Mary Kelly Foy Portrait

Mary Kelly Foy

Labour - City of Durham

Mary Kelly Foy has no previous appointments


Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 26th October 2021
09:25
Health and Care Bill - Debate
Subject: Further to consider the Bill
26 Oct 2021, 9:25 a.m. View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Tuesday 26th October 2021
14:00
Health and Care Bill - Debate
Subject: Further to consider the Bill
26 Oct 2021, 2 p.m. View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 27th October 2021
09:25
Health and Care Bill - Debate
Subject: Further to consider the Bill
27 Oct 2021, 9:25 a.m. View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 27th October 2021
14:00
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s past: The UK Government's New Proposals
27 Oct 2021, 2 p.m.
At 2.30pm: Oral evidence
Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland - Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at Northern Ireland Office
Madeleine Alessandri CMG - Permanent Secretary at Northern Ireland Office
Chris Flatt - Strategy Director at Northern Ireland Office
View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 27th October 2021
14:00
Health and Care Bill - Debate
Subject: Further to consider the Bill
27 Oct 2021, 2 p.m. View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Thursday 28th October 2021
11:30
Health and Care Bill - Debate
Subject: Further to consider the Bill
28 Oct 2021, 11:30 a.m. View calendar
Select Committee Meeting
Thursday 28th October 2021
14:00
Health and Care Bill - Debate
Subject: Further to consider the Bill
28 Oct 2021, 2 p.m. View calendar
Division Votes
Friday 22nd October 2021
Prayers
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 114 Labour No votes vs 0 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 3 Noes - 336
Speeches
Friday 22nd October 2021
Employment and Trade Union Rights (Dismissal and Re-engagement) Bill

I would like to thank the hon. Member for highlighting the plight of those smaller businesses. Would he agree that …

Written Answers
Friday 22nd October 2021
Frankland Prison: Telephone Services
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, by what date will in-cell telephony be fully installed in HMP Frankland.
Early Day Motions
Monday 12th July 2021
150th Anniversary of the Durham Miners' Gala
That this House celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Durham Miners’ Gala or the Big Meeting; expresses severe regret at …
Bills
Wednesday 5th February 2020
Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Act 2021
A Bill to impose duties on certain education and training providers in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of …
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 2nd March 2020
1. Employment and earnings
31 December 2019, received payment of £392.09 from IPSA, 2nd Floor, 85 Strand, London WC2R 0DW, for my role as …
EDM signed
Thursday 21st October 2021
Campaign to secure the future of the Covid Memorial Wall
That this House welcomes the creation of the Covid Memorial Wall on Albert Embankment by Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice; …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Mary Kelly Foy has voted in 269 divisions, and 2 times against the majority of their Party.

30 Dec 2020 - Sittings of the House - View Vote Context
Mary Kelly Foy voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 7 Labour Aye votes vs 183 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 335 Noes - 212
20 May 2020 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Mary Kelly Foy voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 1 Labour Aye votes vs 189 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 355 Noes - 254
View All Mary Kelly Foy 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
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(16 debate interactions)
Gavin Williamson (Conservative)
(10 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(8 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(24 debate contributions)
Department for Education
(20 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(13 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(12 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Mary Kelly Foy's debates

City of Durham 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 most City of Durham signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

The Government's manifesto stated “we will make intentional trespass a criminal offence”: an extreme, illiberal & unnecessary attack on ancient freedoms that would threaten walkers, campers, and the wider public. It would further tilt the law in favour of the landowning 1% who own half the country.

During the pandemic government workers have delivered vital public services and kept our country safe and secure. After ten years in which the real value of civil service pay has fallen, many face hardship. The Government must start to restore the real value of their pay with a 10% increase in 2020.

The government is helping private firms to protect jobs by paying up to 80% of staff wages through this crisis. If it can do this why can it not help key workers who will be putting themselves/their families at risk and working extra hard under extremely challenging and unprecedented circumstances.


Latest EDMs signed by Mary Kelly Foy

23rd September 2021
Mary Kelly Foy signed this EDM on Thursday 21st October 2021

Campaign to secure the future of the Covid Memorial Wall

Tabled by: Afzal Khan (Labour - Manchester, Gorton)
That this House welcomes the creation of the Covid Memorial Wall on Albert Embankment by Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice; notes that this memorial now includes over 150,000 hand-painted hearts to symbolise all those who lost their lives during the coronavirus pandemic; praises the work of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for …
76 signatures
(Most recent: 24 Oct 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 45
Scottish National Party: 10
Liberal Democrat: 9
Democratic Unionist Party: 5
Plaid Cymru: 3
Conservative: 2
Green Party: 1
Independent: 1
18th October 2021
Mary Kelly Foy signed this EDM on Thursday 21st October 2021

£15 an hour minimum wage campaign

Tabled by: Jon Trickett (Labour - Hemsworth)
That this House congratulates Labour Party conference delegates for committing to support the policy of a £15 an hour minimum wage; notes that 14.5 million people in the country are living in poverty, the vast majority of whom are in working households; further notes that 5.5 million workers in the …
23 signatures
(Most recent: 21 Oct 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 21
Independent: 2
View All Mary Kelly Foy's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Mary Kelly Foy, 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.


Mary Kelly Foy has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Mary Kelly Foy has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Mary Kelly Foy


A Bill to impose duties on certain education and training providers in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

This Bill received Royal Assent on Thursday 29th April 2021 and was enacted into law.

Mary Kelly Foy has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


123 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
2 Other Department Questions
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps the Government is taking to (a) improve the regulation of the private parking sector and (b) protect motorists from unfair fines.

My Department is leading on the implementation of the Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019, which includes the creation of an independent Code of Practice for private parking companies to improve standards. DLUHC is developing the Code of Practice through the British Standards Institution (BSI) in close consultation with key stakeholders, including landowners, consumer organisations, and the private parking industry, who are advising on its impact. If a parking company were to repeatedly break the new code, then their access to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data would be blocked. This data includes information on the vehicle keeper, so a company blocked from accessing it would be unable to pursue parking charges.

In addition to the new code, DLUHC has developed the Parking Code of Practice Enforcement Framework, on which the department consulted and on 20 March 2021 published the consultation response, available online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/parking-code-enforcement-framework. The response to the consultation announced a series of fairer parking measures that include strengthening the current system of self-regulation by producing a Certification Scheme, independently assessed by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, and to which parking trade associations must adhere if their members wish to request access to DVLA data. Further measures include: establishment of a Scrutiny and Oversight Board to monitor the new system and creation of a single, independent appeals service for motorists to turn to if they receive a private parking charge.

Finally, DLUHC recently consulted on proposals to bring private parking charges into closer alignment with Local Authority Penalty Charge Notices, including its system of 50% discounts for early payment. We are also developing an Appeals Charter which will protect motorists from charges that are unfair or issued in error.

We intend to publish the consultation response together with the new code of practice later this Autumn so that the industry could adopt the new code and the motorists benefit as early as possible.

Neil O'Brien
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what his timeframe is for bringing forward legislative proposals to enact the leasehold reform proposals announced by the Government on 7 January 2021.

The Government is committed to promoting fairness and transparency for homeowners and ensuring that consumers are protected from abuse and poor service. We are taking forward a comprehensive programme of reform to end unfair practices in the leasehold market. On January 7 the Government announced reforms to enfranchisement valuation, 990-year leases, removing the retirement exemption from zero ground rent measures and established a new Commonhold Council as a partnership of industry, leaseholders and Government that will prepare homeowners and the market for the widespread take-up of commonhold. This was the first part of the Government’s response to the Law Commission’s reports on enfranchisement, Right to Manage.

The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill currently in Parliament will put an end to ground rents for new residential leasehold properties as part of the most significant changes to property law in a generation. The Bill's provisions will lead to fairer, more transparent homeownership for thousands of future leaseholders. This will be the first part of seminal two-part reforming legislation in this Parliament.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that working unpaid carers in (a) City of Durham and (b) England are supported to remain in work.

The Government recognises the crucial role unpaid carers play, especially during this difficult period.

On 8th April we published guidance for unpaid carers on GOV.UK, which includes general advice on infection control, advice on caring where someone has symptoms, how to create care plans, how to make alternative care arrangements at short notice and access links to various NHS resources.

We have provided additional funding to Carers UK’s helpline, information and support services, to help more carers access trusted information and advice. We also continue to signpost carers to the charity’s website for additional information and support during this pandemic.

We are committed to supporting carers in the City of Durham and across the country to remain in work, recognising the challenges of balancing work and care also in the longer term.

This is why the Government is now consulting on proposals to introduce Carer’s Leave, to support working people who are also carers to balance employment with their caring responsibilities.

This Government is also clear about the benefits of flexible working for employers and for their employees, including those with caring responsibilities. In our manifesto we said that, subject to consultation, we would introduce measures to make flexible working the default.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to his oral contribution of 20 May 2021 Official Report 860, what the latest public health guidance is that he referred to; how that guidance takes into account research conducted by Public Health England in summer 2020 that showed that singing was no more dangerous than shouting or exercising in an enclosed space; whether he has made an assessment of the ability of organisations that run choirs to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their members compared with informal clubs whose activities have resumed under covid-19 restrictions.

I know that the restrictions on singing are frustrating to large numbers of amateur choirs and performance groups across the country and that many people have made sacrifices in order to drive down infections and protect the NHS over the last year. I can assure you that everyone across Government wants to ease these restrictions as soon as possible.

However, it is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions as we wouldn’t want to reverse the progress we are making. There is evidence that singing loudly can increase aerosol and thus increase the risk of coronavirus transmission, particularly indoors. As with any activity, the cumulative effect of aerosol transmission means the more people involved, the higher the risk of transmission.

The Covid context has also changed with the emergence of more transmissible strains. This would include the so-called Alpha variant B.1.1.7 which research suggests may be 70% more transmissible, and now the Delta variant B1.617.2 which looks to be even more transmissible. This means the risks associated with transmission have increased since these studies were undertaken. For these reasons it is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions, so that we can see the impact of this before moving to the next step.

We will continue to keep guidance and restrictions under review, in line with the changing situation. Further detail on step 4 will be set out as soon as possible.

11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made on the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on women’s professional football.

Football clubs form an integral part of this country and it is important they are given as much support as possible during these difficult times. In light of this, the Government announced a comprehensive and sizable package of direct fiscal support for business through tax reliefs, cash grants and employee wage support.

I recently wrote to the Football Association, alongside the other major sport governing bodies, to underline the importance of maintaining the momentum of women’s football. We want to see women’s sport continue to thrive, and football is a popular choice for women and girls to get active (being the second most popular team sport in terms of participation for adult women in England). The government is also looking forward to the UK hosting the rescheduled women’s UEFA European Championships in 2022. The Government will continue to liaise closely with the football authorities on this important matter.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid -19 outbreak on the development of women’s sport at the (a) professional and (b) grassroots level.

I am keen that we continue to maintain the focus on women’s sport and build on the fantastic progress made in recent years. I am working closely with sports bodies on the return of top level sporting events, and there are a number of major women’s sporting events coming up in the UK to look forward to, for example the women’s Rugby League World Cup next year and the UEFA Women’s Euros in 2022.

However, we need to continue championing and raising the profile of women’s sport. That is why on 29 May I wrote to the Football Association, the Rugby Football Union, the Rugby Football League, the Lawn Tennis Association and the England and Wales Cricket Board to ask about their plans for promoting women’s sport at the elite level, increasing women and girls participation and ensuring covid-19 does not have an impact on either of those things. I will be considering their responses with interest.

At grassroots level, Covid-19 has brought new challenges to the way people are able to engage in physical activity. I welcome initiatives like Sport England’s “Join the Movement” campaign which is encouraging everyone to stay active during the lockdown. The latest data from Sport England on activity levels during lockdown shows that 33% of women are doing at least 30 minutes of activity on five or more days in the last week, and that women are doing more walking and home-based physical activity.

Nigel Huddleston
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 the timescale is for the introduction of the Online Harms Bill.

The Government is committed to making the UK the safest place to be online. DCMS and the Home Office are working at pace to develop the legislation. We will publish a full government response later this year, and legislation will be ready this session.

6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that the next Comprehensive Spending Review allocates adequate funding for disabled children’s social care to allow every local authority to provide the support services that every disabled child needs.

Funding for local authorities’ services, including disabled children’s social care, is unringfenced, allowing local authorities flexibility to spend according to local needs and priorities.

