Neil Gray Portrait

Neil Gray

Scottish National Party - Former Member for Airdrie and Shotts

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)
1st Jul 2018 - 1st Feb 2021
Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill
26th Nov 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Finance Committee (Commons)
30th Oct 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Social Justice)
20th Jun 2017 - 1st Jul 2018
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment)
19th Oct 2015 - 20th Jun 2017
Finance Committee (Commons)
20th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Palace of Westminster (Joint Committee)
16th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017


Division Voting information

Neil Gray has voted in 798 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Neil Gray Division Votes

All Debates

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

Sparring Partners
Guy Opperman (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
(39 debate interactions)
Theresa May (Conservative)
(39 debate interactions)
Justin Tomlinson (Conservative)
(34 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department for Work and Pensions
(371 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(119 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(86 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Neil Gray's debates

Latest EDMs signed by Neil Gray

8th March 2021
Neil Gray signed this EDM on Wednesday 10th March 2021

Monklands Women's Aid

Tabled by: Steven Bonnar (Scottish National Party - Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill)
That this House celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women on International Women's Day; acknowledges the positive contributions made by Monklands Women's Aid in providing a necessary lifeline to women who have suffered abuse across the Lanarkshire area; recognises the importance of independent dedicated women's services; and calls …
20 signatures
(Most recent: 13 Apr 2021)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 16
Alba Party: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Labour: 1
8th March 2021
Neil Gray signed this EDM on Wednesday 10th March 2021

Uprating of state pensions

Tabled by: Andrew Rosindell (Conservative - Romford)
That this House regrets that over half a million UK pensioners continue to have their pensions frozen as a result of where they live and notes that 90 per cent of those people live in Commonwealth countries with which the UK has strong cultural and historical ties; is further concerned …
32 signatures
(Most recent: 21 Apr 2021)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 15
Labour: 5
Conservative: 4
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Green Party: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
View All Neil Gray's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Neil Gray, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.

MPs who are act as Ministers or Shadow Ministers are generally restricted from performing Commons initiatives other than Urgent Questions.


1 Urgent Question tabled by Neil Gray

Tuesday 4th February 2020

3 Adjournment Debates led by Neil Gray

Wednesday 5th June 2019
Tuesday 19th December 2017
Tuesday 18th April 2017

1 Bill introduced by Neil Gray


A Bill to require pre-paid funeral plan contracts to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority; to amend the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001 accordingly; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 14th December 2016
(Read Debate)

504 Written Questions

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
12 Other Department Questions
13th May 2019
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what progress her Department has made on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 10 to reduce inequality within and among countries in respect of inequality within the UK.

The UK will present a Voluntary National Review (VNR) to the United Nations in July 2019, setting out the UK’s contribution to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), at home and abroad. The report will include the Government’s progress in supporting delivery of Goal 10 to reduce inequality within and among countries and will include an assessment of the UK’s efforts to empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all and reduce inequalities of outcome and discriminatory laws, policies and practices.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
14th Jan 2019
To ask the hon. Member for Houghton and Sunderland South, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what recent discussions the Electoral Commission has had with the Minister for the Cabinet Office on the investigatory powers of the Electoral Commission.

The Commission has on-going dialogue with the Minister for the Constitution and has raised the need for a significant increase to its current maximum fine of only £20,000 per offence. This would ensure that sanctions are proportionate and provide a genuine deterrent to campaigners who may be tempted to break the UK’s political finance laws.

It continues to recommend that its investigative and sanctioning powers should be extended to include offences relating to candidate spending and donations at major elections. This would help to ensure compliance with the rules at UK-wide and other national elections, and to strengthen voters’ trust in the regulatory system.

Bridget Phillipson
Shadow Secretary of State for Education
27th Mar 2018
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether her Department has had contracts with SCL group or Cambridge Analytica.

The Government Equalities Office has had no contracts with SCL Group or Cambridge Analytica.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
27th Mar 2018
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether she or her predecessors met with representatives of the SCL group or Cambridge Analytica.

Neither my Right Honourable Friend, nor any of her recent predecessors have had meetings with the SCL Group or Cambridge Analytica in their role as Minister for Women and Equalities.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
3rd Jun 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what her policy is on making smart meters universally compatible for all energy suppliers.

Interoperability is one of the Government’s key requirements for the main installation stage of smart metering, which is due to commence later this year. The Government has already established common technical standards for the smart metering equipment (SMETS) and put in place the Data and Communications Company (DCC). This is responsible for setting up the nationwide communications infrastructure across Great Britain to send and receive information from any energy supplier to smart meters.

10th Nov 2015
To ask the Rt. hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington representing the House of Commons Commission, for what reasons a fire safety contract with Norland Managed Services, London has been awarded outwith the Restoration and Renewal project for the Palace of Westminster.

This contract is one element of a wider programme to achieve compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 by the end of 2018, in accordance with a commitment the House made in 2011 to the Crown Premises Inspection Group.

Achieving compliance will reduce the risk of fire causing loss of life or injury to individuals, destroying or damaging the building, or disrupting the work of Parliament.

22nd Oct 2015
To ask the Rt. hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington representing the House of Commons Commission, what progress has been made on confirming the final cost of the Options Appraisal Report into the refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster.

This information was provided in a Written Statement made by my predecessor on 16 December 2014, cols 86–87WS:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141216/wmstext/141216m0001.htm#14121636000008

The final cost of the Independent Options Appraisal was £2.02 million, excluding VAT.

9th Jun 2015
To ask the hon. Member for Mole Valley representing the House of Commons Commission, how much has been spent on repair, renovation and restoration of the Palace of Westminster in each financial year from 2005 to 2015.

The two Houses spent the following amounts on repair, renovation and restoration of the Palace of Westminster in each financial year from 2007/08 to 2014/15. Figures before 2007/08 are not available.

2007/08 - £27.6m
2008/09 - £18.4m
2009/10 - £31.6m
2010/11 - £29.2m
2011/12 - £29.3m
2012/13 - £36.3m
2013/14 - £42.2m
2014/15 - £48.7m (Provisional, subject to audit)

9th Jun 2015
To ask the hon. Member for Mole Valley representing the House of Commons Commission, how the Commission decides when repairs and renovations to the parliamentary estate are required.

The process by which repair and renovation of the Palace of Westminster is procured – whether for the purpose of the longer-term Restoration and Renewal Programme, the Medium Term Investment Plan, or otherwise:

  1. is shaped by objectives specified in an Outline Business Case produced in accordance with the Treasury Green Book Five Case model;
  2. is resolved by a contract awarded through an open and competitive tender procedure that is compliant with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015;
  3. takes into consideration whether compliant collaborative procurement options, where available, are a viable option according to the scope of the work;
  4. includes a specification and range of award criteria which are representative of, and will be capable of realising, the value-for-money objectives determined by the respective Outline Business Case;
  5. may be considered within a higher level Gateway Review Assurance process where considered appropriate.


The default position in the Houses’ Procurement Policy is to set evaluation criteria weightings of 70% for price and 30% for quality. We expect these ratios to be applied when procuring repair and renovation works. The House Procurement Policy goes on to provide a waiver process by which a justification and recommendation can be made to vary these weightings according to circumstances and value-for-money considerations specific to a given procurement. A contract that looks to transfer a higher level of responsibility and liability for design to the contractor is a common example of where the balance in weighting may be moved towards quality as a consequence of a waiver application.

The need for repairs is determined with reference to a number of factors: condition surveys of the Estate; an annual exercise to prioritise the portfolio of projects; inspections carried out on a quadrennial basis; advice from the House’s Design Authority; and calls to the PED Helpdesk. In particular:

  1. A comprehensive condition survey of the Estate was carried out in 2008/09, the results of which fed into a 25-year plan. This survey identified a significant number of defects, the works for which were all priced and given recommended completion dates. These tasks were then packaged minor or major projects and added to the scope of existing works within the 25-year plan.
  2. Following on from this comprehensive survey, there is a rolling programme of condition surveys every two years, which similarly identifies defects and further work.
  3. An annual exercise is undertaken by senior managers, including the Director General of Facilities and the Finance Director, to assess and prioritise the portfolio of projects in order to inform the Medium Term Investment Plan for the following four-year period. Projects are prioritised, taking the following factors into account:
  • compliance with legislative or contractual requirements;
  • business objectives;
  • mitigation of the risk of failure to services;
  • conservation of the fabric of the buildings.


The Medium Term Investment Plan is then considered by the Finance Committee before being approved by the House of Commons Commission.

  1. The Palace of Westminster is a Grade 1 listed building, and PED follows best practice by ensuring that an inspection is carried out every four years by the Conservation and Architectural Team. These inspections identify tasks which should be carried out to ensure the fabric of the building is maintained properly.
  2. The PED Design Authority, established in 2011, is committed to “ensure consistent standards, value for money, statutory compliance and user satisfaction”. Practically, it concentrates on the lifecycle of the engineering assets, ensuring that initial and replacement capital costs are balanced with the ongoing operating and maintenance costs, and with identified business needs. It acts as a Central Engineering department, and advises on the requirements for works and systems and services across the Parliamentary Estate.
  3. PED has a helpdesk system which receives and handles building faults reported by Members, Members’ staff, and staff of the House. These faults are prioritised according to service level agreements.


The Director General of Facilities would be happy to brief the hon. Member in more detail, should he wish.

9th Jun 2015
To ask the hon. Member for Mole Valley representing the House of Commons Commission, what weighting the Commission gives to best value for money in its repairs and renovations procurement policy.

The process by which repair and renovation of the Palace of Westminster is procured – whether for the purpose of the longer-term Restoration and Renewal Programme, the Medium Term Investment Plan, or otherwise:

  1. is shaped by objectives specified in an Outline Business Case produced in accordance with the Treasury Green Book Five Case model;
  2. is resolved by a contract awarded through an open and competitive tender procedure that is compliant with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015;
  3. takes into consideration whether compliant collaborative procurement options, where available, are a viable option according to the scope of the work;
  4. includes a specification and range of award criteria which are representative of, and will be capable of realising, the value-for-money objectives determined by the respective Outline Business Case;
  5. may be considered within a higher level Gateway Review Assurance process where considered appropriate.


The default position in the Houses’ Procurement Policy is to set evaluation criteria weightings of 70% for price and 30% for quality. We expect these ratios to be applied when procuring repair and renovation works. The House Procurement Policy goes on to provide a waiver process by which a justification and recommendation can be made to vary these weightings according to circumstances and value-for-money considerations specific to a given procurement. A contract that looks to transfer a higher level of responsibility and liability for design to the contractor is a common example of where the balance in weighting may be moved towards quality as a consequence of a waiver application.

The need for repairs is determined with reference to a number of factors: condition surveys of the Estate; an annual exercise to prioritise the portfolio of projects; inspections carried out on a quadrennial basis; advice from the House’s Design Authority; and calls to the PED Helpdesk. In particular:

  1. A comprehensive condition survey of the Estate was carried out in 2008/09, the results of which fed into a 25-year plan. This survey identified a significant number of defects, the works for which were all priced and given recommended completion dates. These tasks were then packaged minor or major projects and added to the scope of existing works within the 25-year plan.
  2. Following on from this comprehensive survey, there is a rolling programme of condition surveys every two years, which similarly identifies defects and further work.
  3. An annual exercise is undertaken by senior managers, including the Director General of Facilities and the Finance Director, to assess and prioritise the portfolio of projects in order to inform the Medium Term Investment Plan for the following four-year period. Projects are prioritised, taking the following factors into account:
  • compliance with legislative or contractual requirements;
  • business objectives;
  • mitigation of the risk of failure to services;
  • conservation of the fabric of the buildings.


The Medium Term Investment Plan is then considered by the Finance Committee before being approved by the House of Commons Commission.

  1. The Palace of Westminster is a Grade 1 listed building, and PED follows best practice by ensuring that an inspection is carried out every four years by the Conservation and Architectural Team. These inspections identify tasks which should be carried out to ensure the fabric of the building is maintained properly.
  2. The PED Design Authority, established in 2011, is committed to “ensure consistent standards, value for money, statutory compliance and user satisfaction”. Practically, it concentrates on the lifecycle of the engineering assets, ensuring that initial and replacement capital costs are balanced with the ongoing operating and maintenance costs, and with identified business needs. It acts as a Central Engineering department, and advises on the requirements for works and systems and services across the Parliamentary Estate.
  3. PED has a helpdesk system which receives and handles building faults reported by Members, Members’ staff, and staff of the House. These faults are prioritised according to service level agreements.


The Director General of Facilities would be happy to brief the hon. Member in more detail, should he wish.

9th Jun 2015
To ask the hon. Member for Mole Valley representing the House of Commons Commission, by what process the Commission procures repair and renovation work for the Palace of Westminster.

The process by which repair and renovation of the Palace of Westminster is procured – whether for the purpose of the longer-term Restoration and Renewal Programme, the Medium Term Investment Plan, or otherwise:

  1. is shaped by objectives specified in an Outline Business Case produced in accordance with the Treasury Green Book Five Case model;
  2. is resolved by a contract awarded through an open and competitive tender procedure that is compliant with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015;
  3. takes into consideration whether compliant collaborative procurement options, where available, are a viable option according to the scope of the work;
  4. includes a specification and range of award criteria which are representative of, and will be capable of realising, the value-for-money objectives determined by the respective Outline Business Case;
  5. may be considered within a higher level Gateway Review Assurance process where considered appropriate.


The default position in the Houses’ Procurement Policy is to set evaluation criteria weightings of 70% for price and 30% for quality. We expect these ratios to be applied when procuring repair and renovation works. The House Procurement Policy goes on to provide a waiver process by which a justification and recommendation can be made to vary these weightings according to circumstances and value-for-money considerations specific to a given procurement. A contract that looks to transfer a higher level of responsibility and liability for design to the contractor is a common example of where the balance in weighting may be moved towards quality as a consequence of a waiver application.

The need for repairs is determined with reference to a number of factors: condition surveys of the Estate; an annual exercise to prioritise the portfolio of projects; inspections carried out on a quadrennial basis; advice from the House’s Design Authority; and calls to the PED Helpdesk. In particular:

  1. A comprehensive condition survey of the Estate was carried out in 2008/09, the results of which fed into a 25-year plan. This survey identified a significant number of defects, the works for which were all priced and given recommended completion dates. These tasks were then packaged minor or major projects and added to the scope of existing works within the 25-year plan.
  2. Following on from this comprehensive survey, there is a rolling programme of condition surveys every two years, which similarly identifies defects and further work.
  3. An annual exercise is undertaken by senior managers, including the Director General of Facilities and the Finance Director, to assess and prioritise the portfolio of projects in order to inform the Medium Term Investment Plan for the following four-year period. Projects are prioritised, taking the following factors into account:
  • compliance with legislative or contractual requirements;
  • business objectives;
  • mitigation of the risk of failure to services;
  • conservation of the fabric of the buildings.


The Medium Term Investment Plan is then considered by the Finance Committee before being approved by the House of Commons Commission.

  1. The Palace of Westminster is a Grade 1 listed building, and PED follows best practice by ensuring that an inspection is carried out every four years by the Conservation and Architectural Team. These inspections identify tasks which should be carried out to ensure the fabric of the building is maintained properly.
  2. The PED Design Authority, established in 2011, is committed to “ensure consistent standards, value for money, statutory compliance and user satisfaction”. Practically, it concentrates on the lifecycle of the engineering assets, ensuring that initial and replacement capital costs are balanced with the ongoing operating and maintenance costs, and with identified business needs. It acts as a Central Engineering department, and advises on the requirements for works and systems and services across the Parliamentary Estate.
  3. PED has a helpdesk system which receives and handles building faults reported by Members, Members’ staff, and staff of the House. These faults are prioritised according to service level agreements.


The Director General of Facilities would be happy to brief the hon. Member in more detail, should he wish.

20th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, which (a) Minister or (b) official initiated discussions with Public First on the focus group contract.

Further to my answer on 01 October 2020, competitive tenders are used across government, including by the Cabinet Office. It is also the case that there are certain circumstances where regulations permit that contracts can be awarded without a competition, including where there is extreme urgency.

As has been the case under successive administrations, this Government works with a number of suppliers to provide polling and focus group work. Public First was engaged by the Cabinet Office to test public opinion and reaction to government messaging, including focus groups for COVID-19 research. Details of this contract have been published on GOV.UK in the usual way.

No ministerial sign off was sought for the award of a contract to Public First. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on GOV.UK.

A claim for Judicial Review was issued by the High Court on 10 July 2020 in relation to the award of this contract. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to make further comment whilst this is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he met with representatives from Public First in the six months prior to the award of the focus group contract to that company.

Further to my answer on 01 October 2020, competitive tenders are used across government, including by the Cabinet Office. It is also the case that there are certain circumstances where regulations permit that contracts can be awarded without a competition, including where there is extreme urgency.

As has been the case under successive administrations, this Government works with a number of suppliers to provide polling and focus group work. Public First was engaged by the Cabinet Office to test public opinion and reaction to government messaging, including focus groups for COVID-19 research. Details of this contract have been published on GOV.UK in the usual way.

No ministerial sign off was sought for the award of a contract to Public First. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on GOV.UK.

A claim for Judicial Review was issued by the High Court on 10 July 2020 in relation to the award of this contract. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to make further comment whilst this is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, on what date the contract for focus group work was awarded to Public First.

Further to my answer on 01 October 2020, competitive tenders are used across government, including by the Cabinet Office. It is also the case that there are certain circumstances where regulations permit that contracts can be awarded without a competition, including where there is extreme urgency.

As has been the case under successive administrations, this Government works with a number of suppliers to provide polling and focus group work. Public First was engaged by the Cabinet Office to test public opinion and reaction to government messaging, including focus groups for COVID-19 research. Details of this contract have been published on GOV.UK in the usual way.

No ministerial sign off was sought for the award of a contract to Public First. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on GOV.UK.

A claim for Judicial Review was issued by the High Court on 10 July 2020 in relation to the award of this contract. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to make further comment whilst this is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether Ministerial sign off was required for the award of the focus group contract to Public First.

Further to my answer on 01 October 2020, competitive tenders are used across government, including by the Cabinet Office. It is also the case that there are certain circumstances where regulations permit that contracts can be awarded without a competition, including where there is extreme urgency.

As has been the case under successive administrations, this Government works with a number of suppliers to provide polling and focus group work. Public First was engaged by the Cabinet Office to test public opinion and reaction to government messaging, including focus groups for COVID-19 research. Details of this contract have been published on GOV.UK in the usual way.

No ministerial sign off was sought for the award of a contract to Public First. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on GOV.UK.

A claim for Judicial Review was issued by the High Court on 10 July 2020 in relation to the award of this contract. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to make further comment whilst this is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many contracts his Department has awarded for focus group work in the last two years; what the value was of each of those contracts; and to which companies those contracts were awarded.

Further to my answer on 01 October 2020, competitive tenders are used across government, including by the Cabinet Office. It is also the case that there are certain circumstances where regulations permit that contracts can be awarded without a competition, including where there is extreme urgency.

As has been the case under successive administrations, this Government works with a number of suppliers to provide polling and focus group work. Public First was engaged by the Cabinet Office to test public opinion and reaction to government messaging, including focus groups for COVID-19 research. Details of this contract have been published on GOV.UK in the usual way.

No ministerial sign off was sought for the award of a contract to Public First. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on GOV.UK.

A claim for Judicial Review was issued by the High Court on 10 July 2020 in relation to the award of this contract. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to make further comment whilst this is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, for what reason the focus group contract awarded to Public First was not put out for competitive tender.

Further to the answer given by the Paymaster General on 16 July 2020, Public First was engaged by the Cabinet Office to test public opinion and reaction to government messaging including focus groups for COVID-19 research. This work has helped to understand public attitudes and behaviours to inform our vitally important public health messages and policies, and has enabled us to deliver a strong, national, cross-government communications campaign to support the UK’s response and recovery from the pandemic.

In the discharge of this activity it was necessary for Public First to meet with civil servants to report on the findings of the focus groups. Public First also provided on-site resource to support Number 10 communications. In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed. Any Government announcements will be made in the usual way.

Cabinet Office publishes expenditure, including on research, on a rolling monthly basis, and details of its contracts on GOV.UK as part of routine government transparency arrangements. GOV COMMS EU EXIT PROG and EU EXIT COMMS were existing cost codes used to pay invoices relating to COVID-19 research within a reasonable period of time. These payments were subsequently journaled over to the COVID-19 cost centre once that was created.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the value was of each of the last 15 focus group contracts procured by the Government.

Further to the answer given by the Paymaster General on 16 July 2020, Public First was engaged by the Cabinet Office to test public opinion and reaction to government messaging including focus groups for COVID-19 research. This work has helped to understand public attitudes and behaviours to inform our vitally important public health messages and policies, and has enabled us to deliver a strong, national, cross-government communications campaign to support the UK’s response and recovery from the pandemic.

In the discharge of this activity it was necessary for Public First to meet with civil servants to report on the findings of the focus groups. Public First also provided on-site resource to support Number 10 communications. In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed. Any Government announcements will be made in the usual way.

Cabinet Office publishes expenditure, including on research, on a rolling monthly basis, and details of its contracts on GOV.UK as part of routine government transparency arrangements. GOV COMMS EU EXIT PROG and EU EXIT COMMS were existing cost codes used to pay invoices relating to COVID-19 research within a reasonable period of time. These payments were subsequently journaled over to the COVID-19 cost centre once that was created.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Prime Minister or any of his advisors have met with representatives of Public First in the last 12 months.

Further to the answer given by the Paymaster General on 16 July 2020, Public First was engaged by the Cabinet Office to test public opinion and reaction to government messaging including focus groups for COVID-19 research. This work has helped to understand public attitudes and behaviours to inform our vitally important public health messages and policies, and has enabled us to deliver a strong, national, cross-government communications campaign to support the UK’s response and recovery from the pandemic.

In the discharge of this activity it was necessary for Public First to meet with civil servants to report on the findings of the focus groups. Public First also provided on-site resource to support Number 10 communications. In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed. Any Government announcements will be made in the usual way.

Cabinet Office publishes expenditure, including on research, on a rolling monthly basis, and details of its contracts on GOV.UK as part of routine government transparency arrangements. GOV COMMS EU EXIT PROG and EU EXIT COMMS were existing cost codes used to pay invoices relating to COVID-19 research within a reasonable period of time. These payments were subsequently journaled over to the COVID-19 cost centre once that was created.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether (a) the Prime Minister and (b) his advisors were involved in the procurement of the focus group contract awarded to Public First.

Further to the answer given by the Paymaster General on 16 July 2020, Public First was engaged by the Cabinet Office to test public opinion and reaction to government messaging including focus groups for COVID-19 research. This work has helped to understand public attitudes and behaviours to inform our vitally important public health messages and policies, and has enabled us to deliver a strong, national, cross-government communications campaign to support the UK’s response and recovery from the pandemic.

In the discharge of this activity it was necessary for Public First to meet with civil servants to report on the findings of the focus groups. Public First also provided on-site resource to support Number 10 communications. In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed. Any Government announcements will be made in the usual way.

Cabinet Office publishes expenditure, including on research, on a rolling monthly basis, and details of its contracts on GOV.UK as part of routine government transparency arrangements. GOV COMMS EU EXIT PROG and EU EXIT COMMS were existing cost codes used to pay invoices relating to COVID-19 research within a reasonable period of time. These payments were subsequently journaled over to the COVID-19 cost centre once that was created.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether (a) the Prime Minister and (b) any of his advisors were required to sign off the award of the focus group contract to Public First.

