Mike Amesbury Portrait

Mike Amesbury

Labour - Weaver Vale

Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
19th Sep 2021 - 30th Jun 2022
Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
10th Apr 2020 - 19th Sep 2021
Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Employment)
10th Jul 2018 - 10th Apr 2020
Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 23rd Jul 2018
Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 23rd Jul 2018


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
None available
Speeches
Wednesday 20th July 2022
Anti-social Behaviour Awareness Week
I thank the hon. Member for giving way and for securing this vital debate in this important week on antisocial …
Written Answers
Thursday 21st July 2022
Free School Meals
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to review the eligibility criteria …
Early Day Motions
Thursday 11th February 2021
Low carbon vehicles and construction work
That this House congratulates the Batch on Site Association (BSA) and its members for reducing the carbon footprint of essential …
Bills
Wednesday 5th February 2020
Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021
A Bill to make provision for guidance to schools about the costs aspects of school uniform policies.
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
2. (b) Any other support not included in Category 2(a)
Name of donor: USDAW
Address of donor: 188 Wilmslow Road, Manchester M14 6LJ
Amount of donation or nature and value …
EDM signed
Monday 18th July 2022
Maximum temperature in the workplace
That this House notes that recent surveys of workplace health and safety representatives show that high temperatures are one of …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 5th February 2020
Unpaid Work Experience (Prohibition) (No. 2) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to prohibit unpaid work experience exceeding four weeks; and for connected purposes.

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Mike Amesbury has voted in 473 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Mike Amesbury Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

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

Sparring Partners
Christopher Pincher (Independent)
(101 debate interactions)
Eddie Hughes (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
(91 debate interactions)
Shaun Bailey (Conservative)
(33 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department for Education
(46 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(32 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
Legislation Debates
Business and Planning Act 2020
(4,893 words contributed)
Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022
(4,048 words contributed)
Building Safety Act 2022
(1,437 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Mike Amesbury's debates

Latest EDMs signed by Mike Amesbury

11th July 2022
Mike Amesbury signed this EDM on Monday 18th July 2022

Maximum temperature in the workplace

Tabled by: Ian Mearns (Labour - Gateshead)
That this House notes that recent surveys of workplace health and safety representatives show that high temperatures are one of their top concerns; regrets that workers in the UK have no guaranteed legal safeguards from working in uncomfortable high temperatures, and that the consequences of this range from dizziness, tiredness, …
51 signatures
(Most recent: 21 Jul 2022)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 30
Scottish National Party: 9
Independent: 4
Plaid Cymru: 3
Liberal Democrat: 2
Conservative: 1
Green Party: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
6th June 2022
Mike Amesbury signed this EDM on Monday 6th June 2022

Treatment of Liverpool fans at the 2022 Champions League Final in Paris

Tabled by: Ian Byrne (Labour - Liverpool, West Derby)
That this House condemns the deeply disturbing treatment by French police of Liverpool and Real Madrid fans outside Stade de France at the Champions League Final in Paris; notes catastrophic failures in stadium management by UEFA and French authorities which threatened the lives and wellbeing of supporters; further notes the …
79 signatures
(Most recent: 22 Jun 2022)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 56
Scottish National Party: 6
Independent: 4
Liberal Democrat: 4
Plaid Cymru: 3
Conservative: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
Green Party: 1
Alliance: 1
View All Mike Amesbury's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Mike Amesbury, 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.


Mike Amesbury has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Mike Amesbury has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Mike Amesbury


A Bill to make provision for guidance to schools about the costs aspects of school uniform policies.

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


609 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
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 25 March 2021 to Question 171714 on Kingspan Group, whether the Government plans to exclude Kingspan plc from eligibility for departmental and government contracts.

The Government is deeply concerned about the information that has come to light through the Grenfell Public Inquiry.

Kingspan are not direct suppliers on Crown Commercial Service’s frameworks. We expect the company to review aspects of the way it operates, to ensure that the public can be confident in construction products and corresponding marketing, particularly where public safety is paramount.

The grounds for the exclusion of bidders from public procurement procedures are set out in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. These rules set out the circumstances in which bidders must, or may, be excluded from a public procurement process.

Decisions need to be based around firm evidence and individual contracting authorities are responsible for their own decisions on these matters.

11th Dec 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, when the Elected Office Fund will be reopened.

It is the Government’s ambition to see more disabled people in public office.

The EnAble Fund for Elected Office opened in December 2018 and closed in March 2020. The Government has been clear that the responsibility for supporting disabled candidates sits with political parties.

An evaluation of the EnAble Fund is due to be published shortly.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what financial support is available to Royal British Legion social clubs during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has provided service charities with financial support during the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure the support being delivered by these crucial organisations can continue. In addition to the normal lines of funding offered to the service charity sector, the Government has made available £6million through the Covid-19 Impact Fund. This has been distributed to 100 charities, including the Royal British Legion. RBL social clubs may also apply for grants from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

Johnny Mercer
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)
25th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to remove the requirement to pay back the £200 payment for energy costs through the Energy Bill Support Scheme.

On the 26 May my Rt hon Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Energy Bills Support Scheme will increase to £400 from October 2022, which will now be a non-repayable grant.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will amend the changes to the eligibility criteria for the Warm Home Discount to retain support for disabled people’s higher energy usage needs.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer I gave to the Hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford on 28 April 2022 to Question 155833.

My Rt hon Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has also announced a one-off £150 payment for people on disability benefits this year, alongside other cost of living support measures.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to provide additional targeted support for all disabled people with high energy usage needs.

The Government understands that some households with a disability or medical condition will have higher energy costs than average. Certain specialised NHS England services do provide rebates on energy costs for patients using medical equipment at home, such as home oxygen concentrators or adult home dialysis. These arrangements are unique to the contracts or service specifications of these conditions. Clinical Commissioning Groups are best placed to support their local populace.

On 26 May, as part of an additional £15 billion package of cost-of-living support, it was announced that the six million people who receive disability allowance will get a payment of £150 to assist with rising energy prices. Additionally, households will get £400 of support with their energy bills through an expansion of the Energy Bills Support Scheme.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the process on retrofitting homes; and if he will take steps to speed up that process.

The Government has committed to spend £6.6billion across this Parliament to decarbonise buildings. This funding supports energy efficiency improvements through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, the Local Authority Delivery Scheme and the Home Upgrade Grant.

Through the Energy Company Obligation, the Government has also set a target for larger energy suppliers to deliver energy efficiency savings by 2026. For those not eligible for Government support, the green finance offer will be improved.

The Government is also investing in training. In 2021, the £6 million BEIS Skills Training Competition resulted in 7,000 opportunities to learn retrofit skills and will be developing plans for a 2022/23 competition.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Warm Home Discount, if he will reverse the proposed change to the criteria of eligibility for financial support towards energy bills that would mean those in receipt of disability living allowance, personal independence payment and attendance allowance will no longer be able to claim from the discount scheme.

Introducing non-means-tested benefits, such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Attendance Allowance (AA), into the eligibility criteria would mean that many households on lower incomes and in deeper fuel poverty would be disadvantaged.

Around 62% of PIP and DLA recipients also receive one of the qualifying means-tested benefits and so would be considered low-income under the Core Group 2 criteria. Those households with high energy costs would be eligible for a rebate. Recipients of AA, a pension-age benefit, who claim Pension Credit Guarantee Credit will, in most cases, qualify for a rebate through Core Group 1.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will hold discussions with representatives of British Gas on the effect of the increase in energy tariffs on customers with pre-payment meters (a) with and (b) without pre-paid credit on their pre-payment meter.

The Government is in regular contact with industry to discuss the impact of unprecedented global gas prices and will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure consumers are protected.

Ofgem has robust rules in place to protect Prepayment meter customers. In December 2020, Ofgem introduced Licence Conditions that require energy suppliers to provide extra support for customers using prepayment meters. These include an obligation on suppliers to make emergency and friendly-hours credit available to all pre-payment meter customers.

Where a supplier identifies that a prepayment customer is in a vulnerable situation, including where a customer is self-disconnecting or self-rationing their supply, they must offer additional support credit. When assessing how a customer will repay any credit offered, suppliers must also consider their ability to pay.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the rise in energy bills on customers in Weaver Vale constituency.

The Government recognises many households will need support to deal with the impact of high wholesale energy costs, which are being affected by global factors.

In response, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a package of support to help households with rising energy bills, worth £9.1 billion in 2022-23. This includes a £200 rebate for households delivered via their energy bill this autumn, a £150 non-repayable reduction in Council Tax bills for all households in Bands A-D in England and £144 million of discretionary funding for Local Authorities to support households who need support but are not eligible for the Council Tax reduction.

This is in addition to the support Government will continue to provide through the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which this winter is providing over 2 million households a £140 rebate off their energy bill each winter. The Government have announced that it would be increasing to £150 and help an extra 780,000 households next winter. Further, Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments help ensure the most vulnerable are better able to heat their homes over the colder months.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
31st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of Royal Mail deliveries in Runcorn and Helsby.

Royal Mail has publicly stated that it is aware of the reduction in service levels in some areas and is taking action to reduce delays to deliveries. Its contingency plans to mitigate disruption to postal services are overseen by Ofcom.

Ofcom continues to monitor Royal Mail’s performance to ensure it is providing the best service it can to customers and has powers to investigate and take enforcement action if Royal Mail fails to achieve its performance targets.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the financial difficulties of CNIM, if he will make it his policy to halt the construction of a waste incinerator in Weaver Vale constituency.

The Lostock Sustainable Energy Plant was granted consent under the Electricity Act 1989 in October 2012 by Ministers in what was then the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The consent was subsequently varied in July 2019. A further application to vary this consent was submitted in October 2021 to my department. When deciding whether to refuse or consent this application, the Secretary of State will consider all matters relevant to planning. The Government does not comment on specific matters relating to live applications.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate his Department has made of number of families at risk of entering fuel poverty as a result of the decision to raise the price cap; and what steps his Department is taking to support those families once the cap has been lifted.

The energy price cap from 1 April 2022 will be announced by Ofgem in February.

The Government continues to offer support for energy efficiency measures, which contribute to reducing energy bills and tackling fuel poverty in the long term. This includes schemes available to support low income households in improving the energy efficiency of their homes, including the Local Authority Delivery Scheme and the Energy Company Obligation. Financial support with energy bills is also available to eligible households through the Warm Home Discount, Cold Weather Payment and Winter Fuel Payment.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to tackle C02 shortages resulting from gas supply issues and its effects on the availability of meat and frozen products.

We are monitoring the situation and are not aware of any material supply issues with CO2 for the meat and frozen food industries at the current time.

14th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate his Department has made of the number of local authorities with an electric vehicle charging transition strategy; and what steps his Department is taking to support local authorities to ensure that those strategies are implemented.

The Government has a programme of engagement and support for local authorities, to ensure all areas are working to help deliver on the phase out of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. This includes funding the Energy Saving Trust to provide free advice to local authorities in England, on matters such as developing a local electric vehicle charging strategy. In collaboration with the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Government will soon also publish an electric vehicle infrastructure guide for local authorities, which will support the planning and delivery of electric vehicle chargepoints in their areas. This year £20 million is available under the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme for local authorities, to provide public chargepoints for their residents without access to private parking.

Local authorities are best placed to consider local needs, and the Government’s forthcoming Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy will serve to define the role and responsibilities of local authorities in the delivery of charging infrastructure.

The Government will continue to monitor and engage with local authorities as they progress with their strategies and will work to help mainstream capability and leadership, leading to local action to support zero emission vehicle uptake across every part of the UK.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the support available to local authorities for the development of electric vehicle charging transition strategies.

The Government has a programme of engagement and support for local authorities, to ensure all areas are working to help deliver on the phase out of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. This includes funding the Energy Saving Trust to provide free advice to local authorities in England, on matters such as developing a local electric vehicle charging strategy. In collaboration with the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Government will soon also publish an electric vehicle infrastructure guide for local authorities, which will support the planning and delivery of electric vehicle chargepoints in their areas. This year £20 million is available under the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme for local authorities, to provide public chargepoints for their residents without access to private parking.

Local authorities are best placed to consider local needs, and the Government’s forthcoming Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy will serve to define the role and responsibilities of local authorities in the delivery of charging infrastructure.

The Government will continue to monitor and engage with local authorities as they progress with their strategies and will work to help mainstream capability and leadership, leading to local action to support zero emission vehicle uptake across every part of the UK.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department taking to help local authorities with developing an electric vehicle charging transition strategy.

The Government has a programme of engagement and support for local authorities, to ensure all areas are working to help deliver on the phase out of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. This includes funding the Energy Saving Trust to provide free advice to local authorities in England, on matters such as developing a local electric vehicle charging strategy. In collaboration with the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Government will soon also publish an electric vehicle infrastructure guide for local authorities, which will support the planning and delivery of electric vehicle chargepoints in their areas. This year £20 million is available under the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme for local authorities, to provide public chargepoints for their residents without access to private parking.

Local authorities are best placed to consider local needs, and the Government’s forthcoming Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy will serve to define the role and responsibilities of local authorities in the delivery of charging infrastructure.

The Government will continue to monitor and engage with local authorities as they progress with their strategies and will work to help mainstream capability and leadership, leading to local action to support zero emission vehicle uptake across every part of the UK.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the efficacy of the Valneva covid-19 vaccine; and what steps he is taking to introduce that vaccine for people who cannot take the Pfizer, Astra-Zeneca or Moderna vaccines for ethical reasons.

The supply agreement between the government and Valneva was terminated in September 2021 and therefore this vaccine will not form part of the UK portfolio. Although Valneva have received their Phase III preliminary results and submitted their trial data to the MHRA, the company has not yet gained approval from the regulator.

The UK Government has taken a portfolio approach to vaccine supply for regulated vaccines. The UK has sufficient supply now for the current booster campaign, as well as continuation of the primary vaccination programme.

4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether foetal cells were used in the development of covid-19 vaccines.

Approved U.K. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any human foetal tissue.

7th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that people in the Weaver Vale constituency are receiving their post delivered by Royal Mail on time; and if his Department will make an assessment on the potential merits of further Government steps on this matter.

The Government sets the minimum requirements and service standards for the UK postal service in the Postal Services Act 2011 and designates the Office of Communications (Ofcom) as the independent regulator for the sector.

Ofcom has a duty to ensure the provision of a financially sustainable and efficient universal postal service. It monitors Royal Mail’s provision of the universal service and has powers to investigate and take enforcement action if Royal Mail fails to achieve its performance targets as appropriate, taking account of all relevant factors.

Ofcom is carrying out a review of the future regulatory framework for post which it aims to complete in 2022. As part of this, Ofcom is considering whether its approach to regulating the quality of service for key universal postal services remains appropriate. Ofcom published a consultation document on proposals for the future regulation of postal services on 9 December 2021.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
7th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment has he made of the level of disruption to postal services as a result of covid-19 related absences.

Royal Mail’s contingency plans to mitigate disruption to postal services are overseen by Ofcom, the independent regulator responsible for monitoring the delivery of the universal postal service.

Ofcom carefully monitors Royal Mail’s performance to ensure it is providing the best service possible to customers and has powers to investigate and take enforcement action if Royal Mail fails to achieve its performance targets.

Ofcom will continue to take a pragmatic and proportionate approach to compliance monitoring.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
30th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will take steps to help ensure that energy companies are offering flexible and affordable tariffs for elderly customers.

The setting of energy tariffs is a commercial matter for individual supply companies.

The Government continues to support low income and fuel poor households with their energy bills through the Warm Home Discount which provides eligible households with a £140 discount. Further, Winter Fuel Payments which are explicitly for the elderly, and Cold Weather Payments, ensure that the most vulnerable are better able to heat their homes over the colder months.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that customers of energy providers that enter administration will automatically be placed on an identical or similar contract with another provider.

When a supplier exits the market Ofgem runs the Supplier of Last Resort process with the aim of getting the best deal for customers.

If an energy supplier enters special administration, the pricing strategy is a matter for the Energy Administrator. Administrators have a statutory obligation to continue energy supply to the company’s customers at the lowest practicable cost.

The Energy Price Cap will continue to protect customers, ensuring they pay a fair price for their energy.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to update the criteria for waste sent to Northwich Incinerator so that recyclable items will not be incinerated.

A public consultation into the application for the proposed expansion of the Lostock Sustainable Energy Plant near Northwich in Cheshire commenced on 4 November 2021 and will close on 2 December 2021. It is not possible to comment on the merits of a live planning application given the Secretary of State’s quasi-judicial role in the decision-making process. The Secretary of State will take all relevant matters, including the waste hierarchy, into account when he makes his decision.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of the use of blue hydrogen in achieving net zero.

Low carbon hydrogen will be vital for meeting our legally-binding commitment to achieving net zero by 2050, with potential to help decarbonise vital UK industry sectors and provide flexible energy across heat, power and transport.

The Net Zero Strategy confirms the government’s ‘twin-track’ approach to supporting both electrolytic ‘green’ and carbon capture (CCUS)-enabled ‘blue’ hydrogen production alongside multiple other production routes. Analysis from BEIS and the Climate Change Committee suggests that both routes will be needed to deliver low carbon hydrogen at the required scale and cost.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the expansion of the proposed Northwich incinerator on (a) levels of heavy goods vehicle transit, (b) noise pollution and (c) air pollution in that local area.

A public consultation into the Application for the proposed expansion of the Lostock Sustainable Energy Plant near Northwich in Cheshire, commenced on 4 November 2021 and will close on 2 December 2021. It is not possible to comment on the merits of a live planning application given the Secretary of State’s quasi-judicial role in the decision-making process but he will take all relevant matters into account when he makes his decision.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent estimate his Department has made of the average cost of (a) a heat pump, (b) installing a heat pump and (c) adding internal renovations, such as changing radiators or pipework, to accompany a new heat pump.

In 2020 BEIS published analysis by Delta-EE on the cost of installing heating measures in domestic properties, including heat pumps.

Since then, the Government has published the Heat and Buildings Strategy which sets out a plan to drive down the cost of low carbon heating technologies like heat pumps, working with industry to ensure that in future they are no more expensive to buy and run for consumers as fossil fuel boilers. As part of this strategy:

  • Households can benefit from £5,000 government grants through £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme to help install low-carbon heating systems, part of more than £3.9 billion of new funding to decarbonise heat and buildings;
  • A £60 million innovation fund was launched to make clean heat systems smaller and easier to install and cheaper to run.
Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with metro mayors on converting the gas grid in their area from natural gas to hydrogen.

A variety of joint government and industry research, development and testing projects are underway, designed to help determine the safety, feasibility, costs and benefits of converting all or part of the existing gas grid to carry 100 percent hydrogen.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State has not met with metro mayors specifically on converting the gas grid. BEIS officials have had wider engagement with local authorities to ensure their perspectives were considered in the development of the UK Hydrogen Strategy and we will continue to engage with local authorities, metro mayors and other local partners as we look to grow the hydrogen economy throughout the 2020s and beyond.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the feasibility of introducing nasal vaccines as part of the Government's covid-19 vaccination programme.

The Government’s approach to seeking a vaccine for COVID-19 has, from the outset, been to take a portfolio approach to vaccine procurement. This has allowed the Government to secure access to six different vaccine candidates across three vaccine types and from a range of developers. The aim is to ensure that the UK has access to the most promising vaccines currently in development, should any of these prove safe and effective.

While there are currently no approved nasal vaccines for COVID-19, the Government continues to engage with the market as new vaccines and vaccine technologies gain approval.

25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reason Modern Methods of Construction are not included in the Building and Heat strategy.

The Heat and Buildings Strategy is focussed on emissions from energy use within buildings. Emissions from heat used for industrial processes, and emissions from construction are out of scope for the Heat and Buildings Strategy.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made a recent assessment of the potential merits of holding a public scientific hearing on animal experimentation.

The use of animals in research is carefully regulated and remains important in ensuring new medicines and treatments are safe.   At the same time, the Government believes that animals should only be used when there is no practicable alternative and it actively supports and funds the development and dissemination of techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research (the 3Rs).  This is achieved primarily through funding for the National Centre for the 3Rs, which works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of 3Rs technologies and ensure that advances in the 3Rs are reflected in policy, practice and regulations on animal research.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the amount of statutory redundancy paid to former Greensill Capital employees since the collapse of that company.

The Redundancy Payments Service (RPS) is dealing with two cases: Greensill Capital Management Company (UK) Limited and its subsidiary, Greensill Capital (UK) Limited.

In respect of Greensill Capital Management Company (UK) Limited the RPS has, to date, paid out £138,971 in statutory redundancy payments.

In respect of Greensill Capital (UK) Limited, to date no claims have yet been received and no payments made.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of strengthening consumer protections in respect of purchases on online marketplaces that are dispatched from within the UK but are serviced by overseas sellers that operate outside of UK law.

The UK has a robust legislative framework to protect consumers. All businesses targeting UK consumers, wherever they may be located, must comply with this legislative framework.

Consumers should report any problems to the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133, www.citizensadvice.org/. The helpline offers free advice to consumers on their rights and can refer on complaints to Trading Standards for appropriate enforcement action.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) effect of LEPs on their constituent areas and (b) the short and medium term future of LEPs.

Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) performance is monitored through an annual assurance process and regular reporting. LEPs are required to participate in relevant Local Authority scrutiny arrangements to guarantee the effective and appropriate scrutiny of their investment decisions.

LEPs must also publish Delivery Plans and End of Year Reports, which set out details of the contributions they are making to promote economic growth in their areas.

Alongside the Budget, the Government committed to working with local businesses on the future role of Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of strengthening protections for consumers from unfair contracts and cancellation clauses.

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, all terms of written contracts must be fair and transparent. If terms in a consumer contract are assessed by a court as unfair, they will not be binding on the consumer, even if the consumer has “accepted” them.

The Government is working closely with Citizens Advice and the Consumer Protection Partnership, which brings together key partners within the consumer protection framework, to examine ways to make it easier for consumers to cancel unwanted subscriptions and avoid them facing unreasonable charges.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress his Department has made in ensuring that wedding venues provide refunds where events have not gone ahead as a result of the covid-19 restrictions.

The Competition and Markets Authority has produced a statement to help consumers and business understand how the law operates when contracts for wedding services have been or will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-refunds-cma-warns-wedding-firms-over-unfair-practices.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of compensating people who have lost money as a result of weddings being cancelled due to covid-19 restrictions and the venue refusing to refund in full.

No assessment has been made. Guidance from the Competition and Markets Authority in relation to wedding services affected by Covid-19 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wedding-services-coronavirus-covid-19-cancellations-and-refunds.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress his Department has made on updating the Covid-19 Temporary Framework for UK Public Authorities to take into account the temporary increase in EU State Aid limits in order to help support the hospitality sector.

The European Commission approved amendments to the Covid-19 Temporary Framework for UK authorities on 08 December 2020. These included support for uncovered fixed costs, an increase in the budget of the scheme and inclusion of subsidised interest rates for subordinated loans.

The EU State aid rules ceased to apply to the United Kingdom on 31 December 2020, except in the limited circumstances of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The United Kingdom remains bound by its international commitments, including the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with the EU. In particular, it will be important for relevant subsidies to meet the terms of the Principles set out in Article 3.4 of the TCA. Covid-19 schemes in operation before 1 January 2021 will already be compliant with these Principles.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of locating the National Artificial Intelligence Centre At Sci-Tech, Daresbury in Weaver Vale constituency as part of the Government's levelling up policy.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister has announced an ambitious modernisation of the Armed Forces supported by more than?£24 billion over the next four years, including at least £6.6 billion for R&D.

This commitment includes a new agency for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accelerate the research, development, testing, integration and deployment of world-leading AI and Autonomous Systems.

This investment will underpin the UK’s enduring technical edge and status as a global science superpower. A decision has yet to been made about the agency’s location.

Furthermore, the Government's unprecedented commitment at the last Budget to increase public investment in R&D to £22 billion by 2024 to 2025 will boost economic performance outside of London and the South East and level up across the country.

This investment builds on the achievements under the Industrial Strategy AI and Data Grand Challenge and the AI Sector Deal.

Some of the Government’s key investments across the country includes:

  • 16 new AI Centres for Doctoral Training at universities across all four regions of the country, delivering 1,000 new PhDs over the next five years.
  • New prestigious Turing AI Fellowships. This includes 15 new Acceleration Fellowships to accelerate the careers of our brightest AI researchers with the potential to be world-leaders in the next 5 years.
  • Up to 2,500 places for AI and data science conversion courses starting this year. This includes up to 1,000 government-funded scholarships for students from underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Funded up to £50 million for five new AI Centres of Excellence for digital pathology and imaging, including radiology, using AI medical advances. Three recently received a £50 million funding boost to scale up work to support the long-term response to COVID-19.

Founding The Alan Turing Institute as the UK’s national institute for data science and AI. Thirteen of the UK’s best universities make up the Turing’s core partners.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many applications for Innovate UK Smart Grants for businesses in Weaver Vale constituency have been rejected since August 2020; and what the primary reason was for each of those rejections.

Innovate UK Smart grants are an opportunity for UK registered organisations to apply for a share of up to £25 million from Innovate UK (part of UK Research and Innovation, UKRI) to deliver disruptive R&D innovations that can significantly impact the UK economy.

The August 2020 competition for Innovate UK Smart Grants opened to applications on 28th August and closed to applications on 25th November.

Applicants are not required to include their postcode until after an offer is made. Identification of applications from the Weaver Vale has been undertaken based on postcode information voluntarily provided by applicants for the organisations’ registered addresses and/or the work location addresses. 17 applications involving one or more applicants in the Weaver Vale constituency have been identified.

Applications that do not fulfil the competition criteria are classed as ineligible and many applicants with ineligible applications will have been informed of this already. As of 30th November, 3 of these applications are ineligible. Two of the applications exceed the allowed project costs for the project duration and the other is a project over 18 months in duration that does not fulfil the need to be a collaborative project. These eligibility criteria are applied transparently and equally to all applications.

This competition will go into the assessment phase shortly with the funding decisions expected in February 2021.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many applications for Innovate UK Smart Grants were received from businesses in Weaver Vale constituency since 28 August 2020; and how many of those applications were successful in receiving grant money.

Innovate UK Smart grants are an opportunity for UK registered organisations to apply for a share of up to £25 million from Innovate UK (part of UK Research and Innovation, UKRI) to deliver disruptive R&D innovations that can significantly impact the UK economy.

The August 2020 competition for Innovate UK Smart Grants opened to applications on 28th August and closed to applications on 25th November.

Applicants are not required to include their postcode until after an offer is made. Identification of applications from the Weaver Vale has been undertaken based on postcode information voluntarily provided by applicants for the organisations’ registered addresses and/or the work location addresses. 17 applications involving one or more applicants in the Weaver Vale constituency have been identified.

Applications that do not fulfil the competition criteria are classed as ineligible and many applicants with ineligible applications will have been informed of this already. As of 30th November, 3 of these applications are ineligible. Two of the applications exceed the allowed project costs for the project duration and the other is a project over 18 months in duration that does not fulfil the need to be a collaborative project. These eligibility criteria are applied transparently and equally to all applications.

This competition will go into the assessment phase shortly with the funding decisions expected in February 2021.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has for the long-term recovery of the wedding sector from the covid-19 outbreak.

We are providing businesses, including those in the wedding industry, with a wide package of support to help them through the current crisis. This includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, government-backed loans, the Local Restrictions Support Grants and additional funding provided to Local Authorities to support businesses. We are continuing to engage with representatives from the wedding industry to discuss the longer-term reopening of the sector.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what additional steps the Government has taken to support the wedding and events industry during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown.

The Government is providing an unprecedented package of support for businesses including an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until 31 March 2021 and grants of up to £3000 per month. We have also extended the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and the November-January grant will now provide 80% of average trading profits capped at £7,500 in total.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the need to legislate to protect workers in workplaces in regions placed in (a) Tier 2 and (b) Tier 3 where (i) an employee could reasonably work from home but is prevented from doing so because of their employer and (ii) working from home is not an option.

As our Working Safely guidance states, which applies for all tiers: to help contain the virus, workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.

Employers already have a legal obligation to protect the health and safety of not just their workers but also of the other people who may be affected by their business.

The decision to return to the workplace must be made in meaningful consultation with workers (including through trade unions or employee representative groups where they exist). It is vital employers engage with workers to ensure they feel safe returning to work, and they should not force anyone into an unsafe workplace.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the need to educate consumers of the financial risks when booking travel that is not covered by the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations.

The Government is committed to ensuring consumers are able to make well-informed decisions. Package travel providers are required by law to provide consumers with clear information upfront about their booking, including details of any associated financial protection. Consumers can obtain advice about general consumer rights from the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 113, which is funded by the Department.

There are six categories governing the circumstances in which travel services are classified as a package falling under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 (PTRs). The PTRs have a broad scope intended to cover modern methods of booking package holidays. Further guidance on this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/package-holidays-complying-with-regulations-guidance-for-businesses.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Covid-19 outbreak, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of providing greater clarity to consumers of the financial risks entailed with booking DIY travel outside of the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations.

The Government is committed to ensuring consumers are able to make well-informed decisions. Package travel providers are required by law to provide consumers with clear information upfront about their booking, including details of any associated financial protection. Consumers can obtain advice about general consumer rights from the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 113, which is funded by the Department.

There are six categories governing the circumstances in which travel services are classified as a package falling under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 (PTRs). The PTRs have a broad scope intended to cover modern methods of booking package holidays. Further guidance on this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/package-holidays-complying-with-regulations-guidance-for-businesses.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the timeframe is for the reopening of complementary therapy businesses that provide (a) reflexology, (b) aromatherapy, (c) reiki and (d) massage therapy.

We have now provided close contact services like reflexology, aromatherapy, reiki and massage therapy in England, with the certainty they need to reopen from Monday 13 July, subject to them following the COVID-secure guidelines.

We appreciate that this is difficult for some businesses. Our approach is guided by the scientific and medical advice, and every step is weighed against the evidence, remembering that the more we open up, the more vigilant we will need to be.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the earliest date on which tattoo and piercing businesses will be permitted to reopen; and whether those businesses will need to put in place additional safeguards to operate safely.

As stated in the Roadmap for Recovery the Government anticipates that they will be opened as part of Phase 3 in July, should the science confirm that it is safe to do so. This area’s taskforce is producing guidance, which will be released prior to reopening.

This guidance will apply to England only, but will be useful to businesses across the UK. People in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should refer to equivalent guidance issued by devolved administrations.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that companies whose workers are capable of working remotely during the covid-19 outbreak are implementing such policies.

Government has advised that people should be working from home where it is possible to do so.

Government is clear that we must support people in work to do the right thing during a Covid-19 outbreak. Businesses and employees can get advice on individual employment issues by visiting the Acas website and the latest advice on homeworking is published there. Businesses can also ring the BEIS Business Support Line for further advice on support for business.

Paul Scully
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with energy suppliers on providing customers with financial support during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government announced on 19 March that we have secured a voluntary agreement with domestic energy supply companies to support customers impacted by Covid-19.

Under the terms of this agreement, energy suppliers will seek to identify and prioritise customers at risk, support customers who are impacted financially, and support prepayment meter customers to stay on supply.

The support offered will be based on the individual circumstances of the customer and the systems, processes and capability of the supply company. It could include extending discretionary or friendly credit, or sending out a pre-loaded top up card for prepay customers who are unable to leave home to top up.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when her Department plans to (a) respond to the 2016 consultation on tips, gratuities, cover and service charges and (b) bring forward legislative proposals to tackle unfair practices in the hospitality sector.

We have already implemented a number of recommendations from the Taylor Review, and as announced in the Queens’ Speech, we will be bringing forward an Employment Rights Bill to deliver the greatest reform of workers’ rights in over 20 years.

This legislation will make workplaces fairer, by providing better support for working families, new protections for those in low-paid work and the gig economy, and by encouraging flexible working.

One of the core measures to the Bill is ensuring that tips and service charges left for workers go to them in full, supporting fairness for workers in the hospitality sector.

Kelly Tolhurst
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
7th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the adequacy and effectiveness of the (a) Gambling Commission and (b) Financial Conduct Authority, in the context of the collapse of Football Index.

The independent review into the regulation of Football Index, undertaken by Malcolm Sheehan QC and published last September, identified lessons to be learnt and provided recommendations for both the Gambling Commission and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Both regulators have taken steps to address the issues identified in the report. The Gambling Commission has updated the frameworks for risk based regulation so that product novelty is properly considered alongside other factors in determining the level of scrutiny an operator is placed under. The Commission has also consulted on tighter rules for the terminology used to describe gambling products.

The Commission and FCA have also worked together to strengthen their Memorandum of Understanding in response to Mr Sheehan’s recommendations, including with new escalation routes and commitments on timeliness of responses to ensure regulatory impasses can not remain unsolved. The FCA has additionally nominated an Executive Director to oversee the relationship with the Commission.

Our Review of the Gambling Act 2005 called for evidence on the powers and resources of the Commission and how it uses them, and we will publish a White Paper in the coming weeks.

20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to support local authorities in offering swimming lessons to children.