In the 2021-22 financial year, councils have access to £51.3 billion to deliver their core services, including a £1.7 billion grant for social care. The government has also provided an additional £6 billion of funding directly to councils to support them with the immediate and long-term impacts of COVID-19 spending pressures, including those on services for disabled children.

The department will continue to work hard across government ahead of the next Spending Review to ensure children and young people are at the heart of this government’s priorities.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the sustainable long-term funding of disabled children’s social care ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review in the autumn.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, and his department, discuss a range of issues, including children’s social care funding with HM Treasury, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and other government departments on a regular basis.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Disabled Children’s Partnership's Left Behind report published on 16 July 2021, what steps his Department will take to help ensure every parent carer can access the respite care they need to look after their child safely during the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the hon. Members for the City of Durham, Bath, and Stockton North to the answer I gave on 2 June 2021 to Question 7328.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Disabled Children’s Partnerships report, Left Behind, published on 16 July 2021, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing additional funding to tackle social isolation in disabled children and young people.

I refer the hon. Members for the City of Durham, Bath, and Stockton North to the answer I gave on 2 June 2021 to Question 7328.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to help ensure that schools in (a) County Durham and (b) across England are adequately ventilated to limit the spread of covid-19 ahead of the 2021-22 academic year.

The Department’s guidance states that, when a school or college is in operation, it is important to ensure that it is well ventilated and that a comfortable teaching environment is maintained. This can be achieved by a variety of measures including using mechanical ventilation systems and/or natural ventilation, such as opening windows. In all cases, actions should be taken to encourage fresh air into the building, whilst striking a balance with thermal comfort. This guidance applies to all schools in England.

The Department continues to review the ventilation requirements set out in its guidance, including considering whether monitoring carbon dioxide (CO2) levels would be appropriate, and is working with Public Health England and ventilation experts on a pilot project to measure CO2 levels in typical classrooms.

The Department continues to keep the protective measures under review based on the latest scientific evidence and advice as this continues to evolve.

The guidance for schools can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will publish a priority list for school rebuilds to allow the conditions of schools to be compared.

In February 2020, the Department announced the first 50 of 500 projects to replace or refurbish buildings through the School Rebuilding Programme (SRP). Further information on the projects is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-rebuilding-programme-first-50-schools.

The Department does not hold a priority list for school rebuilds, beyond the schools confirmed for the SRP. We collect data on the condition of school buildings through the Condition Data Collection (CDC) programme. The CDC programme collected data on 22,031 schools, comprising 63,942 teaching blocks, across 9 geographical regions of England, between 2017 and 2019. The CDC programme followed a predecessor programme, the Property Data Survey (PDS) which ran from 2012 to 2014. A third condition data collection programme (CDC2) is now underway, to update the Department’s condition data. Further information on CDC2 is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/condition-data-collection-2-cdc2-programme.

The prioritisation process for the second round of 50 SRP projects is ongoing, informed by data from CDC as well as further investigations and site visits. The process that the Department is using to prioritise these projects is explained here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-rebuilding-programme/school-rebuilding-programme.

The Department plan to consult later this year on the approach to prioritising schools for the SRP. Following this, we will confirm the approach for future projects.

30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will publish a list of schools to be rebuilt under the School Rebuilding Programme.

In February 2020, the Department announced the first 50 of 500 projects to replace or refurbish buildings through the School Rebuilding Programme (SRP). Further information on the projects is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-rebuilding-programme-first-50-schools.

The Department does not hold a priority list for school rebuilds, beyond the schools confirmed for the SRP. We collect data on the condition of school buildings through the Condition Data Collection (CDC) programme. The CDC programme collected data on 22,031 schools, comprising 63,942 teaching blocks, across 9 geographical regions of England, between 2017 and 2019. The CDC programme followed a predecessor programme, the Property Data Survey (PDS) which ran from 2012 to 2014. A third condition data collection programme (CDC2) is now underway, to update the Department’s condition data. Further information on CDC2 is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/condition-data-collection-2-cdc2-programme.

The prioritisation process for the second round of 50 SRP projects is ongoing, informed by data from CDC as well as further investigations and site visits. The process that the Department is using to prioritise these projects is explained here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-rebuilding-programme/school-rebuilding-programme.

The Department plan to consult later this year on the approach to prioritising schools for the SRP. Following this, we will confirm the approach for future projects.

21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has plans to require schools to carry out on-site supervised lateral flow testing at the start of the 2021-22 school year before allowing new year seven students to commence home testing.

Testing in schools and colleges should continue until the end of summer term. Further information on testing arrangements over the summer break and autumn term will be made available shortly.


8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government has taken to improve online access for disadvantaged pupils in the event of online teaching resuming during the covid-19 outbreak in the 2020-21 academic year.

The Department has already delivered over 220,000 laptops and tablets to children who would not otherwise have access, as part of over £100 million invested to support remote education and access to online social care.

The Department is now supplementing this support by making an initial 150,000 additional devices available in the event that face to face schooling becomes disrupted as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions. This scheme will enable schools to support disadvantaged children in Year 3 to Year 11 who do not have their own devices. Schools will also be able to order devices for disadvantaged children across all year groups who are shielding as a result of official advice, all year groups who attend hospital schools and those completing their Key Stage 4 at a further education college.

As well as laptops and tablets, the Department has provided over 50,000 4G wireless routers to support disadvantaged children with internet connectivity. These routers come with free data for the autumn term and will allow local authorities and academy trusts to support children who may have their education and care disrupted because of official COVID-19 restrictions or disruption to face to face contact. In partnership with BT, the Department has also launched a service to provide children and young people free access to BT wifi hotspots.

The Department is also working with the major telecommunications companies to improve internet connectivity for disadvantaged and vulnerable families who rely on a mobile internet connection. We are piloting an approach where mobile network operators are providing temporary access to free additional data offering families more flexibility to access the resources that they need the most.

8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the use of supply teachers in schools.

The information requested is not held centrally.

The Department collects information on teacher numbers from the School Workforce Census but does not hold live information on the use of supply teachers. The Census data can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-school-workforce.

As schools begin to reopen for all pupils from the beginning of the autumn term, we anticipate the demand for supply teachers to return to normal and supply teachers will continue to make a vital contribution in our schools.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding for SEND education in Country Durham.

We committed to supporting local authorities who have struggled with their high needs budgets. That is why we are putting £730 million into high needs nationally next year (2021-22), which represents a 10% increase; coming on top of the additional £780 million we have provided this year (2020-21), that means the high needs funding block will have increased by over £1.5 billion, or 24% in just 2 years. County Durham will receive £61.2 million this year, and for next year has a provisional allocation of £69.4 million, an £8.2 million increase. Provisional allocations for 2021-22 can be viewed at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-funding-formula-tables-for-schools-and-high-needs-2021-to-2022.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 19 June 2020 to Question 58792, what steps the Government has taken to prepare schools to transition to virtual teaching in the event of a (a) localised lockdown and (b) national lockdown due to the covid-19 outbreak in the 2020-21 academic year.

The Government has been clear that all pupils, in all year groups, should return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term and on 2 July we published guidance to help schools prepare for this, including advice on the responding to any infections. This includes how schools should manage confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst the school community and contain any outbreak. The guidance can be viewed here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The 2 July guidance set out that every school should plan for the possibility of local restrictions and how they will ensure continuity of education in exceptional circumstances where there is some level of restriction applied to education or childcare in a local area. The Department of Health and Social Care has published an overview of the tiers of restriction for education and childcare, to be implemented only where absolutely necessary, in its contain framework. This can be viewed here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/containing-and-managing-local-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreaks/covid-19-contain-framework-a-guide-for-local-decision-makers.

We have published guidance on how schools can plan for tier 2 local restrictions due to the operational challenges that schools could experience. This can be viewed here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-schools-can-plan-for-tier-2-local-restrictions/how-schools-can-plan-for-tier-2-local-restrictions.

The Department has provided a range of resources to support schools in delivering remote education. This includes examples of teaching practice during coronavirus, as well as our work with sector-led initiatives such as Oak National Academy. This can be viewed here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-practice-for-schools-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

We have made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy both for the summer term of the academic year 2019-20, and then for the 2020-21 academic year to provide video lessons for reception up to year 11 across a range of subjects. There is also specialist content for students with SEND covering their specific educational needs. Oak National Academy will remain a free optional resource for 2020-21.

The Department has already invested over £100 million to support remote education, including the delivery of over 220,000 laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have access. We are now supplementing this support by making an initial 150,000 additional devices available in the event face-to-face schooling is disrupted as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with education providers on the timetable for (a) SATs, (b) GCSE, (c) A-level and (d) BTec assessments in the 2020-21 academic year.

The Department has confirmed its intention for all existing statutory key stage 1 and 2 assessments (commonly known as SATs) to return in 2020/21, and to take place in accordance with their usual timetable.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education asked Ofqual in June to consider a short delay to the GCSE, A and AS level exam timetable in 2021, to free up additional teaching time. The Department is continuing to work with Ofqual, the exam boards, regulators in the devolved administrations, and groups representing schools, colleges and higher education to consider the best approach, and decisions will be confirmed as soon as possible.

The Department has been working with Ofqual regarding requirements for assessments and examinations for vocational and technical qualifications, which include BTEC qualifications. Ofqual is currently consulting and engaging with awarding organisations to agree guidance on how awarding organisations can adapt assessments in 2020/21, including timetabling considerations.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has published guidance for schools on a national school outbreak plan in the event of a covid-19 case.

The Government has been clear that all pupils, in all year groups, should return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term and on 2 July we published guidance to help schools prepare for this, including advice on the responding to any infections. This includes how schools should manage confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst the school community, and contain any outbreak. The guidance is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools

The 2 July guidance set out that every school should plan for the possibility of local restrictions and how they will ensure continuity of education in exceptional circumstances where there is some level of restriction applied to education or childcare in a local area.

The Department of Health and Social Care has published an overview of the tiers of restriction for education and childcare, to be implemented only where absolutely necessary, in its contain framework. This can be viewed here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/containing-and-managing-local-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreaks/covid-19-contain-framework-a-guide-for-local-decision-makers

We have published guidance on how schools can plan for tier 2 local restrictions due to the operational challenges that schools could experience. This can be viewed here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-schools-can-plan-for-tier-2-local-restrictions/how-schools-can-plan-for-tier-2-local-restrictions

2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance has been issued to education providers in the event that a student’s parents refuse to have them tested for covid-19 when requested to do so.

The Government has been clear that all pupils, in all year groups, should return to school or college full-time from the beginning of the autumn term and on 2 July we published guidance to help schools and colleges prepare for this. The guidance can be viewed her: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/education-and-childcare.

All schools and colleges will be provided with a small number of home testing kits that they can give directly to parents/carers collecting a child who has developed symptoms at school, or staff or students who have developed symptoms at school or college, where they think providing one will significantly increase the likelihood of them getting tested.

We have also issued guidance explaining what parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges in the autumn term. This guidance explains that it is important for parents to engage with the NHS Test and Trace process and can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-in-the-autumn-term.

In the majority of cases, schools and parents will be in agreement that a child with symptoms should not attend school, given the potential risk to others. In the event that a parent or guardian insists on a child attending school, schools can take the decision to refuse the child if in their reasonable judgement it is necessary to protect their pupils and staff from possible infection COVID-19. Any such decision would need to be carefully considered in light of all the circumstances and the current public health advice.

Further guidance is available on testing and tracing for COVID-19 here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/.

11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what preparations his Department has made for schools to educate pupils virtually in the 2020-21 academic year in the event that further covid-19 social distancing measures are required.

Our latest guidance on remote education during COVID-19 is available here:

www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

It is up to each school to determine how to deliver education to its pupils and whether and how to monitor participation. Many schools have shared resources – both online and printed resources – for children who are at home, and we are committed to ensuring that all children can continue to learn remotely in a number of ways during these very difficult circumstances.

Being in school is vital for children’s education and their wellbeing. We are working towards bringing all children and young people back to school in September. These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to ensure that pupils who were eligible but did not return to school during the covid-19 outbreak on 1 June 2020 for safety reasons are not disadvantaged academically.

We want to avoid any child, whatever their background or location, falling behind as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Pupils in Reception, year 1 and year 6 have been returning to school in smaller class sizes, alongside the children of critical workers and vulnerable children of all ages, who continue to be able to attend. From 15 June, secondary schools and colleges have been providing some face-to-face support for years 10 and 12 and students aged in the first year of a two-year study programme, who are due to take key exams next year.