Further to the answer given by the Paymaster General on 16 July 2020, Public First was engaged by the Cabinet Office to test public opinion and reaction to government messaging including focus groups for COVID-19 research. This work has helped to understand public attitudes and behaviours to inform our vitally important public health messages and policies, and has enabled us to deliver a strong, national, cross-government communications campaign to support the UK’s response and recovery from the pandemic.

In the discharge of this activity it was necessary for Public First to meet with civil servants to report on the findings of the focus groups. Public First also provided on-site resource to support Number 10 communications. In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed. Any Government announcements will be made in the usual way.

Cabinet Office publishes expenditure, including on research, on a rolling monthly basis, and details of its contracts on GOV.UK as part of routine government transparency arrangements. GOV COMMS EU EXIT PROG and EU EXIT COMMS were existing cost codes used to pay invoices relating to COVID-19 research within a reasonable period of time. These payments were subsequently journaled over to the COVID-19 cost centre once that was created.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Jun 2015
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent representations he has received on the decision of Lord Lyon to prevent Airdrieonians Football Club from using its current badge; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for the Cabinet Office has received no such representations. This issue concerns the Lord Lyon King of Arms in his judicial capacity and is therefore a devolved matter.

17th Jun 2015
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will review the operation of the Lord Lyon King of Arms Act 1592 in respect of the restrictions it places on the registration of certain types of badge or crest.

The Minister for the Cabinet Office has received no such representations. This issue concerns the Lord Lyon King of Arms in his judicial capacity and is therefore a devolved matter.

19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to maximise uptake of the Warm Home Scheme among pensioners eligible for Pension Credit but not yet claiming that benefit.

Under the Warm Home Discount, obligated energy suppliers can spend a maximum of £40 million on Industry Initiatives. This includes a range of activities that offer support to customers who are at greater risk of fuel poverty, particularly those not on benefits who may not be eligible for a £140 rebate. Support provided under Industry Initiatives includes benefit entitlement checks and referrals for rebates, as well as energy saving advice, energy debt assistance and fuel vouchers.

The Government’s Warm Home Discount website is widely signposted and used by consumer groups, charities and energy comparison websites to raise awareness of the benefits of signing up for Pension Credit Guarantee Credit and maximise uptake of the Warm Home Scheme.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's oral contribution of 8 July 2020, Official Report column 976, what estimate he has made of the number of people on low incomes that will benefit from the green homes grant scheme to fund energy efficiency measures of up to £10,000 per household.

We estimate that more than 600,000 homes overall will receive measures through the scheme. The scheme is demand led and is expected to support a significant number of low income households.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the summer economic update, if he will provide a breakdown of the allocation of £50 million into the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and its demonstrator project.

The manifesto committed to improving people’s homes, to accelerate our progress towards net zero emissions by 2050 and to help families reduce their energy bills. This commitment included the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund with £3.8bn over a ten-year period and the £50m demonstrator fund is a down payment on the £3.8bn.

The Summer Economic Update announced £50m to demonstrate innovative approaches to retrofitting social housing at scale, accelerating the delivery of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund envisaged by the manifesto. This will mean warmer and more energy efficient homes and could reduce annual energy bills by hundreds of pounds for some of the poorest households in society, as well as lowering carbon emissions. The programme will be UK-wide and funding will be allocated competitively.

The Government remains committed to decarbonising buildings to keep us on track to reach net zero emissions by 2050. This demonstrator project is a short-term investment to learn lessons and innovate for the main scheme, allocations for which will be determined at the forthcoming Spending Review in the Autumn.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plan he has to hold discussions with (a) employers and (b) employees on their (i) concerns and (ii) ideas on (A) recovery and (B) support for businesses as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has heard the views of individuals from large businesses, entrepreneurial companies, venture capitalists, trade bodies, academia and the third sector in a series of recent meetings. These were organised around five themes: green recovery; increasing opportunity; backing new businesses; the future of industry; and the UK open for business. This is part of an intensive programme of engagement to inform the Government’s approach to economic recovery. The department will continue to engage with stakeholders across all sectors as it works towards a clean, resilient recovery, shaping recovery and business support policy to reflect the needs of employers and employees.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a furlough appeals process for employees to challenge the decision of their employer.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. The scheme is not an employment right and it is up to the employer to decide who to furlough.

However, employers should discuss furlough with their staff and make any changes to their employment contract by agreement. When employers make decisions in relation to the process – including deciding who to offer furlough to – equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.

Where employees believe employment law has been broken, they should first contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas). Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to individuals on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. If the issue cannot be resolved through Acas’ conciliation services, employees can make a claim to an employment tribunal.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Apr 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 21 December 2017 to Question 120003 on Home Energy and Lifestyle Management, how many photovoltaics installations through Green Deal plans provided by Home Energy Lifestyle Management Systems were undertaken in Airdrie and Shotts Constituency.

Since the start of the Green Deal, 75 photovoltaics installations were undertaken in Airdrie and Shotts constituency through Green Deal plans provided by Home Energy Lifestyle Management Systems.

10th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what definition his Department uses of (a) flexible worker and (b) flexible working.

The GOV.UK website describes different ways of working flexibly. This includes: job sharing; working from home; part time; compressed hours; flexitime; annualised hours; staggered hours; and phased retirement.

13th Jul 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what safeguards his Department has put in place to protect people employed on flexible contracts from exploitation by their employers.

The availability of atypical employment provides a number of benefits for workers who cannot or do not want to commit to ‘standard’ full-time employment. This results in high participation rates among groups which might otherwise be excluded from work altogether, like mothers returning to work.

The UK’s flexible labour market means those who work in flexible arrangements continue to be entitled to employment protections regardless of the contract type. But we recognise that there are instances where the UK labour market is not working fairly for everyone and is why we asked Matthew Taylor to carry out his independent Review of Working Practices. Our full response later this year will reflect Government’s position and next steps.

13th Jul 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what safeguards his Department has put in place to protect people employed on zero-hours contracts from exploitation by their employers.

This Government is clear that zero hours contracts should not be considered as an alternative to proper business planning or used as a permanent arrangement if it is not justifiable. They play a small but important part in the labour market, allowing flexibility for both employers and individuals. People on zero-hour contracts make up less than 3 per cent of the workforce and almost 70 per cent are happy with the number of hours they work, according to the latest ONS Labour Force Survey research (March 2015).

In May 2015 Government banned the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts so that people cannot be prevented from looking for or working elsewhere when their employer does not guarantee work.

Matthew Taylor in his Review of Modern Working Practices has proposed some reforms around zero-hour contracts and Government will consider the whole report carefully and make a full response later this year.

30th Jan 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what financial support his Department has made available in 2016-17 to assist employers supporting disabled people.

The Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) Access to Work scheme provides financial awards to disabled people in order to fund additional support above the level of an employer’s statutory duty to make reasonable adjustments. This supports disabled people to retain work or take up new opportunities, but does not replace employers’ duties under the Equality Act 2010.

In addition, Disability Confident supports this Government’s commitment to halve the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people by engaging with employers, who have a crucial role to play in ensuring disabled people are recruited, retained and developed in their careers. The scheme gives employers the opportunity to assess how Disability Confident their business is and sign up at one of three levels. They complete each level before moving on to the next.

DWP is currently trialling a Small Employer Offer, which provides small employers with a personalised package of support, including adaptations and advice and a payment of £500 after three months when they take on new employees who have a health condition or disability.

30th Jan 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what provision he has made in his Department's industrial strategy for disabled people.

The industrial strategy green paper, Building our Industrial Strategy, is part of a consultative approach to developing our strategy and seeks views from organisations across the country, including disability organisations. I look forward to further engagement with them, building on engagement with my officials to date.

The Government is clear that the industrial strategy is part of our work to deliver an economy that works for everyone, including disabled people. In particular, the Government’s green paper Improving Lives – the Work, Health and Disability Green Paper considers how we can improve employment outcomes for disabled people. Many employers are already creating healthy, inclusive workplaces, but more needs to be done so that employers provide the support needed for employees with disabilities and long-term health conditions, to help them get into and stay in work.

The Improving Lives consultation closes on 17th February, and we will be working to ensure its outcomes are aligned with our industrial strategy.

30th Jan 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent meetings and discussions he has had with disability organisations on his Department's industrial strategy.

The industrial strategy green paper, Building our Industrial Strategy, is part of a consultative approach to developing our strategy and seeks views from organisations across the country, including disability organisations. I look forward to further engagement with them, building on engagement with my officials to date.

The Government is clear that the industrial strategy is part of our work to deliver an economy that works for everyone, including disabled people. In particular, the Government’s green paper Improving Lives – the Work, Health and Disability Green Paper considers how we can improve employment outcomes for disabled people. Many employers are already creating healthy, inclusive workplaces, but more needs to be done so that employers provide the support needed for employees with disabilities and long-term health conditions, to help them get into and stay in work.

The Improving Lives consultation closes on 17th February, and we will be working to ensure its outcomes are aligned with our industrial strategy.

22nd May 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government taking to ensure that people (a) in and (b) out work has the opportunity to have a holiday each year regardless of their income or personal circumstances.

I refer the Honourable Member to the answer given to PQ 143186 on 15th May.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
11th May 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps Government is taking to support social tourism initiatives throughout the UK.

The Government’s Arms Length Body, VisitEngland supports the work of the Family Holiday Association, a national charity dedicated to helping provide breaks and day trips at the British seaside for families who struggle to financially provide holidays for their family. They are also a member of England’s Inclusive Tourism Group which VisitEngland originally convened in 2015, which aim to provide access for all to tourism destinations and businesses.

VisitScotland have their own accessibility team which develop and support products to increase accessibility for visitors, however they do work in partnership with VisitEngland.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
11th May 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions the Government has had with the tourism industry on helping families with low incomes take a holiday away from home.

VisitEngland work with and support the Family Holiday Association in their work to help make it easier for financially challenged families to take short breaks to the British seaside.

VisitEngland also provide resources for tourism businesses to help make themselves more accessible to all, be it from disability or financial disadvantage.

VisitScotland have their own accessibility team which develop and support products to increase accessibility for visitors, however they do work in partnership with VisitEngland.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
11th May 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the value of social tourism to the UK (a) domestic tourism industry and (b) economy.

The department doesn’t hold information on the value of social tourism to the domestic tourism industry or the economy.

In 2016, as a whole, tourism accounts for £66.2bn of the UK’s GVA and approximately 1.5m jobs across the country. Scotland’s tourism sector accounted for £5.2bn of GVA in 2013 and approximately 280,000 jobs in 2014.

Michael Ellis
Paymaster General
2nd Sep 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what proportion of National Lottery ticket sales revenues was (a) passed to the good causes funds and (b) spent on good causes in Scotland in each of the last 10 years.

The table below sets out the proportion of ticket sales going to Good Causes over the past ten years, and the percentage of total lottery funding allocated to Scottish distributors, as determined by legislation.

Year

Proportion of sales to Good Causes (%)

Proportion of total lottery funding to Scottish Distributors only (%)

06/07

25.4

2.8

07/08

25.3

2.8

08/09

25.2

2.8

09/10

26.8

2.8

10/11

26.7

2.8

11/12

26.2

3.1

12/13

25.3

3.4

13/14

23.4

3.4

14/15

22.9

3.4

15/16

23.5

3.4


The relationship between ticket sales and income generated for Good Causes depends on the mix of games sold, as each has a different percentage return to Good Causes.


In addition, good causes in Scotland receive funding from the four UK-wide distributors: British Film Institute, UK Sport, Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund. Each distributor takes account of a variety of considerations including geographical spread of funding, deprivation data and participation rates when determining priorities and allocating budget.


For example, up to 10 per cent of the Big Lottery Fund budget is top sliced for UK programmes. Scotland receives 11.5 per cent of the remaining budget. In 2016, the Big Lottery Fund gave grants of between £8,106 - £10,000 to projects in three primary schools in North Lanarkshire, as well a variety of organisations seeking to improve community well-being, including the Love n Light Recovery Organisation, Moira Anderson Foundation, Mornay Social Club, and Newmains Community Trust. Further details are available on the DCMS Lottery Grants Database at http://www.lottery.culture.gov.uk/Search.aspx


The Heritage Lottery Fund’s open programmes are calculated on a per capita basis. Budgets for targeted programmes are not distributed on this basis, instead Scotland bids alongside the rest of the UK for access to those funds.

10th Sep 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what is the sum of money that has so far been reimbursed to the National Lottery Good Causes programme in Scotland for money used from that programme for funding the 2012 London Olympics.

Repayment of the additional £675m borrowed from the National Lottery Distribution Fund (NLDF) will start from the early 2020s.

In addition to this repayment, £69m was transferred to the NLDF from The Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund (OLDF) when it closed in January 2015, representing a share of the income from the sale of the Olympic Village. This adds to the £79 million (from savings in the Olympic Programme) which was transferred from the OLDF to the NLDF in July 2014. The OLDF funds are allocated in the usual proportions, as set out in legislation.

10th Sep 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what proportion of the monies from National Lottery ticket sales goes to the National Lottery Good Causes programme in Scotland.

Lottery funding shares are set out in legislation. Currently health, education, environment and charitable causes are apportioned 40%, Sport 20%, Arts 20% and Heritage 20% across the UK. Creative Scotland received 1.78% and sportscotland received 1.62% of overall lottery funding in 2014/15. In addition, Scottish good causes receive funding from the four UK-wide distributors: British Film Institute, UK Sport, Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund.

10th Sep 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to reimburse the National Lottery Good Causes programme in Scotland for the sum of money used from that programme for use in funding the 2012 London Olympics.

There is a robust commitment in place to pay back £675m to the National Lottery Distribution Fund (NLDF). This funding was borrowed from the Fund in addition to the original contribution of £410m.

It is expected that the NLDF will start to receive funds from the early 2020s through land development and sales in the Olympic Park. Scottish good causes will benefit from their portion of this reimbursed funding.

10th Sep 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what the sum of money received was from the National Lottery Good Causes programme in Scotland for use in funding the 2012 London Olympics.

All countries of the UK contributed to the funding of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The initial £410m National Lottery contribution, outlined in the Games bid, was supplemented with a further £675m borrowed as part of the increased Olympic budget. The total transfer from the National Lottery Distribution Fund was £1,085m.

An estimated £114m (taken from across both the £410m and £675m amounts) was the share given by Lottery programmes in Scotland. This includes amounts transferred from distributors operating wholly in Scotland, and notional amounts allocated to Scotland by UK-wide distributors.

9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Prime Minister's recent announcement of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, whether he plans to extend the 30-hour childcare policy to single parents who have pre-school-aged children and are on universal credit and in training.

Childcare policy is a devolved matter and, as such, the free early education entitlements funded by the Department for Education are available only in England.

The aim of the 30 hours free childcare entitlement is to help eligible working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds in England with the cost of childcare and to enable them to work. In order to be eligible for this, parents must earn the equivalent of working at least 16 hours a week at National Minimum or Living Wage, or be in receipt of an eligible income-replacement benefit, such as the Employment and Support Allowance. Students that work in addition to their studies and meet these requirements are eligible for 30 hours of free childcare a week. Students that do not work and are not in receipt of a qualifying benefit are not eligible. There are no current plans to change this policy.

Students in England are, however, eligible for other forms of childcare support. All 3- and 4-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week, regardless of whether or not their parents are working. Two year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds are also eligible for 15 hours of free childcare a week.

Other assistance with childcare costs for students in England include the childcare grant for parents in higher education undertaking a full-time undergraduate course. The amount payable is based on 85% of actual childcare costs up to a maximum of £174.22 a week for one child or £298.69 a week for students with 2 or more children.

The government also offers a Parents’ Learning Allowance for full-time undergraduate students with one or more dependent children. For the 2020-21 academic year students could receive up to £1,766 a year depending on household income.

For those in further education, Care to Learn provides childcare support and related travel costs to young parents aged under 20, so they can undertake education or training.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how her Department plans to spend the revenue raised in the 2016-17 financial year from the apprenticeship levy.

The apprenticeship levy comes into effect on 6 April 2017.

In 2017-18, the Department for Education has a budget of £2billion for apprenticeship training and assessment in England. This will support more and higher quality apprenticeships.

10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how the additional £63 million funding for the Welfare Assistance Fund announced at Prime Minister’s Questions on 10 June 2020 is being funded; when it will become available; and for how long that funding will be made available.

To support those people who are facing severe financial difficulties during this crisis, the Government has announced further funding of £63 million to be given to and disbursed by local authorities in England. This will ensure that the most vulnerable families can afford food and other essentials. This funding will sit alongside the £6.5 billion of extra support the Government is providing through the benefits system to protect the most vulnerable throughout this crisis.

The additional £63 million will be for local authorities to spend at their discretion and at the pace which suits the needs of their community. The money will be distributed through a Section 31 grant. Funding arrangements will be finalised shortly. Most local authorities already operate these schemes and understand the legal context within which they operate, including entitlement for those with no recourse to public funds.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much of the additional £63 million funding for the Welfare Assistance Fund announced at Prime Minister’s Questions on 10 June 2020 will be made available to local authorities in Scotland; and if she will make a statement.

To support those people who are facing severe financial difficulties during this crisis, the Government has announced further funding of £63 million to be given to and disbursed by local authorities in England. This will ensure that the most vulnerable families can afford food and other essentials. This funding will sit alongside the £6.5 billion of extra support the Government is providing through the benefits system to protect the most vulnerable throughout this crisis.

The additional £63 million will be for local authorities to spend at their discretion and at the pace which suits the needs of their community. The money will be distributed through a Section 31 grant. Funding arrangements will be finalised shortly. Most local authorities already operate these schemes and understand the legal context within which they operate, including entitlement for those with no recourse to public funds.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the announcement by the Prime Minister on 10 June 2020 of a £63 million welfare assistance fund in response to the covid-19 outbreak, how her Department plans to distribute that fund among local authorities; and if she will make a statement.

To support those people who are facing severe financial difficulties during this crisis, the Government has announced further funding of £63 million to be given to and disbursed by local authorities in England. This will ensure that the most vulnerable families can afford food and other essentials. This funding will sit alongside the £6.5 billion of extra support the Government is providing through the benefits system to protect the most vulnerable throughout this crisis.

The additional £63 million will be for local authorities to spend at their discretion and at the pace which suits the needs of their community. The money will be distributed through a Section 31 grant. Funding arrangements will be finalised shortly. Most local authorities already operate these schemes and understand the legal context within which they operate, including entitlement for those with no recourse to public funds.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the announcement by the Prime Minister on 10 June 2020 of a £63 million welfare assistance fund in response to the covid-19 outbreak, whether people who have no recourse to public funds will be eligible for that fund in each local authority; and if she will make a statement.

To support those people who are facing severe financial difficulties during this crisis, the Government has announced further funding of £63 million to be given to and disbursed by local authorities in England. This will ensure that the most vulnerable families can afford food and other essentials. This funding will sit alongside the £6.5 billion of extra support the Government is providing through the benefits system to protect the most vulnerable throughout this crisis.

The additional £63 million will be for local authorities to spend at their discretion and at the pace which suits the needs of their community. The money will be distributed through a Section 31 grant. Funding arrangements will be finalised shortly. Most local authorities already operate these schemes and understand the legal context within which they operate, including entitlement for those with no recourse to public funds.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Jan 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what steps his Department took prior to the Supreme Court ruling of 24 January 2017 to prepare draft legislative consent motions for the devolved administrations on the Bill on the Government triggering Article 50.

The Supreme Court agreed with the Government's view that foreign affairs are a reserved matter. This Bill does not trigger the legislative consent process but we will continue to work closely with the Devolved Administrations.

23rd Mar 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, how much and what proportion of the Official Development Assistance budget will be spent by her Department in 2017.

We will honour our commitment to 0.7 per cent. Based on the Spending Review 2015 settlement, DFID will spend around 72 per cent of UK ODA in this financial year.

28th Jan 2021
What steps his Department is taking to reduce disruption to cross-border travel as a result of the end of the transition period.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation agreement will allow for smooth travel to and from the EU, Covid-19 restrictions allowing.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will publish a response to EDM 418 on British Airways job losses.

We recognise that the recent news regarding job losses at British Airways will be very distressing for the airline’s employees and their families.

The aviation sector is essential to the UK economy, and we encourage firms to draw on the unprecedented package of measures we have made available to support them through this time. This includes schemes to raise capital, flexibilities with tax bills, and financial support for employees.

9th Jan 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many children under the age of three have a blue parking badge in (a) England, (b) Scotland and (c) Wales.

This response only covers England because the Blue Badge scheme is devolved.

There are 2311 Blue Badges on issue to children in England under the age of three who are either dependent upon bulky medical equipment or need to be kept near a vehicle for emergency medical treatment.

We do not hold records for children between the ages of two and three who have been issued a Blue Badge under the general walking criterion as this criterion is open to anyone over the age of 2 years. Local authorities would have this data.

26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 13 January 2021 to Question 134451, what redress claimants are given in addition to an explanation, in circumstances where they are unable to identify an incorrect decision or payment as a result of her Department's staff having retrospectively amended their universal credit journal.

Universal Credit payment information is provided through an online statement which provides a breakdown of entitlement following the end of each monthly assessment period. Work Coaches and Case Managers are unable to alter these statements as they are automatically generated based on individual claimant circumstances, including any decisions made by the Department that effect the award amount. If a claimant cannot resolve an issue through their journal or via the freephone Universal Credit helpline, formal complaints can be raised by following the Department’s complaints procedure which is published on GOV.UK

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 14 January 2021 to Question 137948, what the exceptions are to providing an individual with an explanation of amendments to their universal credit journal.

In response to Questions 137946, 137947 and 137948, where a journal entry is modified or removed, an explanation should also be supplied through the journal. As claimant circumstances can be varied and complex, Work Coaches and Case Managers, using their knowledge of an individual claimant’s needs, are also able to use their discretion to communicate through an alternative channel, such as telephone or SMS, where this better suits the needs of the claimant, or where actions on the journal need additional clarification.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that recipients of the Scottish Government’s Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund do not have their universal credit payments reduced.

The eligibility criteria for the Scottish Government’s new £1,500 grant for private hire and taxi drivers is a matter for the Scottish Government not the UK government. While DWP was not consulted in advance about the eligibility criteria, it is our understanding that the grant is intended to assist with fixed costs and expenses, including license plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments for taxis not on the road. Legislation already provides that Covid-19 related grants which are intended to cover loss of business income and to aid business recovery will be disregarded for Universal Credit purposes for 12 months.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the Resolution of the House of 18 January 2021 on universal credit and working tax credit; and if she will make a statement.

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

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 13 January 2021 to Question 134451 on Universal Credit: Maladministration, for what reason can welfare benefits staff retrospectively amend information they have posted to a claimant's universal credit journal; and if she will make a statement.

Universal Credit guidance is routinely published in the House of Commons’ Library. Guidance is themed by topic and work areas; within these instructions the role of the journal is outlined, including how and when it should be used for messaging claimants.

Journal entries can be deleted in specific circumstances, including where messages are addressed to the wrong claimant, personal or sensitive information has been added, or an incorrect letter has been uploaded. However, as stated in my response to Question 134451, claimants should receive an explanation to explain any changes to their journal messages. There are exceptions to providing explanation of amendments which can apply if it would be inappropriate to do so due to a claimant’s personal circumstances.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 13 January 2021 to Question 134451 on Universal Credit: Maladministration, if she will publish the guidance her Department provides to staff on retrospective amendments to journal entries.

