Mick Whitley Portrait

Mick Whitley

Labour - Birkenhead


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Investing in Children and Young People
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 193 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 224 Noes - 0
Speeches
Tuesday 21st September 2021
Working People’s Finances: Government Policy

I welcome the opportunity to say clearly to the Government that their current pursuit of benefit cuts and tax hikes, …

Written Answers
Monday 20th September 2021
Universal Credit
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of …
Early Day Motions
Friday 10th September 2021
Trodelvy
That this House welcomes the news that Trodelvy, a new treatment for women living with incurable metastatic triple negative breast …
Bills
None available
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 18th January 2021
2. (b) Any other support not included in Category 2(a)
Name of donor: Unite the Union
Address of donor: Jack Jones House, 2 Churchill Way, Liverpool L3 8EF
Amount of …
EDM signed
Tuesday 14th September 2021
Introducing a Wealth Tax
That this House notes that almost a quarter of all household wealth in the UK is held by the richest …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 5th February 2020
National Minimum Wage Bill 2019-21
A Bill to make provision about the national minimum wage; and for connected purposes.

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Mick Whitley has voted in 251 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
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Debates during the 2019 Parliament

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

Sparring Partners
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(7 debate interactions)
Amanda Solloway (Conservative)
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
(5 debate interactions)
Robert Buckland (Conservative)
(5 debate interactions)
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View all Mick Whitley's debates

Birkenhead Petitions

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

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

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

Petition Debates Contributed

Bring in a law which enforces professional football clubs to have at least 51% fan ownership similar to how the Bundesliga operates this rule.

The Government should use the recently established fan led review of football to introduce an Independent Football Regulator in England to put fans back at the heart of our national game. This should happen by December 2021.

Government should support vulnerable children & #endchildfoodpoverty by implementing 3 recommendations from the National Food Strategy to expand access to Free School Meals, provide meals & activities during holidays to stop holiday hunger & increase the value of and expand the Healthy Start scheme

In the event of a spike we would like you not to close gyms as a measure to stop any spread of Covid. Also for gyms to not be put in the same group as pubs in terms of risk or importance. Gyms are following strict guidelines and most members are following rules in a sober manner.

Isolation essential to the Government’s strategy for fighting coronavirus, and UK citizens must remain healthy and exercise whilst keeping adequate distance between people. The Government should allow golf courses to open so families or individuals can play golf in order to exercise safely.

As the Coronavirus escalates, there are concerns that a trade deal between the UK Government and the US deal might not exempt our NHS, leaving it vulnerable to privatisation and in direct contradiction to promises this would not happen.


Latest EDMs signed by Mick Whitley

10th September 2021
Mick Whitley signed this EDM on Tuesday 14th September 2021

Introducing a Wealth Tax

Tabled by: Richard Burgon (Labour - Leeds East)
That this House notes that almost a quarter of all household wealth in the UK is held by the richest one per cent. of the population; further notes that the wealth of UK billionaires increased by £106 billion since the start of the pandemic; believes that it is unjust that …
24 signatures
(Most recent: 23 Sep 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 19
Independent: 2
Alba Party: 1
Green Party: 1
Liberal Democrat: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
10th September 2021
Mick Whitley signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Friday 10th September 2021

Trodelvy

Tabled by: Mick Whitley (Labour - Birkenhead)
That this House welcomes the news that Trodelvy, a new treatment for women living with incurable metastatic triple negative breast cancer, has been licensed through Project Orbis for use in Great Britain; expresses concern that women now face a delay before they can access the drug and potentially miss out …
19 signatures
(Most recent: 22 Sep 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 12
Liberal Democrat: 3
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Conservative: 1
Green Party: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
Independent: 1
View All Mick Whitley's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Mick Whitley, 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.


Mick Whitley has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Mick Whitley has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Mick Whitley has not introduced any legislation before Parliament


187 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
16th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the oral contribution of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Climate Change and Corporate Responsibility of 11 March 2021, Official Report, column HL 1803, what assessment his Department has made of the potential role that the GeoEngine technology being developed by Titan Electricity could play in decarbonising the process of sour and acid natural gas extraction.

BEIS engineering experts met with Titan Electricity at a meeting on the 5th July to discuss their geo-engine concept and its use in removing hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide from sour and acid natural gas.

Technologies similar to the geo-engine could help achieve the ambitious decarbonisation targets set in the North Sea Transition Deal for offshore gas published by BEIS in March. This commits the UK offshore oil and gas sector to a carbon dioxide production emission reduction of 10% in 2025, 25% in 2027, and 50% in 2030 compared to a 2018 baseline.

The Department does not specify the equipment used on gas rigs however, this being a matter solely for the individual scheme developers.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the (a) financial and (b) logistical support available to small and medium-sized enterprises involved in the development of net-zero technologies.

Small and medium-sized businesses have a vital role in developing the technologies needed to deliver net zero. There is a wide range of financial and logistical support available to aid them in doing so.

The Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, a £1 billion fund announced in my Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, aims to accelerate the commercialisation of low-carbon technologies, systems and business models in power, buildings, and industry. Funding is available for projects across the UK for companies of all sizes. Within the portfolio, the ‘Energy Entrepreneurs Fund’ particularly aims to assist small and medium sized enterprises, including start-ups. Those companies that are selected will receive acceleration support.

More widely, Innovate UK (IUK) acts as the prime channel through which the Government incentivises business-led technology innovation. Its role is to fund business-led innovation through the allocation of competitively awarded grants, delivered through competitions. Through their Knowledge Transfer Network and Innovate UK EDGE, IUK help connect innovative businesses with the right partners, expertise, facilities, financiers and influencers to help them bring their ideas to market, grow and scale their companies, and build collaborations, partnerships and supply chains.

In addition, the Government established a network of Catapult Centres in 2011 to commercialise new and emerging technologies in areas where there are large global market opportunities and a critical mass of UK capability to take advantage of them. There are nine Catapults, across 40 locations throughout the UK, supporting a broad range of technologies. The Catapult Centres have supported in excess of 8000 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Between 2014 and the third quarter of 2020 a total of £160m has been invested into clean technology businesses by equity funds backed by the British Business Bank. The Bank crowds in additional private sector capital to support equity investment for small and medium sized enterprises, maximising the impact of government investment.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 7th June 2021 to Question 7763, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential role that the GeoEngine technology being developed by Titan Electricity could play in meeting the decarbonisation targets laid out in the North Sea Transition deal.

BEIS engineering officials have recently discussed with Titan Electricity at a meeting their geo-engine concept.

Technologies similar to the geo-engine could help achieve the ambitious decarbonisation targets set in the North Sea Transition Deal for offshore gas published by BEIS in March. This commits the UK offshore oil and gas sector to a carbon dioxide production emission reduction of 10% in 2025, 25% in 2027, and 50% in 2030 compared to a 2018 baseline.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if officials in his Department will meet representatives of Titan Electricity to discuss the Geo Engine and the potential role it could play in helping to meet national net-zero targets.

Officials from the Department met with Titan Electricity on the 5th July where they discussed the GeoEngine technology and the various BEIS energy innovation competitions that Titan would be eligible to apply for to get funding for further development of the concept. Officials would be pleased to meet with Titan again if they would find another meeting helpful, although for any live competitions Titan should engage through the standard process.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that people with (a) physical and (b) learning disabilities are aware of their consumer rights when dealing with energy providers.

The Government, and the energy Regulator Ofgem, has a duty to protect the interests of electricity and gas consumers and to have specific regard to the interests of vulnerable consumers, including individuals who are disabled or chronically sick.

Ofgem Supply Licence Conditions require energy companies to treat all customers fairly, including customers in a vulnerable situation.

Ofgem also requires energy companies to maintain a Priority Services Register of vulnerable customers, including people with certain mental health conditions which impact their understanding of a bill. Customers on a Priority Service Register are offered a range of services relating to safety, access and communication free of charge. Full details of who is eligible and the support that can be accessed is available online at: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/extra-help-energy-services/priority-services-register

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has met representatives of energy providers to discuss the steps they are taking to guarantee the equitable treatment of customers with (a) learning and (b) physical disabilities.

Ministers in the Department regularly meet with energy providers to discuss a range of issues, including support for vulnerable energy consumers.

Government, and the energy Regulator Ofgem, has a duty to protect the interests of electricity and gas consumers and to have specific regard to the interests of vulnerable consumers, including individuals who are disabled or chronically sick.

Ofgem Supply Licence Conditions require energy companies to treat all customers fairly, including customers in a vulnerable situation. Ofgem also requires energy companies to maintain a Priority Services Register of vulnerable customers, including people with certain mental health conditions which impact their understanding of a bill. Customers on a Priority Service Register are offered a range of services relating to safety, access and communication free of charge. Full details of who is eligible and the support that can be accessed is available online at: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/extra-help-energy-services/priority-services-register

Ofgem monitors energy company performance with their requirements through their Social Obligations Reporting. The latest report can be found online at: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/system/files/docs/2019/09/vulnerable_consumers_in_the_energy_market_2019_final.pdf.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the data-set released by the Green New Deal UK group on 19 April 2021 and based on the European Climate Foundation’s 2018 report, Unlocking the Job Potential of Zero Carbon, what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that at least (a) 1580 green jobs are created within two years and (b) 4484 green jobs are created within 10 years in Birkenhead constituency.

As we rebuild, we must build back better, greener, and faster. This means supporting green jobs, levelling up, accelerating our path to net zero, and creating long-term advantage for the UK.

Spanning clean energy, buildings, transport, nature and innovative technologies, the Ten Point Plan will mobilise £12 billion of government investment to unlock three times as much private sector investment by 2030. In doing so we will support a further 90,000 green jobs across the UK by 2024, and up to 250,000 by 2030. Job estimates at a constituency level are not available.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what additional funding he plans to allocate to local authorities to support the creation of new jobs in the low-carbon sector.

It has not proved possible to respond to the Hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department plans to allocate funding for a pilot trialling hydrogen-based steelmaking in the UK.

The Government recognises the importance of research and development in helping to transform the steel sector so that it can play a vital role in developing a cleaner, greener economy in the UK.

Decarbonising UK industry is a core part of the Government’s ambitious plan for the green industrial revolution. The Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, published on 17 March, commits to work with the Steel Council to consider the implications of the recommendation of the Climate Change Committee to ‘set targets for ore-based steelmaking to reach near-zero emissions by 2035’.

Our current Government initiatives include:

  • Up to £66m as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, to help key foundation industries, such as steel, develop innovative technology to reduce energy and resource use;
  • £22m to the Materials Processing Institute in Teesside to deliver a R&D programme of transformative manufacturing - to help UK steel and metals sector improve efficiencies, cut emissions and ultimately boost its global competitive edge;
  • Plans to establish a Net Zero Hydrogen Fund (previously Low Carbon Hydrogen Production Fund): with £240m of capital co-investment out to 2024/25. This will support at-scale hydrogen production projects, allowing companies, such as steel producers, the potential to access to secure supplies of lower cost hydrogen;
  • More broadly, the £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio provides funding for low carbon technologies and systems to support decarbonising our power, homes and industry as set out in the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the progress made in (a) Germany, (b) Sweden and (c) China on hydrogen-based steelmaking.

Hydrogen-based steelmaking is one potential way to decarbonise steel production. Decarbonising UK industry is a core part of the government’s ambitious plan for the green industrial revolution and, as part of the UK’s ongoing engagement in key international initiatives focused on industry decarbonisation, we are engaging with a range of stakeholders in Germany, Sweden and China (as well as other countries) to better understand the latest plans to decarbonise steel production. This includes engagement under Mission Innovation, the Clean Energy Ministerial, and the Leadership Group for Industry Transition.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to encourage UK firms and manufacturers to use British steel.

The Department is actively supporting the UK steel sector to ensure it is in the best position to benefit from future market opportunities, including domestic opportunities which are estimated to be worth £3.8 billion a year by 2030.

We have published a steel pipeline signalling upcoming steel requirements for national infrastructure, which are estimated to require around 5 million tonnes of steel over the next decade.

We have established a new joint industry and BEIS Steel Procurement Taskforce (launched on 12 March) with the aim of working with the sector to promote the unique selling points of UK steel and explore how best to support and position the industry for success in forthcoming major public contracts.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits using hydrogen-based steelmaking to help the (a) British steel industry to decarbonise and (b) UK to meet its target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Decarbonising UK industry is a core part of the government’s ambitious plan for the green industrial revolution. The Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy[1], published on 17 March, commits government to work with the Steel Council to consider the implications of the recommendation of the Climate Change Committee to ‘set targets for ore-based steelmaking to reach near-zero emissions by 2035’. Hydrogen, electrification, and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) are the main technological options being examined as part of this process. The industry decarbonisation pathways technical annex of the strategy (pg. 153-155) presents two possible options for the decarbonisation of the iron and steel industry:

  • The first option shows fuel switching to hydrogen and electric arc furnace. This suggests abatement potential from hydrogen fuel switching of 3.9 MtCO2e and 3.5 MtCO2e of electric fuel switching by 2050.
  • The second option shows the abatement potential of carbon capture utilisation and storage (abatement of 6.7 Mt CO2e).

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/industrial-decarbonisation-strategy

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help the British steel industry to decarbonise.

Decarbonising UK industry is a core part of the government’s ambitious plan for the green industrial revolution.

The Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy published on 17 March, commits to work with the Steel Council to consider the implications of the recommendation of the Climate Change Committee to ‘set targets for ore-based steelmaking to reach near-zero emissions by 2035’.

Our recent and on-going work to support the steel sector includes:

o Announcing the £250m Clean Steel Fund to support the decarbonisation of the steel sector, including its transition to new low carbon technologies and processes.

o The Industrial Energy Transformation Fund. This £315m fund aims to support businesses, including those in the steel sector, with high energy use to cut their bills and reduce carbon emissions.

o The newly re-constituted Steel Council offers the forum for government, industry and trade unions to work in partnership on the shared objective of creating an achievable, long-term plan to support the sector’s transition to a competitive, sustainable and low carbon future.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of hydrogen-based steelmaking on the commercial viability of the British steel industry.

Our new Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy sets out, for the first time, the Government’s comprehensive assessment of how industry, including the steel sector, can decarbonise in line with net zero, in a way that supports competitiveness and clean growth.

The newly re-constituted Steel Council offers the forum for government, industry and trade unions to work in partnership on the shared objective of creating an achievable, long-term plan to support the sector’s transition to a competitive, sustainable and low carbon future. The Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy commits to work with the Steel Council to consider the implications of the recommendation of the Climate Change Committee to ‘set targets for ore-based steelmaking to reach near-zero emissions by 2035’. Hydrogen is one of the technological approaches being considered as part of this process.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what weighting he plans to give to the potential regional economic benefits of a project for domestic and industrial heat decarbonisation in the selection of track one and phase one carbon capture and storage projects.

Phase-1 of the Government’s Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) Cluster Sequencing Process aims to sequence industrial clusters for decarbonisation over the next decade. The focus of the process will be in identifying those clusters most suited for deployment of CCUS from the mid-2020s, whilst also delivering wider benefits such as economic benefits and learnings that will enable the CCUS to be deployed at scale in the future. The Department is finalising the evaluation criteria and weightings, building on the weighting ranges that were set out in our recent consultation.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what weighting he plans give to (a) cost and (b) deliverability by 2026 in the selection of track one carbon capture and storage projects.

Phase-1 of the Government’s Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) Cluster Sequencing Process aims to sequence industrial clusters for decarbonisation over the next decade. The focus of the process will be in identifying those clusters most suited for deployment of CCUS from the mid-2020s, whilst also delivering wider benefits such as economic benefits and learnings that will enable the CCUS to be deployed at scale in the future. The Department is finalising the evaluation criteria and weightings, building on the weighting ranges that were set out in our recent consultation.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that industry in the North West has access to carbon capture and storage infrastructure needed to meet regional and national decarbonisation targets by 2026.

As my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution made clear, we are committed to two carbon capture clusters by the mid-2020s and for a further two clusters by 2030. These are expected to be in areas of heavy industry such as the North East, the Humber, North West, Scotland, and Wales. In February we published a consultation on a potential approach to sequencing the deployment of clusters; we have gathered and considered stakeholder feedback and intend to launch Phase-1 of that process shortly. In order to support this deployment, the Government has announced a £1 billion CCS Infrastructure Fund, alongside £240 million to fund low-carbon hydrogen, and is developing business models across power, industry and hydrogen to encourage private investment.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support the development of green infrastructure projects in Merseyside.

Since 2017 the Government has funded the North West Energy Hub, hosted by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. The Hub works with LEPs and local authorities in their region to help them to identify a pipeline of low carbon projects and provide practical support for the initial stages of project development.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the level of financial support available to pubs that do not serve food in areas that are under tier 2 local covid alert level restrictions.

We are providing hospitality businesses in Tier 2 areas with a wide package of support to help them through the current crisis. This includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, government-backed loans, Local Restrictions Support Grants and additional funding provided to Local Authorities to support businesses. On 1 December, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister also announced an additional £1,000 Christmas grant for ‘wet-led pubs’ in tiers 2 and 3.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of increasing the level of financial support available to pubs that do not serve food in areas that are under tier 2 local covid alert level restrictions.

