Mims Davies debates with Department for Work and Pensions

There have been 9 exchanges between Mims Davies and Department for Work and Pensions

Mon 14th September 2020 Oral Answers to Questions 63 interactions (2,051 words)
Mon 11th May 2020 Oral Answers to Questions 24 interactions (683 words)
Mon 9th March 2020 Oral Answers to Questions 17 interactions (463 words)
Mon 27th January 2020 Oral Answers to Questions 15 interactions (374 words)
Mon 7th October 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 33 interactions (855 words)
Thu 14th December 2017 Pension Equality for Women 7 interactions (57 words)
Tue 5th December 2017 Universal Credit Project Assessment Reviews 3 interactions (79 words)
Mon 13th November 2017 Oral Answers to Questions 4 interactions (71 words)
Wed 18th October 2017 Universal Credit Roll-out 7 interactions (374 words)

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Monday 14th September 2020

(6 days, 22 hours ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Work and Pensions
Mary Robinson Portrait Mary Robinson (Cheadle) (Con) - Hansard

What steps her Department is taking to help ensure employment support is tailored to local labour market conditions. [905911]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Hansard

We recognise that some areas and some sectors of the economy have been more affected than others by the pandemic. The DWP, along with other Government Departments, will continue to work in partnership with mayors, local government, businesses and charities, acknowledging their expertise and links with their local labour markets. This includes working closely and at pace with regional partners during the development phase of the Government’s plan for jobs, which builds on and boosts the existing support offered by our Jobcentre Plus network.

Jane Stevenson Portrait Jane Stevenson - Hansard

The Government oversaw record employment at the beginning of this year, but, even in that buoyant labour market, there were areas of high unemployment, including in Wolverhampton North East. How will my hon. Friend make sure that those people struggling to find work before the pandemic are not forgotten over the difficult months ahead?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

Our jobcentres have remained open throughout the pandemic, making more than 250,000 calls a week to claimants to help them look for work, and supporting those vulnerable claimants face to face. This Department meanwhile is doubling the number of work coaches in our jobcentres with the first wave of adverts going live last week. I can confirm that recruitment in my hon. Friend’s constituency is going live next week. Work coaches are indeed at the core of our employment offer, and this new increase will provide all claimants with the tailored local support that they need.

Mary Robinson Portrait Mary Robinson - Hansard

Manchester Airport employs more than 25,000 people on site and supports a further 45,000 jobs across the north-west, including in Cheadle. Owing to the pandemic, many of those jobs have now been lost or are at risk. Can my hon. Friend confirm that she is working with the Department for Transport, Manchester Airport and local authorities to ensure that the right employment support is in place for airport workers and for those ancillary jobs and workers whose livelihoods depend on the airport?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

My hon. Friend has just outlined the work that Greater Manchester jobcentre has already done with key partners to ensure that the reach of our rapid response and redundancy service is extensive, fully working and accommodating all those who she outlined need it. We demonstrated the effectiveness of this service during the demise of Thomas Cook and Flybe—when they collapsed—and the evidence is that the DWP is ready to respond and support all those to find new employment and new career opportunities.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con) - Hansard

What steps her Department is taking to support disabled people during the covid-19 outbreak. [905900]

Break in Debate

Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab) - Hansard

What recent assessment she has made of trends in the level of unemployment. [905916]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Hansard

Unemployment was little changed over the second quarter, with the latest official Office for National Statistics figures showing unemployment at 1.3 million. This is due to the unprecedented package of support the Chancellor put in place, protecting millions of jobs through the coronavirus job retention scheme and the self-employment income support scheme. We do recognise there are difficult times ahead, but our ambitious £30 billion plan for jobs will support people during the next phase of our recovery, as we build back better and greener.

Stephen Morgan Portrait Stephen Morgan - Hansard

Unemployment is soaring, uptake in benefits has skyrocketed and marginalised communities are bearing the brunt. Will the Minister urge the Chancellor to extend the job retention scheme to stop this vital safety net being snatched away from those struggling most in Portsmouth?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising issues in Portsmouth, where we are actively trying to help people to get back into work and to have the hope the hon. Gentleman mentions. We are currently working with a pop-up business school in his constituency and, coming up, he may be interested to know that in his local jobcentre there is a new mentoring circle with Maritime UK Solent, which up to 20 young people will get a chance to be part of, seeing the different employer pathways that are available in Portsmouth. He will be interested to know that our work coach recruitment to help people back into work is open, and ends on Wednesday, for people locally to apply.

Matt Western Portrait Matt Western - Hansard

As my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth South (Stephen Morgan) just said, we face a tsunami of unemployment over the coming six to eight months, which I think the Minister would accept. Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, said this morning that covid will not end at the end of October, so why should the furlough scheme? Business representatives have said that the furlough scheme in other countries, such as Germany and France, is offering a competitive advantage to those economies that we do not. Will the Minister please speak to the Chancellor and look for an extension of the furlough scheme, particularly on some sort of sectoral deal?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising the need for local interventions in his constituency. I must say that his local jobcentre is doing fantastic work, particularly working with young people, and already has new dedicated work coaches to help people as they look to get back into work. We have a new virtual jobs board as well, and we are also working on a local place-based plan to help fill roles in sectors which we already could not fill coming into this, particularly in care homes. There are also roles with the DWP, which start next week, for people to apply for. But I do not think that keeping people in suspended animation and not giving them hope for the future is the way forward.

Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders - Hansard

There is no doubt that the unemployment situation, bad as it is, would have been so much worse had it not been for the various schemes the Minister has talked about, which is why it is such a catastrophic error for the Government to end the furlough scheme in October. With that in mind, can the Minister tell us what estimate the Department has made of the level of unemployment this coming Christmas?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
14 Sep 2020, 2:55 p.m.

That is exactly why we have our plan for jobs—a £30 billion scheme, including £2 billion for the kickstart scheme. I am going to be boring about this, Mr Speaker. There is so much good work going on in the DWP and our JCPs locally to tackle what the hon. Gentleman has spoken about. There was an amazing opportunity just recently in his constituency regarding sector-based work academy programmes, and new virtual jobs fairs for kickstart are coming up in his constituency, as is more recruitment to help people get back into work, which will start near him next week. We are absolutely determined, with our plan for jobs, to see off that tsunami and give people the right skills and opportunities for the future.

Jane Hunt Portrait Jane Hunt (Loughborough) (Con) - Hansard

What steps her Department is taking to support people of all ages to return to employment as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased. [905902]

Break in Debate

Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson (Workington) (Con) - Hansard

What steps her Department is taking to support young people into employment as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased. [905919]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Hansard
14 Sep 2020, 3:01 p.m.

As well as the kickstart scheme, I am delighted to be the Minister bringing forward our new youth offer. Focused on those under 25, we are supporting our young people via a structured 13-week programme, rolling out new youth hubs across local communities, and boosting support for young people with our new DWP youth employability work coaches. This offer includes support to get into apprenticeships, traineeships and sector-based work academy programmes.

Virginia Crosbie Portrait Virginia Crosbie - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Sep 2020, 3:02 p.m.

I thank the Minister for her answer and the whole DWP team for the support they have given my constituents during this exceptional time. In my constituency of Ynys Môn, I am working with M-SParc, Coleg Menai and the Bangor University team to put together an innovative jobs fair. Along with Alison Cork and Lynn McCann, I am putting together a Make It Your Business event to support women entrepreneurs. How is the Minister supporting innovation and entrepreneurs?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Sep 2020, 3:01 p.m.

Supporting the self-employed and inspiring entrepreneurship is a real focus for me as the Employment Minister. I had the pleasure of visiting north Wales not that long ago, back in January, and not too far from my hon. Friend’s beautiful constituency of Ynys Môn, where I met a lady who had started her own innovative charity supporting other young women to succeed and thrive in the way that my hon. Friend has described. I want everyone to have the same opportunities to build their own business. The DWP’s new enterprise allowance scheme is open to claimants to support new and existing businesses to grow and thrive.

Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Sep 2020, 3:03 p.m.

The local DWP team in my Workington constituency, who I met on Friday, have worked incredibly hard throughout this pandemic to ensure that claims are being managed in a timely and efficient manner despite the huge increase in their workload. Will my hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to them as they enter the next phase of their plans to tackle youth unemployment and under-employment?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard

I join my hon. Friend in his thanks to all our DWP staff who have worked so extremely hard during the pandemic. The DWP is supporting all claimants in focusing on getting back into work. The jobcentre in his constituency is playing a vital role in his community through key outreach, including the Maryport GP surgery. Our work coaches are based in that surgery every Tuesday, taking referrals to deliver work advice to patients and ensuring that everyone gets tailored support.

Gerald Jones Portrait Gerald Jones (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

What financial support her Department plans to make available to shielding people affected by covid-19 local lockdowns. [905907]

Break in Debate

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

What steps her Department is taking with employers to help ensure as many young people as possible benefit from the Kickstart scheme. [905922]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Sep 2020, 3:09 p.m.

My Department is working closely across Government to encourage all employers, big and small, to apply for the kickstart scheme. I urge all colleagues to work with their local jobcentre networks to help us to deliver this.

Tom Hunt Portrait Tom Hunt - Hansard
14 Sep 2020, 3:09 p.m.

The six-month job placement created by the kickstart scheme will be a vital way in which we can help young people in Ipswich to get on the careers ladder during the current challenges. Will the Minister also place a high priority on the excellent wellbeing and skills programmes run by charities such as Inspire Suffolk in my constituency, which are setting young people up with exactly the kind of support network and knowledge that they need at a vital time in their lives?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for raising the scheme, which is really positive news for his constituency, adding to much similar work across his constituency. Our work coach recruitment is now open in Ipswich and we are looking at a potential youth hub locally, so there is good news in Ipswich. Locally, we are also working with the employers Seven and Service Central, which are working together, hopefully to find some key roles for their young customers in kickstart. We are also working with the East Anglian gymnastics team on a potential new apprenticeship position, so there is plenty of good news in Ipswich.

Greg Smith Portrait Greg Smith - Hansard
14 Sep 2020, 3:07 p.m.

I warmly welcome the kickstart scheme, which is a vital step to ensuring the future prosperity of so many young people across our country. In Buckinghamshire, organisations such as Buckinghamshire Business First are helping to co-ordinate firms that cannot offer as many as 30 places. What steps is my hon. Friend taking at national level to ensure that small rural businesses are able fully to participate?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am delighted with the interest in the kickstart scheme across the country, including in rural areas, and including smaller companies in that is key. We want applicants from across the country to benefit by bidding for those placements , perhaps via an intermediary or gateway organisation. Small employers, whether rural or not, will have the key support they need from that intermediary, and that will help to create high-quality roles and provide additional support, so that all our young people get the most out of this placement.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe - Hansard

From the jobs plan I know that my hon. Friend is determined to do what it takes to help young people find access to the work that is so vital to their futures. What other support is available, in addition to the kickstart scheme, that will help young people in Basildon and Thurrock to recover from the effects of the pandemic and secure future opportunities?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

My hon. Friend is exactly right, and we are rolling out youth hubs across the country so that our young people can access that important wider support. Those hubs will be co-located and co-delivered with our network of external partners, including members of the youth employment group. Our jobcentres are already delivering activities at local level to support our young people, including mentoring circles, virtual job fairs and sector-based work academy programmes.

Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) (SNP) - Hansard

What steps she is taking with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ensure the adequacy of benefits for claimants. [905912]

Break in Debate

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn (Carshalton and Wallington) (Con) - Hansard

What steps her Department is taking to promote employment opportunities as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased. [905926]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Parliament Live - Hansard

I met the Mayor of London and some of his team as part of the M9 Group engagement with key stakeholders and other Government Departments on the importance of local recovery plans and action. We now have 890,000 more people claiming universal credit in London. The Mayor of London needs to work with local DWP teams to drive that number down and help build a strong recovery for our economy.

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn - Hansard

My constituency is part of Greater London and I have met many businesses in Carshalton and Wallington that are keen to expand employment opportunities, including Dotty’s Teahouse in Carshalton High Street, which I would love to invite the Minister to. Given London’s critical role as the engine of the UK economy, does the Minister agree that the Mayor needs to step up, show more leadership and do more to encourage employment opportunities, not just in my constituency but across the capital?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
14 Sep 2020, 12:04 a.m.

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that point about the critical role in turning London around. Dotty’s Teahouse sounds like a really lovely place to pop down to, to see whether they have any gluten-free cake.

The pandemic has changed the labour market landscape and it is absolutely right that the Mayor of London steps up and delivers on behalf of London, otherwise as we know, someone else is waiting in the wings to do it.

Andrew Bowie Portrait Andrew  Bowie  (West  Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

  If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities. [906004]

Break in Debate

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con) - Hansard

I have been contacted by several of my North Devon constituents about the Child Maintenance Service. It is understandable that the CMS team has helped the fantastic DWP efforts on universal credit during the pandemic. However, will the Minister assure me that staff are now back at the CMS chasing arrears, arranging payments and helping my constituents? [906005]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Hansard

First, no one will get away with giving false information. Those who are found to have been abusing the system are subject to the full extent of our enforcement powers. The Child Maintenance Service will pursue those people where appropriate. Parents were asked to report any changes via the self-service portal to ensure that receiving parents did not lose out in the long run. Cases will be updated and people will be notified of any changes. Where payments have been missed, the service will take action to re-establish compliance and collect any unpaid amounts that have accrued.

Stephen Timms Portrait Stephen Timms (East Ham) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

The National Audit Office told the Work and Pensions Committee two weeks ago that the “sophisticated” analysis of the Trussell Trust has established an association between universal credit roll-out on the one hand and rising food bank demand on the other. Association is not the same as causation, so what plans do the Government have to commission research, as the National Audit Office recommends, into the impact of universal credit on food bank demand?

Break in Debate

Mrs Pauline Latham Portrait Mrs Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

The impact of covid is felt unevenly across different roles and sectors. With more being done online, digital access has never been more important. What measures is the Department taking to help people facing the greatest barriers to employment access job search and other online services to help them find jobs? [906007]

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are investing £10 million of European social fund support to get 20,000 disadvantaged people across England who are without access to the internet online. People who receive ESF support will be loaned devices, such as a tablet or a laptop, and be provided with three months’ data allowance. That will enable them to access the increasing range of online services to support their job search and, importantly, their journey towards securing employment.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

In the north-east we have seen the devastating impact of mass unemployment, but that was in the ’80s when we had properly funded public services and a welfare system that did not seek to punish claimants. In Newcastle, we have 7,000 claimants, 13,000 people on furlough and a further 3,000 self-employment claims. What estimate has the Minister made of the number of claims there will be when support for those people ends next months, and how will she protect them from the devastating consequences of unemployment? [906006]

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Sep 2020, 3:24 p.m.

First, let us remind ourselves of where we were in January. We entered the pandemic with employment at a record high of 33 million.

It is on my list to visit: we will be up there to see what the local jobcentre is doing. We have an ambitious plan for jobs—£30 billion in the next phase of our recovery—to ensure we build back better, greener and stronger. Extending the furlough scheme will just keep people in suspended animation. I am absolutely determined to use my role to get back to where we were in January.

Mr Steve Baker Portrait Mr Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

Ministers will know I am particularly concerned about airline and airport staff in Wycombe, so will they tell me what they are doing right across Government to ensure that people who sadly lose their jobs through the coronavirus pandemic are helped into work as quickly as possible? [906008]

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard

I could not be more excited about what we are doing near my hon. Friend’s constituency, which is a key local example of cross-Government and local partnership. We have an innovative and unique scheme, with the DWP, the Department for Transport and the Department for Education. Where people are being made redundant from the aviation industry or its supply chain, they will be able to pivot across to the film industry, bringing their skills to a growing and booming industry. That will be facilitated by our flexible support fund grant and involves key local partners, including Pinewood Studios, ScreenSkills, and the excellent Buckinghamshire local enterprise partnership and the M3 enterprise LEP.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

As the chief executive of the Trussell Trust says in its latest report, we are in the eye of a storm and the decisions the Government make now will either offer people a lifeline, saving them from destitution, or cast them adrift. If the Secretary of State still believes that work is the best way to end poverty, why does she not urge the Chancellor to rethink the impending cliff-edge of the furlough scheme coming to an end and keep more people not in suspended animation but in their jobs? [906009]

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard

We have had unprecedented Government intervention since we headed into the coronavirus crisis. Last week, I met G20 Ministers looking to learn from what we have done in the UK and, above all, learn about our next stage, which is our plan for jobs and the forthcoming £2 billion kickstart scheme. This is about moving forward, not holding people back or in suspended animation.