Universal Credit guidance is routinely published in the House of Commons’ Library. Guidance is themed by topic and work areas; within these instructions the role of the journal is outlined, including how and when it should be used for messaging claimants.

Journal entries can be deleted in specific circumstances, including where messages are addressed to the wrong claimant, personal or sensitive information has been added, or an incorrect letter has been uploaded. However, as stated in my response to Question 134451, claimants should receive an explanation to explain any changes to their journal messages. There are exceptions to providing explanation of amendments which can apply if it would be inappropriate to do so due to a claimant’s personal circumstances.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will reintroduce the suspension of work-related conditionality and sanctions for the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown period.

There are no plans to reintroduce the suspension of conditionality and related sanctions for the January 2021 lockdown. Work Coaches will continue to work with claimants to ensure claimant commitments are reasonable for claimants’ circumstances, and allows them to continue to adhere to Covid-19 public health advice.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 23 November 2020 to Question 116496, on Universal Credit: Coronavirus, what the revised timeframe is for the universal credit managed migration pilot in Harrogate.

The Pilot remains suspended as the Department continues to focus on delivering its part of the Government’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 allow the Department to pilot moving claimants to Universal Credit from legacy benefits. Prior to its suspension, the emphasis of the pilot was not to focus on the number of people moved, but to assist with developing the design of the Move to UC service and its processes, to provide the best possible support for claimants who are moved to Universal Credit.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the minimum number of people is that will be involved in the universal credit managed migration pilot in Harrogate before it ends.

The Pilot remains suspended as the Department continues to focus on delivering its part of the Government’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 allow the Department to pilot moving claimants to Universal Credit from legacy benefits. Prior to its suspension, the emphasis of the pilot was not to focus on the number of people moved, but to assist with developing the design of the Move to UC service and its processes, to provide the best possible support for claimants who are moved to Universal Credit.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people submitted a Subject Access Request to obtain additional personal information held on universal credit IT systems in January 2020.

There were 2153 Subject Access Requests received by DWP during January 2020; and those generated 979 contribution requests. We cannot immediately identify which of those 979 requests included Universal Credit records, as to gather this information would require manual intervention on each of the 979 cases. This could only be provided at disproportionate costs.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department’s staff can retrospectively correct information posted on a claimant’s universal credit journal without including an acknowledgement of the Department’s error.

Work Coaches and Case Managers are prevented from amending or deleting Universal Credit journal entries made by a claimant.

Staff members can retrospectively amend information they have posted to the Universal Credit journal, however claimants should receive an explanation to justify the amendment.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what impact assessment has been carried out for increasing the state pension age of prison officers to 68.

The Pensions Act 2007 increased State Pension age to 68 between 2044-46.

A general Regulatory Impact Assessment was conducted for the Pension Act 2007. It did not look at specific professions.

Government committed in legislation to undertake a review of State Pension age every six years, which means that the statutory deadline for the publication of the next Government review is 2023.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people living in Airdrie and Shotts constituency had a Pension Wise guidance appointment by telephone or in person in the period from (a) 1 April 2019 to (b) 31 March 2020.

The Money and Pensions Service publishes data on pension wise appointments across 2019-2020 here:

https://moneyandpensionsservice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Pension-Wise-Service-Evaluation-report-2019-2020.pdf and notes there were over 97k face to face and around 62k telephone appointments.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people living in the Strathclyde region had a Pension Wise guidance appointment by telephone or in person in the period from (a) April 2019 to (b) March 2020.

The Money and Pensions Service publishes data on pension wise appointments across 2019-2020 here:

https://moneyandpensionsservice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Pension-Wise-Service-Evaluation-report-2019-2020.pdf and notes there were over 97k face to face and around 62k telephone appointments.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people living in Scotland had a Pension Wise guidance appointment (a) by telephone and (b) in person in the period from (i) April 2019 and (ii) March 2020.

The Money and Pensions Service publishes data on pension wise appointments across 2019-2020 here:

https://moneyandpensionsservice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Pension-Wise-Service-Evaluation-report-2019-2020.pdf and notes there were over 97k face to face and around 62k telephone appointments.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department blocks payments for social security benefit claimants requiring a habitual residence test; and if she will make a statement.

As part of the eligibility criteria for income related benefits claimants need to have a legal right to reside and factual habitual residence. When eligibility needs to be determined, evidence is gathered and an assessment made through the Habitual Residence Test.

14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of social security benefit claimants were EU nationals in each month for which data is available since February 2018.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of social security benefit claims were closed as a result of the claimant having failed a habitual residence test in each month for which data is available since March 2018.

The table below gives the number of UC claim closures due to a claimant failing the Habitual Residence Test (HRT) and the monthly percentage share of all UC claim declarations on a monthly basis from March 2018 to November 2020.

The Department only holds the requested information for Habitual Residence Tests (HRT) completed by Universal Credit (UC) full service claimants for the time period requested.

Number of closures due to failing HRT

Percentage of UC Claims in month

Mar-18

1,340

1.3%

Apr-18

1,470

1.4%

May-18

1,570

1.4%

Jun-18

1,920

1.4%

Jul-18

2,400

1.4%

Aug-18

2,400

1.3%

Sep-18

2,410

1.3%

Oct-18

3,030

1.3%

Nov-18

3,170

1.3%

Dec-18

2,770

1.4%

Jan-19

4,170

1.4%

Feb-19

4,030

1.5%

Mar-19

4,140

1.5%

Apr-19

3,500

1.3%

May-19

3,500

1.2%

Jun-19

3,310

1.1%

Jul-19

3,630

1.1%

Aug-19

3,150

1.0%

Sep-19

3,080

0.9%

Oct-19

3,470

1.2%

Nov-19

3,150

1.2%

Dec-19

2,710

1.3%

Jan-20

3,610

1.1%

Feb-20

3,010

1.2%

Mar-20

8,240

0.8%

Apr-20

11,750

1.3%

May-20

11,700

2.4%

Jun-20

8,220

2.5%

Jul-20

7,460

2.5%

Aug-20

6,710

2.5%

Sep-20

9,210

2.9%

Oct-20

11,150

3.6%

Nov-20

7,300

2.3%

Notes:

  1. We have taken the cohort of declarations and found the closures due to failing HRT within that cohort, as opposed to grouping by closure date.
  2. Figures are for households on UC, either couple or single claims, and does not represent the number of individuals within the household.
  3. Figures rounded to the nearest 10.
  4. Please note that percentages have been rounded to the nearest 0.1% and may not sum due to rounding.
  5. Figures cover claims in Great Britain only.
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of social security benefit claimants required a habitual residence test in each month for which data is available since March 2018.

The table below gives the total number of Habitual Residence Tests (HRT) completed by Universal Credit (UC) full service claimants since March 2018, the total number of UC claims that were declared in the same months, and the proportion of these UC claims where a HRT was completed.

The Department only holds information on the Habitual Residence Tests (HRT) completed by Universal Credit (UC) full service claimants for the time period requested.

Declared Date

Total HRTs completed

Claims made to UC

Proportion of UC claims where a HRT was completed

Mar-18

13,900

102,100

14%

Apr-18

14,200

103,500

14%

May-18

15,300

108,200

14%

Jun-18

16,600

127,100

13%

Jul-18

21,100

163,300

13%

Aug-18

22,100

167,200

13%

Sep-18

24,600

173,800

14%

Oct-18

29,600

204,700

14%

Nov-18

31,000

211,400

15%

Dec-18

26,900

168,800

16%

Jan-19

40,800

275,800

15%

Feb-19

34,600

243,100

14%

Mar-19

35,700

253,300

14%

Apr-19

32,400

236,000

14%

May-19

34,600

245,700

14%

Jun-19

32,100

240,000

13%

Jul-19

35,300

269,100

13%

Aug-19

31,500

245,500

13%

Sep-19

36,000

258,100

14%

Oct-19

37,400

236,800

16%

Nov-19

32,200

214,600

15%

Dec-19

26,500

166,200

16%

Jan-20

38,100

259,300

15%

Feb-20

32,100

208,800

15%

Mar-20

165,600

1,209,100

14%

Apr-20

173,400

985,800

18%

May-20

93,400

441,000

21%

Jun-20

59,700

283,800

21%

Jul-20

58,800

262,400

22%

Aug-20

55,500

243,600

23%

Table Notes:

  1. All figures are rounded to 100. The proportion of UC claims where a HRT was completed (%) is calculated using the unrounded figures.
  2. Data on claims made to UC are for Great Britain only. HRTs completed are for Great Britain only.
  3. The UC HRT statistics are taken from Management Information on UC Full Service claims and do not include Live Service claims for which HRT data is not available.
  4. The statistics on claims made to UC are taken from the UC Official Statistics in the ‘Claims made to Universal Credit’ table on the DWP Stat-Xplore portal.
  5. The month used in this table is the month in which the UC claim was declared.
  6. The HRT UC full service data supplied is derived from unpublished management information, which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The HRT data should therefore be treated with caution.
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will publish the equality impact assessments conducted by or on behalf of her Department before the reimposition of universal credit conditionality and sanctioning in July 2020.

No – and there are no plans to publish the Equality Impact assessment as it is a return to existing legislation.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she will take to protect consumers from proceeding with fraudulent online pension transfers.

Government is committed to safeguarding the savings of consumers based in the UK and people living overseas with UK based savings. Although the majority of transfers are to safe destinations there are still fraudsters who try to entice individuals to transfer to schemes for the purposes of relieving them of their pension savings.

To help protect people from pension scams, clause 125 in the Pensions Schemes Bill 2020 will allow government to introduce measures to limit the statutory right to transfer. The clause achieves many things and reference is made to all the parliamentary responses on this topic for the details. However, in summary:

  1. it introduces in legislation provisions that require members to provide evidence of an employment link or, if transferring abroad, residency before a statutory transfer can take place; and

  1. it will remove the right to transfer if certain circumstances (red flags) are identified by the trustee or scheme administrator. For other prescribed circumstances people will be required to confirm they have received information or taken guidance about the risk of scams before a transfer can proceed. We are and will continue to work with industry and regulators to identify these circumstances. This means that trustees will have the power to refuse a transfer if the red flags occur or an individual has not taken guidance. The regulator will oversee the operation of these new requirements.

Regulators and trustees also have a broader role to play in scam prevention. The Pension Regulator, Financial Conduct Authority, and Money Advice and Pension Service issued information on 7 April pointing to the actions members should seek to take to safeguard against becoming victims of scams. Additional guidance was issued to trustees, and providers from both The Financial Conduct Authority and the Pensions Regulator to support them to produce suitable communications during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Please see links below for more information about the joint statement from Regulators and the Money Advice Service, and help available, produced by the Pension Protection Fund and supported by government.

https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/covid-19-savers-stay-calm-dont-rush-financial-decisions

https://www.ppf.co.uk/sites/default/files/file-2020-05/COVID-19-and-your-pension.pdf

In addition, the Government, working with the regulators and the Money and Pension Service, has been communicating with pension savers to alert them to the risk of scams in the current climate. DWP continues to communicate regularly on social media about the warning signs of a scam.

We have adopted an approach that not only safeguards against pension scams but assists all pension savers seeking to access their pensions.

For all pension savers aged 50 and over, in the lead up to accessing their pension savings, our aim is to support them make informed choices about their retirement income. We are therefore committed to replicating measures introduced by the FCA for contract based schemes for occupational pension schemes and requiring trustees to provide information to pensions savers from the age of 50, in a simpler format, to encourage savers to think about their retirement savings, choices and raise awareness of Pension Wise.

We want to encourage savers to take appropriate guidance via Pension Wise when they apply to access savings. We want to present taking guidance or advice as a natural part of the journey when individuals access their pension savings. We are working with the FCA on rules that would require managers of private pension schemes to Introduce parallel provisions.

The Government is committed to safeguarding consumer savings and continues to raise public awareness of scams through ongoing communications directly from DWP and with other organisations.

DWP continues to communicate regularly on social media to set out the warning signs of a scam and has made multiple posts referencing Pension Scams and #ScamSmart in total across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in the period March to September 2020.

In addition, Pensions Dashboards will help more people actively manage their pension savings and plan for their retirement, and this will include making decisions about pension consolidation, particularly for deferred defined contribution pots. Initial dashboards will enable a user to find and view their pension savings in one place. Future functionality will be informed by user research and testing, and consumer protection will be a primary concern in this decision making.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what powers she will give to regulators and trustees to allow them to override the individual’s statutory right to transfer their pension in the event of a suspected scam.

Government is committed to safeguarding the savings of consumers based in the UK and people living overseas with UK based savings. Although the majority of transfers are to safe destinations there are still fraudsters who try to entice individuals to transfer to schemes for the purposes of relieving them of their pension savings.

To help protect people from pension scams, clause 125 in the Pensions Schemes Bill 2020 will allow government to introduce measures to limit the statutory right to transfer. The clause achieves many things and reference is made to all the parliamentary responses on this topic for the details. However, in summary:

  1. it introduces in legislation provisions that require members to provide evidence of an employment link or, if transferring abroad, residency before a statutory transfer can take place; and

  1. it will remove the right to transfer if certain circumstances (red flags) are identified by the trustee or scheme administrator. For other prescribed circumstances people will be required to confirm they have received information or taken guidance about the risk of scams before a transfer can proceed. We are and will continue to work with industry and regulators to identify these circumstances. This means that trustees will have the power to refuse a transfer if the red flags occur or an individual has not taken guidance. The regulator will oversee the operation of these new requirements.

Regulators and trustees also have a broader role to play in scam prevention. The Pension Regulator, Financial Conduct Authority, and Money Advice and Pension Service issued information on 7 April pointing to the actions members should seek to take to safeguard against becoming victims of scams. Additional guidance was issued to trustees, and providers from both The Financial Conduct Authority and the Pensions Regulator to support them to produce suitable communications during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Please see links below for more information about the joint statement from Regulators and the Money Advice Service, and help available, produced by the Pension Protection Fund and supported by government.

https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/covid-19-savers-stay-calm-dont-rush-financial-decisions

https://www.ppf.co.uk/sites/default/files/file-2020-05/COVID-19-and-your-pension.pdf

In addition, the Government, working with the regulators and the Money and Pension Service, has been communicating with pension savers to alert them to the risk of scams in the current climate. DWP continues to communicate regularly on social media about the warning signs of a scam.

We have adopted an approach that not only safeguards against pension scams but assists all pension savers seeking to access their pensions.

For all pension savers aged 50 and over, in the lead up to accessing their pension savings, our aim is to support them make informed choices about their retirement income. We are therefore committed to replicating measures introduced by the FCA for contract based schemes for occupational pension schemes and requiring trustees to provide information to pensions savers from the age of 50, in a simpler format, to encourage savers to think about their retirement savings, choices and raise awareness of Pension Wise.

We want to encourage savers to take appropriate guidance via Pension Wise when they apply to access savings. We want to present taking guidance or advice as a natural part of the journey when individuals access their pension savings. We are working with the FCA on rules that would require managers of private pension schemes to Introduce parallel provisions.

The Government is committed to safeguarding consumer savings and continues to raise public awareness of scams through ongoing communications directly from DWP and with other organisations.

DWP continues to communicate regularly on social media to set out the warning signs of a scam and has made multiple posts referencing Pension Scams and #ScamSmart in total across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in the period March to September 2020.

In addition, Pensions Dashboards will help more people actively manage their pension savings and plan for their retirement, and this will include making decisions about pension consolidation, particularly for deferred defined contribution pots. Initial dashboards will enable a user to find and view their pension savings in one place. Future functionality will be informed by user research and testing, and consumer protection will be a primary concern in this decision making.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will include online activity in the ban on pensions cold calling.

This government is committed to safeguarding consumer savings. DWP, and other departments, have introduced measures that assist all savers to understand their choices and the possible risks of the choices they make, along with legislation to protect those most vulnerable to scams. This includes the ban on cold calling, which was introduced January 2019. Further action is being taken legislatively and operationally.

To help protect people from pension scams, clause 125 in the Pension Schemes Bill is being introduced, following extensive consultation and debate. It will allow government to introduce measures to limit the statutory right to transfer.

The Bill will ensure that a range of consumer protections will apply to all pension savers, regardless of what avenue, such as online or via social media, is used by potential scammers to contact them with regards to their pension savings. The powers in this Bill will enable government in certain circumstances (red flags) to remove the statutory right to transfer. The Government is working cross department and with industry & regulators to determine red flags including the use of online channels to make contact with pension savers.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), plays a key role in protecting the UK from cybercrime and fraud. The NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence (ACD) programme tackles cyber-attacks in an automated and scalable way, to improve national resilience. This includes a takedown service which searches for and identifies malicious websites. Where found, it removes them at source so they cannot cause further harm to the public.

To complement the ACD programme, the NCSC recently launched the Suspicious Email Reporting Service, which allows the public to flag suspicious emails to the NCSC simply by forwarding them to report@phishing.gov.uk. They are then analysed and malicious content is taken down where found.

The Government continues to raise public awareness of scams through ongoing communications directly from DWP and with other organisations. Joint and independent communications from the FCA and tPR spelling out the dangers, what to watch out for and giving clarity to trustees and providers on the boundaries between guidance and advice have been issued since April this year (https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/covid-19-savers-stay-calm-dont-rush-financial-decisions(opens in a new tab)). Prior to Covid-19 the FCA and tPR conducted regular campaigns, through the ScamSmart branding, to raise awareness of pension scams and what to watch out for, these have been deemed very successful, over 222,000 visited the ScamSmart website to find out how to identify a scam scheme as a result of the most recent pre Covid campaign, July – November 2019.

DWP continues to communicate regularly on social media to set out the warning signs of a scam and has made multiple posts referencing Pension Scams and #ScamSmart in total across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in the period March to September 2020.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to ensure that the ban on pensions cold calling includes recipients of calls who have an existing relationship with the scam caller.

This government is committed to safeguarding consumer savings. DWP, and other departments, have introduced measures that assist all savers to understand their choices and the possible risks of the choices they make, along with legislation to protect those most vulnerable to scams. This includes the ban on cold calling, which was introduced January 2019. Further action is being taken legislatively and operationally.

To help protect people from pension scams, clause 125 in the Pension Schemes Bill is being introduced, following extensive consultation and debate. It will allow government to introduce measures to limit the statutory right to transfer.

The Bill will ensure that a range of consumer protections will apply to all pension savers, regardless of what avenue, such as online or via social media, is used by potential scammers to contact them with regards to their pension savings. The powers in this Bill will enable government in certain circumstances (red flags) to remove the statutory right to transfer. The Government is working cross department and with industry & regulators to determine red flags including the use of online channels to make contact with pension savers.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), plays a key role in protecting the UK from cybercrime and fraud. The NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence (ACD) programme tackles cyber-attacks in an automated and scalable way, to improve national resilience. This includes a takedown service which searches for and identifies malicious websites. Where found, it removes them at source so they cannot cause further harm to the public.

To complement the ACD programme, the NCSC recently launched the Suspicious Email Reporting Service, which allows the public to flag suspicious emails to the NCSC simply by forwarding them to report@phishing.gov.uk. They are then analysed and malicious content is taken down where found.

The Government continues to raise public awareness of scams through ongoing communications directly from DWP and with other organisations. Joint and independent communications from the FCA and tPR spelling out the dangers, what to watch out for and giving clarity to trustees and providers on the boundaries between guidance and advice have been issued since April this year (https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/covid-19-savers-stay-calm-dont-rush-financial-decisions(opens in a new tab)). Prior to Covid-19 the FCA and tPR conducted regular campaigns, through the ScamSmart branding, to raise awareness of pension scams and what to watch out for, these have been deemed very successful, over 222,000 visited the ScamSmart website to find out how to identify a scam scheme as a result of the most recent pre Covid campaign, July – November 2019.

DWP continues to communicate regularly on social media to set out the warning signs of a scam and has made multiple posts referencing Pension Scams and #ScamSmart in total across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in the period March to September 2020.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions he has had with technology companies and platforms on free pension reviews being offered by people seeking to commit fraud via social media to circumvent the pensions cold calling ban.

This government is committed to safeguarding consumer savings. DWP, and other departments, have introduced measures that assist all savers to understand their choices and the possible risks of the choices they make, along with legislation to protect those most vulnerable to scams. This includes the ban on cold calling, which was introduced January 2019. Further action is being taken legislatively and operationally.

To help protect people from pension scams, clause 125 in the Pension Schemes Bill is being introduced, following extensive consultation and debate. It will allow government to introduce measures to limit the statutory right to transfer.

The Bill will ensure that a range of consumer protections will apply to all pension savers, regardless of what avenue, such as online or via social media, is used by potential scammers to contact them with regards to their pension savings. The powers in this Bill will enable government in certain circumstances (red flags) to remove the statutory right to transfer. The Government is working cross department and with industry & regulators to determine red flags including the use of online channels to make contact with pension savers.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), plays a key role in protecting the UK from cybercrime and fraud. The NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence (ACD) programme tackles cyber-attacks in an automated and scalable way, to improve national resilience. This includes a takedown service which searches for and identifies malicious websites. Where found, it removes them at source so they cannot cause further harm to the public.

To complement the ACD programme, the NCSC recently launched the Suspicious Email Reporting Service, which allows the public to flag suspicious emails to the NCSC simply by forwarding them to report@phishing.gov.uk. They are then analysed and malicious content is taken down where found.

The Government continues to raise public awareness of scams through ongoing communications directly from DWP and with other organisations. Joint and independent communications from the FCA and tPR spelling out the dangers, what to watch out for and giving clarity to trustees and providers on the boundaries between guidance and advice have been issued since April this year (https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/covid-19-savers-stay-calm-dont-rush-financial-decisions(opens in a new tab)). Prior to Covid-19 the FCA and tPR conducted regular campaigns, through the ScamSmart branding, to raise awareness of pension scams and what to watch out for, these have been deemed very successful, over 222,000 visited the ScamSmart website to find out how to identify a scam scheme as a result of the most recent pre Covid campaign, July – November 2019.

DWP continues to communicate regularly on social media to set out the warning signs of a scam and has made multiple posts referencing Pension Scams and #ScamSmart in total across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in the period March to September 2020.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on levels of poverty among UK pensioners living overseas.

This information is not available.

The most recent poverty statistics for pensioners are derived from the 2018/19 Family Resources Survey (FRS) so would not cover the impact of the covid-19 pandemic. As the FRS sample is drawn from random UK addresses it does not provide information on those living overseas.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to ensure that recipients of the Scottish Government's health and social care workers £500 bonus payment who are in receipt of universal credit are able to keep the full amount of that payment.

The Government recognises the vital role that all key workers including health and social care workers continue to play.

Universal Credit (UC) is designed to ensure that people are better off in work by reducing their UC by less than they are earning. Bonuses are treated as earnings in Universal Credit and the taper is applied when the UC award is calculated.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussions his Department has had with foreign Governments on the merits of uprating the state retirement pensions of UK pensioners living in countries where that pension is frozen.

The Government has no plans to change its policy on uprating UK State Pensions overseas. This is a longstanding policy which has been supported by successive Governments for over 70 years.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that all UK state pensioners have financial security in (a) the UK and (b) overseas.

The Government is committed to ensuring that older people are able to live with the dignity and respect they deserve. The State Pension is the foundation of state support for older people.

