable state for release. I will write to the Hon. Member with the information when it becomes available.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the Child Maintenance Service includes inheritance received by non-resident parents in their maintenance calculations.

Inheritance does not meet the legal definition of historic or current taxable income used for child maintenance (CM) calculation, consequently it is not included in the calculation. However, where a non-resident parent is earning income from inherited asset(s), such income could be included in the CM calculation.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the Child Maintenance Service's policy is when a non-resident parent has overpaid child maintenance; and whether that overpayment is (a) repaid, (b) deducted from future calculations or (c) subject to another process.

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) has a range of options to resolve overpayments of child maintenance. The course of action depends on the circumstances of the overpayment and the impact of a particular course of action on any children Involved.

Where a non-resident parent (NRP) has overpaid child maintenance, the CMS will first consider allocating the overpaid amount against any arrears due on the same case or against on-going maintenance. They will then look at allocating the overpaid amount to arrears due on any other case the NRP has.

If the overpayment cannot be allocated against any arrears or on-going maintenance, the Service will consider reimbursement. If a reimbursement is made, the Service will seek to recover any overpayments from the parent with care.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many passports have been confiscated due to unpaid child maintenance under the Child Maintenance Service in each month since that power came into effect.

The total number of passports which have been immediately disqualified are 4. The months where disqualification took place were March 2019, June 2019, and 2 cases in August 2019.

There are a further 3 cases for which the disqualification of a passport has been suspended pending payment. If payment is not received as directed before the end of the period of suspension, then the passport will be automatically disqualified.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to increase participation in the Access to Work programme.

We continue to raise awareness of Access to Work through a targeted marketing approach, focusing on previously underrepresented groups such as young people, people with mental health conditions and people with learning disabilities.

The 2018/19 Access to Work statistics illustrate the success of the scheme, with over 36,000 people receiving tailored and flexible support - up 7% on 2017/18 and currently the highest ever number - including record numbers of young people, people with learning disabilities and people with mental health conditions.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will put into statute the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The UK became a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2009. As a signatory to the convention, the UK remains committed to the progressive realisation of the rights for disabled people that it sets out. The Equality Act 2010 enshrines the rights of people in England, Scotland and Wales with any of nine protected characteristics to live free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation and have equal opportunities in domestic law. It systematically ensures consideration of the rights of disabled people by public authorities, at both national and local levels, through the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED).

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, under what conditions cases under the Child Maintenance Service will be moved onto collect and pay.

Parents are given the opportunity to avoid collection charges and use the Direct Pay Service, provided paying parents can pay their maintenance in full and on time. Where parents fail to pay their liability in full and on time, parents should notify the Child Maintenance Service who will take swift action to move the case to Collect & Pay to enforce payment and recover any arrears.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many members of staff have worked for the Child Maintenance Service in each year since 2013.

Please find attached the staffing information for Child maintenance Service. We are unable to provide information back to 2013 and data separating Child Maintenance Service (CMS)staffing from overall Child Maintenance Group has only been available since 2017

(CMG)

CMG

CMS

June 19

6842

5684

June 18

6988

5433

June 17

8009

5238

June 16

9421

June 15

10590

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many cases the Child Maintenance Service has handled under (a) direct pay and (b) collect and pay in each year since 2013.

Please find attached data on the number of child maintenance arrangements. We are unable to provide information back to 2013 as data is only available since 2015.

The number of Child Maintenance Arrangements

The number of child maintenance arrangements managed by the Child Maintenance Service, split by service type

Child Maintenance Arrangements

Quarter Ending

Direct Pay

C&P total

Mar-15

79,100

37,200

Mar-16

141,900

61,900

Mar-17

220,600

95,400

Mar-18

272,100

137,600

Mar-19

307,600

165,700

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans are in place to support blind and visually impaired people to access their covid-19 vaccine with (a) braille inclusive vaccine information, (b) vaccine centre location assistance, (c) vaccine centre signage and lighting and (d) staff guidance.

PHE (Public Health England) has published British Sign Language, braille, and large print versions of the guidance. The national booking letters are sent in size 16 font as standard, as defined by RNIB as large print and also provide 119 as an option.

PHE is currently working with RNIB to further disseminate our resources, identify any gaps, support RNIB’s teaching programme to the vaccination workforce and refine plans for the production of audio versions of our leaflets. All vaccination venues are accessible and will meet the needs of people with disabilities. Individuals and families are being encouraged to raise any need for a reasonable adjustment required ahead of vaccination appointments.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Sep 2020
What steps he is taking to help prevent a second wave of covid-19.

The Government’s strategy, based at all times on scientific advice, has been to stay alert, control the virus, save lives, and avoid or minimise a second wave.