The Government recognises the importance of ensuring public access to swimming pools and swimming lessons. Swimming is a great way for people of all ages to stay fit and healthy as well as being a crucial life skill in terms of water safety. Swimming and water safety is an important part of the primary PE curriculum. The Government has published national guidance encouraging primary schools to use their share of the £320 million PE and Sport Premium to fund additional swimming lessons and train teachers.

The Government has provided a range of support for swimming pools during the pandemic. The £100 million National Leisure Recovery Fund supported the reopening of local authority swimming pools throughout the country. Sport England continues to invest in access to swimming, awarding £9,112,544 in grassroots swimming and diving since 2019, including £6,230,502 directly to Swim England. This supports Swim England’s work to develop the swimming workforce, including the Institute of Swimming which delivers training for swimming teachers.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much funding her Department has provided to the Rugby Football League since 2017; and on what projects that funding has been spent.

I am looking forward to welcoming teams from across the world to the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup which will take place in October and November. As part of this, the government has provided £10 million worth of funding to the CreatedBy legacy programme to support the development of large and small scale projects.

The Rugby Football League has received support from the government’s £600 million Sport Survival Package which ensured the survival of sports organisations throughout the pandemic. The Rugby Football League received £16.7 million loan support and £1.95 million grant support from the package, totalling £18.6 million of combined funding. This funding has safeguarded the immediate future of the sport for the communities it serves.

Furthermore, rugby league clubs will have benefitted from the £220m of National Lottery and Exchequer funding committed by Sport England since March 2020 to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through this pandemic.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of potential merits of amending planning legislation to facilitate the roll out of 5G; and what assessment he has made of the adequacy of existing planning legislation in respect of that roll out.

The government’s ambition is for the majority of the population to have access to a 5G signal by 2027 and we also want to ensure that UK businesses reap the full benefits of 5G.

It is essential that the planning system continues to effectively support the deployment of new mobile infrastructure. On 7 March 2022, we published our response to the second of two consultations on necessary reforms to the planning system, setting out the changes we intend to make.

These changes will provide operators with the flexibility they require to upgrade existing sites in England for 5G deployment, enhance coverage and meet the growing demands for network capacity. They will also help improve coverage in rural areas by supporting the deployment of the Shared Rural Network, where sites will need to be installed and upgraded for sharing by the four national mobile network operators.

3rd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to ensure the sustainability of professional football clubs.

The Government recognises the importance of the long-term sustainability of professional football clubs, particularly those in the lower leagues. That is why we have welcomed the Independent Fan Led Review of Football Governance and have endorsed in principle the headline recommendation of the review to set up an independent regulator for English football.

The Government is working at pace to consider the report’s full suite of recommendations in detail, including on improving financial stability and the governance of football clubs.

The Government will continue to engage with stakeholders as we work towards issuing a full response to the report and its recommendations in the Spring.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment she has made of the sustainability of Government funding for youth services.

I would like to refer the honourable member to Parliamentary Question 88971, regarding adequacy of the current funding levels for youth services:

To kickstart the Youth Investment Fund, £10 million will be spent this year in key levelling up areas. This will enable local youth providers to invest in capital projects that expand the reach, number and range of services they currently offer. Further details including investment areas and eligibility criteria, alongside plans regarding the remainder of the fund, will be announced in due course.

The Government recognises that local youth provision relies on a mix of statutory and voluntary sector provision. The Youth Investment Fund will seek to build on locally available provision and will encourage bids that show all partners working together to maximise the impact of investment to help create sustainable funding for the new facilities.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of current funding levels for youth services; and what steps is she taking to release the Youth Investment Fund in full.

I would like to refer the honourable member to Parliamentary Question 88971, regarding adequacy of the current funding levels for youth services:

To kickstart the Youth Investment Fund, £10 million will be spent this year in key levelling up areas. This will enable local youth providers to invest in capital projects that expand the reach, number and range of services they currently offer. Further details including investment areas and eligibility criteria, alongside plans regarding the remainder of the fund, will be announced in due course.

The Government recognises that local youth provision relies on a mix of statutory and voluntary sector provision. The Youth Investment Fund will seek to build on locally available provision and will encourage bids that show all partners working together to maximise the impact of investment to help create sustainable funding for the new facilities.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to provide accessible youth services which are open every day of the week.

The Government recognises the vital role that accessible youth services and activities play in improving the life chances and wellbeing of young people. This is why DCMS is investing £560 million in youth services in England over the next 3 years, including the Youth Investment Fund (YIF) and our ongoing support for the National Citizen Service. This will transform the government’s offer for young people and level up opportunities right across the country. This funding builds on more than £12 billion given to Local Authorities this year who have a statutory duty to allocate funding to youth services in line with local need.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
29th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether she plans to offer redress for those affected by the Football Index collapse.

The government appreciates the significant impact that the collapse of the novel gambling product Football Index had on former customers. Administration proceedings for BetIndex, the company which operated Football Index, are continuing, and are looking at the assets and liabilities of the operator and what is owed to customers. It is likely that this process will result in some amounts being reimbursed to creditors. There is no compensation scheme for losses caused by a gambling firm ceasing to operate and the government does not think it would be appropriate to use public funds for these purposes.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent progress has been made between the Government and the EU Commission on visa restrictions for touring musicians, artists and support staff.

In negotiations with the EU, the UK proposed expanding a list of activities for Short Term Business Visitors to cover musicians, artists and their accompanying staff. This would have enabled musicians, artists and support staff to tour and perform in the EU without needing work-permits. I deeply regret that the EU rejected our proposals.There is scope to return to this issue in the future should the EU change its mind.

UK performers and artists are of course still able to tour and perform in the EU, and vice versa. However, they will be required to check domestic immigration rules for each Member State in which they intend to tour. This is because, while some Member States may allow paid performances without a visa or work permit, others will require musicians, artists and other creative professionals to obtain a visa or work permit, in the same way that they are required for other international artists.

The Government is looking at how we can work with our partners in EU Member States to find ways to make life easier for the creative industries touring in the EU.

We understand the concerns of the sector regarding the new arrangements and we are committed to supporting them as they get to grips with the changes to systems and processes. The DCMS-led working group on creative and cultural touring, which involves sector representatives and other key government departments, is looking at the issues and options to help the sectors resume touring with ease as soon as it is safe to do so.

15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department in ensuring equity in the opening up of sport (a) venues and (b) events following changing covid-19 restrictions.

The Government’s approach to reopening venues and events has been based on safety and wider public health concerns. All stakeholders are subject to the same regulations and covid secure guidance whilst the relevant governing bodies and local authorities have the power to make appropriate decisions.

The £300m Sports Winter Survival Package, announced by the Secretary of State in November, is providing emergency funding to protect the immediate future of major spectator sports in England that have been the most severely impacted by covid restrictions over the winter.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many applications for funding from the Culture Recovery Fund were made from the culture and heritage sector in (a) Cheshire West and Chester, (b) Halton and (c) Weaver Vale constituency, and how many of applications were successful.

The following table includes details of the number of applications received and how many were successful, as well as the total amount of funding requested and how much was allocated for each of the three areas requested. Note this only refers to heritage and arts recovery grants and was correct as of 11 November.

Constituency / Local Authority

No applications

No awards

Total applied for

Total awarded

Cheshire West and Chester (LA)

17

11

£1,980,809

£1,492,15

Halton (constituency)

2

2

£392,660

£392,660

Weaver Vale (constituency)

3

3

£146,000

£146,000

13th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much funding from the Culture Recovery Fund has been allocated to the culture and heritage sector in (a) Cheshire West and Chester, (b) Halton and (c) Weaver Vale since that fund was established.

The following table includes details of the number of applications received and how many were successful, as well as the total amount of funding requested and how much was allocated for each of the three areas requested. Note this only refers to heritage and arts recovery grants and was correct as of 11 November.

Constituency / Local Authority

No applications

No awards

Total applied for

Total awarded

Cheshire West and Chester (LA)

17

11

£1,980,809

£1,492,15

Halton (constituency)

2

2

£392,660

£392,660

Weaver Vale (constituency)

3

3

£146,000

£146,000

13th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to review the eligibility criteria for free school meals before the beginning of the next school year.

Under this government, free school meal eligibility has been extended several times and to more groups of children than any other government over the past half a century. This includes the introduction of universal infant free school meals, further education free meals, and the permanent extension of free school meals to some groups of children who have no recourse to public funds.

Under current criteria, in January 2022, 1.9 million pupils were eligible for and claiming a benefit-related free meal in school at lunch time, saving families hundreds of pounds a year per child. This equates to 22.5% of all pupils, up from 15% in 2015.

The government understands the pressures people are facing with the cost of living and is providing over £37 billion in support for the cost of living this year. This includes an extra £500 million of local support, which will be extended from this October to March 2023 to help those most in need with payments towards the rising cost of food, energy, and water bills. This brings the total amount provided through the Household Support Fund to £1.5 billion since October 2021. This is administered by local councils in England and helps those in most need with payments towards the rising cost of food, energy, and water bills.

In setting eligibility for free school meals, the government’s position remains that it is right that provision is targeted at supporting the most disadvantaged, those out of work or on the lowest income. The department will continue to keep all free school meal eligibility under review, to ensure that these meals are supporting those who most need them. Schools are responsible for the provision of school meals and may enter individual contracts with suppliers and caterers to meet this duty. The department is confident that schools will continue providing pupils with nutritious school meals, as required by the school food standards.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the cost of living crisis on levels of the number of children living in poverty who are not eligible for free schools meals.

Under this government, free school meal eligibility has been extended several times and to more groups of children than any other government over the past half a century. This includes the introduction of universal infant free school meals, further education free meals, and the permanent extension of free school meals to some groups of children who have no recourse to public funds.

Under current criteria, in January 2022, 1.9 million pupils were eligible for and claiming a benefit-related free meal in school at lunch time, saving families hundreds of pounds a year per child. This equates to 22.5% of all pupils, up from 15% in 2015.

The government understands the pressures people are facing with the cost of living and is providing over £37 billion in support for the cost of living this year. This includes an extra £500 million of local support, which will be extended from this October to March 2023 to help those most in need with payments towards the rising cost of food, energy, and water bills. This brings the total amount provided through the Household Support Fund to £1.5 billion since October 2021. This is administered by local councils in England and helps those in most need with payments towards the rising cost of food, energy, and water bills.

In setting eligibility for free school meals, the government’s position remains that it is right that provision is targeted at supporting the most disadvantaged, those out of work or on the lowest income. The department will continue to keep all free school meal eligibility under review, to ensure that these meals are supporting those who most need them. Schools are responsible for the provision of school meals and may enter individual contracts with suppliers and caterers to meet this duty. The department is confident that schools will continue providing pupils with nutritious school meals, as required by the school food standards.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
13th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department is taking steps to guarantee access to healthy meals for children living in poverty who are not eligible for free school meals.

Under this government, free school meal eligibility has been extended several times and to more groups of children than any other government over the past half a century. This includes the introduction of universal infant free school meals, further education free meals, and the permanent extension of free school meals to some groups of children who have no recourse to public funds.

Under current criteria, in January 2022, 1.9 million pupils were eligible for and claiming a benefit-related free meal in school at lunch time, saving families hundreds of pounds a year per child. This equates to 22.5% of all pupils, up from 15% in 2015.

The government understands the pressures people are facing with the cost of living and is providing over £37 billion in support for the cost of living this year. This includes an extra £500 million of local support, which will be extended from this October to March 2023 to help those most in need with payments towards the rising cost of food, energy, and water bills. This brings the total amount provided through the Household Support Fund to £1.5 billion since October 2021. This is administered by local councils in England and helps those in most need with payments towards the rising cost of food, energy, and water bills.

In setting eligibility for free school meals, the government’s position remains that it is right that provision is targeted at supporting the most disadvantaged, those out of work or on the lowest income. The department will continue to keep all free school meal eligibility under review, to ensure that these meals are supporting those who most need them. Schools are responsible for the provision of school meals and may enter individual contracts with suppliers and caterers to meet this duty. The department is confident that schools will continue providing pupils with nutritious school meals, as required by the school food standards.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government plans to take to improve outcomes for care experienced young people.

Every local authority in England must appoint a Virtual School Head who has a statutory duty to promote the educational attainment of all children in their care. Looked-after children have priority in school admissions and attract Pupil Premium Plus funding of £2,410 per child, up to age 16. This is managed by the Virtual School Head, who works with the child’s school to deliver objectives in the child’s Personal Education Plan.

In October 2021, the department launched a £3 million pilot in 30 local authorities to extend Pupil Premium Plus funding to looked-after children and care leavers in post-16 education. This initially ran until March 2022, and we are committed to continuing the pilot to support looked-after children and care leavers in further education.

Care leavers also receive financial support to help them engage in education, employment or training, including bursaries of £1,000 to undertake an apprenticeship and £2,000 to go to university, and they are also a priority group for the 16-19 further education bursary.

The department has launched the care leaver covenant, which supports care leavers into employment, and established the Civil Service care leaver internship scheme, which has seen over 700 young people being offered 12 month paid internships across government.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of refocusing the care system on early intervention as recommended by the independent review of children's social care.

The department recognises how important early help and intervention is to transforming children’s lives. In April we announced a £1 billion package to support vulnerable families, including funding for Family Hubs, investment in the Holiday, Activity and Food programme, and funding so that the Supporting Families programme can work with up to 300,000 more families.

The department will closely consider the recommendations from the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care’s final report and will set out an implementation strategy by the end of the year, which also takes into account the National Panel Review into the tragic deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson, and the Competition and Markets Authority’s study into children’s social care placements.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how membership of the Care Review Implementation Board of experts will be decided.

The National Implementation Board will include people with experience of leading transformational change and those with their own experience of the care system. We will set out more details about the board in due course.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will undertake urgent reforms to the childcare sector, including allocating adequate funding to ensure that staff are sufficiently well paid to provide high-quality, affordable childcare.

The department continues to look at ways to improve the cost, choice and availability of high-quality childcare and early education, in order to support parents and provide children with the best start in life.

The department has spent over £3.5 billion in each of the past three years on early education entitlements, and we are investing additional funding for those entitlements worth £160 million in the 2022/23 financial year, £180 million in the 2023/24 financial year and £170 million in the 2024/25 financial year, compared to the 2021/22 financial year. This is for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers and reflects cost pressures and changes in the number of eligible children anticipated at the time of the Spending Review.

With safety and quality at the heart, as a first step, the department will consult on ratio requirements to give childcare providers more flexibility and autonomy to make decisions about their settings and needs of their children.

The department recognises the huge contribution the early years workforce makes to giving every child the best start in life. Supporting this workforce continues to be a priority and we are in regular contact with local authorities and sector bodies to understand the pressures on childcare providers, including any issues related to recruitment and retention.

We are continuing to work proactively with the sector to build our understanding of the situation and how the department might support childcare providers in this area.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment the Government has made of the potential implications for its policies of the funding recommendations made by the independent review of children's social care.

On 23 May 2022, the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care published its final recommendations. On the same day, the department set out the actions it is taking to improve children’s social care and committed to publishing a detailed and ambitious implementation strategy in due course.

As the department develops an implementation strategy, we will consider the recommendations carefully, including cost implications and where legislation might be required.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the Government has plans to bring forward legislative proposals in response to the independent review of children's social care.

On 23 May 2022, the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care published its final recommendations. On the same day, the department set out the actions it is taking to improve children’s social care and committed to publishing a detailed and ambitious implementation strategy in due course.

As the department develops an implementation strategy, we will consider the recommendations carefully, including cost implications and where legislation might be required.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on funding for the care system in response to the independent review of children's social care.

On 23 May 2022, the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care published its final recommendations. On the same day, the department set out the actions it is taking to improve children’s social care and committed to publishing a detailed and ambitious implementation strategy in due course.

As the department develops an implementation strategy, we will consider the recommendations carefully, including cost implications and where legislation might be required.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
31st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Schools White Paper, if he will include the workforce framework contained in the School teachers' pay and conditions document.

The Schools White Paper was published on 28 March 2022 and sets out our commitment to teaching being an attractive, high-status profession; we will recruit and retain the best teachers, in the subjects and areas they are needed most. The full publication can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/opportunity-for-all-strong-schools-with-great-teachers-for-your-child.

The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) is statutory guidance on pay and conditions for teachers. It applies to local authority maintained schools in England. The STPCD will be updated at the end of this year’s pay round to reflect the pay award for the 2022/23 academic year. The full document can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-teachers-pay-and-conditions.

28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, in reference to the Schools White Paper, if he will enable local authorities to support orphan schools in the event that Regional School Commissioners are unable to find a multi-academy trust to take those schools on.

The government’s vision, as set out in the ‘Opportunity for all’ White Paper, is for a school-led system where every school is part of a family of schools in a strong multi academy trust (MAT).

Where a maintained school is eligible for intervention, the department will match it with a strong MAT sponsor that has the capacity to deliver sustained improvements. More than 7 out of 10 sponsored academies are now rated Good or Outstanding, compared to about 1 in 10 of the local authority maintained schools they replaced.

The department is working with Falcon Education Academies Trust and St Joseph’s Catholic MAT to pilot a new approach for maintained schools and academies that, for various reasons, cannot be placed with a strong MAT sponsor.

28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to (a) automatically enrol for free school meals those school children who are eligible and (b) expand the eligibility criteria to include all children who meet the income criteria, regardless of their parents’ circumstances.

The provision of free school meals (FSM) to children from out-of-work families or those on low incomes is of the utmost importance to this government. Under the benefits-related criteria the department provides a free healthy meal to around 1.7 million children, ensuring they are well nourished and can concentrate, learn and achieve in the classroom.

Under this government, eligibility for FSM has been extended several times and to more groups of children than any other government over the past half a century, including the introduction of universal infant FSM, and further education FSM.

The department is also permanently extending FSM eligibility to children from all groups with no recourse to public funds. This will come into effect for the start of the summer term. We also want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their FSM, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility.

To support this, the department provides an eligibility checking system to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have also developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for FSM and provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including FSM.

As announced in the Spring Statement, the government is continuing to provide targeted cost of living support for households most in need. From April, the government is providing an additional £500 million to help households with the cost of household essentials, on top of what we have already provided since October 2021, bringing the total funding for this support to £1 billion.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will review the £7,400 income threshold for free school meals in response to the rising cost of living and inflation.

The provision of free school meals (FSM) to children from out-of-work families or those on low incomes is of the utmost importance to this government. Under the benefits-related criteria the department provides a free healthy meal to around 1.7 million children, ensuring they are well nourished and can concentrate, learn and achieve in the classroom.

Under this government, eligibility for FSM has been extended several times and to more groups of children than any other government over the past half a century, including the introduction of universal infant FSM, and further education FSM.

The department is also permanently extending FSM eligibility to children from all groups with no recourse to public funds. This will come into effect for the start of the summer term. We also want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their FSM, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility.

To support this, the department provides an eligibility checking system to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have also developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for FSM and provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including FSM.

As announced in the Spring Statement, the government is continuing to provide targeted cost of living support for households most in need. From April, the government is providing an additional £500 million to help households with the cost of household essentials, on top of what we have already provided since October 2021, bringing the total funding for this support to £1 billion.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when the final report of the Independent Review on Children's Social Care launched in January 2021 will be published.

The review is scheduled to share its final recommendations in the spring and the government will respond to the recommendations once the review concludes.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the impact of increased covid-19 related school absences on pupils' learning in (a) England, (b) Cheshire West and Chester and (c) Halton; and what steps his Department is taking to reduce transmission of that virus in schools.

The latest attendance data shows that, nationally, pupil absence in state-funded schools related to COVID-19 was 2.5% on 17 March 2022, up from 0.7% on 3 March 2022. Attendance was 89.7% on 17 March, down from 92.2% on 3 March.

COVID-19 related absence is down from 3.9% on 3 February, and attendance is up from 87.8% on 3 February.

The department no longer publishes data at constituency level and therefore cannot make an assessment of the impact of absences in Cheshire West and Chester, or Halton.

In relation to the impact of absence related to COVID-19 on children’s education, research shows that any absence from school negatively impacts education, well-being and development. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, is clear that it is a high priority to bring children who have been absent back into school so that they can access the £5 billion recovery funding which has been designed to support children to regain what they have lost through the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the department is working urgently with practice leaders across school, local authorities, the police, the health and social care sectors and charity sector in an Attendance Alliance to urgently identify ways to improve school attendance. Further details about that work can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/attendance-alliance-group.

The department is also in the process of reviewing the school attendance system as a whole. We have recently consulted on proposals aimed at transforming the consistency and quality of attendance support for families across England.

In relation to the measures the department is taking at national level to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in schools, these include a large vaccination programme for children, the provision of CO2 monitors backed by £25 million in government funding, funding for ventilation solutions where ventilation in classrooms is poor, and the promotion of good hand hygiene.

Additionally, individual schools should have in place emergency plans outlining how they would operate to minimise disruption to face-to-face education and protect the most vulnerable in the event of an outbreak of infection. The current guidance for schools is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to introduce a national framework for the use of attendance legal intervention, including a new regulatory framework for issuing fixed penalty notices for absence.

The department recently consulted on several proposals to improve the quality and consistency of attendance support across the country. These include:

  • Requiring schools to have an attendance policy and have regard to statutory guidance on the expectations of schools, academy trusts and governing bodies of maintained schools on attendance management and improvement.
  • Introducing guidance on the expectations of local authority attendance services.
  • A clearer more consistent national framework for the use of attendance legal intervention, including a new regulatory framework for issuing fixed penalty notices for absence.

The department will be publishing our response to the consultation in due course.

We have been working closely with local authorities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to support them to maximise attendance, sharing best practice through a series of webinars. The department has also appointed a team of expert attendance advisers who are working closely with several local authorities to review their current approach to attendance and make improvements. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, recently established an alliance of national leaders from education, children’s social care, and other services to address the barriers to regular school attendance.

14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to introduce statutory guidance on the expectations of local authority attendance services; and what steps his Department is taking to provide support to councils that are undertaking work to increase levels of school attendance.

The department recently consulted on several proposals to improve the quality and consistency of attendance support across the country. These include:

  • Requiring schools to have an attendance policy and have regard to statutory guidance on the expectations of schools, academy trusts and governing bodies of maintained schools on attendance management and improvement.
  • Introducing guidance on the expectations of local authority attendance services.
  • A clearer more consistent national framework for the use of attendance legal intervention, including a new regulatory framework for issuing fixed penalty notices for absence.

The department will be publishing our response to the consultation in due course.

We have been working closely with local authorities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to support them to maximise attendance, sharing best practice through a series of webinars. The department has also appointed a team of expert attendance advisers who are working closely with several local authorities to review their current approach to attendance and make improvements. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, recently established an alliance of national leaders from education, children’s social care, and other services to address the barriers to regular school attendance.

14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to require schools to have an attendance policy; and what steps he is taking to ensure that schools adhere to statutory guidance on schools, academy trusts and governing bodies of maintained schools in relation to attendance management and improvement.

The department recently consulted on several proposals to improve the quality and consistency of attendance support across the country. These include:

  • Requiring schools to have an attendance policy and have regard to statutory guidance on the expectations of schools, academy trusts and governing bodies of maintained schools on attendance management and improvement.
  • Introducing guidance on the expectations of local authority attendance services.
  • A clearer more consistent national framework for the use of attendance legal intervention, including a new regulatory framework for issuing fixed penalty notices for absence.

The department will be publishing our response to the consultation in due course.

We have been working closely with local authorities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to support them to maximise attendance, sharing best practice through a series of webinars. The department has also appointed a team of expert attendance advisers who are working closely with several local authorities to review their current approach to attendance and make improvements. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, recently established an alliance of national leaders from education, children’s social care, and other services to address the barriers to regular school attendance.

14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to use the SEND review to (a) clarify the level of need that requires SEND support, (b) make mainstream education settings more accountable for SEND inclusion and (c) enable decisions over SEND provision to be made jointly by all those responsible including health and care bodies.

The special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) Review aims to ensure that the needs of those with SEND are identified early and consistently with the support that best meets their needs delivered promptly.

To build a more inclusive system, the SEND Review is looking at strengthening mainstream provision whilst ensuring that there is sufficient, high-quality specialist capacity to provide specialist support to those children with more complex needs.

The SEND Review is also looking at accountabilities at every level of the system so that education providers, including mainstream schools, and health and care partners are clear about their responsibilities.

The SEND Review will be published as a green paper for full public consultation by the end of this month.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Local Government Association's report entitled Agreeing to disagree? Research into arrangements for avoiding disagreements and resolving disputes in the SEND system in England, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for its policies of the finding that the aspiration to improve the experience of parents seeking support had not been achieved as a result of an increased level of cases that are not resolved without being taken to a tribunal; and what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of parents and carers having to take cases to tribunal.

The increased levels in appeals to the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) Tribunal are likely to be a reflection of both the extension of appeal rights in the SEND reforms from 2014 to include young people aged 0 to 25 and the growth in the number of parents and young people seeking education, health and care plan (EHCP) needs assessments. For example, in 2020 alone, there was an increase of 11% in the number of new EHCPs issued.

Despite this increase, the vast majority of cases relating to EHCP needs assessments and plans are concluded without the need to resort to tribunal hearings. Nationally, in 2020, only 1.7% of all appealable decisions subsequently resulted in an appeal to the SEND Tribunal.

However, the government recognises that the current SEND system does not consistently deliver the outcomes we want and expect for children and young people with SEND, their families or the people and services who support them.

A key priority for the SEND Review is to look to ensure that children and young people with SEND get the EHCP support they need, identified early and delivered promptly, in education providers that are best suited to meet their needs. The government needs to improve outcomes and experiences within a financially sustainable system.

As part of the review, the government will look at what is needed to improve early intervention, make clearer the support and services everyone should be able to expect and have funding and accountability systems in place which support this. Accountability and redress mechanisms will always be there for families who need them and the SEND green paper will set out plans to strengthen and improve both. This will be published for full public consultation by the end of March.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the reforms to SEND implemented in 2014 on helping to prevent legal disputes and tribunal hearings in respect of support provided.

The increased levels in appeals to the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) Tribunal are likely to be a reflection of both the extension of appeal rights in the SEND reforms from 2014 to include young people aged 0 to 25 and the growth in the number of parents and young people seeking education, health and care plan (EHCP) needs assessments. For example, in 2020 alone, there was an increase of 11% in the number of new EHCPs issued.

Despite this increase, the vast majority of cases relating to EHCP needs assessments and plans are concluded without the need to resort to tribunal hearings. Nationally, in 2020, only 1.7% of all appealable decisions subsequently resulted in an appeal to the SEND Tribunal.

However, the government recognises that the current SEND system does not consistently deliver the outcomes we want and expect for children and young people with SEND, their families or the people and services who support them.

A key priority for the SEND Review is to look to ensure that children and young people with SEND get the EHCP support they need, identified early and delivered promptly, in education providers that are best suited to meet their needs. The government needs to improve outcomes and experiences within a financially sustainable system.

As part of the review, the government will look at what is needed to improve early intervention, make clearer the support and services everyone should be able to expect and have funding and accountability systems in place which support this. Accountability and redress mechanisms will always be there for families who need them and the SEND green paper will set out plans to strengthen and improve both. This will be published for full public consultation by the end of March.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
11th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to bring the rules for granting leaves of absence in academies in line with other state-funded schools.

The department recently consulted on our intention to bring rules for granting leaves of absence in academies in line with other state-funded schools. The link to the consultation is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/school-attendance-improving-consistency-of-support.

The department will publish a response to the consultation in due course.

10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to require local authorities to establish a joint local authority provider for further education planning forums with which they publish strategic plans for provision for 16-25 year olds with high needs.

The special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) Code of Practice 2015 sets out the statutory duties on local authorities to develop and publish a Local Offer, which describes the support they expect to be available for local children and young people with SEND. This must include provision in the local authority’s area and provision outside the local area that the local authority expects is likely to be used by children and young people with SEND.

The local offer must include provision available from the full range of post-16 providers. The Children and Families Act 2014 requires local authorities to keep the provision for children and young people with SEND under review (including its sufficiency), working with parents, young people, and providers.

The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill will create a new duty on further education sector providers to review provision in relation to local needs, which builds on the existing duties on local authorities to keep educational, training and social care provision for children and young people with SEND under review. We are also engaging with employers and providers to explore how they can better work together through local skills improvement plans to unlock the full potential of learners with SEND and help them progress into good jobs that meet local skills shortages.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to provide more detailed guidance for colleges on how to recruit staff from overseas.

It is very important that the department continues to support providers to recruit new teachers. We already provide detailed guidance for colleges on how to recruit from overseas, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/recruit-further-education-fe-teachers-from-overseas.

The guidance sets out a range of useful information for both providers and applicants, such as step-by-step UK visa sponsorship for employers, the requirements needed for a Skilled Worker visa, and information on safeguarding checks.

Additional support is available online. This includes checking an applicant’s right to work in advance, and a document checking tool. The department also provides a list of other visa options for applicants if the provider is not a visa sponsor.

10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to include further education recruitment in his Department's planned advertising and campaigning.

As outlined in the Skills for Jobs White Paper, the government is committed to reforming technical education to address skills shortages. To succeed, we need to attract more high-calibre further education (FE) teachers to fill critical vacancies, particularly in key subjects given quality of teaching is the biggest determinant of student outcomes.

The department launched a national recruitment campaign in January 2022 to raise awareness of the opportunities in FE teaching. The campaign is specifically designed to target experienced industry experts in shortage subject areas by encouraging them to share their skills with the next generation. Alongside the campaign we have introduced a new digital service to make it easier for prospective FE teachers to access information and support to guide them through to teaching jobs.

This is the first time we have run a recruitment campaign for FE teachers and we will be using it to inform our plans for future campaigns.

10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to work closely with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) in order that funds, initiatives and guidance from DHSC take into account that some specialist further educational collages are also care providers.

Specialist further education (FE) colleges that offer residential adult social care provision are required to register with the Care Quality Commission. Therefore, they are covered by funding and guidance for the adult social care sector issued by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

The department works closely with DHSC, where issues arise that affect the delivery of educational and care provision in specialist FE.

10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate his Department has made of staff vacancy rates in the specialist further education sector; what assessment he has made of the impact of vacancy rates on FE colleges' ability to (i) meet the needs of current students and (ii) admit new students; and what steps his Department is taking to support specialist further education providers to meet staffing requirements.

Local authorities are best placed to understand the capacity of their local further education (FE) provision to accommodate additional children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The department does not currently collect data centrally on available capacity in high needs provision. However, it is continuing to work with local authorities to better understand future demand for SEND provision, including in FE settings, as it considers how it can best support the sector.

It is essential that all learners in the FE sector, including those with complex special needs, experience the highest quality teaching. The department recognises that teacher recruitment and retention can be challenging for providers. To support this, the government is investing £50 million in programmes designed to improve the supply and quality of FE teachers, in the current financial year.

In January 2022, we launched a recruitment campaign to raise awareness of the opportunities to teach in FE with a wider audience. For those choosing to specialise in SEND teaching in the FE sector, the department has also announced that it will offer tax-free training bursaries worth £15,000 each for the further academic year of 2022/23. This will help to boost the supply of teachers with specialist training to support learners with SEND in the FE sector.

The department is also investing £2.6 billion between 2022 and 2025 to deliver new places and improve existing provisions for children and young people with SEND or who require alternative provision. This funding represents a transformational investment in new high needs provision. It will help deliver tens of thousands of new high needs places, including in post-16 and FE settings.

10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will advise local authorities that they should adjust the high needs budget settlement in response to fee increases for specialist college places.

Local authorities’ responsibilities, in respect of colleges and further education, are focused on securing appropriate provision for young people with particularly challenging special educational needs, through their high needs budgets.

Local authorities set their high needs budgets at the beginning of each financial year, and report on how much they propose to spend on different categories of provision. Having collected this information from each local authority, the department publishes local authorities’ budget statements, usually in September. As decisions on the placement of students with more complex needs are often not confirmed until after the beginning of the financial year, it is important that local authorities retain budget flexibility to respond to changing needs and demands during the year. It would therefore not be appropriate to advise local authorities to set aside and ring-fence a fixed amount of their high needs budget for further education, which could not be varied.

More generally, the department does not prescribe in detail how local authorities should allocate their high needs funding. Our guidance indicates that their spending decisions should be fair and reasonable and should enable them to discharge their duties under the Children and Families Act 2014 across the full 0-25 age range for which they are responsible. Nationally, local authorities will receive an increase of £1 billion in financial year 2022/23, bringing the overall high needs budget to a total of £9.1 billion. This increase takes account of the range of pressures on their high needs budgets, particularly those relating to a rise in the number of children and young people with education, health and care plans. As a result, local authorities should be able to afford some increase to the high needs funding they pass on to specialist and other colleges, where that is required to meet the cost pressures those colleges are facing, including the costs of meeting staffing needs.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will advise local authorities to ringfence a proportionate amount of the high needs budget to further education providers.

Local authorities’ responsibilities, in respect of colleges and further education, are focused on securing appropriate provision for young people with particularly challenging special educational needs, through their high needs budgets.