The UK State Pension is payable worldwide to those who meet the qualifying conditions. It is based on a person’s National Insurance record without regard to nationality.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the total reduction was for all benefit awards resulting from sanctions in Airdrie and Shotts constituency in the most recent period for which figures are available.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the total reduction was for all benefit awards resulting from sanctions in Scotland in the most recent period for which figures are available.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the total amount of reduction was for all benefit awards resulting from sanctions in (a) Airdrie and Shotts constituency, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland in the latest year for which data is available.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Benefit statistics for Northern Ireland are the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Department for Communities:

https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/topics/benefits-statistics

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of the Government’s proposed reform to the Retail Prices Index methodology on pension schemes.

As you will be aware, at the Budget in March the Government published, jointly with the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), a consultation on reform to Retail Prices Index (RPI) Methodology. The consultation sought views on whether UKSA’s proposal to reform RPI should be implemented at a date other than 2030, and if so, when between 2025 and 2030. As part of the consultation, the Government invited views on matters including how the holders of the Government’s issues of index-linked gilts, all of which use RPI as their reference rate, will be affected by the implementation of reform.

The consultation closed on 21 August, since when the Government has been considering the responses to the consultation. The potential effect of the proposed reform is a matter for HMT, which is the lead government department. The Government and UKSA’s response to the consultation will be published alongside the Spending Review on 25 November.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 8 September 2020 to Question 84635 on Social Security Benefits, what recent assessment she has made of the accessibility of telephone assessments for claimants of (a) personal independence payment and (b) other welfare benefits during the covid-19 outbreak.

All of our assessment providers are advised to consider the needs of claimants when arranging assessment appointments. If a claimant believes they may have difficulties attending their appointment or that they need additional support, the claimant should discuss this with their provider as soon as possible, using the contact details on their appointment letter.

We are aware that for some claimants, particularly those with certain health conditions or disabilities, it may not be possible or appropriate to carry out assessments over the telephone. Where it is not possible to carry out a Personal Independence Payment telephone assessment, a decision will be made based on all the evidence available to ensure any payment is not delayed. For Work Capability Assessments, claimants will remain on their current award until we gather the evidence needed to make a recommendation or are able to conduct a face to face assessment, or until their benefit is due to end (new-style ESA).

17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proportion of claimants have been kept on the assessment rate of new style employment and support allowance because they cannot access a telephone assessment; and what conditions those claimants have.

The information requested is not held.

17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to resume the universal credit managed migration pilot in Harrogate.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, and the significant increase in the Universal Credit caseload to 5.7 million, the decision was taken to temporarily suspend the Move to UC pilot in the area served by Harrogate Jobcentre, as part of the Government’s wider and ongoing response to the pandemic.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the timeline for the rollout of universal credit.

The Department successfully completed the rollout of Universal Credit in December 2018 and it is available in every Jobcentre across the country.

Universal Credit has stood up to the challenge of the COVID-19, whereas the previous legacy benefit system would have buckled under the pressure, with millions of people able to access welfare which is fairer and more generous. The application process is deliberately designed to be as quick and easy as possible, so that claimants receive money at the earliest opportunity. Universal Credit is a predominantly digital service, ensuring we make best use of technology to deliver a modern and effective working-age welfare system, allowing our staff to concentrate on those people who require additional support

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proportion of additional disabled claimants she plans to naturally migrate to universal credit as a result of delays to managed migration.

Natural migrations to Universal Credit occur when a legacy benefit claimant has a change of circumstances that means that they need to make a new claim for support. In these cases, they will claim Universal Credit rather than a legacy benefit. As natural migrations only occur when a claimant’s circumstances change, the Department cannot and does not plan such moves.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect on disabled claimants of legislation to convert the severe disability premium transitional payment into a transitional element.

Severe Disability Premium transitional payments are part of the wider transitional protection framework and it has always been the intention to convert Severe Disability Premium transitional payments into a transitional element as soon as we had developed the capability to do so safely and effectively. This ensures fair and equal treatment for all people receiving a transitional element. When the Severe Disability Premium transitional payment is converted to a transitional element the flat rate payment will be the same amount and will be included in the Universal Credit award.

19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to her statement HCWS512 made on 14 October 2020, by what means her Department identified (a) the one million claimants to receive the warm home discount automatically and (b) the further 220,000 pensioners who will receive a letter encouraging them to check their eligibility and apply for the warm home discount.

To receive the Warm Home Discount, Pension Credit customers must be in receipt of the Pension Credit Guarantee Credit element, be named on the account and their supplier must participate in the scheme.

DWP matches Pension Credit data with data provided by energy suppliers participating in the Warm Home Discount Scheme in accordance with the scheme’s July qualifying date. Where a match is confirmed, a notification is issued by DWP to the energy supplier for the rebate to be applied automatically.

In some instances, a match is not confirmed and for those Pension Credit customers a letter is sent asking them to contact the Freephone Warm Home Discount Scheme Helpline [0800 917 1003] to see if they qualify.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effect of low pension credit uptake on (a) pensioner poverty and (b) fuel poverty.

No assessments have been made.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to her statement made on 14 October 2020, Official Report, HCWS512, whether all existing pension credit claimants will receive the warm home discount automatically.

To receive the Warm Home Discount, Pension Credit customers must be in receipt of the Pension Credit Guarantee Credit element, be named on the account and their supplier must participate in the scheme.

DWP matches Pension Credit data with data provided by energy suppliers participating in the Warm Home Discount Scheme in accordance with the scheme’s July qualifying date. Where a match is confirmed, a notification is issued by DWP to the energy supplier for the rebate to be applied automatically.

In some instances, a match is not confirmed and for those Pension Credit customers a letter is sent asking them to contact the Freephone Warm Home Discount Scheme Helpline [0800 917 1003] to see if they qualify.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Prime Minister's recent announcement of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, whether she is taking steps to increase the childcare available for single parents on universal credit with pre-school-aged children to enable those parents to gain equal access to training and upskilling opportunities.

The Government now provides more support than ever before to help parents with the costs of childcare, including providing 15 hours a week of free childcare in England for all 3 and 4 year olds and disadvantaged 2 year olds, and doubling free childcare available for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week.

Parents already have access to more generous support for childcare costs through Universal Credit than via the legacy system. Working families can claim up to 85% of their eligible childcare costs each month up to a maximum support of £646.35 per month for one child and £1,108.04 per month for two or more children.

The childcare costs element is available to all lone parents and couples who are in receipt of Universal Credit, for relevant childcare provided, when both members are in paid work, regardless of the number of hours they work within their assessment period.

Help with upfront childcare costs for starting work is available through a non-repayable Flexible Support Fund (FSF) award for eligible UC claimants up to the limits set. This does not apply for claimants already in work. We have issued guidance to Work Coaches in Jobcentres to ensure that eligible claimants, who require help with upfront childcare costs in order to start work, are directed to the governments FSF.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of support for single parents on universal credit with pre-school-aged children.

The Government now provides more support than ever before to help parents with the costs of childcare, including providing 15 hours a week of free childcare in England for all 3 and 4 year olds and disadvantaged 2 year olds, and doubling free childcare available for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week.

Parents already have access to more generous support for childcare costs through Universal Credit than via the legacy system. Working families can claim up to 85% of their eligible childcare costs each month up to a maximum support of £646.35 per month for one child and £1,108.04 per month for two or more children.

The childcare costs element is available to all lone parents and couples who are in receipt of Universal Credit, for relevant childcare provided, when both members are in paid work, regardless of the number of hours they work within their assessment period.

Help with upfront childcare costs for starting work is available through a non-repayable Flexible Support Fund (FSF) award for eligible UC claimants up to the limits set. This does not apply for claimants already in work. We have issued guidance to Work Coaches in Jobcentres to ensure that eligible claimants, who require help with upfront childcare costs in order to start work, are directed to the governments FSF.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to offer tailored support for jobseeking single parents on universal credit with pre-school-aged children.

Universal Credit is committed to helping parents prepare for work, move into work and stay in work.

Work coaches have the ability to tailor the frequency and type of face-to-face support they offer to the needs of each lone parent or lead carer. Generally, lone parents and lead carers need to prepare for work when their youngest child reaches age 2 and will be required to look for and be available for work when their youngest child is aged 3. Additional safeguards apply during this period and any work-related expectations will be limited to a maximum of 16 hours per week because they are caring for a pre-school age child. Those expected to look for work may limit the time they can spend travelling to and from work and have additional time to attend an interview or take up work so they can make childcare arrangements.

Flexible Support Fund (FSF) is a discretionary fund available for use by Jobcentre Plus Service Leaders and work coaches.

The fund has many uses and could be used to contribute to upfront childcare costs, but it’s core purpose is supporting our customers back into employment through the removal of barriers and funding innovative programmes which sit outside of our mainstream contracted provision.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the level of (a) absolute and (b) relative poverty.

We understand that this is a difficult time for people on low incomes and we’ve taken significant action to support those affected by Coronavirus, including through income protection schemes, mortgage holidays and additional support for renters. For those most in need we’ve injected more than £9 billion into the welfare system, which includes an increase to Universal Credit of up to £1,040 this financial year.

Distributional analysis published by HMT in July 2020 shows the Impact of Covid-19 on working household incomes. This publication shows that the lowest income decile of working households has seen no fall in income due to Government measures that have been put in place. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/impact-of-covid-19-on-working-household-incomes-distributional-analysis-as-of-may-2020

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect on levels of (a) absolute and (b) relative poverty of removing the temporary uplift to universal credit.

Estimating the potential impact of individual policies on future levels of poverty is not possible as it would require making judgements about what will happen to every person’s income in the future and then also isolating potential changes in income due to the effect of specific policies on certain individuals. It is not possible to do this accurately as there is so much uncertainty involved in projecting incomes.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential effect on levels of (a) relative and (b) absolute poverty of turning advance loans into grants when an applicant qualifies for universal credit.

Estimating the potential impact of individual policies on future levels of poverty is not possible as it would require making judgements about what will happen to every person’s income in the future and then also isolating potential changes in income due to the effect of specific policies on certain individuals. It is not possible to do this accurately as there is so much uncertainty involved in projecting incomes.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many staff of her Department have been transferred from working on Child Maintenance Service issues since March 2020.

To meet the unprecedented demand for benefits during the pandemic, and ongoing challenge to front line services that the Department for Work and Pensions has faced since the outbreak, from March 2020, of the approximate 6,800 Child Maintenance staff, 322 FTE (to date) have been transferred on a permanent basis to support benefit delivery. This means we can continue to support separated parents, as part of the departments wider efforts to provide financial support through the welfare system.

Child Maintenance Service are currently recruiting to provide backfill for the people who have been moved to support welfare delivery.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will provide a breakdown of the types of pension scams that have occurred since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

DWP is working across government and with regulators to monitor and respond to any increases in transfers or pension scams. To date, this monitoring has revealed little evidence to demonstrate an increase in either transfers or scams across the industry as a whole as confirmed by the independent regulator. This has been confirmed by responses from industry. The Government will continue to monitor and respond to any emerging evidence.

The Government established Project Bloom, a cross-government taskforce that brings together law enforcement, government and industry to share intelligence, raise awareness of and the reporting of scams through public communication campaigns, and take enforcement action where appropriate.

Please see links below for more information about the joint statement from Regulators and the Money Advice Service, and help available, produced by the Pension Protection Fund and supported by government.

https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/covid-19-savers-stay-calm-dont-rush-financial-decisions

https://www.ppf.co.uk/sites/default/files/file-2020-05/COVID-19-and-your-pension.pdf

The Government continues to work with Regulators and enforcement agencies to prevent scams and take appropriate action. In the period March - July 2020, 116 reports of possible pension fraud were received by Action Fraud, compared to 179 for the same period in 2019.

Project Bloom has identified that the methodology of scammers is continually evolving, moving away from the traditional type of theft of peoples pensions through setting up a sham scheme, towards investment related fraud. Investment related fraud includes persuading individuals to invest in ventures that do not exist or using multiple charging structures that the member is not aware of.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions her Department has had with (a) regulators, (b) pension providers and (c) HMRC on taking steps to encourage pension scam victims to report those scams.

DWP works with other government departments, regulators, police, enforcement agencies and the pensions industry to raise public awareness of pension scams and encourage the reporting of scams by victims. The Government established Project Bloom, a cross-government taskforce that brings together law enforcement, government and industry to share intelligence, raise awareness of and the reporting of scams through public communication campaigns, and take enforcement action where appropriate.

Project Bloom monitors the evolution of scam typology and the measures that all agencies including providers and financial professionals can take to help prevent scams.

The Government continues to drive forward and endorse better messaging from both TPR and FCA to the public and industry on how to identify a scam. Government helped facilitate and supported the joint statement by regulators at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, urging individuals not to make hasty pension decisions.

https://www.ppf.co.uk/sites/default/files/2020-05/COVID-19-and-your-pension.pdf.

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/media-hub/press-releases/2020-press-releases/covid-19-savers-stay-calm-and-dont-rush-financial-decisions.

The Government is also using social media to further endorse the messaging from the regulators, with posts referencing Pension Scams and #ScamSmart in total across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in the period March to September 2020.

The ScamSmart campaign and website have been live since 2014. It started by focusing on just Investment Scams and has grown to incorporate Pension Scams. The aim of all the activity under the ScamSmart brand is to alert consumers to the warning signs that indicate a possible scam is taking place and to drive action, getting consumers to use the FCA Warning List tool and the Register. The national media campaign which ran from July to November 2019 resulted in excess of 220,000 people visiting the website.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many eligible parents have not received payment through the Child Maintenance Service in any month since March 2020.

The number of Paying Parents who have paid Child Maintenance are published quarterly. The latest published figures for Child Maintenance Service (CMS) are up the end of March 2020 and can be found on Stat-Xplore here:

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

Guidance on how to extract information from Stat-Xplore can be found at:

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

Information on the number of CMS ‘Collect & Pay’ arrangements for which no payments were made in the quarter can be found by selecting the “Service Type and Paying Status” variable in the “Child Maintenance Service” dataset. Please note that arrangements listed as “Collect & Pay, Not Paying” include some arrangements for which no maintenance was due.

Alternatively, Table 8: Paying Parents Compliance, in the National tables of the CMS official statistics, gives the number of Paying Parents who were due to pay some Child Maintenance each quarter and the number of those who paid some maintenance. The latest statistics to the end of March 2020 are published here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-maintenance-service-statistics-data-to-march-2020-experimental

Statistics containing data to the end of June 2020 will not be available until the next publication, due on 30 September 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have (a) accessed and (b) transferred their pension early since the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak which is then potentially classified as an unauthorised payment from their pension fund.

This government is committed to safeguarding consumer savings. We have introduced, with other departments, measures that assist all savers to understand their choices and the possible risks of the choices they make along with legislation to protect those most vulnerable to scams.

There is currently no information available about pension unauthorised payments since the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak. This is because administrators of a registered pension scheme must tell HMRC when certain reportable events occur; reportable events include unauthorised payments. The scheme administrator does this by completing and submitting an Event Report for a tax year, these must be received by HMRC by the 31st of January after the end of the tax year to which the Event Report relates. Therefore, reports for the period March to date are not available.

The data available from the industry has so far revealed little evidence of an increase in transfers or scams since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak. Similarly, independent regulators report less of a problem. We will continue to monitor and assess if there has been any increase in pension scams activity as a result of the crisis.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government is planning to take to increase public awareness of the risks of pension scams.

The Government is committed to safeguarding consumer savings. The Government is raising public awareness of scams through ongoing communications directly from DWP and with other organisations.

Joint and independent communications from the FCA and tPR spelling out the dangers, what to watch out for and giving clarity to trustees and providers on the boundaries between guidance and advice have been issued since April this year (https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/covid-19-savers-stay-calm-dont-rush-financial-decisions). Prior to Covid-19 the FCA and tPR conducted regular campaigns, through the ScamSmart branding, to raise awareness of pension scams and what to watch out for, these have been deemed very successful, over 222,000 visited the ScamSmart website to find out how to identify a scam scheme as a result of the most recent pre Covid campaign, July – November 2019.

In addition, Government is actively monitoring the numbers of transfers and scams and preparing further policy responses. At the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, the Department convened a cross-government and regulator group to closely monitor and respond to any increase in transfers and scams. The group includes DWP, HMT, both the Pensions Regulator and the FCA as well as the Money and Pensions Service and the Pension Ombudsman. All of the participating organisations have confirmed that to date no evidence has emerged of an increase in either transfers or scams, based on their internal monitoring of the industry.

DWP continues to communicate regularly on social media to set out the warning signs of a scam and has made multiple posts referencing Pension Scams and #ScamSmart in total across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in the period March to September 2020.

The Pension Schemes Bill was amended by Government in the House of Lords to add to the example conditions that can be placed on the statutory right to transfer by regulations. This amendment makes it explicit that the regulations can require that in certain circumstances the member demonstrates they have taken information or guidance before the transfer can proceed to ensure they are informed of the risks.

The Government wants to support all pension savers aged 50 and over in the lead up to accessing their pension savings, to make informed choices about their retirement income, which includes making them aware of Pension Wise through communications from their pension scheme trustees. We intend introducing Single page summary and single page risk warnings from age 50 and then every 5 years until the point they access their pension savings.

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) conducted trials to establish different ways to encourage more people to take Pension Wise guidance before accessing their pension savings under Pension Freedoms. These trials found that a nudge developed using behavioural science principles significantly increased take-up of Pension Wise guidance among those wishing to access their pension savings under pension freedoms. The evaluation report was published in July 2020. We are working to develop the most effective and proportionate way to implement this nudge to pension guidance. We intend to publish our proposed way forward shortly.

In addition we have banned cold calling and seek to provide and prosecute and publicise the convinction of all who comitt pension scams.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have booked a Pension Wise guidance session since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

Between 1 March 2020 and 24 September 2020, the number of Pension Wise guidance sessions booked totalled 69,815.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of implementing a training programme for pension and finance professionals to help ensure they can readily identify scam risks.

The Government is committed to safeguarding consumer savings. The Government is raising public awareness of scams through ongoing communications directly from DWP and with other organisations.

Joint and independent communications from the FCA and tPR spelling out the dangers, what to watch out for and giving clarity to trustees and providers on the boundaries between guidance and advice have been issued since April this year. Prior to Covid-19 the FCA and tPR conducted regular campaigns, through the ScamSmart branding, to raise awareness of pension scams and what to watch out for, these have been deemed very successful, over 222,000 visited the ScamSmart website to find out how to identify a scam scheme as a result of the most recent pre Covid campaign, July – November 2019.

In addition, Government is actively monitoring the numbers of transfers and scams and preparing further policy responses. At the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, the Department convened a cross-government and regulator group to closely monitor and respond to any increase in transfers and scams. The group includes DWP, HMT, both the Pensions Regulator and the FCA as well as the Money and Pensions Service and the Pension Ombudsman. All of the participating organisations have confirmed that to date no evidence has emerged of an increase in either transfers or scams, based on their internal monitoring of the industry.

Please see links below for more information about the joint statement from Regulators and the Money Advice Service, and help available, produced by the Pension Protection Fund and supported by government.

https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/covid-19-savers-stay-calm-dont-rush-financial-decisions

https://www.ppf.co.uk/sites/default/files/file-2020-05/COVID-19-and-your-pension.pdf

DWP continues to communicate regularly on social media to set out the warning signs of a scam and has made 18 posts referencing Pension Scams and #ScamSmart in total across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in the period March to September 2020.

The Pension Schemes Bill was amended in the House of Lords to add to the example conditions that can be placed on the statutory right to transfer by regulations. This amendment makes it explicit that the regulations can require that in certain circumstances the member demonstrates they have taken information or guidance before the transfer can proceed to ensure they are informed of the risks.

The Government wants to support all pension savers aged 50 and over in the lead up to accessing their pension savings, to make informed choices about their retirement income, which includes making them aware of Pension Wise through communications from their pension scheme trustees. We intend introducing Single page summary and single page risk warnings from age 50 and then every 5 years until the point they access their pension savings.

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) conducted trials to establish different ways to encourage more people to take Pension Wise guidance before accessing their pension savings under Pension Freedoms. These trials found that a nudge developed using behavioural science principles significantly increased take-up of Pension Wise guidance among those wishing to access their pension savings under pension freedoms. The evaluation report was published in July 2020. We are working to develop the most effective and proportionate way to implement this nudge to pension guidance. We intend to publish our proposed way forward shortly.

We will continue to work collaboratively with organisations and regulators to look at all interventions which can better protect savers.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 29 July 2020 to Question 74613 on Jobcentres: Staff, what progress her Department has made on the recruitment of the new work coaches.

Work Coach recruitment commenced in June with an initial cross government campaign and followed by a further 12 targeted external campaigns at the beginning of July. Additional external campaigns will be launched on Wednesday 9 September with further adverts launching on a weekly basis over the following 4 weeks.

Over 300 new work coaches have now started and our plans will see over 4500 start by 31 October with a further 9000 starting by 31 March 2021.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 24 July 2020 to Question 74614 on Jobcentres: Staff, what progress she has made on evaluating the number of new Job Centres required to be opened to accommodate the work coaches in (a) Scotland, (b) the UK and (c) Airdrie and Shotts.

DWP continues to evaluate its existing estates capacity and explore options for new, temporary, premises to enable it to respond to the increased demand for its services across the UK. Parliament will be updated once firm decisions are made on any new premises.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 20 July 2020 to Question 74609 on Jobcentres: Staff, what progress she has made on evaluating the job centre network to ensure that the new work coaches are accommodated in a covid-secure way.

The Department continues to review both the new and ongoing demand for its services, alongside the requirements for additional office space, to ensure it can cater for the current increase in demand and accommodate new Work Coaches in line with Covid-19 social distancing measures. Parliament will be updated once firm decisions are made on any new premises.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 29 July 2020 to Question 74610, what progress her Department has made on evaluating the estates capacity needed to respond to the economic consequences of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department continues to review both the new and ongoing demand for its services, alongside the requirements for additional office space, to ensure it can cater for the current increase in demand and accommodate new Work Coaches in line with Covid-19 social distancing measures. Parliament will be updated once firm decisions are made on any new premises.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 29 July 2020 to 74611 on Jobcentres: Staff, what progress her Department has made on evaluating estates capacity.

The Department continues to review both the new and ongoing demand for its services, alongside the requirements for additional office space, to ensure it can cater for the current increase in demand and accommodate new Work Coaches in line with Covid-19 social distancing measures. Parliament will be updated once firm decisions are made on any new premises.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 20 July 2020 to Question 74612 on Jobcentres: Staff, what progress she has made on evaluating how many new or reopened job centres will be required in (a) Airdrie and Shotts constituency, (b) Scotland and (c) the UK to accommodate the new work coaches.

The Department continues to review both the new and ongoing demand for its services, alongside the requirements for additional office space, to ensure it can cater for the current increase in demand and accommodate new Work Coaches in line with Covid-19 social distancing measures. Parliament will be updated once firm decisions are made on any new premises.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of introducing non-repayable grants upon qualification for universal credit.

No-one has to wait for a payment under Universal Credit (UC).

UC offers tailored financial support which dynamically adapts following each monthly assessment period, reflecting actual household circumstances. A non-repayable advance, or grant, would provide assistance to those in no immediate financial need and may encourage inappropriate or fraudulent claims to UC.

The current system of advances allows new claimants to request additional support during their first assessment period where needed. Advances can be repaid over a year, allowing new claimants to receive 13 payments during that period instead of 12. Budgeting support is available for anyone who needs extra help managing their finances.

