Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 7th February 2024

(2 weeks, 2 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mims Davies Portrait The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Mims Davies)
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The hon. Lady joined me yesterday at the disability action plan event, where many stakeholders welcomed the changes and opportunities in disabled people’s lives. Many disabled people want to work, and we at the Department for Work and Pensions will always ensure that we listen to their wants and needs and that they will never be forced into anything that is not suitable for them.

Caroline Dinenage Portrait Dame Caroline Dinenage (Gosport) (Con)
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At 5 pm today, women’s groups and other community groups in Gosport will be staging a peaceful protest about the Lib Dem council’s decision to completely end all live CCTV monitoring. They are worried about the impact on people’s safety. Does the Minister agree with them?

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 13th December 2023

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) (Lab)
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9. What steps she is taking with Cabinet colleagues to tackle inequality for disabled people.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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In July 2021, the Government set out our long-term vision in the national disability strategy. Over the summer, we consulted on the disability action plan, which will set out the immediate action that the Government are taking in 2024. Together with other relevant reforms being taken forward by my Cabinet colleagues, those measures seek to tackle inequality and improve the daily lives of disabled people.

Cat Smith Portrait Cat Smith
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The neuro drop-in centre in Lancaster provides a unique support network for those affected by neurological conditions, but my constituent, who travels there by bus from Bowerham to Torrisholme, is a wheelchair user, and if there is already is a wheelchair user on the bus, he cannot board. Does the Minister think that that is fair?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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That does not sound terribly fair at all. I am very interested in what the hon. Lady shares with the House. Of course, we have a Transport Minister answering questions today, so I am very happy for us to look at that issue for her. If she writes to me, I will see that the matter is looked at.

Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Lewell-Buck
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Sense has found that, because of the Tory cost of living crisis, a large proportion of disabled people will not be seeing family, buying presents or even celebrating Christmas this year, yet the Government are ploughing ahead with changes that will ramp up sanctions and that could remove NHS prescriptions and access to legal aid for disabled people. Why, at every single opportunity, do the Government hit people with disabilities the hardest?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I apologise, Mr Speaker, because the Transport Minister I mentioned is not coming today—they might be on the bus. I will pick up the issue raised by the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Cat Smith) in further responses.

The hon. Member for South Shields (Mrs Lewell-Buck) will know that we are making cost of living payments once again to support people in need. In fact, that support totals over £104 billion. If she is concerned for her constituents—and rightly so—she should definitely direct them to Help for Households, the benefits calculator on gov.uk, and the help to claim process. There is also the household support fund, which is about £1 billion this year. I hope she is satisfied that we are absolutely supporting the most vulnerable.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Ashley Dalton Portrait Ashley Dalton (West Lancashire) (Lab)
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The disability pay gap has risen under the Conservatives from 11.7% in 2014 to 13.8% in 2021. Labour will act to close the gap and to support disabled people by introducing disability pay gap reporting for large employers. That is good for disabled people, good for business and good for our economy, so why will the Government not follow suit?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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We are absolutely committed to supporting disabled people. Frankly, we are very proud of our record: we have supported more than 1 million disabled people into work, hitting the target five years early, and we are rewiring our benefits system to give a renewed focus on what people can do rather than what they cannot, so that there are opportunities for people to improve their lives and get the pay that they want through their employment.

Ashley Dalton Portrait Ashley Dalton
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Disabled people are also being hit hard by the Conservative cost of living crisis that my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mrs Lewell-Buck) referred to. On average, the extra cost of disability is equivalent to 63% of household income before housing costs. I would ask the Minister what discussions she has had with the Minister for disabled people about this important issue, but there is no Minister for disabled people. Will she tell the House when one will be appointed?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank the hon. Lady for raising that point. As she has rightly said, we should all aim to reduce the disability employment gap, and that remains our goal. To answer her question, I am the lead on those matters for Equalities oral questions. I am disappointed that I am not enough for her today, but I do lead on those matters for the Department. All Department for Work and Pensions Ministers take responsibility across our portfolios for removing barriers to progress, and updates to ministerial appointments will be made under the usual process.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Select Committee.