Dr Luke Evans Portrait Dr Luke Evans (Bosworth) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

The pandemic is still having an obvious impact and it is really important to have Government Departments working well together. What conversations has my right hon. Friend had with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Education and the business community to ensure that there are opportunities for individuals in Bosworth and across the UK to get into education or work following covid? [906010]

Break in Debate

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

Can the Minister assure me that her excellent new kickstart scheme will not sit in isolation but will instead dovetail with other Government, apprenticeship and infrastructure efforts, so that towns such as Winsford can give their young a trade, not just a job, including helping to deliver brilliant broadband across Eddisbury? [906013]

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for raising kickstart. This is a huge programme for young people, providing 25 hours a week and an opportunity to get their first foot on the employment ladder. We do not want our young people to be left behind because of the impact of the pandemic—we know that the scarring can affect them most. Kickstart will change that, and I ask all employers to get involved and be part of it.

Steve McCabe Portrait Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

I have constituents who have been waiting more than six months for a decision following a work capability assessment. Is that not a bit ridiculous? [906015]

Break in Debate

Tim Farron Portrait Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale) (LD) - Parliament Live - Hansard

There are 4,500 people in my constituency in south Cumbria and 3 million across the country who have been excluded from any covid-specific support over the last six months—those who have recently become self-employed, directors of small limited companies and people who were new starters in March. After six long, desperate months, will the Minister support a compensation package for those people? [906036]

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard

I go back to our £30 billion plan for jobs. We have to move forward, absolutely understanding what we learned coming into this pandemic—that we have the highest employment rate going. Going back to square one for some of these people is a real challenge. That is why we have stopped the minimum income floor for people who are self-employed and we are supporting people to get back into work. I understand what the hon. Gentleman is asking, but we need to focus on the plan for jobs —a £30 billion scheme, with interventions coming down the line. We need to move forward and give people hope.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker - Hansard

In order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating in the next, I suspend the House for three minutes.

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Monday 11th May 2020

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Work and Pensions
Shaun Bailey Portrait Shaun Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Con) - Hansard

What steps her Department plans to take to support economic recovery after the covid-19 outbreak. [902420]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) [V] - Hansard

The Department for Work and Pensions is leading a joined-up approach across and beyond Government to address the unprecedented impacts of the covid-19 outbreak. This includes working with colleagues across Whitehall as well as employer representatives, think-tanks and others.

Shaun Bailey Portrait Shaun Bailey [V] - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for her response. The black country still remains the workshop of the United Kingdom, and nowhere exemplifies that more than the communities that I represent in Wednesbury, Oldbury and Tipton. It is likely that many skilled workers in my constituency will need to be redeployed or reskilled as a result of this crisis, so what work will my hon. Friend be undertaking, alongside our west midlands Mayor, Andy Street, to ensure that communities such as mine are not left behind as a result of this crisis?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. My Department works closely with Mayors such as Andy Street on the devolution in skills deals. In the west midlands, we are also working with the combined authority on its local industrial strategy, skills advisory panel and innovation pilots. We are engaged with regional labour market issues and pressure points so that all regions and communities can benefit from the recovery.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker - Hansard

May I welcome Seema Malhotra to her place as shadow Minister?

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

Our economic recovery will depend much on public confidence, yet polling this morning found that almost half the population believe that the Prime Minister has gone too far. Many have deep concerns that they could put themselves and family members at risk if they cannot properly social distance when they return to work, and it is clear that the workforce and management must agree safe arrangements that people will trust. Will the Government adopt the TUC’s proposals for employers to publish covid-secure risk assessments and urgently increase funding for the Health and Safety Executive, which the Minister knows has been cut by a third since 2010, to enforce these measures?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

I thank the hon. Lady and welcome her to her place. I am very interested to hear her policy priorities, ideas, thoughts and views, and I am keen to meet to discuss what the Department for Work and Pensions is doing. It is absolutely right that, as people look to return to work, we have published our plan—a cautious road map—this afternoon. We recognise that this is not a short-term crisis. I can tell her that our Secretary of State has been engaged in broader support for the HSE, which has done a magnificent job—

Sir Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker - Hansard

Order. Too long, Minister, far too long. We have to get through to the questions to the Secretary of State, which are coming further on in the order. Claire Coutinho is waiting with her substantive question. Can you please answer it?

Claire Coutinho Portrait Claire Coutinho (East Surrey) (Con) - Hansard

What steps her Department plans to take to support employment after the covid-19 outbreak. [902421]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) [V] - Hansard
11 May 2020, midnight

Thank you, Mr Speaker. We have launched two key new websites, “Job help” and “Employer help”, to provide additional information tools and links to the DWP’s “Find a job” website, which has approximately 1.7 million users signed up and over 145,000 public and private sector employers registered. The DWP is currently considering a wide range of options on how best to support people back into work.