We are providing hospitality businesses in Tiers 2 and 3 with a wide package of support to help them through the current crisis. This includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, government-backed loans, Local Restrictions Support Grants and additional funding provided to Local Authorities to support businesses. On 1 December, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister also announced an additional £1,000 Christmas grant for ‘wet-led pubs’ in tiers 2 and 3.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of banning the sale and use of fireworks after 5 November 2020 for the remainder of the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown period of restrictions.

We remain committed to promoting the safe and considerate use of fireworks through the effective legislative framework and through non-legislative measures – an action also recommended by the House of Commons Petitions Committee. This has included running a public awareness campaign on fireworks for this fireworks season involving safety charities, animal welfare organisations and retail bodies.

The public must follow the latest Covid-19 restrictions at all times, including when using fireworks.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has plans to introduce additional regulations on the sale of fireworks.

There is already a comprehensive regulatory framework in place for fireworks that aims to reduce the risks to people and disturbance to animals. Existing legislation controls the sale, availability and use of fireworks, as well as setting a curfew and noise limit.

We remain committed to promoting the safe and considerate use of fireworks through the effective legislative framework and through non-legislative measures.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential effect of the ending of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on levels of job losses in the automotive industry.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was welcomed and widely utilised by the automotive sector. Surveys carried out by the industry body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, showed that during the lockdown earlier this year, the Job Retention Scheme was accessed by 60.6% of the automotive manufacturing workforce in April and by 34.2% of the workforce in May.

In order to support the retention of jobs, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the Job Retention Bonus in June. This will see businesses receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for every previously furloughed employee if they are still employed at the end of January next year.

As part of his Winter Economy Plan, the Chancellor announced the Job Support Scheme, which is designed to protect jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to Covid-19. The Government will pay a third of hours not worked up to a cap (£697.92 per month), with the employer also contributing a third.

In order to protect jobs and UK businesses, we are expanding the Job Support Scheme for businesses legally required to temporarily close their premises as a direct result of Coronavirus restrictions. The Government will provide employers with a grant for employees that have been instructed to cease work, covering two-thirds of their usual wages and subject up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

Employers using the Job Support Scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of projected job losses in the automotive industry in the North West of England in financial year 2020-21 as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

We recognise the challenges facing the automotive industry as a result of Covid-19. Firms can draw upon our package of support, which is one of the most generous and comprehensive globally, with a fiscal response so far totalling £160 billion.

The Government has been working closely with key industry stakeholders throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, to understand how we can support the resilience and continued competitiveness of the UK’s automotive manufacturing sector at this time.

At the same time, we are continuing our long-standing programme of investment in the automotive sector. To date, the Government has invested £497 million through the Advanced Propulsion Centre’s innovation grants to develop the next generation of low carbon technologies, which have helped to secure or create?over 40,000 jobs?and have saved around 225 million tonnes of CO2.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of potential job losses in the automotive industry in the event that the UK and EU fail to secure a trade agreement before the end of the transition period.

The Government remains committed to reaching an agreement with the EU. There are large areas of convergence and we will keep working to bridge the gaps.

The Government is continuing to engage extensively with business and industry about how to prepare for changes to trade at the end of the transition period. Many businesses have already begun preparing for life outside the Customs Union and we urge others to do the same. This includes getting an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number and making plans for completing customs declarations, where traders will need a customs agent or their own software.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he has taken to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest in the awarding of contracts to develop a vaccine for covid-19.

All decisions on spend are made in line with expectations in Managing Public Money.

External experts are required to complete a conflict of interest declaration; these are then assessed on a case-by-case basis and where conflicts arise, those individuals are required to recuse themselves from the decision-making process.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department plans to ensure that no employee is dismissed from their job as a result of experiencing long covid symptoms.

Employees with the necessary qualifying service who consider that they have been dismissed unfairly may complain to an employment tribunal. The case of an employee who has been dismissed as a result of health issues clearly demands special consideration. For example, a tribunal will expect the employer to have considered whether there was suitable alternative work available. Employees may also be able to seek redress through the civil courts or employment tribunals if their dismissal breaches the terms of their contracts, for instance, because the employer has failed to comply with provisions relating to sickness absence.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential benefits to local economies of awarding contracts for the construction of Royal Fleet Auxiliary fleet solid support ships to British shipyards.

The Department recognises the important role that naval procurement programmes play in creating construction opportunities in British shipyards and across the marine engineering supply chain. The procurement of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary fleet solid support ships is a matter for the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The Department works closely with the MoD to support the opportunities for UK construction of these vessels through the MoD led National Shipbuilding Strategy.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the level of safety in the meat industry; what the evidential basis is for the Government's policy on the risk of covid-19 infection among workers in the meat industry; and what steps he is taking to protect those workers from that risk.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has convened a cross-Government taskforce, and all partners are working collaboratively in that group.

The Health and Safety Executive - who are also a member of the Taskforce are responsible for the health and safety of workers.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what impact assessment on workers in the meat industry the Government undertook of the effects of reducing the two metre social distancing rule.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has convened a cross-Government taskforce, and all partners are working collaboratively in that group.

The Health and Safety Executive - who are also a member of the Taskforce are responsible for the health and safety of workers.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make representations to P&O Ferries’ owners DP World on the 1,100 redundancies planned in the UK on international roll-on roll-off ferry routes.

We understand this is a very difficult time for employees and businesses across the UK, particularly those impacted by the sharp reduction in transportation and travel. The Government has made an unprecedented support package available to businesses to avoid job losses, where possible. Measures include access to billions of pounds of loans, grants, guarantees, and tax deferrals, as well as extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to October 2020.

The Government will continue to engage with businesses and do everything we can to support jobs as we re-open the economy.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of potential effect of the Government's decision to limit the access of Huawei to the 5G network on the ongoing assessment by the Office for Nuclear Regulation of nuclear reactor design by CGN.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is an independent regulator; it is responsible for defining the principles that it will apply in performing its statutory duties. The ONR’s safety and security assessment principles reflect international relevant good practice in safety and security, and apply to the assessment of all reactors in the UK, whether in design, construction or operation. These principles have been published on the ONR’s website at: www.onr.org.uk.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what representations the Government has received from the US (a) Administration and (b) security agencies on the involvement of China General Nuclear Power Group in the UK civil nuclear sector.

The US is a close ally; we regularly discuss a range of issues with the US authorities. However, it would not be appropriate to comment publicly on the detail of these discussions.

Nuclear security is a top priority for the UK Government. All investment involving critical infrastructure, including nuclear, is subject to thorough scrutiny and needs to satisfy our robust legal, regulatory, and national security requirements, which are world-leading. All civil nuclear operators are answerable to a robust and independent regulator – the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what representations the Government has received from (a) the US Administration and (b) US security agencies following their decision to add CGN to its entity list of blacklisted companies.

The US is a close ally; we regularly discuss a range of issues with the US authorities. However, it would not be appropriate to comment publicly on the detail of these discussions.

Nuclear security is a top priority for the UK Government. All investment involving critical infrastructure, including nuclear, is subject to thorough scrutiny and needs to satisfy our robust legal, regulatory, and national security requirements, which are world-leading. All civil nuclear operators are answerable to a robust and independent regulator – the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of energy suppliers enrolled in the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

The participation threshold for energy suppliers will be lowered from 200,000 domestic customer accounts in 19/20 to 150,000 customer accounts in 20/21, covering around 97% of the consumer energy market. Smaller suppliers can join the scheme voluntarily. We will consult on the future of the scheme, including on further reductions to supplier thresholds, in the first half of this year.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing restrictions on malicious online content intended to trigger photosensitive epilepsy.

We are protecting epilepsy sufferers from malicious content online through the online harms regulatory framework and a review of criminal law. As part of the online harms regulatory framework, companies will need to have robust systems and processes in place to tackle illegal content on their services. This includes tackling illegal online abuse which provokes epilepsy seizures. Companies who offer high-risk, high-reach services will also need to take action with regard to legal but harmful content. The Online Safety Bill, which will give effect to the regulatory framework, will be ready this year.

The Government has sponsored a Law Commission review of harmful online communications, which is considering whether current law needs updating to account for online abuses, including abuse targeted at epilepsy sufferers. The Law Commission has consulted on provisional reforms and will issue final recommendations later this year, which we will carefully consider.

11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the potential merits of allowing adult gaming centres to reopen alongside licensed betting operators when the January 2021 covid-19 national lockdown is lifted.

The Prime Minister announced on Monday 22 February that indoor entertainment venues, which will include Adult Gaming Centres, will open at Step 3 of the roadmap, not before 17 May. The design of the roadmap has been informed by the latest scientific evidence and seeks a balance between our key social and economic priorities, while preserving the health and safety of the country.

At next week’s Budget the Chancellor will set out the next phase in our economic support package to reflect the steps set out in the Prime Minister’s roadmap to easing restrictions, tailoring support for individuals and businesses to reflect the changing public health restrictions.

The government recognises that the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be extremely challenging for businesses, including in the arcades sector. That is why we have introduced a number of unprecedented financial packages to help to ease pressures and help businesses navigate through this crisis, including extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, introducing £4.6 billion in lockdown grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses and providing further discretionary funding for Local Authorities.

We are continuing to work with organisations in the land-based gambling sector to understand the impacts and how we may be able to support them. Currently, we estimate that up to 5% of adult gaming centres (AGCs) have ceased trading with roughly 10.1% of jobs lost in the past twelve months. This estimate is based on recent discussions with Bacta, the trade association for the arcades sector. We know that there are also significant job losses across the land-based gambling sector from discussions with the Betting and Gaming Council and the Bingo Association.

As set out in response to question 149200 on 9 February, the government has published guidance to help businesses understand how to make workplaces Covid-secure and help tackle the spread of the virus. AGCs should follow the shops and branches guidance in addition to Bacta’s specific guidance for FECs and AGCs to ensure they can operate as safely as possible when they are open.

The shops and branches workplace guidance was intended as guidance for those businesses on how they could operate safely when the regulations permitted them to do so after the first national lockdown and beyond. It does not have a direct bearing on the timing for reopening of the businesses included in the guidance.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the financial viability of adult gaming centres.

The Prime Minister announced on Monday 22 February that indoor entertainment venues, which will include Adult Gaming Centres, will open at Step 3 of the roadmap, not before 17 May. The design of the roadmap has been informed by the latest scientific evidence and seeks a balance between our key social and economic priorities, while preserving the health and safety of the country.

At next week’s Budget the Chancellor will set out the next phase in our economic support package to reflect the steps set out in the Prime Minister’s roadmap to easing restrictions, tailoring support for individuals and businesses to reflect the changing public health restrictions.

The government recognises that the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be extremely challenging for businesses, including in the arcades sector. That is why we have introduced a number of unprecedented financial packages to help to ease pressures and help businesses navigate through this crisis, including extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, introducing £4.6 billion in lockdown grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses and providing further discretionary funding for Local Authorities.

We are continuing to work with organisations in the land-based gambling sector to understand the impacts and how we may be able to support them. Currently, we estimate that up to 5% of adult gaming centres (AGCs) have ceased trading with roughly 10.1% of jobs lost in the past twelve months. This estimate is based on recent discussions with Bacta, the trade association for the arcades sector. We know that there are also significant job losses across the land-based gambling sector from discussions with the Betting and Gaming Council and the Bingo Association.

As set out in response to question 149200 on 9 February, the government has published guidance to help businesses understand how to make workplaces Covid-secure and help tackle the spread of the virus. AGCs should follow the shops and branches guidance in addition to Bacta’s specific guidance for FECs and AGCs to ensure they can operate as safely as possible when they are open.

The shops and branches workplace guidance was intended as guidance for those businesses on how they could operate safely when the regulations permitted them to do so after the first national lockdown and beyond. It does not have a direct bearing on the timing for reopening of the businesses included in the guidance.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with representatives of the gambling industry on the effect of the covid-19 lockdowns and local covid-19 restrictions on levels of employment in (a) the gambling industry and (b) adult gaming centres.

The Prime Minister announced on Monday 22 February that indoor entertainment venues, which will include Adult Gaming Centres, will open at Step 3 of the roadmap, not before 17 May. The design of the roadmap has been informed by the latest scientific evidence and seeks a balance between our key social and economic priorities, while preserving the health and safety of the country.

At next week’s Budget the Chancellor will set out the next phase in our economic support package to reflect the steps set out in the Prime Minister’s roadmap to easing restrictions, tailoring support for individuals and businesses to reflect the changing public health restrictions.

The government recognises that the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be extremely challenging for businesses, including in the arcades sector. That is why we have introduced a number of unprecedented financial packages to help to ease pressures and help businesses navigate through this crisis, including extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, introducing £4.6 billion in lockdown grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses and providing further discretionary funding for Local Authorities.

We are continuing to work with organisations in the land-based gambling sector to understand the impacts and how we may be able to support them. Currently, we estimate that up to 5% of adult gaming centres (AGCs) have ceased trading with roughly 10.1% of jobs lost in the past twelve months. This estimate is based on recent discussions with Bacta, the trade association for the arcades sector. We know that there are also significant job losses across the land-based gambling sector from discussions with the Betting and Gaming Council and the Bingo Association.

As set out in response to question 149200 on 9 February, the government has published guidance to help businesses understand how to make workplaces Covid-secure and help tackle the spread of the virus. AGCs should follow the shops and branches guidance in addition to Bacta’s specific guidance for FECs and AGCs to ensure they can operate as safely as possible when they are open.

The shops and branches workplace guidance was intended as guidance for those businesses on how they could operate safely when the regulations permitted them to do so after the first national lockdown and beyond. It does not have a direct bearing on the timing for reopening of the businesses included in the guidance.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing statutory restrictions on the amount that telephone and broadband providers can charge customers in call-out and repair fees.

The Government is not currently considering restrictions on call-out and repair fees in telecoms. However, Ofcom, the independent telecoms regulator has a statutory duty to further the interests of consumers, and it has brought in a number of measures to protect consumers in relation to repairs and when things go wrong with their services.

For instance, in April 2019, Ofcom introduced a voluntary automatic compensation scheme, which BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Zen Internet, Utility Warehouse, and Hyperoptic have all signed up to. Through this scheme, customers of the companies that have signed up will automatically receive compensation for delayed repairs following loss of service (£8 for each calendar day); missed appointments by an engineer/cancellations with less than 24 hours notice (£25 per missed appointment) and delayed start of a service (£5 for each calendar day)

Furthermore, Ofcom obliges communication providers to prioritise repairs for disabled people, and to ensure that these charges are not higher than standard charges.

Alongside these measures, last year Ofcom also secured a set of ‘Fairness for Customers’ commitments from all the major communication providers. These commitments are designed to embed a culture of fairness within the industry. For instance, providers have committed to give their customers fair deals, and provide the support needed by their vulnerable customers. Ofcom will be publishing a report on industry progress against these commitments in Q4 2020/21.

12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department made an assessment of the potential merits of incorporating the £15 voucher scheme for local shops and supermarkets into the Healthy Start voucher scheme prior to the recent re-opening of schools during the covid-19 outbreak.

During the period of school opening restrictions, schools continued to provide free school meal support to pupils eligible for benefits related free school meals and who were learning at home. Extra funding was provided to support schools to provide lunch parcels or meals to eligible children. Schools were free to decide the best approach for their free school meal pupils. They could provide lunch parcels, locally arranged vouchers for local shops or supermarkets, or they could use the national voucher scheme.

The Healthy Start scheme helps to encourage a healthy diet for pregnant women, babies and young children from low income households. Vouchers are available for pregnant women and mothers with young children that meet the eligibility criteria, with further information available here: https://www.gov.uk/healthy-start/eligibility. In contrast, free school meals are available for eligible school age children. Further information on this is available here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals.

At the time, Healthy Start vouchers could be used to purchase fruit, vegetables, milk and infant formula, in order to support a healthy diet, but not the full range of foods needed to provide a balanced meal for a child at lunch time.

A range of options were considered, including using the Department of Health and Social Care’s Healthy Start vouchers. However, these are aimed at different eligibility groups and were not designed to offer the full range of foods necessary to support a healthy, nutritious meal to learn, concentrate and achieve.

Given the pace required to set up support for free school meal pupils learning at home, this would not be considered a feasible option for delivery.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the guidance issued by the Government entitled COVID-19 Response: Spring 2021, on what date his Department plans to (a) announce and (b) conclude the review into the return of students in higher education that do not need to take part in practical teaching and do not require access to specialist facilities or equipment as part of their studies.

Following the review into when the remaining higher education students can return to in-person teaching and learning, the government has announced that the remaining students should return to in-person teaching no earlier than 17 May 2021, alongside Step 3 of the roadmap. Students and institutions will be given at least a week’s notice of any further return in accordance with the timing of Step 3 of the roadmap.