School leaders have explained that the level of challenge and nature of provision of remote education will vary across schools, and that schools need the flexibility to plan and provide remote education that is suitable for their circumstances. This includes considering the age of pupils. Remote education for younger children will typically need more involvement from parents, and parents are facing a range of pressures at this time. The Department has worked with teachers and school leaders to develop guidance on planning a curriculum and on remote education practice during COVID-19, which is at: www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-practice-for-schools-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The Government has committed over £100 million to boost remote education. This includes: providing devices and internet access for those who need it most, ensuring every school that wants it has access to free, expert technical support to get set up on Google for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 Education, and offering peer support from schools and colleges leading the way with the use of education technology.

To support the hard work of schools in delivering remote education, the new Oak National Academy, launched at the start of the summer term provides at least 180 video lessons for free each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from Reception through to year 10. By 14 June, 3.4 million unique users had accessed the Oak National Academy website and 11.9 million lessons had been viewed.

For pupils who may not have access to technology, offline education resources are also available through the many hard copy resources offered by publishers across the country and from the BBC, which is broadcasting lessons on television. Its Bitesize Daily TV shows were watched by over 2 million households on iPlayer in the first two weeks of transmission.

We are working with a range of partners to explore how schools can best help their pupils to make up for time spent out of school.

11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the need for nurseries to hire extra staff to comply with Government guidance on social distancing in order to reopen during the covid-19 outbreak.

On 24 May, we published a planning guide to provide information and support for all early years providers in England as they prepared to open for all children. This planning guide was co-produced with experienced senior leaders and sector representatives and is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preparing-for-the-wider-opening-of-early-years-and-childcare-settings-from-1-june/planning-guide-for-early-years-and-childcare-settings.

Unlike older children and adults, children in early years cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years, we have taken this into account. Settings should keep children in consistent small groups and work through the hierarchy of controls set out in our guidance, which include minimising contact and mixing.

If demand for places is higher than the setting’s capacity when measures to allow physical distancing between groups are in place, it may be necessary to have a temporary cap on numbers of children attending the setting. Solutions might involve working with the local authority to support children attending a nearby setting on a consistent basis.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on the (a) quality of education at universities and (b) the attainment of students of universities that are planning to operate online during the 2020/21 academic year.

Higher education providers reacted rapidly to move provision online (in many cases within 24 hours), to enable higher education students to complete the 2019/20 academic year. Providers are currently planning to move to blended or dual provision for the next academic year. They have redesigned courses and timetables to be suitable for these new styles of delivery, as well as front-loading the year with more online friendly provision and moving areas which require practical, face-to-face teaching or assessment to the back of the academic year.

Providers have also demonstrated a high level of agility while addressing issues around infrastructure, changing course content and developing new methods of assessment. To help support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19, the government has worked closely with the Office for Students (OfS) to clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding worth around £23 million per month for June and July, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment.

The OfS has published information and guidance for providers and students, including frequently asked questions on a broad range of issues. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education has also published a series of guides to support providers to secure academic standards and to support student achievement during the outbreak. The OfS has made it clear that all higher education providers must continue to meet conditions related to the quality of their courses and the standard of qualifications that they award. This means ensuring that higher education courses are high quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the effect of changes to education as a result of covid-19 on the mental health of pupils.

Ministers and officials in the Department for Education and Department of Health and Social Care are meeting regularly to discuss the effect of the changes to education and how to provide support for mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. Access to mental health support is more important than ever during the COVID-19 outbreak. NHS services remain open, and leading mental health charities are being supported to deliver additional services through the £5 million Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund. During Mental Health Awareness Week, the government announced that a further £4.2 million will be awarded to mental health charities, including the Samaritans, Young Minds, and Bipolar UK.

All NHS mental health trusts have been asked to ensure that there are 24/7 open access telephone lines to support people of all ages. Public Health England and Health Education England have also developed advice and guidance for parents and professionals on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, which is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing.

The department has signposted resources on supporting and promoting mental wellbeing among the list of resources to help children to learn at home, which are available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources.

BBC Bitesize has also worked with the department to provide content with substantial focus on mental health, wellbeing and pastoral care.

The return to school will, in itself, be part of supporting the mental health and wellbeing of pupils, as attendance at school allows social interaction with peers, carers and teachers, which benefits wellbeing. We have now given secondary schools the flexibility to have a face-to-face ‘check-up’ with all pupils during the summer term, which will ensure more children and young people are able to achieve this benefit. Pupil wellbeing is an important consideration within our guidance on actions for educational and childcare settings as they begin to open in June 2020, which is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020.

The planning guide for primaries provides more information on supporting the mental wellbeing of pupils as they return to school:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preparing-for-the-wider-opening-of-schools-from-1-june/planning-guide-for-primary-schools#managing-pupil-and-staff-wellbeing-and-mental-health.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to support the families of pupils who qualify for free school meals in County Durham during the school summer holidays in 2020.

I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave on 23 June 2020 to Question 54195.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of social distancing measures in schools on levels of mental well-being among children.

The department is working closely with educational institutions, sector organisations, the Department for Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England to understand the effects of the measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus on the mental health and wellbeing and identify the children and young people that need help and will continue to do so as more pupils return to school.

The return to school will, in itself, be part of supporting the mental health and wellbeing of pupils, as attendance enables social interaction with peers, carers and teachers. Pupil wellbeing is an important consideration within our guidance on actions for educational and childcare settings as they begin to open in June 2020, which is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020.

It is also included as a specific theme in the planning framework the department has issued, which is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020/opening-schools-for-more-children-and-young-people-initial-planning-framework-for-schools-in-england.

We are working with the Department of Health and Social Care to put in place further specific support for school staff to understand the issues that pupils will face with their mental wellbeing. This includes training for teachers, such as a new module developed with clinical experts on how to teach about mental health in health education, and more information is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-about-mental-wellbeing.

The government remains committed to promoting and supporting the mental health of children and young people. Access to mental health support is more important than ever during the COVID-19 outbreak. NHS services remain open, and leading mental health charities are being supported to deliver additional services through the £5 million Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund.

All NHS mental health trusts have been asked to ensure that there are 24/7 open access telephone lines to support people of all ages. Public Health England and Health Education England have also developed advice and guidance for parents and professionals on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, which is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing.

Children and young people can access free confidential support anytime from government-backed voluntary and community sector organisations either by texting SHOUT to 85258, or by calling Childline on 0800 1111 or The Mix on 0808 808 4994. Children and young people can also find online information on COVID-19 and mental health on the Young Minds website, which is available here:
https://youngminds.org.uk/about-us/reports/coronavirus-impact-on-young-people-with-mental-health-needs/.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of individuals self-isolating on the ability of small family-run farms to continue to operate during that isolation.

We understand the challenges that farmers are facing as a result of the coronavirus crisis and appreciate that many farms are very small and often family-run so there is limited capacity to cover sickness. We have been working with the National Farmers' Union (NFU) and others to work out ways how to address this.

The Government's priority has always been to reduce the number of COVID-19 infections by keeping workers safe and protected, and we have been clear that anyone showing symptoms of coronavirus infection, however mild, must self-isolate by staying at home for seven days from when the symptoms started, following public health guidance.

The Government took a number of early steps to help our farmers and to ensure they have the support they need during these challenging times. These included designating employees in the food sector as key workers and temporarily relaxing the normal rules on drivers' hours, enabling the sector to keep supply chains running, including deliveries from farm gate to processors. We have worked closely with banks to ensure farmers have access to financial support, including the Government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan scheme.

We remain in regular contact with our food and farming sector, and are working closely with the main farming charities, meeting them regularly, to ensure we are doing all we can to support them. A Government-backed package of £370 million has been made available to help small charities and we are encouraging farming charities to apply for funding through this route.

Further information on what support is currently available can be found on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what consultation her Department had with (a) international aid organisations and (b) humanitarian and development experts on the decision to merge the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Prime Minister has decided to merge the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to form a new international department – the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The Government will continue to engage closely with interested stakeholders, including UK and international NGOs, in the weeks and months to come as we work to create the new department, which will unite our development expertise and first class diplomatic service to make the UK a force for good in the world.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, with reference to her oral contribution of 25 February 2021, what discussions she has had with Mary Ng regarding the review of procedures for the resolution of investment disputes between investors and states in the UK-Canada Agreement on Trade Continuity.

The Secretary of State is in regular contact with Mary Ng to discuss the bilateral trading relationship as well as the ratification progress in Canada of the UK-Canada Agreement on Trade Continuity. When in force, the Agreement will commit both sides to begin fresh Free Trade Agreement negotiations, which will include a comprehensive review of procedures for the resolution of investment disputes between investors and states. These discussions will enable the UK and Canada to consider dispute settlement mechanisms that are best suited to the bilateral relationship.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate she has made of the extra number of days of testing capacity the opening of Hexham and Bishop Auckland driving theory test centres will create per year.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working hard to provide as many driving theory test appointments as possible. The transition of the theory test service in September 2021, will improve access for people in the North East by increasing the number of test centres from four to seven. There are currently six test centres now open, including Hexham which opened on 15 October 2021. A further test centre at Bishop Auckland will be opening on 9 November 2021. These seven test centres will offer over 90,000 theory tests a year. The DVSA is working with its supplier to meet service levels to ensure local demand is met.

By opening additional theory test centres in the North East, the DVSA expects to offer 110 theory test appointments at Hexham and 330 at Bishop Auckland in the next 12 months. This may vary in response to local demand.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many driving theory tests his Department expects to take place over the next year at (a) Hexham and (b) Bishop Auckland driving test centres.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working hard to provide as many driving theory test appointments as possible. The transition of the theory test service in September 2021, will improve access for people in the North East by increasing the number of test centres from four to seven. There are currently six test centres now open, including Hexham which opened on 15 October 2021. A further test centre at Bishop Auckland will be opening on 9 November 2021. These seven test centres will offer over 90,000 theory tests a year. The DVSA is working with its supplier to meet service levels to ensure local demand is met.

By opening additional theory test centres in the North East, the DVSA expects to offer 110 theory test appointments at Hexham and 330 at Bishop Auckland in the next 12 months. This may vary in response to local demand.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, by what date his Department expects the driving theory test backlog to be cleared in the North East of England.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working hard to provide as many driving theory test appointments as possible. The transition of the theory test service in September 2021, will improve access for people in the North East by increasing the number of test centres from four to seven. There are currently six test centres now open, including Hexham which opened on 15 October 2021. A further test centre at Bishop Auckland will be opening on 9 November 2021. These seven test centres will offer over 90,000 theory tests a year. The DVSA is working with its supplier to meet service levels to ensure local demand is met.

By opening additional theory test centres in the North East, the DVSA expects to offer 110 theory test appointments at Hexham and 330 at Bishop Auckland in the next 12 months. This may vary in response to local demand.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has made an assessment of trends in the level of maritime shipping costs in the last six months.

Shipping costs have risen during 2021 to a high level on a global basis as a result of supply and demand factors in international freight markets.

Unprecedented levels of demand are being driven by changes to consumer behaviors worldwide during the pandemic. Historical trends in the shipping sector are of pricing peaks and troughs, and it is expected that pricing levels will similarly re-adjust when the current demand drivers change. However, industry estimates are that high levels of demand will continue throughout 2021.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of the removal of the £20 uplift to universal credit on the number of people in (a) relative and (b) absolute poverty in County Durham.

No such assessments have been made of the effect of ending the £20 uplift on the numbers of people living in poverty in County Durham or Barnsley East.

It is not possible to produce a robust estimate of the impact of removing the £20 uplift on poverty. This is due to the uncertainty around the speed and distribution of the economic recovery, and the resulting effect on the caseload.

The latest poverty figures (2019/20) demonstrate that absolute poverty rates (both before and after housing costs) have fallen since 2009/10. In 2019/20, 14% of people were in absolute poverty (before housing costs), compared to 16% in 2009/10.

There have been significant positive developments in the public health situation since the uplift was first introduced. With the success of the vaccine rollout and record job vacancies, it is right that our focus is on helping people back into work. This approach is based on clear evidence about the importance of employment, particularly where it is full-time, in substantially reducing the risks of poverty.

This Government is wholly committed to supporting those on low incomes, and continues to do so through many measures, including by increasing the living wage, and by spending over £111 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2021/22.