Claire Coutinho Portrait Claire Coutinho [V] - Hansard
11 May 2020, midnight

I commend Ministers and civil servants for the tremendous work they have done to get millions of people on-boarded over the last few weeks. What steps are being taken to get self-employed people, in particular, back on their feet in the next stage?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. We have temporarily relaxed the minimum income floor to allow self-employed claimants to access UC at a more generous rate. Meanwhile, the Treasury’s self-employment income support scheme online service is available from 13 May, and the DWP is providing mentoring and business support through our new enterprise allowance programme. As the economy restarts, we will continue to keep under review how we can best support all of this cohort.

Alan Mak Portrait Alan Mak (Havant) (Con) - Hansard

What steps her Department is taking to ensure that people who cannot work at home are able to work safely at their place of work during the covid-19 outbreak. [902424]

Break in Debate

John Lamont Portrait John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk) (Con) - Hansard

What steps her Department is taking to ensure that people who cannot work at home are able to work safely at their place of work during the covid-19 outbreak. [902434]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) [V] - Hansard
11 May 2020, midnight

The Health and Safety Executive is involved in safer workplaces and, across Government, this work is being led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The DWP has put a number of measures in place itself. We have closed jobcentres to the public; suspended appointments, except in exceptional circumstances; introduced social distancing, extensive communications and a route for staff to raise concerns; and deployed up to 15,000 laptops to allow people to work at home.

Alan Mak Portrait Alan Mak [V] - Hansard

Trade bodies play a key role in helping businesses to comply with coronavirus workplace safety measures. What engagement has my hon. Friend had with the major trade bodies to keep workers safe?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
11 May 2020, midnight

I thank my hon. Friend for that. It is vital that we work with trade bodies, which play a vital role in supporting businesses and ensuring the right messages reach employers within their sectors. In the last few weeks, I have been listening to and engaging with key stakeholders such as the Federation of Small Businesses, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and UKHospitality. One key theme in getting across the message is confidence for both employers and employees to be able to come back to work together.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker - Hansard

We now go across to sunny Lancashire and Antony Higginbotham.

Antony Higginbotham Portrait Antony Higginbotham [V] - Hansard
11 May 2020, midnight

Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is clear from the Government’s publication today that many employers that closed initially, out of an abundance of caution, can actually stay open provided they can do so safely. I welcome the covid-secure guidance that is going to be published. Could the Minister set out how the covid-secure guidance will be publicised, and will there be a PR campaign to make sure that employers that can be open do open?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

As the Prime Minister announced yesterday, those who can return to work safely should do so, and I do encourage all employers and employees to use the safety at work guides due to be published later this week to help, support and inform decisions about safety in the workplace. Colleagues will have an opportunity to hear more from the Prime Minister when he makes his statement to the House shortly.

John Lamont Portrait John Lamont [V] - Hansard
11 May 2020, midnight

Many employers and employees in my constituency in the Scottish borders are very keen to go back to work. They want to do so as safely as possible, so could the Minister outline what the Government are doing to foster good relations between employees and employers to allow that to happen, and also to allow them to adjust to the new normal way of working?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies [V] - Hansard

As I said previously, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is leading the way on safer workplaces. There are lots of opportunities to build relationships between employers, employees and trade unions as we open up the economy, and the guidelines will be published in due course. The Health and Safety Executive is an arms-length body of the DWP. It has been actively involved in each of the work strands in the sectors. Our Department takes an interest in recruitment, helping to build confidence so claimants can return to work or take up new employment.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker - Hansard

That concludes what are referred to as questions to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The arrangements for hybrid proceedings allow Departments to reorder questions according to the answering Minister, but I do not believe that it was the House’s expectation that this would lead to the Secretary of State not answering any questions and to important issues raised by Members from the Opposition parties being relegated to the bottom of the list. I will raise this matter with the Leader of the House, and I do not expect to see this repeated.

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Monday 9th March 2020

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Work and Pensions
Michael Fabricant Portrait Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con) - Hansard

9. What steps her Department is taking to support people into self-employment; and if she will make a statement. [901389]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Hansard
9 Mar 2020, 2:59 p.m.

Supporting people into self-employment and backing them to grow their businesses is a priority for me, as the employment Minister. Since 2011, the new enterprise allowance has resulted in nearly 131,000 new businesses. We expanded this provision in 2017 to include universal credit claimants with existing businesses and provide them with specialist support to boost their earnings.

Michael Fabricant Portrait Michael Fabricant - Hansard
9 Mar 2020, 2:59 p.m.

That is very encouraging news indeed. As my hon. Friend will know, it was Adam Smith, not Napoleon Bonaparte, who said that Britain is a nation of shopkeepers. That is especially so in the west midlands, in that people have small businesses that expand into large businesses. When will she meet the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, to discuss how we can stimulate the economy there still further?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
9 Mar 2020, 3 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that. In fact, later today in the Chamber the west midlands will be standing proud as we see the debate on the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill. The legacy around jobs and skills from that will be very welcome indeed. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be meeting Andy Street this Thursday; I am sure that everyone will be delighted about that. I recently held a roundtable to redesign how we look at self-employment going forward, listening to people across the country talk about how they can build, create and boost their businesses.

Kevin Brennan Portrait Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab) - Hansard
9 Mar 2020, 3 p.m.