In the year prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, around 55-60 per cent of new claims took up an advance. Subject to some fluctuation, this rate of advance take-up has been broadly consistent over the last 12 months.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the merits of introducing non-repayable grants upon qualification for universal credit, to reduce the risk of fraud.

No-one has to wait for a payment under Universal Credit (UC).

UC offers tailored financial support which dynamically adapts following each monthly assessment period, reflecting actual household circumstances. A non-repayable advance, or grant, would provide assistance to those in no immediate financial need and may encourage inappropriate or fraudulent claims to UC.

The current system of advances allows new claimants to request additional support during their first assessment period where needed. Advances can be repaid over a year, allowing new claimants to receive 13 payments during that period instead of 12. Budgeting support is available for anyone who needs extra help managing their finances.

In the year prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, around 55-60 per cent of new claims took up an advance. Subject to some fluctuation, this rate of advance take-up has been broadly consistent over the last 12 months.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing non-repayable grants upon qualification for universal credit, while maintaining the option of advance payments prior to qualification, to reduce the wait for a claimant’s first payment of universal credit.

No-one has to wait for a payment under Universal Credit (UC).

UC offers tailored financial support which dynamically adapts following each monthly assessment period, reflecting actual household circumstances. A non-repayable advance, or grant, would provide assistance to those in no immediate financial need and may encourage inappropriate or fraudulent claims to UC.

The current system of advances allows new claimants to request additional support during their first assessment period where needed. Advances can be repaid over a year, allowing new claimants to receive 13 payments during that period instead of 12. Budgeting support is available for anyone who needs extra help managing their finances.

In the year prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, around 55-60 per cent of new claims took up an advance. Subject to some fluctuation, this rate of advance take-up has been broadly consistent over the last 12 months.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the evidential basis is for her Department's decision to restrict the eligibility criteria for a work allowance as part of universal credit.

Work Allowances remain focussed on providing an additional work incentive for some of the more vulnerable claimants and are just one of many elements of Universal Credit designed to provide work incentives and support to people moving into and progressing in work.

The Government has made significant investment to improve Universal Credit’s generosity through the reduction in the taper rate from 65% to 63% in 2017, and an extra £1.7 billion a year put into Work Allowances by 2023/24, increasing them by £1,000 a year for working parents and disabled claimants, from April 2019 - an extra £630 a year in the pockets of 2.4 million of the lowest paid families.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the number of new Job Centres required to be opened to accommodate the work coaches announced in the Summer Financial Statement in (a) Scotland, (b) the UK and (c) Airdrie and Shotts.

We are currently evaluating how many new jobcentres we will need to respond to the economic consequences of the Covid pandemic. Further details will be provided to Parliament when our plans have been finalised.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Chancellor's summer economic update of 8 July 2020, whether her Department has plans to reopen recently closed job centres to accommodate the new work coaches announced in that update.

DWP is currently evaluating the estates capacity needed to respond to the economic consequences of the pandemic, this is being done in line with recruitment, which is already underway. Whilst there may be a few exceptions, in general we expect that this will be new estate, rather than jobcentres where leases have been surrendered, as new estate will be easier to make Covid-secure. Further details will be provided to Parliament when our plans have been finalised.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Chancellor's summer economic update of 8 July 2020, what plans she has to expand the job centre network to accommodate the new work coaches announced in that update.

We are currently evaluating the job centre network to ensure we can accommodate the new Work Coaches in a COVID-secure way.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Chancellor's summer economic update of 8 July 2020, whether her Department plans to lease or purchase new buildings to accommodate the new work coaches announced in that update.

We are currently evaluating the job centre network to ensure we can accommodate the new work coaches in a COVID-secure way.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Chancellor's summer economic update of 8 July 2020, how many new or reopened job centres will be required in (a) Airdrie and Shotts constituency, (b) Scotland and (c) the UK to accommodate the new work coaches announced in that update.

We are currently evaluating the job centre network to ensure we can accommodate the new work coaches in a COVID-secure way.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Chancellor's summer economic update of 8 July 2020, what the timetable is for the recruitment of the new work coaches announced in that update; and what estimate she has made of the proportion of those so recruited that will be (a) redeployed from within her Department, (b) redeployed from other Government departments and (c) newly recruited into the Civil Service.

With reference to the Chancellor’s summer economic update of 8 July, we are doubling the number of work coaches to 27,000 by March 2021. We shall recruit an additional 4500 work coaches required by October through a blend of cross-government promotion and external campaigns.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Chancellor’s summer economic update of 8 July, if he will take steps with Cabinet colleagues to bring forward a fair terms and conditions package for staff in the Department of Work and Pensions in response to the high staff turnover in that Department.

An Institute for Government report on Civil Service turnover, published last year, highlighted that overall turnover in large delivery departments such as DWP is much lower than other parts of the Civil Service, with a stable front-line workforce, in for example job centres.

In 2015, the Department secured additional pay flexibility that enabled us to begin to reform pay structures for grades AA to HEO. Over a 4-year period, 2016 through to 2019, pay increases above the limits set within the Civil Service pay guidance were provided, in exchange for AA to HEO employees agreeing to modernised terms and conditions to support the Department’s service transformation – the ‘Employee Deal’. The modernised terms and conditions, including improvements to working patterns and flexible working, enabled us to extend our operating and opening hours.

The work to modernise terms and conditions continues, further extending our operating and opening hours being one of the many things we are doing to modernise DWP, so that whenever customers need us we are able to provide a complete, end-to-end service that meets their needs as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an exceptional surge in demand for our services. In response, we have secured funding from HM Treasury to embark upon an exercise to recruit 13,500 work coaches in Jobcentre Plus before the end of this financial year.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to the Chancellor’s summer economic update, what assessment she made of the adequacy of the childcare offer for universal credit claimants prior to that update.

The Universal Credit (UC) childcare offer remains the same and working families can claim back up to 85% of their registered childcare costs each month. This can be claimed up to a month before starting a job. For families with two children this could be worth up to £13,000 a year.

Help with upfront childcare costs for starting work is available through a non-repayable Flexible Support Fund (FSF) award for eligible UC claimants. The FSF received an additional £150m this financial year to help support UC claimants to move closer to, or in to, work. Help with upfront costs for eligible UC claimants is available through Budgeting Advances

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant the oral statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer entitled Summer Economic Update, Official Report, column 973, what steps her Department is taking to increase the childcare offer for claimants of universal credit.

Under Universal Credit, working families can claim back up to 85% of their registered childcare costs each month. This can be claimed up to a month before starting a job. For families with two children this could be worth up to £13,000 a year.

Help with upfront childcare costs for starting work is available through a non-repayable Flexible Support Fund (FSF) award for eligible UC claimants, with the FSF receiving an additional £150m this financial year to help support UC claimants to move closer to or in to work. Help with upfront costs for eligible UC claimants is available through Budgeting Advances.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Chancellor’s summer economic update of 8 July, whether the doubling of the number of work coaches will be made up of (a) new posts or (b) redeployments.

With reference to the Chancellor’s summer economic update of 8 July and the doubling of the number of work coaches, the majority of these [13500] roles will be new posts.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Chancellor’s summer economic update of 8 July, whether her Department plans to distribute new work coaches to parts of the UK that are most affected by Jobcentre closures.

Recruitment will be targeted based on local demand, plus current available and emerging estate space and Job Centre operating model changes.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Chancellor’s summer economic update of 8 July, what criteria her Department will use when allocating work coaches to different parts of the UK.

Recruitment will be targeted based on local demand, plus current available and emerging estate space and Job Centre operating model changes.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Chancellor’s summer economic update of 8 July, how many of the 30,000 work coaches will be allocated to each (a) devolved nation and (b) constituency.

It is too soon in the recruitment process to be able to identify how many of the new work coaches will be allocated to each devolved nation or constituency. However, Scotland plans to recruit c450 new work coaches between now and the end of October in the first wave of recruitment. Central England and Wales region will recruit c1200 new work coaches in the same time period, split between Central England and Wales. Further planned recruitment later in the year will grow these numbers.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proposals she put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in advance of his statement entitled, Summer Economic Update.

The Department for Work and Pensions has been working closely with HM Treasury on Our Plan for Jobs, which builds on and bolsters the existing support offered by our Job Centre Plus network.

Our initial proposals shared with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and later announced at the Summer Economic Statement on 8 July include:

- Providing enhanced work search support by doubling the number of work coaches in Jobcentre Plus before the end of the financial year

- Plans to introduce a new Kickstart Scheme in Great Britain, a £2 billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of high quality 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24 who are are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.

- An Expanded Youth Offer which involves expanding and increase the intensive support offered by DWP in Great Britain to young jobseekers, to include all those aged 18-24 in the Intensive Work Search group in Universal Credit.

- Expansion of the Work and Health Programme to offer new support to those who lose their job as a result of COVID including introducing additional voluntary support for those on benefits that have been unemployed for more than 3 months.

- Plans to increase the funding for the Flexible Support Fund by £150 million including to increase the capacity of the Rapid Response Service. It will also provide local support to claimants by removing barriers to work such as travel expenses for attending interviews.

- Expanding Sector Based Work Academies directed at priority areas, e.g. construction, infrastructure and social care. The sector-based work academy scheme offers training, work experience and a guaranteed job interview to those ready to start a job.

- Job finding support service which involves providing £40 million to fund private sector capacity to introduce a job finding support service in Great Britain. This online, one-to-one service will help those who have been unemployed for less than three months to increase their chances of finding employment

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the HM Treasury 8 July 2020 policy paper entitled A Plan for Jobs 2020, what plans she has to support people through the expanded Youth Offer programme.

Young people in particular can be at an additional disadvantage due to limited work experience. DWPs new youth offers will include a structured 13-week programme, during which they will be helped in their search for work and referred to the most appropriate support such as careers advice, a sector-based work academy, a traineeship, work experience, mentoring circles or an apprenticeship. Once they have completed this programme participants will be encouraged to take up work-related training or an apprenticeship. Young people who require further support will be referred to young people’s hubs and specialist employability coaches.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of medical assessments for (a) personal independence payment (b) employment and support allowance and (c) universal credit have been (i) paper-based and (ii) telephone-based, since her Department’s suspension of face to face medical assessments on 17 June 2020.

The specific information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

The available information on completed work capability assessments for Employment and Support Allowance, for January to March 2020 and April to June 2020 will be published in September 2020 and December 2020 respectively, on Stat-Xplore here:

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

The latest available data on personal independence payment (PIP) clearances made each month from April 2013 – April 2020 split by geographical area (local authority and parliamentary constituency) and by type of clearance (i.e. whether the claim was awarded, disallowed or withdrawn) for both new claims and reassessed claims, can be found at https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance on how to use Stat-Xplore can be found here:

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

7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many medical assessments for (a) personal independence payment (b) employment and support allowance and (c) universal credit were (i) paper-based and (ii) face-to-face based, prior to her Department’s suspension of face to face medical assessments on 17 June 2020 in the most recent period for which data is available.

The specific information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

The available information on completed work capability assessments for Employment and Support Allowance, for January to March 2020 and April to June 2020 will be published in September 2020 and December 2020 respectively, on Stat-Xplore here:

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

The latest available data on personal independence payment (PIP) clearances made each month from April 2013 – April 2020 split by geographical area (local authority and parliamentary constituency) and by type of clearance (i.e. whether the claim was awarded, disallowed or withdrawn) for both new claims and reassessed claims, can be found at https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guidance on how to use Stat-Xplore can be found here:

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

7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what criteria her Department has used to determine the type of medical assessment available to claimants, since her Department’s suspension of face to face medical assessments on 17 June 2020.

As has always been the case, our assessment providers will initially try to complete paper based assessments, where there is sufficient evidence to make a recommendation. If this is not the case, providers will currently look to offer a telephone assessment, where appropriate. We offer reasonable adjustments for claimants who may need additional support to engage in a telephone assessment. Face to face assessments remain suspended and we will continue to review this in line with the latest public health advice.

7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants have been unable to participate in a medical assessment for (a) personal independence payment, (b) employment support allowance and (c) universal credit since her Department’s suspension of face to face medical assessments on 17 June 2020.

The information requested is not held.

7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 22 June 2020 to Question 62431 on the suspension of benefits conditionality, how her Department will determine what a reasonable claimant commitment is in the new normal.

All requirements in the Claimant Commitment will be set in discussions with claimants, who will take ownership of planning how they will meet the requirements and ultimately secure employment. These requirements will be agreed by both the work coach and claimant and will be reasonable taking into account current circumstances.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 22 June 2020 to Question 62431 on the suspension of benefits conditionality, who will determine whether a claimant commitment is reasonable for the new normal.

All requirements in the Claimant Commitment will be set in discussions with claimants, who will take ownership of planning how they will meet the requirements and ultimately secure employment. These requirements will be agreed by both the work coach and claimant and will be reasonable taking into account current circumstances.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department consulted expert groups, stakeholders and social security recipients on the reintroduction of conditionality and sanctions in the social security system from 1 July 2020.

From the 1st July 2020, DWP has started reintroducing the requirement for claimants of UC, NS and Legacy JSA, and NS ESA to accept a claimant commitment as part of any new claim.

The reintroduction of the claimant commitment represents a return to business as usual, not a policy change and therefore has not required direct consultation.

The operation of these policies are reviewed through consultation with stakeholders on an ongoing basis. Stakeholders were updated and informed by DWP.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what evidence her Department holds on the effectiveness of sanctions as part of the social security system in helping people find work.

The Department holds the following evidence from surveys on this.

72% of claimants agreed that the potential for sanctions meant they were more likely to conduct work search – UC extended gateway evaluation 2015 (page 38 at the link below).

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/481865/universal-credit-extended-gateway-evaluation.pdf

Around 70% of JSA claimants and 60% of ESA claimants who were aware their benefit could be reduced / stopped, if they did not comply with certain conditions, felt they were more likely to follow the rules - The job centre plus offer final evaluation report, (page 28 at the link below).

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/261656/rrep852.pdf

The Department has also committed to doing an evaluation of the effectiveness of Universal Credit sanctions at supporting claimants to search for work in response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s report on benefit sanctions. The Department will look to publish this by the end of 2020

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether an equality impact assessment has been undertaken on the reintroduction of conditionality and sanctions in the social security system on 1 July 2020.

Yes – an equality analysis has been undertaken by the Department for Work and Pensions on the reinstatement of conditionality across affected benefits, and provided to the Secretary of State so she can fulfil her Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) responsibilities.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned research on the link between social security sanctions and food bank use.

We have not commissioned any research on this. To better understand what drives food bank usage the department is currently undertaking a review of external literature, we plan to publish this review by the end of the summer.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned research into the adverse effects of social security sanctions on a claimant's mental health.

No research has been undertaken or commissioned by the Department to see whether there is any potential link between the sanctions regime on the mental health and wellbeing of individuals.

We engage at a personal and individual level with all of our claimants and are committed to tailoring support for specific individual needs, including agreeing realistic and structured steps to encourage claimants into or towards the labour market. These conditionality requirements are regularly reviewed to ensure that they remain appropriate for the claimant. This would include tailoring to reflect any mental health issues the claimant raised.

When considering whether a sanction is appropriate, a Decision Maker will take all the claimant’s individual circumstances, including any health conditions or disabilities and any evidence of good reason, into account before deciding whether a sanction is warranted.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the cost to the public purse was of legal fees in the case of Johnson, Woods, Barrett and Stewart v the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions rules on by the Court of Appeal on 22 June 2020.

This cost is not available at this time as this case is not yet concluded.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the decision of the Court of Appeal of 22 June 2020 in the case of Johnson, Woods, Barrett and Stewart v the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing universal credit applicants to choose the day in the month that their assessment period starts from.

The monthly Universal Credit assessment period and payment structure are fundamental parts of its design, mirroring how the majority of working people are paid. Assessment periods for Universal Credit start from the date of entitlement (date of claim) and each subsequent assessment period will begin on the same date of the month.

All claimants decide when to claim, and therefore can choose when to fix their assessment period commencement date.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what costing model her Department uses to estimate the annual cost of converting the universal credit advance loan to a grant.

The Department uses internal advances modelling which is based on inputs from the Department’s INFORM and Policy Simulation Models.

Costs estimated only include claimants who are deemed eligible for payment.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the cost estimated by her Department for turning the universal credit advance loan to a grant is predicated on the grant being made on the claimant having qualified for universal credit.

The Department uses internal advances modelling which is based on inputs from the Department’s INFORM and Policy Simulation Models.

Costs estimated only include claimants who are deemed eligible for payment.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the recommendations of the Stepchange report Coronavirus and personal debt: a financial recovery strategy for households, published June 2020, on ending the five week wait for universal credit.

The Universal Credit assessment period and payment structure are fundamental parts of the design and the current advance system works, and works quickly. It is not possible to award a Universal Credit payment as soon as a claim is made, as the assessment period must run its course before the award of Universal Credit can be calculated.

Advances are in place to ensure financial support is available to those in need as soon as possible, with most claimants able to request an advance of up to 100% of the monthly amount they are due to receive.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has made an assessment of the implications for her policies of the report entitled, Coronavirus and personal debt: a financial recovery strategy for households published by Stepchange in June 2020; and if she will make a statement.

The Government notes this report and contents. It has introduced a suite of measures that can be quickly and effectively operationalised which benefit those facing the most financial disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes, part of an injection to welfare worth over £6.5bn, include:

  • making it easier to access benefits. Those applying for Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) who may have coronavirus, are self-isolating, or caring for a child (or qualifying young person) who falls into either of those categories, or individuals who have been advised to ’shield’ because they are at high risk of severe illness, will be entitled from day 1 of their claim – as opposed to day 8 - and we have removed the need for face-to-face assessment. Both Universal Credit (UC) and ESA can now be claimed by phone or online;
  • increasing the standard allowance of UC by up to £1,040 this year;
  • temporarily relaxing the application of the Minimum Income Floor for all self-employed claimants;
  • making Statutory Sick Pay available from day 1 – as opposed to day 4 - where an eligible individual is sick or self-isolating; and
  • increasing in the Local Housing Allowance rates for UC and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the lowest 30% of local market rents – which is on average £600 in people’s pockets.

These measures, along with the other job and business support programmes announced by the Chancellor, represent one of the most comprehensive packages of support by an advanced economy.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether it is her policy that (a) referrals to Work Capability Assessments continue during the covid-19 outbreak and (b) staff are processing those referrals as normal.

From 17 March 2020 we suspended all face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits for three months to protect vulnerable people (and assessment centre staff) from unnecessary risk of exposure to COVID-19. The Department continues to refer new claims for a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) to our provider, CHDA. If it is not possible to complete an assessment based on the paper evidence, a WCA will be conducted, where possible, over the telephone.

We also announced that from 24 March 2020 we were suspending all new referrals for reviews and reassessments across disability benefits. However, where a claimant has reported a deterioration in their condition, we will refer them for a reassessment. Where possible we will also continue to process cases that have already been referred to our assessment provider.

18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure (a) efficient and (b) effective decision making on new claims for disability benefits during the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer I gave on 19 May to question number 45199.

18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure the adequate performance of her Department's benefit processing systems as a result of increased demands during the covid-19 outbreak; and if she will publish data on (a) processing times and (b) payment timeliness in each benefit category since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

DWP has redeployed over 8,000 staff on to critical frontline work, streamlined processes and increased the capacity of our IT systems to enable the Department to stand up to unprecedented levels of demand.

We do hold data on benefit processing times, and publish an annual view in the Annual Report and Accounts, which is published here: Annual Report and Accounts. We also publish data on key benefits such as Universal Credit payment timeliness, which is published here: Universal Credit 2013-2020 and on PIP processing times which is published here: PIP Statistics

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to extend eligibility for statutory sick pay to people who live with someone who needs to shield.

The published guidance for people who live with someone who has been advised to shield is clear that other members of the household do not need to start shielding and that they should carefully follow guidance on social distancing. Since someone can follow guidance on social distancing and still work, it would not be appropriate to extend Statutory Sick Pay to them.

1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s survey into people’s experiences of the benefits system during the covid-19 outbreak.

Ministers have met with the Committee and provided their evidence about the welfare system and the Department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department will continue to work constructively with the Committee, including the responses it received in response to their claimant survey. The Department’s Ministers meet regularly with stakeholders to listen and hear about their experiences first hand.

Since mid-March, the Department has received 2.9 million individual declarations for Universal Credit claims. Despite that surge, the system is standing up to the challenge and demonstrating that resilience is part of its design, whilst maintaining levels of payment timeliness.

And, for those claimants who felt that they could not wait for their first routine payment, New Claim Advances are available online and by telephone, with the majority receiving money within 72 hours.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that claimants are aware that making a claim for universal credit could automatically stop existing benefits.

(During the coronavirus) The Department has prioritised ensuring people have the information they need to understand the benefits and employment support they may be eligible for, including launching a new website to help people navigate the range of support available and apply for it.

Although neither HMRC nor DWP can advise tax credit claimants whether they should claim UC, we have actively encouraged them to use benefit calculators to check their eligibility for Universal Credit before applying, and have explained that applying for UC will stop their tax credit claim. This includes adding information to HMRC’s Interactive Voice Response for people calling on the phone, and updating GOV.UK pages. We have used the DWP Twitter and Facebook channels to share messages for tax credit claimants, and used paid media to ensure we reach millions of people.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many tax credit claims have been closed after an application for universal credit for which the claimant was ineligible in the latest period for which figures are available.

The information requested is not available.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her Department’s policy to allow claimants to re-open a tax credit claim following an application for universal credit.

The Department has prioritised ensuring people have the information they need to understand the benefits and employment support they may be eligible for, including launching a new microsite within the Understanding Universal Credit website to help people navigate the range of support available and apply for it.

Although neither HMRC nor DWP can advise tax credit claimants whether they should claim Universal Credit (UC), we have actively encouraged them to use benefit calculators to check their eligibility before applying and have explained that applying for UC will stop their tax credit claim. This includes adding information to HMRC’s Interactive Voice Response for people calling on the phone, as well as updating GOV.UK pages. We have used the DWP Twitter and Facebook channels to share messages for tax credit claimants, and used paid media to ensure we reach millions of people.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of ending the five week wait for universal credit by making the advance payment a grant when the claim is confirmed.

Nobody has to wait five weeks for a payment under Universal Credit. Advances are a mechanism for getting claimants faster access to their entitlement; allowing claimants to receive 13 payments over 12 months with up to 12 months to repay the advance.

New Claims Advances of up to 100% of potential entitlement are available if a claimant needs support during their first assessment period. Face-to-face checks for Universal Credit advances have been scrapped due to Covid-19, so people get the support they need despite COVID-19 restrictions.

The Government has already taken steps to help ease the burden of the repayment of advances.

We have reduced the maximum deduction from 40% to 30% of a claimant’s standard allowance. The Budget 2020 set out that the maximum level will be further reduced, so that standard deductions will not exceed 25% of a claimant’s Standard Allowance from October 2021.

The repayment time for advances has already been extended from 6 months to 12 months, and a further extension to 24 months from October 2021 was announced in the budget. Claimants can ask for repayments to be delayed for up to 3 months if they can’t afford them.

Any further changes to this policy would require significant system development at a time when all resources are rightly focused on processing new claims. We will continue to review our policies but have no further planned changes at this time

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many applications for universal credit were made on each of the last 30 days.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Universal Credit system has demonstrated its resilience and ability to deal with large increase in applications, ensuring we provide financial help to those in need. Using technology and automation Universal Credit delivers a modern and effective working-age welfare system, allowing our staff to concentrate on those people who require additional support. This approach is currently allowing us to continue to process new applications online and by telephone without the need to visit a Jobcentre.