Our strategies around controlled relaxations of national measures, local lockdowns and test and trace are all designed to manage that risk.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support the production of windowed face masks.

The United Kingdom Government’s national personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement team has been working extremely hard in recent weeks to source clear facemasks which comply with UK safety standards. While the product is not CE marked, UK Government regulators have agreed that a particular mask can enter the National Health Service supply chain for use during COVID-19 and further details will be announced as soon as possible about availability to health and care settings.

Where regulators find that PPE (as regulated by the Health and Safety Executive) or medical devices (as regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) can ensure an adequate level of health and safety in accordance with the essential requirements laid down in Regulation (EU) 2016/425 or the requirements of Directive 93/42/EEC, they may authorise the making available of these products for supply to frontline healthcare.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that communications on the importance of attending eyecare appointments for sight saving treatment is part of the NHS Open for Business communications campaign.

The ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign has been developed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to encourage people to continue to access NHS services when they need healthcare during the pandemic.

Campaign assets have been made available for regional and local National Health Service communications teams to use, as well as partner organisations, such as charities. Further campaign materials have been targeted to a range of priority services and conditions, which have experienced a significant decrease in people accessing them or presenting with symptoms, such as cancer and stroke, and maternity and mental health services.

In line with NHS England and NHS Improvement guidance issued to National Health Service trusts on 17 March, all clinically urgent care should have continued to be available throughout the height of the pandemic. Urgent care would include urgent sight saving treatment.

A copy of the letter to NHS trusts is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/03/20200317-NHS-COVID-letter-FINAL.pdf

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the Department has a target of responding to correspondence within 18 working days, where a response is required.

The Department is currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. The Department ensures that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised and is taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, how much funding the Government Equalities Office has (a) allocated to and (b) spent on the EnAble Fund since the launch of that fund.

The interim EnAble Fund for Elected Office was set up to cover scheduled elections between December 2018 and March 2020. It has an allocated budget of £330,000 of which £103,000 has been spent.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, how many applications to the EnAble fund have been (a) received and (b) approved from applicants in (i) Scotland, (ii) Wales, (iii) Northern Ireland and (iv) England since the launch of that fund.

The interim EnAble Fund for Elected Office was set up to cover scheduled elections between December 2018 and March 2020.


The EnAble Fund does not cover elections in Wales or Northern Ireland. Scotland has its own separate fund, the Access to Elected Office Fund Scotland, to support disabled candidates.


For the 2019 English Local elections the Fund received 46 applications, with 41 grants approved for disabled candidates.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the Government's commitment to education made at the G7 in June 2021, what steps the Government is taking to remove barriers to education for the world’s most vulnerable children, particularly those who are also living with disabilities.

Meeting under the UK Presidency, G7 Foreign and Development Ministers endorsed two new, global, SDG 4 milestone targets on girls' education, which we are calling on the world to help deliver. Ministers also endorsed a girls' education declaration, which specifically states the G7 will work in collaboration with developing country partners, multilateral institutions, civil society, girl-led groups, and youth leaders, to remove the obstacles to education that stand in girls' way. This includes addressing the social, environmental, and institutional barriers to education such as reducing violence in and out of schools, promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights and amending restrictive policies or legislation which prevent girls thriving in school.

We know learners with disabilities face severe barriers in accessing education, which have been further exacerbated by the pandemic. The FCDO's "twin track" approach provides both targeted support for learners with disabilities and seeks to improve mainstream education systems to be inclusive. Through the Girls' Education Challenge, we are helping 100,000 girls with disabilities receive an education in countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what his Department's plans are for the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) initiative; and what proportion of the £300 million the UK committed to IFFEd in 2019 has been spent to date.

We are committed to innovative means of aid financing that provide financial leverage for every pound of UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) in education. The International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) is such a mechanism - that is why the Prime Minister committed £300 million towards IFFEd at the UN General Assembly in September 2019, consisting of £100 million in grant funding, and £200 million in paid-in cash and guarantees.

We await sufficient interest from other donor countries to share the fiduciary risk of this promising innovation.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, if he will take steps to allocate £600 million to the Global Partnership for Education to deliver on his commitment of 12 years of quality education for all girls.

The Prime Minister and President Kenyatta of Kenya will co-host the Global Education Summit: Financing the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) in London in July 2021. No decision has yet been taken on the UK's next contribution to GPE, and details will follow in due course.

As co-hosts of the Summit, we are using all the means at our disposal to help the Global Partnership for Education secure its five-year rolling financing target of up to $5 billion (2021-2026). A well-funded GPE will be central to delivering our two ambitious global objectives of getting 40 million more girls in school, and 20 million more girls reading by age 10 in the next 5 years.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a target of responding within 20 working days where a response is required.