I am very interested to hear about the Minister’s roundtable, because one of the great barriers to people in self-employment, particularly women in freelance-type occupations, is the fact that, unlike employed people, they cannot share their parental leave with their partner. Will she, as part of her roundtable discussions, and discussions with other Ministers, ensure that the Government change the system so that self-employed freelancers can share parental leave?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
9 Mar 2020, 3:01 p.m.

Women were 41% of those taking up the new enterprise allowance recently, moving from table-top to large businesses. That is brilliant news and it is very encouraging. The hon. Gentleman will be delighted to hear that I was in north Wales to see about pop-up businesses, with many women involved in trying to move from ideas into successful businesses. We are redesigning this at the moment. I would be very happy to meet and hear from him.

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con) - Hansard

15. Freelance IT contractors in my constituency are already losing contracts because of the complexities and legal risks around IR35. Now that they face periods of self-isolation, possibly for days or weeks on end, the Government urgently need to clarify their entitlement to support from the welfare system, and also generally to outline what the Government are going to do to get them through this difficult period. [901395]

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

I thank my right hon. Friend for raising this issue. I know that other Members across the Chamber will have met constituents around this issue, as indeed I did on Friday. There are over 5 million people who are self-employed at the moment, with a huge amount of people coming into this area, which we are trying to boost, as I mentioned earlier. I am sure that as we go into the Budget, the new Chancellor will be listening to her very carefully.

Dr Luke Evans Portrait Dr Luke Evans (Bosworth) (Con) - Hansard

10. What steps she is taking to reduce the time taken for claimants to receive personal independence payment assessments and the outcomes of those assessments. [901390]

Break in Debate

Danny Kruger Portrait Danny Kruger (Devizes) (Con) - Hansard
9 Mar 2020, 3:24 p.m.

It was encouraging to hear about the work coaches programme in prison. Do Ministers agree about the importance of independent civil society organisations, as well as DWP staff, in supporting prisoners who are preparing for release? Will they work with the Ministry of Justice to ensure that more prisons can give access to local community groups?

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Hansard
9 Mar 2020, 3:24 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this issue. When it comes to jobs, community progression and our jobcentres, working through outreach with civil society and local charities is absolutely vital. My hon. Friend in the other place, the good Baroness Stedman-Scott, is very keen to continue doing this, and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Danny Kruger) is very keyed up on it. We will not waste time and we will get on with it as soon as possible.

Helen Hayes Portrait Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood) (Lab) - Hansard
9 Mar 2020, 3:24 p.m.

The gap between local housing allowance rates and average rents for a two-bed property in Southwark is now over £1,000 a month, and raising the local housing allowance in line with the consumer prices index will do almost nothing to close the gap. By continuing to ignore the issue, the Secretary of State is continuing to contribute to entirely unnecessary homelessness. If the Government are serious about ending homelessness, will the Secretary of State urge her right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to use this week’s Budget to re-link the LHA to the bottom third of rents?

Break in Debate

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (SNP) - Hansard
9 Mar 2020, 3:24 p.m.

My constituent, Jennifer Bell, was made redundant following the collapse of Thomas Cook, but secured a job with Jet2 late last year, which fell through given the DWP’s refusal to pay for a training course. She has now landed a job with Virgin Atlantic, which involves five and a half weeks’ training in Crawley. However, her application to the flexible support fund at Renfrew jobcentre for accommodation costs has been denied, despite other former colleagues having secured funding at other jobcentres. Will the Minister please look into this discrepancy for Jennifer?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
9 Mar 2020, 3:30 p.m.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this issue, which came through to us in jobcentres after the collapse of Thomas Cook. I am happy to take it away as a learning point. We are doing all we can on the Flybe issue, and I urge anybody affected to go to their local jobcentre and ask for support and benefits.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab) - Hansard
9 Mar 2020, 3:30 p.m.

Four out of 10 older people say that the TV is their main source of company, yet as a result of Government decisions, millions of older pensioners are about to lose their free TV licences. The Budget is the last opportunity for the Chancellor to step in and overturn this unfair policy. Will the Secretary of State urge him to do so?

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Monday 27th January 2020

(7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Work and Pensions
Alexander Stafford Portrait Alexander Stafford (Rother Valley) (Con) - Hansard

2. What steps she is taking to support self-employed people. [900393]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Hansard

Our work coaches provide tailored support to self-employed claimants, helping support new businesses to thrive and working directly with them to increase their earnings. We have ensured that those who are gainfully self-employed and moved to universal credit are exempt from the minimum income floor for 12 months. We are extending that to all claimants who are gainfully self-employed from September this year.

Alexander Stafford Portrait Alexander Stafford - Hansard

I thank the Minister for that answer and am pleased that she is supporting self-employed people—not only in Rother Valley, but across the country. However, does she agree that the current blanket approach of the IR35 rule will lead to some damaging unintended consequences? Will she ensure that no one forced to take a permanent job under IR35 will lose out, and that we will continue to be the party of business and entrepreneurship?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for his question and welcome him to his place. I am delighted that more than 5 million people are now self-employed; that is fantastic news. This issue is the priority for me, alongside progression and youth opportunity. The Chancellor has announced a consultation in January and I urge all Members to take part; it concludes in the middle of February. We are keeping a close eye on this sector, and it is absolutely right that we should stand up for the self-employed.

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab) - Hansard

4. What recent assessment she has made of the effect on claimant health of the work capability assessment process. [900396]

Break in Debate

Marco Longhi Portrait Marco Longhi (Dudley North) (Con) - Hansard

12. What recent discussion she has had with Cabinet colleagues on protecting employees that are (a) pregnant and (b) eligible for maternity leave against discrimination at work. [900405]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Hansard
27 Jan 2020, 3:07 p.m.