The government roadmap is designed to maintain a cautious approach to the easing of restrictions to reduce public health risks and ensure that we can maintain progress towards full reopening. However, the government recognises the difficulties and disruption that this may cause for many students and their families and that is why the government is making a further £15 million of additional student hardship funding available for this academic year 2020/21. In total we have made an additional £85 million of funding available for student hardship.

We are supporting universities to provide regular twice weekly asymptomatic testing for all students and staff on-site and, from May, at home. This will help break chains of transmission of the virus.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will meet with (a) university leaders and (b) student representatives to discuss (i) tuition fees refunds for university students who are participating in remote learning during the covid-19 outbreak and (ii) rent rebates for university students who are not able to return to university accommodation.

This has been a very difficult time for students, and the government is working with the sector to make sure all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies.

On tuition fees, the government’s clear and stated expectation is that universities should maintain the quality and quantity of tuition and seek to ensure that all students regardless of their background have the resources to study remotely. This is more important than ever at the moment with the vast majority of students studying solely online. The sector has put in significant resources and worked hard to provide and prepare learning materials for this academic year and there are some fantastic and innovative approaches to delivering high-quality online learning.

Universities are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees, up to a maximum of £9,250 for approved (fee cap) institutions. Maximum fees have been frozen for the current 2020/21 academic year and also for 2021/22, the fourth year in succession fees have been frozen. The Office for Students (OfS), as regulator for higher education (HE) providers in England, has made it clear that HE providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and academic standards, which set out requirements to ensure that courses are high-quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected, regardless of whether a provider is delivering its courses through face-to-face teaching, remote online learning, or a combination of both.

We continue to regularly engage the sector in discussion on this issue, including student representative groups, and I met with the National Union of Students and OfS student panel only last week. I wrote to the OfS on 13 January 2021 outlining the government’s expectations of the higher education sector following the new national lockdown. Following this, the OfS wrote to provider Accountable Officers, setting out the actions they are taking in connection with providers’ compliance to existing regulatory requirements. We expect providers to ensure that continuing and prospective students receive the clear, accurate and timely information needed to make informed decisions.

Whether or not an individual student is entitled to a refund of fees will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between the provider and student. If students have concerns, there is a process in place. They should first raise their concerns with their university. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

With regards to accommodation, universities and private accommodation providers are autonomous and are responsible for setting their own rent agreements. The government plays no direct role in the provision of student residential accommodation.

However, we recently announced up to £20 million to help students most in need of support in these exceptional circumstances, for example those struggling to cover accommodation costs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, in addition to an existing £256 million universities can use to help students. The government urges universities and private accommodation providers to be fair in their decisions about rent charges for this period. We welcome the news that a number of universities and large companies have already offered rent rebates for students that have been asked to stay away from their accommodation.

The OIA website is available here: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published guidance on consumer contracts, cancellation and refunds affected by COVID-19. This sets out the CMA’s view on how the law operates to help consumers understand their rights and help businesses treat their customers fairly. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cma-to-investigate-concerns-about-cancellation-policies-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-consumer-contracts-cancellation-and-refunds.

The OfS has also published guidance on student consumer protection during the COVID-19 outbreak, which is available here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/for-students/student-and-consumer-protection-during-coronavirus/.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what his Department’s policy is on (a) tuition fees refunds for university students who are participating in remote learning during the covid-19 outbreak and (b) rent rebates for university students who are not able to return to university accommodation.

This has been a very difficult time for students, and the government is working with the sector to make sure all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies.

On tuition fees, the government’s clear and stated expectation is that universities should maintain the quality and quantity of tuition and seek to ensure that all students regardless of their background have the resources to study remotely. This is more important than ever at the moment with the vast majority of students studying solely online. The sector has put in significant resources and worked hard to provide and prepare learning materials for this academic year and there are some fantastic and innovative approaches to delivering high-quality online learning.

Universities are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees, up to a maximum of £9,250 for approved (fee cap) institutions. Maximum fees have been frozen for the current 2020/21 academic year and also for 2021/22, the fourth year in succession fees have been frozen. The Office for Students (OfS), as regulator for higher education (HE) providers in England, has made it clear that HE providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and academic standards, which set out requirements to ensure that courses are high-quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected, regardless of whether a provider is delivering its courses through face-to-face teaching, remote online learning, or a combination of both.

We continue to regularly engage the sector in discussion on this issue, including student representative groups, and I met with the National Union of Students and OfS student panel only last week. I wrote to the OfS on 13 January 2021 outlining the government’s expectations of the higher education sector following the new national lockdown. Following this, the OfS wrote to provider Accountable Officers, setting out the actions they are taking in connection with providers’ compliance to existing regulatory requirements. We expect providers to ensure that continuing and prospective students receive the clear, accurate and timely information needed to make informed decisions.

Whether or not an individual student is entitled to a refund of fees will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between the provider and student. If students have concerns, there is a process in place. They should first raise their concerns with their university. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

With regards to accommodation, universities and private accommodation providers are autonomous and are responsible for setting their own rent agreements. The government plays no direct role in the provision of student residential accommodation.

However, we recently announced up to £20 million to help students most in need of support in these exceptional circumstances, for example those struggling to cover accommodation costs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, in addition to an existing £256 million universities can use to help students. The government urges universities and private accommodation providers to be fair in their decisions about rent charges for this period. We welcome the news that a number of universities and large companies have already offered rent rebates for students that have been asked to stay away from their accommodation.

The OIA website is available here: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published guidance on consumer contracts, cancellation and refunds affected by COVID-19. This sets out the CMA’s view on how the law operates to help consumers understand their rights and help businesses treat their customers fairly. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cma-to-investigate-concerns-about-cancellation-policies-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-consumer-contracts-cancellation-and-refunds.

The OfS has also published guidance on student consumer protection during the COVID-19 outbreak, which is available here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/for-students/student-and-consumer-protection-during-coronavirus/.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to speed up the rollout of digital devices and wi-fi to children who are unable to access remote learning from home.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This includes over 750,000 laptops and tablets that were delivered to schools, trusts and local authorities by the end of last week, with 100,000 of these delivered in the first week of January alone.

We have already sent over 50,000 4G wireless routers, with free data for the academic year, to schools, so that children have access to remote education.

The Department has also partnered with some of the UK’s leading mobile network operators to provide free data to disadvantaged families, which will support access to education resources, including Oak National Academy, and other websites.

Families will benefit from this additional data until July 2021. Schools are able to request free mobile data uplifts via the Get Help with Technology service.

A number of mobile network providers are also progressing the zero-rating of educational resources, such as Oak Academy and BBC Bitesize.

12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will seek to recoup monies paid to private catering firms for the provision of food parcels to disadvantaged young people in the event that the quality of those parcels is deemed to be inadequate.

The Department for Education does not directly contract school catering firms. These contracts are negotiated and held at school, academy trust or local authority level. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, and myself have since held a meeting with a number of catering companies, to be clear that higher standards are expected.

We know there is, understandably, concern about free school meal support during the period that schools will be restricted from opening. Schools can decide how best to support eligible free school meal pupils who are at home. We will provide extra funding to support schools to provide lunch parcels, or locally arranged vouchers. We have also reopened the national voucher scheme from the week commencing 18 January 2021.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he had with university leaders on the adequacy of the support available to students with mental ill-health.

Protecting student and staff wellbeing is vital - these are difficult times and it is important students can still access the mental health and wellbeing support they need. We recognise that many students are facing additional mental health challenges due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is for higher education providers as autonomous bodies to identify and address the needs of their student body and to decide what mental health and wellbeing support to put in place. At the start of, and throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, I have asked universities to prioritise mental health support, and continue to support their students, which has included making services accessible from a distance. We encourage students to stay in touch with their provider’s student support and welfare teams, as these services are likely to continue to be an important source of assistance. Many providers have bolstered their existing mental health services, and adapted delivery mechanisms including reaching out to students who may be more vulnerable.

In October I wrote to Vice Chancellors outlining that student welfare should remain a priority. I have convened a working group of representatives from the higher education and health sectors, specifically to address the current and pressing issues that students are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have also worked with the Office for Students (OfS) to provide Student Space, which has been funded by up to £3 million by the OfS. Student Space is a mental health and wellbeing platform designed to bridge any gaps in support for students arising from this unprecedented situation and works alongside existing services. Ensuring students have access to quality mental health support is my top priority, which is why we asked the OfS to look at extending the platform. I am delighted they have been able to extend the platform to support students for the whole 2020/21 academic year.

Students struggling with their mental health can also access support via online resources from the NHS, Public Health England via the Better Health - Every Mind Matters website, and the mental health charity Mind.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with university leaders on the steps they are taking to ensure that students learning remotely continue to have access to adequate mental health support.

Protecting student and staff wellbeing is vital - these are difficult times and it is important students can still access the mental health and wellbeing support they need. We recognise that many students are facing additional mental health challenges due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is for higher education providers as autonomous bodies to identify and address the needs of their student body and to decide what mental health and wellbeing support to put in place. At the start of, and throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, I have asked universities to prioritise mental health support, and continue to support their students, which has included making services accessible from a distance. We encourage students to stay in touch with their provider’s student support and welfare teams, as these services are likely to continue to be an important source of assistance. Many providers have bolstered their existing mental health services, and adapted delivery mechanisms including reaching out to students who may be more vulnerable.

In October I wrote to Vice Chancellors outlining that student welfare should remain a priority. I have convened a working group of representatives from the higher education and health sectors, specifically to address the current and pressing issues that students are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have also worked with the Office for Students (OfS) to provide Student Space, which has been funded by up to £3 million by the OfS. Student Space is a mental health and wellbeing platform designed to bridge any gaps in support for students arising from this unprecedented situation and works alongside existing services. Ensuring students have access to quality mental health support is my top priority, which is why we asked the OfS to look at extending the platform. I am delighted they have been able to extend the platform to support students for the whole 2020/21 academic year.

Students struggling with their mental health can also access support via online resources from the NHS, Public Health England via the Better Health - Every Mind Matters website, and the mental health charity Mind.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
6th Jan 2021
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 public health risks of students sitting vocational examinations in-person in January.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, meets regularly with my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Chief Medical Officer and Public Health England to discuss all aspects of the safe running of education, including exams, during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The decision to restrict face to face attendance does not suggest that schools, colleges and other educational and childcare settings have become significantly less safe places for learners. Instead, limiting attendance is about supporting the reduction of the overall number of social contacts in our communities.

Schools and colleges have already implemented extensive protective measures, informed by Public Health England advice, to make vocational and technical exams as safe as possible. Public health guidance to support exams from January 2021 has also been published, and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/responsibility-for-autumn-gcse-as-and-a-level-exam-series/public-health-arrangements-for-autumn-exams. This guidance sets out arrangements all types of exam centre should implement when delivering exams to enable them to progress in a way which significantly reduces the risk of COVID-19.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of cancelling examinations for students on vocational training courses and awarding centre-assessed grades in 2020.

Ofqual published analysis of the grades awarded for a number of vocational and technical qualifications (VTQ) in the 2020 spring and summer exam series. It suggests that the profile of outcomes was not unduly influenced by the 2020 awarding process; however, there was a notable increase in the number of top grades being awarded for certain types of qualifications.

The practical assessments contained within many vocational qualifications allows a student to display the necessary skills, aptitude and competence required to enter the workplace. Skills based assessments such as these may not easily be replaced by alternative awarding arrangements and this could potentially delay a student’s readiness for the workplace. We are confident that vocational assessments can go ahead safely with the extensive protective measures already implemented by schools and colleges and we believe it is only right that students are given this opportunity so that they can achieve their ambitions.

We will continue to work with Ofqual, awarding organisations and other stakeholders to discuss the next steps and provide more detail on the way forward for VTQ exams and assessments for February onwards, including ensuring students have a way to progress with as little disruption as possible.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of cancelling examinations for (a) Key Stage Two, (b) GCSE and (c) A-Level students and awarding pupils centre-assessed grades in 2020.

In light of the growth in COVID-19 rates we are seeing as a result of the newly identified strain of the virus, the Government needs to limit attendance at schools and colleges to reduce the number of contacts that we have with people in other households. This is now essential to protect the NHS. This means that we do not think it is possible or fair for examinations in the summer to go ahead as planned.

The department and Ofqual have launched a two-week consultation on how to fairly award all pupils a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives, including consulting specifically on four different approaches for private candidates to receive a grade.

The consultation can be accessed from the Ofqual website and will be open until 29 January.

The restricted attendance in primary schools has also meant primary assessments cannot continue as intended. The statutory key stage 1 and key stage 2 tests and teacher assessments planned for summer 2021, including the key stage 2 tests in reading and mathematics, will be cancelled. We remain determined to ensure that every young person, no matter their age or background, is provided with the education and opportunities they deserve despite the challenges faced by schools. We know that schools will continue to use assessment during the summer term to inform teaching, to enable them to give information to parents on their child’s attainment in their statutory annual report and to support transition to secondary school. We strongly encourage schools to use past test papers in their assessment of pupils.

Primary assessments have a crucial role in supporting pupils to grasp the basics of reading, writing and mathematics and to prepare them for secondary school. As such, these arrangements will apply for summer 2021 only, and the Department is planning for a full programme of primary assessments to take place in the 2021/22 academic year. This will include the introduction of the statutory Reception Baseline Assessment and Multiplication Tables Check as previously announced. We will confirm full details for 2021/22 primary assessments in due course.

6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what (a) support and (b) advice his Department is providing to clinically extremely vulnerable students who are due to sit vocational examinations in January 2021.

The Department for Health and Social Care and Public Health England have published guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19. Alongside this, the Department has also published guidance for schools and further education providers on the phased return to face-to-face education: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools, and: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-education-fe-providers-return-in-january-2021/further-education-fe-providers-return-in-january-2021.

If a student is unable to attend their assessment because they are shielding, they will not be penalised. We are working with Ofqual to ensure that students unable to take their January assessments are treated fairly in comparison with their peers.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason it is his Department's policy that vocational examinations will go ahead in January 2021.

We understand that these are difficult times but students have worked hard and prepared for theses exams and assessments so it is right that schools and colleges are given the option to run them, if they judge that is the right decision. Unlike GCSE and A levels exams that were due to take place this summer, these students’ learning has not yet been disrupted by the new public health measures we have announced to help limit the transmission of COVID-19.

It is important to note that these qualifications are very different from GCSEs and A levels. For some students, they also need to complete a practical assessment to enter into the workplace and it is right that they should have the opportunity to do so, so they are not prevented from progressing onto the next stage of their lives.

No student will be disadvantaged if they are unable take their exam or assessment and there will be no penalty for non-attendance. The department will continue to work with Ofqual to ensure that students who are not able to take assessments in January are treated fairly in comparison with their peers taking similar assessments at other times.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to provide (a) resources and (b) advice to (i) schools and (ii) further education providers that are due to hold vocational examinations in January 2021 to help ensure the safety of students and staff.

The NHS and the department have published the Schools and Colleges handbook, offering guidance on how to conduct rapid testing of staff and students: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/950515/Schools_Colleges_Testing_Handbook_revised_04012021.pdf.

To support this, a total of £78 million has been made available for schools and colleges, which will be paid retrospectively. The amount of funding available will depend on the school’s or college’s size, as this will affect the number of additional staff or additional staff hours required to conduct testing.

We will publish a replacement workforce planning tool that will illustrate the levels of funding available. For colleges with significant financial difficulties, support arrangements (including short-term emergency funding), are in place.

The Department for Health and Social Care and Public Health England have published guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19.

The department has published guidance on restricting attendance during the national lockdown, which includes detailed advice on minimising COVID-19 risks when delivering exams and assessments in January 2021: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/950706/January_2021_FE_operational_guidance_FINAL.pdf. This publication builds on existing guidance on safely implementing the phased return to face-to-face education for schools and FE colleges.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that clinically vulnerable learners are able to continue to access English for Speakers of Other Languages provision during the 2020-21 academic year during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government recognises that language skills are crucial to help people integrate into life in England, as well as to break down barriers to work and career progression. This is why we want to support all adults in England to secure the English language skills they need. We remain committed to the manifesto commitment to boost English language teaching to empower existing migrants and help promote integration into society.

We understand the challenges faced by further education providers due to the implications of the COVID-19 disruption and the issues that remote learning has for some learners. We want to get all further education learners, including English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students, back into education settings as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers and teachers. From Autumn 2020, all learners will return to a full high-quality education programme delivered by their college or post-16 learning provider. We have also introduced a change to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Adult Education Budget (AEB) Funding Rules for 2020-21 academic year, to enable providers to use their Learner Support funds to purchase IT devices for learners (aged 19+) and to help them meet learners’ IT connectivity costs, where these costs are a barrier to accessing or continuing in their training.