As you will understand, Foreign and Commonwealth Office is currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office ensures that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised, and is taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the Community Access to Cash Pilots operating in Post Office branches.

The Community Access to Cash Pilots are an industry-led initiative taking place in nine locations across the UK. These pilots are to trial and test sustainable solutions for ensuring that communities can conveniently withdraw and deposit cash, and identify ways basic banking services can be better delivered, that could be adopted in other locations.

The pilots include 3 ‘banking hubs’ in dedicated retail spaces on the high street, which combine the cash-transaction facilities of a Post Office with access to community banking services offered by the key retail banks. The locations for these trialling this service are Ampthill in Bedfordshire, Rochford in Essex and Cambuslang near Glasgow.

The Government welcomes these initiatives and looks forward to the outcomes of these pilots.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if his Department will provide dispensation to people seeking insurance to travel to restricted countries on compassionate grounds during the covid-19 pandemic.

Travel insurance is now widely available. It is likely that any policy bought or renewed, or trip booked, after the pandemic was officially declared will not cover cancellation due to COVID-19, including changes to FCDO travel advice, as it is a known risk. This is in contrast to policies sold before the outbreak of COVID-19, which typically covered changes in FCDO advice.

Travelling to countries against FCDO advice is likely to invalidate your travel insurance.

Travel insurance policies differ so, if in doubt, customers should speak to their insurer or check the terms and conditions of their policy.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to allocate financial support for cooperatives; and what support his Department is making available to simplify the process for establishing such cooperatives.

The Government recognises the value of co-operatives, and the contribution they make to all sectors of the economy. The first phase of our economic response has seen us take unprecedented steps to support the economy through the crisis; to keep as many people as possible in their existing jobs, to support viable businesses, including co-operatives, to stay afloat, and to protect the incomes of the most vulnerable. Co-operatives, like other businesses, have been eligible for a range of Government support schemes, including the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme, grants delivered by Local Authorities and business loans.

The Government has taken significant steps to support the growth of co-operatives right across the country. In 2014 the Government passed the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act, to reduce legal complexity for co-operatives and community benefit societies, and at the same time increased the amount of share capital an individual member can put into a co-operative society to £100,000.

HM Treasury officials also hosted a ‘Mutuals Workshop’ with representatives from the sector in 2019, to understand the challenges faced by mutuals and how Government can help to address these.

As we start to open the economy up and we look forward, we will consider how best to support the economic recovery. We will develop new measures to grow the economy, to back businesses, including co-operatives, and to help people thrive in the new post-Covid world. We will continue to consider how we can best support the co-operative sector to reach its potential, and welcome the views of Co-operatives UK and others in the sector as we do.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of the recommendations in the report entitled, We are the rebuilders: Four co-operative offers for building back better from COVID-19, published in June 2020 by Co-operatives UK.

The Government recognises the value of co-operatives, and the contribution they make to all sectors of the economy. The first phase of our economic response has seen us take unprecedented steps to support the economy through the crisis; to keep as many people as possible in their existing jobs, to support viable businesses, including co-operatives, to stay afloat, and to protect the incomes of the most vulnerable. Co-operatives, like other businesses, have been eligible for a range of Government support schemes, including the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme, grants delivered by Local Authorities and business loans.

The Government has taken significant steps to support the growth of co-operatives right across the country. In 2014 the Government passed the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act, to reduce legal complexity for co-operatives and community benefit societies, and at the same time increased the amount of share capital an individual member can put into a co-operative society to £100,000.

HM Treasury officials also hosted a ‘Mutuals Workshop’ with representatives from the sector in 2019, to understand the challenges faced by mutuals and how Government can help to address these.

As we start to open the economy up and we look forward, we will consider how best to support the economic recovery. We will develop new measures to grow the economy, to back businesses, including co-operatives, and to help people thrive in the new post-Covid world. We will continue to consider how we can best support the co-operative sector to reach its potential, and welcome the views of Co-operatives UK and others in the sector as we do.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reasons audiobooks were not included in the zero-rating VAT on e-publications announced in the Budget 2020; and if he will make a statement.

The extension of the zero rate of VAT has been introduced to provide consistency in approach between certain physical and digital publications in order to support reading and literacy in all its forms. Audiobooks are already taxed consistently at the standard rate in both physical and digital format.

In UK law, a book is deemed to be something that is read or looked at, a definition that does not include audio content in both digital and physical form.

The Government keeps all taxes under review, including VAT.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

Information on average response times is not held.

However, in 2019, the Treasury replied to 90% of MPs’ correspondence within 15 working days.