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) (Con)
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I reassure my hon. Friend that she is more than enough for me. There was a really worrying article in The Times a few days ago that talked about the invisibility of disabled people when making employment applications. We know that disabled people are less likely to be in work and to take up opportunities for entrepreneurship. Perhaps my hon. Friend could highlight the important work she is doing as the Minister for social mobility to make sure that across Government, there is a real drive to help disabled people get the best opportunities to work.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank my right hon. Friend and other hon. Members for their interest in this area. As the Minister responsible for social mobility, I am taking direct leadership on access to employment, particularly in respect of applications and recruitment that suit disabled people to get into work, because if we do not get them into work, they cannot progress. That is why we have billions of pounds in our back to work plan, and why we are supporting vulnerable people by uprating benefits by 6.7% in April equally.

Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con)
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3. What discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effectiveness of the disability action plan.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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The disability action plan’s accessible 12-week consultation closed on 6 October. Since then, officials have been carefully considering all the consultation responses and working closely with other Government Departments. We have led discussions with the cross-Government ministerial disability champions before we publish the final disability action plan.

Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Hollobone
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Some 14 million people live with a disability. They are statistically less likely to have a job or any qualifications or to own their own home, and sadly, their children are twice as likely to become victims of crime. Will the Minister ensure that the disability action plan addresses all those issues?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank my hon. Friend for his typical care in this area. I assure him and the House that significant work is taking place across Government in those areas where disabled people have told us that their outcomes must be a priority, whether that is in education, employment or care. We are focused on that, and the disability action plan will complement that work. We are using the insight from the 12-week consultation to deliver improvements in all the areas that matter most to disabled people, in order to improve their daily lives.

Chris Bryant Portrait Sir Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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Some 1.4 million people in the UK are living with a brain injury. Will the Minister make sure that the final version of the plan lays out precisely what the Government intend to do in relation to people who have had a brain injury? The good news is that with really good neurorehabilitation, people can be given back not just their life, but a real quality of life. We owe that to them, don’t we?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that issue. My father lived with a brain injury for over 25 years, and my annual Christmas card this year comes from Headway Sussex through its art therapy work, so I assure him that at the DWP, I think about the impacts of brain injury on a daily basis.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
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4. If she will have discussions with the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs on the Government’s response to reports of gender-based violence by Hamas since 7 October 2023.

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 25th October 2023

(4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab)
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6. What recent estimate she has made of the level of additional costs affecting households with disabled people.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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We will spend around £78.6 billion this year on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions. No such estimate has been made but as a Government we are providing total support of more than £94 billion from 2022 to 2024 and we are determined to help all households and individuals with the rising cost of bills. This includes an additional £150 for more than 6 million disabled people.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne
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That is great, but back in the real world the Minister really does know that the rising cost of living is having a disproportionately negative impact on disabled people. They face higher living costs as a consequence and they still face barriers to employment. Does she accept that targeted action, including disability pay gap reporting, is now needed to support disabled people?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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If the hon. Gentleman is concerned about his disabled constituents, I can point him to the household support fund, which is also helping those constituents and their carers. In his constituency—in his real world—an additional £4.4 million has landed to support him. This is not a matter for the Department for Work and Pensions, but I am sure that it will have been heard.

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) (Con)
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My hon. Friend will be aware that funds are made available to get disabled people into employment via Access to Work. However, there are significant delays in those funds being made available, once granted. Additional costs to disabled people—for example, their paying £6,000 for powered wheels—come at more of a cost when they are obliged to pay for them on their credit card because they cannot access the funds in time. Will she please work with colleagues across the DWP to ensure that there are no delays in getting access to the funds that will help disabled people into work?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank my right hon. Friend for her point, which gives me the opportunity to say that from next Tuesday an additional £300 will be paid in cost of living payments to those who are eligible. Regarding access to work, there is a continuing focus on improving waiting times for customers and we are streamlining and digitising the process. Indeed, I spoke to the Minister for Disabled People this week on exactly this matter in relation to one of my own constituents, and I will see that he hears it again from my right hon. Friend.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con)
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T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

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Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
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T2. In less than a decade, the proportion of female pensioners in the UK living in poverty has risen by 6%, which means that one in every five female pensioners are below the breadline, despite the fact that the number of female pensioners has fallen due to the rise in state pension age, which disadvantaged tens of thousands of older women. Does the Minister for Equalities share my concern that in the UK today 20% of female pensioners are living in poverty, and what action will she take to address that?