We recognise that some people continue to require extra support, which is why we have introduced a £421 million Household Support Fund to help vulnerable people in England with essential household costs over the winter as the economy recovers. The Barnett Formula will apply in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving around £80 million (£41m for the Scottish Government, £25m for the Welsh Government and £14m for the NI Executive), for a total of £500 million.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what comparative assessment she has made of the potential effect of the removal of the £20 uplift to universal credit on (a) disabled people and their families and (b) people who are not living with a disability.

No such assessment has been made of the potential effect of the removal of the £20 uplift to universal credit on disabled people and their families or people who are not living with a disability.

The Chancellor announced a temporary six-month extension to the £20 per week uplift at the Budget on 3 March to support households affected by the economic shock of Covid-19. Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and the temporary uplift was part of a COVID support package worth a total of £407 billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

There have been significant positive developments in the public health situation since the uplift was first introduced. With the success of the vaccine rollout and record job vacancies, it is right that our focus is on helping people back into work.

Through our Plan for Jobs, we are targeting tailored support schemes of people of all ages to help them prepare for, get into and progress in work. These include: Kickstart, delivering tens of thousands of six-month work placements for Universal Credit claimants aged 16-24 at risk of unemployment; we have also recruited an additional 13,500 work coaches to provide more intensive support to find a job; and introduced Restart which provides 12 months’ intensive employment support to Universal Credit claimants who are unemployed for a year. Our Plan for Jobs interventions will support more than two million people and we are also keen to see disabled people progress in work, with support from existing programmes such as Work and Health Programme and Intensive Employment Support Programme. Over the last 8 years the number of disabled people in employment has increased by 1.5m.

We have seen strong growth in the number and rate of disabled people in employment and Universal Credit claimants with health conditions or disabilities who, following the outcome of a work capability assessment, are determined to have limited capability for work and work related activity – meaning they are not required to look for work or to prepare for work – are awarded an additional amount of benefit, currently £343.63 per month.

We recognise that some people continue to require extra support, which is why we have introduced a £421 million Household Support Fund to help vulnerable people in England with essential household costs over the winter as the economy recovers. The Barnett Formula will apply in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving around £80 million (£41m for the Scottish Government, £25m for the Welsh Government and £14m for the NI Executive), for a total of £500 million.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the equity of her policy on two persons who qualify for the Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity element of Universal Credit make a joint claim, one of them loses the Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity element; and if she will make a statement.

It is right that where there has been a change in circumstances, such as a couple forming, benefit entitlement is reassessed to reflect the altered financial status of the household. In Universal Credit, while both members of a couple may be assessed as having limited capability for work and work-related activity, only one limited capability for work and work-related activity element can be awarded. In income-related ESA, whilst a couple’s rate of personal allowance can be paid, only the claimant is assessed and if found to have limited capability for work and work-related activity, awarded the equivalent Support Group component. There is no couple rate of the Support Group component.

The limited capability for work and work-related activity element is designed to reflect the extra costs of longer durations on benefit. Income from benefits such as Personal Independence Payment and Disability Living Allowance, which are provided to meet additional costs relating to disability for individuals rather than households, is not taken into account.

10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people are in receipt of payment of (a) the carer element of universal credit, (b) carer addition and (c) the carer premium as at 10 December 2020.

The available information on the number of households with a carer entitlement on Universal Credit, currently for August 2020, is published and can be found at:

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

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

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

The latest available statistics on the number of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support and Housing Benefit claimants in receipt of the carer premium, and the number of Pension Credit claimants in receipt of the carer addition are shown in the following table.

Number of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support and Housing Benefit claimants in receipt of the carer premium and the number of Pension Credit claimants in receipt of the carer addition, Great Britain, Feb 20, May 20 and Aug 20

Benefit

Latest Quarter available

Number of recipients

Jobseeker's Allowance

Feb-20

1,600

Income Support

May-20

200,000

Pension Credit

May-20

134,800

Housing Benefit

Aug-20

152,080

Source: DWP Quarterly Statistical Enquiry 5% data and 100% Work, Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) and DWP Single Housing Benefit Extract

Notes

  1. Figures for Income Support, Pension Credit and Housing Benefit are rounded to the nearest 10 and Jobseeker’s Allowance is rounded to the nearest 100.
  2. JSA figures have been uprated using 5% proportions against 100% Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) totals.

The information requested is not readily available for Employment and Support Allowance claimants and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the Government has made an assessment of the potential merits of providing carers who are in receipt of carer’s allowance with additional financial support to help them meet the increased costs of caring resulting from the covid-19 outbreak, in (a) City of Durham constituency and (b) England.

The Government recognises and appreciates the vital role played by unpaid carers now more than ever. In November 2019 there were more than 1,300 carers in the City of Durham constituency that were receiving Carer’s Allowance (CA) and in 2018/19 we spent approximately £4.6 million on CA there.

We have focussed on ensuring carers do not inadvertently stop receiving CA because of changes to patterns of care during the current emergency. This includes allowing emotional support to count towards the 35 hours of care being provided by the carer as well as relaxing the rules around breaks in care. These changes aim to support carers whose role has, in many cases, become harder due to the need to self-isolate or shield the person they care for.

The rate of CA was also increased in early April as part of the annual uprating process. Since 2010, the rate of Carer’s Allowance has increased from £53.90 to £67.25 a week, meaning nearly an additional £700 a year for carers. We continue to support those carers in most need through additional amounts (premiums) in means-tested benefits and have also announced increases to the standard allowance in Universal Credit. Meaning claimants will be up to £1040 a year better off, which some carers receiving Universal Credit will benefit from.

23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the Government has undertaken a review of the adequacy of the (a) eligibility criteria for and (b) financial payments under the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme in the context of the covid-19 vaccination programme.

We have no current plans to do so. However, we will monitor the situation as more information becomes available and our understanding of the potential causal links between the COVID-19 vaccines and its purported side effects becomes clearer.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to improve access to community defibrillators in (a) County Durham and (b) the UK.

There have been no specific discussions.


The Government recognises that better provision of defibrillators and increasing the number of people trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation could help save more lives of those who have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting. We therefore encourage organisations across England, including in County Durham, to consider purchasing a defibrillator as part of their first-aid equipment, particularly for places where there are high concentrations of people. Provision elsewhere in the United Kingdom is a matter for the devolved administrations.

Many community defibrillators have since been provided in public locations, including shopping centres, through national lottery funding, community fundraising schemes, workplace funding or by charities.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions his Department has had with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on increasing access to defibrillators at grassroots sports events in (a) County Durham and (b) England.

There have been no specific discussions.


The Government recognises that better provision of defibrillators and increasing the number of people trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation could help save more lives of those who have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting. We therefore encourage organisations across England, including in County Durham, to consider purchasing a defibrillator as part of their first-aid equipment, particularly for places where there are high concentrations of people. Provision elsewhere in the United Kingdom is a matter for the devolved administrations.

Many community defibrillators have since been provided in public locations, including shopping centres, through national lottery funding, community fundraising schemes, workplace funding or by charities.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing additional funding for disabled children’s health services at the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review to support access to appropriate disability services and equipment.

Further details on the next Spending Review will be set out in due course. As part of COVID-19 recovery planning we are working with the Department for Education and NHS England and NHS Improvement to improve the provision of health services to disabled children.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 19 July 2021 to Question 33332, what discussions have taken place between NHS England and Spectrum Community Health CIC, the chosen healthcare provider for the new Derwentside immigration removal centre, to ensure that women detained there will be able to access a female nurse or doctor if requested.

No such discussions have taken place.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have confirmed that Spectrum Community Health CIC will endeavour to ensure that female general practitioners and other healthcare professionals are available, and that women in Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre are offered the option to choose to see a female healthcare professional wherever possible.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
12th Jan 2021
What plans he has to train healthcare professionals in communicating the (a) safety and (b) effectiveness of covid-19 vaccines.

We offer our thanks to all healthcare professionals for their exceptional work on the front line administering vaccines to those who are most vulnerable.

Safety is absolutely paramount in any vaccination programme. Public Health England have produced comprehensive training and information materials for COVID-19 vaccinators. These include information about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as key messages for healthcare professionals to convey to those being vaccinated.

All vaccinating staff involved in the deployment programme must complete training that includes modules on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Communicating about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine is also a component of the process for gaining informed consent.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when his Department plans to provide an Answer to Question 88395 tabled by the hon. Member for City of Durham on 10 September 2020.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer to Question 88395 of 23 November.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to issue further guidance to health and social care providers on (a) ensuring the availability of and (b) determining the clinical requirement for clear face masks for (a) service users and (b) staff in all settings during the covid-19 outbreak.

Clear face masks are currently being piloted and we are seeking feedback to help understand demand. This exercise will conclude soon. We will use the findings to inform our future procurement, but we already know that clear face masks are making a difference to the treatment of many individuals with hearing loss and other conditions.

It is critical that the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) meets equalities duties. As part of our efforts to collate PPE requirement data from across Government, departments have been asked to provide information on how potential inequalities have been considered; the demographics of both their workforce and the public their workforce face which has proved significant in the use of PPE; and incompatibilities or difficulties observed between any of the PPE used by their workforce. This will ensure the demand model reflects the different combination and size of equipment required to meet different user needs.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to his Department’s press release of 5 September 2020 entitled Government delivers 250,000 clear face masks to support people with hearing loss, what plans he has to review the initial provision of clear masks; and what his timescale is for decisions on future supply of those masks.

Clear face masks are currently being piloted and we are seeking feedback to help understand demand. This exercise will conclude soon. We will use the findings to inform our future procurement, but we already know that clear face masks are making a difference to the treatment of many individuals with hearing loss and other conditions.

It is critical that the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) meets equalities duties. As part of our efforts to collate PPE requirement data from across Government, departments have been asked to provide information on how potential inequalities have been considered; the demographics of both their workforce and the public their workforce face which has proved significant in the use of PPE; and incompatibilities or difficulties observed between any of the PPE used by their workforce. This will ensure the demand model reflects the different combination and size of equipment required to meet different user needs.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether CQC inspectors visiting care homes will be tested regularly for covid-19.

The Department has considered the matter carefully and assessed that Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors do not meet the criteria for regular weekly asymptomatic testing, as they are not required to undertake ‘hands on’ close personal contact with people. They are therefore not required to have a COVID-19 test before entering a provider. If a CQC inspector is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, they will arrange a test via the Government portal. Should they receive a positive result they will no longer be able to go out on inspections and must self-isolate.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on self-employed healthcare practitioners; and if he will make a statement.

The Government has provided a range of support options for small and medium sized enterprises and self-employed to help with the financial challenges of COVID-19. Support included the Furlough Scheme; Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Coronavirus Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans, Small Business Grant Scheme; and rent holidays.

The Department is working with NHS England and NHS Improvement and National Health Service trade unions to help trusts develop flexible work options. Although it is for individual trusts to manage recruitment locally, during the pandemic, some NHS trusts have offered self-employed healthcare practitioners alternative flexible working options, including annualised hours contracts and may register to work on the NHS Rapid Response Scheme.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, by what date he will publish the Social Care Taskforce plan for supporting the social care sector through coronavirus.

The recommendations from the Social Care Sector COVID-19 Taskforce will shape our approach to COVID-19 in the adult social care sector and, in particular, the plans we put in place for winter which we will set out in the Adult Social Care Winter Plan. The Taskforce concluded at the end of August and will publish its recommendations in September on the advice on what measures need to be in place across all parts of the care sector in England to respond to COVID-19 and winter.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the continuity of health improvement work referred to in the July 2019 Green Paper entitled Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s.

The Prevention Green Paper, ‘Advancing our health: Prevention in the 2020s’ outlined commitments with varying timelines, regarding the services we receive, the choices we make and the conditions in which we live. The Green Paper consultation closed on 14 October 2019 and attracted over 1,600 responses. The Government response to the consultation, with more detail on progress against the Green Paper commitments, has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government intends to publish the response in due course.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the July 2019 Green Paper entitled Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s, when he plans to publish further proposals on moving towards a smokefree country by 2030.

Smoking rates are at their lowest ever levels in England at 13.9%. However, we are not complacent, and the Government is committed to protecting the population from the harms of tobacco. We intend to publish the Government response to the Prevention Green Paper, ‘Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s’ in due course and key steps and ambitions to deliver smokefree 2030 after this.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he is taking steps to mitigate the risk of calorie labelling on menus exacerbating eating disorders; and if he will make a statement.

We recognise concerns people with eating disorders may have on measures to reduce obesity and are committed to striking a careful balance between enabling people to make healthier food and drink choices whilst not negatively impacting on those with or recovering from an eating disorder.