Local authorities set their high needs budgets at the beginning of each financial year, and report on how much they propose to spend on different categories of provision. Having collected this information from each local authority, the department publishes local authorities’ budget statements, usually in September. As decisions on the placement of students with more complex needs are often not confirmed until after the beginning of the financial year, it is important that local authorities retain budget flexibility to respond to changing needs and demands during the year. It would therefore not be appropriate to advise local authorities to set aside and ring-fence a fixed amount of their high needs budget for further education, which could not be varied.

More generally, the department does not prescribe in detail how local authorities should allocate their high needs funding. Our guidance indicates that their spending decisions should be fair and reasonable and should enable them to discharge their duties under the Children and Families Act 2014 across the full 0-25 age range for which they are responsible. Nationally, local authorities will receive an increase of £1 billion in financial year 2022/23, bringing the overall high needs budget to a total of £9.1 billion. This increase takes account of the range of pressures on their high needs budgets, particularly those relating to a rise in the number of children and young people with education, health and care plans. As a result, local authorities should be able to afford some increase to the high needs funding they pass on to specialist and other colleges, where that is required to meet the cost pressures those colleges are facing, including the costs of meeting staffing needs.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to require local authorities to include colleges when distributing Government funding to help those educational settings tackle staffing needs.

Local authorities’ responsibilities, in respect of colleges and further education, are focused on securing appropriate provision for young people with particularly challenging special educational needs, through their high needs budgets.

Local authorities set their high needs budgets at the beginning of each financial year, and report on how much they propose to spend on different categories of provision. Having collected this information from each local authority, the department publishes local authorities’ budget statements, usually in September. As decisions on the placement of students with more complex needs are often not confirmed until after the beginning of the financial year, it is important that local authorities retain budget flexibility to respond to changing needs and demands during the year. It would therefore not be appropriate to advise local authorities to set aside and ring-fence a fixed amount of their high needs budget for further education, which could not be varied.

More generally, the department does not prescribe in detail how local authorities should allocate their high needs funding. Our guidance indicates that their spending decisions should be fair and reasonable and should enable them to discharge their duties under the Children and Families Act 2014 across the full 0-25 age range for which they are responsible. Nationally, local authorities will receive an increase of £1 billion in financial year 2022/23, bringing the overall high needs budget to a total of £9.1 billion. This increase takes account of the range of pressures on their high needs budgets, particularly those relating to a rise in the number of children and young people with education, health and care plans. As a result, local authorities should be able to afford some increase to the high needs funding they pass on to specialist and other colleges, where that is required to meet the cost pressures those colleges are facing, including the costs of meeting staffing needs.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to implement the recommendations of the final report of the Independent Assessment Commission, published on 2 February 2022.

Exams are the best and fairest form of assessing what students know and can do, and ensure young people leave school or college prepared for the workplace and higher study. They provide an even playing field, with everyone being assessed on the same content in the same amount of time.

The final report of the Independent Assessment Commission, published on 2 February 2022, rightly sets out the role qualifications play in supporting students to thrive in the next stage of their lives, be that in college, employment or university.

The department reformed GCSEs and A levels from 2011 to be in line with the highest performing education systems. The department consulted widely with schools, colleges, universities, and employers, both on the principles for reform and the detail of the content of individual subjects, to help them prepare for their introduction. At GCSE, the department wanted to ensure that young people have access to qualifications that set expectations matching those in the highest performing countries. At A level, the department wanted the qualifications to be robust and rigorous and keep pace with university and employer demands.

As we help children and young people recover from the effects of the pandemic, the department is clear that the qualifications system requires stability. Therefore, we have no plans for further wholesale reform of GCSEs and A levels.

9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the final report of the Independent Assessment Commission, published on 2 February 2022.

Exams are the best and fairest form of assessing what students know and can do, and ensure young people leave school or college prepared for the workplace and higher study. They provide an even playing field, with everyone being assessed on the same content in the same amount of time.

The final report of the Independent Assessment Commission, published on 2 February 2022, rightly sets out the role qualifications play in supporting students to thrive in the next stage of their lives, be that in college, employment or university.

The department reformed GCSEs and A levels from 2011 to be in line with the highest performing education systems. The department consulted widely with schools, colleges, universities, and employers, both on the principles for reform and the detail of the content of individual subjects, to help them prepare for their introduction. At GCSE, the department wanted to ensure that young people have access to qualifications that set expectations matching those in the highest performing countries. At A level, the department wanted the qualifications to be robust and rigorous and keep pace with university and employer demands.

As we help children and young people recover from the effects of the pandemic, the department is clear that the qualifications system requires stability. Therefore, we have no plans for further wholesale reform of GCSEs and A levels.

9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure equitable assessments of qualifications for students.

The department reformed and strengthened GCSEs and A levels from 2011 to be in line with the highest performing education systems. The department consulted widely with schools, colleges, universities and employers, both on the principles for reform and the detail of the content of individual subjects, to help them prepare for their introduction. There are no current plans for wholesale GCSE and A level reform.

The government believes exams are the best and fairest way of judging students’ performance as they provide a standardised means of assessment, with all students being examined on the same basic level of difficulty and understanding. Exams provide an even playing field with everyone being assessed on the same thing in the same amount of time. Following the difficulties experienced with awarding grades without exams in 2020 and 2021, the government is fully committed to exams going ahead this summer.

The independent qualifications regulator, Ofqual, advised that non-exam assessment (NEA) should only be used when it is the only valid way to assess essential elements of the subject. For example, NEA is still required in modern foreign languages (the speaking assessment) and in art and design.

Fair and meaningful grading is core to confidence in qualifications. Ofqual are responsible for maintaining qualification standards and doing so in a way that ensures public confidence.

Ofqual’s rules will require exam boards to use a range of qualitative and quantitative evidence so that grade boundaries are set in a way that is as fair as possible for all students, across all subjects and exam boards. Grading is monitored by the experts every step of the way and Ofqual will review results for every subject before they are issued.

Ofqual and the department published joint consultations outlining detailed proposals for changes to the assessment of GCSEs, AS and A levels in academic year 2021-22. The consultation decision document was published on 30 September 2021 and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposed-changes-to-the-assessment-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2022/proposed-changes-to-the-assessment-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2022.

The proposals set out in the consultation received a high degree of support, and therefore we are proceeding with the package of adaptations we set out. The package of measures includes four elements:

  1. a choice of topics or content on which students will be assessed in GCSE English literature, history, ancient history and geography
  2. in all other GCSE and A/AS level subjects which have exams, advance information about the focus of the content of exams
  3. changes to the assessment requirements for practical assessments in some subjects to take account of any public health measures that may be in place and relieve pressure on teaching time
  4. allowing students to have access to support materials in the exam room in GCSE mathematics, combined science, and physics

Further information published by exam boards to support revision was published on 7 February 2022 and is available here: https://www.jcq.org.uk/summer-2022-arrangements/advance-information/.

The government and Ofqual are confident that the package of measures we have put in place will help ensure fairness.

8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to extend the Adoption Support Fund to aid the recruitment and retention of foster carers and the children's home workforce.

The adoption support fund (ASF) was developed to provide vital therapeutic interventions for children that have left the care system through adoption or special guardianship orders. The ASF does not provide funding for any type of recruitment activity.


However, the department has invested in different approaches to help councils provide the right kind of foster care places. This includes using digital tools to improve information sharing, matching and placement processes. The department has also funded seven local authority-led partnerships to test new approaches to collaborative commissioning and sufficiency planning for fostering placements. In addition, the department is working collaboratively with the residential childcare sector to identify ways to support it to promote careers in the sector, and how it can raise the profile of these roles locally.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Local Government Association's projection that the cost of children’s social care will increase by an estimated £600 million each year until 2024-25, whether his Department plans to allocate additional funding to local authorities in response to that projection.

In recent years, the government has boosted real-terms funding to local authorities, including creating the social care grant which has increased significantly from £410 million in 2019 to £1.7 billion this current financial year. In total, local authorities will have access to £54.1 billion for the financial year 2022/23, an increase of up to £3.7 billion in 2021/22.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that the government is providing councils with £4.8 billion of new grant funding over the Spending Review period to 2025. This will enable the sector to maintain vital frontline services, including children’s social care. This means for the next financial year (2022/23), the government is providing over £630 million additional funding into the social care grant, bringing the grant total to over £2.3 billion. The government is also providing a one-off Services Grant in the financial year 2022/23 which is worth over £800 million that can be used for all services, including children’s social care.

Further, the government has provided an additional £200 million for Supporting Families announced at the Budget and Spending Round 2021. This represents around a 40% real-terms uplift in funding for the programme by the financial year 2024/25, taking total planned investment across the next three years to £695 million.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to Reporting Year 2021, Children's social work workforce, published 24 February 2022, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of child social care in response to the 4,995 social workers who left their roles in 2021; and what steps his Department is taking to (a) retain current social workers and (b) help ensure that the 6,522 vacant positions are filled.

The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) child and family social workers employed by local authorities in England is increasing every year. On 30 September 2021, there were 32,500 FTE child and family social workers employed by local authorities in England. This is an increase of 2% compared to 2020, and an increase of 14.1% compared to 2017. It is important to note that the 4,995 social workers who left their roles in 2021 includes all social workers who have moved between local authorities but are still working in children’s social care.

While the government recognises this may not be the picture some local authorities are seeing on the ground, we are working closely with local authorities and using central programmes and funding to respond to their needs.

The department is supporting the recruitment and retention of social workers through investment in fast-track initial social worker training programmes, and in professional development programmes to improve leadership. The department is also seeing some innovative practices from local authorities that are driving down agency rates and stabilising their workforces.

The government’s COVID-19 Recovery Action Plan aims to stabilise and strengthen children’s social care as we transition out of the pandemic, to deliver well for children and young people and provide a strong foundation for longer-term reform, informed by the independent review of children’s social care.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to reform the Care Standards Act to improve the oversight and checks of providers of child social care.

Ensuring that vulnerable children remain protected is a top priority for this government.

There is a rigorous Ofsted inspection regime in place for the inspection and monitoring of children’s homes, enabling Ofsted to take action when standards are not met.

However, we should always look to improve the system. The department will consider the recommendations of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) who have been examining the lack of availability and increasing costs in children’s social care provision. The CMA published its report and recommendations on 10 March 2022. The department also expects the Independent Care Review to make recommendations on how to make social care system work better to safeguard and improve the lives of vulnerable children.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Ofsted report on inspections on 5 and 6 January 2022 relating to Achieve Care Homes Limited, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) potential merits of strengthening regulations on child social care providers and (b) role of profit-making companies in the provision of children's social care.

Ensuring that vulnerable children remain protected is a top priority for this government.

There is a rigorous Ofsted inspection regime in place for the inspection and monitoring of children’s homes, enabling Ofsted to take action when standards are not met.

However, we should always look to improve the system. The department will consider the recommendations of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) who have been examining the lack of availability and increasing costs in children’s social care provision. The CMA published its report and recommendations on 10 March 2022. The department also expects the Independent Care Review to make recommendations on how to make social care system work better to safeguard and improve the lives of vulnerable children.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Local Government Association's projection that the cost of children’s social care will increase by an estimated £600 million each year until 2024-25, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of that increase; and what steps his Department is taking to support local authorities to meet that extra cost.

The department recognises the challenges local authorities are facing. In recent years, the government have boosted real-term funding to local, including creating the social care grant which has increased significantly from £410 million in 2019 to £1.7 billion this year and will continue to increase in the financial year 2022-23.

Next financial year (2022-23), the government is providing over £630 million additional funding into the social care grant, bringing the grant total to £2.4 billion. The department is also providing a one-off services grant in the 2022-23 financial year worth over £800 million that can be used for all services, including children’s social care.

In total, local authorities will have access to £54.1 billion for the 2022-23 financial year, an increase of up to £3.7 billion on the previous financial year 2021-22.

Further, the government has provided an additional £200 million for Supporting Families announced at the Budget and Spending Round 2021. This represents around a 40% real-terms uplift in funding for the programme by the 2024-25 financial year, taking total planned investment across the next three years to £695 million.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the safety of children in local authority care; and if his Department will take steps to ensure the safety of children by ensuring that (a) all settings are regulated by Ofsted, (b) children are not placed in care outside their local authority area due to lack of appropriate placements and (c) children are cared for by more than two staff members at any one time.

Local authorities have statutory duties to meet the needs of children they look after, and to keep them safe. The government is committed to ensuring that all placements provide children and young people with the care and support they need.

The vast majority of looked after children live with foster carers or in a children’s homes. Foster carers and children’s’ homes are already subject to robust regulatory checks and balances by Ofsted, to ensure that they meet the needs of children they accommodate and keep them safe. A growing number of older children live in supported accommodation, often termed ‘unregulated provision’ because it is not currently registered and inspected by Ofsted.

The department will invest over £142 million across the next three years to fund the introduction of new mandatory national standards, Ofsted registration and inspection for these providers. This will mean that all placements that accommodate looked after children and care leavers up to 18 will now be regulated by Ofsted.

Where local authorities place a young person out of area, there are clear statutory requirements in place to safeguard young people. These require the placing authority to inform the host authority before confirming the placement and to check whether the host authority is aware of any concerns about the setting. The statutory responsibilities for looked after children remain with the placing local authority and Director of Children’s Services who must approve all distant placements, and Ofsted can challenge where they believe a poor decision has been made.

In October 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £259 million capital funding which will provide high quality homes for some of our most vulnerable young people, keeping them closer to families, schools, and health services.

When local authorities make a placement decision, they are responsible for ensuring the placement is suitable. This includes ensuring staff who will be looking after the child at the setting are appropriately trained and have the skills needed to meet the needs of the child and keep them safe. It is not in accordance with the law to place a looked after child in a setting that does not meet their needs and keep them safe, and it is unacceptable for any child or young person to be placed in such a setting.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made over the number of women at risk of unemployment due to (a) lack of available childcare spaces and (c) the rising costs for childcare.

In terms of the availability of childcare spaces, we know from findings from the 2021 Childcare and early years providers survey that there is some spare capacity in the system. 7 in 10 (70 per cent) group-based providers reported having spare places in their full day provision and almost half of childminders (49%) reported having spare capacity on average across the week. The survey can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/childcare-and-early-years-providers-survey-2021.

We continue to monitor sufficiency of childcare and liaise regularly with local authorities through telephone calls and regular surveys. They are not currently reporting any substantial sufficiency or supply issues and we have not seen a substantial number of parents unable to secure a childcare place, either this term or since early years providers re-opened fully on 1 June 2020.

This government is committed to making childcare more affordable and more accessible. In terms of the costs of childcare, this includes 15 hours free early education for all three and four year olds and disadvantaged two year olds, as well as an additional 15 hours for eligible working parents (also known as ‘30 hours’), which can help save families over £6,000 per child a year.

The tax-free childcare offer is also available for working families. This scheme means that for every £8 parents pay their provider via an online account, the government will pay £2, up to a maximum contribution of £2,000 per child each year (up to £500 every 3 months).

Additionally, Universal Credit childcare reimburses up to 85% of childcare costs for working parents on a low income. This is subject to a monthly limit of £646 for one child or £1,108 for two or more children, payable in arrears

Findings from the department’s parent survey (published in December 2019) highlights the positive impact the 30 hours free childcare entitlements can have on parents’ working patterns, with a third (33%) of parents saying that in the absence of 30 hours they would be working fewer hours and the majority of parents (70%) reporting that 30 hours had given them more flexibility in the hours they could work. It also showed that a small but notable proportion of mothers reported that accessing the 30 hours had led them to enter work (6%) or increase their hours (17%). The survey can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/childcare-and-early-years-survey-of-parents-2019.

The department continues to explore what more can be done to help parents access childcare which suits their lives, including out of hours childcare or before or after school. We are committed to working together across government to make our current suite of offers work as effectively as possible and ensure it delivers for those parents who need it.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending relationship education beyond the Relationship and Sex Education curriculum.

The subjects of relationships education, relationships and sex education, and health education (RSHE) became mandatory from September 2020. They complement several other curriculum subjects, including science, computing, citizenship, and physical education. Schools are encouraged to look for opportunities to draw links between their curriculum subjects and integrate RSHE teaching where appropriate.

The department has plans in place to monitor national implementation of RSHE over time, including through new quantitative and qualitative research. This will seek to understand the quality of implementation, including teacher confidence in teaching the statutory requirements. The findings from this research will inform a review of the statutory guidance in due course.

10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of supplying air purifiers to primary schools for use in classrooms; and what steps his Department is taking to protect primary school pupils, their families and school staff from covid-19.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we have emphasised the importance of ventilation and provided guidance to providers on ventilation requirements. We have always said that where a provider is in operation, it is important to ensure that it is well ventilated and that a comfortable teaching environment is maintained.

During the autumn term, we provided CO2 monitors to all state-funded providers, early years, schools and further education colleges, backed by £25 million in government funding. We have now delivered on our public commitment with over 353,000 monitors delivered. The programme provided schools and other settings with sufficient monitors to take representative readings from across their estate. Feedback suggests that schools are finding the monitors helpful to manage ventilation and, in most providers, existing ventilation measures are sufficient.

For the very few cases where maintaining good ventilation is not possible, we are supplying up to a total of 7000 air cleaning units in response to this feedback to settings. This is in addition to the 1000 department funded air cleaning units that we announced on 18 November 2021 for special educational needs and disabilities and alternative provision providers. State funded schools, including primary schools, further education colleges and early years providers can apply for a funded air cleaning unit if they meet strict eligibility criteria. Providers were able to apply for funded units via an online form. Applications closed at 9am on 17 January 2022. Applications will be assessed against strict criteria for their provider type. We will prioritise spaces with the poorest ventilation to receive units based on criteria such as CO2 levels and occupation density.

The department has also launched an online marketplace which provides settings with a route to purchasing air cleaning units directly from suppliers at a suitable specification and competitive price. Further information is available here: https://s107t01-webapp-v2-01.azurewebsites.net/list/air-cleaning. In future, we may review this list and as more products which meet our specification become available, these will be added.

The department is also protecting primary school pupils, their families and school staff from COVID-19 through a range of other measures including staff testing, staff face coverings in communal areas, and daily testing for close contacts.

All eligible staff from education and childcare providers, and all students and pupils aged 5 and above identified as close contacts, are strongly advised to participate in daily testing of contacts of COVID-19. Individuals are asked to take 7 daily lateral flow device (LFD) tests if they are identified by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact of a confirmed positive case. It is strongly advised that the daily LFD test is taken before leaving the house for the first time each day. Children under 5 years are exempt from self-isolation if they are identified by NHS Test and Trace as contacts of a positive case, and are not being asked to take part in daily LFD testing.

Overall, scientific studies and expert opinions indicate that face coverings can reduce transmission of COVID-19 by restricting the release of droplets and aerosols containing the virus. Any benefits in managing transmission are always balanced with any educational and wellbeing drawbacks in the recommended use of face coverings. For this reason, in primary schools and early years providers we recommend that face coverings are worn by staff and visitors in communal areas.

The steps we are taking will protect the education of children and young people and keep them in school or college, and ensure parents are reassured that it is as safe as possible.

10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the impact of covid-19 on schools in Weaver Vale constituency; and what steps his Department is taking to limit the spread of the virus.

The government continues to manage the risk of serious illness from the spread of COVID-19 through the steps described below.

The department has reintroduced face coverings for all adults in schools, including primary, and for pupils and students in year 7 and above in communal areas, and now also in classrooms. This is a temporary measure and will be reviewed on 26 January. Health advice continues to be that children in primary schools should not be asked to wear face coverings.

Testing remains important in reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 within schools and colleges. We asked secondary schools to provide one on-site test for all pupils upon return.

Staff and secondary school pupils should continue to test twice weekly at home. Schools are strongly encouraged to ask parents and other visitors to take a lateral flow device (LFD) test before entering the school.

Young people aged 5 to 18 and fully vaccinated adults who are identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 can take an NHS rapid LFD test every day for 7 days and continue to attend their school or college as normal unless they have a positive test result.

Every child aged 12 and over is eligible to receive the vaccine. Healthy 12 to 15-year-olds can have a second dose 12 weeks after their first dose. The booster programme was accelerated to offer every adult in England a booster jab by the end of 2021.

Children aged 5 to 11 who are in a clinical risk group or who are a household contact of someone (of any age) who is immunosuppressed, will be offered a primary course of vaccination.

To improve ventilation, we have provided CO2 monitors backed by £25 million in government funding. Over 99% of eligible maintained schools, further education colleges, and the majority of early years education providers have now received a carbon dioxide monitor with over 350,000 now delivered. The government is also now making available at least 8,000 funded air cleaning units for poorly ventilated teaching spaces where quick fixes to improve ventilation are not possible.

The contingency framework gives directors of public health a range of flexible options for advising temporary measures in certain situations. This framework is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-local-restrictions-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

Schools should follow the control measures set out in the guidance, continuing to comply with health and safety law. Schools must regularly review and update their risk assessments.

The measures outlined above apply nationally. Regarding Weaver Vale, the regional team in the West Midlands has offered regular calls with Cheshire West and Chester local authority in which we provide advice and guidance on how to limit the spread of COVID-19 and support schools in managing it. These calls have more recently involved public health colleagues.

2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support medical students during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government wants to make sure all students, including medical students, receive the right amount of student support to complete their studies.

First time students on standard 5 or 6 year undergraduate medical and dental courses are eligible to apply for support on the same terms as other full-time students for the first 4 years of their course (subject to previous study). This gives them access to tuition fee loan, living cost loan and targeted grants. For the fifth and subsequent years of their course they apply to the NHS for tuition support and an income assessed NHS Bursary. In addition, they can apply to Student Finance England for the non-income assessed reduced rate living cost loan for these years. Graduate entry accelerated medical programmes, as defined in the Student Support Regulations, are up to a maximum 4 years in length and attract financial support from the Department of Health and Social Care and Student Finance England.

Maximum grants and loans for living costs for undergraduate courses and grants and loans for postgraduate courses have been increased by 3.1% for the current 2021/22 academic year with a further 2.3% increase announced for 2022/23, taking the support available for the lowest income students to record levels in cash terms.

Many providers have hardship funds that students can apply to for assistance should the COVID-19 outbreak affect individuals’ finances in academic year 2021/22.

Regarding the mental health and wellbeing of students, the government is investing £2.3 billion extra funding into mental health services by the 2023/24 financial year through the NHS Long Term Plan. This is in addition to £500 million this year to address NHS waiting times for mental health services. £13 million has been allocated to support young adults (18-25 years), including university students, to help bridge gaps between children’s and adult mental health services.

Student mental health continues to be a strategic priority for the Office for Students (OfS). We have worked closely with the OfS as they have invested £9 million in projects to develop innovative practice, and we have asked them to allocate an additional £15 million in the 2021/22 academic year to help address the challenges posed by transitions into university, given demand for mental health services. Students can access support via Student Space which has been funded by up to £3 million by OfS as a response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the Budget on (a) Sir John Deans Sixth Form College and (b) other sixth form colleges.

The Spending Review has made available an extra £1.6 billion per year for 16-19 education in financial year 2024-25 compared with 2021-22. This will fully fund the additional students we anticipate in the system, pay for the increasing take-up of T Levels, maintain funding per student in real terms, and enable increased time in education for all 16 to 19 year olds. The department will set out details of how this additional funding will be allocated in due course.

18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when his Department plans to introduce new guidance on the cost of school uniforms.

The department plans to publish the statutory guidance in autumn 2021.

Schools do not need to make any changes before the guidance is released. We want schools to implement changes in a timely and considered manner to ensure that parents do not incur additional costs from sudden uniform changes.

Once the guidance is published, all schools will need to review their uniform policies and make necessary changes as soon as possible to ensure that parents see the benefits of the guidance.

29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what existing capital funding streams for new build campuses are available for new further education or sixth form colleges.

There are currently no capital funding streams available that can be used for new build campuses for new further education (FE) or sixth form colleges.

The free schools programme has opened a number of 16-19 academies in response to an identified need. The department remains committed to the free schools programme. However, we are not currently seeking new free school proposals, with decisions on capital funding in future years, including on free schools, to be made through the Spending Review.

The £1.5 billion FE Capital Transformation Fund is available to FE colleges to upgrade their existing estate. Further capital funding of £83 million has been made available in the 2021-22 financial year to existing post-16 providers, including FE colleges and sixth form colleges, to enable them to accommodate the demographic increase in 16-19 year olds. In addition, capital funding is available to existing providers to support delivery of T Levels and the establishment of Institutes of Technology.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to enable pupils with Down's syndrome who turned 18 during the covid-19 outbreak and were required to shield while schools were open to (a) catch up on and (b) extend their studies for another year if required.

On 2 June 2021, we announced the next step in the government’s plans to support children and young people to make up for the impact of lost time in education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The 16-19 tuition fund will continue to support students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and 19-24 year olds with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) through the provision of one to one and small group tuition. Providers may choose to use this funding to support eligible learners with SEND to catch up on vocational and academic skills, and skills and learning that are important for their preparation for adulthood, subject to them meeting the eligibility for the fund. Further details on arrangements for the tuition fund in the 2021/22 academic year will be announced in due course.

In addition, we announced the government will give providers of 16-19 education the option to offer students in year 13 or equivalent the opportunity to repeat up to one more year if they have been particularly severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

For learners with an EHCP, where arrangements can already continue up to age 25 for those young people who need to take longer to complete their education or training, the option to repeat a year should be considered as part of the local authority’s annual review of the EHCP. However, there is no guarantee or expectation that all young people with special educational needs should stay in education until they are 25. This would not be in the best interests of many young people, who will want to complete their education and progress into adult life and work. Further details on the option for year 13 students to repeat learning will be announced in due course.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to allow Adoption Support Funding for the 2020-21 year to be transferred to 2021-22 in cases where therapy has been delayed as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

There are no plans to allow funding, approved for services in the 2020-21 financial year, to be used to deliver those services in the 2021-22 financial year. This is outside normal departmental accounting rules. However, funding will continue to be available for new applications for services from April 2021, so children and families will be able to get the therapeutic support they need.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the need for reform of The Adoption Support Fund to ensure that regional adoption agencies have ring-fenced grants to provide long-term therapy for people who need it.

The Adoption Support Fund (ASF) has provided over £184 million to 64,000 families since its introduction in 2015, with the fund continuing over the 2021/22 financial year. The department works closely with regional adoption agencies and local authorities on the delivery of the ASF.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of ensuring that supply teachers are placed on furlough by their agencies when they are unable to work.

Schools in England will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year as usual, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure. Schools may continue to engage supply staff where they are required and decisions on staffing are made at the local level.

If supply staff employed via employment agencies are unable to work due to COVID-19, their employment agency can place them on furlough and use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to claim for 80% of their wages, including during school holiday periods, provided that the eligibility criteria are met.  Information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme. The eligibility criteria is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

Employers can now flexibly furlough their employees for the hours the employee would usually have worked in that period, whilst also being able to work outside of the hours they are furloughed. Employees can work for any amount of time, and any work pattern but they cannot do any work for their employer during hours that employers record them as being on furlough.  Further information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme#flexible-furlough-agreements.

The decision to furlough an employee, fully or flexibly, is entirely at the employer's discretion as it is dependent on a range of factors that the employer is best placed to determine, for example, the amount of work available for employees.

22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential risk to key workers employed in early years childcare settings continuing to work during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown where they have clinical extremely vulnerable family members at home.

Keeping staff and children safe is our utmost priority and early years settings remain low risk environments for children and staff.

Current evidence suggests that pre-school children (0 to 5 years) are less susceptible to infection and are unlikely to be playing a driving role in transmission. There is no evidence that the predominant new variant of COVID-19 disproportionately affects young children. The current confirmed case rate of COVID-19 amongst young children remains the lowest of all age groups.

Early years settings remain low risk environments for children and staff. Current evidence suggests that the Public Health England (PHE) endorsed ‘system of controls’ that have been in use throughout the COVID-19 outbreak continue to be right measures to take. PHE keeps these controls under review based on the latest evidence. These measures create an environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission is substantially reduced.

Early years practitioners who live with those who are clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable, can attend the setting but should ensure they maintain good prevention practice in the setting and at home.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what capital funding stakeholders in Weaver Vale constituency can apply for to build a further education campus in Northwich.

Following the merger which led to the creation of Warrington and Vale Royal College, the college identified that the Hartford campus was not financially viable due in part to low student numbers. The college therefore assessed that it could provide education for its learners through fewer campuses, taking into account the other options available locally for learners. The college closed its Hartford Campus (near Northwich) and supported the Hartford learners with subsidised or free travel arrangements depending on their circumstances. The college’s nearest campus is five miles from Northwich.

The college continues to review its curriculum offer across Warrington and Vale Royal and is committed to developing the offer to meet local demand where possible. To date, however, the college has not identified evidence of sufficient demand to require an additional facility in the Northwich area. Cheshire West and Chester local authorities have also not raised concerns about the sufficiency of provision for 16-18 year old learners in the Northwich area following the closure of the Hartford campus.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on families with 18-year-old students with Down’s syndrome not being in education for four weeks due to shielding during the covid-19 outbreak, particularly in cases where a parent or carer will need to take time off work to provide care and support with learning at home.

In September, the UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) reviewed the new information which showed that most adults with Down’s syndrome were at a higher risk amongst the population. Therefore, the UK CMOs decided that people aged 18 or over who have Down’s syndrome should be added to the clinically extremely vulnerable group. People who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend their college or other educational setting.

We know that any period of absence from an education setting can cause anxiety for learners and their families, and we are aware that some young people with Down’s syndrome have expressed their disappointment at being advised to remain at home. However, it is too early in the implementation of the national restrictions to conduct any formal assessment of the impact on families. We have been working with our partners, including a wide range of charities and organisations which support families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) throughout the COVID-19 outbreak to understand the impact on them. We will continue to gather regular information from parents, carers, and young people themselves, through organisations such as the National Network of Parent Carer Forums. We continually review and update our guidance to educational settings to reflect the advice of the CMOs, as more information on the impact of COVID-19 for different groups becomes available.

Our priority is to ensure that young people can continue to learn even when they are unable to attend their usual setting. We have worked with providers to co-design the remote education service for schools, further education providers and teachers. In addition, the Oak National Academy education offer provides free video lessons across a broad range of subjects, including specialist content for pupils with SEND.

Where a young person who is clinically extremely vulnerable has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), parents, education settings, health professionals and local authorities should work together to agree the best arrangement for that individual young person and their family to ensure that they continue to receive the support they need.

Families can request new or increased services from adult social care via their local authority, if this support is required to ensure the young person is safely cared for whilst they remain at home. It is for the local authority to carry out an assessment and to determine what service provision is required. During the period of national restrictions, those providing care or support to meet a vulnerable or disabled person’s everyday needs can continue to visit them in their home, ensuring they follow social distancing guidance where close or personal contact is not required.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many further education establishments have closed in the last (a) 12 months, (b) five years and (c) 10 years.

There has been a substantial reduction in independent college corporations over the last 10 years. That reflects increased efficiency achieved through mergers, including through reducing the number of separate leadership teams and rationalising corporate services. All structural changes have prioritised learner need and achieving high educational standards. In every dissolution, there was a transfer of assets, rights and liabilities (including sites, staff, continuing students, provision and funding) to other colleges or education providers.

The number of corporations that have closed is as follows:

(a) Between 1 November 2019 and 31 October 2020 – 9.

(b) Between 1 November 2015 and 31 October 2020 – 100.

(c) Between 1 November 2010 and 31 October 2020 – 123.

These figures include 26 sixth form colleges which have converted to academies. Decisions in relation to provision provided at individual college sites are taken by college corporations, including assessing the impact of any changes to delivery model on students’ access to learning.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of catch-up teaching support provided to former Year 13 students who have opted to sit exams in October 2020 as a result of those exams previously not taking place due to covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Understanding the impact of COVID-19 disruption on attainment and progress is a key research priority for the Government, and we have commissioned an independent research and assessment agency to consider catch up needs and monitor progress over the course of the year.

Additional funding of up to £96 million to support 16-19 year olds for the 2020/21 academic year is available through the National Tutoring Programme, enabling schools and colleges to provide small group tuition for disadvantaged students whose learning has been disrupted as a result of COVID-19.

A and AS level entry figures for the autumn series have been published and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/entries-for-as-and-a-level-autumn-2020-exam-series.

13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many laptops have been delivered to vulnerable children for online learning during the covid-19 outbreak; and whether those laptops have (a) preloaded and (b) funded licence agreements for Microsoft Office.

The Government has committed over £100 million to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children in England to access remote education and social care services, including by providing laptops, tablets and 4G routers.

The Department has ordered over 200,000 laptops and tablets, and allocated devices based on its estimates of the number of eligible children that do not have access to a device. The Department is working to provide these devices in the shortest possible timeframe; deliveries to schools and Local Authorities will start this month and continue in June.

Microsoft Windows laptops and tablets will come with Windows 10 installed. Schools can also apply for government-funded support to access one of two free-to-use digital education platforms: G Suite for Education or Office 365 Education.

28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many incidents of fly tipping have been reported by each local authority in the latest period for which data is available.

A breakdown of the number of incidents reported by individual local authorities in England for 2020/21 is available online from this webpage link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/env24-fly-tipping-incidents-and-actions-taken-in-england.