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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I thank the hon. Lady for her point. In 2021-22, there were 200,000 fewer female pensioners in absolute poverty than in 2009-10, after housing costs. I point the hon. Lady to the Barnett consequentials of the household support fund in Scotland, which is there to be distributed by her Government to those in need.

Dean Russell Portrait Dean Russell (Watford) (Con)
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T3. As you will know, Mr Speaker, Watford is a thriving multi-faith community, and it is a privilege to take part in so many celebrations and learn about the history of each culture that makes Watford unique and amazing. Will the Minister join me in encouraging colleagues to attend the event that I will be hosting with the Inter Faith Network on 14 November to promote a national organisation to understand how we can all engage better with the different faiths in our communities, and will he please also consider attending the event, if diaries permit?

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Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) (Lab)
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T6.   Some years ago, the United Nations found that disabled people’s rights were being systematically violated by Conservative Ministers. Recently, the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that nothing at all had changed. Is the Minister not ashamed?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank the hon. Lady for raising that matter. The point regarding the EHRC is that it is an independent and public body, but I do not think that any Member comes to this House to erode anybody’s rights whether they are disabled or have a health issue. I absolutely refute what the hon. Lady says. She should look at our actions and our record of the work that we have done around British Sign Language and more widely. We stand by all constituents whatever their needs.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Just before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I would like to welcome to this Chamber the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 12th July 2023

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Anne McLaughlin Portrait Anne McLaughlin (Glasgow North East) (SNP)
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2. What discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on increasing the uptake of pension credit among older people.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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Since April last year, we have been running a substantial campaign to raise awareness and increase take-up. There are strong indications that this campaign is working. Applications for pension credit were around 75% higher in the year to May 2023 than in the same period the year before.

Anne McLaughlin Portrait Anne McLaughlin
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My retired constituents, from Dennistoun to Ruchazie, from Carntyne to Blackhill, and across the north and east of Glasgow, know that I am a champion for their rights. That is why I set up the all-party parliamentary group on pension credit, and why I and my team have sat with hundreds of older constituents and helped them to apply for pension credit, which is after all their right. I choose to do this as a constituency MP, but it is our role to champion the rights of older people, and the Minister is not telling me anything that is giving me any comfort that she is actually going to champion them. When will she start doing that?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank the hon. Lady for the work that she does for her constituents. Many MPs use the Help to Claim service or the benefits calculator to assist constituents. I think she will be keen to know that the Minister responsible for pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Laura Trott), announced the innovative Invitation to Claim trial, which will be held in 10 local authorities across Great Britain this summer. It will involve the Department for Work and Pensions sending letters to 2,600 pensioner households identified by housing benefit data and most likely to be entitled to pension credit. That is on top of the wide-ranging communications we are already doing.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
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I thank my hon. Friend for the answers she has given. Clearly, there is a reluctance among people who are entitled to this benefit to actually claim it. What action is she taking to break down that taboo, so that people who are fully entitled to this money and desperately need it actually claim it?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank my hon. Friend for that point because some people do not come forward. It is in their make-up. We need to help them to be encouraged that they are absolutely entitled to the benefit. I reassure him that the DWP received around 21,000 claims in the two weeks in the run-up to 19 May, which was 171% up compared with the corresponding weeks in 2022, so the actions we are all taking are working.

Neale Hanvey Portrait Neale Hanvey (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) (Alba)
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3. What steps she is taking to help ensure that public bodies implement the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.

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Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (SNP)
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T2. The cost of living crisis disproportionately affects disabled constituents who are reliant on specialist diets and equipment and now face increased food and energy costs. Will the Minister confirm what cross-governmental action the Government can take to better support disabled constituents with those additional costs?

