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Written Question
State Retirement Pensions: Terminal Illnesses
Monday 8th January 2024

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will make it his policy to allow terminally ill people to access their state pensions early.

Answered by Paul Maynard - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

The principle of having a State Pension age that is the same for everybody is fundamental in the UK. Unlike a personal or workplace pension, which can potentially be drawn earlier, it has always been the case that nobody can claim their State Pension early, before they reach their State Pension age. We have no current plans to change this principle.

For those at the end of their life, the Government’s priority is providing financial support quickly and compassionately. The main way that the Department does this is through special benefit rules, sometimes referred to as “the Special Rules”. These enable people who are nearing the end of their lives to get faster, easier access to certain benefits, without needing to attend a medical assessment, serve waiting periods and in most cases, receive the highest rate of benefit. For many years, the Special Rules have applied to people who have 6 months or less to live and now they have been changed so they apply to people who have 12 months or less to live.


Written Question
Employment Schemes: Young People
Thursday 14th December 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he is taking to support young people from low social-economic backgrounds into employment.

Answered by Mims Davies - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

We want everyone to be able to find a job, progress in work, and thrive in the labour market whoever they are and wherever they live.

The Department of Work and Pensions Youth Offer provides individually tailored Work Coach support to young people aged 16 to 24 who are claiming Universal Credit. This support includes the Youth Employment Programme, Youth Employability Coaches for young people with additional barriers to finding work, and Youth Hubs across Great Britain.

DWP is a strong champion for social mobility. We have established the Social Mobility Pledge Consortium in partnership with TalkTalk. The pledge asks businesses to make measurable commitments to diversify the backgrounds of their workforce and help vulnerable people in to work. Nearly 120 employer signatories have made the pledge over the last year.


Written Question
Employment Schemes: Young People
Thursday 14th December 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he is taking to support youth employment schemes such as UK Year of Service.

Answered by Mims Davies - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

The UK Year of Service is one of several youth employment schemes announced and part funded by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS). We have been working with DCMS and the National Citizen Service Trust to ensure the scheme achieves the best outcomes for the young people it will support. This includes exploring opportunities to join-up and build on the Department for Work and Pensions’ positive relationship with employers, and by sharing knowledge and evidence related to supporting young people in to work.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Disqualification
Monday 4th December 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he is taking to help ensure claimants subject to benefit sanctions have adequate income to afford living essentials.

Answered by Jo Churchill - Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

Sanctions are calculated only with reference to the full value of the standard allowance to which that claimant is entitled and are deducted from the claimant’s total Universal Credit (UC) award. Sanctioned claimants who receive other awards or additional money, such as the housing and childcare elements, will continue to do so in full, unless the total UC award is eroded by the earnings taper or other income.

As a safeguard for claimants who demonstrate they cannot meet their immediate and most essential needs as a result of their sanction, we have a well-established system of hardship payments available. These needs can include accommodation, heating, food, and hygiene. Claimants are able to apply for a hardship payment from the first assessment period that the sanction has been applied to.

Sanctions are only applied if the claimant fails to meet a tailored requirement without good reason.


Written Question
Poverty: Nottingham
Monday 4th December 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he is taking to support those living in destitution in Nottingham.

Answered by Mims Davies - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

The Government is committed to reducing poverty and supporting low-income families. We will spend around £276bn through the welfare system in Great Britain in 2023/24 including around £124bn on people of working age and children.

From April 2023, we uprated benefit rates and State Pensions by 10.1% and, subject to Parliamentary approval, working-age benefits will rise by 6.7% from April 2024, in line with inflation.

In 2021/22 there were 1.7 million fewer people in absolute poverty after housing costs than in 2009/10, including 400,000 fewer children and 1 million fewer working age adults.

With almost one million job vacancies across the UK, our focus remains firmly on supporting people to move into and progress in work. This approach which is based on clear evidence about the importance of employment - particularly where it is full-time - in substantially reducing the risks of poverty. In 2021/22 working age adults living in workless families were 7 times more likely to be in absolute poverty after housing costs than working age adults in households where all adults work.

To help people into work, our core Jobcentre offer provides a range of options, including face-to-face time with work coaches and interview assistance. In addition, there is specific support targeted towards young people, people aged 50 plus and job seekers with disabilities or health issues.

To support those who are in work, the voluntary in-work progression offer is now available in all Jobcentres across Great Britain, providing an estimated 1.2 million low paid workers on UC access to personalised work coach support to help them increase their earnings.

In addition, on 1 April 2024, the Government will increase the National Living Wage for workers aged 21 years and over by 9.8% to £11.44 representing an increase of over £1,800 to the gross annual earnings of a full-time worker on the NLW.

This government understands the pressures people are facing with the cost of living which is why we are providing total support of £104bn over 2022-25 to help households and individuals.

Included within this, to support low-income households with increasing rent costs, the government will raise Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of local market rents for private renters from April 2024. This will benefit 1.6m low-income households by on average £800 a year in 24/25.


Written Question
Social Security Benefits: Telephone Services
Wednesday 29th November 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to reduce waiting times to speak to the Disability Service Centre.

Answered by Tom Pursglove - Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)

We have increased Case Worker resource and consequently wait times on the PIP enquiry line have significantly improved in recent weeks.

It is not possible to increase performance further until the resource position improves further, because we have to deploy Case Workers on processing as well as telephony, to meet demand in both areas of work, which are equally important.

DWP is continually developing new technological capability aimed at providing better information, tailored to customer needs, at the point of call. Going forward, this approach will also help to reduce waiting times for customers.