22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will introduce a set of core environmental standards that apply equally to food produced in the UK and imports from overseas to ensure that (a) the UK is sourcing from sustainable supply chains and (b) new trade deals do not lead to an offshoring of the UK's environmental footprint.

The Government is committed to a bold and ambitious approach to agricultural trade, that protects and advances the interests of farmers, food producers and consumers. Environmental considerations continue to be central to this approach. This is in line with our 2019 manifesto commitment to ensure that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.

As set out in our response to the final Trade and Agriculture Commission Report (October 2021), the UK has a wide-ranging programme of work underway to raise global ambition for sustainable agriculture. This includes exploring whether a global standards framework could help to meet the UK’s goals.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 8 March 2022 to Question 136639 on Waste Disposal: Fees and Charges, if he will publish the names of the 221 waste collection authorities that charge for garden waste collection.

The Government does not require local authorities to report on the use of charging systems for waste. However, Defra works closely with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to track local authority recycling. Details of the garden waste collection service types provided by each local authority in England are publicly available on the WRAP Local Authority Portal.

8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent estimate his Department has made of how many and what proportion of local authorities (a) charge and (b) have stopped charging for green bin collections.

There are currently 221 waste collection authorities (67% of all local authorities) in England that charge to collect garden waste from households. The percentage of waste collection authorities that charge to collect garden waste has remained roughly the same over the past three years. We do not hold data on whether any specific waste collection authorities have stopped charging for garden waste collections in recent years.

25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support representatives of Cheshire West and Chester Council in their investigations into the flooding in Northwich town centre.

The Environment Agency (EA) worked closely with Cheshire West and Chester Council in the development of the Northwich Flood Risk Management Scheme, as a key delivery partner on the project, which was completed in 2017. Following the flooding in October 2019, the EA also worked with the council and water company on contingency plans and had contingencies in place prior to Storm Christoph.

Storm Christoph was the largest event experienced in Cheshire since records began, resulting in significant foul and surface water flooding in Northwich Town Centre and to communities across the borough.

After the event, the EA initiated a collaborative working group with United Utilities and the council to establish a timeline of the flooding in the town centre and to help investigate the sources of flooding and support the Section 19 investigations. The focus has been on mitigation, with the result being an upscaled multi-agency contingency plan now in place for the winter ahead.

The council set up a Flood Risk Action Scrutiny group of councillors, with the primary focus being on Northwich town centre. EA staff attended these meetings on request from the council in response to the councillors' questions to cover issues relevant to the EA, including main river maintenance, warnings, community resilience and operations.

The Government acknowledges the significant impact that climate change is likely to have, and is indeed already having, on the frequency and severity of flooding. Tackling climate change and ensuring that communities across the UK are resilient to its impacts is a Government priority. That is why we have committed to invest £5.2 billion in flooding and coastal erosion over 2021-27.

8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to expedite the transition from culling badgers to vaccinating cattle to reduce the spread of bovine TB; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure an evidence-based and scientifically-reliable approach to counteract the risk posed to cattle by bovine TB.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Ealing Central and Acton on 28 October 2021, PQ UIN 62790.

As set out in the Government’s strategy for achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England[1], the Government continues to develop approaches to deliver the Strategy based on the best available evidence, scientific advice and veterinary advice. The term ‘evidence’ encompasses material from multi-disciplinary science research, statistics, economics, social or operational research and geographical information.

[1] www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-strategy-for-achieving-officially-bovine-tuberculosis-free-status-for-england

8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the role of the Northwich Incinerator in the context of technological changes that mean a greater range of waste that can be recycled; and whether his Department plans to take steps to ensure that recyclable waste is recycled.

The Environment Agency will regulate the incinerator installation through an Environmental Permit, under Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 (EPR). The permit will specify limits for emissions to the environment which are based on the Industrial Emission Directive 2010 and the Waste Incineration Best Available Technique conclusions. The waste types that any incinerator can process are specified by its EPR permit.

Since 2011, businesses that produce and handle waste must follow the Waste Hierarchy set out in Article 4 of the revised Waste Framework (Directive 2008/98/EC). The incinerator will be required to carry out checks on receipt of the waste to verify the description and ensure that it is an acceptable waste code for the plant to receive. The incinerator plant may extract energy from the waste to supply electricity to the National Grid.

8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the impact of raw sewage discharges on the river Weaver at Northwich; and what steps he is taking to reduce those discharges.

The impact of the storm overflows that discharge to the River Weaver, including those in Northwich, was last assessed through modelling in 2013. This led to three storm overflow discharges being improved in United Utilities Water improvement programme for 2015-20, and a further storm overflow discharge is being improved during the current, 2020-25, programme.

In addition, monitors that record the duration of spills were installed on the majority of storm overflows in Northwich during 2015-20. Data from these monitors will inform United Utilities Water’s work to investigate further action that may be taken in the current price programme (2020-25).

The Government has been clear that the current level of sewage discharges from storm overflows is unacceptable. That is why earlier this year, the Government consulted on a draft of its new strategic policy statement to the industry’s independent regulator Ofwat, which set out that we expect it to incentivise water companies to take steps to “significantly reduce the frequency and volume of sewage discharges from storm overflows, so they operate infrequently”. This publication strongly influences investment decisions and is one of Government’s key tools in driving action from water companies. The Environment Act now contains a new duty directly on water companies to reduce progressively the adverse impacts of storm overflow discharges, making the expectation we have already set out in the draft policy statement unequivocal in law.

8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what checks are in place to prevent flooding in Northwich town centre during winter 2021-22.

Following October 2019 flooding and Storm Christoph in January 2021, flood risk authorities across Cheshire including the Environment Agency (EA), Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWCC) and United Utilities committed to reducing flood risk in Northwich. The three organisations have been working together to address recommendations from the October 2019 Section 19 report published by CWCC to make the community in Northwich more resilient to future storm events.

The partnership prepared a joint emergency plan covering pre-flood and emergency response checks so that efforts are even more coordinated than for previous events. Pumping contingencies put in place following the October 2019 flooding are being enhanced to cope with a Storm Christoph sized event, and funding has been committed from all organisations in this partnership to develop these and other winter readiness measures. The partnership aims to look at longer term solutions to address flood risk in Northwich using a coordinated and strategic approach to take account of the future impacts of climate change and develop more sustainable solutions going forward.

The EA re-checked all of the outfalls to the river in the town centre to ensure non-return valves are fitted and are working as they should. The EA conducted pre-winter testing of the demountable flood barrier defences in Northwich on 7 November 2021 and confirmed they are functioning correctly and that the road closures and operational procedures all go smoothly when called upon.

29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect on the financial sustainability of the Canal and River Trust of meeting all its dredging requirements based on its current levels of Government funding.

No such assessment has been made. As a charity independent of Government, the Canal and River Trust is responsible for operational matters on its waterways, including meeting its various statutory obligations.

28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of dredging the River Weaver in the Northwich and Sutton Weaver areas of Weaver Vale constituency.

Dredging is an important part of the Environment Agency’s (EA) river maintenance regime. The EA will undertake dredging where there is evidence that it will reduce flood risk to local properties cost effectively without increasing flooding downstream.

The River Weaver is a water course modified to act as a navigation and as such the water level is controlled via structures and assets that are owned and operated by the Canal & River Trust. The navigation sections are dredged to maintain standards to allow the draught of vessels.

The EA investigated the potential merits of dredging in 2013 as part of its assessment of options for reducing the risk of flooding in Northwich. The EA looked at different siltation scenarios, including if silt levels and shoals built up, to see what impact there would be on flood risk. The EA concluded that this was not a significant issue in relation to controlling water levels in Northwich, and dredging was not found to be beneficial.

The EA has allocated resource to the future maintenance of the assets – the defence walls and demountable assets – that protect the town from main river flooding. However it has not allocated funding to dredging the River Weaver.

28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to allocate funding to a regular schedule of dredging for the river Weaver and Dane in Weaver Vale constituency.

Dredging is an important part of the Environment Agency’s (EA) river maintenance regime. The EA will undertake dredging where there is evidence that it will reduce flood risk to local properties cost effectively without increasing flooding downstream.

The River Weaver is a water course modified to act as a navigation and as such the water level is controlled via structures and assets that are owned and operated by the Canal & River Trust. The navigation sections are dredged to maintain standards to allow the draught of vessels.

The EA investigated the potential merits of dredging in 2013 as part of its assessment of options for reducing the risk of flooding in Northwich. The EA looked at different siltation scenarios, including if silt levels and shoals built up, to see what impact there would be on flood risk. The EA concluded that this was not a significant issue in relation to controlling water levels in Northwich, and dredging was not found to be beneficial.

The EA has allocated resource to the future maintenance of the assets – the defence walls and demountable assets – that protect the town from main river flooding. However it has not allocated funding to dredging the River Weaver.

25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his recent visit to the Northwich area in Weaver Vale constituency, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the drainage infrastructure following recent flooding; and what support he plans to provide to (a) businesses and (b) households in the context of that matter.

Storm Christoph brought over a month's rain in 30 hours onto already wet catchments. This overwhelmed the capacity of the combined foul (waste water) and surface water sewer network in Northwich, owned by the local water company. The Environment Agency is leading a review of the drainage infrastructure, its capacities and possible overflow points before foul and surface water reaches the town centre. Following the review, the Environment Agency and partners will develop a series of options.

The responsibility for coordinating the management of surface water flooding falls to Lead Local Flood Authorities and they are expected to have well established contingency arrangements in place and to be able to respond and support their local communities. In managing these risks the Lead Local Flood Authority will work with other flood Risk Management Authorities. This includes the local Highways Authorities, who are responsible for highway and gully maintenance, and the water and sewerage companies who operate and maintain the sewer network.

Water and sewerage companies are under a duty (section 94, Water Industry Act 1991) to maintain their sewers to ensure that their area is effectually drained. Consideration of whether this duty have been breached, and any subsequent enforcement action, would be taken by Ofwat. Following the 2019 Price Review the water and sewerage companies have committed to invest more than £1 billion to protect the environment, homes, businesses and drinking water from flooding.

Under section 19 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 a Lead Local Flood Authority is required to investigate, to the extent that they consider it necessary or appropriate, flooding incidents, including whether Risk Management Authorities have exercised their functions. Once completed the report must be published and the relevant Risk Management Authorities notified.

9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions from industry and power generation are kept within safe limits in Weaver Vale and Halton constituencies.

The Environment Agency’s environmental permitting regime carried out under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016 requires operators of “regulated facilities” including industry carrying out certain activities above certain thresholds including chemicals, combustion and energy from waste activities to obtain a permit. In this way the Environmental Permitting Regulations provide for ongoing supervision by the EA of activities which could harm the environment. The aim of the permitting regime is to:

  • protect the environment so that statutory and government policy environmental targets and outcomes are achieved;
  • deliver permitting, and compliance with permits and certain environmental targets, effectively and efficiently, in a way that provides increased clarity and minimises the administrative burden on both the regulator and operators;
  • encourage regulators to promote best practice in the operation of facilities; and
  • continue to implement European legislation fully.

The majority of environmental quality and specific permitting standards and other related requirements for environmental and human health protection come from Directives. The Environmental Permitting Regulations ensure that those Directives and national policy requirements, and outcomes that can be delivered through a permitting and compliance system, are delivered by the Environmental Permitting Regulations.

The Environmental Permitting Regulations place duties on regulators to exercise their permit-related functions to deliver the obligations and outcomes required by the relevant Directives and, in some cases, national policy. In practice, this means that the EA will ensure, where a permit is granted, that permit conditions achieve the objectives and intended outcomes of any of the Directives or national policy which apply.

The EA has specialist Industry sector groups set up such as 'Energy from Waste', ‘Chemicals’ and 'Combustion' with appropriate expertise in ensuring permit compliance. The EA also has sector plans with periodic review of permits to meet the latest environmental standards. These sector groups also engage with trade bodies and industry sectors to ensure that operators know and understand the requirements, and to implement them in a cost-effective way that also minimises environmental risks.

9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the level of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions from industry and power generation in Weaver Vale and Halton constituencies.

The information requested for Weaver Vale and Halton constituencies is not held centrally and to obtain it in the time available would incur disproportionate costs. If the hon. Member wishes to write to the Environment Agency it will be able to provide the information.

For the industrial sites the Environment Agency regulates through the permitting regime, it regularly monitors compliance with permit emission limits:

  • By regular inspections and audits for compliance assessment, including the regulation of emissions monitoring;
  • By requiring a management-systems approach that makes implementation, auditing and compliance assessment straightforward;
  • By specifying accredited and certified measurement services and equipment, and auditing to ensure compliance;
  • By banding operators according to risk and performance, to ensure a focused, cost-effective application of effective, proportionate and fair regulation;
  • By tracking the performance of operators and taking action where appropriate.

In addition to the permitting regime, for each permit the operator must report the amount of emissions of each controlled substance every year to the Environment Agency under the Pollution Inventory (PI). The PI provides information about the releases and transfers of substances from the industrial activities we regulate. This helps:

  • Provide the public with easy access to environmental information from industrial activities in their locality;
  • Protect the environment by providing information to assist us in developing regulation;
  • Government to meet its national and international environmental reporting commitments, such as the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register.
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Environment Agency's work with other bodies to reduce flood risk in Helsby, Cheshire.

To reduce flood risk in Helsby, Cheshire, the Environment Agency (EA) is working closely with local landowners, Wildfowlers, Councillors, industrial interests and the Manchester Ship Canal Company (MSC Co.)

A key aspect of this work is to find a long-term sustainable option for draining the Ince Marshes, where water exits from the land around Helsby. This has recently included working with the MSC Co to improve the functionally of their assets.

Helsby also has two properties and three commercial premises that benefit from EA flood defence assets on the Weaver embankment and the MSC embankment assets that keep the tidal Mersey from flooding. The EA regularly speaks to the MSC Co. about these assets.

9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what fiscal steps he is taking to support local authorities in the delivery of environmental services during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is the Government department responsible for allocating funding to local authorities. Defra officials work closely with those in MHCLG and also regularly meet local authority colleagues to support them on other non-fiscal challenges they face with the delivery of waste and environmental health services during the pandemic.

The Government is providing over £7.2 billion emergency funding to help authorities deal with COVID-19 pressures. £4.6 billion of this is un-ringfenced and so can be used by local authorities to meet local pressures as they see fit - including refuse collection and environmental health issues.


In addition, councils' core spending power rose by over £2.9 billion this financial year?even before additional emergency funding was announced.

9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of Government funding for (a) refuse collection and (b) environmental health.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is the Government department responsible for allocating funding to local authorities. Defra officials work closely with those in MHCLG and also regularly meet local authority colleagues to support them on other non-fiscal challenges they face with the delivery of waste and environmental health services during the pandemic.

The Government is providing over £7.2 billion emergency funding to help authorities deal with COVID-19 pressures. £4.6 billion of this is un-ringfenced and so can be used by local authorities to meet local pressures as they see fit - including refuse collection and environmental health issues.


In addition, councils' core spending power rose by over £2.9 billion this financial year?even before additional emergency funding was announced.

19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if people carrying out essential drain and plumbing work can be classed as key workers to maintain public health.

The list of key workers published on the GOV.UK website includes those providing essential roles in the water sector (including sewerage).

www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

Guidance for tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance in people’s homes can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance.

7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans her Department has to tackle illegal fox hunting.

The Hunting Act 2004 bans the hunting of wild mammals with dogs in England and Wales, except where it is carried out in accordance with the exemptions set out in Schedule 1 to the Act.

22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment her Department has made of trends in the level of costs for UK Importers; and what steps her Department is taking to help prevent price fixing in the global container shipping industry.

Container shipping costs are currently high, driven by increased demand as a result of a change in pandemic consumer spending. The levels of demand have meant that port and shipping container capacity has been stretched globally.

The Department for Transport has engaged closely with both ports and shipping lines to monitor the operational impacts, and make sure industry is doing all it can to mitigate impacts on the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has robust competition laws, and the Competition and Markets Authority has discretion to investigate competition cases which, according to its own prioritisation principles, it considers most appropriate.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Prime Minister, on what dates (a) he or (b) his special advisors had discussions with (i) Richard Desmond and (ii) board members, staff or agents of the Northern & Shell Media Group (A) prior to his appointment as Prime Minister and (B) after his appointment.

Ministerial meetings with external organisations are published on gov.uk as part of the government’s transparency agenda. Both Ministers and special advisers declare meetings with senior media executives, as part of their transparency returns.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
5th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Campaign for Better Transport's report, Funding local bus services in England, published in June 2022, if his Department will make an assessment of the implications for its policies of the findings of that report that (a) more than half of areas that applied for more support received no funding and (b) more than a third of the country’s population did not receive funding; and if he will (a) review the competitive funding model and (b) replace that model with long-term funding allocations for all local authorities conditional on achieving certain objectives.

A total of 31 Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs), representing 34 local authority areas, have been selected for funding from the £1.2 billion new dedicated funding announced in April to level up local bus services.

Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) not in receipt of BSIP funding have been offered a further capacity support grant to strengthen their in-house capacity; will be able to access practical assistance, including training, under the auspices of the new Bus Centre of Excellence; and can apply for other government funding sources to improve their bus services and grow bus patronage.

In the Levelling-Up White Paper, the Government recognised the benefits of long-term funding and has committed to simplifying the funding landscape for local authorities.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
5th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 4 July 2022 to Question 26843 on High Speed 2 Line: Cheshire, where in the North West jobs for building Phase 2bWL will be based; and what job roles are included in the figures.

Jobs will be created along the line of route, in counties including Cheshire. We do not have any further details of locations at this stage.

The job roles included in the figures previously given for Phase 2bWL include those in both the construction and rail engineering sectors. The peak workforce in 29/30 split for Phase 2bWL is: construction 15,400 FTE and rail engineering 2,500 FTE giving a total of 17,500 FTE.

Construction peaks at around 15,400 people with a relatively constant workforce around that level from 2027/28 to 2029/30. Around 48% of the workforce are in construction operative roles and close to 40% in management roles. Design service roles account for about 13% of the workforce and peak in 2021/22.

In rail engineering, the largest demand for labour and skills occurs in the track asset type, followed by traction and rolling stock, and then signalling systems & telecommunications.

Source document : HS2 Labour and Skills demand and supply forecasting and analysis: July ‘ 21. (Further break down of figures explained on page 37).

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many jobs will be created by HS2 in (a) Northwich, (b) Cheshire and (c) the North of England.

Labour market forecasts can be found in the 'HS2 labour and skills demand and supply forecasting and analysis' published in July 2021.

https://assets.hs2.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/HS2_LSF-report_clean_V2-0508.pdf

Whilst we cannot provide geographical specific forecasts, section 2.7 (page 36 - 45) details the labour forecast for building Phase 2bWL, which will all be based in the North West. It estimates there will be a peak workforce of 17,500 in 2029/30, with the workforce sustained at over 14,000 between 2027/28 and 2029/30.

The forecasts for Phase 2a are also given in the table on page 21.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Transport Bill, what assessment his Department has made of whether local authorities require powers to tackle pavement parking; and whether he plans to include provisions on pavement parking in that bill.

The Department consulted on measures to address pavement parking and received over 15,000 responses. Ministers are carefully considering the options in the light of the consultation findings. We will publish the formal consultation response and announce next steps as soon as possible.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to assist Northern in introducing two trains per hour from Northwich station to (a) Manchester Piccadilly and (b) Chester.

Any future options will be considered as part of the Manchester Transformation Programme looking at requirements to improve reliability and increase capacity. More generally, the Rail North Partnership will continue to work with Northern to improve its services, including reinstating or adding services where there is the capacity to do so reliably, based on passenger demand, while recognising that travelling patterns have changed as a result of the pandemic.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, in reference to the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey, what assessment his Department has made of the estimate of the £12.64 billion needed to deal with carriageway repairs; and what estimate he has made of the timescale to deal with outstanding carriageway repairs.

Local highway authorities have a duty under Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980 to maintain the highways network in their area. It is for each local authority to decide how best to do this.

Whilst the Government does not intervene in local highway maintenance decisions, we are providing over £2.7 billion funding for local highways maintenance for local authorities outside of London and City Region areas over the next three years. In an extremely challenging fiscal context following COVID-19, this settlement announced at Spending Review 2021 represents a funding level consistent with 2021/22 committed for three years. This will help local highway authorities plan effectively for managing their highways assets, from tackling potholes to repairing bridges and other asset defects across their local road networks.

The Department for Transport encourages good practice in local highway maintenance for all local highway authorities and endorses the UK Roads Liaison Group’s Code of Practice on Well Managed Highway Infrastructure.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey (2022) which reports a 23 per cent increase in the backlog of carriageway repairs, what steps his Department is taking to tackle that backlog.

Local highway authorities have a duty under Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980 to maintain the highways network in their area. It is for each local authority to decide how best to do this.

Whilst the Government does not intervene in local highway maintenance decisions, we are providing over £2.7 billion funding for local highways maintenance for local authorities outside of London and City Region areas over the next three years. In an extremely challenging fiscal context following COVID-19, this settlement announced at Spending Review 2021 represents a funding level consistent with 2021/22 committed for three years. This will help local highway authorities plan effectively for managing their highways assets, from tackling potholes to repairing bridges and other asset defects across their local road networks.

The Department for Transport encourages good practice in local highway maintenance for all local highway authorities and endorses the UK Roads Liaison Group’s Code of Practice on Well Managed Highway Infrastructure.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make representations to representatives of HS2 Ltd to commission an assessment and report on the potential impact of price increases in (a) fuel and (b) construction materials on the delivery of the HS2 contract.

The potential impact of price increases in fuel and materials is reviewed continuously by both HS2 Ltd and my Department. I am clear that all opportunities to deliver the programme in the most cost efficient way must be fully explored.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
17th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with P&O ferries on the 800 members of staff who have been sacked from their jobs; what steps his Department is taking to (a) support those staff and (b) minimise passenger disruption.

The Secretary of State has written to the chief executive of P&O Ferries to express his anger over their handling of the situation and urge him to engage with the seafarers affected to rectify his decision.

I also spoke with the CEO of P&O Ferries on Thursday 17 March to express my concern and anger at the manner in which they have treated their loyal, hard working seafarers. I will continue to engage with P&O Ferries throughout this situation and have insisted P&O Ferries support those affected.

The Department for Work and Pensions have reached out to P&O Ferries employees to offer assistance and a number of schemes can be accessed. The Home Office, other transport operators and local employers are also offering support within their respective organisations.

Although replacement services are available, there will be some disruption over the coming days. Officials are in close contact with resilience forums across the country and with the Devolved Administrations to mitigate this disruption.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to prevent (a) vessels and (b) cargo of Russian origin from docking in UK ports.

The Government has already taken extensive steps to sanction Russia, including by prohibiting Russian-linked ships docking at UK ports.

I am working with my international counterparts to ensure more countries follow this type of action.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the local authority that has the most potholes as of 14 March 2022.

The Department has made no estimate of the local authority that has the most potholes. The Department encourages a preventative approach to highway maintenance, linked to highway asset management best practice.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Report 02/2022 - Derailment of a passenger train at Carmont published by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch on 10 March 2022, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of Network Rail in ensuring (a) passenger safety and (b) that trains are built and maintained to current regulations; and what plans he has to take steps to assist Network Rail in ensuring all recommendations of that Report are implemented.

The derailment at Stonehaven was a tragedy and I am determined that lessons are learned from this accident. I welcome the report and its findings and expect the rail industry to ensure that the recommendations are fully implemented.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR), as the independent, specialist safety regulator for the railway, is responsible for regulating safety on the railways, including in relation to passenger safety and rolling stock safety. It is leading work with the rail industry, including Network Rail, train operators, owners and health and safety representatives, to discharge its statutory responsibility to ensure that the report’s recommendations are addressed and all necessary improvements are delivered. The ORR has the powers and expertise needed to do this and I fully support the action being taken by the ORR.

Network Rail is already taking action to address the recommendations in the report, including work to improve its management of drainage infrastructure. I have received specific assurance that it is taking all necessary steps and that it will find all opportunities to accelerate this work. I will be kept up to date as this important work progresses.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the need to introduce step free access between the platforms at Northwich station.

We are in the process of setting the funding envelopes for the next rail control period (2024-29). When further funding is available, any station without an accessible route into the station and to all platforms will be a potential candidate.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate his Department has made of the number of commercial bus routes that have been abolished in England since 2010.

The Department does not hold data on the number of commercial bus routes that have been abolished in England since 2010.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the timetable for the rebuilding of Northwich Station after its partial collapse in May 2021.

The Department has been advised by Network Rail that they are working on the design and planning now, and are aiming to start the rebuilding work later this year.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
31st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate his Department has made of the number of train stations that have received funding for step free access platforms through the Access for All programme.

The Access for All Programme is a key Government policy.

So far, over 200 stations have benefitted from step free accessible routes and over 1500 from smaller scale access improvements. There is more to come when we deliver major projects such as Crossrail and HS2 or when the industry installs, replaces or renews station infrastructure.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of introducing a requirement for taxi and minicab drivers to complete disability equality training.

Effective disability awareness training can help ensure that taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers have the knowledge, skills and confidence to provide passengers with appropriate assistance, so that they can travel independently and with confidence.

The Department wants every local licensing authority to require taxi and PHV drivers to complete this training and will make this clear in updated Best Practice Guidance, due to be published for consultation later in the year.

The Government also remains committed to introducing mandatory disability awareness training for taxi and PHV drivers through new National Minimum Standards for licensing authorities.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the cost of rail tickets relative to average incomes in each region of the UK; and what steps he is taking to reduce the cost of rail travel.

Rail fare increases are calculated with reference to inflation rather than average income. This year rail fares increases will be capped and tied to the Retail Price Index (RPI) figure for July 2021 (3.8 per cent). The Government has deliberately continued to use the July figure as it was lower than the months since, as an August or September RPI figure would have led to a 4.8 per cent or 4.9 per cent, change with October being even higher at 6 per cent.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, published May 2021, contains a number of passenger-focused reforms that will bring in improved services and encourage the use of rail. The Spending Review 2021 confirmed £5.7 billion of funding over three years to support essential rail services, and will see the Government investing £360 million in modernising ticketing and retailing systems, delivering a major overhaul to the way in which rail travel is bought and paid for.

We have recently introduced flexible season tickets on rail, which provide better value to most part-time commuters than buying daily tickets or traditional seasons. We have also saved a generation of passengers a third off their rail fares, including the 16-17 Saver and 26-30 Railcards and, most recently, the Veterans Railcard.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of upgrading the rolling stock on the Mid-Cheshire railway line.

It is a matter for operators to deploy rolling stock appropriate for the services that they operate to meet the needs of passengers. The Department has not made any assessment in respect of changing the rolling stock on the Mid-Cheshire line.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of compulsory training on sexual harassment and gender-based violence for workers in passenger transport to better equip transport workers to report and takes steps against sexual harassment.

Everyone has the right to feel safe when travelling and using public spaces. Ensuring front-line transport staff have the right training to deter unwanted sexual behaviour and support victims is an important element of this.

The Department works closely with transport partners on a range of initiatives to address the problems faced by vulnerable groups on the transport network. For instance, the Rail Delivery Group has developed a specific sexual harassment awareness training package which is being delivered to frontline rail staff across operators.

However, we know that we must do more, which is why I am looking forward to receiving DfT’s Women’s Safety Champions, Laura Shoaf and Anne Shaw’s, independent recommendations on how we can improve safety on the transport network soon.

We are determined to improve the safety of our transport network and will seriously consider how best to deliver on their recommendations.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the affordability of cost of travel for people who work shift patterns and are on low pay and zero hours contracts; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure that transport is affordable and accessible to all commuters to and from work.

We have recently introduced flexible season tickets on rail, which provide better value to most part-time commuters than buying daily tickets or traditional seasons. We have also saved a generation of passengers a third off their rail fares, including the 16-17 Saver and 26-30 Railcards and, most recently, the Veterans Railcard. These provide substantial discounts to off-peak travel that many shift workers can take advantage of.

During this Parliament the Government will invest £1.2 billion of new funding to deliver improvements in bus services, fares and infrastructure in England outside London.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of municipal ownership of buses to improve bus service provision especially for night time and off-peak services.

The Government has committed to issuing a Call for Evidence on whether there is a need to reverse the current prohibition on the establishment of new municipally-owned bus operators. It will be published in due course.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the timeframe is for local authorities to develop and complete their electric vehicle charging transition strategy.

The Government has a programme of engagement and support for local authorities, to ensure all areas are working to help deliver on the phase out of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. This includes funding the Energy Saving Trust (EST) to provide free advice to local authorities in England, on matters such as developing a local electric vehicle charging strategy.

Local authorities are best placed to consider local needs and the Government’s forthcoming Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy will serve to define the role and responsibilities of local authorities in the delivery of charging infrastructure.

The leadership and action by local authorities through local transport and planning policy can help support local zero emission vehicle uptake, and make sure it is integrated with wider local transport strategy.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the regulation and licensing provisions in respect of public transport, taxis and private hire vehicles in ensuring the safety of late night workers using those forms of transport.

The Government recognises the vital role that public transport, including taxi and private hire vehicles, play in getting people to work at all times of the day and night. Passenger safety is integral to the regulation and licensing of passenger transport service providers and policy is constantly kept under review.

The Department for Transport is also working closely with the Home Office on the Government’s cross-departmental strategy to address Violence Against Women and Girls. The Department for Transport’s first Women’s Safety Champions are engaging with campaign groups, industry and Government to understand areas for improvement across the UK’s transport network. They will shortly produce independent recommendations for the Department and wider transport network on what best practice should be adopted to improve safety of the transport network for women and girls. We expect that these measures will enhance safety for all passengers at all times.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps are being taken to ensure that rail services have enough seating capacity for all expected passengers.

We are working with train operators to ensure that timetables provide capacity where it is most needed. Operators are currently running around 88% of pre-COVID-19 services, while passenger journeys remained under 60% of pre-COVID-19 levels since the end of November.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
6th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the impact of the latest covid-19 travel restrictions on the aviation industry.

Temporary border measures have been introduced to prevent further Omicron cases from entering the UK and slow the rise of cases within the UK, whilst our scientists work at pace to better understand this new variant. These measures will be reviewed next week to ensure they remain necessary and proportionate.

The Government recognises the challenging times facing the international travel sectors due to COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, we estimate that the air transport sector (airlines, airport and related services) will have benefitted from around £8bn of government support. The Department for Transport is working closely with HM Treasury to monitor the situation and we continue to take a flexible approach and keep all impacts and policies under review.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to dispose of surplus Network Rail land in accordance to the updated Cabinet Office guidance, Government Functional Standard GovS 004: Property.

Network Rail have robust management, governance and assurance systems to ensure property disposals meet government standards. Cabinet Office have recently updated the Government Property Functional standards and they will be working with Departments to conduct functional assurance in the coming months in order to ensure all property work undertaken by Departments and their delivery bodies continues to meet the updated standards.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the strain on the single-lane bridge crossing the River Weaver at Winnington in Northwich; and whether his Department has plans for that bridge to be replaced with a new bridge that has greater capacity to accommodate traffic in both directions simultaneously.

The Department provided £780,000 from the Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund to Cheshire West and Chester Council towards maintenance of the Winnington Swing Bridge. It is for the Council to consider and develop improvements to its highway network, including widening or replacing the single-lane bridge crossing the River Weaver at Winnington in Northwich.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to tackle DVLA licence delays for bus operators that are training new drivers.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is currently prioritising applications for vocational driving licences and has moved additional staff into this area. Applications for provisional vocational licences are being processed within the normal turnaround time of five working days, reduced from ten.

Trudy Harrison
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that HGV drivers currently awaiting the renewal of their licence are not hindered by lack of documentation when driving in the EU.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has led to delays for customers Drivers are advised to take their driving licence with them when driving abroad in order to produce their licence if required.

Industrial action and Welsh Government social distancing requirements at the making paper applications. The DVLA is working hard to process paper applications as quickly as possible and is prioritising licence applications from HGV drivers. The latest information on turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found online.

15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the eligibility of the part-collapsed Northwich Train Station for the Rail network enhancements pipeline.

The proposals for the rebuild are currently in development. Network Rail is communicating with the local authority and DfT to make sure the rebuild is fit for purpose.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with insurance companies on DVLA guidance in respect of drivers driving on an expired licence while waiting for a replacement licence to be issued.

Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 allows drivers who have sent a valid application to the DVLA to continue driving while waiting for their application to be processed. Strict criteria apply and these are outlined online here.

5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps his Department has taken to re-introduce HGV and LGV driver testing provision in Halton.

Driver testing has restarted and the DVSA is conducting around 3,000 vocational tests per week. DVSA is increasing the number of tests available through extended operating hours and ensuring all staff who can conduct a driving test are doing so.

DVSA continue to work with the driver training industry to understand demand, respond to geographical peaks, and identify issues in booking tests. DVSA has recruited 300 new car examiners which will ease the demand on examiners who are able to conduct vocational tests. They are also looking at other options for increasing vocational resource.

22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will publish the most recent full structural survey undertaken on Northwich Station by Network Rail or another organisation on Network Rail's behalf.