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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The Government recognise the challenges for disabled people and those with health conditions. The £150 disability cost of living payment should be seen as one part of the overall package. The benefits calculators on gov.uk will help people to claim the wider benefits that are out there—that is just one of the payments.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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T3. Last week, I hosted the Institute of Physics and its campaign to increase diversity in physics, which is the second most popular A-level for boys but only the 16th for girls. What steps is my hon. Friend taking to encourage more girls to study physics beyond GCSE?

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 7th June 2023

(8 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kirsten Oswald Portrait Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP)
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The UK Government recently published statistics showing a 35% gender pension gap in private pensions, and recent research by the TUC suggests that more than one in 10 women are in jobs where their employers did not have to enter them into a workplace pension compared with fewer than one in 20 men. According to calculations from the Prospect union, the income gap between men and women in retirement is therefore now 40.5%, which is more than twice the level of the gender pay gap. What action is the Department taking with Cabinet colleagues to close that shameful gap?

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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I do understand the hon. Lady’s point. We remain committed to our ambition to remove the lower earnings limit, as we set out in 2017. That will proportionately benefit the lowest earners the most, including women working part-time.

Andrew Jones Portrait Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (Con)
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T5. Last year, women established more than 150,000 new companies in the UK, which is twice as many as four years ago and the highest ever, yet the number of women founding businesses remains well below that of men. What steps are being taken to further support female entrepreneurs?

Marion Fellows Portrait Marion Fellows (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP)
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T3. According to research from the Resolution Foundation, the disability income gap is still at 44%, leaving disabled people hugely exposed to the rising cost of essentials in the context of the cost of living crisis. What steps is the Department taking with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure that work coaches and disability advisers understand the barriers to employment faced by disabled people? Will the Department urge DWP colleagues to consider what additional specialist support could be offered to disabled jobseekers?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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Our disability employment adviser is there to understand exactly those needs and support. I point people to the benefits calculator on gov.uk, and say that there will be further cost of living payment support. The House will be keen to know that the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work will be joining the conference of states parties to the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and focusing on how we can get more people into work and progressing and thriving.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
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T7. What plans does my right hon. Friend have to amend the Equality Act 2010, which would give us the opportunity to remove caste as a protected characteristic?

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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T4. The Chancellor’s spring Budget announced measures to get the over-50s to return or stay in work, but did not announce any support for those experiencing menopause. The UK Government have rejected most of the recommendations in the report on menopause by the Women and Equalities Committee, whose Chair has said that it is a missed opportunity to protect vast numbers of women from leaving the workforce. Why have the UK Government not followed the Committee’s recommendations?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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We have appointed a Government champion on menopause matters, Helen Tomlinson, who is doing sterling work. Our 50PLUS coaches in jobcentres are supporting women to progress, and I urge all employers to focus on supporting women, adjusting the workplace and listening to their needs so that 50-plus can be the most important, progressive and positive time of women’s working lives.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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Some 78% of top UK energy companies have no women in executive director positions, and 28% have no women on the board. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we need to do far more to help women into science, technology, engineering and maths jobs?

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 26th April 2023

(10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) (SNP)
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T2. New research from the Living Wage Foundation shows that over 2 million women in the UK earn below the real living wage and that women are more likely to be trapped in low-paid, insecure and precarious jobs. Will the Minister work with Cabinet colleagues to ensure that their work actually pays, by introducing a real living wage and strengthening protection for workers on zero-hours contracts? [R]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising the issue of women being able to progress and do well in work. That is why the Department for Work and Pensions has a focus on in-work progression, giving women who have childcare, training or other needs in particular the support they need to progress and thrive in work.

Luke Evans Portrait Dr Luke Evans (Bosworth) (Con)
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T7. We know that between half a million and a million people in the UK are using steroids, particularly to improve their body image. Some studies show that this is even more prolific in the gay community, with usage up to six times higher than among their straight counterparts. Will the Department work with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department of Health and Social Care to commission a study of anabolic steroid use in the UK?