We fund adults through the £1.34 billion AEB for a range of courses and qualifications, including ESOL, so adults can secure the English language skills they need. Following the devolution of approximately half of the AEB, seven Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs), and the Greater London Authority (GLA), are now responsible for determining adult English language (and other) provision in their areas. Eligible adults resident in non-devolved areas of England are funded through the ESFA AEB and can access fully-funded ESOL if they are unemployed, looking for work and in receipt of certain benefits, or if they are employed and in receipt of a low-wage. All other ESFA AEB-eligible learners are co-funded with the Government contributing 50% of the course cost. ESFA allocations for 2020-21 have been confirmed, and payments will be made in line with the national profile, which has been confirmed in the ESFA AEB Funding and Performance Management Rules for 2020-21. We are looking carefully at further education funding, including ESOL, in preparation for the forthcoming Spending Review. Further information on the AEB funding rules for 2020-21 is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/adult-education-budget-aeb-funding-rules-2020-to-2021.

We do not ring-fence a particular amount of the ESFA AEB budget for ESOL, so colleges and training providers have the freedom and flexibility to determine how they use their AEB allocation to meet the needs of their communities. They are responsible for planning, with local partners, which ESOL courses can be delivered locally. We want to support all adults in England to secure the English language skills they need. While we are keen to support the learners who are most in need, we also believe that those who decide to settle in the UK have a responsibility to invest their own time and resources into learning English.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he is taking steps to increase funding for the provision of English for Speakers of Other Languages as a result of the increased costs of introducing remote and hybrid learning for that subject.

The government recognises that language skills are crucial to help people integrate into life in England, as well as to break down barriers to work and career progression. This is why we want to support all adults in England to secure the English language skills they need. We remain committed to the manifesto commitment to boost English language teaching to empower existing migrants and help promote integration into society.

We understand the challenges faced by further education providers due to the implications of the COVID-19 disruption and the issues that remote learning has for some learners. We want to get all further education learners, including English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students, back into education settings as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers and teachers. From Autumn 2020, all learners will return to a full high-quality education programme delivered by their college or post-16 learning provider. We have also introduced a change to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Adult Education Budget (AEB) Funding Rules for 2020-21 academic year, to enable providers to use their Learner Support funds to purchase IT devices for learners (aged 19+) and to help them meet learners’ IT connectivity costs, where these costs are a barrier to accessing or continuing in their training.

We fund adults through the £1.34 billion AEB for a range of courses and qualifications, including ESOL, so adults can secure the English language skills they need. Following the devolution of approximately half of the AEB, seven Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs), and the Greater London Authority (GLA), are now responsible for determining adult English language (and other) provision in their areas. Eligible adults resident in non-devolved areas of England are funded through the ESFA AEB and can access fully-funded ESOL if they are unemployed, looking for work and in receipt of certain benefits, or if they are employed and in receipt of a low-wage. All other ESFA AEB-eligible learners are co-funded with the Government contributing 50% of the course cost. ESFA allocations for 2020-21 have been confirmed, and payments will be made in line with the national profile, which has been confirmed in the ESFA AEB Funding and Performance Management Rules for 2020-21. We are looking carefully at further education funding, including ESOL, in preparation for the forthcoming Spending Review. Further information on the AEB funding rules for 2020-21 is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/adult-education-budget-aeb-funding-rules-2020-to-2021.

We do not ring-fence a particular amount of the ESFA AEB budget for ESOL, so colleges and training providers have the freedom and flexibility to determine how they use their AEB allocation to meet the needs of their communities. They are responsible for planning, with local partners, which ESOL courses can be delivered locally. We want to support all adults in England to secure the English language skills they need. While we are keen to support the learners who are most in need, we also believe that those who decide to settle in the UK have a responsibility to invest their own time and resources into learning English.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing funding per learner at entry level for the provision of English for Speakers of Other Languages.

The government recognises that language skills are crucial to help people integrate into life in England, as well as to break down barriers to work and career progression. This is why we want to support all adults in England to secure the English language skills they need. We remain committed to the manifesto commitment to boost English language teaching to empower existing migrants and help promote integration into society.

We understand the challenges faced by further education providers due to the implications of the COVID-19 disruption and the issues that remote learning has for some learners. We want to get all further education learners, including English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students, back into education settings as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers and teachers. From Autumn 2020, all learners will return to a full high-quality education programme delivered by their college or post-16 learning provider. We have also introduced a change to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Adult Education Budget (AEB) Funding Rules for 2020-21 academic year, to enable providers to use their Learner Support funds to purchase IT devices for learners (aged 19+) and to help them meet learners’ IT connectivity costs, where these costs are a barrier to accessing or continuing in their training.

We fund adults through the £1.34 billion AEB for a range of courses and qualifications, including ESOL, so adults can secure the English language skills they need. Following the devolution of approximately half of the AEB, seven Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs), and the Greater London Authority (GLA), are now responsible for determining adult English language (and other) provision in their areas. Eligible adults resident in non-devolved areas of England are funded through the ESFA AEB and can access fully-funded ESOL if they are unemployed, looking for work and in receipt of certain benefits, or if they are employed and in receipt of a low-wage. All other ESFA AEB-eligible learners are co-funded with the Government contributing 50% of the course cost. ESFA allocations for 2020-21 have been confirmed, and payments will be made in line with the national profile, which has been confirmed in the ESFA AEB Funding and Performance Management Rules for 2020-21. We are looking carefully at further education funding, including ESOL, in preparation for the forthcoming Spending Review. Further information on the AEB funding rules for 2020-21 is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/adult-education-budget-aeb-funding-rules-2020-to-2021.

We do not ring-fence a particular amount of the ESFA AEB budget for ESOL, so colleges and training providers have the freedom and flexibility to determine how they use their AEB allocation to meet the needs of their communities. They are responsible for planning, with local partners, which ESOL courses can be delivered locally. We want to support all adults in England to secure the English language skills they need. While we are keen to support the learners who are most in need, we also believe that those who decide to settle in the UK have a responsibility to invest their own time and resources into learning English.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional funding he plans to make available to (a) schools and (b) further education providers to support the mental health needs of young people returning to classrooms in September 2020.

Getting children and young people back into education, with settings devoting time to supporting wellbeing, will play a fundamental part in supporting children and young people’s mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak. All pupils and students will return to a full high-quality education programme in September, so they have the opportunity to thrive and fulfil their potential.

Our £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package, including a £650 million pupil premium shared across schools over the 2020-21 academic year, will support education settings to put the right catch-up support, including pastoral support, in place.

The catch-up premium is in addition to core funding through which schools already support young people. This year we are also providing £780 million additional high needs funding across England for children with the most complex special educational needs and disabilities. We are providing a further £730 million in 2021-22, which will bring the total high needs budget to over £8 billion.

From September, when pupils and students will return to schools and colleges, the government is investing £8 million in the new Wellbeing for Education Return programme, which will provide schools and colleges all over England with the knowledge and practical skills they need to support teachers, students and parents to the emotional impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Schools and colleges may also need to access support from specialist services. NHS mental health services remain open and 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. In addition to this, the government has provided over £9 million to mental health charities to ensure they can continue to support people experiencing mental health challenges throughout the outbreak.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department has issued to (a) schools and (b) further education providers on the provision of in-house counselling to support the mental health needs of young people following the covid-19 outbreak.

Getting children and young people back into education, with settings devoting time to supporting wellbeing, will play a fundamental part in supporting children and young people’s mental health. The return to school will allow social interaction with peers, carers and teachers, which benefits wellbeing. The department has now published detailed plans?for all children and young people to return to full-time education from September, which is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

We have been working hard to ensure that all pupils and learners will return to a full high-quality education programme in September. Our £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up premium, with £650 million shared across schools over the 2020-21 academic year, will support education settings to put the right catch-up and pastoral support in place. More information is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/billion-pound-covid-catch-up-plan-to-tackle-impact-of-lost-teaching-time.

As pupils return to school, staff need to be equipped to understand that some children and young people may be experiencing feelings such as anxiety, stress or low mood as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and that these are normal responses to an abnormal situation. Our Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools Advice includes information about what to look for in terms of underlying mental health issues, linked to the graduated response and the support that might be suitable. More information is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mental-health-and-behaviour-in-schools--2.

From September, the government is investing £8 million to launch the new Wellbeing for Education Return training programme, which will provide schools and colleges all over England with the knowledge and practical skills they need to support teachers, students and parents, to help improve how they respond to the emotional impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. This is additional to ?longer term work to improve support, including?the?new?mental health support teams that we are rolling out?across the country,?linked to schools and colleges. More information is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/8m-programme-to-boost-pupil-and-teacher-wellbeing.

This support will help schools to decide what provision to make for their pupils. Many schools already provide access to some counselling support. The government has produced guidance on how to put in place effective school-based counselling which schools can use where they decide further counselling support is appropriate for their pupils. Further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counselling-in-schools.

Outside of school, access to mental health support has been more important than ever during the COVID-19 outbreak. NHS services remain open. 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 also 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 at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Children Society’s report entitled The Good Childhood Report 2020, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for its policies on promoting the wellbeing of children.

The Good Childhood Report highlights a wide range of issues across children and young people’s lives which affect their wellbeing. The department has engaged with the Children’s Society and other sector organisations in recent months to discuss how we can continue to build support in different areas to improve their wellbeing.

The report particularly highlights issues with peer relationships and appearance as being relevant to children and young people in England. These are among the topics that are covered in relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) which we are introducing in schools for the first time from this September, to ensure all pupils are taught about these aspects of their lives. The department is committed to supporting all schools in their preparations to deliver RSHE, and is providing an extensive range of training materials to support high quality teaching to all pupils, including a module on mental health and wellbeing, that we made available in July, to help schools focus on those issues as pupils return to school.

The government has been supporting this with a significant focus on wellbeing and mental health support linked to schools and colleges to help them to promote good wellbeing. This includes our programme, jointly with NHS England, to provide mental health support teams linked to groups of schools and colleges which is rolling out across the country. Our commitment is to make available training to schools by 2025 to support them to put in place senior mental health leads. We know that around 80% of schools and colleges already have a dedicated staff lead in place. The training will support new and existing leads to put in place effective whole school approaches to mental health. This is in addition to longer term support to schools on tackling bullying, where we are providing £750,000, this year, to 3 organisations to help address different factors. We are also funding a large-scale programme of randomised control trials of different approaches to promoting wellbeing in schools to find out what works.

We have also placed a particular focus on wellbeing support for children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak and as they return to school and college. We have highlighted wellbeing in all our guidance, providing access to a range of materials and training.

This includes 2 webinars delivered by the department in July, in collaboration with Public Health England and NHS England, to support teachers and local partnerships to further support children and young people’s mental health as they return to school. These reached thousands of teachers and other education staff.

To further support the return in September, the government is investing £8 million in the Wellbeing for Education Return training and advice programme, which will provide schools and colleges ,all over England, with the knowledge and practical skills they need to support teachers, students and parents, to help improve how they respond to the emotional impact of the
COVID-19 outbreak. More information can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/8m-programme-to-boost-pupil-and-teacher-wellbeing.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment the Government has made of the effect of support for children’s mental health and well-being on levels of academic attainment.

We know that children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing are associated with their educational attainment and other long-term outcomes. That is why we are committed to support schools in promoting good mental wellbeing and ensuring that children and young people get the help and support they need, with the right support from specialist services.

The return to school is a vital factor in supporting the mental wellbeing of pupils, in addition to providing more opportunities for physical activity, attendance at school allows social interaction with peers, carers and teachers, which benefits wellbeing. To support this, we have encouraged schools to focus on mental wellbeing as pupils return.

We have now published detailed plans for all children and young people to return to full-time education from September. The guidance highlights the particular need to focus on pastoral support and mental wellbeing as a central part of what schools provide, in order to re-engage pupils, rebuild social interaction with their friends and teachers and provide a sound basis for academic catch-up. The guidance for schools is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The government has sent a clear message that NHS mental health services remain open, and we have recently provided over £9 million to leading mental health charities to help them expand and reach those most in need. This includes a number of programmes which specifically support the mental health of children and young people, and all NHS mental health trusts are providing 24/7 open access telephone lines to support people of all ages.

For the longer term, we remain committed to delivering our joint green paper programme with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England, including introducing new mental health support teams (MHSTs), and testing approaches to deliver four week waiting times for access to NHS support. One of the core functions of the MHSTs will be giving timely advice to school and college staff, and liaising with external specialist services, to help children and young people to get the right support, stay in education and achieve to their potential.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure the adequacy of (a) trained personnel and (b) funding allocated to schools to provide mental health services to BAME children and young people when they return to school in September 2020.

The return to school is a vital factor in supporting the mental wellbeing of pupils, in addition to providing more opportunities for physical activity, attendance at school allows social interaction with peers, carers and teachers, which benefits wellbeing. To support this, we have encouraged schools to focus on mental wellbeing as pupils return.

Schools will need to reflect the particular circumstances of their pupils in deciding how to do this. They may wish to provide particular groups of pupils with specific support, including some Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) pupils, given the disproportionate rates of COVID-19 diagnoses and death rates among Black and Asian ethnic groups. There are also emerging indications of the potential for greater mental health and wellbeing impacts on children and young people from BAME groups.

Funding for pastoral support is part of schools’ core funding, which is rising by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20 funding levels. The government has also announced an additional £650 million ‘catch up’ premium, as part of our wider £1 billion COVID catch-up package, to be shared across all state-funded schools over the 2020-21 academic year. School leaders will have the discretion on how to use this funding to best support their pupils to catch up for lost time which in some cases will include support to parents, carers and children to help them re-engage with learning.

The department has published detailed plans for all children and young people to return to full-time education from September. The guidance highlights the particular need to focus on pastoral support and mental wellbeing as a central part of what schools provide, in order to re-engage them and rebuild social interaction with their friends and teachers. This will involve curriculum provision as well as extra-curricular and pastoral support, and our recently published relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) training module will support teachers with preparation to deliver content on mental health and wellbeing. The guidance for schools is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/schools-and-colleges-to-reopen-in-full-in-september.

The department hosted a free webinar for schools on 7 July on delivering the new RSHE curriculum for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, including supporting their mental wellbeing. The recorded webinar is available, free of charge, on the PSHE Association’s website here:
https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/content/send-hub.

However, teachers are not mental health professionals and some pupils will need support from specialist services. The government has sent a clear message that NHS mental health services remain open, and we have recently provided over £9 million to leading mental health charities to help them expand and reach those most in need. This includes a number of programmes which specifically support the mental health of children and young people, and all NHS mental health trusts are providing 24/7 open access telephone lines to support people of all ages.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to help increase the number of apprentice places available in the construction industry.

Apprenticeships will have an important role to play in creating employment opportunities, particularly for young people, and in supporting employers in all sectors to access the skilled workforce that they need to recover and grow following the COVID-19 outbreak. We will ensure that there is sufficient funding to support all businesses wanting to take on an apprentice this year and will provide further details in due course.

Apprenticeships are jobs with training and form an employer-led programme where employers choose which apprenticeships they offer to meet their current and future skills need. There are currently 86 high quality construction standards at different levels, designed by industry to equip individuals with the skills that employers want. A further 12 standards are in development and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education is working to approve these as soon as possible.

The construction industry will be key in supporting the country’s economic recovery and the Prime Minister recently announced a £5 billion Capital Investment Plan to accelerate infrastructure projects aimed at stimulating the sector and help to recruit and retain staff including apprentices. We are working with the sector to encourage take up of new apprentices and continue to work with employers including Persimmons Homes and Balfour Beatty through our Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network (ADCN) to promote best practice in recruiting and supporting apprentices from diverse backgrounds and under-represented groups including Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) and women.

We recognise that employers, at the moment, face increased challenges with hiring new apprentices and so we will introduce a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021. Details can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-treasury.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that there is greater (a) gender and (b) BAME diversity among construction apprentices.

Apprenticeships will have an important role to play in creating employment opportunities, particularly for young people, and in supporting employers in all sectors to access the skilled workforce that they need to recover and grow following the COVID-19 outbreak. We will ensure that there is sufficient funding to support all businesses wanting to take on an apprentice this year and will provide further details in due course.

Apprenticeships are jobs with training and form an employer-led programme where employers choose which apprenticeships they offer to meet their current and future skills need. There are currently 86 high quality construction standards at different levels, designed by industry to equip individuals with the skills that employers want. A further 12 standards are in development and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education is working to approve these as soon as possible.

The construction industry will be key in supporting the country’s economic recovery and the Prime Minister recently announced a £5 billion Capital Investment Plan to accelerate infrastructure projects aimed at stimulating the sector and help to recruit and retain staff including apprentices. We are working with the sector to encourage take up of new apprentices and continue to work with employers including Persimmons Homes and Balfour Beatty through our Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network (ADCN) to promote best practice in recruiting and supporting apprentices from diverse backgrounds and under-represented groups including Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) and women.

We recognise that employers, at the moment, face increased challenges with hiring new apprentices and so we will introduce a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021. Details can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-treasury.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans the Government has to permit flexibility in the use of Apprenticeship Levy funds to help mitigate the effects of the covid-19 outbreak on (a) current and (b) potential construction apprentices.