Network Rail is investigating this matter, in accordance with strict protocols, and is not currently in a position to comment. Additional inspections of comparable buildings are also being undertaken, to mitigate the risk of similar incidents across the North West route. The independent Office of Road and Rail is also conducting its own investigation into the Northwich incident. I will write to the Hon. Gentlemen with the findings once they have been published.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will prioritise Northwich Railway Station for the Access For All programme in respect of the rebuild of part of the station following its recent collapse.

The Office of Rail and Road is currently undertaking an investigation into the recent collapse, which will report back to Network Rail shortly. Whenever any work is carried out at a station by the industry when they install, replace or renew infrastructure, it must comply with the relevant accessibility standards.

Also, I shall be bidding for further rounds of funding for Access for All schemes in the forthcoming Spending Review.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the need for investment to (a) rebuild, (b) modernise and (c) improve accessibility at Northwich Station after the collapse of past of the roof and building at that station.

An investigation is being carried out by Northern, Network Rail and the Office of Rail and Road and this work is still ongoing.

The operator is working with Network Rail to review temporary facilities and a proposed new station building.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure the uninterrupted haulage travel of goods from the EU.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) allows EU and UK hauliers to undertake unlimited journeys to, from and through each other’s territories with no extra bureaucracy, with a maximum of two additional movements within each other’s territories. For EU hauliers, this means they can do up to two cabotage movements in the UK.

19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the need to ease the potential additional financial burden on the private hire and taxi industry resulting from new industry standards.

A full impact assessment was published alongside the Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards in July 2020. This found that if the full cost of the Standards was passed on to drivers, the increased cost would be £62.24 per driver per year which would equate to a three pence increase per fare.

23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of using rail infrastructure to remove waste from the Lostock Northwich Incinerator to help reduce the number of heavy goods vehicles journeys made for that purpose.

Whilst the means by which industrial facilities convey materials is a commercial decision, DfT recognises the merits of using rail ahead of HGVs and is incentivising modal shift from road haulage to rail freight through our £20m Mode Shift Revenue Support Scheme, which helps to remove around 900,000 HGV journeys from our roads each year.

25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the need to prioritise potential driving instructors (PDI) for PDI tests to enable people who pass to help meet demand for driving lessons when covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency will prioritise the approved driving instructor (ADI) Part 2: practical test of driving ability, and the ADI Part 3: practical test of instructional ability, when it is safe to resume services.

Potential driving instructors (PDI) are already able to provide driving lessons as part of their preparation for the ADI Part 3 test if they have been granted a trainee licence under section 129 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 23 June 2020 to Question 59592 on Bus Services: Coronavirus, what progress the Government has made on a sector-based financial support package for the coach sector; and if he will make a statement.

We have announced several financial support measures available to UK businesses, including the coach industry. This includes measures announced on 24 September as part of the Winter Economy Plan, further support on 22 October for businesses in local lockdown areas, changes to the Job Support Scheme (JSS), and increased business grants. With the introduction of new national restrictions on 5 November, the COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme has also been extended until March 2021.

The full return to education supports a key revenue source for the industry and this has been augmented by the additional vehicles needed compared to previous years. The Department of Education has announced over £70 million to local transport authorities to provide additional dedicated school and college capacity in our transport system, helping children and young people to get to and from their schools and colleges whilst social distancing reduces the capacity of existing public transport

We continue to work closely with representatives from the coach sector including the Confederation of Passenger Transport, and with other government departments, to understand the ongoing risks and issues the sector faces and how these could be addressed.

30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure Northwich Station is accessible to people with disabilities and mobility restrictions through the Access For All programme.

We have extended the access for All programme with a further £350m that will make over 100 more stations accessible by 2024. Northwich was not nominated for the programme but could be proposed for the future.

The Government is committed to improving access at all stations, and will continue to seek further funding to make more improvements. However, if the industry carries out any station infrastructure work this will need to comply with current accessibility standards.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has for the provision of cycling routes and facilities alongside HS2.

In October 2018 the Government published a feasibility study looking at the possibility of a cycleway associated with the HS2 scheme. The study identified a series of cycle routes that would provide connectivity benefits to local communities. The Government has also invested £22 million in developing National Cycle Network cycling and walking paths. Many of these are within the HS2 corridor, and will deliver improved surfacing, new traffic-free routes, and more accessible transport links in local communities. Further funding for the National Cycle Network and other cycling routes and facilities will be considered as part of the Spending Review.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress his Department has made in developing an urgent package of financial support for coach travel businesses affected by the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

We are encouraging?coach?operators to make use of the wide range of support measures?the Chancellor?announced. These?amount to £330 billion of loans and guarantees for businesses. We?are continuing to engage with the coach sector to understand what the ongoing risks and issues are, and how these could be addressed in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what guidance he is issuing to local authorities on supporting the safety of taxi and private hire drivers during the covid-19 outbreak.

On 12 May, the Department for Transport issued guidance to transport operators to help organisations, agencies and others (such as self-employed transport providers) understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers across all modes of private and public transport. The Department for Transport has also contacted all licensing authorities in England and other sector stakeholders to highlight this guidance and set out its implications for the taxi and private hire vehicle trade.

As the Prime Minister announced on 10 June, the Government will be expanding targeted testing of occupations and groups at higher risk, including those individuals working in front line jobs, which bring them regularly into close contact with the public. This will help us learn more about who is at higher risk and how the virus is spread.

18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress has been made on the study of the capacity at Crewe Station; and whether that study has made an assessment of the potential future requirements of re-opening the line from (a) Northwich via Gadbrook Business Park, (b) Middlewich and (c) Sandbach to Crewe.

Crewe is already a hub on the existing rail network and more seats will be provided when the new Avanti trains arrive in 2022. The Government has also confirmed its support for the ‘Crewe Hub’ vision, with up to 5-7 HS2 trains per hour stopping. We continue to work with Network Rail, HS2 and local partners towards realising this vision.

We recognise that there a number of proposals to increase services to Crewe. Officials continue to liaise with the Cheshire and Warrington LEP on their Strategic Outline Business Case for Mid Cheshire proposal whilst Network Rail is studying the potential interventions required to accommodate additional services.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to support coach operators to stay in business during the covid-19 outbreak.

Within the Budget on 11 March 2020, the Chancellor set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services and businesses through the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

On 17 March, the Chancellor announced a further £330 billion of financial measures, including measures which will support public transport operators.

Any further measures will be announced in due course.

27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of trends in the level of investment in Northern Powerhouse Rail since its inception.

As the table sets out below, Northern Powerhouse Rail has seen year on year increases in its development budget for 5 years. The Government recognises that there is an urgent need for rail investment to improve connectivity, journey times and frequency between Northern towns and cities.

In Summer 2019, it was agreed that the first stage of Northern Powerhouse Rail will be a new line between Leeds and Manchester. We continue to work with TfN and intend to announce the next steps shortly.

Year

Budget

FY16/17

£10,000,000

FY17/18

£15,000,000

FY18/19

£20,000,000

FY19/20

£50,000,000

FY20/21 (forecast)

£75,000,000

Total

£170,000,000

27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the public availability of electric vehicle charging points.

We recognise that a UK-wide, reliable and joined-up public electric vehicle charging network infrastructure is essential for realising our ambitions for zero emission driving and we will continue to invest to bring this about.

Our jointly funded £400 million Chargepoint Infrastructure Investment Fund’s first investment round, worth a total of £70 million, will ensure the delivery of a further 3,000 rapid charging devices by 2024, more than doubling the current number of rapid charging devices.

On 21 January, we announced that Government has doubled the value of the On-street Residential Charging Scheme for 2020-2021 to £10 million to support the provision of up to 3,600 chargepoints for those that do not have off-street parking.

In July 2019 work commenced to determine a vision for a core rapid charger network on England’s strategic road network. This will report in Spring 2020. Highways England has committed £15m to ensure there are chargepoints (rapid where possible) every 20 miles on 95% of the Strategic Road Network by 2020. As of December 2019 84% of the network is within 20 miles of a rapid electric vehicle chargepoint.

To date, government and industry have supported the installation of over 17,000 devices providing over 24,000 publicly available chargepoints. This includes over 2,400 rapid chargepoints – one of the largest networks in Europe.

17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the report by the Local Government Association entitled Work local: unlocking talent to level up, published on 10 May 2022, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of proposals for an integrated and devolved employment and skills service; and if she will make it her policy to implement the Work Local model in full.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is supportive of better integration of employment and skills services. The Levelling Up White Paper (LUWP), published on 2 February 2022, established three Employment and Skills Pathfinders: in Blackpool, Walsall and Barking and Dagenham. The UK Government will bring greater alignment to the delivery of employment and skills interventions in these areas. This is a joint project between DWP and the Department for Education (DfE), the Department responsible for further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills and funding in England. The Pathfinders are bringing together local delivery partners to share understanding of local employers’ skills needs, support people into work, and identify progression opportunities for people in part-time work.

The LUWP also established an ‘English Devolution Framework.’ It takes a tiered approach to devolution and enables DWP to offer local government, a single institution or County Council with a directly elected Mayor, a role in the design and delivery of future contracted employment programmes. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is leading devolution deal negotiations with those areas identified in the LUWP.

DWP works closely with local government to understand local labour market issues and reflect these in our employment support and is committed to working with the LGA to strengthening our engagement, alongside other local government organisations.

21st Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will increase (a) personal independence payment (b) disability living allowance and (c) universal credit in line with inflation.

The Secretary of State is legally required to conduct an annual review of benefit rates to determine whether they have retained their value in relation to the general level of prices. We have used the same approach since April 1987 of up-rating benefits based on the relevant inflation index in the 12 months to the previous September and since 2011 the preferred index has been the Consumer Price index. We will spend over £64 billion this year on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions.

Personal Independence Payment and Disability Living Allowance are non means–tested andnon-contributory, thus they are paid regardless of any income or savings and were not subject to the benefits freeze. They are currently paid at between £24.45 and £156.90 a week, tax free.

In Universal Credit the limited capability for work and work-related activity amount is currently £354.28 a month.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the number of disabled people who have less than £10 per week to spend on food and other essentials after paying for housing, tax and other bills across the UK; and what steps her Department is taking to support disabled people in response to the increase in the cost of living.

No such assessment has been made. The government understands the pressures people are facing with the cost of living. In 2022/23 we will spend over £64bn on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions in Great Britain and spending on the main disability benefits – PIP, DLA and Attendance Allowance – will be over £6bn higher in real terms than in 2010.

We know that living with a long-term illness or disability can impact on living costs and financial support is available to those, or those who care for them. People who have a health condition or disability which restricts the amount of work they can do could receive over £350 a month on top of the Universal Credit standard allowance.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether there will be any redundancies following the closure of the offices in her Department's estate from which staff will not be relocated to an alternative premise.

The Department’s priority will be to retain, retrain, and redeploy staff either within DWP, or within other Government Departments in the area.

Redundancies will be only considered as a very last resort, and only after all efforts to redeploy within DWP or other Government Departments in the area have been fully exhausted.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Household Support Fund, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that there is (a) maximum flexibility and (b) timely sharing of details on allocations to assist local authorities in making sure funding reaches people in need of support.

Indicative allocations for the Household Support Fund extension have been shared with Local Authorities. These indicative allocations are the same amount as for the previous 6 months of the Household Support Fund.

Local Authorities will have discretion on exactly how this funding is used within the scope set out in the fund guidance and the accompanying grant determination.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment has her department made of the implications for her policies of the number of job vacancies in the labour market as of 2 February 2022 in (a) Weaver Vale constituency, (b) the North West and (c) the UK.

For October to December 2021 there were a record high 1.2 million vacancies nationally, many in key sectors. Official statistics are not available at a local level, but ONS publish experimental statistics based on online job adverts. These suggest that, as of 28 January 2022, there are almost 40% more job adverts online in the North West than they were in February 2020. Our labour market policies are designed to support claimants who can work to move into work, improving their financial situation and wellbeing; and to support employers who need to fill vacancies.

To deliver the workforce needed by the labour market, the Government has launched ‘Way to Work’. This will apply the lessons from the Kickstart Scheme to bring employers and claimants together in our Jobcentres. This will expedite applications and interviews and speed up the process of getting people into work. We will also make it easier for employers to work with us to fill their vacancies through jobs fairs (both in person and online), Employer Hubs, our social media channels (including JobHelp), and advertising on FindAJob.

This is good news for employers who need to fill their vacancies. It is also good for our claimants who will be better off financially in work.

2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking with Chancellor of the Exchequer to help support pensioners with increases in the cost of living.

This country has never paid our pensioners more. This year, we will spend over £129 billion on the State Pension and benefits for pensioners in Great Britain. From April,

The Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Act 2020 raised the State Pension by 2.5% from April 2021 although CPI was 0.5% and earnings were negative. From April, the full yearly amount of the basic State Pension will be around £720 more in 2022/23 than if it had been up-rated by prices since 2010. That’s a rise of over £2,300 in cash terms.

In addition, around 1.4 million eligible pensioners across Great Britain receive around £5 billion annually in Pension Credit, which tops up their retirement income and act as a passport to other financial help, such as support with housing costs, council tax, heating bills and a free TV licence for those over 75.

Cold weather payments are payable to those in receipt of Pension Credit and the warm home discount - a rebate of £140 on a customer’s energy bill - is available to those in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit. From 2022/23 the eligibility criteria for the warm home discount scheme will be extended to a greater number of Pension Credit customers and the payment increased to £150.

Customers of State Pension age are also entitled to an annual Winter Fuel payment worth up to £300. This winter we will pay over 11m pensioners a winter fuel payment at an annual cost of £2bn which is a significant contribution to winter fuel bills.

The Chancellor’s announcement on 3 February of a package of support to help households with rising energy bills, worth £9.1 billion in 2022-23, will also be available to eligible pensioners.

Further support for pensioners includes free eye tests and NHS prescriptions worth around £900m every year and free bus passes worth £1bn every year.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of people who have been affected by the underpayment of benefits after transitioning from incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance in Weaver Vale constituency.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 19th January to question number 104377.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate his Department has made of the number of pensionable age people in Weaver Vale constituency who are still awaiting payment of their state pension.

DWP does not have any claims outstanding. Those where we are awaiting additional information to process a customer’s claim are actioned on receipt of the required information, in the usual way.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing a fit and proper person test for providers of exempt accommodation.

The supported housing sector provides essential accommodation and support for the most vulnerable members of society to live as independently as possible in their community.

We are working closely with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on the oversight of supported housing to ensure it is good quality and provides the right support for residents as well as value for money for taxpayers. As part of this work, all available options will be considered. Additionally, following extensive engagement with stakeholders, we are reviewing the guidance for specified accommodation claims to improve consistency in decision-making for exempt accommodation.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of strengthening the regulation of exempt accommodation.

The supported housing sector provides essential accommodation and support for the most vulnerable members of society to live as independently as possible in their community.

We are working closely with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on the oversight of supported housing to ensure it is good quality and provides the right support for residents as well as value for money for taxpayers. As part of this work, all available options will be considered. Additionally, following extensive engagement with stakeholders, we are reviewing the guidance for specified accommodation claims to improve consistency in decision-making for exempt accommodation.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of trends in the level of child poverty in Weaver Vale constituency; and what steps the Government is taking to reduce child poverty.

In 2019/20, the latest year for which data is available, 12% of children in Weaver Vale were in absolute low-income on a before housing costs basis, the same proportion as in 2014/15.

Further information on the number and proportion of children who are in low income families in Weaver Vale, covering the six years, 2014/15 to 2019/20, can be found at: Children in low income families: local area statistics 2014 to 2020 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Given clear evidence that parental employment, particularly where it is full-time, substantially reduces the risks of child poverty, we are focusing on supporting employment. With record vacancies in the economy, there are opportunities available across the UK and our multi-billion-pound Plan for Jobs, which has recently been expanded by £500 million, is helping people to access them.

Universal Credit recipients in work will soon benefit from a reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate from 63% to 55%, while eligible in-work claimants will also benefit from changes to the Work Allowance. These measures represent, for the lowest paid in society, an effective tax cut of around £2.2 Billion in 2022-23, and will benefit almost two million of the lowest paid workers by £1000 a year on average.

We recognise that some people may require extra support over the winter as we enter the final stages of recovery, which is why vulnerable households across the country will now be able to access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. The Household Support Fund will provide £421 million to help vulnerable people in England with the cost of food, utilities and wider essentials. The Barnett Formula will apply in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million (£41m for the Scottish Government, £25m for the Welsh Government and £14m for the NI Executive), for a total of £500 million.

This is on top of the £111 billion we are spending this year on support for people of working age.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made on the effectiveness of the personal independence payment assessment process' (a) timescale from application submission to the result and (b) approach to applicants with disabilities

We are committed to ensuring that people can access financial support in a timely manner and managing customer journey times for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claimants is a priority for the Department. We always aim to make an award decision as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to review all available evidence.

Processing times can vary reflecting factors including customer demand, operational resource and timescales for different parts of the process. Clearance times for new PIP claims in July 2021 (most recent data available) are similar to those pre-pandemic.

PIP focuses support on those experiencing the greatest barriers to living independently; 34% of those on PIP receive the highest level of support, compared to 15% of its predecessor benefit’s (DLA’s) working-age claimants. At the core of PIP’s design is the principle that awards of the benefit should be made according to a claimant’s overall level of need, regardless of whether claimants have a physical or non-physical condition. Entitlement to PIP is therefore assessed on the basis of the needs arising from a health condition or disability, rather than the health condition or disability itself.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much her Department recovered from overpayments that were as a result of her Department's and not the claimant's error in each month in the most recent period for which figures are available; and what the average amount of overpayment due to her Department's error was recovered from each such claimant.

In the last month for which figures are available DWP paid out almost £3.5bn in Universal Credit and it should be noted that fraud and error in the benefits system remains low, with 95% of benefits, worth more than £200bn. paid correctly in 2020/21. Official Error overpayments remained at 0.4% of benefit expenditure last year, with UC Official Error Overpayments falling from 1.3% to 0.9%.

Deductions from UC are now capped at 25% (as of April 2021) having previously been 30%. Where requested deductions exceed the 25% maximum, or there is insufficient UC in payment for all deductions to be made, a priority order is applied, which determines the order in which items should be deducted. ‘Last resort’ deductions, such as rent or fuel costs, are at the top of the priority order, ensuring that claimant welfare is prioritised, followed by social obligation deductions, such as fines and child maintenance, and finally benefit debt, such as Social Fund loans and benefit overpayments.

Anyone with overpayment deductions who does experience financial hardship is encouraged to contact the Department’s Debt Management unit. Where a person cannot afford the proposed rate of these deductions, a lower amount can be negotiated.

Deductions in respect of UC Official Error debt for the last 6 months are shown below:

Month

Value of in month recovery where debt category is official error

Average recovery per Customer in Month

Jan-21

£12,470,549

£67.47

Feb-21

£14,464,840

£67.15

Mar-21

£16,444,768

£70.11

Apr-21

£16,524,866

£69.95

May-21

£13,563,717

£65.02

Jun-21

£14,584,640

£63.44

* The data shown in the above table is taken from operational data systems, and is not intended for publication. Therefore, the data itself is not quality assured to the standard of published Official Statistics and National Statistics.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many direct earnings attachments her Department has put in place in each year since the Welfare Reform Act 2012 enabled recovery of overpayments as a result of errors made by her Department rather than the claimant; and what estimate she has made of the amount that has been overpaid in error by her Department in each year since 2012.

It is not possible to produce a historical time series for this specific data request regarding Direct Earnings Attachments (DEA). However, I can confirm that there are 15,000 DWP debtors with an official error debt who currently have a DEA in place.

This data is taken from operational data systems, and is not intended for publication. Therefore, the data itself is not quality assured to the standard of published Official Statistics and National Statistics.

It should be noted that, during a period when we have faced the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, fraud and error in the benefits system remains low, with 95% of benefits, worth more than £200bn paid correctly in 2020/21. Official Error overpayments remained at 0.4% of benefit expenditure last year, with UC Official Error Overpayments falling from 1.3% to 0.9%.

DWP’s primary method of debt recovery is by deduction from any on-going benefit that mightbe in payment, with limits on the amount we can deduct from income related benefits being set out in legislation.

Where recovery from ongoing benefit entitlement is not possible, DWP will seek to agree a voluntary repayment plan with the debtor, taking into account their personal circumstances and the amount they can reasonably afford to repay each month.

Where a person fails to agree a voluntary repayment plan, we can apply a Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA) which allows deductions to be taken directly from a person’s earnings, bu this would only be after DWP had made all reasonable efforts to pursue recovery via a voluntary repayment plan.

Estimates of the amount that has been overpaid in error by DWP are published annually and can be found by following the links at Fraud and error in the benefit system - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will bring forward legislative proposal to ensure that employers affected by the covid-19 outbreak cannot retain employee pension deductions as cashflow rather than pay into the relevant pension scheme.

No. Employers are not permitted to hold pension contributions as cash flow.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect of including discretionary and hardship payments as income for the purposes of universal credit on people in receipt of that payment.

No assessment has been made.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of extending eligibility to the Motability scheme for people in receipt of attendance allowance who have also been diagnosed with a terminal illness after state pension age.

The Motability Scheme was designed to provide people entitled to mobility welfare payments with access to a vehicle. The Scheme is open to anyone who qualifies for the higher rate mobility component for Disability Living Allowance, the enhanced rate of the mobility component for Personal Independence Payment, the Armed Forces Independence Payment or War Pensioners Mobility Supplement.

Attendance Allowance is intended to help those with a severe disability who have long term care or supervision needs which arise after reaching State Pension age. It has never included a mobility component, and so cannot be used in payment for a leased Motability scheme vehicle. Government mobility support is focused on people who are disabled earlier in life; developing mobility needs in older life is a normal consequence of ageing, which non-disabled younger people have had opportunity to plan and save for.

Special rules apply to people considered to be terminally ill when applying for AA, DLA or PIP. However, there is no automatic entitlement to a mobility component of either DLA or PIP, and, while there would be no qualifying period, an eligible claimant would need to satisfy conditions for this entitlement.

Benefits such as DLA or PIP can continue beyond State Pension age for as long as the individual remains entitled. This would allow an individual with existing entitlement to retain their Motability vehicle.

8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of welfare support available to people receiving a cancer diagnosis after reaching state pension age.

Welfare support for pensioners, including those with cancer, could include Attendance Allowance which is intended to help those who have long term care or supervision needs. Pension Credit is also available to help those pensioners on low incomes, and as we set out in our Manifesto, this Government remains committed to a range of other pensioner benefits including the Winter Fuel Payment and free prescriptions, ensuring that older people have the security and dignity they deserve.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of the need to provide financial support for employees made redundant before 23 September 2020 who cannot be furloughed and are not entitled to any statutory redundancy payment.

Universal Credit is in place to support claimants in difficult circumstances. The Government introduced a package of temporary welfare measures worth around £9.3 billion this year to help with the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This included the £20 weekly increase to the Universal Credit Standard Allowance rates as a temporary measure for the 20/21 tax year.

Our long-term ambition is to level up across the country and continue to tackle poverty through our reformed welfare system that works with the labour market to encourage people to move into and progress in work wherever possible.

Our £30bn Plan for Jobs is the first step on the ladder to achieving this and will support economic recovery through new schemes including Kickstart and Job Entry Targeted Support.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
13th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the need to remove the five-week wait for universal credit for employees made redundant prior to 23 September 2020 and who are not eligible for statutory redundancy pay.

Nobody in need has to wait for a payment under Universal Credit (UC). UC New Claim Advances allow eligible claimants to receive up to 100% of their estimated Universal Credit payment upfront within a few days. Claimants will receive their annual award over 13 payments during their first year, instead of 12. They are paid quickly and can be applied for online or over the phone. These upfront payments can be spread across two years instead of one from October 2021, as announced in the 2020 Budget.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many times the universal credit service has been unavailable since 23 March 2020; and for what reasons that service was unavailable on each of those occasions.

There have been over 3 million Universal Credit claims made since mid-March; six times the volume that the Department would typically receive. Despite that surge, the system is standing up to the challenge and demonstrating that resilience and scalability are integral parts its design, whilst maintaining high levels of payment timeliness.

There have been no unplanned outages of the Universal Credit online service since March 2020.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the capacity of the universal credit service to cope with demand for new online claims in the period since 23 March 2020; and what steps her Department is taking to minimise periods of unavailability of that service.

There have been over 3 million Universal Credit claims made since mid-March; six times the volume that the Department would typically receive. Despite that surge, the system is standing up to the challenge and demonstrating that resilience and scalability are integral parts its design, whilst maintaining high levels of payment timeliness.

There have been no unplanned outages of the Universal Credit online service since March 2020.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the finding of the Financial Conduct Authority that pension scammers take on average £91,000 from each of their victims, what assessment her Department has made of additional protections required to protect UK pensioners (a) in the UK and (b) overseas from pension transfer scams.

Action was taken by the Pension Regulator, Financial Conduct Authority, and Money Advice and Pension Service on 7 April pointing to the actions members should seek to take to safeguard against becoming victims of scams. Additional guidance was issued to trustees, and providers from both The Financial Conduct Authority and the Pensions Regulator to support them to produce suitable communications during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Please see links below for more information about the joint statement from Regulators and the Money Advice Service, and help available, produced by the Pension Protection Fund and supported by government.

https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/covid-19-savers-stay-calm-dont-rush-financial-decisions

https://www.ppf.co.uk/sites/default/files/file-2020-05/COVID-19-and-your-pension.pdf

All of Government is committed to safeguarding consumer savings amongst those based in the UK and living overseas with UK based pension savings. We have adopted a layered approach building from interventions to assist all pension savers seeking to access their pensions to those who are most at risk of scams.

For all pension savers aged 50 and over, in the lead up to accessing their pension savings, our aim is to support them make informed choices about their retirement income. We are therefore committed to replicating measures introduced by the FCA for contract based schemes for occupational pension schemes and requiring trustees to provide information to pensions savers from the age of 50, in a simpler format, to encourage savers to think about their retirement savings, choices and raise awareness of Pension Wise.

We want to encourage savers with to take appropriate guidance (currently provided by MAPS under the Pension Wise brand) when they exercise their Pension Freedoms by applying to access savings. Recent trials showed a nudge to guidance during the application process is effective. We want to present taking guidance as a natural part of the journey when individuals access their pension savings. We are working with the FCA on rules that would require managers of private pension schemes to Introduce parallel provisions.

Although the majority of transfers are to safe destinations there are still fraudsters who try to entice individuals to transfer to schemes for the purposes of relieving them of their pension savings.

To help protect people from pension scams, government has introduced an amendment to clause 125 in the Pension Schemes Bill 2020 limiting the statutory right to transfer The clause achieves two things:

  • it meets the Government’s third commitment in the Pension Scams consultation, namely to introduce in legislation provisions that enable members to be required to provide evidence of an employment link or, if transferring abroad, residency before a statutory transfer can take place; and
  • it enables legislation to require people to confirm they have received information or taken guidance about the risk of scams in certain circumstances before a transfer can proceed. We are and will continue to work with industry and regulators to identify the circumstances that cause trustees most concern when a transfer request is received and set those out in the legislation. Where any of these circumstances are identified we will require members seeking to transfer to confirm to trustees that they have obtained information or guidance on the risks of transfer to scam schemes.

In addition, the Government, working with the regulators and the Money and Pension Service, has been communicating with pension savers to alert them to the risk of scams in the current climate. DWP continues to communicate regularly on social media about the warning signs of a scam.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made for the implications of her policy of the Court of Appeal judgment handed down on 22 June 2020 on the Universal Credit system; and if she will make a statement.

The Court of Appeal judgment affects a small minority of claimants in very specific circumstances, those who receive two calendar monthly payments of earnings in one assessment period and lose out on the work allowance. We recognise the impact that having double earnings in an assessment period can have on individual claimants and their ability to manage their finances.

While the court judgment does not require us to fix this issue by a particular date, we are currently working on ways to resolve this for claimants as soon as possible. We will keep the House updated as progress is made.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department made of the proportion of claimants assessed for (a) personal independence payment and (b) employment support allowance who subsequently make a complaint about the (i) conduct and (b) content of the assessment report.

The information is not held in the specific categories requested.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Prime Minister, what contact his special advisors have had with (a) developers or (b) their representatives on the Westferry Printworks development, PA/18/01877/A1 which was granted planning permission by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on 14 January 2020.

Ministers and special advisers act in accordance with the MHCLG Guidance on Planning Propriety Issues. In that light, No10 Ministers and special advisers would not discuss the details of live planning applications with MHCLG Planning Ministers. Any representations by other Government departments to a called-in or recovered planning application being considered by MHCLG would be disclosed as part of the evidence to the planning inquiry.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of removing the cap on discretionary housing payments to enable local authorities to provide support to households affected by covid-19.

We have already provided £180m in Discretionary Housing Payment(DHP) funding to Local Authorities to support vulnerable claimants with housing costs in the private and social rented sector in England and Wales for 2020/21. This includes an extra £40m as announced last year at the spending round.

In addition to the central government contribution, Local Authorities in England and Wales are able to top up DHP funding up to a maximum of two and a half times this figure using their own funds.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
24th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that employment support allowance and new style employment support allowance applications (a) can be made online and (b) are processed urgently during the covid-19 outbreak.

On average we are processing ‘new style’ Employment and Support Allowance (NSESA) claims in 2.2 days but we recognise people will have found it difficult to speak to us given the volume of traffic, and so we have fast-tracked the development of an online application process for NSESA, which went live on 20 April. This will allow the majority of people who need to claim this benefit to do so online. The NSESA claim phone lines are still available for people who do not have access to, or who cannot, use the online system. DWP have prioritised the clearance of all benefit claims by moving colleagues to front line processing roles, which has significantly increased our capacity and we are endeavouring to clear claims received as quickly as possible.

ESA is now closed as a means-tested benefit for new claimants in the majority of cases and working-age claimants with a disability or health condition should now make a claim to Universal Credit.

23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that her Department's social security claims enquiry lines are adequately staffed during the covid-19 outbreak.

As both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID 19 and we are working quickly to deploy staff on to critical services. These are rapidly developing circumstances, we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure that guidance for disability benefits assessors accurately reflects the potential effect of endometriosis on ability to work.

While preparing to undertake an assessment, Healthcare Professionals can access a wide range of clinical resources to research any conditions presented. This includes evidence based protocols, e-learning modules or case studies, as well as keeping knowledge up to date through Continuous Professional Development.

Healthcare Professionals employed by Centre for Health and Disability Assessment (CHDA) have access to a learning module on chronic pain that contains a section on endometriosis. CHDA also plan to develop and deliver a learning module on endometriosis as part of their upcoming Continuous Professional Development schedule.

12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department made of the number of winter fuel payments made to UK citizens residing in African countries in each of the last five years.

Winter fuel payments are only payable to people at or above state pension age who are resident in the UK or certain EEA countries and Switzerland during the qualifying week, which is the third week of September.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to make an assessment of the effectiveness of the rules on access to benefits for terminally ill claimants; and if she will make a statement.

On 11 July the Secretary of State announced an in depth evaluation of how the benefits system supports people nearing the end of their life and those with severe conditions.

The Department is taking this work forward as a priority and is seeking input from a range of stakeholders, including clinicians and those who have first-hand experience of the special rules, as well as others supporting people applying for benefit.

7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of reports that former Thomas Cook staff are having difficulties accessing and navigating the benefits system.

The Department is offering a range of support to anyone affected by the closure of Thomas Cook, through our Rapid Response Service (RRS) and wider services. This is designed to give practical support and advice to employers and their employees when faced with redundancy.

The RRS is delivered in partnership with a range of national and local partners, including National Careers Service and local service providers. It was mobilised for former Thomas Cook employees to help people find a new job as soon as possible by offering tailored and individual support. Each Jobcentre Plus district area deploys resources according to the local situation and the needs of their claimants.

In addition, Citizens Advice (England and Wales) and Citizens Advice Scotland continue to deliver ‘Help to Claim’ support to claimants making a new Universal Credit claim. Help to Claim have offered locally tailored support to former Thomas Cook employees in need of assistance face to face, and through prioritised telephony and web-chat channels.

The Department keeps information we provide surrounding redundancies under review. This includes how we explain RRS and entitlements to benefits such as New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit. We are committed to having the right level of resource in place to support and direct people to the correct benefit type.

7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claimants have signed a waiver outlining any previous communication with a political representative regarding benefits before accessing appeals information since that policy was introduced.

At no point during a Universal Credit claim does the Department ask a person to sign a waiver. To safeguard the sensitive and personal data we hold about people’s Universal Credit claims, we ask representatives making enquiries on behalf of others to demonstrate that they have claimant consent. This is a simple process, which can be completed online or by telephone by the claimant, and has been in place since 2017.

The Universal Credit system is structured around an online personal account which contains all the information relevant to the claim. This can include details about: bank accounts, savings, capital, medical history and family relationships, in addition to third parties including landlords and employers. Therefore, we need to ensure a high level of security and protection exists to combat unscrupulous individuals and organisations who try to access the information and seek to impersonate genuine representatives.

The Department is continuing to work with Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) and third party organisations to understand how Universal Credit can support organisations who help our claimants. We are committed to having processes in place which effectively supports claimants to access our services, but which also protects information.