Obesity represents a huge cost to the health and wellbeing of the individual, the National Health Service and the wider economy. With over six in 10 adults and more than one in three children aged 10 to 11 years old overweight or obese, it is right we take action.

In response to feedback to our consultation on out-of-home calorie labelling, we will introduce legislation to require large out-of-home sector businesses, that is businesses with 250 or more employees, to calorie label the food they sell.

An equalities assessment and impact assessment were published alongside the consultation response and can be viewed at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/consultations/calorie-labelling-for-food-and-drink-served-outside-of-the-home

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that the implementation of the obesity strategy does not put at risk people (a) living with eating disorders and (b) who are vulnerable to developing an eating disorder.

We recognise concerns people with eating disorders may have on measures to reduce obesity and are committed to striking a careful balance between enabling people to make healthier food and drink choices whilst not negatively impacting on those with or recovering from an eating disorder.

Obesity represents a huge cost to the health and wellbeing of the individual, the National Health Service and the wider economy. With over six in 10 adults and more than one in three children aged 10 to 11 years old overweight or obese, it is right we take action.

In response to feedback to our consultation on out-of-home calorie labelling, we will introduce legislation to require large out-of-home sector businesses, that is businesses with 250 or more employees, to calorie label the food they sell.

An equalities assessment and impact assessment were published alongside the consultation response and can be viewed at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/consultations/calorie-labelling-for-food-and-drink-served-outside-of-the-home

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jun 2020
What steps he is taking to ensure that children and young people who do not meet the threshold for Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services support are able to access mental health and wellbeing support during summer 2020.

We are committed to supporting children and young people’s mental wellbeing.

We have released tailored guidance for parents and carers about supporting their children’s mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic and we are promoting this through Every Mind Matters. A number of digital resources are also available through the National Health Service Apps Library.

We recently announced a further £4.2 million for mental health charities – including Young Minds and others supporting children and young people – in addition to the £5 milion Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund administered by Mind.

Where established in schools and colleges, mental health support teams are expected to be available all year round and are adapting to ensure they remain accessible for those most in need.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the Government will give priority access to personal protective equipment to people providing unpaid care in (a) the City of Durham and (b) England.

The Government recognises the crucial role unpaid carers play, especially during this difficult period. The Department is currently working with Public Health England to review the advice to unpaid carers on use of personal protective equipment.

On 8 April the Government published guidance for unpaid carers which provides general advice, including advice on infection control, links to other information and support, and advice on caring where someone has symptoms. This can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-providing-unpaid-care

The Government will continue to work closely with carer organisations and others to support unpaid carers during this period and beyond. This includes working with Carers UK to provide carers with practical advice which can be found at the following link:

https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/health/looking-after-your-health/coronavirus-covid-19

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to publish a second carers action plan for carers in the City of Durham.

The Government published the ‘Carers Action Plan 2018 – 2020 supporting carers today’ published in June 2018, which sets out a cross-Government programme of targeted work to support all unpaid carers, including improving the identification of carers, and gives visibility to the work already underway or planned within Government over two years until the end of June this year.

A final report on the action plan will be produced later this year and, alongside this report the Government will consider the best next steps to support carers.

In addition to the Carers Action Plan, most local authorities have their own individual care plans or strategies to support unpaid carers in their areas.

On the point about a scheme to identify unpaid carers, in addition to the Government’s Carers Action Plan, the National Health Service has set out a plan to help improve the identification and support of carers and unpaid carers within the NHS Long Term Plan. Understandably, the implementation of some aspects of this have been impacted by the COVID-19 response.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will take steps to establish a scheme to identify unpaid carers in (a) the City of Durham and (b) England in order to provide them with access to help and support.

The Government published the ‘Carers Action Plan 2018 – 2020 supporting carers today’ published in June 2018, which sets out a cross-Government programme of targeted work to support all unpaid carers, including improving the identification of carers, and gives visibility to the work already underway or planned within Government over two years until the end of June this year.

A final report on the action plan will be produced later this year and, alongside this report the Government will consider the best next steps to support carers.

In addition to the Carers Action Plan, most local authorities have their own individual care plans or strategies to support unpaid carers in their areas.

On the point about a scheme to identify unpaid carers, in addition to the Government’s Carers Action Plan, the National Health Service has set out a plan to help improve the identification and support of carers and unpaid carers within the NHS Long Term Plan. Understandably, the implementation of some aspects of this have been impacted by the COVID-19 response.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on carers of not being able to access breaks or respite as a result of the covid-19 outbreak in (a) City of Durham constituency and (b) England.

This information is not held centrally for City of Durham constituency and England.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for the Government's policy on the use of face masks of the Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19: interim guidance published by the WHO on 5 June 2020, on the of disadvantages of those masks for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The recommendations for the use of face masks by hospital staff and face coverings for hospital visitors have been made for to help prevent the spread of infection. Evidence has shown that those infected with COVID-19 can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic) and potentially transmit the virus to others without being aware of it, so it is important we take steps to reduce the risk of transmission from staff who may be asymptomatic.

Staff working alone in a private workspace will not be expected to wear a mask but when they leave the private work area to move through the hospital building, e.g. on an errand, or for meal breaks, they should put on a surgical face mask as outlined in the guidance.

For some, wearing of a face covering may be difficult, and therefore all other measures must also be considered and introduced e.g. social/physical distancing, timed appointments; being seen immediately and not kept in waiting rooms. Individual risk assessments should be undertaken where required; for example, patients with mental health and learning disabilities. Such risk assessments must be documented.

The use of face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic may have an impact on patients who are deaf or have a hearing impairment as they can block the face of healthcare workers and prevent the ability to use visual cues such as facial expressions and lip reading.

The Government's personal protective equipment procurement team has sourced clear surgical face masks to support communication with patients who may be deaf or hearing impaired. They are working with regions to identify where those are best distributed.

Where clear masks are not possible, communication tactics should be considered to support patients and visitors who are deaf or have a hearing impairment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has issued to (a) the NHS and (b) social care providers on meeting the requirements of the Accessible Information Standard for patients with (i) hearing loss and (ii) who face additional communication barriers due to the use of face masks during the covid-19 outbreak.

The recommendations for the use of face masks by hospital staff and face coverings for hospital visitors have been made for to help prevent the spread of infection. Evidence has shown that those infected with COVID-19 can have very mild or no respiratory symptoms (asymptomatic) and potentially transmit the virus to others without being aware of it, so it is important we take steps to reduce the risk of transmission from staff who may be asymptomatic.

Staff working alone in a private workspace will not be expected to wear a mask but when they leave the private work area to move through the hospital building, e.g. on an errand, or for meal breaks, they should put on a surgical face mask as outlined in the guidance.

For some, wearing of a face covering may be difficult, and therefore all other measures must also be considered and introduced e.g. social/physical distancing, timed appointments; being seen immediately and not kept in waiting rooms. Individual risk assessments should be undertaken where required; for example, patients with mental health and learning disabilities. Such risk assessments must be documented.

The use of face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic may have an impact on patients who are deaf or have a hearing impairment as they can block the face of healthcare workers and prevent the ability to use visual cues such as facial expressions and lip reading.

The Government's personal protective equipment procurement team has sourced clear surgical face masks to support communication with patients who may be deaf or hearing impaired. They are working with regions to identify where those are best distributed.

Where clear masks are not possible, communication tactics should be considered to support patients and visitors who are deaf or have a hearing impairment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will update the Government advice entitled How to wear and make a cloth face covering to provide information on how face coverings can be made with a clear panel to assist those people who utilise lipreading for communication.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies considered the very limited evidence available on the use of face coverings and advised that there was some positive benefit for reducing the transmission of COVID-19. The Government has not made an assessment of transparent face coverings.

The Government is now advising wearing a face covering in situations where it is difficult to manage social distancing and there may be close contact with people the wearer would not usually meet.

Further guidance on the use of face coverings is available to view at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home#face-coverings

Instructions on how to make and use a face covering are also available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the safety of using (a) face coverings with clear panels and (b) transparent face shields to assist people who utilise lipreading for communication in settings where personal protective equipment is not required; and how that assessment will be communicated to the public.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies considered the very limited evidence available on the use of face coverings and advised that there was some positive benefit for reducing the transmission of COVID-19. The Government has not made an assessment of transparent face coverings.

The Government is now advising wearing a face covering in situations where it is difficult to manage social distancing and there may be close contact with people the wearer would not usually meet.

Further guidance on the use of face coverings is available to view at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home#face-coverings

Instructions on how to make and use a face covering are also available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the implications of the use of Personal Protective Equipment for people with hearing loss who rely on lip reading during the during-19 outbreak.

We recognise concerns about the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly face masks when it comes to people who lip read. Our priority remains saving lives, including those frontline staff who need to wear PPE as they go about their vital work.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Prime Minister on 16 June 2020, Official Report, column 678, what discussions he had with the Prime Minister on the Prime Minister’s consultation with (a) international aid organisations and (b) humanitarian and development experts prior to the decision to merge the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Government continues to engage with UK and international Non-Governmental Organisations on all relevant issues. The Prime Minister has concluded that in the next decade, international issues will be even more important to the lives of our citizens and our own national interest; that the world will become even more complex and competitive, with growing, interconnected challenges and opportunities for the UK; and that therefore we need a new all-of-government approach if we are to secure our values and interests in a changing world.

By aligning our efforts, merging the departments will allow us to bring together our international effort and maximise our influence around the world. This will ensure that all of our national efforts, including our aid budget and expertise, are used to make the UK a force for good in the world. This will strengthen our ability to lead the world's efforts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and allow us to seize the opportunities ahead, as we prepare to take on the G7 presidency and host COP26 next year.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Prime Minister of 16 June 2020, Official Report, column 678, what assessment he made of the potential merits of the outcomes of the Prime Minister's consultation with (a) international aid organisations and (b) humanitarian and development experts on the decision to merge the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Government continues to engage with UK and international Non-Governmental Organisations on all relevant issues. The Prime Minister has concluded that in the next decade, international issues will be even more important to the lives of our citizens and our own national interest; that the world will become even more complex and competitive, with growing, interconnected challenges and opportunities for the UK; and that therefore we need a new all-of-government approach if we are to secure our values and interests in a changing world.

By aligning our efforts, merging the departments will allow us to bring together our international effort and maximise our influence around the world. This will ensure that all of our national efforts, including our aid budget and expertise, are used to make the UK a force for good in the world. This will strengthen our ability to lead the world's efforts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and allow us to seize the opportunities ahead, as we prepare to take on the G7 presidency and host COP26 next year.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Prime Minister on 16 June 2020, Official Report, column 678, what discussions he had with the Prime Minister on the consultations that took place with (a) international aid organisations and (b) humanitarian and development experts regarding the decision to merge the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Government continues to engage with UK and international Non-Governmental Organisations on all relevant issues. The Prime Minister has concluded that in the next decade, international issues will be even more important to the lives of our citizens and our own national interest; that the world will become even more complex and competitive, with growing, interconnected challenges and opportunities for the UK; and that therefore we need a new all-of-government approach if we are to secure our values and interests in a changing world.

By aligning our efforts, merging the departments will allow us to bring together our international effort and maximise our influence around the world. This will ensure that all of our national efforts, including our aid budget and expertise, are used to make the UK a force for good in the world. This will strengthen our ability to lead the world's efforts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and allow us to seize the opportunities ahead, as we prepare to take on the G7 presidency and host COP26 next year.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what (a) international aid organisations and (b) humanitarian and development experts were consulted by the Foreign Office as part of the decision to merge the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Prime Minister has decided to merge the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to form a new international department - the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The Government will continue to engage closely with interested stakeholders, including UK and international Non-Governmental Organisations, in the weeks and months to come as we work to create the new department, which will unite our development expertise and first class diplomatic service to make the UK a force for good in the world.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the finding of Scope and the Disabled Children’s Partnership’s report entitled The Gap Widens, published in October 2021, that there is a £2.1 billion funding gap in disabled children’s health and social care, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education, ahead of the upcoming Spending Review, on tackling unmet need in disabled children’s health and care services.

HM Treasury Ministers and officials regularly meet with other government departments and a range of stakeholders, which includes discussions around support for children.

The government has to date provided the NHS with over £32 billion to support its response to and recovery from COVID-19, which includes the provision of healthcare services to disabled children. This is part of the overall £97 billion support for health services since the start of the pandemic.