The most recent scheduled Universal Credit statistical release surrounding the caseload volume was on 21 April 2020: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/announcements/universal-credit-29-april-2013-to-12-march-2020

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what contingency plans her Department has made in the event of a covid-19 outbreak in job centres; and if she will make a statement.

DWP has contingency plans in place that prioritise activities to protect payments to claimants and access to new claims when capacity is compromised.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department plans to enforce conditionality on people claiming benefits who have been affected by covid-19; and if she will make a statement.

Claimants who are self-isolating as a result of Covid-19 will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department plans to introduce a work allowance for all universal credit claimants who do not meet the existing criteria; and if she will make a statement.

Universal Credit is a modern, flexible, personalised benefit reflecting the rapidly changing world of work and replaces six outdated and complex benefits with one. It is simplifying the benefits system and making work pay. Monthly assessment periods align to the way the majority of people are paid and also allows Universal Credit to be adjusted each month. This means that if a claimant’s income falls, they will not have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit.

The Government has made significant investment to improve work incentives including: the reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate from 65% to 63% in 2017, and an extra £1.7 billion a year put into work allowances for working parents and disabled claimants to increase them by £1,000 a year from April 2019. This is providing a boost to the incomes of the lowest paid and result in 2.4 million families keeping an extra £630 per year of what they earn.

We are committed to helping the most vulnerable to improve their life chances by tackling the root causes of poverty, and ensuring that children have the best possible start in life continue to reform the welfare system so that it promotes work as the most effective route out of poverty and is fairer towards those who receive it and the taxpayers who pay for it. We also want to identify opportunities to create a highly productive workforce, improving progression prospects for the lowest paid people so everyone has the right skills to meet the UK’s future demand.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if her Department will review the minimum income floor used to estimate earnings for universal credit claimants that are self-employed.

The Department supports people to be self-employed when it is the right thing for them to do to be financially self-sufficient. Key to this is continuing to help claimants in, or considering, self-employment to progress to a level of sustained financial self-sufficiency that does not exclude the possibility of better paid work elsewhere. This ensures fairness to claimants, but also taxpayers who fund the welfare system.

Work coaches offer tailored support to our claimants who are in self-employment through to help them to increase their productivity and earnings. Work coaches can refer low-earning claimants to mentoring support from New Enterprise Allowance providers and sign-post claimants to the other extensive business support which is already funded by the Government.

We recognise that it takes time for new businesses to grow and that even established businesses can experience difficulties. From September 2020, all self-employed Universal Credit claimants will be given the same 12 months’ exemption period to provide them with time and support needed to grow their businesses.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of potential options for reducing the five-week wait for a first payment of universal credit.

No one has to wait five weeks for their first payment of Universal Credit. New claim advances are available to support those in financial need until their first payment is made. The Department has learnt from where we did not get things right in the past in the legacy benefit system. Too often, the desire to pay quickly meant claimants not receiving their correct entitlement as we did not have an appropriate timeframe to review household circumstances. Universal Credit is calculated to reflect the claimant’s circumstances at the end of their monthly assessment period to accurately reflect circumstances at the point of payment.

Claimants can access up to 100% of the total expected monthly award, which they can pay back over a period of up to 12 months. We have announced that from October 2021, the repayment period for these advances will be extended further, to 16 months. Proposed repayments of the advance are explained, and all claimants are advised to request a level of advance which is manageable both now and when considering the repayments required.

Universal Credit is simpler and fairer than the legacy benefit system. It is designed to target resources at those that need them most and to provide support for people who can’t work or need help moving towards the labour market. Our work coaches all undertake a robust learning process which includes a focus on health conditions and disabilities, how to tailor service delivery according to needs, and has specific content on requirement setting for people with mental health conditions.

Our Work Coaches gauge claimants’ financial needs from their first interview. For those who need help with budgeting, we are able to signpost additional support, for example through the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), who can help with personal budgeting and money management through its free helpline, printed guides and digital guidance.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of removing the option to share the results of work capability assessments with GPs on the ability of disabled people to access support; and if she will make a statement.

The Universal Credit system is structured around an online personal account which contains all the information relevant to the claim. This includes claimant’s bank account details, savings, capital, medical history, family relationships and address information. In order to take all reasonable steps to protect the position of claimants and their data, the Universal Credit design principle is that claimants own their own data, and this is made clear from the beginning of the claim.

When Universal Credit claimants receive their Work Capability Assessment decision, we advise them they no longer need to supply medical evidence to support their claim. Claimants may choose to obtain medical evidence for other purposes (for employers or other support in the community). Claimants may also choose to share the outcome of their Work Capability Assessment with their GPs, depending on their personal preferences and the relevance of the information to their GPs.

The Department continues to improve the process to ensure our claimants receive the appropriate support and information.

27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the five-week wait for a first payment of universal credit on levels of foodbank use.

No one has to wait five weeks for their first payment of Universal Credit. New claim advances are available to support those in financial need until their first payment is made. The Department has learnt from where we did not get things right in the past in the legacy benefit system. Too often, the desire to pay quickly meant claimants not receiving their correct entitlement as we did not have an appropriate timeframe to review household circumstances.

Claimants can access up to 100% of the total expected monthly award, which they can pay back over a period of up to 12 months. We have announced that from October 2021, the repayment period for these advances will be extended further, to 16 months. Proposed repayments of the advance are explained, and all claimants are advised to request a level of advance which is manageable both now and when considering the repayments required.

The best way to help people improve their lives is through employment. Households where all adults are in work are around 6 times less likely to be in relative poverty than adults in a household where nobody works. This improves further if all the adults are working full time, reducing a child’s risk of being in poverty from 66% for (two-parent) families with only part-time work to 7%. Universal Credit allows households the freedom from the ‘cliff edges’ which featured in the legacy benefits system, where money was lost when working more than 16, 24 or 30 hours.

There are many reasons people use foodbanks and their growth cannot be linked to a single cause. We have listened to feedback on how we can support our Universal Credit claimants and acted quickly, making improvements such as removing waiting days and introducing housing benefit run on. These changes are giving support to vulnerable people who need it most, whilst at the same time helping people get into work faster.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the five-week wait for a first payment of universal credit on levels of poverty.

No one has to wait five weeks for their first payment of Universal Credit. New claim advances are available to support those in financial need until their first payment is made. The Department has learnt from where we did not get things right in the past in the legacy benefit system. Too often, the desire to pay quickly meant claimants not receiving their correct entitlement as we did not have an appropriate timeframe to review household circumstances.

Claimants can access up to 100% of the total expected monthly award, which they can pay back over a period of up to 12 months. We have announced that from October 2021, the repayment period for these advances will be extended further, to 16 months. Proposed repayments of the advance are explained, and all claimants are advised to request a level of advance which is manageable both now and when considering the repayments required.

The best way to help people improve their lives is through employment. Households where all adults are in work are around 6 times less likely to be in relative poverty than adults in a household where nobody works. This improves further if all the adults are working full time, reducing a child’s risk of being in poverty from 66% for (two-parent) families with only part-time work to 7%. Universal Credit allows households the freedom from the ‘cliff edges’ which featured in the legacy benefits system, where money was lost when working more than 16, 24 or 30 hours.

There are many reasons people use foodbanks and their growth cannot be linked to a single cause. We have listened to feedback on how we can support our Universal Credit claimants and acted quickly, making improvements such as removing waiting days and introducing housing benefit run on. These changes are giving support to vulnerable people who need it most, whilst at the same time helping people get into work faster.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the five-week wait for a first payment of universal credit on levels of homelessness.

No one has to wait five weeks for their first payment of Universal Credit. New claim advances are available to support those in financial need until their first payment is made. The Department has learnt from where we did not get things right in the past in the legacy benefit system. Too often, the desire to pay quickly meant claimants not receiving their correct entitlement as we did not have an appropriate timeframe to review household circumstances.

Claimants can access up to 100% of the total expected monthly award, which they can pay back over a period of up to 12 months. We have announced that from October 2021, the repayment period for these advances will be extended further, to 16 months. Proposed repayments of the advance are explained, and all claimants are advised to request a level of advance which is manageable both now and when considering the repayments required.

Our Work Coaches gauge claimants’ financial needs from their first interview. For those who need help with budgeting, we are able to signpost additional support, for example through the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), who can help with personal budgeting and money management through its free helpline, printed guides and digital guidance.

Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs), such as a managed payment to landlord (MPTL), are available to enable the housing costs element to be paid directly to the landlord if the tenant is likely to have difficulty in managing their rent payments or is in rent arrears. APAs will only be considered where a lack of financial capability poses a risk to the claimant, or their family, and the decision to implement one is assessed on a case by case basis.

Our own analysis shows that Universal Credit in fact reduces rent arrears, supporting research carried out by the National Federation of ALMOs which shows over three quarters of their tenants come onto Universal Credit with pre-existing rent arrears. It also shows that arrears tend to increase prior to making a claim for Universal Credit, and that Universal Credit actually appears to be helping to clear arrears over time. We are currently extending this analysis to include a number of housing providers. It will be published when completed.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the five-week wait for a first payment of universal credit on levels of indebtedness.

No one has to wait five weeks for their first payment of Universal Credit. New claim advances are available to support those in financial need until their first payment is made. The Department has learnt from where we did not get things right in the past in the legacy benefit system. Too often, the desire to pay quickly meant claimants not receiving their correct entitlement as we did not have an appropriate timeframe to review household circumstances.

Claimants can access up to 100% of the total expected monthly award, which they can pay back over a period of up to 12 months. We have announced that from October 2021, the repayment period for these advances will be extended further, to 16 months. Proposed repayments of the advance are explained, and all claimants are advised to request a level of advance which is manageable both now and when considering the repayments required.

Our Work Coaches gauge claimants’ financial needs from their first interview. For those who need help with budgeting, we are able to signpost additional support, for example through the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), who can help with personal budgeting and money management through its free helpline, printed guides and digital guidance.

Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs), such as a managed payment to landlord (MPTL), are available to enable the housing costs element to be paid directly to the landlord if the tenant is likely to have difficulty in managing their rent payments or is in rent arrears. APAs will only be considered where a lack of financial capability poses a risk to the claimant, or their family, and the decision to implement one is assessed on a case by case basis.

Our own analysis shows that Universal Credit in fact reduces rent arrears, supporting research carried out by the National Federation of ALMOs which shows over three quarters of their tenants come onto Universal Credit with pre-existing rent arrears. It also shows that arrears tend to increase prior to making a claim for Universal Credit, and that Universal Credit actually appears to be helping to clear arrears over time. We are currently extending this analysis to include a number of housing providers. It will be published when completed.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the five-week wait for a first payment of universal credit on levels of rent arrears incurred by (a) social landlords and (b) private landlords.

No one has to wait five weeks for their first payment of Universal Credit. New claim advances are available to support those in financial need until their first payment is made. The Department has learnt from where we did not get things right in the past in the legacy benefit system. Too often, the desire to pay quickly meant claimants not receiving their correct entitlement as we did not have an appropriate timeframe to review household circumstances.

Claimants can access up to 100% of the total expected monthly award, which they can pay back over a period of up to 12 months. We have announced that from October 2021, the repayment period for these advances will be extended further, to 16 months. Proposed repayments of the advance are explained, and all claimants are advised to request a level of advance which is manageable both now and when considering the repayments required.

Our Work Coaches gauge claimants’ financial needs from their first interview. For those who need help with budgeting, we are able to signpost additional support, for example through the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), who can help with personal budgeting and money management through its free helpline, printed guides and digital guidance.

Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs), such as a managed payment to landlord (MPTL), are available to enable the housing costs element to be paid directly to the landlord if the tenant is likely to have difficulty in managing their rent payments or is in rent arrears. APAs will only be considered where a lack of financial capability poses a risk to the claimant, or their family, and the decision to implement one is assessed on a case by case basis.

Our own analysis shows that Universal Credit in fact reduces rent arrears, supporting research carried out by the National Federation of ALMOs which shows over three quarters of their tenants come onto Universal Credit with pre-existing rent arrears. It also shows that arrears tend to increase prior to making a claim for Universal Credit, and that Universal Credit actually appears to be helping to clear arrears over time. We are currently extending this analysis to include a number of housing providers. It will be published when completed.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the five-week wait for a first payment of universal credit on levels of poverty in (a) Airdrie and Shotts constituency and (b) Scotland.

No one has to wait five weeks for their first payment of Universal Credit. New claim advances are available to support those in financial need until their first payment is made. The Department has learnt from where we did not get things right in the past in the legacy benefit system. Too often, the desire to pay quickly meant claimants not receiving their correct entitlement as we did not have an appropriate timeframe to review household circumstances.

Claimants can access up to 100% of the total expected monthly award, which they can pay back over a period of up to 12 months. We have announced that from October 2021, the repayment period for these advances will be extended further, to 16 months. Proposed repayments of the advance are explained, and all claimants are advised to request a level of advance which is manageable both now and when considering the repayments required.

The best way to help people improve their lives is through employment. Households where all adults are in work are around 6 times less likely to be in relative poverty than adults in a household where nobody works. This improves further if all the adults are working full time, reducing a child’s risk of being in poverty from 66% for (two-parent) families with only part-time work to 7%. Universal Credit allows households the freedom from the ‘cliff edges’ which featured in the legacy benefits system, where money was lost when working more than 16, 24 or 30 hours.

There are many reasons people use foodbanks and their growth cannot be linked to a single cause. We have listened to feedback on how we can support our Universal Credit claimants and acted quickly, making improvements such as removing waiting days and introducing housing benefit run on. These changes are giving support to vulnerable people who need it most, whilst at the same time helping people get into work faster.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the five-week wait for a first payment of universal credit on the mental health of applicants.

No one has to wait five weeks for their first payment of Universal Credit. New claim advances are available to support those in financial need until their first payment is made. The Department has learnt from where we did not get things right in the past in the legacy benefit system. Too often, the desire to pay quickly meant claimants not receiving their correct entitlement as we did not have an appropriate timeframe to review household circumstances. Universal Credit is calculated to reflect the claimant’s circumstances at the end of their monthly assessment period to accurately reflect circumstances at the point of payment.

Claimants can access up to 100% of the total expected monthly award, which they can pay back over a period of up to 12 months. We have announced that from October 2021, the repayment period for these advances will be extended further, to 16 months. Proposed repayments of the advance are explained, and all claimants are advised to request a level of advance which is manageable both now and when considering the repayments required.

Universal Credit is simpler and fairer than the legacy benefit system. It is designed to target resources at those that need them most and to provide support for people who can’t work or need help moving towards the labour market. Our work coaches all undertake a robust learning process which includes a focus on health conditions and disabilities, how to tailor service delivery according to needs, and has specific content on requirement setting for people with mental health conditions.

Our Work Coaches gauge claimants’ financial needs from their first interview. For those who need help with budgeting, we are able to signpost additional support, for example through the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), who can help with personal budgeting and money management through its free helpline, printed guides and digital guidance.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of cases where claimants have been assessed as having no entitlement to the housing element of universal credit because they moved from rented accommodation to accommodation where no rent is payable during their assessment period in the latest period for which figures are available.

The Universal Credit award is calculated to reflect the claimant’s circumstances at the end of their assessment period. To do this, we treat all changes as applying from the beginning of the assessment period in which they take place (if reported in the assessment period within which they occurred). The award for that month is therefore wholly at the new rate. This reflects the claimant’s circumstances at the point of payment, and will better anticipate their needs over the forthcoming month.

This principle applies to all elements of Universal Credit. For example, if a new child is born part way through an assessment period, we apply the change to the whole month, not from the date the child was born.

Claimants can easily notify the Department of any changes that might incur within an assessment period using their online account, telephone and speak to their Work Coach face to face in a Jobcentre.

Additionally, existing Universal Credit claimants who have told the Department about a change in their circumstances, which means more Universal Credit is owed, may also apply for an advance payment. There are also discretionary housing payments in place to support those who require support meeting their rent costs.

Statistics on the housing element of Universal Credit are published and can be found at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

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

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 13 January 2020 to Question 317 on Poverty: Children, if she will take steps to lift the two-child limit for (a) child tax credits and (b) universal credit.

The Government’s view is that providing support for a maximum of two children or qualifying young persons in Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit ensures fairness between claimants on the one hand and, on the other, those taxpayers who support themselves solely through work. Universal Credit is designed to mirror the world of work where families do not automatically see their income rise on the birth of a new child.

This Government is committed to delivering a sustainable, long-term solution to poverty in all its forms. Tackling child poverty requires an approach that goes beyond one that focuses on income alone to one that addresses the root causes of poverty and disadvantage and improves long-term outcomes for families and children.

We recognise that some claimants are not able to make the same choices about the number of children in their family, which is why exceptions have been put in place to protect certain groups.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of calculating entitlement to the housing element of universal credit on the basis of a claimant’s circumstances at the end of their monthly assessment period on claimants whose circumstances have changed within that month.

The Universal Credit award is calculated to reflect the claimant’s circumstances at the end of their assessment period. To do this, we treat all changes as applying from the beginning of the assessment period in which they take place (if reported in the assessment period within which they occurred). The award for that month is therefore wholly at the new rate. This reflects the claimant’s circumstances at the point of payment, and will better anticipate their needs over the forthcoming month.

This principle applies to all elements of Universal Credit. For example, if a new child is born part way through an assessment period, we apply the change to the whole month, not from the date the child was born.

Claimants can easily notify the Department of any changes that might incur within an assessment period using their online account, telephone and speak to their Work Coach face to face in a Jobcentre.

Additionally, existing Universal Credit claimants who have told the Department about a change in their circumstances, which means more Universal Credit is owed, may also apply for an advance payment. There are also discretionary housing payments in place to support those who require support meeting their rent costs.

Statistics on the housing element of Universal Credit are published and can be found at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

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

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to award the housing element of universal credit to claimants who have moved accommodation within their assessment period, to cover any cost of rent due before their move.

The Universal Credit award is calculated to reflect the claimant’s circumstances at the end of their assessment period. To do this, we treat all changes as applying from the beginning of the assessment period in which they take place (if reported in the assessment period within which they occurred). The award for that month is therefore wholly at the new rate. This reflects the claimant’s circumstances at the point of payment, and will better anticipate their needs over the forthcoming month.

This principle applies to all elements of Universal Credit. For example, if a new child is born part way through an assessment period, we apply the change to the whole month, not from the date the child was born.

Claimants can easily notify the Department of any changes that might incur within an assessment period using their online account, telephone and speak to their Work Coach face to face in a Jobcentre.

Additionally, existing Universal Credit claimants who have told the Department about a change in their circumstances, which means more Universal Credit is owed, may also apply for an advance payment. There are also discretionary housing payments in place to support those who require support meeting their rent costs.

Statistics on the housing element of Universal Credit are published and can be found at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

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

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 7 January 2020 to Question 318 on Employment: Poverty, what assessment her Department has made of the effect on in-work poverty of raising the statutory National Living Wage to at least the level of the Real Living Wage.

It is not possible to predict the impact of the real living wage on in-work poverty as poverty projections are inherently speculative as they require projecting how income will change for every individual in society which are affected by a huge range of unknown factors.

On 1 April 2020, the Government will increase the National Living Wage (NLW) for over 25s by 6.2% to £8.72. This increase is projected to meet the Government’s target of reaching 60% of median earnings by 2020. This latest increase will mean that the annual earnings of a full-time worker on the NLW will have increased by nearly £3,700 since the year the policy was announced. In September last year, the Chancellor pledged to raise the NLW to two-thirds of median earnings within five years, making the UK the first major economy in the world to set such an ambition.

The Government considers the expert and independent advice of the Low Pay Commission (LPC) when setting the NMW and NLW rates. The LPC draws on economic, labour market and pay analysis, independent research and stakeholder evidence. The key distinction between the NLW and other rates, such as the Living Wage Foundation’s voluntary Living Wage, is that the LPC considers the impact on businesses and the economy when making its recommendations.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 07 January 2020 to Question 318 on Employment: Poverty, what steps she is taking to reform to the welfare system to tackle in-work poverty; and if she will end the sanctions regime for universal credit.

Universal Credit, at the heart of our welfare reforms, aims to reduce the number of workless households by reducing the financial and administrative barriers to work that existed in the previous system of legacy benefits.

In recent years the Government has made significant investment to improve work incentives including:

o the reduction in the UC taper rate from 65% to 63% in 2017; and.

o An extra £1.7 billion a year put into UC work allowances for working parents and disabled claimants to increase them by £1,000 a year from April 2019. Providing a boost to the incomes of the lowest paid and resulting in 2.4 million families keeping an extra £630 per year of what they earn.

We have also taken a range of broader steps to help families keep more of what they earn including another rise in the National Living Wage to £8.21 and increasing a full-time worker’s annual pay by over £2,750 since its introduction. Tax changes have also made basic rate taxpayers over £1,200 better off since April, compared with 2010. The most recent changes mean that, from April, a single person on the National Minimum Wage is taking home over £13,700 a year after income tax and National Insurance – £4,500 more than in 2009/10. Additionally, further help is being provided to working families by doubling free childcare to 30 hours a week for nearly 400,000 working parents of three and four-year-olds and introducing Tax-Free Childcare, worth up to £2,000 per child per year;

The Government has no plans to remove sanctions but continue to monitor the operation of the policies and processes to ensure the sanctions system remains clear, fair and effective in promoting positive behaviours.

The Government believes that these improvements help people on UC to keep more of what they earn, support employment and help to make work pay.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department enforces the (a) repayment of social security overpayments and (b) prosecutions when the error was made by her Department.

For all benefits other than Universal Credit, New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and New Style Employment Support Allowance (ESA), overpayments resulting from Departmental error are not recoverable.

Section 105 of The Welfare Reform Act 2012 amended the Social Security Act 1992, so that for Universal Credit, New Style JSA and New Style ESA, any payment in excess of the entitlement is recoverable, regardless of how the overpayment of entitlement occurred. This policy was brought in to reflect the need for a better value for money welfare system and to reinforce the overarching aim that Universal Credit mirrors work.

As a Department, we understand the impact that debt can have on the wellbeing of claimants and we endeavour to ensure that the recovery of any overpayment is managed in a way that takes account of the claimant’s individual circumstances.

I can confirm that the Department would not prosecute a claimant if an overpayment occurred purely as a result of a Departmental error, and would only consider prosecuting a claimant where there is strong evidence to suggest they may have committed benefit fraud

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will publish her Department's policy on whistleblowing.

DWP supports the right of employees to raise any concerns they have about alleged wrongdoing and to be able to do this confidentially, if they wish, without fear of retribution. Within DWP, we encourage this and a Whistleblowing Policy is already published on the Department’s Intranet and is accessible by all employees. A copy of this policy will be placed in the Library of the House.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have been prosecuted for Carer's Allowance (a) overpayments and (b) wrongful payment in the last 10 years.

To provide this information would incur a disproportionate cost to the Department.

The Department would only seek to prosecute an individual where there was strong evidence to suggest that the individual had committed benefit fraud.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reasons her Department is increasing working-age benefits in line with the rate of inflation from April 2020 rather than an earlier date.

The Secretary of State is bound by law to complete an annual review of benefit and pension rates to determine whether they have retained their value in relation to the general level of prices or – for pensions - earnings. This statute requires benefit and pension rates to be reviewed and set in each tax year. April 2020 is the new financial year.