I remind everyone in the Chamber that the law is clear: pregnancy and maternity discrimination against women in the workplace is unlawful. This area is led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. I can confirm that this Government want to do more and we have set out plans to boost vital legal protections.

Marco Longhi Portrait Marco Longhi - Hansard
27 Jan 2020, 3:08 p.m.

By some margin, Dudley North is not showing the same fantastic rate of progress we are making with people on employment in the black country and around the country. Will the Minister use all the business-friendly measures she can, such as promoting shared parental leave, to encourage people back to work?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
27 Jan 2020, 3:08 p.m.

Whether it is shared parental leave or flexible working, we need to do everything to get more people into work and progressing. In a recent survey, four in five employers felt that it was in their interests to support pregnant women and bring them back to work. I remind the House that, under this Government, unemployment, in all nations and regions, has fallen since 2010, with 80% of employment since then in higher-skilled occupations—we are talking about 3.1 million people. If my hon. Friend is not seeing this in his constituency, I am keen to meet him to explore why.

Jeff Smith Portrait Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington) (Lab) - Hansard

13. What steps her Department is taking to ensure that the monthly assessment period for universal credit is able to reflect a claimant's fluctuating income. [900406]

Break in Debate

Shabana Mahmood Portrait Shabana Mahmood (Birmingham, Ladywood) (Lab) - Hansard

T4. There are now more than 84,000 people on universal credit in Birmingham, including more than 9,000 in my constituency. They include large numbers of disabled, unemployed and single-parent claimants, which is exactly the profile of claimants that the Resolution Foundation found will be worse off on average once the benefit is fully rolled out. If the Government are serious about levelling up economic outcomes across the country, why are they so determinedly ignoring the true impact of universal credit in areas such as mine? [900420]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Hansard

I recently visited a jobcentre in Birmingham, where I found an incredibly vibrant and positive labour market, particularly ahead of the Commonwealth games, working with women in construction and reaching out for youth employment opportunities. I am happy to speak to the hon. Lady if that is not her experience, but I implore her to pop into the jobcentre, where she will hear a very different, vibrant message.

Zarah Sultana Portrait Zarah Sultana (Coventry South) (Lab) - Hansard

T5. Coventry South is home to one of the largest food banks in the country, which provided more than 20,000 emergency food packages last year. I pay tribute to the food bank and its volunteers, but the need for food banks is a national scandal. There are more food banks in Britain than there are McDonald’s restaurants—a company that I know recently paid off its fired British boss with roughly £30 million. Does the Minister accept that it is a gross injustice that nurses are forced to use food banks while fat-cat bosses receive obscene pay-outs? [900421]

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Monday 7th October 2019

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Work and Pensions
Huw Merriman Portrait Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle) (Con) - Hansard

15. What recent steps the Government have taken to help young people into employment. [912574]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 2:56 p.m.

This Government are committed to providing targeted support for all our young people, to give them the best chance of getting into work. That includes the youth obligation support programme, Jobcentre Plus support for schools, and the recently introduced mentoring circles.

Eddie Hughes Portrait Eddie Hughes - Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 2:57 p.m.

I thank the Minister for that answer. I welcome the Government funding given to Go Train, which provides recruitment and training services to businesses at no cost to business. Will she visit Walsall North in November, when a course will be provided specific to the Birchills area of my constituency?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

I was recently nearby, at one of our universal credit service centres, with my hon. Friend It was absolutely clear that opportunities for young people in his constituency and the surrounding area are vital. The Department for Work and Pensions is working with the West Midlands Combined Authority to bring together local skills, employment support and Jobcentre Plus services. We are investing £1.2 million in the west midlands for extra resources, including helping young people to tackle the biggest hurdles to finding employment.

Mr Speaker Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 2:57 p.m.

Ah yes, I shall be having a cup of tea or coffee with the mum of the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) this week, so doubtless we shall compare notes on his inquiry. Huw Merriman.

Huw Merriman Portrait Huw Merriman - Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 2:58 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Speaking of young people, they will welcome the decision to grant the living wage to people aged 21 to 25 at £10.50 an hour, but are the Government satisfied that there will not be any impact on young people and their job opportunities as a result of their being paid the same rate as those who have more experience in the workplace?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 2:58 p.m.

I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement to bring more people, including younger people, into the scope of the national living wage over the next five years. Employers will continue to select the best person for the job, based on multiple factors. Like me, they will take confidence from the fact that young people will have a chance to take advantage of the support offered to make sure that they are ready to meet those challenges and be the best person for the job. So local labour markets will still be strong.

Mr Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

When are we going to see a glimmer of passion from this Front Bench about young people who do not have any employment opportunities? Has the Minister looked at the report from the Children’s Commissioner that showed that 20% of kids come out of schools at this time with no qualifications? A lot of them are already on the skills journey in further education colleges, waiting to get an apprenticeship. What is she going to do about it?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 2:59 p.m.

Wonderful passion—that is very much appreciated. And I make no apology for bringing passion to this new role when it comes to youth unemployment. In fact, I explicitly asked the Secretary of State that I could continue with my focus on young people in this role. Please do not forget that youth unemployment has almost halved since 2010 under this Government.

Kate Green Portrait Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab) - Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 3 p.m.