Apprenticeships will be key to our recovery, especially for young people. We are looking at ensuring that we support employers, especially small businesses, to take on new apprentices this year and will provide further details in due course. The apprenticeship levy is an important part of our apprenticeship reforms, supporting employers of all sizes to make a long-term, sustainable investment in training. We will ensure that there is sufficient funding to support small businesses wanting to take on an apprentice this year.

We recognise that employers, at the moment, face increased challenges with hiring new apprentices and so we will introduce a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021. Details can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-treasury.

We are developing a campaign plan to underpin our work on supporting the recovery and getting redundant apprentices back to work. As part of this campaign we will be working with all the largest construction businesses to ensure they can restart and recover as quickly as possible. This will include encouraging the sector to take on redundant apprentices from other employers both inside and outside of construction.

In light of the challenges presented by COVID-19, we have extended the transition of non-levy paying employers onto the apprenticeship service from 1 November 2020 to 1 April 2021. Under the new system, smaller employers will have more control over the funding they use to create new apprenticeship opportunities and can reserve funds before choosing the provider that best meets their needs. Levy-paying employers can transfer up to 25% of the annual value of funds in their apprenticeship service accounts to other employers. Employers can continue to recruit and train apprentices. They already have 24 months in which to spend their funds before these expire.

We want apprentices and employers to continue with their apprenticeships and have introduced a range of flexibilities to make this easier, while maintaining the quality of apprenticeships. Flexibilities include encouraging remote delivery of training and allowing changes to end point assessment, as well as introducing additional flexibility to allow furloughed apprentices to continue their apprenticeships and undertake end point assessments.

Employers are developing new apprenticeships standards, allowing them to spend the levy on the apprenticeships training that matters for them. There are now 86 construction standards that have been designed by employers across a range of levels to meet employer demand to date and a further 12 construction standards that are currently in development.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with supermarket retailers on the steps retailers are taking to ensure that clinically extremely vulnerable people have continued access to priority online shopping deliveries over the Christmas period.

Defra is continuing to work closely with supermarkets to provide clinically extremely vulnerable individuals in England with priority access to supermarket delivery slots. Between 2 December and 5 January, any clinically extremely vulnerable person living in a Tier Three or Tier Four local area who did not already have priority access to delivery slots was still able to register for this support through the Government website: www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support.

During the third lockdown, all clinically extremely vulnerable people are able to register for priority access to delivery slots with seven supermarkets: Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose. All clinically extremely vulnerable individuals who have registered through the Government website will retain their priority access to delivery slots until at least March 2021.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with supermarket retailers on ensuring that clinically extremely vulnerable people are not being subject to excessive charges when booking priority online shopping deliveries.

DEFRA is continuing to hold regular conversations with each of the seven supermarkets participating in the priority access to online deliveries offer: Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose. The department uses these meetings as an opportunity to convey any concerns raised by charities or Local Authorities around topics such as delivery charges. Although DEFRA cannot legally dictate the delivery costs charged by supermarkets, our regular conversations ensure that supermarkets understand the impact that delivery charges can have.

Alongside encouraging supermarkets to seriously consider the impact delivery charges can have on clinically extremely vulnerable people, the department also monitors delivery charges and circulates this information to Local Authorities to allow them to advise their residents accordingly.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect on the level of global wildlife trade of UK imports of real fur for commercial sale.

The global fur trade is estimated to be worth in excess of around £24 billion per year with the value of fur imports into the UK estimated at £63 million in 2017, of which £17 million was raw or untanned fur. It should be noted that these figures do not distinguish between fur derived from wildlife and that of farmed animals, and the global figure is subject to a degree of uncertainty.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what support her Department is providing to enable UK maritime businesses to attend overseas trade shows.

I refer the Hon. Member for Birkenhead to the answer I gave to the Rt Hon. Member for North Durham on 16 July 2021, UIN: 28979.

9th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what discussions her Department has had with relevant stakeholders on the cancellation of the Tradeshow Access Programme.

I refer the hon. Member for Birkenhead to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for North Durham today, UIN: 28980.

9th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what discussions her Department has had with industry representatives on (a) the cancellation of the Tradeshow Access Programme and b) any replacement scheme for the Tradeshow Access Programme.

I refer the hon. Member for Birkenhead to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for North Durham today, UIN: 28980.

11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the Government has plans to review its position on waiving intellectual property rights on covid-19 vaccines following the recent announcement by the US administration of its support for a waiver.

We are engaging with the US and other World Trade Organisation (WTO) members constructively on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver issue. Any negotiations in the WTO on a waiver will require unanimous support, which could take a significant amount of time. While we will constructively engage in the IP discussions, we have not seen evidence to demonstrate how any waiver will lead to an increase in Covid-19 supplies, so we continue to push ahead with action now, including voluntary licensing agreements for vaccines and support for COVAX.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, with reference to P&O Ferries' proposed 1,100 redundancies, what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on the protection of strategically vital roll-on roll-off ferry services from UK ports.

The Rt. Hon Secretary of State has had frequent engagement with her cabinet colleagues with regards to the economic response to Covid-19.

17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to make dashboard cameras in motor vehicles mandatory.

The use of dashcam footage is important in tackling unsafe driving behaviour. The police accept and assess footage captured by witnesses using dashcams and sent to them in relation to a number of road traffic offences, such as using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

The natural proliferation of dashcams has helped support enforcement; the Government has no plans to make dashcams mandatory.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to increase rates of pay for UK seafarers working on vessels flying flags of convenience in British waters to at least the UK minimum wage.

The recent amendments to National Minimum Wage legislation, which came into force on October 1, 2020, extended its scope and now applies to all domestic operations in the UK territorial waters and to offshore activity in the UK continental shelf. The application of these new amendments is not dependant on the flag state of the vessel or the nationality of its crew.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what volume of international road freight has been moved on roll-on roll-off ferries from (a) Dover, (b) Hull, (c) Holyhead and (d) Liverpool ports in each month since 1 January 2020 to date.

The Department does not collect data on roll-on roll-off cargo on a monthly basis. Data on port freight by route and type of cargo is published in port freight annual statistics. Annual port freight statistics for 2020 will be published in Summer 2021.

12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to protect UK seafarers employed by ferry companies in receipt of the Critical Freight Grant.

I recognise how important UK seafarers are to the maritime sector and I remain committed to supporting and protecting them. Funding via the Critical Freight Grants has been provided to maintain the flow of critical goods on 16 RoRo freight routes, with contracts given to 6 operators across the 16 routes. The funding is in place to maintain capacity on specific routes, it is not about supporting specific operators. We will continue to monitor these and all other freight routes so that critical goods continue to come into the UK.

To support seafarers, the Government has made available an unprecedented financial support package, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Any employer with a UK bank account and PAYE scheme is eligible for a grant to cover 80% of the wages of its employees, up to £2500 per month. There scheme is available for both UK and foreign seafarers who work for firms that fulfil the two key eligibility requirements. On the 12th May the Chancellor announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended further and will now remain open until the end of October and so should continue to aid seafarers.

12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the financial viability of Holyhead-Dublin roll-on roll-off ferry services.

We have worked closely with the Welsh Government to review the viability of the Holyhead-Dublin ferry route, and agree that capacity on this route continues to meet the levels of demand to keep goods moving.

We will continue to monitor the situation, as is the case on all freight routes, and will work with the Welsh Government should circumstances on the route change.

9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of ending the £20 uplift to Universal Credit on (a) levels of poverty (b) levels of homelessness and (c) foodbank usage.

It is not possible to produce a robust estimate of the impact of removing the £20 uplift on poverty or related issues. This is particularly the case at the moment given the uncertainty around the speed of the economic recovery, and how this will be distributed across the population.

In addition, foodbanks are independent, charitable organisations and the Department for Work and Pensions does not have any role in their operation. There is no consistent and accurate measure of food bank usage at a constituency or national level.

The latest poverty figures (2019/20) demonstrate that absolute poverty rates (both before and after housing costs) for working-age adults in working families have fallen since 2009/10. In 2019/20, 8% of working age adults in working families were in absolute poverty (before housing costs), compared to 9% in 2009/10.

Discretionary Housing Payments provide critical support to vulnerable claimants, including those who are at risk of homelessness, that need help with their housing costs.

For 2021-22 the Government has made available £140m in Discretionary Housing Payments funding for local authorities in England and Wales. In 2020-21 we boosted investment in the Local Housing Allowance by almost £1 billion and have maintained rates in cash terms for 2021-22. In addition, earlier this year we extended the exemptions from the shared accommodation rate of Local Housing Allowance for care leavers and those who have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel. From 31st May 2021 the care leavers exemption applies up to age 25 and the homeless hostel exemption applies up to age 35.

Work Coaches support claimants to address their housing issues by signposting to relevant housing services. Under “duty to refer” legislation, Jobcentres in England offer a voluntary referral to claimants who may be homeless, or threatened with homelessness, to local housing teams for support.”

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 UC claimants aged 16-24 at risk of unemployment; Restart, which provides 12 months’ intensive employment support to UC claimants who are unemployed for a year; and JETS, which provides light touch employment support for people who are claiming either Universal Credit or New Style Jobseekers Allowance, for up to 6 months, helping participants effectively re-engage with the labour market and focus their job search. We have also recruited an additional 13,500 work coaches to provide more intensive support to find a job. In total, our Plan for Jobs interventions will support more than two million people.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has taken recent steps to pursue a reciprocal agreement with the Peruvian Government to allow British nationals who are resident in Peru to receive annual increments to their pensions.

The UK has not had any recent discussions with the Government of Peru on a reciprocal pensions uprating agreement.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has made a recent estimate of the number of British nationals resident in Peru who are (a) in receipt of a UK state pension and (b) not in receipt of any workplace or private pension.

Information for the number in receipt of a UK state pension currently living in Peru is published and available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk. As of November 2020, there are 130 people in receipt of a UK State Pension, this cannot be broken down by nationality.

The Department does not hold information on those that are not in receipt of any workplace or private pension in Peru.

Guidance for users is available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/index.html

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that workers who were instructed to shield during the covid-19 outbreak and placed on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) by their employers do not have their entitlements deducted in the event that they claim SSP in the future.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is payable for up to 28 weeks per period of sickness absence. Sickness absences which are less than 8 weeks apart count as the same period of sickness. In a new period of sickness, employees are eligible for an additional 28 weeks of SSP.

SSP provides a minimum level of income for employees when they are sick or incapable of work. Employers are legally required to pay SSP to eligible employees who are off work sick or incapable of work, where employees meet the qualifying conditions. Some employers may also decide to pay more, and for longer, through Occupational Sick Pay.

If an individual has used up their SSP entitlement, they may be able to claim Universal Credit and new style Employment and Support Allowance when their SSP ends, depending on individual circumstances.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect on the mental wellbeing of benefit claimants of reducing the £20 universal credit uplift.

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until April 2021. As the Government has done throughout this pandemic, it will continue to assess how best to support low-income families, which is why we will look at the economic and health context before making any decisions.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of current levels of support available to carers.

The primary purpose of Carer’s Allowance is to provide a measure of financial support and recognition for people who give up the opportunity of full-time employment in order to provide regular and substantial care for a severely disabled person.

As of May 2020, there were 2,514 carers in Birkenhead receiving Carer’s Allowance and in 2019/20 we spent approximately £9.1 million on Carer’s Allowance there.

Information on the number of people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance by Parliamentary constituency is published and available at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

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

The latest information on benefit expenditure by parliamentary constituency including Carer’s Allowance is also published and available at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/920543/benefit-expenditure-by-parliamentary-constituency-2019-20.xlsx

The rate of Carer’s Allowance was last increased in April 2020 and it will be increased again in April 2021 to help ensure it maintains its value. 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.

Between 2020/21 and 2025/26 real terms expenditure on Carer’s Allowance is forecast to increase by nearly a third (around £1 billion). By 2025/26, the Government is forecast to spend just over £4bn a year on Carer’s Allowance.

Carers also have access to the full range of social security benefits according to their circumstances. Income replacement benefits help people and households on lower incomes, and can include a carer premium, currently £37.50 a week. An equivalent additional amount applies in Pension Credit. Universal Credit also includes a carer element at the rate of £162.92 per monthly assessment period. These amounts recognise the additional contribution and responsibilities associated with caring and mean that lower-income carers can receive more money than others who receive these benefits. Between the existing carer-specific support, and the temporary Covid-19 uplift, 270,000 carer households receiving Universal Credit have benefitted from up to an extra £2,990 this financial year.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect of increasing carer's allowance on the mental wellbeing of carers.

The primary purpose of Carer’s Allowance is to provide a measure of financial support and recognition for people who give up the opportunity of full-time employment in order to provide regular and substantial care for a severely disabled person.

As of May 2020, there were 2,514 carers in Birkenhead receiving Carer’s Allowance and in 2019/20 we spent approximately £9.1 million on Carer’s Allowance there.

Information on the number of people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance by Parliamentary constituency is published and available at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

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

The latest information on benefit expenditure by parliamentary constituency including Carer’s Allowance is also published and available at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/920543/benefit-expenditure-by-parliamentary-constituency-2019-20.xlsx

The rate of Carer’s Allowance was last increased in April 2020 and it will be increased again in April 2021 to help ensure it maintains its value. 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.

Between 2020/21 and 2025/26 real terms expenditure on Carer’s Allowance is forecast to increase by nearly a third (around £1 billion). By 2025/26, the Government is forecast to spend just over £4bn a year on Carer’s Allowance.

Carers also have access to the full range of social security benefits according to their circumstances. Income replacement benefits help people and households on lower incomes, and can include a carer premium, currently £37.50 a week. An equivalent additional amount applies in Pension Credit. Universal Credit also includes a carer element at the rate of £162.92 per monthly assessment period. These amounts recognise the additional contribution and responsibilities associated with caring and mean that lower-income carers can receive more money than others who receive these benefits. Between the existing carer-specific support, and the temporary Covid-19 uplift, 270,000 carer households receiving Universal Credit have benefitted from up to an extra £2,990 this financial year.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason the Government has not taken the decision to increase carer's allowance during the covid-19 outbreak.

The primary purpose of Carer’s Allowance is to provide a measure of financial support and recognition for people who give up the opportunity of full-time employment in order to provide regular and substantial care for a severely disabled person.

As of May 2020, there were 2,514 carers in Birkenhead receiving Carer’s Allowance and in 2019/20 we spent approximately £9.1 million on Carer’s Allowance there.

Information on the number of people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance by Parliamentary constituency is published and available at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

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

The latest information on benefit expenditure by parliamentary constituency including Carer’s Allowance is also published and available at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/920543/benefit-expenditure-by-parliamentary-constituency-2019-20.xlsx

The rate of Carer’s Allowance was last increased in April 2020 and it will be increased again in April 2021 to help ensure it maintains its value. 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.

Between 2020/21 and 2025/26 real terms expenditure on Carer’s Allowance is forecast to increase by nearly a third (around £1 billion). By 2025/26, the Government is forecast to spend just over £4bn a year on Carer’s Allowance.

Carers also have access to the full range of social security benefits according to their circumstances. Income replacement benefits help people and households on lower incomes, and can include a carer premium, currently £37.50 a week. An equivalent additional amount applies in Pension Credit. Universal Credit also includes a carer element at the rate of £162.92 per monthly assessment period. These amounts recognise the additional contribution and responsibilities associated with caring and mean that lower-income carers can receive more money than others who receive these benefits. Between the existing carer-specific support, and the temporary Covid-19 uplift, 270,000 carer households receiving Universal Credit have benefitted from up to an extra £2,990 this financial year.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect on levels of child poverty in (a) Birkenhead and (b) the North West of reducing the £20 universal credit uplift.

No assessment has been made.

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until April 2021. As the Government has done throughout this pandemic, it will continue to assess how best to support low-income families, which is why we will look at the economic and health context before making any decisions.

Throughout this pandemic, this Government has delivered an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs and businesses and, for those in most need, injected billions into the welfare system. The new Covid Winter Grant Scheme builds on that support, with an additional £170m for local authorities in England, to support families with children and other vulnerable people with the cost of food and essential utilities this winter.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect on levels of child hunger in (a) Birkenhead and (b) the North West of reducing the £20 universal credit uplift.

No assessment has been made.

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until April 2021. As the Government has done throughout this pandemic, it will continue to assess how best to support low-income families, which is why we will look at the economic and health context before making any decisions.

Throughout this pandemic, this Government has delivered an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs and businesses and, for those in most need, injected billions into the welfare system. The new Covid Winter Grant Scheme builds on that support, with an additional £170m for local authorities in England, to support families with children and other vulnerable people with the cost of food and essential utilities this winter.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate her Department has made of the number of people who are in receipt of carers’ allowance and also living in poverty in (a) the North West and (b) Birkenhead.

No assessment has been made.

Carers have access to the full range of social security benefits according to their circumstances. Income replacement benefits help people and households on lower incomes, and can include a carer premium, currently £37.50 a week. An equivalent additional amount applies in Pension Credit. Universal Credit also includes a carer element at the rate of £162.92 per monthly assessment period. These amounts recognise the additional contribution and responsibilities associated with caring and mean that lower-income carers can receive more money than others who receive these benefits. Between the existing carer-specific support, and the temporary Covid-19 uplift, 270,000 carer households receiving Universal Credit have benefitted from up to an extra £2,990 this financial year.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect of increasing carer's allowance on levels of poverty experienced by carers.

No assessment has been made.

Carers have access to the full range of social security benefits according to their circumstances. Income replacement benefits help people and households on lower incomes, and can include a carer premium, currently £37.50 a week. An equivalent additional amount applies in Pension Credit. Universal Credit also includes a carer element at the rate of £162.92 per monthly assessment period. These amounts recognise the additional contribution and responsibilities associated with caring and mean that lower-income carers can receive more money than others who receive these benefits. Between the existing carer-specific support, and the temporary Covid-19 uplift, 270,000 carer households receiving Universal Credit have benefitted from up to an extra £2,990 this financial year.

20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential barriers that deaf and hard of hearing people experience when attempting to access benefits during the covid-19 outbreak.

During the COVID-19 outbreak the Department identified the need to extend the Video Relay Service (VRS) across all benefits making it easier for deaf and hard of hearing customers to access services.

VRS uses a third party British Sign Language interpreter (BSL) to facilitate a conversation between DWP and a deaf customer and was already available to those accessing disability benefits. In April the Department began a phased roll out of this service commencing with Universal Credit and completed roll-out to all benefit lines in October 2020.

Where changes to benefits were implemented as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department communicated those changes through a variety of different channels, including the production of 20 BSL videos for deaf and hard of hearing customers via the Department’s You Tube channel.

20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department has taken to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing people have access to a British Sign Language Interpreter during assessments for benefits.

The department and our assessment providers are committed to providing a quality, sensitive and respectful service to everyone. Individuals are encouraged to alert their assessment provider of any additional requirements they may have, such as needing a British Sign Language interpreter, and providers will endeavour to meet any such reasonable requests.

Face to face assessments for sickness and disability benefits are currently suspended in line with public health advice. However, we continue to make recommendations on paper-based evidence alone, where possible or paper-based evidence together with a telephone assessment, where appropriate to do so.

To enhance the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) telephony service, PIP providers have implemented a video relay service for claimants with British Sign Language requirements, to enable deaf or hard of hearing claimants to participate in an assessment; we are exploring whether this solution could support the Work Capability Assessment process.

20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the number and proportion of personal independence payment assessors who have undergone deaf awareness training.

All Health Professionals carrying out Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments are clinically qualified and registered practitioners in their own field. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) requires all Health Professionals to have a broad training in disability analysis as well as awareness training in specific conditions, which includes deaf awareness training.

During the induction period for new Health Professionals, training is delivered which covers how to effectively communicate with individuals who are deaf or have impaired hearing. This training includes the use of a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, which is provided to individuals with such impairments, where requested. Additionally, Health Professionals have access to a suite of learning materials, which include condition insight reports on deafness, hearing impairments and factors to consider for PIP assessments.

20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department has taken to ensure that all personal independence payment assessors have received adequate training to communicate effectively with people who are (a) deaf or (b) hard of hearing.

All Health Professionals carrying out Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments are clinically qualified and registered practitioners in their own field. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) requires all Health Professionals to have a broad training in disability analysis as well as awareness training in specific conditions, which includes deaf awareness training.

During the induction period for new Health Professionals, training is delivered which covers how to effectively communicate with individuals who are deaf or have impaired hearing. This training includes the use of a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, which is provided to individuals with such impairments, where requested. Additionally, Health Professionals have access to a suite of learning materials, which include condition insight reports on deafness, hearing impairments and factors to consider for PIP assessments.

20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason people with long-term health conditions are required to undergo a review for personal independence payments every two years.

Reviews of PIP are a key part of the benefit and ensure that awards remain correct and reflect changes in claimants’ needs. The length of an award is based on an individual’s functional needs and can vary from nine months to an on-going award, with a light touch review at the ten-year point for claimants with severe and ongoing needs or who have reached State Pension Age.

21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of enabling women affected by the Pensions Acts 1995 and 2011 to take up their state pension early in lieu of support under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Self-employed Income Support Scheme, universal credit and other support schemes.

No assessment has been made. Unlike a personal or workplace pension, which can potentially be drawn earlier on grounds of ill health, it has always been the case, under successive governments, that nobody can claim their State Pension early, before they reach their State Pension age. The welfare system continues to provide a safety-net for those who need support, that have not yet reached State Pension age.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect on local economies of enabling women affected by the Pensions Acts 1995 and 2011 to receive their (a) state pension and (b) pension credit early.

No assessment has been made. Unlike a personal or workplace pension, which can potentially be drawn earlier on grounds of ill health, it has always been the case, under successive governments, that nobody can claim their State Pension early, before they reach their State Pension age. The welfare system continues to provide a safety-net for those who need support, that have not yet reached State Pension age.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her Department will take steps to encourage employers to (a) recognise the condition of long covid and (b) take into account employees' long-term symptoms of that condition.

I refer the hon Member to my response to 85966

15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to produce guidance for employers on the treatment of people experiencing long-term effects of covid-19.

I refer the hon Member to my response to 85966

3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of ending prescription charges for people with long-term health conditions.

We have made no such assessment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of increasing the qualifying age for free prescriptions to the state retirement age on the number of hospital admissions in England.

A full assessment has not been made.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of the public health effects of the (a) Welsh and (b) Scottish Government’s decision to end prescription charges.

We have made no such assessment as the decision is a matter for the devolved administrations.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of increasing the qualifying age for free prescriptions to the state retirement age on the numbers of people rationing medicines they have been prescribed.

A specific assessment has not been made.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential additional expenses that might be incurred by healthcare providers in England as a result of people not following their medicine regime in the event of the qualifying age for free prescriptions being increased to the state pension age.

No assessment has been made.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions his Department has had with the National Institute for Health Care Excellence on accelerating the publication of its advice on whether Sacituzumab Govitecan, marketed as Trodelvy, is a clinically and cost-effective use of NHS resources.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent body responsible for scheduling the development of technology appraisal guidance on individual medicines in discussion with the manufacturer. Following discussion with Gilead, the manufacturer of sacituzumab govitecan, NICE has been able to accelerate its appraisal and now expects to issue guidance in June 2022, with draft guidance expected in April 2022.

In view of the challenge for the health system presented by the more rapid approval of Project Orbis drugs, NHS England and NHS Improvement and NICE have agreed a set of principles to allow potential interim access to drugs licensed through this route ahead of NICE’s guidance.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will meet with people affected by metastatic triple-negative breast cancer to discuss the potential of the drug Sacituzumab Govitecan, marketed as Trodelvy, to improve (a) the quality of life and (b) the prognoses of people diagnosed with that condition.

We have no current plans to do so. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is currently appraising Trodelvy (Sacituzumab govitecan) for the treatment of metastatic triple negative breast cancer and expects to publish guidance for the National Health Service in June 2022.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department can take to accelerate the approval of the drug Sacituzumab Govitecan, marketed as Trodelvy, by the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is aware of the importance of Trodelvy and is participating in several new schemes designed to speed up its availability.

Earlier this year, a licence application for Trodelvy in metastatic triple negative breast cancer was filed in the United Kingdom as part of Project Orbis. The United States approval is being considered and the MHRA is currently evaluating the application for Trodelvy.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the efficacy of Project Orbis.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has been participating in Project Orbis since 1 January 2021. The Project has accelerated the pathway for patients in the United Kingdom for quicker access to innovative drugs including Osimertinib (Tagrisso), a post-surgery treatment for lung cancer.

The MHRA has been involved in 11 Orbis projects since January 2021 with several close to completion. The MHRA has processed these applications within significantly shortened timelines, liaising with the United States’ Food and Drug Administration and other regulators. Project Orbis will continue to provide patients in the UK with faster access to innovative cancer treatments with potential benefits over existing therapies.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to provide (a) financial, (b) medical and (c) psychological support to people who have been wrongly diagnosed or medicated while detained under the Mental Health Act.

We have made no such estimate.

Patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 for three months, who have not consented to treatment or believe they have been wrongly diagnosed or medicated, have the right to a second opinion from the Second Opinion Appointed Doctor service provided by the Care Quality Commission. The Government’s White Paper, Reforming the Mental Health Act, published in January 2021, includes proposals to enhance patient rights to this service.

For certain patients detained under the Act for treatment, there is a right to aftercare services, funded jointly by the responsible clinical commissioning group and local authority. These serve to help support the person when they move back into the community on discharge from hospital and aim to reduce the risk of the person becoming unwell and needing to return. Financial support may be available through personal health budgets, which support a person’s identified health and wellbeing needs and are planned and agreed between them, their representative and the local National Health Service team. They provide individuals with greater choice, control and flexibility over their care. All these services can include medical and psychological support to meet the needs of people who may have been wrongly diagnosed or medicated.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to help ensure that clinicians engage with the concerns of people detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 who believe that they have (a) been misdiagnosed and (b) wrongly medicated.

We have made no such estimate.

Patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 for three months, who have not consented to treatment or believe they have been wrongly diagnosed or medicated, have the right to a second opinion from the Second Opinion Appointed Doctor service provided by the Care Quality Commission. The Government’s White Paper, Reforming the Mental Health Act, published in January 2021, includes proposals to enhance patient rights to this service.

For certain patients detained under the Act for treatment, there is a right to aftercare services, funded jointly by the responsible clinical commissioning group and local authority. These serve to help support the person when they move back into the community on discharge from hospital and aim to reduce the risk of the person becoming unwell and needing to return. Financial support may be available through personal health budgets, which support a person’s identified health and wellbeing needs and are planned and agreed between them, their representative and the local National Health Service team. They provide individuals with greater choice, control and flexibility over their care. All these services can include medical and psychological support to meet the needs of people who may have been wrongly diagnosed or medicated.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an estimate of the number of people detained under the Mental Health Act between 1983 and 2000 who were misdiagnosed with (a) schizophrenia and (b) any other psychiatric disorder.

We have made no such estimate.

Patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 for three months, who have not consented to treatment or believe they have been wrongly diagnosed or medicated, have the right to a second opinion from the Second Opinion Appointed Doctor service provided by the Care Quality Commission. The Government’s White Paper, Reforming the Mental Health Act, published in January 2021, includes proposals to enhance patient rights to this service.

For certain patients detained under the Act for treatment, there is a right to aftercare services, funded jointly by the responsible clinical commissioning group and local authority. These serve to help support the person when they move back into the community on discharge from hospital and aim to reduce the risk of the person becoming unwell and needing to return. Financial support may be available through personal health budgets, which support a person’s identified health and wellbeing needs and are planned and agreed between them, their representative and the local National Health Service team. They provide individuals with greater choice, control and flexibility over their care. All these services can include medical and psychological support to meet the needs of people who may have been wrongly diagnosed or medicated.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the efficacy of the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) scheme; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the family members of people with suicidal ideation have access to ASIST training.

We have not made a formal assessment. From 2019/20 to 2023/24, we are investing £57 million in suicide prevention through the NHS Long Term Plan. This funding can be used by local areas for suicide and self-harm prevention activities and training, which could include ASIST training.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that relevant health professionals receive the training necessary to support patients with suicidal ideation to develop a safety plan.

We have not taken any such specific steps. We expect health professionals to receive sufficient training to reach the education standards set by the professional regulatory bodies.

Health Education England has commissioned MindEd to provide suicide and self-harm prevention e-learning resources, including on structured care and safety planning in suicide prevention. The most recent module was published in April. All MindEd resources are available to both health and social care professionals.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to strengthen the working relationship between the NHS and third-sector organisations that offer bespoke support to people with mental ill-health and suicidal ideation.

The NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan 2019/20 – 2023/24 acknowledges that voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations, including suicide prevention organisations, play an essential role in the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan. Local commissioners and providers should therefore consider their existing relationships and commissioning functions with VCSE partners, the strength and sustainability of local VCSE infrastructure and how it can be supported.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that people who visit their GP in respect of (a) mental ill health and (b) suicidal ideation are referred to third sector organisations that offer bespoke support.

Following a recent review into the Quality and Outcomes Framework indicators by NHS England and NHS Improvement and the general practitioner (GP) committee of the British Medical Association, GPs have been incentivised to provide patients with schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder and other psychoses with a comprehensive care plan. Guidance for 2021/22 sets out a care programme approach whereby the patient must have a documented care plan which has been discussed with their community key worker. A care plan can include information on how socially supported the individual is, including their involvement with voluntary sector organisations, and co-ordination arrangements with secondary care and/or mental health services.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the families of people with suicidal ideation have access to specialist advice and support.

From 2019/20 to 2023/24, we are investing £57 million in suicide prevention through the NHS Long Term Plan to support local suicide prevention plans and establish suicide bereavement support services. This funding for sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and integrated care systems (ICSs) will be used to deliver multi-agency plans. The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health are working together to support STPs and ICSs with these plans.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to take steps to ensure that people who have attempted suicide receive support to develop a safety plan that helps them to tackle their suicidal ideation.

From late 2021/22, NHS England and NHS Improvement intend to launch a self-harm Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) scheme, which enables commissioners to link a proportion of providers' income to the achievement of a quality improvement goal. This CQUIN will bring focus to the quality of interventions provided by mental health liaison services in emergency departments to ensure they are concordant with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines, including offering:

- biopsychosocial assessment of needs;

- risk assessment; and

- developing with patients a personalised and integrated care and risk management plan.

The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health, which has recommended that all patients are followed up within three days of discharge from in-patient care. NHS England and NHS Improvement have now included 72-hour follow-ups in the standard National Health Service contract and regularly monitors the performance of providers.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the families of people with suicidal ideation have access to specialist advise and support.

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

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the efficacy of the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) scheme; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the family members of people with suicidal ideation have access to ASIST training.

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

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve the working relationship between the NHS and third-sector organisations that offer bespoke support to people with mental ill-health and suicidal ideation.

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

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that relevant health professionals have the requisite training necessary to assist patients with suicidal ideation to develop a safety plan.

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

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that people who have made a suicide attempt receive assistance in developing a safety plan that allows them to tackle their suicidal ideation effectively.

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

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that patients who visit their GP with (a) mental ill-health and (b) suicidal ideation are referred to third-sector organisations offering bespoke support.

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

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on public health of giving priority vaccinations to the carers and households of clinically extremely vulnerable people.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccine/s the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level. For the first phase, the JCVI has advised that the vaccine be given to care home residents and staff, as well as frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors. Included in this are those with underlying health conditions, which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.

All frontline social care workers directly working with people clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 who need care and support irrespective of where they work. Whether they care for clinically vulnerable adults or children or who they are employed by will be prioritised for a vaccine as the JCVI has advised. Other groups at higher risk, including those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill, will be offered vaccination alongside people with underlying health conditions in priority group six. Consideration has been given to vaccination of household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals. However, at this time there is no data on the size of the effect of COVID-19 vaccines on transmission. Evidence is expected to accrue during the course of the vaccine programme and until that time the JCVI is not in a position to advise vaccination solely on the basis of indirect protection.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many covid-19 vaccines are being administered each day to people living in Birkenhead constituency.

NHS England and NHS Improvement publish daily data for vaccinations in England, which is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-vaccinations/

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of support available to family members of people experiencing serious mental health issues.

Most people with severe and long-term mental ill health have a right to social care support under the Care Act 2014 and this extends to their carer. The Act requires that, where an adult or carer appears to have care and support needs, the local authority must carry out an assessment.

In addition, most people with a severe mental illness will have a care plan under the Care Programme Approach (CPA), a framework used to assess a person’s needs, make sure that they are supported and to carry out regular reviews to see if the person’s need have changed. Under the CPA, carers have a right to their own assessment of needs, and plan of support, including a choice about the level of support, a life outside of caring, regular breaks and support to maintain employment.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce (a) regional and (b) socioeconomic inequalities in mental health care.

This Government is committed to reducing inequalities in mental health care. To support local health systems in addressing inequalities in access and outcomes for groups with characteristics that may increase the risk of experiencing inequalities, NHS England and NHS Improvement commissioned the Advancing Mental Health Equalities resource. The resource is a guide for local commissioners and providers to identify and address inequalities in mental health care and is available at the following link:

www.rcpsych.ac.uk/improving-care/nccmh/care-pathways/advancing-mental-health-equality

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the proportion of NHS dental clinics that will not be able to meet the 45 per cent of their pre-pandemic units of dental activity target during the January 2021 lockdown in (a) England and (b) the North West.

No such assessment has been made.