The Treasury has received unprecedented amounts of correspondence since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. All Member’s correspondence is currently receiving attention and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor for the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that people who are unable to open a bank account when the contract with Post Office Ltd for the Post Office Card Account ends are able to access cash.

The government believes that individuals, regardless of their background or income, should have access to useful and affordable financial products and services, including a bank account.

Basic bank accounts are a key financial inclusion policy. They provide people with a way of receiving income, whether that be salary, pension, benefits or tax credits and enable people to manage their money on a day-to-day basis effectively, securely and confidently. A basic bank account is fee-free for all everyday banking services and has no overdraft facility.

The 9 largest personal current account providers in the UK are legally required to offer fee-free basic bank accounts to customers who do not have a bank account in the UK or who are ineligible for a bank’s standard current account.

The Treasury publishes data on basic bank accounts annually. The December 2019 publication shows that in total there are nearly 7.5 million basic bank accounts open in the UK.

For people who cannot access a bank account, the Department for Work and Pensions will continue to offer the HMG Payment Exception Service that allows customers access to funds via PayPoint outlets.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of continuing to cover the cost of replacing an expired 90 day vignette at a cost of £154 where a visa has expired due to flights being cancelled as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Home Office has taken active steps to assist individuals planning to come to the UK by extending the 30-day entry clearance vignettes to 90 days.

If their 90 day vignette has expired, the individual will need to apply for a replacement by completing the online form on GOV.UK:

https://visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/visa-type

We strongly advise individuals to only apply for a new visa, or apply to replace an expired vignette, when they are confident they can travel to the UK given the restrictions on international travel at this time.. The new vignette will be valid for a period of 90 days. If they cannot travel during this time, they may need to apply again to update their vignette.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to strengthen protections for consumers against online banking fraud.

ONS figures on fraud are broken down into ‘Bank and credit account fraud’, ‘Consumer and retail fraud’, ‘Advance fee fraud’ and ‘Other fraud’. There is no specific breakdown relating to online banking fraud, although last year (March 2020) 53% of all fraud incidents estimated by the CSEW were thought to be cyber-related.

Office of National Statistics: Cheque, plastic card and online bank accounts (not PSP) fraud reports, however, it’s worth nothing this will include individual victim reports and reports from businesses

Year ending September 2015

269,709

Year ending September 2016

284,743

Year ending September 2017

286,979

Year ending September 2018

270,154

Year ending September 2019

325,436

Year ending September 2020

311,625

The Government takes all forms of fraud very seriously and continues to work closely with the banking and finance industry, consumer protection and victim support groups to prevent scams by closing down the vulnerabilities fraudsters exploit in order and to ensure the victim remains at the centre of our considerations by making sure they are better protected.

The Government’s ambitious Economic Crime Plan (ECP) sets out the significant action we are taking in close conjunction with the private sector to combat all economic crimes.

The ECP sets out 7 priority areas agreed in January 2019 by the Economic Crime Strategic Board, the ministerial level public-private board charged with setting the UK’s strategic priorities for combatting economic crime and strengthening the powers and capabilities of law enforcement, powers, the justice system and private sector to detect, deter and disrupt https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/economic-crime-plan-2019-to-2022

We are also investing more to tackle economic crime. The 2020 Spending Review announced an increase in the Government’s efforts to combat economic crime by providing an additional £30.5 million in resource and £32.5 million in capital funding in 2021/22, including support for the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) and City of London Police as national lead force for fraud.

We have also launched the Suspicious Email Reporting Service, run by the National Cyber Security Centre, which enables the public to report scams and anything appearing suspicious. Already over 5 million reports have been received, leading to over 36,000 scams taken down from the internet and the closure of over 71,000 harmful websites.

The Financial Conduct Agency (FCA) requires banks to maintain effective systems and controls to prevent the risk they might be used for financial crime. The protection for consumers who fall victim to fraudulent transactions is set out in the Payment Services Regulations 2017 which state a customer who claims they did not authorise a transaction on their account must receive a refund from their bank, unless the bank has reasonable grounds to suspect the customer is liable for the transaction (for example due to customer fraud or gross negligence).

The Government is committed to tackling fraud and ensuring victims of Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams are protected. The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) published a call for views on APP scams in February 2021 which set out various measures which could deliver a higher level of protection for consumers. The Government looks forward to engaging with the outcomes of the PSR's call for views, including considering what further actions may be necessary to make progress on this issue.

Finally, it remains important the public reports fraud to Action Fraud either by phone on 0300 123 2040 or via:

http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.

Scam emails and texts can be reported by texting your mobile provide on 7726 or forwarding suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many cases of online banking fraud against individuals there were in each year since 2015.