The Minister may be aware of the talent match programme that was run in Greater Manchester in order to reach young people not in education, employment or training. We have learnt a great deal about how to ally industrial education and skills, and employment strategies, for that group as a result of that programme. Will the Minister look at devolving some of the initiatives that she has described to Greater Manchester, along with providing funding, so that we can do more to work at a sub-regional and city-regional level to support our young people effectively into employment?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 3 p.m.

Place-based support and understanding is really important in devolving down and making changes on the ground. There is a great opportunity in the coming changes to the European social fund, in the shared prosperity fund and in the ability to work with local enterprise partnerships and local mayors, because young people may have fantastic employers around them, but never know that those opportunities exist.

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) (Ind) - Hansard

I welcome my hon. Friend’s comments about the national living wage and young people. On what evidence has she based the decision not to extend that down to 18, or is she perhaps considering providing the national living wage to those who are younger but still able to provide a great deal to employers in the workplace?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

My right hon. Friend knows that, if it were up to me, I would love to extend the national living wage down to 18, but sadly this is down to the Treasury; I will question the relevant Ministers accordingly.

Mike Amesbury Portrait Mike Amesbury (Weaver Vale) (Lab) - Hansard

Well-paid, secure work is a good route out of poverty, yet far too many young people—11%—are not in education, employment and training under this Government; or they are in low-paid jobs and on zero-hours contracts. Will the Minister press the Chancellor to set the national living wage at the same rate for all young people in work, as Labour has committed to do—£10 an hour in 2020?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

Everybody in this Chamber speaking up for our young people do all our communities a great service. We need a mixture of chances and opportunities for young people, including through mentoring. I am particularly interested in the work that we do with schools around engagement with jobcentres. [Interruption.] It is not all about money; it is also about skills and opportunities. I hear the hon. Gentleman, as do many colleagues, and I hope the Treasury will too.

Maria Caulfield Portrait Maria Caulfield (Lewes) (Con) - Hansard

7. What support her Department is providing to women working for longer before reaching state pension age. [912564]

Break in Debate

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab) - Hansard

13. How her Department verifies the identity of universal credit claimants who do not have an (a) home, (b) bank account, (c) driving licence and (d) passport. [912572]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 3:18 p.m.

It is a priority for this Government to provide swift access to support those who need it, while protecting those same people from potentially fraudulent behaviour. If a claimant does not have the documentary evidence we need, we can verify by using: biographical tests and checks, and information held on the Department’s systems; confirmation of third-party organisations; and two members of jobcentre staff knowing and recognising the claimant as part of their work.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah - Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 3:19 p.m.

This is not what is happening in practice. Constituents are coming to me who have had their claims denied or who have just been turned away and told, “Go and find the documentation.” Newcastle citizens advice bureau also reflects that. Will the Minister guarantee that no vulnerable claimant will be turned away because of not having the right documentation? Will she write to me with the number of those who have had their claims denied because of a lack of documentation, so we can see the size of the problem?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. I know she is passionate about her constituency. It is absolutely right that there is a balance, but to get a universal credit claim right we need to ensure we verify the identities of all vulnerable people. We heard earlier about the challenge if a claim is made fraudulently. We must be able to understand when there is a particular need to intervene. As we heard earlier, home visits are possible in relation to Help to Claim. If she would like to give me the details, I am very happy to look into this matter further.

Mr Speaker Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 3:19 p.m.

The hon. Member for Rugby (Mark Pawsey) can legitimately shoehorn his Question 19 into this exchange.

Mark Pawsey Portrait Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con) - Hansard

19. The Secretary of State has referred to the valuable role of citizens advice bureaux, and the Rugby CAB does fantastic work. It has told me about the challenges that clients face when they transition from employment and support allowance to universal credit. Will the Minister assure me that that transition is being sensitively and effectively managed? [912578]

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard

The Department is absolutely committed to making sure that we have the most compassionate and approachable opportunities for people to claim in every single constituency. I have met work coaches—from Scotland to Crawley to Walsall—who are dealing with this day to day, and the Help to Claim scheme backs that up.

Stephen Morgan Portrait Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South) (Lab) - Hansard

16. What recent assessment her Department has made of trends in the level of child poverty. [912575]

Break in Debate

Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (Con) - Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 3:30 p.m.

As chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for youth employment, I warmly welcome the Minister’s announcement about additional support for our young people. Can he confirm that mentoring will be an important part of that, given that it has been proved that it will help, in particular, those furthest from the labour market and the most vulnerable into work?

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies) - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this issue. In the middle of last year, there were 63 new mentoring circles in operation. The circles originally focused on the race disparity audit, but they are now being rolled out across the country, as was agreed last January. I recently met the members of one circle in Basingstoke, where they were having a real effect on local young people who know what is around them. Mentors, businesses and employers can do a great deal to change young people’s lives locally.

Rachael Maskell Portrait Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

T5. Childcare in York can cost more than £1,000 a month, and those on universal credit are being asked to pay that amount upfront. What is the Secretary of State doing to ensure that providers have the resources that they need and claimants are not having to pay? [912587]

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Oct 2019, 3:36 p.m.

Order. This is very unseemly. The hon. Lady was asking her question and there is a lot of very noisy chuntering taking place between the SNP Benches and the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the hon. Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman), who luxuriates in the lather of the Treasury Bench. It is very unfair on the hon. Lady, very unseemly and very uncharacteristic of the hon. Gentleman, who is normally a most emollient fellow.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies -