Mary Kelly Foy Written Questions

41 Questions to Government Departments tabled by Mary Kelly Foy


Date Title Questioner
12 Jan 2021, 4:13 p.m. Coronavirus: Vaccination Mary Kelly Foy

Question

What plans he has to train healthcare professionals in communicating the (a) safety and (b) effectiveness of covid-19 vaccines.

Answer (Nadhim Zahawi)

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.

24 Nov 2020, 2:51 p.m. Low Newton Prison Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

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

18 Sep 2020, 1:19 p.m. Care Quality Commission: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether CQC inspectors visiting care homes will be tested regularly for covid-19.

Answer (Nadine Dorries)

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.

15 Sep 2020, 4:16 p.m. Visas: Health Professions Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

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.

14 Sep 2020, 5:55 p.m. Social Services: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Helen Whately)

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.

11 Sep 2020, 4:56 p.m. Remote Education: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

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.

11 Sep 2020, 12:19 p.m. Supply Teachers: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

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.

7 Sep 2020, 4:39 p.m. Special Educational Needs: Durham Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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

Answer (Vicky Ford)

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.

1 Sep 2020, 11:55 a.m. Internet: Safety Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Victoria Atkins)

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.

24 Jun 2020, 4:29 p.m. Department for International Development: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (James Cleverly)

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.

23 Jun 2020, 5:59 p.m. Mental Health Services: Children and Young People Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Nadine Dorries)

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.

23 Jun 2020, 4:51 p.m. Department for International Development: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (James Cleverly)

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.

23 Jun 2020, 4:51 p.m. Department for International Development: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (James Cleverly)

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.

23 Jun 2020, 4:51 p.m. Department for International Development: Reorganisation Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (James Cleverly)

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.

22 Jun 2020, 6:02 p.m. Department for International Development: Reorganisation Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Anne-Marie Trevelyan)

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.

19 Jun 2020, 2:57 p.m. Schools: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

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.

19 Jun 2020, 2:37 p.m. Education: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Nick Gibb)

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.

19 Jun 2020, 2:24 p.m. Agriculture: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Victoria Prentis)

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

19 Jun 2020, 11:50 a.m. Respite Care: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Helen Whately)

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

19 Jun 2020, 11:31 a.m. Sports: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Nigel Huddleston)

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.

19 Jun 2020, 10:26 a.m. Football: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Nigel Huddleston)

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.

18 Jun 2020, 5:38 p.m. Pupils: Mental Health Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

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.

18 Jun 2020, 5:24 p.m. Further Education: Standards Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Michelle Donelan)

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.

18 Jun 2020, 11:23 a.m. Social Security Benefits: Appeals Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Chris Philp)

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.

18 Jun 2020, 10:25 a.m. Carers: City of Durham Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Helen Whately)

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.

18 Jun 2020, 10:25 a.m. Carers Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Helen Whately)

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.

17 Jun 2020, 5:37 p.m. Schools: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

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/.

17 Jun 2020, 5:26 p.m. Nurseries: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Vicky Ford)

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.

17 Jun 2020, 9:56 a.m. Carers: Government Assistance Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Paul Scully)

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.

16 Jun 2020, 3:08 p.m. Carers: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

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.

15 Jun 2020, 3:51 p.m. Local Government: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what discussions he has had with local authority leaders on the implementation of regional covid-19 lockdowns.

Answer (Simon Clarke)

My Department has been working with the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and the Department of Health and Social Care to develop a framework for the local management of further outbreaks. In addition, all upper tier local authorities have been asked to develop local outbreak control plans based on the existing statutory responsibilities of their Directors of Public Health. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, alongside other relevant departments, is considering whether further powers are required for local authorities to manage future outbreaks in line with these plans.

15 Jun 2020, 3:50 p.m. Local Government Finance: Durham Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Simon Clarke)

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.

10 Jun 2020, 4:54 p.m. Internet: Safety Mary Kelly Foy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the timescale is for the introduction of the Online Harms Bill.

Answer (Caroline Dinenage)

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.

9 Jun 2020, 9:14 a.m. Drugs: Organised Crime Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

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.

8 Jun 2020, 2:48 p.m. Offences against Children: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Victoria Atkins)

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.

8 Jun 2020, 2:46 p.m. Domestic Abuse: Children Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Victoria Atkins)

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.

3 Jun 2020, 8:36 p.m. Coronavirus: Hearing Impaired Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Jo Churchill)

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

3 Jun 2020, 8:36 p.m. Coronavirus: Hearing Impaired Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Jo Churchill)

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

6 May 2020, 1:32 p.m. Hearing Impaired: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the Government Equalities Office is taking steps to ensure that duties under the Equality Act 2010 in relation to the provision of accessible information for people who (a) deaf and (b) have hearing loss are maintained during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Justin Tomlinson)

The Government is committed to ensuring deaf people and people who have hearing loss can fully participate and play a full role in society. We support initiatives aimed at improving understanding of the needs of deaf people and people who have hearing loss and how the barriers they face can be removed, as well as giving them more say in how they access services.

We worked with the BBC to introduce a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter on Monday 16 March to accompany the Prime Minister’s daily coronavirus press conference. The BSL interpreter is available on the BBC News Channel and BBC iPlayer. We continue to work with the BBC to ensure there is a BSL interpreter in our daily updates on coronavirus and are prioritising the exploration of additional methods to ensure that all disabled people have access to pertinent communication in accessible formats.

21 Apr 2020, 3:17 p.m. Charities: Non-domestic Rates Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Jesse Norman)

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.

13 Mar 2020, 12:01 p.m. Local Government: Coronavirus Mary Kelly Foy

Question

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.

Answer (Christopher Pincher)

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.