The Secretary of State has completed her review and a Written Statement was tabled on 4 November:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-11-04/HCWS74/

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to reduce child poverty.

This Government is committed to delivering a sustainable, long-term solution to poverty in all its forms. Tackling child poverty requires an approach that goes beyond one that focuses on income alone to one that addresses the root causes of poverty and disadvantage and improves long-term outcomes for families and children.

Through Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families, published in 2017, we set out detailed evidence on the root causes of poverty and disadvantage and their impact on the outcomes of children in families where none of the parents is working. We also set out nine indicators to track progress in the areas that matter, including two statutory measures of parental worklessness and educational attainment – the two areas that we know can make the biggest difference to children’s outcomes.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/621364/improving-lives-helping-workless-families-web-version.pdf.

There is clear evidence that children in working households are not only less likely to grow up in poverty – their life chances are also significantly better. We will therefore continue to reform the welfare system so that it works with the tax system and the labour market to support employment and higher pay. Promoting full-time work through work incentives is a key feature of this approach, reinforced by the National Living Wage and the rising Personal Tax Allowance, which work together to promote independence from benefits.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to tackle in-work poverty.

Delivering a sustainable, long-term solution to all forms of poverty is a priority for this Government. There is clear evidence that full-time work substantially reduces the risk of in-work poverty; for example, there is only a 7% chance of a child being in poverty if both parents

work full-time compared with 66% for two-parent families with only part-time work.

The number of people in employment is at a near-record high of 3.8 million. Around three-quarters of the growth in employment has been in full-time work, substantially reducing the risk of poverty.

Universal Credit promotes full-time work through smooth incentives to increase hours, a general expectation that lone parents and partners should work (unless caring for young children or a disabled person); and generous childcare subsidies. We will therefore continue with our reforms to the welfare system so that it works with the tax system and the labour market to support employment and higher pay.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the take-up of pension credit.

The Department for Work and Pensions publishes an annual report detailing latest available statistics regarding the estimated take-up of Pension Credit and other income-related benefits.

The latest version can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/income-related-benefits-estimates-of-take-up-financial-year-2016-to-2017

The next report containing 2017/18 data is currently due to be published around January – February 2020.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Oct 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to her predecessor's speech to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation on 9 May 2019, what steps her Department is taking to (a) reduce the maximum length of financial sanctions for welfare claimants from three years to six months, (b) improve access to the labour market for underrepresented groups, (c) double membership to the Disability Confident scheme and (d) consult on reforming statutory sick pay.

In respect of (a) `reduce the maximum length of financial sanctions for welfare claimants from three years to six months,` we laid legislation to reduce the maximum length of higher-level sanctions from three years to six months on 16 October 2019. We are now working to update communications and Learning and Development products ahead of the legislation coming into force on 27 November 2019.

In respect of (b) `improve access to the labour market for underrepresented groups:`

  • We are committed to ensuring that everyone - irrespective of their gender - is able to enter work, progress in work and realise financial security. We are making Universal Credit work better for women, including building the capability of Work Coaches and supporting women in low-paid employment or multiple jobs to increase their earnings. We are also supporting women on Universal Credit to progress from low paying jobs, through a programme of research and trials into the barriers they face and into what works to tackle those barriers.

  • To improve access to the labour market for ethnic minorities, we are providing targeted employment support in 20 areas across Great Britain with high levels of ethnic minority unemployment. In these areas, Jobcentre Plus works with employers and local authorities, wider public services and the voluntary sector to overcome barriers to employment faced by different ethnic groups. Lessons learned are shared across the wider Jobcentre Plus network.

  • To support older people in remaining and returning to work, we abolished the default retirement age and extended the right to request flexible working.

  • In 2017, we published the Fuller Working Lives Strategy, which aims to increase the retention, retraining and recruitment of older workers, by bringing about a change in the perceptions & attitudes of employers, and by challenging the views of working in later life and retirement amongst individuals. We also appointed the Business Champion for Older Workers to spearhead our work to support employers to retain, retrain and recruit older workers.

  • In respect of people with disabilities, The Work and Heath Programme (WHP), which is working with local providers to offer co-ordinated support to those with multiple employment barriers, will help 275,000 people over 5 years, including 220,000 disabled people.

  • Other DWP initiatives include Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme (IPES) due to launch before the end of 2019, Access to Work and Disability Confident. In addition, our Jobcentres offer tailored support from Work Coaches and Disability Employment Advisers, backed by the Personal Support Package which is a 4 year, £330 million package of employment support targeted at claimants with disabilities and health conditions.

  • In respect of those at a disadvantage in the labour market, five DWP locally funded innovation pilots were launched between February and June 2018, aimed at providing tailored support to tackle long term barriers to work and in-work progression for those on low pay.

In respect of (c) `double membership to the Disability Confident scheme:` We are actively working with internal and external stakeholders, including the high profile Business Leaders Group, other representatives of Business and Jobcentre Plus, to promote the Disability Confident scheme and encourage employer sign up. As of 13th September 2019, the latest published figures show that 13,600 employers had signed up to the scheme and that number is growing week by week.

In respect of (d) ‘consult on reforming statutory sick pay,’ we published the consultation `health is everyone’s business` in mid-July and it closed on 7 October. We have received a good response from a range of stakeholders and we are currently reviewing the detailed responses to inform decisions on next steps.

22nd Oct 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Government response to the Work and Pensions Committee’s Nineteenth Report of Session 2017–19, Benefit sanctions. HC1949, when her Department plans to publish its evaluation on whether the sanctions regime within universal credit is effective at supporting claimants to search for work; and what the reason is for the time taken to publish that evaluation.

The Department will look to publish its evaluation by the end of 2019.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Oct 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking in response to the findings of her Department's In-work progression trial: further impact assessment and cost benefit analysis report dated 11 October 2019.

Since 2010 we have seen over 3.7 million more people in work; two thirds of them in higher-skilled, higher paid roles. But, the Department wants to ensure everyone has a chance to move to higher paid work, which is why we ran this trial to learn more about what interventions could work. We will examine the outcomes as we develop our policies further to help boost their earnings.

The evaluation of the trial showed small but sustained impacts for those receiving the most support, and it also shows these interventions may be cost effective.

These results are promising, but there is still more work to do to increase our knowledge of What Works. The Department is currently in the second year of a four-year programme, announced in the Autumn Budget 2017, to deliver programme of research and analysis, and run a suite of tests and trials, working in partnership with other Government Departments and external organisations. This includes research which seeks to understand the situations and support needs of our future in-work cohorts; a Rapid Evidence Assessment of international policies linked to in-work progression; and work which will support Jobcentre staff to help claimants to make good decisions around job-switching.

The Department will be using the results of the trial, together with other research conducted in years 1 and 2 of this programme, to develop more targeted tests and trials to support the development of effective in-work services.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Oct 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to her Department's report entitled, In-Work progression trial: further impact assessment and cost benefit analysis, what the point-in-time progression measures were for the (a) 52- and (b) 78-week periods by (i) gender and (ii) self-reported ethnic background of trial participants.

The 52-week In-Work Progression Trial Impact Analysis was published on 12th September 2018 on GOV.UK. In the trial, the Frequent support group had Work Coach appointments every fortnight, while the Minimal support group only ever had two appointments in total.

i) Gender

The 52-week point-in-time progression measure for males was an additional £4.21 per week for the Frequent support group relative to the Minimal support group. For females, the point-in-time progression measure was an additional £5.99 per week for the Frequent support group relative to the Minimal support group. These progression estimates were calculated from samples and the difference of £1.78 is not statistically significant. The conclusion is that there does not appear to be evidence of a difference in progression between genders.

The 78-week point-in-time progression measure for males was an additional £1.34 per week for the Frequent support group relative to the Minimal support group. For females, the point-in-time progression measure was an additional £6.14 per week for the Frequent support group relative to the Minimal support group. Again, these estimates are based on samples and the difference of £4.80 is not statistically significant. The conclusion is that there does not appear to be evidence of a difference in progression between genders.

ii) Ethnicity

The Department holds some data about ethnicity. Of the self-reported ethnic backgrounds, 82% of trial participants were of a White background; 6% of participants were of a Black/African/Caribbean background; 5% were of an Asian background and 7% were made up of other ethnic backgrounds.

The Department has not calculated ethnicity sub-group progression measures. The small sample sizes in all other ethnicity groups, with the exception of the White background group, means that any comparisons of progression would not lead to statistically robust conclusions.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Oct 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the (a) minimum, (b) maximum and (c) average caseload was for jobcentre work coaches in each constituency in the most recent period for which data is available.

The information requested is not readily available to constituency level and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The size of a Work Coaches caseload will vary as it is dependent on a number of factors, including the level of customer support required, the needs of the local labour market and the Work Coaches working pattern.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th Sep 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to prevent food insecurity after the UK leaves the EU.

The Government has been clear that leaving the EU with a deal is its preferred option.

The Government has put in place contingency plans for a range of exit scenarios. These contingencies ensure that DWP can continue to provide our vital services and that individuals will continue to be able to access DWP benefits and services on the same basis as they do now.

The Government is committed to providing a strong safety-net through the welfare system. We continue to spend over £95 billion a year on benefits for people of working age. DWP continues to monitor the effects of EU exit on the economy. Rates of benefits continue to be reviewed in line with the relevant legislation for uprating.

26th Sep 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what comparative assessment she has made of the average length of time for a claimant to receive their first (a) legacy benefit payment and (b) universal credit payment in the each of the last two years.

The design of Universal Credit is fundamentally different to legacy benefits, so any assessment would not reflect this adequately.

The Department published an assessment of legacy benefit and Universal Credit payment timeliness in its Annual Report and Accounts 2018-19. This showed that the speed of Universal Credit payments has continued to improve during its rollout and the Department continues to introduce improvements. Between February 2018 to February 2019 Universal Credit payment timeliness improved with 86% of new claims to Universal Credit receiving full payment on time in February 2019, an increase from 78% in February 2018.

Monthly assessment periods align to the way the majority of employees are paid, and how utility companies and other service providers collect payments. This allows Universal Credit to be adjusted each month, which means that if a claimant’s income falls they will not have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit.

Overall, Universal Credit provides more tailored support, and makes it more financially rewarding to increase earnings when in employment compared to legacy benefits.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Sep 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of whether households have reduced their expenditure on non-essential items in order to avoid debt while waiting for their first payment of universal credit.

For new claimants applying for Universal Credit (UC), new claim advances provide access to a payment for those in financial need, which can be accessed quickly, until their first UC payment is due.

In addition to this, the Department has delivered a number of improvements to support claimants during their first assessment period, such as removing waiting days and paying those claimants moving from Housing Benefit onto Universal Credit a two week ‘transitional housing payment’. We are also introducing a two-week run on for eligible claimants of Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance from July 2020.

For those who need help with budgeting, support is available for Universal Credit claimants via the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS). MaPS will help UC claimants with personal budgeting and money management through its free helpline, printed guides and digital guidance.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Sep 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing a policy of backdating universal credit payments.

Under Universal Credit, claims may be backdated, by up to one calendar month, in some circumstances for vulnerable claimants who may be delayed in claiming Universal Credit through no fault of their own. Claims may also be backdated in specific circumstances when a couple separates to ensure that there is no gap in entitlement between the couple claim and the new claim made by a single claimant.

In order to provide the best possible support to our claimants it is important that we are able to have discussions about their claim and circumstances at the earliest possible opportunity, whether to support them back into work or to provide or signpost other support and guidance. It is therefore important that backdating provisions are used in specific circumstances, and that all claimants are encouraged to engage with us at the earliest opportunity.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Sep 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate he has made of the effect of ending the five week wait for the first universal credit payment on (a) levels of poverty and (b) the public purse.

Nobody has to wait for five weeks for a payment following an application for Universal Credit.

Universal Credit new claim advances provide access to a payment for those in financial need, which can be accessed urgently, until their first regular Universal Credit payment is due. Claimants can access up to 100% of the total expected monthly award, which they can pay back over a period of up to 12 months. We have announced that from October 2021, the repayment period for these advances will be extended further, to 16 months.

The Department has delivered a number of improvements to support claimants during their first assessment period, such as removing waiting days and paying those claimants moving from Housing Benefit onto Universal Credit a two week ‘transitional housing payment’. We are also introducing a two-week run on for eligible claimants of Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance from July 2020.

Assessment periods align to the way the majority of employees are paid, and how utility companies and other service providers collect payments. This allows Universal Credit to be adjusted each month, which means that if a claimant’s income falls they will not have to wait several months for a rise in their Universal Credit.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Sep 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the merits of replicating the policy of the Scottish Government to require full medical records to be available for disability benefit assessments.

It is a matter for the Scottish Government how they assess entitlement for devolved benefits.

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment and the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) are based on the impact of a person’s disability or health condition, not on the condition itself and are not medical assessments. Therefore, medical evidence forms only part of the picture needed to assess someone’s functional needs or ability.

We ask people to send in evidence they already have to support their claim. Our Assessment Providers and Case Managers will ask GPs, hospitals and other healthcare or social care professionals for further evidence where they think that would be helpful.

To offer a more joined-up service to disabled people, the DWP Health Transformation Programme will be integrating the services that deliver PIP and WCA. Our ambition is to make the assessment process simpler, more transparent and more user-friendly.

26th Sep 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the merits of only having face-to-face medical assessments for disability benefits if that is requested by the claimant.

Face-to-face consultations give individuals the opportunity to put across their own views of the impact of their health condition or impairment on their everyday lives. However, we recognise that attending a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment or Work Capability Assessment (WCA) can be a stressful experience, which is why our Assessment Providers do not carry out face-to-face assessments where there is enough existing evidence to determine an individual’s functional restrictions.

Our ambition is to make the assessment process simpler and more user-friendly by, where possible, gathering better evidence earlier in the claim to reduce the need for unnecessary face-to-face assessments.

25th Sep 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of people in Airdrie and Shotts constituency have (a) opted out after being auto-enrolled into a workplace pension and (b) saved more than the auto-enrolment minimum contribution.

Automatic enrolment has achieved a quiet revolution through getting employees into the habit of pension saving, and reversing the decline in workplace pension participation in the decade prior to these reforms. Since automatic enrolment started in 2012 participation rates have been transformed with 87% of eligible employees saving into a workplace pension in 2018, up from 55% in 2012.

The Department does not hold data for individual constituencies in relation to opt outs or the number of individuals who have saved above the automatic enrolment minimum contribution level. However, we do know that overall around 9% of automatically enrolled workers have chosen to opt out which is significantly below original estimates, and our latest evaluation report shows that in April 2017, approximately 5.9 million eligible employees were already meeting the April 2019 minimum contribution rates.

In the Airdrie and Shotts constituency, from 2012 to August 2019, approximately 8,000 eligible jobholders have been automatically enrolled and 960 employers have met their duties.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd May 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much her Department spent from the public purse advertising in The Metro newspaper on 22 May 2019.

The Department provides services to around 22 million people, and has a responsibility to communicate policy and essential information to claimants and other key audiences, in a similar way to other government departments. Newspaper advertising contributes to our routine communications activity that has been running alongside the rollout of Universal Credit since 2013.

The Universal Credit Uncovered media partnership with the Metro is currently underway and running for a further six weeks so we are unable to provide accurate spend to date figures for the partnership. However, we can commit to publish final full spend on the partnership at the end of July once all activity has concluded.

The information used for the partnership was sourced by DWP officials. The content features actual claimant case studies and interviews from Jobcentre work coaches, and the advertorials have been developed in partnership with the Metro.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
13th May 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress her Department has made on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1 to end poverty in all its forms everywhere.

The Department for Work and Pensions is leading work across Government to assess progress against sustainable development goal 1. The Prime Minister has committed the UK to undertaking a Voluntary National Review (VNR) on progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda. This will be presented to the UN’s High Level Political Forum in July this year.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Apr 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of universal credit payments were subject to deductions above the maximum cap of 40 per cent in the last month for which data is available.

The Government recognises the importance of safeguarding the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt. Universal Credit already has procedures and regulations in place to protect claimants from excessive deductions. The maximum rate of deductions cannot normally exceed 40 per cent of the Universal Credit standard allowance, and from October 2019 this will be reduced to 30 per cent.

However, last resort deductions can be applied to protect vulnerable claimants from eviction and/or having their fuel supply (gas/electricity) cut off, by providing a last resort repayment method for arrears of these essential services. In these circumstances, when it’s considered to be in the best interests of the claimant and their family, deductions may be taken above the 40 per cent limit.

If a claimant is in financial difficulty as a result of the level of deductions being made they can contact the Department to request that a reduction in deductions be considered.

Of eligible* claims to Universal Credit Full Service due a payment in December 2018:

• 0.8% (10,000 claims) had a deduction above 40 per cent of their standard allowance.

Notes

1. *Eligible claimants are claimants that have satisfied all the requirements of claiming Universal Credit; they have provided the necessary evidence, signed their claimant commitment and are eligible and have received their first payment.

2. Deductions include Universal Credit advance repayments, third party deductions and all other deductions, but exclude sanctions and fraud penalties which are reductions of benefit rather than deductions.

3. Figures rounded to nearest 1,000.

4. Claim numbers may not match official statistics caseloads due to small methodological differences.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
29th Apr 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of new claimants for universal credit received two weeks’ run-on housing benefit while waiting for their first payment (a) in the last six months and (b) in the last month for which information is available.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost. However, since it was introduced in April 2018, all Housing Benefit claimants, whose Housing Benefit award was ended because of a new claim to Universal Credit, have been awarded the two-week Transition to Universal Credit Housing Payment.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Apr 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the proportion of claimants of universal credit who have a deduction for housing rent arrears in the first month of their claim in the last month for which data is available.

The Government recognises the importance of safeguarding the welfare of claimants who have incurred debt. Universal Credit already has procedures and regulations in place to protect claimants from excessive deductions. Last resort deductions can be applied to protect vulnerable claimants from eviction and/or having their gas, electricity and water cut off, by providing a last resort repayment method for arrears of these essential services. If a claimant is in financial difficulty as a result of the level of deductions being made, they can contact the Department to request that a reduction in their deductions be considered.

The latest available data is for eligible claims to UC Full Service that are due a payment in December 2018. Of those claims with a payment in December 2018 relating to the first month of their claim, 2% have a deduction to repay rent arrears. This equates to 3,000 claims.

Notes

  • Rent arrears deductions are defined as arrears of rent and/or service charges relating to a rented property
  • Figures for rent arrears deduction include only those claims with a non-zero rent arrears deduction.
  • Figures rounded to nearest 1,000.
Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th Apr 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the proportion is of universal credit claimants who receive an advance payment; what the average value of the advance payment is; and what percentage of claimants have received 100 per cent of the value of their first universal credit payment in the most recent month for which data is available.

Around 60 per cent of new claims take up an advance. Subject to some fluctuation, this rate of advance take-up has been broadly consistent over the last 12 months. This shows that claimants are being made aware of advances and are using it where they need this help.

The average advance amount for new claims is around £400.

Our latest published data shows that consistently around 85% of new claimants are being paid in full and on time. This can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/universal-credit-statistics. In many cases where full payment is not made on time, it is due to unresolved issues such as: claimants not accepting their Claimant Commitment or passing identity checks, or having outstanding verification issues, such as housing costs and self-employed earnings. In order to support claimants to claim, we have taken steps to improve verification processes. For example, we have listened to feedback and built processes into the system to make it easier and quicker for people to verify their housing costs, for example through the landlord portal.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
11th Apr 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many EU and EEA nationals (a) have made a claim for universal credit and (b) have had that claim rejected in each of the last 12 months.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
5th Apr 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many advance benefit payments have been made all universal credit claimants for the months (a) March 2017 (b) March 2018 and (c) March 2019.

Around 60% of new claims to Universal Credit receive an advance payment in the first month of their claim. Subject to some fluctuation, this rate of advance take-up has been broadly consistent. This shows that claimants are being made aware of advances and are using it where they need this help.

The table below shows the number of advance payments made to Universal Credit claimants.

Data for March 2019 is not currently available

Month

Number of Advance payments

Mar-17

28,000

Mar-18

69,000

Notes

1. All figures are rounded to the nearest 1000

2. The number of advances includes advances for both Universal Credit live service and full service. However different methodologies and data sources are used for each

3. Where a claim receives multiple advances within the same month, all are counted individually.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
5th Apr 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how the monthly entitlement of universal credit is estimated for the purposes of calculating an advance payment.

For the purpose of deciding the amount of Universal Credit new claim advance available, the indicative monthly Universal Credit entitlement is calculated from the information provided about the household on the Universal Credit new claim application.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
5th Apr 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what guidance is provided to job centre staff when assessing whether a universal credit claimant can receive an advanced payment.

Comprehensive guidance on Universal Credit Advance payments is available to all staff across the Jobcentre network.

This guidance is clear that it is essential that all new claimants are offered an Advance and that it is processed at the first point of contact. Applications for an advance payment can be made in person, by telephone or online depending on the claimant’s circumstances.

New claimants can apply for a Universal Credit advance, worth up to 100 per cent of a claimant’s indicative award, paid within 72 hours of making a request, and can receive payment within a day if needed. Around 60% of eligible new claims to Universal Credit received an advance in February 2019.

Universal Credit guidance is published in the House of Commons library and the Department is committed to refreshing this at regular intervals.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
4th Apr 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many (a) non-UK EU and (b) EEA nationals made a (i) successful and (ii) unsuccessful claim for universal credit in each month in the last 12 months.

The Information requested about successful and (ii) unsuccessful claim for universal credit in each month in the last 12 months is not readily available, and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
28th Mar 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will will publish disaggregated data by medical condition for claimants in receipt of universal credit.

The self-reported health condition or disability of individual Universal Credit claimants are recorded on our system and can be viewed by work coaches. However, it is not centrally collated in a way that allows aggregated analysis to be undertaken.

The Department can record complex needs through the use of pinned notes which support staff in identifying and managing relevant experiences and circumstances of individual claimants.

We continue to develop our approach to capturing accurate, aggregate data on claimants, including claimants with vulnerabilities. This work has been prioritised for the current Universal Credit development phase.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
28th Mar 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people in receipt of universal credit in Scotland have a mental health condition.

Currently we do not report aggregate information about whether or not a claimant has a mental health condition and to collate and quality assure this information would incur disproportionate costs.

Our work coaches receive training to ensure they can offer effective support to different claimant groups. This enables them to provide tailored support and gain an excellent understanding of whether their claimants have, have had in the past, or might cycle in and out of having a mental health condition or extra support needs.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
28th Mar 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what mental health training is provided to work coaches; and how many work coaches in Scotland have received mental health training to date.

DWP is committed to providing the best possible support for all our claimants, including the most vulnerable in society. We are continuously reviewing and improving the service for vulnerable people to ensure that it is accessible and responsive to their needs.

Work Coaches undergo a comprehensive training programme designed to equip them with the skills and knowledge required to provide a high quality service to all claimants. Specific training and guidance is provided for working with different vulnerable groups and those with complex needs including claimants with mental health conditions.

In addition, Work Coaches have completed a two-day workshop, designed by experts in mental health and psychologists, and delivered where possible alongside external mental health partners. The training began in November 2017 and was completed at the end of March 2019. April 2019 will see the start of delivering this training to staff across the entire organisation who are employed in a claimant facing role, whether they engage with claimants by telephone, face to face or digitally.

At the end of March 2019 all 1589 Work Coaches in Scotland had received Mental Health Training.

* The data supplied is derived from unpublished management information, which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
19th Mar 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department’s policy on eligibility for universal credit for EU and EEA nationals has changed in the last six months.