The government has also given over £6 billion in un-ringfenced funding directly to councils to support them with the immediate and longer-term impacts of COVID-19 spending pressures, including children’s services. At last year’s Spending Review, the government provided councils with access to over £1 billion of spending for social care through £300 million of new social care grant and the ability to introduce a 3% adult social care precept. This funding was additional to the £1 billion social care grant announced in 2019 which was maintained in line with the government's manifesto.

HM Treasury will continue to work with other government departments, including the Department for Health and Social Care, Department for Education and Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to ensure the Spending Review reflects the requirements of children’s health and care services in the longer term.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
25th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to extend the small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief to charities in receipt of charity rate relief.

The Government has provided a comprehensive, coordinated and coherent package of measures to support all businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19, including one-off grants for small businesses that pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief or rural rate relief, to help meet their continuing business costs.

Charities operating in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will also benefit from the business rates holiday for these sectors, and grant funding for properties with a rateable value below £51,000.

On 8 April, the Chancellor announced a £750m support package for charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the COVID-19 crisis. £360m will be allocated by central government to charities in England based on evidence of service need. This will include up to £200m support for hospices, with the rest going to organisations such as the St John Ambulance and the Citizens Advice Bureau, as well as charities supporting vulnerable children, victims of domestic abuse, or disabled people. £370m will support smaller, local charities working with vulnerable people.

Charities will also be able to benefit from the range of other measures to support all businesses, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

14th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the statement in her Department's Detention Services Order 06/2016: Women in the detention estate report, published in June 2016, that women detainees are entitled to ask to be examined by a female nurse or doctor, what her policy is on the proportion of healthcare staff at the new Hassockfield immigration removal centre that will be women.

The safety, health and welfare of individuals in immigration detention are considered with the upmost importance. The new Hassockfield (to be known as Derwentside) immigration removal centre (IRC) will be operated in line with Detention Centre Rules 2001, published operating standards for IRCs and Detention Services Orders; a framework which ensures the safety and security of those detained in our care.

The workforce requirements for the new Hassockfield IRC will reflect the lessons learned from detaining women at Yarl’s Wood IRC and will include a ratio of female to male custodial staff that is appropriate for the specific needs of women in detention. It is our aim that around 60% of uniformed staff will be women.

Healthcare in IRCs in England is commissioned by NHS England, and the healthcare services at Hassockfield IRC will be provided by NHS England & NHS Improvement commissioned service providers and delivered in line with the national service specifications for healthcare services in IRCs. The healthcare provider will ensure that services within the IRC are delivered to meet the healthcare needs of women. As set out in Detention Services Order 06/2016 ‘Women in the detention estate’ women will be offered the option to choose to see a female healthcare professional wherever possible.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether it is her policy that at least 60 per cent of staff in direct contact with women detainees will also be women at the new Hassockfield immigration removal centre in line with her Department's acceptance of that recommendation in the HM Inspectorate of Prisions' Yarl’s Wood Service Improvement Plan, published on 12 August 2015.

The safety, health and welfare of individuals in immigration detention are considered with the upmost importance. The new Hassockfield (to be known as Derwentside) immigration removal centre (IRC) will be operated in line with Detention Centre Rules 2001, published operating standards for IRCs and Detention Services Orders; a framework which ensures the safety and security of those detained in our care.

The workforce requirements for the new Hassockfield IRC will reflect the lessons learned from detaining women at Yarl’s Wood IRC and will include a ratio of female to male custodial staff that is appropriate for the specific needs of women in detention. It is our aim that around 60% of uniformed staff will be women.

Healthcare in IRCs in England is commissioned by NHS England, and the healthcare services at Hassockfield IRC will be provided by NHS England & NHS Improvement commissioned service providers and delivered in line with the national service specifications for healthcare services in IRCs. The healthcare provider will ensure that services within the IRC are delivered to meet the healthcare needs of women. As set out in Detention Services Order 06/2016 ‘Women in the detention estate’ women will be offered the option to choose to see a female healthcare professional wherever possible.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether organisations external to her Department will be able to contract the women detained at Hassockfield Immigration Removal Centre to carry out work.

Hassockfield immigration removal centre (IRC) will be operated in accordance with the Detention Centre Rules 2001, in addition to published Operating Standards for IRCs and Detention Services Orders (DSO).

Rule 17 of the Detention Centre Rules permits those in detention to engage voluntarily in paid activities. These activities are provided to meet the recreational and intellectual needs of detained individuals. In accordance with Rule 17, pay rates are determined by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The currently approved rates of pay are £1 per hour and, for specified projects, £1.25 per hour, as set out in the published Detention Services Order 1/2013 ‘Paid Activities’.

External organisations are not permitted to use the paid activity scheme to contract people in immigration detention to carry out work.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much per hour women detained at Hassockfield Immigration Removal Centre are planned to be paid for the work they carry out.

Hassockfield immigration removal centre (IRC) will be operated in accordance with the Detention Centre Rules 2001, in addition to published Operating Standards for IRCs and Detention Services Orders (DSO).

Rule 17 of the Detention Centre Rules permits those in detention to engage voluntarily in paid activities. These activities are provided to meet the recreational and intellectual needs of detained individuals. In accordance with Rule 17, pay rates are determined by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The currently approved rates of pay are £1 per hour and, for specified projects, £1.25 per hour, as set out in the published Detention Services Order 1/2013 ‘Paid Activities’.

External organisations are not permitted to use the paid activity scheme to contract people in immigration detention to carry out work.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate she has made of the cost per year of running Hassockfield Immigration Removal Centre at maximum capacity.

The costs of the contract to run Hassockfield immigration removal centre are currently commercial in confidence. The Home Office will publish a contract award notice in line with the statutory timelines within the Public Contract Regulations 2015, which will detail the full cost of running the centre.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when her Department plans to undertake an equality impact assessment for the Hassockfield Immigration Removal Centre.

The immigration removal estate is kept under ongoing review to ensure that the Home Office has sufficient resilience, geographical footprint and capacity for the men and women it proves necessary to detain for the purposes of removal, while providing value for money.

As part of its plans to manage the closure and return of the Morton Hall immigration removal centre to Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, the Home Office considered a number of sites for a new immigration removal centre (IRC). Specifically, sites such as the former Campsfield IRC were considered and the Home Office also engaged in discussions with the Ministry of Justice on the availability of surplus sites.

Given the timescales and value for money considerations, acquiring the vacant Hassockfield site to open as an IRC for women was considered the most cost-effective option for maintaining immigration detention capacity.

An Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) will be completed for opening of Hassockfield IRC in line with Public Sector Equality Duties. To ensure that decisions about the development of the site have due regard to eliminating discrimination and inequality, the EIA for Hassockfield will remain ongoing as plans progress to completion. The Home Office will publish the completed EIA in due course.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, which airports her Department plans to use to deport women who have been detained at Hassockfield Immigration Removal Centre.

Most enforced immigration returns are undertaken using scheduled flights, alongside fare-paying passengers from airports around the UK based on a case by case assessment of the individuals needs and to best meet operational needs and maximise value for money.

This Government’s priority is keeping the people of this country safe, and we make no apology for seeking to remove dangerous foreign criminals and other immigration offenders.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans the Government has to provide accommodation for women released from Hassockfield Immigration Removal Centre to continue their asylum claims.

Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute can make an application for support and accommodation whilst their application for asylum is being considered.

All asylum seekers have access to a 24/7 AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) service provided for the Home Office by Migrant Help where they can raise any concerns regarding accommodation or support services, and they can get information about how to obtain further support.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department has plans for work to be used as a form of recreation for women detained at the proposed Hassockfield Immigration Removal Centre.

Paid activities are provided in immigration removal centres in accordance with Rule 17 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 to meet the recreational and intellectual needs of detained individuals. Paid activities are entirely voluntary and are offered in addition to a range of recreational activities, such as educational opportunities, access to a library and gymnasium and religious services.

Hassockfield immigration removal centre (IRC), due to open in autumn 2021 for around 80 women, will offer services and recreational opportunities focused on the specific needs of women and akin to those available at Yarl’s Wood IRC.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans the Government has to provide accommodation for women released from Hassockfield Immigration Removal Centre to continue their asylum claims.

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

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the (a) number, (b) security and (c) pay of new jobs which will be created by plans to re-open the former Hassockfield Detention Centre in Medomsley as an Immigration Detention or Removal Centre in Autumn 2021.

The Home Office has acquired the former Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in County Durham and will open it as an immigration removal centre by the autumn. The proposed site will provide modern, decent and secure accommodation for around 80 women. We expect approximately 200 permanent jobs to be created when the centre is fully operational.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions her Department has had with (a) the Refugee Council, (b) local refugee support groups and (c) advocacy organisations prior to the commencement of plans to re-open the former Hassockfield Detention Centre in Medomsley as an Immigration Detention or Removal Centre; and whether alternatives to the incarceration of women who seek refuge in the UK have been assessed.

The Home Office has acquired the former Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in County Durham and will open it as an immigration removal centre by the autumn.

Initial discussions with Durham County Council have taken place and will continue throughout the development of plans for the site. Consultations with local councillors, other local stakeholders and interested non-governmental organisations including the Refugee Council, will take place over the coming months.

The former Medomsley Detention Centre was demolished and rebuilt in 1988. Whilst I have every sympathy for victims of historic abuse at the former centre, officials do not have plans to undertake any consultation on the future immigration removal centre.

Now in its second year, the Action Access pilot has provided women who would otherwise be detained with a programme of support in the community, including case management support. We are working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and they have appointed the National Centre for Social Research to independently evaluate this work, once the pilot concludes in March 2021. The evaluation is scheduled for publication in June 2021. We will use the evaluation to inform our future approach to case-management focused alternatives to detention.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether, before the commencement of plans to redevelop the former Hassockfield Detention Centre in Medomsley as an immigration removal centre, the Government consulted with (a) victims of historic abuse (b) other inmates at the Hassockfield Detention Centre.

The Home Office has acquired the former Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in County Durham and will open it as an immigration removal centre by the autumn.

Initial discussions with Durham County Council have taken place and will continue throughout the development of plans for the site. Consultations with local councillors, other local stakeholders and interested non-governmental organisations including the Refugee Council, will take place over the coming months.

The former Medomsley Detention Centre was demolished and rebuilt in 1988. Whilst I have every sympathy for victims of historic abuse at the former centre, officials do not have plans to undertake any consultation on the future immigration removal centre.

Now in its second year, the Action Access pilot has provided women who would otherwise be detained with a programme of support in the community, including case management support. We are working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and they have appointed the National Centre for Social Research to independently evaluate this work, once the pilot concludes in March 2021. The evaluation is scheduled for publication in June 2021. We will use the evaluation to inform our future approach to case-management focused alternatives to detention.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what discussions were held with (a) Durham County Council, (b) local councillors and (c) other local stakeholders before plans were progressed to redevelop the former Hassockfield Detention Centre in Medomsley as an immigration removal centre; and what plans there are for discussions with each of those bodies before its planned opening in autumn 2021.

The Home Office has acquired the former Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in County Durham and will open it as an immigration removal centre by the autumn.

Initial discussions with Durham County Council have taken place and will continue throughout the development of plans for the site. Consultations with local councillors, other local stakeholders and interested non-governmental organisations including the Refugee Council, will take place over the coming months.

The former Medomsley Detention Centre was demolished and rebuilt in 1988. Whilst I have every sympathy for victims of historic abuse at the former centre, officials do not have plans to undertake any consultation on the future immigration removal centre.

Now in its second year, the Action Access pilot has provided women who would otherwise be detained with a programme of support in the community, including case management support. We are working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and they have appointed the National Centre for Social Research to independently evaluate this work, once the pilot concludes in March 2021. The evaluation is scheduled for publication in June 2021. We will use the evaluation to inform our future approach to case-management focused alternatives to detention.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what public consultation has been undertaken prior to the commencement of plans to re-open the former Hassockfield Detention Centre in Medomsley as an Immigration Detention Centre; and what plans she has to hold a further public consultation before the planned opening of that centre in Autumn 2021.

The Home Office has acquired the former Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in County Durham and will open it as an immigration removal centre by the autumn.

Initial discussions with Durham County Council have taken place and will continue throughout the development of plans for the site. Consultations with local councillors, other local stakeholders and interested non-governmental organisations including the Refugee Council, will take place over the coming months.

The former Medomsley Detention Centre was demolished and rebuilt in 1988. Whilst I have every sympathy for victims of historic abuse at the former centre, officials do not have plans to undertake any consultation on the future immigration removal centre.