ONS figures on fraud are broken down into ‘Bank and credit account fraud’, ‘Consumer and retail fraud’, ‘Advance fee fraud’ and ‘Other fraud’. There is no specific breakdown relating to online banking fraud, although last year (March 2020) 53% of all fraud incidents estimated by the CSEW were thought to be cyber-related.

Office of National Statistics: Cheque, plastic card and online bank accounts (not PSP) fraud reports, however, it’s worth nothing this will include individual victim reports and reports from businesses

Year ending September 2015

269,709

Year ending September 2016

284,743

Year ending September 2017

286,979

Year ending September 2018

270,154

Year ending September 2019

325,436

Year ending September 2020

311,625

The Government takes all forms of fraud very seriously and continues to work closely with the banking and finance industry, consumer protection and victim support groups to prevent scams by closing down the vulnerabilities fraudsters exploit in order and to ensure the victim remains at the centre of our considerations by making sure they are better protected.

The Government’s ambitious Economic Crime Plan (ECP) sets out the significant action we are taking in close conjunction with the private sector to combat all economic crimes.

The ECP sets out 7 priority areas agreed in January 2019 by the Economic Crime Strategic Board, the ministerial level public-private board charged with setting the UK’s strategic priorities for combatting economic crime and strengthening the powers and capabilities of law enforcement, powers, the justice system and private sector to detect, deter and disrupt https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/economic-crime-plan-2019-to-2022

We are also investing more to tackle economic crime. The 2020 Spending Review announced an increase in the Government’s efforts to combat economic crime by providing an additional £30.5 million in resource and £32.5 million in capital funding in 2021/22, including support for the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) and City of London Police as national lead force for fraud.

We have also launched the Suspicious Email Reporting Service, run by the National Cyber Security Centre, which enables the public to report scams and anything appearing suspicious. Already over 5 million reports have been received, leading to over 36,000 scams taken down from the internet and the closure of over 71,000 harmful websites.

The Financial Conduct Agency (FCA) requires banks to maintain effective systems and controls to prevent the risk they might be used for financial crime. The protection for consumers who fall victim to fraudulent transactions is set out in the Payment Services Regulations 2017 which state a customer who claims they did not authorise a transaction on their account must receive a refund from their bank, unless the bank has reasonable grounds to suspect the customer is liable for the transaction (for example due to customer fraud or gross negligence).

The Government is committed to tackling fraud and ensuring victims of Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams are protected. The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) published a call for views on APP scams in February 2021 which set out various measures which could deliver a higher level of protection for consumers. The Government looks forward to engaging with the outcomes of the PSR's call for views, including considering what further actions may be necessary to make progress on this issue.

Finally, it remains important the public reports fraud to Action Fraud either by phone on 0300 123 2040 or via:

http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.

Scam emails and texts can be reported by texting your mobile provide on 7726 or forwarding suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the (a) average and (b) median response time to (i) ordinary and (ii) urgent email correspondence was for her Department's UK Visa and Immigration MP casework service in each month of the last three years.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has a target of responding to MPs written correspondence within 20 working days. UKVI has, during the current year, dealt with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. UKVI ensures urgent cases raised by Hon. Members are prioritised and is taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

UKVI does not measure the average or median time for responding to ordinary or e-mail correspondence from Hon. Members, however, the latest published data on UKVI performance against the service standard is held at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/customer-service-operations-data-august-2020

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Jun 2020
What recent assessment she has made of the implications of the covid-19 outbreak for her Department's priorities.

My Department continues to deliver on our core priorities of;

o protecting the public,

o securing our borders,

o and reforming our immigration system.

Current rates of staff absence due to Covid-19 do not present immediate risks to delivery of these.

The Home Office is also an integral part of the cross-Government Covid-19 response. To ensure the department is equipped to respond effectively some staff have been deployed to specific covid related activities.

We have also provided additional support for victims of domestic abuse who may feel particularly vulnerable at this time and implemented public health measures at the border to prevent a second wave of Coronavirus from imported cases.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans her Department has to extend its contract with Post Office Ltd for biometric residence permit collections.

On 11 March 2020 it was decided to extend the existing contract for the collection of Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) from the Post Office Ltd until the end of February 2021.

We are conducting a review of the current contract which is likely to be completed by end of August 2020.? A decision will then be taken to further extend the existing Post Office contract or to tender for a new solution.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans her Department has to extend its contract for ASPEN cards.

The Home Office’s contract to provide financial support to asylum seekers through an Aspen Card has been extended until 27 February 2021.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department plans to extend the contract with Sodexo for the provision of Aspen cards to asylum seekers.