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 25th January 2023

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chloe Smith Portrait Chloe Smith (Norwich North) (Con)
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5. What recent progress she has made in implementing the British Sign Language Act 2022.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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I thank my right hon. Friend for her important work in delivering the Act. Work continues across Government to ensure that the Departments named in the schedule to the Act are aware of their reporting duty. They will report on their use of BSL in public communications at the end of the first reporting period on 28 June.

Chloe Smith Portrait Chloe Smith
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I welcome that update. Will the advisory board be on track ahead of that first statutory reporting date? When will the statutory guidance be commenced? Furthermore, will my hon. Friend commit to the Government’s major public broadcasts being fully accessible?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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My right hon. Friend will be pleased to know that the first meeting of the Departments driving the Act is due to take place in mid-February. It is vital that the 20 Departments listed in the schedule deliver the commitments. The advisory board will be the first dual-language board advising His Majesty’s Government, which demonstrates our commitment to the deaf community. It will form the vital guidance on the Act, and it will rightly look at BSL for major public broadcasts, which many of our constituents want to see and have asked for.

Margaret Ferrier Portrait Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Ind)
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What discussions has the Minister had with her colleagues in the Government Communication Service about ensuring that BSL interpretation is provided for Government announcements and media events, and about the importance of not relying on written documents as an adjustment for deaf people?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank the hon. Lady for her interest. The British Sign Language advisory board is being established to advise the Government on that implementation. Among the people giving advice will be BSL signers, and the majority of the members will be deaf BSL users who have lived experience and want Government communications to be accessible. I am proud that the Department for Work and Pensions has accessible jobcentres, and the same is needed for major Government announcements.

Catherine West Portrait Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) (Lab)
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6. If she will make an assessment of the implications for her policies of trends in child poverty levels for black, Asian and minority ethnic children.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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The Government are committed to a sustainable long-term approach to tackling poverty and supporting families on lower incomes. To help people progress, the Department for Work and Pensions provides a range of support for anyone at any age, career stage or background to move forward and be better off. As well as one-to-one support with their work coach, jobseekers can access sector-based work academies, the restart programme and the Work and Health programme.

Catherine West Portrait Catherine West
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The Jesuits said, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” That means that the impact of what we do in helping children under the age of seven will create a more just future. What urgent action will the Government take to address deep poverty affecting 46% of black, Asian and minority ethnic families? Is there extra funding that can be given to schools and put into our teaching to support children under the age of seven in black, Asian and minority ethnic communities?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank the hon. Lady for her question. As an MP who has won an award for focusing on disadvantaged groups, there is no doubt that she has interest in this area. At 70%, the ethnic minority employment rate is at a record high. We know that work is the best route out of poverty, and that mentoring, support and being able to see role models are absolutely key. I commit to continuing to work across Government with those disadvantaged groups to make sure that that focus is rightly on them.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Yasmin Qureshi Portrait Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) (Lab)
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My hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West) asked about deep poverty among minority children. I shall repeat the point again: black, Asian and minority ethnic households are twice as likely to be in deep poverty, struggling to afford everyday basics such as food and energy. That is 46% of ethnic minority children living below the breadline. Is the Minister proud of her Government’s record, and will she answer the question that was put by my hon. Friend?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I refer the hon. Lady to my previous answer. We do know that work is the best route out of poverty and the best way to tackle those deep-rooted disadvantages. I recently joined a No.10 roundtable on a mentoring and support pipeline to help understand what is holding people back. No one should be left behind because of their postcode or their background. Mentoring circles at the DWP can make a real difference, particularly to young people who are looking to progress from that deep disadvantage.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
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7. What recent assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the gender pension gap.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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The primary causes of the gender pension gap are due to the historical inequality of the labour market. This includes differences in working patterns and earnings for men and women. The Government have taken key steps, such as the introduction of shared parental leave, mandatory gender pay gap reporting, and an effort, as we have heard already today, to tackle the root causes of this problem for women. I know that the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Laura Trott) is looking directly at this issue for women as well.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson
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It is bad enough that women born in the 1950s were robbed of their pensions, but, more generally, the gender pension gap is significantly larger than the gender pay gap and applies to a significantly large proportion of women in the UK, with retired women more likely to be poorer and more likely to rely on pension credit. That is a problem that persists. Will the Minister urgently address the issue, particularly the injustice suffered by WASPI women, or will her Government just ignore women being poorer in retirement?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I assure the hon. Lady that we will not be doing that. We monitor pension contributions and participation by gender, and publish data regularly through our workplace pension participation and savings trends publication. Key to this matter is our funding of returner programmes, which supports those who have taken time out of the labour market for caring responsibilities. Finally, pension sharing on divorce is an option that can help women if a marriage or civil partnership has broken down. As I have said, this is a focus for us all.