Will Quince
Minister of State (Education)
4th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Local Government Association's survey on adult social care reform, published on 27 June 2022, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for its policies of the findings of that survey that over 98 per cent of local authorities do not have confidence that the funding for the Government’s adult social care reform agenda is sufficient; what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the £5.4 billion of funding allocated to this agenda; and whether his Department is taking steps to (i) reassure local authorities that that funding is sufficient and (ii) ensure that people who require care are paying a fair price.

No formal assessment has been made. However, on 8 March 2022 we published an impact assessment on the costs of implementing the reforms, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/build-back-better-our-plan-for-health-and-social-care/adult-social-care-charging-reform-public-sector-equalities-duty-impact-assessment

The impact assessment provides the cost modelling for the £3.6 billion announced for the charging reforms. This includes the costs to local government of implementing the charging reforms including the cap, the increased capital limit, moving towards paying a fair rate of care and the associated implementation costs. We are working with local authorities to prepare for implementation, including engaging on the estimated cost of reform. We are committing £1.36 billion to the Market Sustainability and Fair Cost of Care Fund which will support local authorities to move towards paying providers a fair cost of care.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the waiting times for biopsy results at Leighton Hospital; and if he will hold discussions with Leighton Hospital and outsourced providers to (a) improve biopsy care and (b) reduce waiting times for results.

Information on the average time for National Health Service biopsy results is not collected in the format requested. The ‘Delivery plan for tackling the COVID-19 backlog of elective care’ sets out for how the NHS will recover and expand elective services over the next three years, including biopsy services. The Department has committed £2.3 billion to increase the volume of diagnostic activity, including the launch of up to 160 community diagnostic centres (CDC) by 2024/25 to increase capacity for clinical checks, including simple biopsies. Since July 2021, CDCs have delivered more than one million additional checks. This funding will also support the digitisation of cell pathology services in the NHS to accelerate turnaround times in testing and improve digital infrastructure.

No specific assessment of the effect of outsourcing NHS biopsy contracts or current waiting times at Leighton Hospital has been made and there are no plans to have such discussions with providers. Decisions to outsource histology reporting are taken by the clinical leadership of the local pathology network or laboratory.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of outsourcing NHS biopsy contracts on waiting times for results; and what discussions he has had with representatives of outsourced providers on reducing waiting times for test results.

Information on the average time for National Health Service biopsy results is not collected in the format requested. The ‘Delivery plan for tackling the COVID-19 backlog of elective care’ sets out for how the NHS will recover and expand elective services over the next three years, including biopsy services. The Department has committed £2.3 billion to increase the volume of diagnostic activity, including the launch of up to 160 community diagnostic centres (CDC) by 2024/25 to increase capacity for clinical checks, including simple biopsies. Since July 2021, CDCs have delivered more than one million additional checks. This funding will also support the digitisation of cell pathology services in the NHS to accelerate turnaround times in testing and improve digital infrastructure.

No specific assessment of the effect of outsourcing NHS biopsy contracts or current waiting times at Leighton Hospital has been made and there are no plans to have such discussions with providers. Decisions to outsource histology reporting are taken by the clinical leadership of the local pathology network or laboratory.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average waiting time for NHS biopsy results is; and what steps his Department taking to reduce those waiting times.

Information on the average time for National Health Service biopsy results is not collected in the format requested. The ‘Delivery plan for tackling the COVID-19 backlog of elective care’ sets out for how the NHS will recover and expand elective services over the next three years, including biopsy services. The Department has committed £2.3 billion to increase the volume of diagnostic activity, including the launch of up to 160 community diagnostic centres (CDC) by 2024/25 to increase capacity for clinical checks, including simple biopsies. Since July 2021, CDCs have delivered more than one million additional checks. This funding will also support the digitisation of cell pathology services in the NHS to accelerate turnaround times in testing and improve digital infrastructure.

No specific assessment of the effect of outsourcing NHS biopsy contracts or current waiting times at Leighton Hospital has been made and there are no plans to have such discussions with providers. Decisions to outsource histology reporting are taken by the clinical leadership of the local pathology network or laboratory.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will expand access to (a) availability of Healthy Start Vouchers and (b) the eligibility criteria for Free School Meals to include all children facing food insecurity.

The eligibility criteria for the Healthy Start scheme is kept under continuous review. There are currently no plans to expand access to and availability of Healthy Start to all children who are facing food insecurity. Free School Meals is the responsibility of the Department for Education.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact of the reintroduction of hospital car parking charges on NHS staff who have no other means of getting to work; and if he will take steps to permanently exempt hospital car parking charges for NHS staff.

No assessment has been made. Free parking in hospital car parks for National Health Service staff was temporarily introduced for the duration the pandemic. This measure ended from 1 April 2022. However, 97% of NHS trusts which charge for car parking have implemented free parking for those in greatest need, including NHS staff working overnight.

17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what advice his Department provides to NHS dental patients who move to an area where there are no dentists taking on NHS patients; and what steps he is taking in response to that matter.

NHS England’s customer service centre can assist patients to access National Health Service dental service. NHS 111 can also support patients who are unable to access an urgent appointment directly through a dental practice. We have written to dental practices and commissioners that online information on NHS.UK is updated to allow patients locate services. Patients are registered with a dental practice during a specific course of treatment and there are no geographical restrictions on which practice a patient may attend.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support his Department is providing to patients who cannot access an NHS dentist.

NHS England’s customer service centre can assist patients to access National Health Service dental service. NHS 111 can also support patients who are unable to access an urgent appointment directly through a dental practice. We have written to dental practices and commissioners that online information on NHS.UK is updated to allow patients locate services. Patients are registered with a dental practice during a specific course of treatment and there are no geographical restrictions on which practice a patient may attend.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent discussions he has had with NHS England regarding reform of the dental contract.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with the Department and the British Dental Association on the reform of the National Health Service dental contract, which aims to improve patient access to NHS care. We are currently negotiating proposed changes to the NHS contract for dentistry services with the British Dental Association.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the accuracy of reports that 90 per cent of dental practices in England are closed to new NHS routine patients; and what steps are being taken to tackle that matter.

These reports are based upon self-reporting by dental practices on appointment availability via NHS.UK. NHS Digital has written to practices to ensure that online information is updated to allow patients to access National Health Service dental care. Dental patients are not required to be registered with a practice other than during a course of treatment and there are no geographical restrictions on where a patient can access NHS dentistry.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will reform the dentists' contact to ensure every community has dental practices that will treat patients under the NHS.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with the Department and the British Dental Association on the reform of the National Health Service dental contract, which aims to improve patient access to NHS care. Health Education England’s (HEE) ‘Advancing Dental Care Review’ made recommendations to tackle recruitment, retention and attracting dentists to areas which are currently less well served. HEE is now implementing its recommendations with stakeholders over the next four years through the Dental Education Reform Programme.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will review the contract between dentists and the NHS to remove the limits on the number of treatments NHS dentists can offer each year.

National Health Service regional commissioners are required to make decisions based upon need in their areas, whilst balancing budgets across services. As such, it is not possible to remove limits on the number of treatments NHS dentists can offer each year. While, NHS dentists can over-deliver on contracts in some cases, due to the need to balance budgets, this must be agreed with regional commissioners where it is likely to exceed 2%.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent estimate his Department has made of the number and proportion of NHS dentists that are not accepting new patients; and what steps he is taking in response to that matter.

No recent estimate has been made. Between April and June 2022, NHS England and NHS Improvement have asked practices to deliver at least 95% of contracted units of dental activity and 100% of units of orthodontic activity to safely improve access for patients.

An additional £50 million was made available for National Health Service dentistry was made available for the final quarter of 2021/22 to provide greater access to dental care and tackle the backlog. The available appointments were targeted at those most in need of urgent dental treatment, vulnerable groups and children. NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with the Department and the British Dental Association on the reform of the NHS dental contract, which aims to improve patient access to NHS care.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure people living with undiagnosed dementia are supported to (a) understand and (b) recognise potential dementia symptoms.

The NHS Health Check for adults in England aged 45 to 74 years old is designed to identify early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia. Since 2018, dementia risk reduction has been incorporated in the NHS Health Check to increase dementia awareness and motivate people to make positive changes to reduce their risks. In addition, those aged 65 years old and over are made aware of the signs and symptoms of dementia and guided to memory clinics.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the regional variation in dementia diagnosis rates in England; and what steps he is taking to tackle potential variation.

While no formal assessment has been made, NHS England and NHS Improvement continue to monitor the monthly dementia diagnosis rate and analyse trends at regional and sustainability and transformation partnership level.

In 2021/22, we made £17 million available to clinical commissioning groups to address the needs of those waiting for a diagnosis and those with a diagnosis who were unable to access support services due to the pandemic. Factsheets were also provided to encourage conversations to understand local patterns and potential reasons for trends in dementia diagnosis rates, as well as identifying specific areas for support. We will set out plans for dementia in England later this year, including a focus on dementia diagnosis.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of care home staff who have received training on dementia.

No specific estimate has been made. However, between 2012 and 2020, more than one million National Health Service staff and one million social care staff had received basic dementia awareness training. The training needs for relevant staff are set out in the Dementia Training Standards Framework. We will set out plans for dementia in England later this year, which will include training on dementia.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of trends in the level of dementia diagnoses in England; and if he will make a statement.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are continuing to monitor monthly trends in the dementia diagnosis rate. The national target is for more than 66% of people living with dementia to receive a formal diagnosis. Following the impact of the pandemic, in March 2022 the diagnosis rate increased to 62%.

In 2021/22, we allocated £17 million to address dementia waiting lists and increase the number of diagnoses. NHS England and NHS Improvement made this funding available to clinical commissioning groups in June 2021. In 2022/23, NHS England will provide funding to support general practitioners in pilots on the approaches to diagnosing dementia for people living with advanced dementia in a care home setting. We will set out plans for dementia in England later this year. The strategy will focus on the specific health and care needs of people living with dementia and their carers, including dementia diagnosis.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of (a) current trends in levels of smoking and (b) whether those trends are on track to deliver the Government's smoke free target by 2030.

Smoking rates continue to decline and are currently approximately 13.5%. However, with variations across the country, there is further work to be done to meet the ambition to be smoke-free by 2030. We have established an independent review of tobacco control policies, which is expected to report in May 2022.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Health and social care integration: joining up care for people, places and populations White Paper, published on 8 February 2022, what estimate his Department has made of the funding required to deliver those proposals.

The measures set out within the white paper will be delivered within the funding provided to the National Health Service. The Spending Review in 2021 provided £23.2 billion for the NHS over the next three years, supported by the new Health and Social Care Levy, and £5.4 billion for adult social care reform. This is in addition to the long-term settlement for the NHS, where funding will increase by £33.9 billion a year between 2019/20 and 2023/24. We expect local areas to make use of existing NHS funding. As progress on integration accelerates, we will consider the implications for other existing funding mechanisms.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of services to help prevent drug-related problems before they occur.

The Government published ‘From harm to hope: A 10-year drug strategy to cut drug crime and save lives’ in December 2021 in response to Dame Carol Black’s independent review of drugs, which found that more needed to be done to prevent drug misuse. The strategy focuses on delivering three strategic priorities including achieving a shift in demand for drugs. This will include preventing the onset of drug use among children and young people through universal education and protecting vulnerable children and young people to ensure they are less likely to start taking drugs.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to develop a long-term plan for the future of public health that (a) takes into account the public health challenges faced by the UK, (b) tackles workforce pressures and (c) recognises the interconnectedness of different parts of the health and care system.

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities’ mission is to improve the nation’s health and reduce health disparities. The health disparities white paper, to be published later this year, will set out measures to address health disparities as they arise; from the circumstances in which people live, to the prevalence of healthy and unhealthy behaviours, to the health services that people receive.

The Department continues to work with partners to develop and support the workforce needed to deliver health and care priorities. Integrated care systems are designed to achieve greater integration of health and care services. The Integration White Paper, published in February 2022, aims to build on reforms in the Health and Care Bill to accelerate progress in collaborative planning, funding and a person-centred approach to service delivery.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Health and social care integration: joining up care for people, places and populations White Paper, published on 8 February 2022, if he will develop a single shared outcomes framework to replace existing ones ensuring that key partners are focused on meeting a small set of shared national outcome targets.

As part of the shared outcome setting process, the Government is reviewing alignment with other priority setting exercises and outcomes frameworks across the health and social care system. We do not intend that shared outcomes should add to the overall burden of national requirements.

We have committed to consult stakeholders and design a framework with a concise number of national priorities and approach for developing additional local shared outcomes. These activities will inform the overall outcomes framework, and its relation to existing priority setting exercises and outcomes frameworks. We will set out this approach by spring 2023.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the finding in the Health Foundation's report published on 5 October 2021 that public health grant allocations to local councils used to fund drug treatment and recovery have fallen in real terms from £4.2 billion in 2015-16 to £3.3 billion in 2021-22, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the Public Health Grant delivers a real term increase in funding for public health.

The 2021 Spending Review confirmed that the Public Health Grant for local authorities will increase in each of the next three years. In 2022/23, each local authority will receive a 2.81% increase, taking total funding to £3.417 billion.

On 6 December 2021, the Government published ‘From harm to hope: A 10-year strategy to cut drug crime and save lives’. To support delivery of the strategy, an additional £785 million will be invested over three years, including £532 million to be allocated via the Department to local drug treatment and recovery systems. This funding is in addition to the local authority Public Health Grant, from which we expect local authorities to continue to invest in drug and alcohol treatment and prevention services.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of career development for senior care workers; and what steps he is taking to provide a meaningful career structure in adult social care that enables career development.

No specific assessment has been made. As announced in the White Paper ‘People at the Heart of Care’, the Department has committed £500 million to develop and support the adult social care workforce over the next three years. This will include additional training places and the development of a Knowledge and Skills Framework to set out the knowledge, skills, learning and development which staff need to deliver high quality care and develop and progress their career in social care. The Framework will also complement the existing skills offer delivered by colleges and training providers in England, including the Department for Education’s skills offer and apprenticeships.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with relevant stakeholders on increasing care staff pay and conditions to the level of those of NHS staff in comparable roles.

While we have had no specific discussions, the Department has regular engagement with stakeholders, including representatives of providers, local authorities, trade unions and people with lived experience, where pay and terms and conditions are discussed.

The vast majority of care workers are employed by private sector providers who set their pay and conditions, independent of central Government. It is the responsibility of local authorities to work with care providers to determine a fair rate of pay based on local market conditions.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will extend the provision of free (a) PCR and (b) Lateral Flow testing kits for the public beyond 1 April 2021.

From 1 April 2022, free access to asymptomatic and symptomatic tests for the public in England will end. The Government will continue to provide free symptomatic testing for patients in hospital, for whom a test is required for clinical management or to support treatment pathways and those eligible for COVID-19 treatments due to their higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

Patients in this higher risk cohort will be contacted directly and sent lateral flow device tests for symptomatic testing and guidance on how to reorder tests. Asymptomatic lateral flow device testing will continue in some high-risk settings where infection can spread rapidly while prevalence is high.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to analysis in the Local Government Association's public health annual report, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of levels of funding for the public health grant; and if he will make it his policy to introduce long term funding increases, including an extension of the Contain Outbreak Management Fund.

The Government confirmed that the Public Health Grant for local authorities will increase in each of the next three years. In 2022/23, each local authority will receive a 2.81% increase, taking total funding to £3.417 billion. In addition, we have announced specific investment to tackle obesity, improve Start for Life for families and the quality and capacity of drug and alcohol treatment. Future funding for local authorities for COVID-19 measures remains under consideration.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the finding of the study by the University of Bristol, Mental health of children and young people in state care in England, that one in five children in care self-harmed during the covid-19 outbreak, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of mental health provision for young people in care; and what steps he is taking to ensure that young people in care are given appropriate support for their specific needs.

No specific assessment has been made. Information on access to mental health services for children and young people by child protection plan status, looked after status or care leaver status is not held centrally. We expect local commissioners and providers to consider the mental health needs of children and young people in the area, including those in care, in planning and service delivery.

We are working with the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities and NHS England and NHS Improvement to support local areas to deliver multi-agency suicide prevention plans, including initiatives to prevent self-harm in at-risk populations. The Department for Education invested over £1 million to pilot new approaches to mental health assessments for children entering care, which ended in March 2021. The pilots will be used to inform support for the mental health of looked-after children.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to answer Question 116042 tabled by the hon. Member for Weaver Vale- on 1 February 2022.

I refer the hon. Member to the answers to Questions 116039, 116040, 116041 and 116042.

22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to answer Question 116041 tabled by the hon. Member for Weaver Vale on 1 February 2022.

I refer the hon. Member to the answers to Questions 116039, 116040, 116041 and 116042.

22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to answer Question 116040, tabled by the hon. Member for Weaver Vale on 1 February 2022.

I refer the hon. Member to the answers to Questions 116039, 116040, 116041 and 116042.

22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to answer Question 116039 tabled by the hon. Member for Weaver Vale on 1 February 2022.

I refer the hon. Member to the answers to Questions 116039, 116040, 116041 and 116042.

22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of offering every adult over the age of 18 Spring covid-19 booster vaccination.

The primary aim of the spring COVID-19 vaccination programme is to reduce the risk of severe disease. The programme targets those over the age of 75 years old who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19. Based on an assessment of the available evidence, protection against severe COVID-19 disease after the first booster declines slowly, therefore the most vulnerable groups have been prioritised for this precautionary vaccination programme. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation continues to consider the latest available data and review the booster programme, particularly in relation to the timing and value of any additional booster doses.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will hold discussions with relevant stakeholders on increasing care staff pay and conditions to the level of those of NHS staff in comparable roles.

No specific stakeholder engagement is planned. However, we have regular engagement with stakeholders, including representatives of providers, local authorities, unions and people with lived experience, where pay and terms and conditions are discussed.

Unlike those employed by the National Health Service, the vast majority of care workers are employed by private sector providers who set their pay and conditions, independent of central Government. It is the responsibility of local authorities to work with care providers to determine a fair rate of pay based on local market conditions.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of capacity in (a) child and (b) adult mental health services to treat Ukrainian refugees dealing with trauma.

Ukrainian refugees will be guaranteed free access to National Health Service healthcare, including mental health services and registration with a general practitioner. Arrivals will be signposted to services including 24 hours a day, seven days a week mental health helplines and information on accessing talking therapies.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to offer health and social care services to Ukrainian refugees.

The Department is working with NHS England and NHS Improvement and other Government Departments to ensure that Ukranian nationals arriving in the United Kingdom through the various schemes are signposted to registering with general practitioner.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the number of staff that have (a) left and (b) been recruited into (i) adult social care and (ii) children's social care in the last 12 months.

The Department is responsible for adult social care in England. Therefore, information on the children’s social care workforce is not held.

The information on the adult social care workforce is not held in the format requested. However, Skills for Care has published indicative, unweighted monthly data on net changes in the workforce size since March 2021. This shows that the number of filled posts employed by independent providers has fallen by 4.6% in total between March 2021 and February 2022.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to increase funding for health and care elements of specialist college provision to reduce the pressure on the high needs budget.

Local authorities will receive an increase of £1 billion in 2022/23, bringing the overall high needs budget to £9.1 billion. This increase takes into account of the range of pressures on local authorities’ high needs budgets, including the number of children and young people with education, health and care plans. This can enable some increase to the high needs funding passed on to specialist colleges, where that is required to meet the cost pressures faced by those colleges.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 7 March 2022 to Question 132351 on Social Services: Fees and Charges, what assessment he has made of the sufficiency of (a) guidance to local authorities in relation to the charging policy and (b) finances provided to local authorities to provide free personal care.

The ‘Care and support statutory guidance’ was reviewed following the findings of SH v Norfolk County Council and was found to be sufficient.

Individuals should be charged for their care and support costs based on how much they can afford to pay. From October 2023, the Government will introduce an £86,000 cap on the amount an individual will have to pay towards their care. This will be accompanied by a more generous means-testing system for those with low or no assets. An additional £3.6 billion will be provided to local authorities during the current Spending Review period to support these reforms.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the finding in SH v Norfolk County Council [2020] EWHC 3436 that that council's charging policy unlawfully discriminated against severely disabled people, what steps he is taking to ensure that other local authorities' social care charging policies do not discriminate against people with disabilities.

Local authorities have discretion to implement charging policies to meet the needs of the local population, whilst adhering to legislation and statutory guidance. Responsibility for ensuring that charging policies are compliant with equality laws rests with local authorities. We have engaged with local authority representative groups to ensure that local authorities understand their obligations.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the £12.1 billion of PPE purchased in 2020-21.

The Department’s expenditure on personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic was £13.1 billion. Due to the high global demand, prices for PPE duly increased to unprecedented levels. The £8.7 billion reported through the Department’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2020/21 represents the estimated reduction in value of PPE purchased during the height of the pandemic. The Department is managing the stockpile to maximise its value by identify alternative uses and resale potential for inventory we do not intend or expect to use.

The £8.7 billion PPE inventory is comprised of the following:

- £0.673 billion relating to items which have been assessed as not being suitable for any use, the only element of the impairment considered a loss;

- £2.581 billion for items not suitable for use within the health and social care sector which may be suitable for other uses and are therefore held for future sale, repurpose or donation;

- £4.701 billion reflecting the impairment recognised as a result of fluctuations in the market price of PPE between the point of purchase and the balance sheet date; and

- £0.75 billion relating to inventory which has an expiry date prior to the expected usage date and is therefore held for resale or donation.

Where products ordered did not arrive or failed to meet the required standard, we are currently reviewing the terms of the relevant contract to determine whether a breach of contract has occurred. We are also considering options to repurpose or recycle items. All products are quality assured and only distributed if they meet the relevant standards in the technical specification for PPE.

We are unable to provide the information requested on individual companies which have provided defective PPE as this information is commercially sensitive. The Department is in commercial discussions with a number of suppliers and disclosure of this information is likely to impact these proceedings. The estimate for unusable PPE purchased and held by the Department represents approximately 3% of all items purchased since the beginning of the pandemic.

1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the amount of unusable PPE (a) held and (b) purchased by his Department in 2020-21.

The Department’s expenditure on personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic was £13.1 billion. Due to the high global demand, prices for PPE duly increased to unprecedented levels. The £8.7 billion reported through the Department’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2020/21 represents the estimated reduction in value of PPE purchased during the height of the pandemic. The Department is managing the stockpile to maximise its value by identify alternative uses and resale potential for inventory we do not intend or expect to use.

The £8.7 billion PPE inventory is comprised of the following:

- £0.673 billion relating to items which have been assessed as not being suitable for any use, the only element of the impairment considered a loss;

- £2.581 billion for items not suitable for use within the health and social care sector which may be suitable for other uses and are therefore held for future sale, repurpose or donation;

- £4.701 billion reflecting the impairment recognised as a result of fluctuations in the market price of PPE between the point of purchase and the balance sheet date; and

- £0.75 billion relating to inventory which has an expiry date prior to the expected usage date and is therefore held for resale or donation.

Where products ordered did not arrive or failed to meet the required standard, we are currently reviewing the terms of the relevant contract to determine whether a breach of contract has occurred. We are also considering options to repurpose or recycle items. All products are quality assured and only distributed if they meet the relevant standards in the technical specification for PPE.

We are unable to provide the information requested on individual companies which have provided defective PPE as this information is commercially sensitive. The Department is in commercial discussions with a number of suppliers and disclosure of this information is likely to impact these proceedings. The estimate for unusable PPE purchased and held by the Department represents approximately 3% of all items purchased since the beginning of the pandemic.

1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for his policies of the £0.67 billion spent on PPE which cannot be used because it is defective; and which companies provided that defective PPE.

The Department’s expenditure on personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic was £13.1 billion. Due to the high global demand, prices for PPE duly increased to unprecedented levels. The £8.7 billion reported through the Department’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2020/21 represents the estimated reduction in value of PPE purchased during the height of the pandemic. The Department is managing the stockpile to maximise its value by identify alternative uses and resale potential for inventory we do not intend or expect to use.

The £8.7 billion PPE inventory is comprised of the following:

- £0.673 billion relating to items which have been assessed as not being suitable for any use, the only element of the impairment considered a loss;

- £2.581 billion for items not suitable for use within the health and social care sector which may be suitable for other uses and are therefore held for future sale, repurpose or donation;

- £4.701 billion reflecting the impairment recognised as a result of fluctuations in the market price of PPE between the point of purchase and the balance sheet date; and

- £0.75 billion relating to inventory which has an expiry date prior to the expected usage date and is therefore held for resale or donation.

Where products ordered did not arrive or failed to meet the required standard, we are currently reviewing the terms of the relevant contract to determine whether a breach of contract has occurred. We are also considering options to repurpose or recycle items. All products are quality assured and only distributed if they meet the relevant standards in the technical specification for PPE.

We are unable to provide the information requested on individual companies which have provided defective PPE as this information is commercially sensitive. The Department is in commercial discussions with a number of suppliers and disclosure of this information is likely to impact these proceedings. The estimate for unusable PPE purchased and held by the Department represents approximately 3% of all items purchased since the beginning of the pandemic.

1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made for the implication for his Departmental polices of the estimated loss of the £8.1 billion of PPE purchased in 2020-21; and what steps his Department is taking to recoup those losses.

The Department’s expenditure on personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic was £13.1 billion. Due to the high global demand, prices for PPE duly increased to unprecedented levels. The £8.7 billion reported through the Department’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2020/21 represents the estimated reduction in value of PPE purchased during the height of the pandemic. The Department is managing the stockpile to maximise its value by identify alternative uses and resale potential for inventory we do not intend or expect to use.

The £8.7 billion PPE inventory is comprised of the following:

- £0.673 billion relating to items which have been assessed as not being suitable for any use, the only element of the impairment considered a loss;

- £2.581 billion for items not suitable for use within the health and social care sector which may be suitable for other uses and are therefore held for future sale, repurpose or donation;

- £4.701 billion reflecting the impairment recognised as a result of fluctuations in the market price of PPE between the point of purchase and the balance sheet date; and

- £0.75 billion relating to inventory which has an expiry date prior to the expected usage date and is therefore held for resale or donation.

Where products ordered did not arrive or failed to meet the required standard, we are currently reviewing the terms of the relevant contract to determine whether a breach of contract has occurred. We are also considering options to repurpose or recycle items. All products are quality assured and only distributed if they meet the relevant standards in the technical specification for PPE.

We are unable to provide the information requested on individual companies which have provided defective PPE as this information is commercially sensitive. The Department is in commercial discussions with a number of suppliers and disclosure of this information is likely to impact these proceedings. The estimate for unusable PPE purchased and held by the Department represents approximately 3% of all items purchased since the beginning of the pandemic.

31st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of NHS dental care waiting times for people in Weaver Vale constituency; and what steps his Department is taking to increase NHS dental care capacity.

Data on waiting times for National Health Service dental appointments is not collected centrally by NHS England. Appointments for National Health Service (NHS) treatments are managed directly by dental practices.

NHS Dental practices have been asked to meet as many prioritised needs as safely possible. They are currently prioritising urgent care, care for vulnerable groups and children, followed by delayed planned care.

An additional £50 million in funding for NHS dentistry has been made available for the remainder of the 2021-22 financial year to give more patients that have been unable to obtain an NHS appointment, access to dental care. The available appointments will be targeted first at those most in need of urgent dental treatment, vulnerable groups and children.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of average waiting times for people diagnosed with mental health problems to receive the treatment they need.

No formal assessment has been made. Waiting times are published for services where a waiting time standard is in place, which includes Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), Early Intervention in Psychosis and Children and Young People Eating Disorders. The latest available data for October 2021 for IAPT services shows that 98.6% of those people completing treatment waited less than 18 weeks for the start of treatment, against a target of 95%; and 91.2% waited less than six weeks, against a 75% target. The latest annual data for 2020/21 shows that 98% accessed IAPT services within 18 weeks, against a 95% target; and 90% within six weeks, against a 75% target.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have consulted on the potential to introduce five new waiting time standards. This consultation closed on 1 September 2021 and the outcomes will inform a recommendation to the Government in due course. We have committed to invest at least an additional £2.3 billion a year into mental health services in England by 2023/24. This will allow an additional two million people to access timely mental health care. We are also investing an additional £500 million in 2021/22 to address waiting times for mental health services and invest in the National Health Service workforce.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the availability of the covid-19 vaccine to people who are housebound in (a) Weaver Vale constituency and (b) the UK; and what steps he is taking to ensure that all people who are housebound are offered the covid-19 vaccine.

Every eligible adult in England aged 18 years old and over has been offered a COVID-19 booster vaccination, including all those who are housebound. Local arrangements have been in place, with general practitioners (GPs) and community pharmacies, supported by volunteers, visiting those who are housebound.

National Health Service regions, Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and community pharmacy-led local vaccination services have monitored progress and identified any further interventions required. In Weaver Vale, Halton Clinical Commissioning Group has worked with its PCNs and vaccination services to ensure that people who are housebound have been fully vaccinated and received booster doses, based on records for housebound patients held by individual practices. In the first week of January 2022, the PCNs in the area confirmed that all eligible housebound patients had been offered a booster vaccination.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of offering the covid-19 vaccination to primary school-aged children.

On 22 December 2021, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advised that children aged five to 11 years old in a clinical risk group or who are a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed, should be offered two 10 microgram doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, with an interval of eight weeks between the first and second doses. Further advice on the potential merits of COVID-19 vaccination for other five to 11 year olds will be issued in due course, following consideration of additional data.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the supply of covid-19 lateral flow testing kits; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure that there are sufficient covid-19 tests available to meet increased demand in the Weaver Vale constituency.

The UK Health Security Agency has increased both the supply of tests and distribution capability. We have delivered seven million tests a day through GOV.UK and 90 million tests a week in the United Kingdom through all delivery channels.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions his Department has had with relevant stakeholders on updating the Government's guidance on covid-19 symptoms in the context of the findings of the study by the Zoe symptom tracker app on symptoms associated with the omicron covid-19 variant.

Evidence on symptomatology of COVID-19 is continually reviewed and monitored. We have liaised with public health clinicians and the United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers and other stakeholders regarding the symptoms of COVID-19 as well as considering internal data and academic studies. We will update our guidance if necessary as our understanding of the virus and new variants develops.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of allowing health care workers to be exempt from mandatory covid-19 vaccination on religious grounds.

The Government considered which exemptions from vaccine requirements should be permitted informed by responses to the open consultation held from 9 September to 22 October. The majority of respondents agreed exemptions should be made only on medical grounds. An exemption on religious grounds could reduce the impact of protecting patients and workers, be difficult to implement and evidence and may also lead to tension in workplaces between religiously exempt workers and those to whom the requirements would still apply.

10th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the availability of the covid-19 booster vaccination for people who are housebound.

Every eligible adult in England aged 18 years old and over has been offered a COVID-19 booster vaccination, including those who are housebound. Local arrangements are in place, with general practitioners, community pharmacies and volunteers visiting those who are housebound and eligible for their booster dose.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent estimate he has made of the number of NHS staff who have received parking fines while attending their place of work.

No recent estimate has been made. In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government committed to provide free hospital car parking for National Health Service staff on National Health Service sites during the pandemic. As this policy currently remains in place, no fines should have been issued to NHS staff using hospital car parks since March 2020.

8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential for covid-19 nasal vaccines being introduced as part of the NHS vaccination programme.

The Department commissions research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) are supporting some studies on oral or nasal administration of COVID-19 vaccines. As part of the NIHR’s and UKRI’s research call, approximately £580,000 has been awarded to Imperial College London for a study of two candidate COVID-19 vaccines administered to the respiratory tract. The study began in September 2020 and researchers are focusing on nasal delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The NIHR is also providing infrastructure support to another phase one study led by University of Oxford on the intranasal administration of the COVID vaccine ChAdOx1 nCOV-19 in healthy adults in the United Kingdom.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also continues to monitor and engage with developers and producers of new COVID-19 vaccines. The MHRA will ensure a thorough assessment of the safety and efficacy of any new COVID 19 vaccines before any authorisation, as soon as it receives the evidence to make such an assessment.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what urgent steps he is taking to ensure that 12 to 15 year old's can prove their covid-19 vaccination status for the purposes of international travel over the festive period.

The international standards for travel require a full course to be recognised as ‘fully vaccinated’. We are looking at ways to provide fully vaccinated 12 to 15 year olds with a travel NHS COVID Pass, which will be available shortly. Further information will be made available in due course.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is planning to take to offer support for the health of (a) vulnerable and (b) older patients during winter 2021-22.

We are offering a free seasonal flu and COVID-19 booster vaccination to those who receive and provide care. We are also investing a further £550 million until 31 March 2022 to support social care providers with additional winter pressures. The ‘Adult social care: COVID-19 winter plan 2021 to 2022’ sets out the support we are providing for the sector to prevent and control outbreaks of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, as well as usual winter pressures.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have also established operational winter plans supported by an investment of an extra £5.4 billion for the COVID-19 response until April 2022 and a £250 million Primary Care Winter Access Fund to recruit more doctors and other primary care staff to improve patient access and experience.

2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of (a) trends in the level of the workload facing NHS nursing staff and (b) the adequacy of the size of the workforce to meet that workload.