Now in its second year, the Action Access pilot has provided women who would otherwise be detained with a programme of support in the community, including case management support. We are working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and they have appointed the National Centre for Social Research to independently evaluate this work, once the pilot concludes in March 2021. The evaluation is scheduled for publication in June 2021. We will use the evaluation to inform our future approach to case-management focused alternatives to detention.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Dec 2020
What discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Education on the effect of changes to the immigration system on the UK's ability to attract overseas students.

The Government welcomes international students and we are committed to increasing their number.

We recently opened the new Student route, which simplifies and improves upon the previous Tier 4 route, and in summer 2021 we will further improve our offer to international students by launching the Graduate route, which will enable students to work or look for work post-study.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to extend the visas of (a) podiatrists and (b) other allied health professionals due to the covid-19 outbreak; and if she will make a statement.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government is extending the visas for a range of healthcare professionals, working for the NHS and independent health and care providers, where their current visa expires between 31 March and 1 October.

Eligible occupations, agreed with the Department for Health and Social Care, include podiatrists. Guidance on who is eligible for this automatic extension offer can already be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents#if-youre-working-for-the-nhs.

This offer also applies to their eligible family members. This 12-month extension offer is free and those benefitting will not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many children and young people have been identified as victims of child sexual abuse since the Online Harms White Paper was published in April 2019; and what steps her Department is taking to protect vulnerable children from sexual abuse and exploitation online while the Government produces its full response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation.

Online child sexual exploitation and abuse is an abhorrent crime, and the Home Office works closely with technology companies, law enforcement and NGOs to tackle and prevent this crime as a top priority.

In the year from April 2019 to March 2020, the NCA and UK policing identified 793 victims within indecent images of children, compared with 552 in the previous fiscal year. The NCA and policing continue to undertake work to identify children within indecent images as part of their daily activity.

Additionally, in the year from April 2019 to March 2020, the NCA and UK policing made approximately 7,200 arrests and safeguarded and protected around 8,300 children in relation to online child sexual abuse. Many of the children who were safeguarded or protected will have been victims of child sexual abuse.

The Online Harms White Paper set out plans to introduce a statutory duty of care on companies to address a range of harms on their platforms and services, including online child sexual exploitation and abuse. Ahead of legislation coming into force and an independent regulator being operational, Government will publish an interim code of practice on child sexual exploitation and abuse, setting out steps that companies can take now to prevent and tackle this crime. This interim code will be published in the Autumn, alongside the full government response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation.

The Government is committed to tackling online child sexual exploitation and abuse and recognises many parents may feel concerned about the activities and content their children are accessing. Guidance has been published for parents and children outlining resources to help keep children safe from different risks online, including online grooming, and where to go to receive support and advice - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-keeping-children-safe-online/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-parents-and-carers-to-keep-children-safe-online.

In May, the Government pledged more than £76?million?extra funding to support the most vulnerable in society during the pandemic. The funding has been made available for charities to support?survivors of abuse, including child sexual abuse.

Recognising the impact of the current situation upon harms such as child sexual abuse the Prime Minister hosted the government’s first Hidden Harms virtual summit in May. It was attended by over 70 representatives from across government, the NHS, law enforcement, charities and frontline services, as well as survivors of hidden harms. The summit was an opportunity to share emerging best practice at the local and national level and identify areas to go further over the coming months.

Home Office Ministers have met with the Internet Watch Foundation, children’s charities, the tech industry and other parties to understand the online threat to children during the pandemic. They also wrote to industry partners to ensure that countering online child sexual exploitation and abuse remains a priority during the pandemic.

The Government is continuing to engage with technology companies around the Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, a framework of principles launched by the Five Country Ministerial partners in March. In collaboration with UK, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and United States governments, our partners in the technology industry have developed a new campaign to help keep children safe online during COVID-19. This launched on 17 April, with parents and carers directed to online safety resources on GOV.UK, and children directed to Childline.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the ability of different police forces to implement regional covid-19 lockdowns consistently.

The Home Secretary holds regular meetings with policing partners about a range of issues linked to the response to Covid-19 and the ability of the police to respond effectively.

In addition, we are working with other government departments and the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) to develop the framework for the local management of further outbreaks.

As this work continues, we will maintain our close working relationship with the police to fully understand the impact on local forces.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to strengthen the Domestic Abuse Bill so that children affected by domestic abuse have a statutory right to specialist support services.

The Domestic Abuse Bill, as introduced on 3 March, includes a new statutory duty on tier one local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse, and their children, within safe accommodation. Paragraph 207 of the Explanatory Notes which accompany the Bill provides examples of the support that may be provided, including children’s support such as play therapy and child advocacy.

To enable us to better understand the complex landscape for community-based support for all victims, including children, the Designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner has agreed to undertake an in-depth exploration of the current community-based support landscape over 2020/21.

The Government will then work with the Commissioner to understand the needs identified and develop options on how best to address them.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to protect children and young people from child sexual abuse at home and online during the covid-19 outbreak.

We are acutely aware that the necessary guidelines about social distancing and self-isolation may leave the victims of hidden crime, such as child sexual abuse, feeling especially vulnerable. For some children, home is not the safe-haven it should be, and more time spent online means children may be at increased risk of online harms.

We have responded swiftly to the risks posed by COVID-19, working closely with Law Enforcement, the UK Intelligence Community, safeguarding partners and the third sector to assess the threat and ensure they have the resources they need to tackle offending and provide the greatest protection for vulnerable children.

We are further working across government and agencies to ensure that teachers, parents and carers have access to the support they need to help keep children safe online. As part of this the National Crime Agency have launched the #OnlineSafetyAtHome campaign, the Department for Education has published interim safeguarding guidance for schools and colleges encouraging them to disseminate advice on online safety and we have published guidance for parents and carers on gov.uk.

As part of this the Government made £1.6 million available immediately for the NSPCC to expand and promote its national helpline for adults. We also worked across government, with the NCA and industry to ensure that teachers, parents and carers have access to the support they need to help keep children safe online.

On 21st May, the Prime Minister hosted a virtual summit focused on ‘hidden harms’, including child sexual abuse. The virtual summit brought key decision makers together to share insight, best practice and agree an approach for tackling these crimes as we move towards easing lockdown measures.

Ahead of the summit, the Home Secretary announced that £9.86 million is being allocated to the National Crime Agency to improve its ability to tackle perpetrators seeking to offend against children via the Dark Web. An additional £3.36 million is being committed to further improve our understanding and tackle all aspects of the child sexual abuse threat. We will also launch a £2.8 million transformation fund to promote and embed best practice in Child Sexual Abuse victim support.

Following the Summit, we have sought to engage stakeholders within communities who could support in identifying vulnerable children, by delivering communications that highlight how to spot the signs of abuse and neglect, as well as where to report concerns. The aim is to improve our collective ability to detect and respond to a range harms, including at home.

The Home Office will distribute £7.8 million in emergency support for charities helping vulnerable children who have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. We are working closely with other government departments to identify an approach for disbursing the proportion of the £360 million charities funding allocated directly from government departments to vulnerable children’s charities, with the aim to implement the approach as soon as possible.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to tackle county lines drug trafficking and safeguard vulnerable children form exploitation.

We are investing £25m to crack down on county lines gangs in 19/20 and 20/21. Through our county lines programme we are expanding the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre, increasing disruption on the rail networks by British Transport Police, delivering operational intensification in the three key exporting areas, investing in new technology including Automatic Number Plate Recognition and providing increased support for victims of county lines exploitation. Our investment is already delivering results; as a result of the first phase, be-tween November 2019 and March 2020, police forces have made over 650 arrests, closed nearly 140 deal lines, seized cash and drugs with a total value of over £3 million, and made over 100 weapons seizures. Officers have also safeguarded scores of individuals, including 140 children, from being ex-ploited by these gangs.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether the Government has made an assessment of the effect of (a) Airbnb and (b) other short-term rental lets on levels of noise and disruption for permanent residents in (i) the City of Durham and (ii) England.

Whilst we have not made specific assessments relating to the effect of short-term lets on noise and disruption, we are clear about encouraging responsible short-term letting, where hosts behave in accordance with the law and with respect for both their guests' safety and their neighbours' peace. The Considerate Short-Term Lets Charter currently helps hosts to do so.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans the Government has to allow local authorities to manage the level of short-term (a) Airbnb and (b) other rental lets.

We encourage industry to continue to explore voluntary measures which would support local authorities to use their powers to stamp out bad practice.

We want to encourage responsible short-term letting, where hosts behave in accordance with the law and with respect for both their guests' safety and their neighbours' peace. The Considerate Short-Term Lets Charter currently helps hosts to do so.  Furthermore, through Tourism Recovery Plan, published on 11 June 2021, we are looking to consult on the possible introduction of a Tourist Accommodation Registration Scheme in England.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what criteria he used when deciding to establish his Department's new headquarters in Wolverhampton.

A number of factors were considered when deciding the location of the Department's additional headquarters. The choice of Wolverhampton, which builds on the Department's existing strong presence in the West Midlands region, supports the Government’s commitment to levelling up.

.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, where his Department's offices, including arm’s length bodies, are currently located in (a) the West Midlands and (b) the East Midlands.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) currently has one office in the West Midlands, in central Birmingham. Three MHCLG arm’s-length-bodies are located in the West Midlands. The Regulator of Social Housing in Birmingham, and Social Care Ombudsman, and Homes England in Coventry. The Department has one office in the East Midlands, in Nottingham.

In February, we confirmed that the Government will create a second headquarters in Wolverhampton with at least 500 MHCLG Group roles set to be based across the West Midlands by 2025 – with further increases planned by 2030.

The new HQ in Wolverhampton will include the presence of ministers – making it the first such ministerial office outside of London with a regular ministerial presence. Senior civil servants will also be based in Wolverhampton, ensuring this becomes a centre for policy development and decision making.

This is a significant increase on the 300 roles currently in the region and is part of plans to have at least 800 roles outside of London by 2030 – including 50% of the most senior positions. This will ensure that more local voices are reflected in the creation of government policy.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of changes in local authority (a) budgets and (b) funding formula during the covid-19 outbreak on the capacity of Durham County Council to maintain services.

We have now made £3.2 billion available to local authorities through an un-ringfenced grant so they can address pressures they are facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of this, Durham County Council has received £33.15 million.

In total, the Government has committed over £27 billion to local areas to support councils and their communities. This also includes: £300 million to support the new test and trace service, £600 million to support providers through a new Infection Control Fund and £12.3 billion of support through the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grants.

Alongside this funding, the Government has provided over £5 billion of cashflow support including the deferral of local authority payments of the Central Share of retained business rates, valued at £2.6 billion, as well as up-front payments of £1.8 billion of business rates reliefs and £850 million of social care grant.

Following the allocation of the £1.6 billion in March, we reviewed the funding formula, by using monthly data and our conversations with councils to refine our assessment. To allocate the additional £1.6 billion in April, we used our latest and best assessment of the distribution of additional COVID-19 pressures.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what contingency plans are in place to support local authorities in the recording of deaths in the event that covid-19 causes workforce disruptions.

The Government will continue to work with local partners, including local authorities and local resilience forums, to assist preparedness to manage the potential effects of the Covid-19 outbreak. This includes supporting them in their duties under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. All local partners have business continuity and local risk assessment processes in place for the purpose of ensuring that, if an emergency occurs, they are able to continue to perform their functions.

The Government will support councils to maintain their public services via the Covid-19 Response Fund, which has initially been set at £5 billion and provides funding so local public services are prepared and protected. Government is also considering emergency legislation which may ease some of the current requirements relating to registering a death.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, by what date will in-cell telephony be fully installed in HMP Frankland.

BT conducted a site survey at HMP Frankland on 14th October 2021 and we expect to receive an estimated cost from them in the coming weeks. This is the initial stage in the delivery of in-cell telephony, however, we will not be able to proceed until funding is made available. That position is expected to be known by the end of the financial year and if favourable the project team will engage in more detailed discussion with the prison on a detailed installation plan.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the 2021 Independent Monitoring Board Report for HMP/YOI Low Newton, what steps he plans to take to (a) ensure that women with severe mental health issues are fast tracked to secure hospitals and (b) reduce the number of women with severe mental health issues in prison.