Cat Smith Portrait Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab)
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T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

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Clive Efford Portrait Clive Efford (Eltham)  (Lab)
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T3.   A Citizens Advice report published in the past two weeks shows that 600,000 households were moved to prepayment meters. There are bound to be many vulnerable and disabled people who have been moved on to prepayment meters in that time. Can the Minister say what she has been doing to ensure that that practice ceases and to protect those people in future?

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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I believe that issue is going to be discussed further between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Work and Pensions, which provides support. I am very proud to be bringing forward the next stage of the household support fund and the cost of living payments. I urge anybody who is concerned about making payments to contact their energy supplier, to use the benefits calculator on gov.uk and to look at the support for the cost of living from the household support fund through their local authority.

Nicola Richards Portrait Nicola Richards (West Bromwich East) (Con)
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The Wagner Group is reported by the UN and others to be committing atrocities, including rape, against women and girls in Ukraine on behalf of its Russian paymasters. Will the Secretary of State raise that with Cabinet colleagues and urge the Government to proscribe the group as a terrorist organisation?

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 26th October 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Matt Western Portrait Matt Western (Warwick and Leamington) (Lab)
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1. What recent assessment she has made of trends in the levels of police-recorded hate crimes targeting individuals on the basis of their (a) race, (b) religion, (c) sexual orientation, (d) disability and (e) transgender identity.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mims Davies)
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I greatly welcome the fact that people feel more willing to report hate crime. We have seen an increase of 26% in recorded incidents and believe that the biggest driver of it is the welcome improvement in police recording. Let me be clear: hate crime is a scourge on communities and will not be tolerated, which is why we are committed to reducing all crime, including hate incidents, and are on track to recruit 20,000 extra police officers.

Matt Western Portrait Matt Western
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According to the Office for National Statistics, nationally we have seen a sixfold increase in hate crime over the past decade. Locally, in the recent efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy inspections of Warwickshire police, criticism was made of the way in which the force supports victims in the aftermath of such crimes. This was felt by a constituent who was physically and racially assaulted; his assailant was charged with physical damage of a phone after Warwickshire police failed to complete a case action plan sent to them by the Crown Prosecution Service. Can the Minister advise us of how frequently she meets her colleagues in the Home Office? What is being done to arrest this rise in violent crime?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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As I hope the hon. Gentleman will see, I am personally committed to ensuring the best possible response to these terrible crimes and, indeed, to all crimes. There is an online hate crime hub, True Vision, which police can now directly work with; he mentions a constituent’s case, and victims of online hate can submit reports and get the right support, which is equally important. That is there on both sides—it is for the police also.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Select Committee on Women and Equalities, Caroline Nokes.

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) (Con)
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In his question, the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western) did not include hate crimes committed against women, yet we know that the Nottinghamshire police force is doing some great pilot work on recording misogyny as a hate crime in the incidents it encounters. Will the Minister update us on how that pilot is going and whether there are plans to roll it out further? What progress is the Home Office making on its work and consultation on tackling public sexual harassment, which is one of those significant crimes that impacts women every day?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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My right hon. Friend will be pleased to know that I am very interested in both those issues. The consultation on public sexual harassment has been completed and I am currently looking at it. On misogyny as a hate crime, I am aware of the Nottinghamshire police work. It is absolutely right that a number of police forces are choosing of their own volition to record those particular crimes. I will update her further in writing, because there is more to say.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State, Anneliese Dodds.