National Health Service employers keep staff workload under continual review and the Care Quality Commission assess staffing levels as part of their regulation and oversight responsibilities. NHS England and NHS Improvement conduct regular surveys and monitor workload related data sources on staff experience. The Department also discusses workload with trade unions and employers in the National Social Partnership Forum. NHS England and NHS Improvement have used the NHS People Plan to put in place a wide range of measures to support staff throughout this demanding period. We continue to invest in the NHS workforce and we have commissioned Health Education England to develop the long term strategic framework to ensure that the NHS has the staff it needs.

2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure the effectiveness of (a) inspections and (b) training standards of care among NHS staff.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. Under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 all providers of regulated activities must register with the CQC and ensure they meet the fundamental standards of safety and quality. The CQC monitors and inspects providers and failure to comply with some of the fundamental standards is an offence. Under the Act, the CQC has a range of enforcement powers to ensure providers offer care that is safe and meets people’s needs.

Professional regulators set the standards of education and training for regulated professions and approve courses and education providers to ensure that training meets these standards. This includes assurance of the quality of any clinical placements.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking in Weaver Vale constituency to meet the Government's target of offering all adults over the age of 18 a covid-19 booster vaccination by the end of January 2022.

The Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership’s vaccination programme has delivered more than 4.3 million doses to date. The programme is currently ensuring there are sufficient appointments to offer all adults over 18 years old a booster dose by the end of January 2022.

General practitioners (GPs) in Weaver Vale are visiting care homes to ensure that care home residents and staff who are eligible have been offered a booster vaccine, with follow up appointments for residents who become eligible in the future. GP partners in Weaver Vale are reviewing ways to increase capacity to focus on vaccinating the most vulnerable. Several pharmacy sites are increasing their capacity to offer vaccinations over the Christmas and New Year period. Cheshire system partners are operating a roving vaccination model to meet the needs of those most at risk, underserved and vaccine hesitant citizens, offering a walk-in service. Plans to increase capacity are being finalised and will be aligned to national operational guidance.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of funding mechanical thrombectomy for stroke patients.

Thrombectomy is a procedure used to treat some ischaemic stroke patients. There is strong evidence that, when used appropriately, thrombectomy significantly reduces the severity of disability caused by stroke. The expansion of thrombectomy services across England is a multi-year programme within the NHS Long Term Plan. Thrombectomy is currently available in 24 centres in England and two non-neuroscience centres are under development to provide access to thrombectomy.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of thrombectomy services in (a) Weaver Vale constituency, (b) northwest England and (c) the UK.

Thrombectomy services for the Weaver Vale constituency are provided by the regional neuroscience centre, The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool. This site has provided thrombectomy services 24 hours a day, seven days a week since 11 October 2021. There are three centres providing thrombectomy services in the North West of England at The Walton Centre, Salford Royal Hospital and Royal Preston Hospital. Services at Salford Royal Hospital are being developed to provide 24 hours a day, seven days a weeks services in early 2022. Local commissioners are working with Royal Preston Hospital and the other centres in the North West of England to maximise access to thrombectomy services for Lancashire and South Cumbria


Thrombectomy is available in 24 centres in England and the National Health Service is committed to increasing the delivery of mechanical thrombectomy from 1% to 10%. The latest data shows that 2.3% of patients are receiving a thrombectomy following a stroke. In early 2022, NHS England will undertake a quality review with each of its seven regions to resolve the biggest local barriers to increasing the thrombectomy rate.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that local maternity units provide expectant mothers with the best possible care.

The NHS Maternity Transformation Programme is delivering measures to ensure that local maternity units provide expectant mothers with the best possible care. This includes £52 million to accelerate the digital maternity programme to ensure everyone will have access to their maternity notes and information electronically by 2023/24. Midwives, general practitioners and other clinicians caring for a pregnant woman will also have easy access to information. This will improve the experience for women by reducing the burden of repeating information to each healthcare professional throughout their pregnancy and ensure the best health and care outcomes by preventing important details from being missed.

A further £6.8 million has been provided to support Local Maternity Systems to implement equity and equality action plans and targeted and enhanced Continuity of Carer to improve safe outcomes for mothers and babies from black, Asian and mixed ethnic groups and those living in the most deprived areas. In addition, local and regional leadership is being strengthened with the majority of regional obstetricians and deputy regional chief midwives’ roles now filled. The Maternity Safety Support Programme works proactively with identified trusts to advise and support them to improve their Care Quality Commission rating or address any other areas of concerns raised by other stakeholders.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he will take to increase the (a) recruitment and (b) training of new midwives.

Health Education England (HEE) has been working with stakeholders towards an increase of 3,650 midwifery student training places by the end of 2022/23, with training leading to professional registration. This includes 650 additional training places in 2019/20 and up to 1,000 additional training places per year in the following three years. Against 2018/19 as the baseline for comparison, there was an increase of 626 places in 2019/20 and 1,140 in 2020/21.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have invested an additional £95 million to support the recruitment of a further 1,200 midwives and 100 obstetricians and multi-disciplinary team training. This will allow providers to achieve their recruitment and retention ambitions through a range of initiatives, such as supporting newly qualified midwives, additional pastoral care to aid retention and the recruitment of midwives from overseas.

26th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to recruit additional midwives in England.

Health Education England (HEE) has been working with stakeholders towards an increase of 3,650 midwifery student training places by the end of 2022/23, with training leading to professional registration. This includes 650 additional training places in 2019/20 and up to 1,000 additional training places per year in the following three years. Against 2018/19 as the baseline for comparison, there was an increase of 626 places in 2019/20 and 1,140 in 2020/21.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have invested an additional £95 million to support the recruitment of a further 1,200 midwives and 100 obstetricians and multi-disciplinary team training. This will allow providers to achieve their recruitment and retention ambitions through a range of initiatives, such as supporting newly qualified midwives, additional pastoral care to aid retention and the recruitment of midwives from overseas.

23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of support available for prescription medication for people addicted to drugs who wish to withdraw.

Local authorities are responsible for assessing the need for drug and alcohol services in their area and the adequacy of the services they provide. Local authorities fund these services through the Public Health Grant. In 2021/22, the total Grant provided is £3.324 billion, representing a £45 million increase from 2019/2020.

Dame Carol Black published Part Two of her independent review of drugs on 8 July 2021. This review assessed the adequacy of the drug and alcohol treatment system, providing the Government with 32 recommendations to improve the effectiveness of drug prevention and treatment and to help more people recover from dependence. The Government published an initial response to the review on 27 July 2021 and has committed to publishing a long-term drug strategy by the end of the year.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) increase the number of GP appointments available in line with local housing developments and (b) ensure an adequate number of GP appointments are available throughout winter 2021-22.

NHS England is committed to ensuring future funding and healthcare provision matches population growth and demographic changes, including local housing developments. The National Health Service funding formula reflects the Office for National Statistics’ population estimates and general practitioner (GP) registrations in a geography.

‘Our plan for improving access for patients and supporting general practice’ included an additional investment of £250 million through a Winter Access Fund. This aims to improve the availability of GP practices and increase the number of appointments, while also investing in technology to make it easier for patients to see or speak to their GP.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has plans to make prescriptions free for people who suffer from asthma.

We currently have no plans to do so. Approximately 89% of prescriptions are already dispensed free of charge and extensive arrangements are in place to help those most in need. To support those who do not qualify for an exemption, a prescription pre-payment certificate can be paid for in instalments. A holder of a 12-month certificate can get all the prescriptions they need for just over £2 per week.

15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that (a) elderly people are able to access the GP care they need and (b) people without technology are able to access NHS resources through other means.

NHS England and NHS Improvement’s guidance is clear that online tools must always be provided in addition to, rather than as a replacement for, other channels for accessing general practice. Practice receptions should be open so that patients without access to telephone or online services are in no way disadvantaged.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have commissioned an independent evaluation to understand the impact for staff, patients and the wider health and care system of using digital tools in primary care to inform its long-term strategy. The Department continues to work with NHS England and NHS Improvement and general practitioners to assess the impact of different types of appointment and to improve access for all patient groups. The Public sector equality duty requires public authorities to have due regard of the impact of their policies on different protected characteristics, including age.

Maria Caulfield
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that hospital treatment is accessible for the residents of Northwich; and to what services the funding provided by his Department to the Victoria Infirmary will be allocated.

The Department is taking steps to ensure that hospital treatment is accessible for people across the country, including the residents of Northwich, by providing funding and encouraging innovation. £1.7 million funding has been confirmed for the development of diagnostics services at Victoria Infirmary, Northwich, as part of the National Community Diagnostic Centre programme. This will include the introduction of a CT scanner and expansion of some other diagnostic services, including x-ray, ultrasound, some cardio-respiratory testing and phlebotomy. Work on the Victoria Infirmary estate is expected to start by the end of November 2021.

Following the recent decision not to relocate hospital facilities to the Weaver Square scheme in Northwich town centre, further discussions and plans for the wider development of the Victoria Infirmary site are ongoing. The department will continue to work with NHS England and NHS Improvement to support service provision by the National Health Service in the area.

25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the availability of the winter flu vaccine in (a) Weaver Vale, (b) North West England and (c) the UK.

No specific assessment has been made as flu vaccine supplies are purchased locally. The Department is in regular contact with vaccine manufacturers to ensure there is sufficient supply to vaccinate eligible cohorts.

General practitioners and community pharmacists are responsible for ordering flu vaccines from suppliers, which are then used to deliver the national flu vaccination programme, with deliveries phased through the season. Local providers determine the appropriate stock of vaccines to purchase, based on their local populations, eligible cohorts and uptake ambitions for the National Health Service programme.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the longevity of the (a) AstraZenica and (b) Pfizer covid-19 vaccines; and whether that longevity will be a factor in their potential inclusion in a booster programme.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) continuously monitors vaccine effectiveness over time since the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines licensed for use in the United Kingdom. This includes Vaxzevria (previously AstraZeneca) and Comirnaty (previously Pfizer). The UKHSA observed limited waning in vaccine effectiveness against hospitalisation and death more than 20 weeks post-vaccination with Vaxzevria or Comirnaty. This was evident in older adults and those in a clinical risk group, suggesting that these individuals should be prioritised for booster doses.

These analyses will continue as the booster programme deployment progresses, including monitoring the duration of protection of booster doses against a range of disease outcomes.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of when the effects of the covid-19 booster vaccination program will be seen in a decrease in the number of daily covid-19 infections.

The UK Health Security Agency continuously monitors vaccine coverage and vaccine effectiveness. Early evidence on the effectiveness of booster doses is expected to emerge in the next few weeks.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions his Department has had with stakeholders on the efficacy of pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy as a treatment option for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The National Health Service continues to work with Pancreatic Cancer UK to raise awareness of prescribed pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT), including sharing guidance with Cancer Alliances. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guidelines recommend that PERT should be considered for people with both operable and inoperable pancreatic cancer.

22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of giving a potential covid-19 booster vaccine to people with asthma who are eligible for a flu jab.

We are preparing for a potential booster vaccination programme from the autumn. Whilst we are planning for several potential scenarios, final decisions on the timing and scope of the booster programme will not be taken until later this year, in line with results from key clinical studies.

We are seeking clinical advice on which groups in the population should be prioritised, informed by independent advice from the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The JCVI will review the emerging scientific evidence on co-administering the flu and COVID-19 vaccines safely, alongside data supplied by manufacturers, to inform the Government in the decision-making process.

Nadhim Zahawi
Chancellor of the Exchequer
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has made of the potential merits of using the chronic respiratory flu vaccination list for the purposes of rolling out a covid-19 booster vaccination.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) considering whether to advise a COVID-19 vaccine booster programme whether a potential programme should align with the groups which will receive the flu vaccination. The JCVI will issue advice in due course.

Nadhim Zahawi
Chancellor of the Exchequer
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) sufficiency of resources provided to and (b) efficiency of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Cheshire.

We have not made a formal assessment.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the need to prioritise front-line NHS test and trace workers for covid-19 vaccinations.

Testing staff who work at sites for symptomatic members of the public where assisted tests are carried out, are eligible to be prioritised for a vaccine as they are considered frontline healthcare workers for the purpose of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation prioritisation. Laboratory staff and those at sites for asymptomatic testing are not considered frontline healthcare workers and therefore will not be eligible for vaccine prioritisation.

Nadhim Zahawi
Chancellor of the Exchequer
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of reports of do not resuscitate notices being given to patients with learning disabilities during the second wave of covid-19.

Learning disability should never be a reason for a Do Not Attempt Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) decision and blanket DNACPR decisions for whole groups of people are completely inappropriate. We have communicated this through a number of channels to the National Health Service in England.

We have asked the Care Quality Commission to undertake a review of DNACPR decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic. We do not currently have evidence to suggest widespread practice of inappropriate DNACPR decisions for people with a learning disability at this time. However, we continue to monitor the situation and have invited charities to inform us where cases of inappropriate practice are identified.

22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many positive cases of covid-19 have been identified in early years childcare settings in each week since 1 January 2021.

This information is not held in the format requested.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of prioritising covid-19 vaccines for foster carers of clinically extremely vulnerable children.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) consists of independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccines 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, people aged over 80 years old and frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors

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, should also be offered vaccination in priority group six.

Nadhim Zahawi
Chancellor of the Exchequer
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the priority of care home residents for the covid-19 vaccine; and when residents will be contacted.

Deliveries of both Oxford/Astra Zeneca and Pifizer/BioNTech vaccines to large (over 50 beds), medium (25-49 beds) and small (under 25 beds) care homes are underway. As set out in the COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan, published on 12 January 2021, it is our ambition to offer the vaccine to all care home residents and staff in the more than 10,000 care homes in England for older people by the end of January. The delivery plan is available at the following link.

www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-covid-19-vaccines-delivery-plan

Nadhim Zahawi
Chancellor of the Exchequer
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of providing additional medical indemnity costs for GPs who wish to participate in the covid-19 vaccination programme and who are (a) near to or (b) have already reached the maximum limit of sessions for their medical indemnity cover.

There are comprehensive clinical negligence indemnity arrangements in place for general practitioners (GPs) participating in the Covid-19 vaccination programme in England. Since 1 April 2019, all GPs and others working in general practice are automatically covered under the Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice, for liabilities arising from the provision of NHS primary medical services and ancillary health services as part of the NHS in England. This includes where GPs are participating in the Covid-19 vaccination programme, which is being implemented using an Enhanced Service Specification. GPs do not pay a subscription to this scheme, the costs of which are met centrally.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the public health impact of increased oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions from industrial and power generation facilities located within a mile of residential areas.

Public Health England has not estimated the public health impact of oxides of nitrogen emissions from industrial and power generation facilities.

7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress has been made on assessing the business case for a new-build Leighton Hospital and Victoria Infirmary in Cheshire.

The Department has not received a business case for a new-build scheme at either Leighton Hospital or Victoria Infirmary from Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. We understand the Trust is currently developing a strategic outline case for the redevelopment of Leighton Hospital.

20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the capacity of the primary care network in Cheshire to deliver the covid-19 vaccination to (a) priority groups in December 2020 and (b) the broader population in March 2021.

The National Health Service has vast experience delivering widespread vaccination programmes and an enormous amount of planning has taken place to ensure our health service stands ready to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine. Primary care networks will play an important role in delivering COVID-19 vaccinations to priority groups as well as the broader population. General practitioner practices will be expected to co-ordinate and deliver COVID-19 vaccinations at scale in primary care network groupings, working in collaboration with commissioners, regional operations and other local providers to develop and implement a local delivery plan.

18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the increased health risk from covid-19 for young people over 18 with Down’s syndrome compared with the risk for those under 18.

The United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers recently reviewed the latest data to examine whether there was a need to add further conditions to the definition of clinically extremely vulnerable. This analysis showed that the vast majority of those adults over 18 with Down’s syndrome were at the very highest risk of death from COVID-19 and this group were added to the clinically extremely vulnerable list.

As our knowledge of COVID-19 has grown, we now know that very few children are at highest risk of severe illness due to the virus, even those with other health conditions. Using the information on COVID-19 and outcomes for people who have had it, we have not found evidence that children who have Down’s syndrome are at higher risk than other children. General practitioners and hospital specialists still have discretion to add patients to the list based on careful, clinical assessments of each individual’s needs. Clinical guidance has been issued to support these decisions.

19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason gyms have been instructed to close in Halton in response to the imposition of tier 3 covid local lockdown restrictions and not in Lancashire which has also been placed into tier 3.

Hygiene and social distancing measures are vitally important for reducing the transmission risk of COVID-19. We know that the virus spreads readily in any indoor environment where members of different households and/or support bubbles spend time together, so the transmission risk in indoor settings, such as gyms, remains high.

We recognise the efforts that have been made to reduce risk across a range of venues. As decisions are based on a number of factors, it is possible for variation to exist between different local authority areas and tiers.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the need to close gyms in (a) the Liverpool City Region, (b) Lancashire, and (c) all other areas that are subject to tier three covid-19 restrictions.

Hygiene and social distancing measures are vitally important for reducing the transmission risk of COVID-19. We know that the virus spreads readily in any indoor environment where members of different households and/or support bubbles spend time together, so the transmission risk in indoor settings, such as gyms, remains high.

We recognise the efforts that have been made to reduce risk across a range of venues. As decisions are based on a number of factors, it is possible for variation to exist between different local authority areas.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the number of people being advised by NHS test track and trace to self isolate for longer than the 14 day period contained in Government guidance; and under what circumstances would a longer period of self-isolation be required.

People who test positive must isolate until 10 days after their symptoms started or, if they did not have symptoms, the date of their test. Other members of their household must isolate until 14 days after this date. Close contacts from outside their household must self-isolate until 14 days after their most recent contact.

People who have tested positive are advised to continue self-isolating beyond the 10-day period if they have a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery; they have a runny nose or sneezing; they feel or are sick; or they have diarrhoea.

6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has a timeline for when all routine NHS dental treatments will be available across England.

All dental practices with a National Health Service dental contract have been able to open for face-to-face NHS care, including routine care, from 8 June. The guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement to NHS dental contract holders states that the reopening of dental practices must take place in a safe manner and follow the Public Health England and NHS England and NHS Improvement infection prevention and control guidance.

Over 600 urgent dental centres remain open across England to support dental patients with their urgent dental care needs through face to face treatment.

5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the supply of influenza vaccinations for winter 2020-21 in (a) Cheshire and (b) Merseyside.

NHS England and NHS Improvement’s local team are currently unaware of any specific issues with the local supply in Cheshire or Merseyside.

We have sufficient vaccine for over 30 million people to be vaccinated in England this winter.

General practitioners and pharmacists are directly responsible for ordering flu vaccine from suppliers which are used to deliver the national flu programme to adults, with deliveries phased through the season. In addition, the Department has procured additional doses of seasonal flu vaccine to ensure more flu vaccines are available from November.

25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his timetable is for the administering of flu jabs by the NHS to clinically vulnerable diabetic patients; and whether jabs for those patients will be prioritised over jabs for the general public.

General practitioners and other NHS service providers have been asked to prioritise flu vaccination for all those who are in the defined clinically vulnerable groups documented in the national guidance, including those with diabetes.

Vaccination of those who are in at risk groups has started and will continue in all areas in England through the winter months.

24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress his Department has made on providing support for new capital bids for Warrington and Halton hospital sites.

The Department has focused on improving how it supports projects centrally, for example through joint central approvals and work on hospital design standards.

Future National Health Service capital funding will be determined as part of the Department’s multi-year settlement at the next Spending Review.

Trusts should continue developing their plans and priorities for local NHS infrastructure and discuss their proposals with NHS England and NHS Improvement. Then, once the capital settlement has been confirmed with HM Treasury, the Department will consider carefully how new bids can be prioritised within it.

14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for the 25 per cent of covid-19 nationally which originates from the North West region of that region having access to 15 per cent of national covid-19 testing capacity.

Our approach to testing is guided by the latest scientific advice. We are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, and prioritising at-risk groups. Where there is an outbreak, we are working intensively to curb the spread, giving local areas dedicated ring-fenced teams from the national NHS Test and Trace service.

13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assistance is available to people receiving a covid-19 home test who (a) do not have internet access to register for a test and (b) are confused by the process.

Testing is a key part of the United Kingdom’s response to COVID-19, and, following the publication of the Government’s Testing Strategy we have rapidly expanded our capacity. The Government has set up a Testing Call Centre for those who have no internet access or need advice on how to order a COVID-19 test. Calls in England and Wales can be made to the 119 line for those who have no internet access.

Those with a trusted proxy, for example a friend or family member who they would be willing to share their results with, could provide their proxy’s email address and/or mobile number. Contact can be made by phoning 119 or at the following link:

www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he is taking steps to change the process for returning a covid-19 home test for people who (a) do not have internet access and (b) are confused by the current instructions.

Testing is a key part of the United Kingdom’s response to COVID-19, and, following the publication of the Government’s Testing Strategy we have rapidly expanded our capacity. The Government has set up a Testing Call Centre for those who have no internet access or need advice on how to order a COVID-19 test. Calls in England and Wales can be made to the 119 line for those who have no internet access.

Those with a trusted proxy, for example a friend or family member who they would be willing to share their results with, could provide their proxy’s email address and/or mobile number. Contact can be made by phoning 119 or at the following link:

www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made progress on plans to publish regional reproductive (r) numbers for covid-19.

The Government Office for Science currently publishes the latest estimate of the United Kingdom-wide range for R on a weekly basis. The current range is estimated to be 0.7-0.9 and is based on latest data available to determine infection and transmission rates. We do not calculate the R rate for different UK regions.

The Government is committed to publishing the scientific evidence that has informed the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies advice. These papers are being published in batches. The full list of papers reviewed to date is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/scientific-advisory-group-for-emergencies-sage-coronavirus-covid-19-response

This list will be updated to reflect papers considered at recent and future meetings.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to prevent scammers from impersonating people registered and trained as tracers for the NHS test and trace system.

The Government launched its new NHS Test and Trace service on 28 May 2020. This includes enhanced contact tracing.

NHS Test and Trace has been developed to Government security standards and we have been advised on measures to keep the public safe. The NHS Test and Trace service uses text messages, email or phone. The Test and Trace service will not ask for bank details or payments, nor will anyone be asked for details of their social media or any pin numbers or be asked to call a premium rate number. All text or emails will ask people to sign into the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website with a set of unique characters provided alongside a secure link to the site. For those people that are unable to respond via email or text, perhaps because they do not have those options available to them, a phone-based service will contact them and support them through the process.

If the public are concerned about whether a call or email they receive comes from NHS Test and Trace service they can visit GOV.UK and view a page which lists the official phone numbers used by this service.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has plans to extend the dental coverage provided in medical exemption certificates for pregnant women who have been unable to receive dental treatment during covid-19 outbreak.

No decisions have been made on whether to extend exemptions from dental charges for maternity or other grounds for exemption following the peak pandemic period.

Pregnant women and new mothers who have given birth within the last 12 months are exempt from dental charges. Urgent dental treatment continued to be provided through the peak pandemic period from over 550 urgent dental centres. Any urgent treatment a pregnant woman or new mother needed during this period therefore should have been available.

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced on 28 May that NHS dental practices will be able to begin to see patients again from 8 June, with the aim of increasing levels of service, as fast as is compatible with maximizing safety. A copy of the letter that was published can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-ontent/uploads/sites/52/2020/03/Urgent-dental-care-letter-28-May.pdf

1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the £60,000 guarantee on death in service benefits for frontline health and care staff during the covid-19 outbreak will be paid in addition to the death in service benefit for members of the NHS pension scheme.

The Government is in the process of setting up a life assurance scheme for frontline health and social care staff in England who contract COVID-19 during the course of their work.

The life assurance scheme is non-contributory and pays a £60,000 lump sum where staff die as a result of COVID-19 and had been recently working in frontline roles and locations where personal care is provided to individuals who have recently contracted COVID-19.

The NHS Pension Scheme provides death in service cover of two times annual pay to active members who are yet to retire, to support a member’s partner and dependents, should they die before claiming their retirement benefits. Membership of the NHS Pension Scheme is voluntary and around 90% of National Health Service staff are active scheme members.

The lump sum from the life assurance scheme will be paid in addition to any death benefit entitlement from the NHS Pension Scheme.

27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what targets his Department has for providing covid-19 test results to people who have been in the community; and what proportion of those test results have been delivered within that target time to date.

We set a target of performing 100,000 tests per day by the end of April. We met that target by expanding test capacity across the country. This includes the opening of 49 50 regional test sites, increasing the number of home test kits available for distribution and we currently have 96 mobile test units in operation as at 4 April 2020. Test results are received within 48 hours, and for home tests in up to 72 hours.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent estimate his Department has made of the average time taken for health care workers and members of their households who are showing covid-19 symptoms to (a) book an appointment for a covid-19 test, (b) be so tested and (c) receive the results of that test.

Healthcare workers were classified as ‘essential’ and were therefore prioritised for testing under the National Testing Programme. Trusts can also refer their staff for testing directl. All National Health Service staff can now register for tests whether or not they are symptomatic. Test results are received within 48 hours, or up to 72 hours for home testing.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to provide guidance to religious bodies during the covid-19 outbreak.

To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the government has stopped all public gatherings of more than two people. This includes weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies. However, this excludes funerals in places of worship and crematoria.

More details can be found at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others#closing-certain-businesses-and-venues

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/875304/240320_Revised_Guidance.pdf

While the government recognises the importance of rituals and gatherings, it is advised that the actions detailed in their “guidance for communities managing a death” are taken to reduce the spread of infection. More information can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-care-of-the-deceased/guidance-for-care-of-the-deceased-with-suspected-or-confirmed-coronavirus-covid-19#guidance-for-professionals-who-manage-bodies-including-mortuary-staff-pathologists-and-funeral-directors

17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many additional ventilators his Department has been able to purchase to date.

The National Health Service has world-renowned critical care facilities which includes access to around 5000 adult and 900 paediatric critical care ventilators, with further ventilators available outside of critical care facilities.

We are currently in the process of purchasing many more ventilators at scale. We are likely to need 20,000 more under a reasonable worst cases scenario and the Prime Minister has issued a call to United Kingdom industry to produce additional ventilators.

17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many new ventilators have been manufactured in the UK since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

Work preparing the National Health Service has been ongoing and we have already nearly doubled ventilator capacity. New and existing suppliers are being asked to build as many as they can. The Prime Minister has issued a call to United Kingdom industry to produce additional ventilators and the Department asked appropriate potential manufacturers on Friday 13 March to come forward with proposals for new ventilation machines. Around a dozen potential prototypes have now been presented to the Department which we are currently pursuing.

10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that supplies of over-the-counter medications are maintained in the event of an outbreak of covid-19.

The country is well prepared to deal with any impacts of COVID-19 and we have stockpiles of generic drugs, including some over-the-counter medicines, in the event of any supply issues.

The Department is working closely with industry, the National Health Service and others in the supply chain to help ensure patients can access the medicines they need, and precautions are in place to reduce the likelihood of future shortages.

The steps being taken to protect United Kingdom supplies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak were set out in the Department’s press statement issued on 11 February 2020. This statement can be read at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-monitor-impact-of-coronavirus-on-uk-medicine-supply

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of wealth inequalities in healthy life expectancy.

The Government wants everyone to have the same opportunity to have a long and healthy life, whoever they are, wherever they live and whatever their social circumstances. We are committed to giving everyone five extra years of healthy, independent life by 2035 and reducing the gap between the rich and poor. Life expectancy at birth is the highest it has ever been in England. However, the rate of improvement in life expectancy has slowed down and we are not complacent.

This Government has committed to back the National Health Service by £33.9 billion a year by 2023/24. The NHS Long Term Plan commits all major national programmes and every local area across England is required to set out specific measurable goals and mechanisms by which they will contribute to narrowing health inequalities over the next five and ten years.

Preventing health problems is the best way to improve life expectancy and reduce inequalities. The commitments outlined in the Prevention Green Paper signal a new approach for the health and care system.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the reasons for wealth inequalities in life expectancy.

The Government wants everyone to have the same opportunity to have a long and healthy life, whoever they are, wherever they live and whatever their social circumstances. We are committed to giving everyone five extra years of healthy, independent life by 2035 and reducing the gap between the rich and poor. Life expectancy at birth is the highest it has ever been in England. However, the rate of improvement in life expectancy has slowed down and we are not complacent.

This Government has committed to back the National Health Service by £33.9 billion a year by 2023/24. The NHS Long Term Plan commits all major national programmes and every local area across England is required to set out specific measurable goals and mechanisms by which they will contribute to narrowing health inequalities over the next five and ten years.

Preventing health problems is the best way to improve life expectancy and reduce inequalities. The commitments outlined in the Prevention Green Paper signal a new approach for the health and care system.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the decrease in life expectancy gains in the UK since 2011.

The Government wants everyone to have the same opportunity to have a long and healthy life, whoever they are, wherever they live and whatever their social circumstances. We are committed to giving everyone five extra years of healthy, independent life by 2035 and reducing the gap between the rich and poor. Life expectancy at birth is the highest it has ever been in England. However, the rate of improvement in life expectancy has slowed down and we are not complacent.

This Government has committed to back the National Health Service by £33.9 billion a year by 2023/24. The NHS Long Term Plan commits all major national programmes and every local area across England is required to set out specific measurable goals and mechanisms by which they will contribute to narrowing health inequalities over the next five and ten years.

Preventing health problems is the best way to improve life expectancy and reduce inequalities. The commitments outlined in the Prevention Green Paper signal a new approach for the health and care system.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the increasing wealth gap in life expectancy.

The Government wants everyone to have the same opportunity to have a long and healthy life, whoever they are, wherever they live and whatever their social circumstances. We are committed to giving everyone five extra years of healthy, independent life by 2035 and reducing the gap between the rich and poor. Life expectancy at birth is the highest it has ever been in England. However, the rate of improvement in life expectancy has slowed down and we are not complacent.

This Government has committed to back the National Health Service by £33.9 billion a year by 2023/24. The NHS Long Term Plan commits all major national programmes and every local area across England is required to set out specific measurable goals and mechanisms by which they will contribute to narrowing health inequalities over the next five and ten years.

Preventing health problems is the best way to improve life expectancy and reduce inequalities. The commitments outlined in the Prevention Green Paper signal a new approach for the health and care system.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to help reduce the disparity in life expectancy between the poorest and wealthiest people.

The Government wants everyone to have the same opportunity to have a long and healthy life, whoever they are, wherever they live and whatever their social circumstances. We are committed to giving everyone five extra years of healthy, independent life by 2035 and reducing the gap between the rich and poor. Life expectancy at birth is the highest it has ever been in England. However, the rate of improvement in life expectancy has slowed down and we are not complacent.

This Government has committed to back the National Health Service by £33.9 billion a year by 2023/24. The NHS Long Term Plan commits all major national programmes and every local area across England is required to set out specific measurable goals and mechanisms by which they will contribute to narrowing health inequalities over the next five and ten years.

Preventing health problems is the best way to improve life expectancy and reduce inequalities. The commitments outlined in the Prevention Green Paper signal a new approach for the health and care system.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to improve recognition of Irlen Syndrome within the NHS.

There continues to be a lack of consensus amongst medical professionals as to the existence and nature of Meares-Irlen syndrome as a distinct syndrome.

Any individuals experiencing visual symptoms should consult an optometrist to ensure that the possibility of refractive error or eye disease is not overlooked.

If after a sight test (and glasses if necessary) an individual is still experiencing difficulties, then a wider assessment may be necessary. Optometrist are able to arrange an onward referral to the appropriate discipline, if required.

In the case of a child, a wider assessment would involve collaboration across education, health and other professionals to identify the best response for the individual concerned.

Help with the cost of prescription glasses, through National Health Service optical vouchers, is currently available for eligible groups, including children, to help correct a defect in sight, identified during an NHS sight test. There are no plans to change the criteria for NHS optical vouchers.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to fund prescription lenses for people with Meares-Irlen Syndrome.

There continues to be a lack of consensus amongst medical professionals as to the existence and nature of Meares-Irlen syndrome as a distinct syndrome.

Any individuals experiencing visual symptoms should consult an optometrist to ensure that the possibility of refractive error or eye disease is not overlooked.

If after a sight test (and glasses if necessary) an individual is still experiencing difficulties, then a wider assessment may be necessary. Optometrist are able to arrange an onward referral to the appropriate discipline, if required.

In the case of a child, a wider assessment would involve collaboration across education, health and other professionals to identify the best response for the individual concerned.

Help with the cost of prescription glasses, through National Health Service optical vouchers, is currently available for eligible groups, including children, to help correct a defect in sight, identified during an NHS sight test. There are no plans to change the criteria for NHS optical vouchers.

14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his plans for restoring bursaries for nursing, midwifery and allied healthcare students will include Paramedic Science BSc students.

From the academic year 2020/21, new and continuing paramedic science students on eligible pre-registration undergraduate and postgraduate courses at English universities will receive an annual maintenance grant of at least £5,000 per academic year. Some paramedic science students may also be eligible for additional funding, including non-repayable financial support to help with childcare costs. The NHS Business Services Authority will be publishing further information as soon as possible.

3rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she is taking with her European counterparts to impose sanctions on Russian oil and gas.

The UK is to phase out the import of Russian oil during the course of the year in response to the illegal invasion of Ukraine. The Government is establishing a new joint taskforce with industry to work together on an orderly transition. The move will increase the growing pressure on Russia's economy by choking off a valuable source of income - the import of Russian oil makes up 44 percent of Russian exports and 17 percent of federal government revenue through taxation.

The UK is also working closely with the US, the EU and other partners to end our dependence on Russian hydrocarbons in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, recognising the different circumstances and transition timelines.

James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Education
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government has taken in offering assistance and aid to Turkey in respect of the wildfires in that country.

At the outset of the wildfires we offered our sympathy and support to the Turkish Government. The Foreign Secretary and I were in direct contact with our Turkish counterparts and our Embassy in Turkey held urgent discussions with Turkish disaster relief authorities. Although Turkey had sought fire-fighting aircraft, which regrettably we could not supply with sufficient water capacity, we were able to offer other technical support and capacity building expertise. The Turkish Government appreciated our support but confirmed they no longer needed such assistance. Our offer still stands.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support the (a) coach industry (b) haulage industry in light of rising diesel costs; and if he will introduce an essential user rebate on fuel duty by taking 15ppl of the cost of fuel for commercial road users.

At the Spring Statement, the Government announced a temporary cut in duty on petrol and diesel of 5 pence per litre. This represents a tax cut worth around £2.4 billion in 2022-23. This benefits anyone who consumes fuel – including those in the coach industry and haulage industry.

All taxes are kept under review.

24th May 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will (a) lift the mileage rates limit for public sector workers who are required to use their vehicle to do their jobs and (b) increase the approved mileage rates in line with the current cost of fuel.

The Government sets Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAPs) to minimise administrative burdens. AMAPs aim to reflect running costs including fuel, servicing, and depreciation. Depreciation is estimated to constitute the most significant proportion of the AMAPs.

Employers are not required to use the AMAPs. Instead, they can agree to reimburse the actual cost incurred, where individuals can provide evidence of the expenditure, without an Income Tax or National Insurance charge arising.

The Government keeps this policy under review.

Also, the Government recognises that public sector workers play a vital role in the running of our economy, and in delivering our public services.  Spending Review 2021 confirmed that public sector workers will see pay rises across the whole Spending Review period (22/23-24/25).

10th May 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will introduce a windfall tax on the profits of North Sea oil and gas producers and use the proceeds to tackle to cost of living.

The UK Government places additional taxes on the extraction of oil and gas, with companies engaged in the production of oil and gas on the UK Continental Shelf subject to headline tax rates on their profits that are currently more than double those paid by other businesses. To date, the sector has paid more than £375 billion in production taxes.

All taxes are kept under review and any changes are considered and announced by the Chancellor.

28th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the accessibility for people who are housebound to cash; and what steps he is taking to ensure that people who are housebound have access to cash.

The government recognises that cash remains an important part of daily life for millions of people across the UK, particularly those in vulnerable groups, and has committed to legislate to protect access to cash.

From 1 July to 23 September last year, the Government held the Access to Cash Consultation on proposals for new laws to make sure people only need to travel a reasonable distance to pay in or take out cash. The Government’s proposals intend to support the continued use of cash in people’s daily lives and help to enable local businesses to continue accepting cash by ensuring they can access deposit facilities. The Government has carefully considered responses to the consultation and will set out next steps in due course.

Following the government’s commitment to legislate, firms are working together through the Cash Action Group to develop new initiatives to provide shared services. The Cash Action Group has stated that new shared services will complement other industry initiatives to support access to cash, such as mobile branches and pop-up services, as well as services for people who need to make payments in their own homes.

On access to free-to-use ATMs specifically, LINK (the scheme that runs the UK's largest ATM network) has commitments to protect the broad geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs and is held to account against these commitments by the Payment Systems Regulator. LINK has committed to protect free-to-use ATMs more than one kilometre away from the next nearest free ATM or Post Office, and free access to cash on high streets (where there is a cluster of five or more retailers) that do not have a free-to-use ATM or a Post Office counter within one kilometre.

LINK also publishes the total number of free-to-use ATMs across the UK. As of January 2022, LINK reported that there were around 41,000 free-to-use ATMs in the UK. LINK’s Monthly ATM Footprint Report also publishes information monthly on the break down by constituency.

More broadly, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) publishes data on access to cash coverage across the UK. As of the second quarter of 2021, the FCA reported that nearly 96% of the UK population are within 2km of a free-to-use cash access point.

28th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the access to cash via free-to-use ATMs in (a) rural areas and (b) low-income areas and with reference to the Access to Cash consultation, what his timetable is to introduce legislative proposals based on the consultation outcomes.

The government recognises that cash remains an important part of daily life for millions of people across the UK, particularly those in vulnerable groups, and has committed to legislate to protect access to cash.

From 1 July to 23 September last year, the Government held the Access to Cash Consultation on proposals for new laws to make sure people only need to travel a reasonable distance to pay in or take out cash. The Government’s proposals intend to support the continued use of cash in people’s daily lives and help to enable local businesses to continue accepting cash by ensuring they can access deposit facilities. The Government has carefully considered responses to the consultation and will set out next steps in due course.

Following the government’s commitment to legislate, firms are working together through the Cash Action Group to develop new initiatives to provide shared services. The Cash Action Group has stated that new shared services will complement other industry initiatives to support access to cash, such as mobile branches and pop-up services, as well as services for people who need to make payments in their own homes.

On access to free-to-use ATMs specifically, LINK (the scheme that runs the UK's largest ATM network) has commitments to protect the broad geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs and is held to account against these commitments by the Payment Systems Regulator. LINK has committed to protect free-to-use ATMs more than one kilometre away from the next nearest free ATM or Post Office, and free access to cash on high streets (where there is a cluster of five or more retailers) that do not have a free-to-use ATM or a Post Office counter within one kilometre.

LINK also publishes the total number of free-to-use ATMs across the UK. As of January 2022, LINK reported that there were around 41,000 free-to-use ATMs in the UK. LINK’s Monthly ATM Footprint Report also publishes information monthly on the break down by constituency.

More broadly, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) publishes data on access to cash coverage across the UK. As of the second quarter of 2021, the FCA reported that nearly 96% of the UK population are within 2km of a free-to-use cash access point.

14th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact of the classification of flavoured cider being classified as wine; what comparative assessment his Department has made of the impact on cider breweries in relation to 4 per cent ABV flavoured cider, which has a duty charge of approximately 90p/litre, compared with the standard rate of cider which is approximately 40p/litre; and if he will make it his policy to classify flavoured cider as standard cider.

At Autumn Budget 2021, the Chancellor announced a number of reforms to modernise and improve the tax system for cider from February 2023.

As part of this, the Government intends to move to a taxation system which taxes cider on the basis of its alcohol content. This will result in higher strength ciders – which are currently undertaxed – paying duty in proportion to strength. The Treasury considers the impact this will have on business decision-making difficult to estimate, as different businesses will have different business models. We will continue to engage with industry as our review progresses and value feedback on this point.

Regarding flavoured ciders, the Government has decided to keep the existing cider category and its substantially lower rate to remain focused on traditional cider, recognising the part cider producers play in local economies and the cultural value attached to cider. Therefore, there are no plans to equalise flavoured and non-flavoured cider duty rates at this stage.

Further detail about the impact of our alcohol duty reforms on cidermakers, including breweries that produce cider, will be included in a tax information and impact note when the policy is final, or near final, in the usual way.

10th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Small Brewers Relief Scheme, what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact of increased tax bills on breweries producing 2,500HL and 5,000HL per year.

The Government has announced a number of changes to the way that small brewers receive relief from alcohol duty, in order to remove barriers to growth and reduce market distortions. As part of this, the Government has announced a new Small Producer Relief which will incorporate changes to the existing Small Brewers Relief, as set out in its response to a technical consultation on 30 November 2021.

The Government will make a range of adjustments to the existing scheme, including lowering the rate of increase in marginal costs as brewers expand and grow. This will remove the ‘cliff-edge’ which small brewers have highlighted as a concern for many years. Overall, this will invest a further £15 million to the existing £65 million spent each year on craft brewing via the Small Brewers Relief scheme.

9th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to expand the draft duty rate of beer to include containers from 20 litres.

Following the close of our alcohol duty review consultation on 30 January 2022, the Government is now analysing responses and is continuing to engage with industry on both points.

The Government understands that some cidermakers are interested in increasing the minimum juice content. However, others have raised concerns that this would disrupt business as usual for some cidermakers and may incentivise producers to import apples cheaply from overseas. It is therefore important we continue to explore different arguments before making any final decisions.

We are also engaging with brewers on the qualifying criteria for draught relief. While it is our intention for the relief to apply to a range of brewers, we must ensure that the relief remains targeted on pubs and other hospitality venues. This is to ensure that drinks benefiting from the relief are those used by venues rather than for personal use by consumers.

We are continuing to consult on these proposals and will provide further updates on the alcohol duty review in due course.

9th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, If he will make it his policy that a minimum 85 per cent juice threshold is required for a product to be taxed and sold as cider.

Following the close of our alcohol duty review consultation on 30 January 2022, the Government is now analysing responses and is continuing to engage with industry on both points.

The Government understands that some cidermakers are interested in increasing the minimum juice content. However, others have raised concerns that this would disrupt business as usual for some cidermakers and may incentivise producers to import apples cheaply from overseas. It is therefore important we continue to explore different arguments before making any final decisions.

We are also engaging with brewers on the qualifying criteria for draught relief. While it is our intention for the relief to apply to a range of brewers, we must ensure that the relief remains targeted on pubs and other hospitality venues. This is to ensure that drinks benefiting from the relief are those used by venues rather than for personal use by consumers.

We are continuing to consult on these proposals and will provide further updates on the alcohol duty review in due course.

9th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of enabling households to opt out of the £200 discount on their energy bills.

All domestic electricity customers in Great Britain will receive a £200 reduction in their electricity costs from this October. This will be delivered via energy suppliers and will be clearly identifiable as a line item on electricity bills.

The reduction in costs will help people with the increase in energy bills by spreading the increased costs over a few years, so they are more manageable for households.

9th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the payment of the £150 council tax rebate to people who do not pay their council tax via direct debit; and what steps he is taking to ensure that all eligible people receive the rebate.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is continuing to engage with local authorities on the implementation of the council tax energy rebate. This includes the approach to households in bands A-D that do not pay by direct debit, or do not pay council tax because they are in receipt of Local Council Tax Support.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the financial support provided to local authorities to assist with the administration of the £150 council tax rebate.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities continues to engage with local authorities on the implementation of the council tax energy rebate. Local authorities will be provided with additional new burdens funding to administer the rebate and the associated discretionary funding.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what his timetable is for publishing details on the qualification requirements for vulnerable households to be able to access the £144 million of financial support for vulnerable households announced on 3 February 2022.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has recently published guidance for Local Authorities on the administration of both the council tax rebate for households in bands A-D, and the discretionary funding.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the eligibility for the £150 rebate for (a) renters who are not liable for the council tax for their property but who do pay for their energy and (b) households who move from council tax bands E to H to A to D after April 2022.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published guidance on eligibility for the Council Tax Energy Rebate. This includes the approach to rented properties and the applicable date for determining eligibility. Households in bands E-H that are not eligible for the rebate automatically may instead be eligible for support from their local authority through the discretionary funding.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
7th Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason businesses in the personal care industry are not included as recipients of financial support grants for businesses affected by the omicron variant; and what steps his Department is taking to support that industry.

As a result of the Omicron variant, hospitality and leisure businesses saw significant numbers of cancellations and reduced footfall throughout their peak trading period around Christmas. The aim of the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant is to support businesses offering in-person services, where social mixing is the primary motivation for their customers.

However, the Government also recognises that other businesses, including in the personal care industry, may also have been impacted by the Omicron variant. That is why we have provided an extra £102 million of discretionary funding through the Additional Restrictions Grant, on top of the £250 million that local authorities have left from previous allocations.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate his Department has made of the amount accruing to the Exchequer from the adoption of Consumer Prices Index Including Owner Occupiers' Housing Costs in relation to index-linked gilts from 2030; and whether he has plans to compensate pensioners in the event that their pension pots are reduced as a result of that matter.

Owing to shortcomings in its calculation, the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) intends to bring the methods and data sources of the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) into the Retail Prices Index (RPI). On 25 November 2020, the Government and UKSA published their response to the consultation on the reform to RPI.

The Government will not offer compensation to the holders of index-linked gilts. The contractual terms of all index-linked gilts state that the RPI should be used to determine the index ratio which is used to calculate interest and redemption payments. There will be no change to this flowing from the implementation of UKSA’s reform.

For further information please see the consultation response at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-consultation-on-the-reform-to-retail-prices-index-rpi-methodology.

3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he plans to publish further details of the tax on the UK residential property development sector, announced on 10 February 2021.

The Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government made an oral statement to the House of Commons on building safety on 10 February 2021.

That statement announced plans to introduce a new tax for the UK residential property development sector in 2022, to ensure the largest developers make a fair contribution to cladding remediation costs.

The details of the policy design will be made public as soon as possible, and the Government will begin the consultation process in due course, to facilitate introduction for 2022.

22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of providing further Government support for businesses registered for VAT where turnover has fallen below the £85,000 threshold.

Businesses can ask HMRC to cancel their registration if their VAT taxable turnover falls below the deregistration threshold of £83,000. Businesses that are below the VAT threshold and are not voluntarily registered do not account for VAT on their supplies.

In light of COVID-19, 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.

9th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what additional steps he has taken during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown to support small company directors who in normal operating periods would have received dividend payments.

The Winter Economy Plan set out a package of targeted measures in response to the current economic context that will enable businesses to protect jobs and manage their finances in the face of reduced or uncertain demand. This includes the extension of the temporary VAT reduced rate for hospitality and tourism, extending the application window of the access to finance schemes, and further support for employees and the self-employed.

Company directors who pay themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme are able to apply for CJRS support, subject to meeting the eligibility criteria of the scheme. In addition, company directors may be eligible for other elements of the package of financial support available. This includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, increased levels of Universal Credit, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.

19th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to support people who receive a majority of their income through their armed services pension but earn additional income through self-employment.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) helps those adversely affected by COVID-19 and is one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world. The SEISS, including the eligibility requirement that an individual’s trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income, is targeted at those who most need it, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income.

Income from an armed forces pension is subject to income tax and this is included in the calculation of an individual’s non-trading income. However, certain pensions paid to members of the armed forces, such as the additional pension paid to holders of certain gallantry awards, are not treated as income for income tax purposes. This income is not reported to HMRC and is not included in the calculation of non-trading income.

Individuals receiving more than half their income from other sources, such as pensions, could still be eligible for other financial support. The SEISS is part of a comprehensive package of support for self-employed people, including Bounce Back loans, income tax deferrals, rental support,?increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and various business support measures. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to provide support to the airline industry; and whether he plans to ensure that support is contingent on airlines (a) not paying dividends to their shareholders, (b) rehiring staff and (c) taking additional steps to tackle climate change.

The Government recognises the challenging times facing the aviation sector as a result of COVID-19 and the Chancellor wrote to the aviation sector on 24 March to set out the Government’s position and the support measures available. Given the significant importance of the aviation sector to our economy and economic recovery, the Government is prepared to enter negotiations with individual companies seeking bespoke support as a last resort, having exhausted other options. However further taxpayer support would only be possible if all commercial avenues have been fully explored, including raising further capital from existing investors and discussing arrangements with financial stakeholders.

The Government has announced a package of measures, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which help firms to retain employees. This Scheme will allow businesses to put employees on temporary leave, with the Government paying cash grants of 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500 per month, providing the business keeps the person employed.

The Department for Transport are planning to consult to update the Government’s position on aviation and climate change. It is critical that we consider how the aviation sector can play its part in delivering our net zero ambitions.

Steve Barclay
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to support people that have lost savings as a result of the collapse of London Capital and Finance.

The administrators for London Capital & Finance (LCF) are currently estimating recoveries for investors affected by LCF’s failure. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), as the compensation scheme of last resort, can only provide compensation for claims connected with certain types of regulated activities.

The FSCS has been working closely with LCF’s administrators and the Financial Conduct Authority to understand more about LCF’s activities. This investigation led FSCS to announce certain key decisions in relation to LCF in January 2020. First, the FSCS has announced it will protect LCF bondholders who switched from stocks and shares ISAs to LCF bonds. The FSCS has now paid £2.7m compensation to these LCF customers. Second, the FSCS has announced it is unable to protect LCF bondholders who dealt with LCF before it was authorised to carry out financial services business. The FSCS will contact these LCF customers to confirm this. Third, the FSCS has said that there will be some LCF customers who were given misleading advice by LCF, and who will have valid claims for compensation. The FSCS will provide a further communication with details of when and how customers in this category can submit their claims. The FSCS will aim to start reviewing these advice claims in the first quarter of 2020.

The FSCS will provide a further update by the end of March outlining the next steps. In the meantime LCF customers do not need to take any action. Further information can be found at https://www.fscs.org.uk/failed-firms/lcf/.

7th Jan 2020
What steps he is taking to ensure that HMRC has adequate (a) powers and (b) resources to investigate tax avoidance enablers.

The Government has taken significant action, including introducing 100 new measures tackling tax avoidance, evasion and other forms of non-compliance since 2010. This has secured and protected £200bn that would have otherwise gone unpaid, helping to bring the UK’s tax gap to a near record low of 5.6%.

7th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the Answer to the Question from the Rt hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras at Prime Minister's Questions on 25 May 2022, Official Report, Column 286, how many and what proportion of passport applications submitted over the last three months were processed within six weeks.

Since April 2021, people have been advised to allow up to ten weeks when applying for their British passport as more than 5 million people delayed applying due to the pandemic.

The vast majority of applications continue to be dealt with well within 10 weeks.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
25th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many passport applications submitted to the Passport Office in the last six months have been fully processed within (a) four weeks, (b) six weeks, (c) eight weeks and (d) ten weeks.

Ahead of unrestricted international travel returning, HM Passport Office prepared extensively to serve an unprecedented number of customers, with 9.5 million British passport applications forecasted throughout 2022.

These preparations, which include the recruitment of 650 additional staff since April 2021 and with plans in place to recruit a further 550 by this summer, have ensured that passport applications can be processed in higher numbers than ever before. This was demonstrated in March and April 2022 when HM Passport Office achieved record outputs by completing the processing of two million applications.

Since April 2021, HM Passport Office has been advising people to allow up to 10 weeks when applying for their passport from the UK. However, Her Majesty’s Passport Office will always endeavour to process applications as quickly as possible, and in the simplest of cases that require fewer manual interventions these may be processed much more quickly.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the number of UK residents who applied to host Ukrainian refugees under the family visa route and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme; and if duplicate visas have bene issued.

Applicants are encouraged to apply under the scheme that matches their circumstances.

If an application under one scheme is not granted, an application under the alternative scheme may be considered, or a re-application under the same scheme. An application to the Homes For Ukraine scheme cannot be made by an individual who is already in the UK and so a person in the UK cannot switch between the different schemes.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
25th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the likelihood that UK residents who previously applied to host Ukrainian refugees under the family visa route may also now apply under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, due to the financial assistance available; and of whether it is possible, should this occur, that duplicate visas may be issued.

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

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will (a) expand the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) model beyond the current 20 police force areas and (b) commit to long-term funding for that Unit; and what steps her Department is taking to strengthen local efforts to tackle serious violent crime.

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

Kit Malthouse
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of the enforcement of legislation on (a) up-skirting and (b) other sexual assaults on public transport.

Everyone has the right to feel safe when travelling and using public spaces. The Department for Transport is working closely with the Home Office on the Government’s cross-departmental strategy to address Violence Against Women and Girls.

Tackling violence against women and girls is a top priority for the Government. These crimes include rape, sexual violence, domestic abuse, stalking, ‘honour’-based abuse including female genital mutilation and forced marriage, ‘revenge porn’ and ‘upskirting’. They can have a profound and long-lasting impact on victims and have absolutely no place in our society

On July 21 we published our new cross-Government Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy to help ensure that women and girls are safe everywhere - at home, online and on the streets.

A key commitment in the VAWG Strategy includes appointing Laura Shoaf and Anne Shaw as Transport Champions to make public transport safer for women and girls. The Transport Women’s Safety Champions will shortly publish 13 independent recommendations on ways we can work together to improve the safety of women and girls on the transport network.

These proposals are a crucial step in the Government’s long-term commitment to making sure that women and girls can travel alone, safely and without fear.

The Department for Transport also works closely with transport partners on a range of initiatives to address the problems faced by vulnerable groups, including women and girls, on the transport network. However, we know that we must do more.

A Rail Delivery Group led project started in 2019 in partnership with the British Transport Police to drive a national strategy to improve safety of women and girls on the rail network. A specific training package has been developed and is being delivered to frontline rail staff across operators.

The British Transport Police is also currently working on technological solutions remove barriers to reporting crime. They were recently successful in a bid to the Home Office Safer Streets Fund to develop a ‘Safety App’ that will provide advice and support during customers journeys.

19th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of providing mental health and support services for people involved in domestic abuse.

This Government is committed to supporting all victims of domestic abuse. We passed the landmark Domestic Abuse Act last April, which will strengthen our protection to victims and ensure perpetrators feel the full force of the law. We will also be publishing a Domestic Abuse Strategy in the coming months, which will help drive a step-change in the response to these crimes and build on the Domestic Abuse Act, seeking to transform the whole of society’s response to domestic abuse.

We recognise that domestic abuse can have a lasting and severe impact to the mental health of victims and their families. Forthcoming statutory guidance on Domestic Abuse will ensure that domestic abuse is properly understood, including the long and short term physical and mental health impacts of domestic abuse.

In 2021-22, Government is providing just under £151m for victim and witness support services, including funding for a number of domestic abuse specialist services providing counselling and one-to-one support to victims of domestic abuse and ‘by and for’ services for Black, Asian and minority ethnic, LGBTQ+ or disabled victims.

In addition, the Children Affected by Domestic Abuse (CADA) fund is delivering a wide range of interventions which are designed and carefully chosen to support children affected by domestic abuse and improve their long-term outcomes, including therapeutic support and counselling.

In respect of the health and social care system, through the Health and Care Bill we will create 42 Integrated Care Systems (ICS) across England - these will allocate resources, coordinate services and plan in a way that improves population health and reduces inequalities between different groups.

We will continue to work across Government to ensure that those involved in domestic abuse receive the support that they need.

19th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on providing domestic abuse survivors with mental health and support services.

This Government is committed to supporting all victims of domestic abuse. We passed the landmark Domestic Abuse Act last April, which will strengthen our protection to victims and ensure perpetrators feel the full force of the law. We will also be publishing a Domestic Abuse Strategy in the coming months, which will help drive a step-change in the response to these crimes and build on the Domestic Abuse Act, seeking to transform the whole of society’s response to domestic abuse.

We recognise that domestic abuse can have a lasting and severe impact to the mental health of victims and their families. Forthcoming statutory guidance on Domestic Abuse will ensure that domestic abuse is properly understood, including the long and short term physical and mental health impacts of domestic abuse.

In 2021-22, Government is providing just under £151m for victim and witness support services, including funding for a number of domestic abuse specialist services providing counselling and one-to-one support to victims of domestic abuse and ‘by and for’ services for Black, Asian and minority ethnic, LGBTQ+ or disabled victims.

In addition, the Children Affected by Domestic Abuse (CADA) fund is delivering a wide range of interventions which are designed and carefully chosen to support children affected by domestic abuse and improve their long-term outcomes, including therapeutic support and counselling.

In respect of the health and social care system, through the Health and Care Bill we will create 42 Integrated Care Systems (ICS) across England - these will allocate resources, coordinate services and plan in a way that improves population health and reduces inequalities between different groups.

We will continue to work across Government to ensure that those involved in domestic abuse receive the support that they need.

18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the total cost of domestic abuse to the public purse in Weaver Vale constituency in 2020-21.

The Home Office does not hold information the cost of domestic by constituency.

The Home Office estimated the social and economic costs of domestic abuse to be £66 billion for the victims identified in England and Wales in 2016/17 (which equates to £74 billion in today’s prices).

18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate her Department has made of the total cost of domestic abuse to the public purse in 2020-21.

The Home Office does not hold information the cost of domestic by constituency.

The Home Office estimated the social and economic costs of domestic abuse to be £66 billion for the victims identified in England and Wales in 2016/17 (which equates to £74 billion in today’s prices).

18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what comparative assessment she has made of the amount of funding her Department allocated to the prevention of domestic abuse and the (a) social and (b) economic cost of domestic abuse in England and Wales in each year from 2016; and what assessment she has made of the potential cost of (a) unreported cases, (b) the impact on the mental health of victims and their children and (c) the number of days of paid work lost in each of those years.

Preventing the cycle of abuse is a key issue which starts in childhood. That is why we are providing over £3 million this year to services supporting children experiencing domestic abuse which is going towards therapeutic support and early intervention schemes. This fund provides for children of all ages with services funded including one-to-one, group counselling and parent and child sessions, art and play therapy and funding to support with access to other services that may benefit children and young people negatively impacted by domestic abuse. The fund allows these specialist service providers to offer a response tailored effectively to those in need.

This year, the Home Office alone has allocated £43 million to tackling violence against women and girls.

We have allocated £25 million this financial year to hold perpetrators of domestic abuse to account for their behaviour. As part of this we have awarded funding to Police and Crime Commissioners to increase the availability of interventions that work with perpetrators to improve safety for related victims, reduce the risk posed by the perpetrator and prevent reoffending.

Through the VAWG Strategy we are investing:

  • £5 million for a ‘Safety of Women at Night’ fund, in addition to the £25 million Safer Streets fund Round 3, that focuses on the prevention of violence against women and girls in public spaces at night, including in the night-time economy.
  • £1.5 million for vital specialist support services and to increase our funding for helplines, such as the Revenge Porn Helpline and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust’s national stalking helpline.
  • £3 million to better understand what works to prevent violence against women and girls – to invest in high quality, evidence-informed prevention projects, including in schools, aiming to educate and inform children and young people about violence against women and girls, healthy relationships and the consequences of abuse.

The Home Office estimated the social and economic costs of domestic abuse to be £66 billion for the victims identified in England and Wales in 2016/17[1] (which equates to £74 billion in today’s prices[2]).These estimated costs are associated with all victims identified through the Crime Survey in England and Wales in year 2016/17, including those who may have chosen not to report to the police.

The biggest component of this estimated cost was £47 billion for the physical and emotional harms suffered by victims. Table 8 in the Home Office. The economic and social costs of crime second edition, contains the estimated emotional cost for each type of domestic abuse. We do not have costs associated with the impact of domestic abuse on victims’ children.

Other costs that result as a consequence of domestic abuse include the lost output (estimated in the region of £14bn). Table 10 in the Home Office. The economic and social costs of crime second edition, contains the estimated average time lost at work following domestic abuse offences.

[1] Home Office. The economic and social costs of crime second edition.

[2] Note the costs are uprated to 2021/22 prices using the latest HMT GDP Deflator and only account for changes in inflation and do not consider other changes in prevalence and unit costs.

12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment his Department made of animal welfare within the operation of large-scale dog farming factories in the UK; and what steps his Department is taking to stop the testing of animals for scientific research.

The breeding and selling of dogs (other than for scientific purposes) is regulated in England under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 and the 2006 Animal Welfare Act. Since 2019 anyone in the business of breeding and selling dogs and/or who breeds three or more litters in a twelve-month period needs to have a valid licence from their local authority. Local authorities provide management and enforcement of this licensing regime and of the Animal Welfare Act. Any breeder failing to meet these standards may have additional licensing restrictions applied, have their licence revoked, or in extreme cases be prosecuted and potentially subject to the increased five -year custodial penalty the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act brought into force on the 29 June 2021.

The breeding of dogs to be used for scientific purposes is separately regulated under The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). The Government has published a code of practice for the care and accommodation of animals (including dogs) used for scientific purposes. The appropriate regulators operationalise and enforce ASPA through licensing and compliance assurance activities. A range of remedies are used if licence holders are found to be non-compliant, including suspension or revocation of licences.

This government believes, in line with the current scientific position, that there is a need to continue to use animals in some areas of research where there are no non- animal alternatives, to advance scientific discovery and protect human and animal health and the environment. There is a robust regulatory regime to protect these animals and we continue to invest in the development and uptake of non-animal alternatives. Therefore, this government have no current plans to hold a review into the use of animals in science

1st Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate she has made of the number of women killed by men since 2012; and what steps her Department is taking to prevent women being killed through men's violence.

The Home Office Homicide Index shows that between 2012/13 and 2019/20 there were 1,005 female victims (aged 16 and over) of homicide where the suspect was male.

The Government takes women’s safety very seriously and is determined to tackle crimes which disproportionately affect women and girls.

We have published a new Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy and will be publishing a complementary Domestic Abuse Strategy in the New Year. The new strategies will help transform the response to these crimes, from prevention and raising awareness, support to victims and survivors, to ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice.

As part of the new VAWG Strategy commitments, work is underway to launch a national communications campaign in the New Year, which will focus on targeting perpetrators, educating young people about healthy relationships and ensuring victims can access support.

We are doing a considerable amount of work on domestic homicides which is a horrific crime that disproportionately impacts females. Homicide Index data for 2017/18 to 2019/20 show that 76% of victims of domestic homicide were female. The Home Office worked with the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s domestic abuse and homicide leads to fund a rapid review pilot at the start of the first lockdown to track domestic homicides and enable the police to respond to spikes.

We firmly believe that tackling perpetrators of abuse is key to reducing domestic homicides. In 2020/21, the Chancellor announced £10 million in funding for DA perpetrator programmes, which was the first fund of its kind. This year the funding has increased to £25 million, more than doubling the funding for addressing perpetrators of domestic abuse. Of this, over £18 million has been provided to local areas to introduce new perpetrator programmes this year.

In addition to this, Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) must be considered for all deaths involving a person over the age of 16 where domestic abuse has, or appears to have been a factor. We have undertaken to create a central repository for all DHRs which will allow us to better understand the patterns and trends of domestic homicides.

19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of the resources available to tackling online and phone scammers.

The Home Office collects information from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau on the number of recorded frauds. From the information held internally it is not possible to separately identify offences of fraud in which scam phone calls have been involved.

As part of the 2020 Spending Review, the Government committed a further £63m to the Home Office to tackle economic crime, including fraud. This is in addition to the funding the Home Office commits each year to the National Crime Agency, National Economic Crime Centre and police forces, including the City of London Police as the national lead force for fraud and the operator of the Action Fraud and National Fraud Intelligence Bureau services.

The Home Office and DCMS are in regular discussion with the telecommunication industry on ways to tackle scam phone calls and protect the public. The Government has taken a range of actions to reduce the number of these calls. We have supported the National Trading Standards Scams Team to roll out call blocking devices to vulnerable people, helping to protect them from nuisance calls and scams. In addition, the City of London Police, the national lead force for Fraud, has partnered with Law Enforcement and Industry to combat call centre fraud from overseas jurisdictions.

However, the best way to tackle this problem is to try and identify the sources of these calls and stop them. We are encouraging the public to forward suspicious text messages to 7726 (which is free of charge) and continue to encourage anyone who has been a targeted by a scam to report it. Action Fraud is the central police reporting point for all victims of fraud and can be contacted by phone on 0300 123 2040 or through their website: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.

Using this information, City of London Police, the National Cyber Security Centre and the National Crime Agency are able to facilitate numbers being used for scam calls/texts being blocked or removed.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of trends in the number of scam phone calls being reported to Action Fraud in each month since March 2020; and what steps she is taking bring the perpetrators of those scams to justice.

The Home Office collects information from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau on the number of recorded frauds. From the information held internally it is not possible to separately identify offences of fraud in which scam phone calls have been involved.

As part of the 2020 Spending Review, the Government committed a further £63m to the Home Office to tackle economic crime, including fraud. This is in addition to the funding the Home Office commits each year to the National Crime Agency, National Economic Crime Centre and police forces, including the City of London Police as the national lead force for fraud and the operator of the Action Fraud and National Fraud Intelligence Bureau services.

The Home Office and DCMS are in regular discussion with the telecommunication industry on ways to tackle scam phone calls and protect the public. The Government has taken a range of actions to reduce the number of these calls. We have supported the National Trading Standards Scams Team to roll out call blocking devices to vulnerable people, helping to protect them from nuisance calls and scams. In addition, the City of London Police, the national lead force for Fraud, has partnered with Law Enforcement and Industry to combat call centre fraud from overseas jurisdictions.

However, the best way to tackle this problem is to try and identify the sources of these calls and stop them. We are encouraging the public to forward suspicious text messages to 7726 (which is free of charge) and continue to encourage anyone who has been a targeted by a scam to report it. Action Fraud is the central police reporting point for all victims of fraud and can be contacted by phone on 0300 123 2040 or through their website: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.

Using this information, City of London Police, the National Cyber Security Centre and the National Crime Agency are able to facilitate numbers being used for scam calls/texts being blocked or removed.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)