NHS England and NHS Improvement recognise that there may be exceptional circumstances when the 45% activity target may not be deliverable and so National Health Service commissioners will use discretion to make exceptions in these cases. In addition, where a practice under-delivers by up to 4%, they can carry this forward into the next financial year.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the mental wellbeing of dental clinicians and support staff of increasing the target for units of dental activity to 45 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

The safety and wellbeing of patients and staff remains at the forefront of attempts to increase dental activity. NHS England and NHS Improvement have determined that dental practices delivering 45% of contracted units of dental activity (UDA) from 1 January to 31 March 2021 will be deemed to have delivered the full contractual volume. There may be exceptional circumstances when the 45% activity target may not be deliverable and dental teams should be reassured that commissioners have discretion to make exceptions.

Supporting the mental health of health workers is a priority for the Government, particularly during this unprecedented pandemic. Dental clinicians and their teams have access to a comprehensive package of health and wellbeing services designated to National Health Service staff.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of increasing the target for units of dental activity to 45 per cent of pre-pandemic levels on waiting times for patients who require complex dental work.

A steady increase in dental activity has been made possible following updated Public Health England’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidance. Dental services however continue to operate at reduced capacity due to the need for social distancing, personal protective equipment and other IPC measures.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have set a 45% dental activity target. This target is based upon clinical advice and modelling from the office of the Chief Dental Officer and has taken into consideration robust adherence to IPC guidance and social distancing requirements. Furthermore, data on the percentages of activity dental practices have achieved to date supports the view that the target can be safely attainable.

National Health Service commissioners have the discretion to make exceptions, for instance in cases where a dental practice has been impacted by staff being required to self-isolate and the reinstatement of shielding during the national lockdown.

The unit of dental activity targets for January to March 2021 are expected to increase available NHS dental care for patients and reduce waiting times for all dental care, including complex care.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the mental health of children (a) living in domestic circumstances of economic insecurity, (b) from ethnically diverse and migrant communities and (c) who have (i) experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse and (ii) witnessed that abuse of a member of their household during the outbreak.

The recently published ‘Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2020: Wave 1 follow up to the 2017 survey’ reported several impacts to mental health for different groups of children. Children from white ethnic background appeared to have experienced a statistically significant increase in rates of probable mental disorder since 2017.

The survey also reported that increased financial strain is associated with child mental health. However, there were no statistically significant differences in the increases of probably mental disorders in 5- to 16-year olds by neighbourhood-level deprivation between 2017 and 2020.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to produce guidance for (a) GPs and (b) other health professionals on the long term health effects of covid-19.

In August 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement released guidance supporting primary care and community health services to meet the immediate and longer-term care needs of patients discharged following an acute episode of COVID-19.

The National Health Service and the wider scientific community are currently working to better understand the disease course of COVID-19 infection, including the prevalence, severity and duration of symptoms, and how best to support recovery. The National Institute for Health Research and UK Research and Innovation have invested £8.4 million in the Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 study (PHOSP-COVID), led by Christopher Brightling at the University of Leicester.

On 5 October, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network announced they will work with the Royal College of General Practitioners to develop a guideline on persistent effects of COVID-19 on patients.

The research currently underway will continue to inform future NHS service design and provision.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Department is taking to (a) monitor the recent shortages of Nardil (Phenelzine) and (b) ensure that patients who require the drug have access to it.

The Department is aware of an ongoing supply issue affecting licensed phenelzine 15mg tablets (Nardil) due to manufacturing issues. Although the supply of licensed phenelzine is affected, unlicensed phenelzine 15mg tablets imported from abroad by specialist importer companies in addition to phenelzine 15mg capsules specials are available.

We understand the importance of careful management of any changes to a patient’s phenelzine treatment and have worked closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement and national experts and have issued comprehensive guidance to the NHS to support those impacted during this time. The guidance issued includes information on how supplies of alternative phenelzine 15mg products can be accessed, where clinicians have deemed it appropriate.

We are continuing to work closely with the affected supplier to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and specialist importer companies to maintain access to supplies of phenelzine products.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that dental surgeries have access to an adequate supply of appropriate personal protective equipment as those surgeries reopen after covid-19 lockdown.

Dental practices purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) from dental wholesalers. As practices reopened from 8 June, the Department made available the necessary PPE to wholesalers for onward sale in addition to the wholesalers existing ability to source PPE from the wider market.

The overall supply of PPE has significantly improved over recent months. Arrangements have been made to increase the supply of PPE to wholesalers for dentistry as well as National Health Service support in arranging the necessary fit testing for the PPE needed for aerosol generating procedures.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to increase funding for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in response to recent trends in the number of young people experiencing mental ill-health during the covid-19 outbreak and lockdown.

We want to ensure that all children and young people experiencing mental ill health can access the help and support they need and that schools and colleges, parents and carers can support children’s mental health and wellbeing throughout the autumn.

We remain committed to investing at least £2.3 billion of extra funding a year into mental health services by 2023-24 through the NHS Long Term Plan. This funding underpins our aim for an additional 345,000 children and young people to be able to access support through National Health Service-funded services or school- and college-based mental health support teams.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of how many and what proportion of dental surgeries have been able to return to operating at full capacity.

Dental practices have been able to open for face to face National Health Service care, including routine care, from 8 June. The guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement to NHS contract holders was clear that the pace of the restart should be only as fast as possible compatible with maximizing safety for patients and dental staff. Dental practices must follow Public Health England guidance on infection protection control procedures (IPC) and appropriate levels of personal protective equipment.

No dental practices are currently delivering at full capacity due to the greater IPC required to safely deliver dental care while COVID-19 is circulating in the community.

A copy of the IPC guidance can be found at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/910885/COVID-19_Infection_prevention_and_control_guidance_FINAL_PDF_20082020.pdf

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect on public health of people not being able to access dental surgeries during the covid-19 lockdown.

To meet the Government social distancing measures and to contain the spread of COVID-19 all routine dentistry was suspended during the height of the pandemic. All face to face urgent care was restricted to over 600 urgent dental centres (UDCs) to minimize risk of transmission and all clinically necessary treatments were still available in UDCs during the lockdown period.

NHS England and NHS Improvement advised patients to get in touch with NHS 111 or their usual dentist who provided remote advice and triaged patients needing treatment to the UDCs across England.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether people who are extremely clinically vulnerable are expected to return to work on 1 August 2020 if their employment routinely involves visiting other workplaces or residences.

All employers have been asked to work with the Government to ease the transition back to a more normal way of life for their clinically extremely vulnerable employees. Employers and employees should start having these conversations as early as possible before the guidance is changed on 1 August.

At this time, the Government does not advise clinically extremely vulnerable individuals to attend their place of work if this requires them to leave their home. From 1 August those shielding who are unable to work from home but can work on site, should do so, provided the business is COVID-safe. For those returning to work, employers should encourage staff to remain on-site and, when not possible, to maintain social distancing while off-site.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to ensure that guidance issued by his Department in relation to covid-19 is (a) accessible by children and young people and (b) communicated to children and young people.

Public Health England (PHE) has worked with members of the National Health Service Youth Forum and ‘I Will’ Ambassadors to create COVID-19 guidance that is more accessible for young people. PHE has tailored guidance by adapting the advice, resources and language to be more relevant to young people aged 11-19 years. The published information includes advice on social distancing, shielding, looking after your wellbeing and the benefits of youth social action. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://riseabove.org.uk/article/stayhomefeelgood/

PHE has also published an ‘easy read’ version of the shielding guidance so that anyone with more limited reading skills can access online or in printed format.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to covid-19 also have a diagnosis of arthritis.

The information is not collected centrally. People who have been diagnosed with arthritis are not separately identifiable on the Shielded Patients List.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to increase the use of shared decision making for people who are being considered for joint replacement surgery including for people with arthritis.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are developing programmes and resources to support clinicians and prepare patients to have better shared decision-making conversations. This is part of NHS England’s commitments in Universal Personalised Care to deliver the Shared Decision Making component of the Comprehensive Model of Personalised Care to all systems and includes musculoskeletal services in the National Health Service.

Resources include Decision Support Tools and national guidance to support clinicians in having conversations with orthopaedic patients whose surgery was postponed during COVID-19. Both are due to be available in the autumn.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to ensure social care workers have the necessary guidance and resources when providing care for people with arthritis who have been advised to shield during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have updated our guidance for the provision of home care, which includes guidance on how to support the shielding of clinically extremely vulnerable people. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-providing-home-care/coronavirus-covid-19-provision-of-home-care#shielding-and-care-groups

Public Health England has published guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in care homes, the use of PPE in domiciliary care and a specialised training video demonstrating the donning and doffing of PPE in care settings. The Government has stepped in to support the supply and distribution of PPE to the care sector, with survey data and feedback from the sector indicating that immediate supply pressures have eased.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that (a) the broadest number of people and (b) members of the Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities participate in the public consultation on the mental health White Paper.

We have drawn on the expertise of service users, carers and professionals, as we have considered the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act’s recommendations.

Once our White Paper on the Mental Health Act is published, we plan to work with third sector organisations, including service user and carer representative organisations and networks, to support people to engage with the public consultation process, in particular with those who have had direct experience of the Act, and those groups who are disproportionately represented under the Act.

As part of the online consultation, we will be collecting demographic information, which will allow us to monitor who is responding so that we can ensure that the consultation reaches a broad range of people and specific groups.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support communities in Madagascar suffering from food insecurity and at risk of famine as a result of climate breakdown.

The UK is deeply concerned by the humanitarian crisis in southern Madagascar, which is driven by multiple factors including climate shocks and the impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods. The UK is working closely with the UN, Government of Madagascar and other donors to ensure aid reaches those in need. In 2021, the UK has allocated £5 million to UN humanitarian agencies to provide life-saving food assistance, nutrition and health interventions, access to safe water and to reinforce humanitarian system coordination in southern Madagascar. This UK funding will reach 250,000 people, including the provision of food assistance to 132,000 people. In addition, the UK is a core contributor to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund which has allocated approximately £5.78 million to the international response this year.

25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support the activities of human rights defenders in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

FCDO Ministers, our Ambassador and Embassy officials in Riyadh frequently raise concerns over the continued detention of human rights defenders, at senior levels with the Saudi authorities. In September 2020, the UK signed a UN Human Rights Council statement calling for the release of all political detainees. On 29 November 2020, the UK Ambassador for Human Rights and six European counterparts released a joint statement reiterating our call for the release of all political detainees, including women's rights defenders. On 25 February, the Foreign Secretary raised the continued detention of at least three women's rights defenders with his Saudi counterpart. We will continue to maintain a regular dialogue with the Saudi authorities on a range of human rights issues, including human rights defenders.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of emulating the US administration’s change in policy on relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

US-Saudi relations are a matter for the US administration. The UK and Saudi Arabia have a longstanding bilateral relationship. We have vital national security and prosperity interests in maintaining and developing our relationship with Saudi Arabia, including in how we work together to tackle regional threats. We regularly raise concerns with the Saudi authorities through diplomatic channels, including Ministers, our Ambassador, and the British Embassy in Riyadh. No aspect of our relationship with Saudi Arabia prevents us from speaking frankly about human rights.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government is (a) taking and (b) planning to take to compel the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to end human rights abuses.

Our close relationship with Saudi Arabia allows us to raise human rights with the Saudi authorities through a range of diplomatic channels, including Ministers, our Ambassador, and the British Embassy in Riyadh.

In September 2020, the UK signed a UN Human Rights Council statement calling for the release of all political detainees, opposing the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and calling for all those responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi to be held account. On 29 November, the UK Ambassador for Human Rights and six European counterparts released a joint statement reiterating our call for the release of all political detainees, including women's rights defenders.

We expect Saudi Arabia to uphold the highest human rights standards. We will continue to raise human rights with the Saudi authorities and monitor issues of concern.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the steps the Government is taking to promote human rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Our Annual Human Rights & Democracy Report highlights the human rights situation around the world and the role we have played. Constructive engagement on issues helps develop mutual understanding and supports change. We have seen some positive changes including to the Kafala (migrant) system, reforms to the laws on the use of the death penalty against minors and on women's rights. We continue to raise - both publically and privately - human rights cases of concern. In order for the UK to act as a force for good, we must operate from a platform of engagement and influence.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential economic merits of expanding the definition of infrastructure under the Levelling Up Fund to include environmental regeneration projects with merit that may have been refused funding under the Green Recovery Challenge as a result of oversubscription.

The Levelling Up Fund will invest in a range of high value local investment priorities that improves everyday life across the UK. A range of benefits for will considered during the assessment process for the Fund, with projects expected to be fully aligned to UK legal commitments, such as delivering Net Zero. Further information on this can be found on gov.uk.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
11th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the potential environmental benefits of expanding the definition of infrastructure under the Levelling Up Fund to include environmental regeneration projects with merit that may have been refused funding under the Green Recovery Challenge as a result of oversubscription.

The Levelling Up Fund will invest in a range of high value local investment priorities that improves everyday life across the UK. A range of benefits for will considered during the assessment process for the Fund, with projects expected to be fully aligned to UK legal commitments, such as delivering Net Zero. Further information on this can be found on gov.uk.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department has taken steps to encourage employers to furlough employees who have been instructed to shield during the covid-19 outbreak rather than place those employees on Statutory Sick Pay.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been available since the start of the pandemic, including for the duration of the Government’s most recent shielding advice, reintroduced from 4 January 2021. Shielding guidance is no longer in place, but Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) individuals can continue to be claimed for like everyone else, subject to the CJRS eligibility criteria.

It is not for the Government to decide whether an individual firm should put its staff on furlough; that is a decision for the employer, in consultation with the employee. CEV individuals should talk to their employer to discuss and agree options in relation to work, such as working from home, or returning to the workplace in a different role if their previous position cannot be fulfilled in a Covid-secure manner.

11th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of extending the VAT cut for the hospitality and leisure industries on levels of job retention in (a) the gambling industry and (b) adult gaming centres.

The temporary reduced rate of VAT was introduced on 15 July to support the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and protect 2.4 million jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors, and will run until 31 March 2021.

This policy will cost over £2 billion and it is necessary for a boundary for eligibility to be drawn. The Government keeps all taxes under review, and any future decisions on tax policy will be made at Budget.

The Government has announced a significant support package to help businesses from a whole range of sectors through the winter months, which includes an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, an extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant, and an extension of the application window for the Government-backed loan schemes.

4th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on levels of first-time home ownership of extending the stamp duty holiday.

The temporary SDLT relief was designed to stimulate immediate momentum in a property market where property transactions fell by as much as 50 per cent during the COVID-19 lockdown in March. This has also supported the jobs of people whose employment relies on custom from the property industry, such as retailers and tradespeople. First time buyers will benefit from the increase in available properties and save up to an additional £10,000 in SDLT, on top of the £5,000 they could already save under First Time Buyers relief.

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

16th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of converting Bounce Back Loans into grants to provide further assistance to small limited companies during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government launched the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) on May 4th to ensure that the smallest businesses can access loans of up to £50,000 in a matter of just days. As of 13 December, the scheme had supported more than 1.4 million businesses with facilities in excess of £43.5 billion.

With the government covering repayments for businesses for the first-year repayments for BBLS loans won’t begin until June 2021 at the earliest. The Pay as you Grow options announced by the Chancellor will enable businesses to repay their Bounce Back Loans on the terms which work best for them, giving them more time to repay and giving them the flexibility they may need to help their business recover and grow. This includes the ability to extend the term of the loan from 6 to 10 years (reducing average monthly payments by almost half), as well as the option to temporarily switch to interest-only payments or to take a full repayment holiday for 6 months.

We have always been clear that these are loans and not grants, and that businesses are of course expected to make every effort to repay the loans, as is only right as the taxpayer stands behind these loans.

The Government recognises the significant challenges facing businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has responded to this with an unprecedent package of business support. These support measures include, but are not limited to: The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), A 12-month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England, Cash grants of up to £3,000 per month to help businesses that are closed with their costs, including paying their supply chains, and a VAT deferral for up to 12 months.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending eligibility for Business Support Grants to all small business, regardless of whether they operate in a commercial premises.

The Government recognises that the past few months have been very challenging for businesses in a wide variety of sectors. The various COVID-19 business grants have all been intended to support businesses facing high fixed property-related costs in some of the sectors hit hardest by the fall in consumer footfall caused by COVID-19, on the basis that businesses in this situation would find it particularly challenging to meet their high fixed property-related costs. This is why eligibility for both the original grant schemes and the new Local Restrictions Support Grant schemes is tied to the business rates system.

The Government has additionally allocated all local authorities in England £1.6 billion for the Additional Restrictions Grant, which local authorities can use to support businesses which are not eligible for the one-off or monthly grants for closed businesses, for example because they do not operate from commercial premises.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing the discretionary grant fund allocated to local authorities to provide further assistance to small limited companies during the covid-19 outbreak.

The £1.1 billion of discretionary business support funding made available to all English local authorities through the Additional Restrictions Grant is only one part of the Government’s comprehensive support package for businesses and local authorities during this time.

The Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) will provide businesses in England which are legally required to close due to national or local restrictions with up to £3,000 per month of closures, depending on their rateable value.