Anneliese Dodds Portrait Anneliese Dodds (Oxford East) (Lab/Co-op)
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I welcome the new Minister for Women and Equalities to her place.

With reference to the previous question, I should of course say that making misogyny a hate crime is something the Government have stood against until now, when they have been pushed by a Labour police and crime commissioner in Nottinghamshire, but we hope the tide may be turning.

A moment ago, the Minister referred to some statistics on hate crime, but not the most concerning ones. One was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western) when he talked about violent hate crime, which is six times higher today than it was 10 years ago. Hate crimes that are reported are up by 269% in England and Wales since 2010. We have also seen the highest number of religiously motivated hate crimes ever recorded this year. What are the Government going to do about this?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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The hon. Lady knows that we have some of the strongest legislation to tackle everything that she has mentioned, including religious hate crime. Over the past six years, the Home Office’s places of worship protective security funding scheme has awarded 323 grants of around £8 million with regard to religious hate crime. I will be clear: I am personally committed to the best possible response to hate crime by every force.

Hannah Bardell Portrait Hannah Bardell (Livingston) (SNP)
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2. What recent steps the Government are taking to help support women in the workplace during the cost of living crisis.

Tributes to Her Late Majesty the Queen

Mims Davies Excerpts
Saturday 10th September 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies (Mid Sussex) (Con)
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I rise to express my deep condolences and those of my Mid Sussex constituents to the royal family and members of the royal household on the death of Her Majesty the Queen. We are all deeply thankful for her life of remarkable service; her encouragement, grace, fortitude and warmth simply cannot be matched, and have been a true inspiration both here and across the globe, as we have heard. She reached across the generations, supporting people young and slightly older, capturing the mood and always being a steadying presence in good times and, sadly, worse times. We do not have enough words of thanks to cover the deep affection and devotion that we have for her—for her faithful and impeccable public service, and the commitment that she embodied and that we try to reflect in some small way. That was on display earlier this year as we all came together across Mid Sussex for street parties, concerts and church services to celebrate her platinum jubilee.

As was reflected on earlier in the contributions, from growing up to serving as one of her Ministers, the constancy and support of the Queen was always there. Growing up as a child in the ’80s, with a female Speaker in the Chair and Lady Thatcher, I thought it seemed perfectly normal to have female leaders around us—I did not notice that there were also lots of men, but that is another story. Our Queen was absolutely there, by our side and always with us. She came to our county most recently in November 2017, but she was in Mid Sussex back in March 1999, when she formally opened the Triangle leisure centre in Burgess Hill with the Duke of Edinburgh and visited the town council and the help point. Many constituents have special memories of meeting the Queen, or receiving a card, a letter, or perhaps an honour for their contribution to the nation and our local community.

I, unlike other people, only caught a glimpse of her. As a reporter, I reported on the Queen coming to neighbouring or other constituencies, and I caught a glimpse of her back in 1984, in my neighbouring area where the South of England show is held. She is also present across the land on plaques in every single constituency where she met people and gave comfort to them or supported them. I remember often having conversations with my grandmother about her, about what her handbag would look like and what colour she would be wearing—would it be teal, green, or cornflower? The Queen dressed for the occasion; she was a fashion icon as well.

The constancy and dedication that the Queen has shown is reflected in her son, our new King. His work with charities will continue in his son, our new Prince of Wales, and at this time of deep personal sorrow, we wish His Majesty and our new Prince and Princess of Wales well. He has had a long apprenticeship, and we look forward to seeing him shine. God save the King.

Confidence in Her Majesty’s Government

Mims Davies Excerpts
Monday 18th July 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood
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I will tell the right hon. Gentleman what the right response was: it was to co-ordinate the biggest diplomatic response since the end of the cold war. The Prime Minister, then Foreign Secretary, got more diplomatic responses than have been seen in decades. The Prime Minister has many achievements of which he should be proud. His successor will have a strong foundation to build on, thanks to the decisions that he has taken over the past three years.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies (Mid Sussex) (Con)
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Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood
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I really should not.

It is for that reason, and many others, that the House should continue to have confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.