We have a responsibility to ensure those in prison receive appropriate care in the right setting, at the right time. Transfer from prison to hospital for those with severe mental health issues can take too long – we acknowledged this in the Government response to the independent review of the Mental Health Act. Since then, NHS England has published guidance to speed up transfers and we have committed to legislate and enshrine a 28-day limit on such transfers in statute. Where a request is received for a transfer to hospital, and the prisoner meets the statutory criteria, a warrant for their transfer should be issued within 7 days.

We are also looking to introduce an independent role to oversee such transfers as part of our reforms to the Mental Health Act.

We have acknowledged that prison should not be used as a ‘place of safety’, where the court can send a person to be temporarily held on the grounds of mental health for their own or others’ protection whilst awaiting an assessment or transfer, and have committed to ending this by amending the Mental Health Act, and putting the necessary operational reforms in place.

More widely, it is essential to ensure that individuals with vulnerabilities are identified early in the criminal justice system. Last year, NHS England secured full coverage of Liaison and Diversion Services in all courts, including women’s pathways to address women’s specific needs. Currently, NHS England is working to enhance these women’s pathways, and a specific women’s lead has been appointed in each service, to work on developing the pathway and appropriately address the needs of female offenders.

We have also invested £9.5m through our Female Offender Strategy to support women’s community services, which provide holistic support to women in contact with the justice system, and those at risk of offending.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many and what proportion of Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service staff agreed that they have the opportunity to contribute their views before decisions are made that affect them in the latest staff survey.

The Annual Civil Service People Survey looks at civil servants’ attitudes to, and experience of working in government departments. In 2020, the survey ran across Government Departments, including Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), from 1 to 30 October. Ministry of Justice People Survey data for 2020 will be published on gov.uk in due course.

4,897 HMPPS staff (27% of respondents) believed that their pay was reasonable compared to people doing a similar job in other organisations in the latest survey.

We do not ask staff whether “when operational changes are made at work they were usually for the better”. However, in response to a broader question regarding all changes, 5,430 staff (30% of respondents) believed that when changes are made in their organisation they were usually for the better. Additionally, 5,552 members of staff (30% of respondents) said they had the opportunity to contribute their views before decisions are made that affect them.

HMPPS are committed to taking forward the issues raised in the People Survey to improve employee experience and wellbeing.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many and what proportion of Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service staff agreed that when operational changes are made at work they were usually for the better in the latest staff survey.

The Annual Civil Service People Survey looks at civil servants’ attitudes to, and experience of working in government departments. In 2020, the survey ran across Government Departments, including Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), from 1 to 30 October. Ministry of Justice People Survey data for 2020 will be published on gov.uk in due course.

4,897 HMPPS staff (27% of respondents) believed that their pay was reasonable compared to people doing a similar job in other organisations in the latest survey.

We do not ask staff whether “when operational changes are made at work they were usually for the better”. However, in response to a broader question regarding all changes, 5,430 staff (30% of respondents) believed that when changes are made in their organisation they were usually for the better. Additionally, 5,552 members of staff (30% of respondents) said they had the opportunity to contribute their views before decisions are made that affect them.

HMPPS are committed to taking forward the issues raised in the People Survey to improve employee experience and wellbeing.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many and what proportion of Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service staff believed that their pay was reasonable compared to people doing a similar jobs in other organisations in the latest staff survey.

The Annual Civil Service People Survey looks at civil servants’ attitudes to, and experience of working in government departments. In 2020, the survey ran across Government Departments, including Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), from 1 to 30 October. Ministry of Justice People Survey data for 2020 will be published on gov.uk in due course.

4,897 HMPPS staff (27% of respondents) believed that their pay was reasonable compared to people doing a similar job in other organisations in the latest survey.

We do not ask staff whether “when operational changes are made at work they were usually for the better”. However, in response to a broader question regarding all changes, 5,430 staff (30% of respondents) believed that when changes are made in their organisation they were usually for the better. Additionally, 5,552 members of staff (30% of respondents) said they had the opportunity to contribute their views before decisions are made that affect them.

HMPPS are committed to taking forward the issues raised in the People Survey to improve employee experience and wellbeing.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many calls there have been to the Tackling Unacceptable Behaviour Unit (a) confidential helpline, (b) early resolution helpline and (c) PAM assist helpline in each month since those helplines were established.

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) takes the welfare of staff extremely seriously, which is why it supports staff to access a range of helplines and resources. The Tackling Unacceptable Behaviour Unit (TUBU) was established in August 2020 and works to support staff through a confidential helpline, mediation service and programme of assessments to surface and address unacceptable behaviour. In addition, a special investigation service is being developed to deal with the most serious cases involving bullying, harassment, discrimination or victimisation.

Staff can also access support from HR professionals in relation to workplace conflict through the Civil Service Early Resolution Helpline (ERH). The Employee Assistance Programme PAM Assist helpline offers counselling, support and information including signposting to external sources of support. This support can relate to a wide range of work and personal issues including trauma, bereavement, bullying and harassment, Childcare/Elder care, debt, relationships, alcohol and drug misuse and many more.

There is no place for any form of unacceptable behaviour in HMPPS. Such behaviour is contrary to its core values and will not be tolerated. All allegations of unacceptable behaviour are taken seriously, investigated and, where appropriate, disciplinary action will be taken.

The volume of calls for each helpline per month received from HMPPS staff since the launch of the Tackling Unacceptable Behaviours Unit on 24 August 2020 is set out in the table below:

Tackling Unacceptable Behaviours Unit (from 24 August 2020)

Early Resolution Helpline (from 5 Oct 2020)

PAM Assist (Data provided from 1 August 2020)

August 2020

26

Not yet launched

314

September 2020

55

Not yet launched

303

October 2020

34

5

315

November 2020

36

3

306

December 2020

29

0

268

January 2021

17

4

295

February 2021

19

2

242

Totals

216

14

2043

The breakdown of calls to the Tackling Unacceptable Behaviour Helpline in relation to (a) bullying, (b) harassment, (c) victimisation and (d) discrimination is set out in the table below:

Issue raised in call

Volume (24 Aug 2020 – 28 Feb 2021)

Percentage of all calls

Bullying

89

41%

Harassment

29

11%

Victimisation

8

4%

Discrimination

31

14%

(Note – not all callers will disclose precise issue of concern, and other types of issue than the four categories above may be recorded, such as unfair treatment or decision)

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many and what proportion of assaults (a) between prisoners and (b) against staff were committed during education activities in (i) YOI institutions and (ii) all prisons in each of the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement.

Please find data showing assaults committed during education activities in the 12 months to June 2020 in the attached table. Please note that assaults committed during education activities are a total of the assaults that, when reported, had their location flagged as "Education".

Despite the progress made, the level of violence in prisons remains too high. We are continuing work to address this by giving all staff the tools and training to help them reduce violence.

Violence in prison is a crime. Any prisoner who commits an act of violence can expect to have action taken against them.

We are spending £100 million to bolster prison security, clamping down on the weapons, drugs and mobile phones that fuel violence and crime behind bars. This is funding tough measures including x-ray body scanners and phone-blocking technology.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether vulnerable (a) prison staff and (b) prisoners will be prioritised for receipt of the covid-19 vaccine; and if he will make a statement.

Detailed planning is underway between Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), the NHS and public health bodies to prepare for the delivery of vaccinations in prisons. In Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout, staff and prisoners are eligible for vaccinations according to vulnerability in the same priority order as the public.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that vaccination of those at increased risk of exposure due to their occupation, including those involved in the justice system, could be a priority in the second phase. Prioritisation decisions will need to be made in line with wider prioritisation of access, and the availability of vaccines, across the community.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether it is his Department’s policy to permit prison management to remove trade union health and safety posters from staff rooms in prisons.

HM Prison and Probation Service values the support of its Trade Union colleagues and supports all parties in the sharing of appropriate health and safety messaging, and as such will continue working together to ensure that appropriate health and safety messages effectively reach all staff as necessary.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 23 November 2020 to Question 119223 on Prison Officers: Coronavirus, whether prison educators are categorised as agency or sessional workers.

Staff delivering educational services under the Prison Education Framework (PEF) and Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) contracts are directly employed by 3rd parties who are contracted to deliver these services. As such, they are not considered to be either HMPPS, agency or sessional staff.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether he has made a recent assessment of the potential merits of HMPPS adopting the Safe Inside Prisons Charter from the Joint Unions in Prisons Alliance; and if he will make a statement.

HM Prison and Probation Service continues to share with the Joint Unions Prisons Alliance (JUPA) its commitment to maintain safety in the workplace and will continue to progress this, including engagement with this Alliance on a quarterly basis to brief them on prison safety work.

We welcome the constructive contribution of JUPA, however we need to be inclusive of all our recognised trade unions and also of the third party employers it refers to. Currently JUPA is not representative of all HMPPS recognised unions. As such, whilst we do see merit in the continued engagement with JUPA, we do not see merit in the Charter as it is set currently. HMPPS already has a strong prison safety agenda which fully includes the recognised trade unions and which, in many ways also, reflect issues that JUPA has raised.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many women were known to be pregnant while on remand or serving a sentence in HMP Low Newton in each quarter from 31 March 2015 to 30 September 2020, by ethnicity.

Pregnancy data is collected locally by individual prisons, to ensure the appropriate support can be provided to women in our care. Currently, there is no central collection of this data. HMP Low Newton are in the process of collating the information requested and, as soon as that is available, I will write to the Honourable Member.

On 31 July we published a summary report of our review of operational policy on pregnancy and women separated from children under 2. This includes an undertaking to extend the range of data we publish in relation to pregnant women in prison, and can be found at the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/905559/summary-report-of-review-of-policy-on-mbu.pdf

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether his Department has made an assessment of whether the automatic revocation of wills upon marriage provides a potential incentive for predatory marriage.

The principle in English and Welsh law that marriage has the effect of revoking wills is long established. The issue of whether marriage or civil partnership should invoke automatic revocation of the wills of those involved is being considered as part of a wider current review by the Law Commission on reforming the law of wills.

That review is also examining whether there should be new rules introduced which protect the person making the will from undue influence.

The Government will review the case for reforming the current law when it has received the recommendations in the Law Commission’s final report.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many people have been successfully prosecuted for predatory marriage under section 121 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The Ministry of Justice has published information on prosecutions and convictions in the Outcomes by Offence data tool up to December 2019. Available at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/888664/outcomes-by-offence-tool-2019.xlsx

Search ‘Offence’ for ‘36.1 Forced marriage’. The number of prosecutions and convictions can be viewed in the table.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on waiting times for Child Maintenance Service appeals.

The latest period for which data about appeals to the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) (SSCS) are available is January to March 2020 which predates the pandemic.

www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics.

The most recent tribunal statistics publication covering the period April to June 2020 does 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.

Appeals to the SSCS Tribunal have continued to be heard in line with government guidance throughout the pandemic. Telephone hearings and the use of other hearing technology have been used to facilitate as many hearings as possible being held remotely.

In addition to holding remote hearings in all regions, appeals may also be decided by judges sitting alone in chambers, using the evidence before them in the case papers.

HM Courts & Tribunals Service has also introduced safety measures so that face to face hearings can be held for any cases which cannot be decided on the papers or heard remotely.

The decision as to how a hearing is conducted is a matter for the judge, who will determine how best to uphold the interests of justice. In considering the suitability of video/audio hearings to replace face to face hearings, judges will consider matters such as the nature of the dispute at stake and any issues the use of video/audio technology may present for participants in the hearing, having regard to individuals’ needs.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the transition from court-based oral hearings to remote telephone and paper hearings for social security appeals.

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is working hard to keep our justice system functioning during this unprecedented public health emergency. We are focusing on priority cases, changing working practices and introducing new procedures to minimise risks to the judiciary, staff and all those who use our courts and tribunals.

This has included, in line with government guidance, replacing face to face hearings in the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) (SSCS) with telephone hearings and the use of other remote hearing technology to facilitate as many hearings as possible being held remotely. All parties to the hearings are being contacted directly to confirm new hearing arrangements.

In addition to holding remote hearings in all regions, appeals may also be decided by judges sitting alone in chambers, using the evidence before them in the case papers.

During the coronavirus outbreak HMCTS is publishing additional management information used for understanding the impact on workload volumes and activity across the court and tribunal system, which includes SSCS workload and hearings. The latest information, published on 11 June, is available using the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/hmcts-management-information-april-2020.

The latest advice and guidance from the government and judiciary in relation to tribunal hearings during the coronavirus pandemic is updated regularly and can be viewed using the following links:

www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-courts-and-tribunals-planning-and-preparation and

www.judiciary.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-and-guidance.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)