Written Question
Jobcentres: Disability
Monday 22nd May 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he will take to ensure that those who need (a) refreshable braille displays and (b) other additional hardware to use computers are able to use computers in jobcentres to look for work.

Answered by Guy Opperman - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Department provides computers for customer use in Jobcentres which have assistive technology such as screen readers and screen magnification built into them. Customers are able to access a wide range of services which can support their needs such as braille and large print documents being made available upon request.


Written Question
Children: Maintenance
Wednesday 3rd May 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to (a) enforce historical arrears for Child Support Maintenance payments where a non-resident parent has not paid for many years and b) assess the use of appeals by non-resident parents as a means of avoiding payment collections.

Answered by Mims Davies - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

Child Maintenance Service has a number of different enforcement methods that can be considered when attempting to secure compliance. The use of each method depends on the Paying Parent’s circumstances as well as any potential impact on the welfare of the child(ren).

Child Maintenance Service are prioritising our older non-paying caseload with ring fenced resource and using all available enforcement methods: Deduction from Earnings orders, deductions from bank accounts, Bailiff, charging order and order for sale. (Tables 7.1 and 7.2 of the published statistics shown below lists the enforcement actions taken and the volumes of sanctions)

If a customer believes we have made an error with the calculation of the amount of child maintenance due, they can ask the Service to review the decision under the mandatory reconsideration process within 32 days of the date on our notification letter. (Table 10 of the published statistics) This allows CMS to look again at the decision without going through the appeals process.

If a customer is unhappy with the outcome of the mandatory reconsideration, they can formally appeal to HM Courts and Tribunals Service (Table 11 of the published statistics). When an appeal is outstanding with HM Courts and Tribunals Service, Child Maintenance Service expect that the paying parent should pay the full amount of child maintenance pending the outcome of the appeal. If they decide to withhold payments, the Service will consider taking enforcement action, although they will also look at the circumstances before they pursue payment.

Child Maintenance Service statistics: data to December 2022 (experimental) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


Written Question
Cost of Living Payments
Tuesday 28th February 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether his Department has plans to extend the eligibility criteria for the Cost of Living payment to include people who are self-employed on low incomes and receive a nil Universal Credit award.

Answered by Mims Davies - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

The Government recognises the importance of self-employment to the economy, and believes it is right that, once people are in work, they should become more financially independent and less reliant on benefits. The Minimum Income Floor encourages self-employed UC claimants to progress in work and increase their earnings through developing their business. It also limits state support for those who persistently declare very low self-employed earnings - a situation which is unsustainable and unfair on the taxpayer, and a poor outcome for claimants.

We have kept the eligibility rules for the Cost of Living Payments as simple as possible to deliver them promptly and accurately.

The cost of living payment for eligible means-tested benefit claimants will however be delivered in three separate payments over 2023/24. This reduces the chance of someone missing out altogether as those who do not qualify for one of the payments due to their changing circumstances, may qualify for another one of the payments.

For those who require additional support the Government is providing £1 billion of funding, including Barnett impact, to enable a further extension to the Household Support Fund in England. In England, this will run from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024, backed by £842m. Local Authorities use the Fund to help households with the cost of essentials, and they are expected to help households in the most need, particularly those who may not be eligible for the other support the government has recently made available. The guidance can be found here: 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024: Household Support Fund guidance for county councils and unitary authorities in England - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

It will be for the devolved administrations to decide how to allocate their additional Barnett funding.


Written Question
Employment: Specific Learning Difficulties
Friday 3rd February 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to support people with learning difficulties in Nottingham East constituency who are seeking paid employment.

Answered by Tom Pursglove - Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)

The Government is committed to supporting claimants with learning difficulties in Nottingham, and across the country, move closer to the labour market or into work.

Learning disabled and autistic young people on their transition to employment can benefit from supported internships, which are aimed at young people with a learning disability or autism who have an Education, Health, and Care (EHC) plan. Supported internships usually last for 12 months and provide support from a specialist job coach. Whilst the Department for Education lead on this in England, the Department for Work and Pensions provides support through Access to Work where needed.

Additional Work Coach support for health journey claimants is a new Work Coach led support offer, which aims to help more disabled people and claimants with a health condition into, and towards, work. Our Disability Employment Advisers (DEAs) deliver direct support to claimants who require additional work-related support and advice above our core Work Coach offer. DEAs continue to support all Work Coaches to deliver tailored, personalised support to all claimants with a disability or health condition.

People in particular disadvantaged groups can continue to benefit from support through the increased Flexible Support Fund and early priority access to the Work and Health Programme. In addition, the Intensive Personalised Employment Support provision provides highly personalised packages of employment support for disabled people who want to work, but have complex needs or barriers and require specialist support to achieve sustained employment. Many disabled people can benefit from Access to Work, which is a demand-led discretionary grant scheme that provides funding for the extra disability-related costs people have when starting work, or maintaining employment. It can also support disabled people on an apprenticeship, traineeship, or Supported Internship.

We are working with employers to encourage them to become Disability Confident. The Disability Confident scheme encourages employers to take positive action to address the issues disabled employees face and improve their ability to recruit and retain disabled people.

Within Nottingham, our DEA’s can also refer claimants who require additional support to local initiatives, such as the Nottingham City Council’s Ways into Work Supported Employment Service, and the Well for Work programme, which helps people who are unemployed and facing health, language, or financial barriers to improve their wellbeing and find work.