A new supplier will provide payment card services following transition from the current provider, Sodexo. Timelines are currently being finalised.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
31st Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether she plans to (a) extend or (b) replace the EnAble Fund for Elected Office.

It is the Government’s ambition to see more disabled people in public office. While financial support for candidates in elections is also a matter for political parties, the Government is considering what support it might provide to succeed the current EnAble fund. The Disability Unit is considering options in connection with the National Strategy for Disabled People, which is due to be published in 2020.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

This information is not held in the format requested. In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the Ministry of Defence has a target of responding within 20 working days where a response is required. We also ensure that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised and take steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible. All correspondence received from hon. Members is reviewed and responded to as soon as possible. Statistics for each month since May 2018 are included in the table below:

Date

Pieces of correspondence from Parliamentarians due for response

Response sent on time

May 2018

190

183

June 2018

208

203

July 2018

248

246

August 2018

218

214

September 2018

169

166

October 2018

164

161

November 2018

202

201

December 2018

204

200

January 2019

176

176

February 2019

180

180

March 2019

184

183

April 2019

239

236

May 2019

200

199

June 2019

203

202

July 2019

233

233

August 2019

205

200

September 2019

172

169

October 2019

195

192

November 2019

212

207

December 2019

72

67

January 2020

44

43

February 2020

183

178

March 2020

216

204

April 2020

190

167

Total

4,507

4,410

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans his Department has to support employment projects for disabled people through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will help to level up and create opportunity across the UK in places most in need, such as ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and rural and coastal communities.

A portion of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will support investment in people and skills, in communities and places and in local businesses, all tailored to local needs.

A second portion of the Fund will be targeted differently to people most in need, through bespoke employment and skills programmes. This will support improved employment outcomes for those in and out of work in specific groups of people who face labour market barriers.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, whether the Commission has made an assessment of the effect of the travel restrictions in relation to covid-19 on trends in the level of the cost of MP’s travel to Westminster.

Issues relating to the costs of MPs’ travel to Westminster are a matter for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

The Commission has ensured the Travel Office remains available to all members to facilitate their travel to and from Westminster and have made specific arrangements to ensure that accommodation is available where required.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has a target of responding within 20 working days where a response is required.

As you will understand, MHCLG is currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. MHCLG ensures that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised, and is taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
18th May 2021
What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on plans to review the relationship between Government and the courts.

Her Majesty last week announced that there will be a bill in this session. our aim in any measures we take forward following our recent consultation will not be to curtail the power of the courts, as the Government’s critics have suggested, but rather to enhance it, and to restore the proper balance between courts, parliament and the executive.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many cases regarding the Child Maintenance Service have been heard at the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal in each of the last five years.

Information about Child Maintenance Service appeals received into the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) (SSCS) is published at www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics.

The latest period for which data are available is January to March 2020. The most recent tribunal statistics publications covering the period April to September 2020 do not include SSCS data due to issues identified as the Tribunal was being migrated to a new operational system. The data will be made available as soon as this is resolved and the data quality assured.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many hearings of the (a) first tier and (b) upper tier Social Security and Child Support Tribunals were adjourned in each of the last five years, and for what reasons those hearings were adjourned.

(1) (a) Data about adjournments for appeals to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) (SSCS), are published annually, in June, at: www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics. The table below contains a breakdown of the reasons for adjournments.

Number and reasons1 for adjournments in First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) hearings

Financial Years – April to March

2014_2015

2015_2016

2016_2017

2017_2018

2018_2019

Adjournment reason/category

1st Tier Not Ready to Proceed

291

165

~

~

0

Adjourned, All Elements Adjourned

0

0

~

~

0

Adjourned, Element(s) Outstanding

0

0

0

~

~

Admin Not Ready to Proceed

1,119

629

17

38

15

Appellant Not Ready to Proceed

5,507

3,760

63

46

31

Appellant to attend - oral hearing requested - did not attend - no reason

0

316

1,041

1,276

1,785

Appellant to attend - oral hearing requested - did not attend - reason given

0

1,109

3,297

3,319

3,594

Appellant to attend - paper requested or no Enquiry Form returned

0

487

1,828

2,307

2,638

Documents supplied but not before the Tribunal at the hearing

0

107

301

332

335

Evidence or further Response from Respondent required

~

1,124

2,999

3,509

3,451

Evidence or submission from Appellant required

5

720

2,113

2,159

2,147

Further medical evidence essential

0

2,943

11,972

15,755

16,298

Insufficient time to deal with case

0

384

1,320

1,324

1,217

No Interpreter

0

316

1,236

989

1,186

Other administrative errors

0

240

927

1,203

1,226

Other reasons for adjourning

~

1,674

5,974

7,933

7,976

Part Allowed

0

0

~

~

0

Presenting Officer to attend

0

84

212

183

128

Respondent failed to comply with directions

0

46

120

80

51

Tribunal Not Ready to Proceed

20,468

14,161

563

426

278

Adjournments as a % of hearings listed2

17%

17%

17%

18%

20%

1 Prior to November 2015 there were four adjournment categories: First Tier Not Ready to Proceed; Admin Not Ready to Proceed; Appellant Not Ready to Proceed; and Tribunal Not Ready to Proceed. The additional categories as above were introduced from November 2015.

~ Equates to a value of fewer than five.

2 Proportion of listed hearings for the totals are weighted averages.

The data may differ slightly to that of the published statistics where reports were run on a different date.

(1) (b) The data for the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeal Chamber) which hears appeals against decisions made by SSCS are not held centrally, and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

(2) (a) and (b) these data are not held centrally.

The decision to adjourn a hearing is a judicial function. The panel will only proceed when it is

satisfied it has all the evidence it needs to make a fair and just decision and that may

include further medical evidence.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many hearings of the (a) first tier and (b) upper tier Social Security and Child Support Tribunals were adjourned due to the appellant not receiving their appeal bundle in each of the last five years.

(1) (a) Data about adjournments for appeals to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) (SSCS), are published annually, in June, at: www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics. The table below contains a breakdown of the reasons for adjournments.

Number and reasons1 for adjournments in First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) hearings

Financial Years – April to March

2014_2015

2015_2016

2016_2017

2017_2018

2018_2019

Adjournment reason/category

1st Tier Not Ready to Proceed

291

165

~

~

0

Adjourned, All Elements Adjourned

0

0

~

~

0

Adjourned, Element(s) Outstanding

0

0

0

~

~

Admin Not Ready to Proceed

1,119

629

17

38

15

Appellant Not Ready to Proceed

5,507

3,760

63

46

31

Appellant to attend - oral hearing requested - did not attend - no reason

0

316

1,041

1,276

1,785

Appellant to attend - oral hearing requested - did not attend - reason given

0

1,109

3,297

3,319

3,594

Appellant to attend - paper requested or no Enquiry Form returned

0

487

1,828

2,307

2,638

Documents supplied but not before the Tribunal at the hearing

0

107

301

332

335

Evidence or further Response from Respondent required

~

1,124

2,999

3,509

3,451

Evidence or submission from Appellant required

5

720

2,113

2,159

2,147

Further medical evidence essential

0

2,943

11,972

15,755

16,298

Insufficient time to deal with case

0

384

1,320

1,324

1,217

No Interpreter

0

316

1,236

989

1,186

Other administrative errors

0

240

927

1,203

1,226

Other reasons for adjourning

~

1,674

5,974

7,933

7,976

Part Allowed

0

0

~

~

0

Presenting Officer to attend

0

84

212

183

128

Respondent failed to comply with directions

0

46

120

80

51

Tribunal Not Ready to Proceed

20,468

14,161

563

426

278

Adjournments as a % of hearings listed2

17%

17%

17%

18%

20%

1 Prior to November 2015 there were four adjournment categories: First Tier Not Ready to Proceed; Admin Not Ready to Proceed; Appellant Not Ready to Proceed; and Tribunal Not Ready to Proceed. The additional categories as above were introduced from November 2015.

~ Equates to a value of fewer than five.

2 Proportion of listed hearings for the totals are weighted averages.

The data may differ slightly to that of the published statistics where reports were run on a different date.

(1) (b) The data for the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeal Chamber) which hears appeals against decisions made by SSCS are not held centrally, and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

(2) (a) and (b) these data are not held centrally.

The decision to adjourn a hearing is a judicial function. The panel will only proceed when it is

satisfied it has all the evidence it needs to make a fair and just decision and that may

include further medical evidence.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, pursuant to the Answer of 11 February 2020 to Question 13485 on EnAble Fund for Elected Office, how many applications to the EnAble Fund were made by candidates standing in (a) the 2019 UK General Election, and (b) a Westminster by-election since the launch of that fund.

The interim EnAble Fund for Elected Office was set up to cover scheduled elections between December 2018 and March 2020, meaning that funding was not allocated to cover the 2019 General Election. We are exploring options to provide retrospective payments to eligible General Election candidates.

Candidates seeking support for a Parliamentary by-election are considered on a case-by-case basis. We have not received any applications for any Westminster by-elections since the launch of the fund.

Elizabeth Truss
Minister for Women and Equalities
4th Nov 2020
What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effect of the UK Internal Market Bill on Northern Ireland.

The UK Internal Market Bill is economically important for Northern Ireland. It ensures direct trade from Northern Ireland to Great Britain will continue as it does now, delivering this Government’s clear commitment to provide for unfettered access in legislation.

But the Bill’s significance is not just economic. The Government is taking powers in reserve to create a legal safety net that guard against the harmful legal defaults in the Protocol, in the event that agreement with the EU is not reached in Joint Committee discussions.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland speaks frequently with Cabinet colleagues on a range of matters including these points.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

As encouraged by Cabinet Office guidance to set challenging deadlines, the Northern Ireland Office has a target of responding within 15 working days where a response is required.

As you will understand, the Northern Ireland Office is currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to Covid-19. The Northern Ireland Office ensures that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised, and is taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Leader of the House, what plans he has to enable hon. Members that are required to self-isolate as a result of a (a) contact identified through the Government’s test, trace, isolate programme, (b) a positive test for covid-19 by (i) themselves and (ii) a member of their household and (c) member of their household displays symptoms of covid-19 to participate in (A) votes and (b) parliamentary proceedings.

I would encourage all MPs that are able to do so to return to Parliament. I recognise that health is a personal matter and MPs with health concerns will need to make their own decision about what is appropriate for them. My expectation is that the pairing arrangements will apply to members in cases of illness in the usual way.

For those Members unable to attend Westminster for medical or public health reasons related to the pandemic, I have tabled a motion to allow participation in proceedings on Questions, Urgent Questions and Statements virtually. The Government has also committed to enabling proxy voting for those who are shielding or clinically vulnerable.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
13th May 2020
To ask the Leader of the House, what steps he is taking to arrange for the participation in votes and proceedings of the House from 2 June 2020 of Members who have been advised by their country’s Chief Medical Officer that they are clinically extremely vulnerable to covid-19 and must not leave their homes during the pandemic.

It is the Government’s clear view that the current hybrid arrangements are temporary, and that as essential workers, the vast majority of MPs must return to parliament physically so that we can pass legislation and enable proper scrutiny of government.

However, someone’s health is a deeply personal matter and if any MPs have been advised to shield by the government and therefore cannot attend the House, the Government is looking at options for participation in some proceedings. For those MPs who will attend the House, we will continue to work in line with public health advice and will work closely with the House authorities to agree social distancing measures ahead of any physical return of Parliament.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
13th May 2020
To ask the Leader of the House, what discussions he has had with the Chief Medical Officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the effect on the health and wellbeing of Members and staff on the parliamentary estate of the reintroduction of full physical parliamentary proceedings on 2 June 2020.

The Government is clear about the need to bring Parliament back to work in a safe, responsible way that aligns with public health guidelines that apply to all places of work. We will work closely with the House authorities ahead of any physical return of Parliament and since March there has been frequent communication with Public Health England and all the House Authorities.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
13th May 2020
To ask the Leader of the House, what discussions he has had with the House of Commons Commission on the effect on the Business of the House in the event that a case of covid-19 is confirmed in a person who had been present in the Chamber during a sitting of the House while infectious.

I have been in regular contact with the Speaker and Clerk of the House throughout Parliament’s response to covid-19. In the same way that we prepared for the House’s virtual return after Easter we will work in collaboration with the House Authorities to ensure that we are ready for the physical return. The Commission will be meeting tomorrow to discuss these matters further. We are clear about the need to bring Parliament back to work in a safe, responsible way that aligns with public health guidelines.

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland has a target of responding within 20 working days where a response is required. As you will understand, the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland is currently dealing with unprecedented volumes of correspondence due to COVID-19. The Department ensures that urgent cases raised by hon. Members are prioritised, and is taking steps to provide substantive responses in as short a time as possible.

All correspondence received from hon. Members is being reviewed and will be responded to as soon as possible.

Alister Jack
Secretary of State for Scotland
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, what the average length of time was for Ministers of his Department to respond to correspondence from hon. Members in each month in the last two years.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales has a target of responding to correspondence within 15 working days where a response is required. The average length of time over the past 2 years is set out below:

Month

Average response time in working days

May 2018

11

June 2018

7

July 2018

12

August 2018

7

September 2018

22

October 2018

11

November 2018

10

December 2018

No responses required to hon. Members

January 2019

7

February 2019

No responses required to hon. Members

March 2019

10

April 2019

No responses required to hon. Members

May 2019

12

June 2019

5

July 2019

4

August 2019

14

September 2019

No responses required to hon. Members

October 2019

15

November 2019

No responses required to hon. Members

December 2019

No responses required to hon. Members

January 2020

15

February 2020

7

March 2020

7

April 2020

6

Simon Hart
Secretary of State for Wales