In addition, through the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open), local authorities which are subject to restrictions on socialising (in particular a ban on indoor household mixing) will receive additional funding so that they can make grants of up to £2,100 per month to hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses which are able to remain open but which are experiencing a severe reduction in demand due to these restrictions. Local authorities will also receive a 5% discretionary top up to their Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) allocation; local authorities have significant discretion over how they use this top up funding.

Business across the country should also be able to benefit from additional measures in the Government’s unprecedented package of support for businesses, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended through to 31 March; the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, which will provide the self-employed with grants worth up to 80% of trading profits, covering November 2020 to January 2021; and the COVID-19 lending schemes.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of reforming the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to allow directors of small limited companies to undertake work while on furlough to support the economic viability of those companies.

Where furloughed directors need to carry out particular duties to fulfil their statutory obligations, they may do so provided it is no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose. In particular, they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provide services to or on behalf of their company.  This also applies to companies with a sole director.

Businesses that can remain open but are operating with reduced demand can use flexible furlough to keep staff working part time.

5th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to his oral statement of 5 November 2002, on Economy Update, what steps he is taking to ensure that people not eligible to access the (a) Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and (b) Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will have access to financial support in the period leading up to March 2021.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government’s priority has been to protect lives and livelihoods. Since the start of the pandemic the Government has provided support for people, businesses and public services totalling an estimated £200 billion.

Beyond the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, to support individuals further the Government has implemented a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element until the end of March 2021. This means that for a single Universal Credit claimant (25 or over), the standard allowance will increase from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.

The £20 per week uplift is one part of a package of temporary welfare measures, which also includes the suspension of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor in order to support self-employed people on low incomes, and increases to the Local Housing Allowance rates for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit, which mean over 1 million households who rent privately will gain an average of £600 per year.

The Government has also given local authorities an additional £500 million to support the most vulnerable people in society, who may struggle to meet their council tax payments this year. The Government has requested that local authorities use the Hardship Fund grant to provide all recipients of working age local council tax support (LCTS) during the financial year 2020-21 with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of £150. This funding is in addition to the £3.4bn which Local Authorities already spend on LCTS schemes each year, benefiting about 3.8 million people.

The Government is committed to supporting individuals financially through this difficult time and has put in place a comprehensive package of support for those told to self-isolate, extending Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) so that employees can claim it if they are asked to self-isolate, and changing the rules so that SSP is payable from day one rather than day four. In addition, people who are instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and are on low incomes, unable to work from home and will lose income as a result, may be entitled to a payment of £500 from their local authority.

The Government continues to keep policies under review, and it will continue to provide a comprehensive economic support package as public health measures change.

6th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department plans to introduce sector-specific financial support for the automotive industry.

Government has announced unprecedented support for businesses which have benefited all sectors in every part of our United Kingdom. There has been widespread use of the Government’s support schemes in the automotive sector, including the Job Retention Scheme and tax deferrals. To support viable UK employers who face lower demand due to COVID-19, and to keep their employees attached to the workforce, the government will be introducing a new Job Support Scheme from 1 November 2020.

Government and industry have committed around £800 million since 2013 through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, to research, develop and commercialise the next generation of low carbon technologies and to keep the UK at the cutting edge of low carbon automotive innovations.

The government will continue to engage with businesses and representative groups with the aim of ensuring that support provided is right for the automotive sector and for the economy as a whole.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential benefits to local economies of introducing sector-specific financial support for the automotive industry.

Government has announced unprecedented support for businesses which have benefited all sectors in every part of our United Kingdom. There has been widespread use of the Government’s support schemes in the automotive sector, including the Job Retention Scheme and tax deferrals. To support viable UK employers who face lower demand due to COVID-19, and to keep their employees attached to the workforce, the government will be introducing a new Job Support Scheme from 1 November 2020.

Government and industry have committed around £800 million since 2013 through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, to research, develop and commercialise the next generation of low carbon technologies and to keep the UK at the cutting edge of low carbon automotive innovations.

The government will continue to engage with businesses and representative groups with the aim of ensuring that support provided is right for the automotive sector and for the economy as a whole.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to make financial support available to people suffering long-term effects of covid-19 and who are unable to work as a result of their symptoms.

The Government has committed to an unprecedented package to support individuals affected by COVID-19 through this difficult time. This includes the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention and Self-Employment Income Support Schemes.

If an employee earns average weekly earnings of at least £120 per week, they will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they have been ill or self-isolating. SSP is paid by an employer for up to 28 weeks and may be paid to those unable to work as a result of long-term effects of COVID-19. The Government has also changed the rules so that SSP is now payable from day 1, not day 4, for COVID-19 cases.

Where an individual is not eligible for SSP or has received it for the maximum period, the Government provides a welfare safety net. According to OBR estimates, the Government has injected a further £9.3 billion into the welfare system to support individuals who are unable to work or on a low income. Those with a health condition which prevents them from working or preparing for work may be entitled to an extra amount of Universal Credit. In addition, individuals with sufficient National Insurance contributions may be entitled to “new style” Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if they are incapable of work due to COVID-19.

8th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme and Self-Employment Income Support scheme for industries that are (a) not able to safely return to work and (b) experiencing sustained economic disruption as a result of the covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement.

The Government has put in place a broad set of policies to support businesses and individuals during COVID-19, and the CJRS and SEISS are supporting millions of people.

The CJRS remains open until the end of October while the second and final round of SEISS claims has just opened for applications.

As the economy reopens, the Government must adjust its support to ensure people continue to get back to work, while protecting the UK economy and people’s livelihoods.

In the second phase of the Government’s response, the targeted Plan for Jobs will support jobseekers, protecting jobs and creating jobs.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of requiring employers who have furloughed employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme repay money to the Exchequer if they subsequently make redundancies.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is designed to protect jobs, and it has protected 9 million jobs to date.

While employers who make redundancies do not need to repay the CJRS grant they have already received, if an employee is made redundant during the period of furlough then future grant payments in relation to that employee will cease.

Employees who are dismissed due to redundancy and who satisfy certain qualifying conditions are statutorily entitled to a lump sum redundancy payment from their employer, based on their age, length of service and contractual weekly earnings, subject to a statutory upper limit.

New legislation will ensure that employers base an employee's redundancy pay (and other statutory rights including notice pay and compensation for unfair dismissal) on their normal pay, rather than their furlough pay (potentially 80% of their normal wage). This will ensure that where someone who had previously been furloughed does lose their job, they will receive their full entitlements.

17th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support will be available for people who are extremely clinically vulnerable and unable to return to work after 1 August 2020 because they cannot work from home and their workplace cannot be made covid-secure.

On 22 June, the Prime Minister announced that the Government will relax the current public health guidance for those identified as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) to shield at home. This means from 1 August they will be able to return to work if they are unable to work from home, provided their workplace is COVID-safe.

It is important that this group continue to take careful precautions, and employers should do all they can to enable them to work from home where this is possible, including moving them to another role if required. Where this is not possible, the CEV should be provided with the safest on-site roles that enable them to maintain social distancing from others.

If employers cannot provide a safe working environment, the CEV will continue to have access to an unprecedented package of financial support. This is not limited to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, but also includes the introduction of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and an increase in the generosity of welfare payments worth a further £9.3bn according to Office for Budget Responsibility estimates.

9th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of redundancies amongst maritime workers at (a) P&O Ferries and (b) Stena Line on the UK’s capacity to move (i) freight and (ii) passengers on international roll-on roll-off ferry routes during and after the covid-19 pandemic.

The Government recognises that the news regarding job losses at P&O and Stena will be distressing for employees and their families.

The Government has already announced a range of measures to support all businesses, including roll-on roll-off ferry operators, and we encourage all firms to draw on this unprecedented package of support.

In addition, on 24 April Government committed up to £35m to keeping freight flowing on critical routes into and across the UK.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department plans to allow public markets run by local authorities to apply for business rate relief in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

Guidance for local authorities on the application of this business rates holiday was published on 18 March and can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-retail-discount-guidance.

The Government has announced £1.6bn of additional funding to support local authorities in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. This funding is intended to help local authorities address the pressures that they are facing across services.

22nd Mar 2021
What steps her Department is taking to protect vulnerable children from county lines drugs networks.

Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would like to group this question with question 31.

We are determined to roll up county lines and protect vulnerable children from this harmful form of exploitation.

Through our £25m county lines programme we have already seen 3,400 people arrested, more than 550 lines closed and more than 770 vulnerable people safeguarded.

We have also increased investment in dedicated one-to-one support for county lines victims and their families.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what progress the Government has made in meeting commitments under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme in the last 12 months.

As of December 2020, a total of 19,776 people had been resettled to the UK through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) since it was expanded in September 2015. This is in addition to the thousands of people resettled through our other refugee resettlement schemes.

In the year to December 2020, a total of 662 people were resettled to the UK through the VPRS. During this time, resettlement activity was necessarily paused, between March 2020 and December 2020, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.


The Home Office is committed to publishing data in an orderly way as part of the regular quarterly Immigration Statistics, in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. These can be found at www.gov.uk/government/collections/migration-statistics

To access the number of refugees resettled, access the latest statistical release using the link above, then “data tables”, “asylum and resettlement” and select either the summary or detailed resettlement tables. The latest set of figures were released on 25 February 2021.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how many units of move-on accommodation were delivered as part of the Next Steps Accommodation Programme in the 2020-21 financial year.

This Government is committed to ending rough sleeping. That is why we are investing £433 million over the lifetime of this Parliament to deliver 6,000 new homes for rough sleepers. This represents the largest ever investment in move-on accommodation.

In October 2020 we announced allocations to local partners to deliver longer-term move-on accommodation. We are currently collating end year delivery information.

Last month, we launched the next stage of the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme, making £212 million available to councils and housing associations to bring forward move-on accommodation and support for rough sleepers.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment his Department has made of the potential equality implications of local authorities not being able to hold remote meetings after 7 May 2021.

To extend the facility for councils to continue to meet remotely, or in hybrid form after 7 May 2021 would require primary legislation. The Government keeps all policy under review, including considering the public sector equality duty impacts. We are carefully considering next steps in this area.

11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the potential public health implications of local authorities not being able to hold remote meetings after 7 May 2021.

To extend the facility for councils to continue to meet remotely, or in hybrid form after 7 May 2021 would require primary legislation. The Government keeps all policy under review, including considering the public sector equality duty impacts. We are carefully considering next steps in this area.

2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether his Department plans to make available additional financial support to people in rent arrears as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has provided a comprehensive package of support to help prevent people getting into financial hardship or rent arrears as a result of COVID-19. This includes support for businesses to pay staff salaries through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until April 2021. We have boosted the welfare system by billions of pounds, including increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by up to £1,040 for the year.

We also lifted Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of local rents in April 2020, which has provided 1.5 million claimants with around £600 more housing support per year than they would otherwise have received. In 2021/22 Local Housing Allowance rates will be maintained in cash terms at their increased level, meaning claimants renting in the private rented sector will continue to benefit from the significant increase in the rates applied in April 2020.

For those who require additional support Discretionary Housing Payments are available. As announced at the spending round for 2020/21 there is already £180 million in Discretionary Housing Payments for local authorities to distribute for supporting renters with housing costs in the private and social rented sectors. For 2021-22 the Government will make available £140 million in DHP funding, which takes account of the increased LHA rates.

We continue to closely monitor the ongoing effects of the pandemic on renters.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of making loans available to people in rent arrears as a result of the covid-19 outbreak, on similar lines to the Tenancy Saver Loan Scheme in Wales and the Tenant Hardship Loan in Scotland.

This Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support to protect renters whose income has been affected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notably, to help prevent people getting into financial hardship, we have increased the local housing allowance rate to the 30th percentile of local market rents in each area. The increased LHA rates will be maintained at the current levels in cash terms in 2021/22, even in areas where the 30th percentile of local rents has gone down. We have boosted the welfare system by billions of pounds, including increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by up to £1,040 for the year


In addition, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has offered support for businesses to pay staff salaries, enabling people to continue to pay their rent and has been extended until April 2021.

For those who require additional support, Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) are available. As announced at the spending round for 2020/21, there is already £180 million in DHPs for local authorities to distribute for supporting renters with housings costs in the private and social rented sectors. For 2021-22 the Government will make available £140 million in DHP funding, which takes account of the increased LHA rates.

We continue to closely monitor the ongoing effects of the pandemic on renters.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what progress the Government has made on abolishing section 21 evictions.

The Government remains committed to abolishing Section 21 through a Renters’ Reform Bill, which will enhance renters’ security. However, our collective efforts are currently focused on responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

Repealing Section 21 represents the largest change to renting in 30 years and it is only right that the reforms are taken forward in a considered manner. We have consulted on this issue, in the ‘A New Deal for Renting: Resetting the Balance of Rights and Responsibilities Between Landlords and Tenants’ consultation. This received almost 20,000 responses and sought views on the best way to provide tenants with greater security, but also ensure that landlords are able to recover their properties where they have valid reasons to do so.

We will publish a response to the consultation and bring forward a Renters Reform Bill to implement the reforms at the appropriate time, once the urgencies of responding to the pandemic have passed.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the ban on evictions beyond 21 February 2021.

We are working with the Ministry of Justice to consider whether, and if so how, to extend the current regulations on bailiff enforcement, including how long any such extension should be in place, and will provide more details as soon as possible.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on levels of homelessness of ending the eviction ban on 21 February 2021.

Legislation to ensure bailiffs do not serve eviction notices or carry out evictions in all but the most serious cases is currently in place.

Landlords are currently required to provide tenants with six months’ notice before eviction in all but the most serious cases, and the courts have put in place new rules and arrangements in possession cases to respond to the pandemic.

This Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support to protect renters whose income has been affected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, to help prevent people getting into financial hardship, we have increased the local housing allowance rate to the 30th percentile of local market rents in each area. In addition, the furlough scheme has been extended until the end of April to support tenants to pay their rents.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that every rough sleeper is provided with adequate sheltered accommodation during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown in England.

The ‘Protect Programme’, the next step in the ongoing targeted support to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our communities from COVID-19, was announced by the Prime Minister on Thursday 5 November. A further £15 million will be provided to support the ongoing efforts to provide accommodation for rough sleepers during the pandemic, and is on top of the previously announced £10 million Cold Weather Fund for all councils to help keep rough sleepers safe this winter.

Areas with high numbers of rough sleepers will receive extra targeted support to provide accommodation for those currently sleeping rough, prioritising those who are clinically vulnerable. This work will continue throughout the winter until March 2021.

This builds on the success of the still ongoing ‘Everyone In’ campaign, which is helping to protect thousands of lives during the pandemic - by September it had supported over 29,000 vulnerable people; with over 10,000 in emergency accommodation and nearly 19,000 moved on into settled accommodation.

This funding is on top of the £91.5 million allocated to 274 councils in September to fund their individual plans for rough sleepers over the coming months. More than 3,300 new long-term homes for rough sleepers across the country have been approved, backed by Government investment of more than £150 million.

1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the suspension on evictions beyond 20 September 2020.

Our primary consideration remains, as it has been throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, to protect public health and ensure public services can provide support to those who need it. The stay on possession proceedings has been extended until 20 September 2020, meaning that in total no tenant can have been legally evicted for six months at the height of the pandemic.

Legislation has been introduced that means, from 29 August 2020, landlords must give tenants six months’ notice before they can evict in most circumstances, apart from the most egregious cases such as incidents of anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators. This will be in force until 31 March 2021.

When courts do resume possession hearings they will carefully prioritise the most egregious cases, ensuring landlords are able to advance cases such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other?serious cases.??Case listing, including prioritisation, in court is a judicial function and we are working with the judiciary through the Master of the Rolls’ Working Group on possession proceedings to finalise the categories of serious cases that?will?be prioritised when hearings resume.

Our measures strike a good balance?by?easing the path to the?opening?of?the courts for the most critical cases while keeping the public safe over winter.? We will keep these measures under review?and decisions?will continue?to be guided by the latest public health advice.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
18th May 2021
If he will make an assessment of the potential merits of holding a public inquiry into the 1984 imprisonment of 37 striking Cammell Laird workers.

The appropriate route to challenge a conviction and/or sentence is by way of appeal.

Anyone who has been convicted of a criminal offence in England, Wales or Northern Ireland can apply to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which can review and investigate possible miscarriages of justice. Where there is a real possibility that the conviction or sentence will not be upheld, the Commission can refer the case to the appropriate court.

For the Commission to refer a case there normally needs to be significant new evidence or issue that might affect the safety of the conviction or sentence.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of allowing judges to consider the personal circumstances of tenants when deciding whether to approve section 21 evictions.

In section 21 cases, as in all cases, the defendant has a right to reply and file a defence. This allows the judge to consider, and take into account, the information provided by the defendant about their circumstances.

In addition, temporary working arrangements in the courts in response to the coronavirus pandemic, introduced to coincide with the resumption of possession cases in September 2020, include the requirement that landlords provide the court with information on how tenants have been affected by the pandemic.

Renters continue to be protected, with an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions for all but the most egregious cases – until at least 21 February.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)