The Department’s policy has not changed in the last six months. The Universal Credit regulations regarding EEA nationals’ entitlement to Universal Credit were last amended on 10 June 2015.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
19th Mar 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will place in the Library her Department’s guidance to job centres on EU and EEA nationals claiming universal credit.

The Department already places copies of Universal Credit guidance in the House of Commons library, which is updated periodically.

The requested information can be accessed via the following link, clicking on DEP2018-0759 and then “show all files”. For information on the Habitual Residence Test please select HRT_V5.pdf.

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/business-papers/commons/deposited-papers/?fd=2018-04-02&td=2018-08-23&search_term=Department+for+Work+and+Pensions&itemId=119004#toggle-759

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
14th Mar 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason the extension of the period over which universal credit advance payments have to be repaid from 12 months to 16 months is not being implemented until October 2021.

We have carefully considered the impact and deliverability of the measures announced in the Autumn Budget 2018 for Universal Credit. The delivery dates we announced achieve the best balance between continually improving Universal Credit to respond to claimant need and ensuring the service is technically and operationally scalable as the volumes on Universal Credit continue to rise through 2019 and 2020.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
14th Mar 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reasons the reduction in the maximum rate at which deductions can be made from universal credit to repay an advance payment is not being implemented until October 2019.

We have carefully considered the impact and deliverability of the measures announced in the Autumn Budget 2018 for Universal Credit. The delivery dates we announced achieve the best balance between continually improving Universal Credit to respond to claimant need and ensuring the service is technically and operationally scalable as the volumes on Universal Credit continue to rise through 2019 and 2020.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
12th Mar 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, which budget is being used to rectify underpayments of employment and support allowance is being drawn.

The cost of administrative activity is drawn from the Resource Departmental Expenditure Limit budget and payment of arrears from the Resource Annually Managed Expenditure budget.

25th Feb 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many pension credit claimants there are in (a) Scotland and (b) each constituency in Scotland.

The total number of Pension Credit Claimants in Scotland from most recent published data (as of August 2018) is 157,573.

The number of Pension Credit claimants in Scotland and each constituency in Scotland is published and available at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Feb 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect on the level of pensioner poverty of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 31 and Savings and Transitional Provisions and Commencement No. 21 and 23 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions (Amendment)) Order 2019.

The Government is committed to action that helps to alleviate levels of pensioner poverty. The absolute poverty rate for pensioners has fallen to record lows. The number of pensioners in absolute poverty before housing costs has fallen by 200,000 since 2010. In the early 1970s roughly 40% of pensioners were in poverty. Relative poverty after housing costs is now down to 16% - one of the lowest rates since comparable records began.

This change in the way support is provided to couples where one partner is below State Pension age will ensure that the same incentives to work and save for retirement apply to the younger partner as apply to other people of the same age. Unlike Pension Credit, which in most cases allows couple to retain only £10 a week of earned income, Universal Credit provides clear incentives for people to find and progress in work.

The change to the Pension Credit rules was legislated for in the Welfare Reform Act 2012. As part of the Parliamentary process, an Equality Impact Assessment was published in November 2011, which included an assessment of the impacts of Universal Credit reforms on older couples, including mixed age couples. This can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-equality-impact-assessment

The change does not affect either partner’s entitlement to a State Pension. And it will not affect mixed age couples who are receiving Pension Credit and/or pensioner Housing Benefit immediately before the implementation date, unless their entitlement to both those benefits ends and they subsequently need to re-enter the system of support through means-tested benefits before the younger partner reaches State Pension age.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Feb 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of women affected by the change in the state pension age will be affected by the proposed reforms to pension credit.

No mixed age couples who are receiving Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit for pensioners immediately before the implementation date will see a reduction in the amount of benefit they receive as a result of the policy change (unless their entitlement to both those benefits subsequently ends).

Under provisions enacted in the Welfare Reform Act 2012, in future, Pension Credit and Housing Benefit for pensioners will not be available to couples before both partners have reached State Pension age. These changes will take effect from 15 May 2019.

Information on the characteristics of the estimated number of future mixed age couples who may be affected by the forthcoming changes to be introduced on 15 May 2019 is not available.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
25th Feb 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much money has accrued to the public purse as a result of the benefits freeze in (a) each parliamentary constituency (b) Scotland, (c) England, (d) Wales and (e) Northern Ireland.

An estimate of the notional loss to household income as a result of the benefit freeze can be found at: https://www.parliament.uk/documents/impact-assessments/IA15-006C.pdf

No assessment has been made of this saving by parliamentary constituency or country.

25th Feb 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants in (a) each parliamentary constituency, (b) Scotland, (c) England, (d) Wales and (e) Northern Ireland were subject to the benefits freeze.

Information is available for the number of claimants of individual benefits, at different points in time, affected by the benefits freeze.

The available information for claimants of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance is published on the NOMIS website and can be found at:

https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/default.asp

Guidance for users can be found at:

https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/home/newuser.asp

The available information for claimants for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit is published and available at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Information for Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the Department for Communities. Northern Ireland statistics can be found at:

https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/topics/benefits-statistics

There has been no assessment of the total number of claimants subject to the benefits freeze. Claimants can receive multiple benefits so caseload numbers cannot be added together to estimate the total number subject to the benefits freeze.

14th Feb 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people (a) are currently in and (b) have been active in the Universal Credit Youth Obligation Support Programme; how many people who are active in that programme have been sanctioned; how long those people have been sanctioned for; and for what reason those people have been sanctioned.

We are clerically collecting Management Information on the number of programme participants from January 2019. This is the first month in which we will have fully rolled out the programme across the entire country. We will consider whether this information can be published in due course, subject to appropriate quality assurance checks.

The information requested on sanctions is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
14th Feb 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have entered full-time work with a permanent contract after completing the Universal Credit Youth Obligation Support Programme; how many people have been placed into zero-hour contracts after completing that programme; and how many have re-entered that programme after finishing a short-term contract.

Information on the type of employment entered by those who have completed the Youth Obligation Support Programme and the number of re-entries into the programme is not centrally recorded and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
14th Feb 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, which industries people who have completed the Youth Obligation Support Programme have been placed in; how many people have been placed in each such industry; and how many people did not complete that programme.

Information on the industry outcomes of those who have completed the Youth Obligation Support Programme is not centrally recorded and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
6th Feb 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will issue a response to Early Day Motion 2033 on Pension Credit - Debate and Vote.

The Government’s reforms to the welfare system are designed to support those who need it and help people into work. We have reduced pensioner poverty to close to historically low levels and the triple lock on the State Pension has helped lift the incomes of millions of pensioners. Since 2010, we have increased the annual level of the basic State Pension by £1,450. In 2018/19 we will spend £121.5 billion on benefits for pensioners and by 2023/24 this rises to £143.5 billion.

In 2012, Parliament voted to modernise the welfare system to ensure that couples, where one person is of working age and the other person is over State Pension age, access support, where it is needed, through the working age benefit regime. This replaces the previous system whereby the household could access either Pension Credit and pension-age Housing Benefit, or working-age benefits.

Pension Credit is designed to provide long-term support for pensioner households who are no longer economically active. It is not designed to support working age claimants. This change will ensure that the same work incentives apply to the younger partner as apply to other people of the same age, and taxpayer support is directed where it is needed most.

The Government set out to Parliament last year that this change would be implemented once Universal Credit was available nationally for new claims. On 14th January 2019, the Government confirmed that this change will be introduced from 15th May 2019. The change was being brought into effect in Great Britain through a Commencement Order[1] under the Welfare Reform Act 2012. There was an equivalent Order to introduce the change for Northern Ireland.

The change will not affect mixed age couples who are entitled to Pension Credit and/or pension age Housing Benefit immediately before the implementation date unless their entitlement to both those benefits subsequently ends.

In February 2017, Government published an employer-led Strategy “Fuller Working Lives: A Partnership Approach”, which sets out the importance of Fuller Working Lives for employers and individuals. It also sets out action Government is taking to support older workers to remain in the labour market.

Honourable Members can seek the opportunity to debate the issues raised by this commencement order through applying for an adjournment or Backbench Business Committee debate.

[1] The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 31 and Savings and Transitional Provisions and Commencement No. 21 and 23 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions (Amendment)) Order 2019

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jan 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 30 October 2018 to Question 182257 on Universal Credit: Lone Parents, what evidence her Department has that claimants who are under 25 have lower living costs.

Universal Credit was designed to simplify the benefits system and focus on getting people into work and supporting in-work progression. It has a much simpler age-related structure which aligns the rates for claimants who are under the age of 25 years. By setting a clear benefit rate for under 25s this reflects the lower wages that younger workers typically receive. This is intended to maintain the incentive for younger people to find work.

Additional amounts that are added to provide for particular needs such as children and disability are paid at a standard rate.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
15th Jan 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Written Statement of 20 December 2018, Personal Independence Payment, HCWS 1224, what resources are being redirected from other areas of PIP; and what those other areas are.

At the start of the RJ/MH administrative exercise Disability Services redirected a number of experienced people from PIP Reassessments into the administrative exercise. Within PIP those gaps were filled through a combination of recruitment and redeployment from other areas of DWP operations.

In addition to the 250 recruited to increase resources, the total number of people redirected onto the administrative exercises was 244.

11th Dec 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of people with multiple sclerosis in (a) Scotland, (b) Northern Ireland and (c) Wales are no longer eligible for the higher rate of mobility support as a result of the transition from disability living allowance in each year since the introduction of personal independence payment.

The Northern Irish Assembly has devolved responsibility for social security benefits including Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Information regarding PIP in Northern Ireland is therefore the responsibility of the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland.

The table below shows, for Scotland and Wales, the number and proportion of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis who received the highest rate of Mobility under DLA but who did not receive the enhanced mobility award after reassessment to PIP. This data includes claimants who were disallowed pre-referral, who withdrew their claim and who were disallowed at assessment.

We’re committed to ensuring that disabled people get the full support that they need, and under PIP 52% of people with MS receive the highest possible award, compared with 39% under the previous benefit DLA. May 2013 is chosen for comparison as this is the last month with a full DLA caseload prior to claimants being reassessed from DLA to PIP.

Table 1: PIP mobility awards for reassessment claimants with Multiple Sclerosis who had previously received the highest rate of Mobility award under DLA (by year of DWP decision)

Scotland

Wales

PIP Mobility Award

Enhanced

Not Enhanced

%age not Enhanced

Enhanced

Not Enhanced

%age not Enhanced

2014

10

10

32%

50

20

27%

2015

110

70

38%

70

30

32%

2016

700

250

26%

610

270

30%

2017

770

300

28%

390

100

20%

2018 (to Oct 18)

420

140

26%

150

30

16%

Total

2,010

770

28%

1,270

440

26%

Source: PIP ADS

Notes:

  • PIP Reassessment outcome shows the outcome of the first DWP decision on each reassessment claim (i.e. they reflect outcomes prior to any reconsideration, appeal action and award review), where that decision was made between 8th April 2013 and 31st October 2018.
  • Figures exclude ‘rising 16s and claimants who did not respond to the invitation. Rising 16s are claimants who reach 16 years of age and so cease to be eligible for Disability Living Allowance but may be eligible for Personal Independence Payment.
  • Figures include reassessment outcomes for individuals who were aged between 16 and 64 on 8th April 2013, and include both PIP Normal Rules and Special Rules for the Terminally Ill claims.
  • Totals have been rounded to the nearest 10 and may not sum due to rounding.
  • Percentages are calculated using actual figures rather than rounded figures and have been rounded to the nearest 1%
  • This is unpublished data. It should be used with caution and it may be subject to future revision.
  • Data is based on main disabling condition as recorded on the DLA computer system. Claimants may often have multiple disabling conditions upon which the decision is based but only the primary condition is shown in these statistics.
11th Dec 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people with multiple sclerosis in (a) Scotland, (b) Northern Ireland and (c) Wales who were previously in receipt of disability living allowance and have undergone a reassessment for personal independence payment applied for mandatory reconsideration of the decision in each year since 2013.

The Northern Irish Assembly has devolved responsibility for social security benefits including Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Information regarding PIP in Northern Ireland is therefore the responsibility of the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland.

Tables 1 and 2 below show, for Scotland and Wales, the number of decisions, Mandatory Reconsiderations (MRs) and appeals for new claims for PIP where the initial decision was disallowance post-referral to the Assessment Provider (AP) due to failing the assessment, for claimants with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis.

Table 1: New claims decisions, MRs and appeals where the initial decision was disallowance post-referral to the AP due to failing the assessment, by year of initial decision - for claimants in Scotland with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis

Number of decisions

Number of decisions changed at MR

Number of decisions overturned at appeal

2013

20

#

10

2014

100

#

10

2015

150

10

20

2016

160

10

20

2017

160

10

30

Jan - Sep 2018

90

#

#

Table 2: New claims decisions, MRs and appeals where the initial decision was disallowance post-referral to the AP due to failing the assessment, by year of initial decision - for claimants in Wales with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis

Number of decisions

Number of decisions changed at MR

Number of decisions overturned at appeal

2013

0

0

0

2014

50

#

#

2015

50

#

#

2016

60

#

10

2017

50

#

10

Jan - Sep 2018

40

#

#

Tables 3 and 4 below show, for Scotland and Wales, the number of decisions, MRs and appeals relating to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis who have undergone a reassessment to PIP.

Table 3: Reassessment decisions, MRs and appeals by year of initial decision - for claimants in Scotland with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis

Number of decisions

Number of MRs registered

Number of decisions overturned at appeal

Number of decisions maintained at appeal

2013

0

0

0

0

2014

20

#

0

#

2015

230

60

20

10

2016

1,040

170

50

20

2017

1,180

180

70

20

Jan - Sep 2018

530

80

10

#

Table 4: Reassessment decisions, MRs and appeals by year of initial decision - for claimants in Wales with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis

Number of decisions

Number of MRs registered

Number of decisions overturned at appeal

Number of decisions maintained at appeal

2013

0

0

0

0

2014

100

20

10

0

2015

130

40

20

0

2016

920

210

80

10

2017

540

90

40

#

Jan - Sep 2018

170

20

#

#

Since PIP was introduced 3.7m decisions have been made until September 2018 in Great Britain, of these 10% have been appealed and 5% have been overturned.

We’re committed to ensuring that disabled people get the full support that they need, and under PIP 52% of people with MS receive the highest possible award, compared with 39% under the previous benefit DLA. May 2013 is chosen for comparison as this is the last month with a full DLA caseload prior to claimants being reassessed from DLA to PIP.

Data on the number of people who had the mobility award increased from none or standard rate to the enhanced rate is available from internal analytical datasets, but to assess the completeness of recording and quality assure the figures to answer this PQ would incur disproportionate cost.

'#' fewer than 5 decisions in this category.

The data relates to MRs and appeals recorded up to September 2018 (the latest published data on appeals). Claimants who have received benefit decisions more recently may not yet have had time to complete the claimant journey and progress to appeal.

PIP data includes normal rules and special rules for the terminally ill claimants.

Data is based on primary disabling condition as recorded on the PIP computer system. Claimants may often have multiple disabling conditions upon which the decision is based but only the primary condition is shown in these statistics.

Appeals data shown in the tables is taken from the DWP PIP computer system’s management information. Therefore this appeals data may differ from that held by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service for various reasons such as delays in data recording and other methodological differences in collating and preparing statistics.

Some decisions which are changed at mandatory reconsideration, and where the claimant continues to appeal for a higher PIP award, are then changed again at tribunal appeal. Therefore the number of people who had a decision changed at mandatory reconsideration and the number of people who had a decision changed at tribunal appeal cannot be added together.

Decisions overturned at appeal may include a number of appeals that have been lapsed (which is where DWP changed the decision after an appeal was lodged but before it was heard at Tribunal).

11th Dec 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people with multiple sclerosis in (a) Scotland, (b) Northern Ireland and (c) Wales who were in receipt of disability living allowance and have undergone a reassessment for personal independence payments appealed the decision at tribunal and (i) had their decision overturned and (ii) had their mobility award increased from none or standard rate to the higher rate.

The Northern Irish Assembly has devolved responsibility for social security benefits including Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Information regarding PIP in Northern Ireland is therefore the responsibility of the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland.

Tables 1 and 2 below show, for Scotland and Wales, the number of decisions, Mandatory Reconsiderations (MRs) and appeals for new claims for PIP where the initial decision was disallowance post-referral to the Assessment Provider (AP) due to failing the assessment, for claimants with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis.

Table 1: New claims decisions, MRs and appeals where the initial decision was disallowance post-referral to the AP due to failing the assessment, by year of initial decision - for claimants in Scotland with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis

Number of decisions

Number of decisions changed at MR

Number of decisions overturned at appeal

2013

20

#

10

2014

100

#

10

2015

150

10

20

2016

160

10

20

2017

160

10

30

Jan - Sep 2018

90

#

#

Table 2: New claims decisions, MRs and appeals where the initial decision was disallowance post-referral to the AP due to failing the assessment, by year of initial decision - for claimants in Wales with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis

Number of decisions

Number of decisions changed at MR

Number of decisions overturned at appeal

2013

0

0

0

2014

50

#

#

2015

50

#

#

2016

60

#

10

2017

50

#

10

Jan - Sep 2018

40

#

#

Tables 3 and 4 below show, for Scotland and Wales, the number of decisions, MRs and appeals relating to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis who have undergone a reassessment to PIP.

Table 3: Reassessment decisions, MRs and appeals by year of initial decision - for claimants in Scotland with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis

Number of decisions

Number of MRs registered

Number of decisions overturned at appeal

Number of decisions maintained at appeal

2013

0

0

0

0

2014

20

#

0

#

2015

230

60

20

10

2016

1,040

170

50

20

2017

1,180

180

70

20

Jan - Sep 2018

530

80

10

#

Table 4: Reassessment decisions, MRs and appeals by year of initial decision - for claimants in Wales with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis

Number of decisions

Number of MRs registered

Number of decisions overturned at appeal

Number of decisions maintained at appeal

2013

0

0

0

0

2014

100

20

10

0

2015

130

40

20

0

2016

920

210

80

10

2017

540

90

40

#

Jan - Sep 2018

170

20

#

#

Since PIP was introduced 3.7m decisions have been made until September 2018 in Great Britain, of these 10% have been appealed and 5% have been overturned.

We’re committed to ensuring that disabled people get the full support that they need, and under PIP 52% of people with MS receive the highest possible award, compared with 39% under the previous benefit DLA. May 2013 is chosen for comparison as this is the last month with a full DLA caseload prior to claimants being reassessed from DLA to PIP.

Data on the number of people who had the mobility award increased from none or standard rate to the enhanced rate is available from internal analytical datasets, but to assess the completeness of recording and quality assure the figures to answer this PQ would incur disproportionate cost.

'#' fewer than 5 decisions in this category.

The data relates to MRs and appeals recorded up to September 2018 (the latest published data on appeals). Claimants who have received benefit decisions more recently may not yet have had time to complete the claimant journey and progress to appeal.

PIP data includes normal rules and special rules for the terminally ill claimants.

Data is based on primary disabling condition as recorded on the PIP computer system. Claimants may often have multiple disabling conditions upon which the decision is based but only the primary condition is shown in these statistics.

Appeals data shown in the tables is taken from the DWP PIP computer system’s management information. Therefore this appeals data may differ from that held by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service for various reasons such as delays in data recording and other methodological differences in collating and preparing statistics.

Some decisions which are changed at mandatory reconsideration, and where the claimant continues to appeal for a higher PIP award, are then changed again at tribunal appeal. Therefore the number of people who had a decision changed at mandatory reconsideration and the number of people who had a decision changed at tribunal appeal cannot be added together.

Decisions overturned at appeal may include a number of appeals that have been lapsed (which is where DWP changed the decision after an appeal was lodged but before it was heard at Tribunal).

11th Dec 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many new personal independence payment claimants with multiple sclerosis in (a) Scotland, (b) Northern Ireland and (c) Wales did not receive an award during their initial personal independence payment assessment and subsequently received an award at (i) mandatory reconsideration and (ii) tribunal in each year since 2013.

The Northern Irish Assembly has devolved responsibility for social security benefits including Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Information regarding PIP in Northern Ireland is therefore the responsibility of the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland.

Tables 1 and 2 below show, for Scotland and Wales, the number of decisions, Mandatory Reconsiderations (MRs) and appeals for new claims for PIP where the initial decision was disallowance post-referral to the Assessment Provider (AP) due to failing the assessment, for claimants with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis.

Table 1: New claims decisions, MRs and appeals where the initial decision was disallowance post-referral to the AP due to failing the assessment, by year of initial decision - for claimants in Scotland with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis

Number of decisions

Number of decisions changed at MR

Number of decisions overturned at appeal

2013

20

#

10

2014

100

#

10

2015

150

10

20

2016

160

10

20

2017

160

10

30

Jan - Sep 2018

90

#

#

Table 2: New claims decisions, MRs and appeals where the initial decision was disallowance post-referral to the AP due to failing the assessment, by year of initial decision - for claimants in Wales with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis

Number of decisions

Number of decisions changed at MR

Number of decisions overturned at appeal

2013

0

0

0

2014

50

#

#

2015

50

#

#

2016

60

#

10

2017

50

#

10

Jan - Sep 2018

40

#

#

Tables 3 and 4 below show, for Scotland and Wales, the number of decisions, MRs and appeals relating to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis who have undergone a reassessment to PIP.

Table 3: Reassessment decisions, MRs and appeals by year of initial decision - for claimants in Scotland with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis

Number of decisions

Number of MRs registered

Number of decisions overturned at appeal

Number of decisions maintained at appeal

2013

0

0

0

0

2014

20

#

0

#

2015

230

60

20

10

2016

1,040

170

50

20

2017

1,180

180

70

20

Jan - Sep 2018

530

80

10

#

Table 4: Reassessment decisions, MRs and appeals by year of initial decision - for claimants in Wales with a primary disability of Multiple Sclerosis

Number of decisions

Number of MRs registered

Number of decisions overturned at appeal

Number of decisions maintained at appeal

2013

0

0

0

0

2014

100

20

10

0

2015

130

40

20

0

2016

920

210

80

10

2017

540

90

40

#

Jan - Sep 2018

170

20

#

#

Since PIP was introduced 3.7m decisions have been made until September 2018 in Great Britain, of these 10% have been appealed and 5% have been overturned.

We’re committed to ensuring that disabled people get the full support that they need, and under PIP 52% of people with MS receive the highest possible award, compared with 39% under the previous benefit DLA. May 2013 is chosen for comparison as this is the last month with a full DLA caseload prior to claimants being reassessed from DLA to PIP.

Data on the number of people who had the mobility award increased from none or standard rate to the enhanced rate is available from internal analytical datasets, but to assess the completeness of recording and quality assure the figures to answer this PQ would incur disproportionate cost.

'#' fewer than 5 decisions in this category.

The data relates to MRs and appeals recorded up to September 2018 (the latest published data on appeals). Claimants who have received benefit decisions more recently may not yet have had time to complete the claimant journey and progress to appeal.

PIP data includes normal rules and special rules for the terminally ill claimants.

Data is based on primary disabling condition as recorded on the PIP computer system. Claimants may often have multiple disabling conditions upon which the decision is based but only the primary condition is shown in these statistics.

Appeals data shown in the tables is taken from the DWP PIP computer system’s management information. Therefore this appeals data may differ from that held by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service for various reasons such as delays in data recording and other methodological differences in collating and preparing statistics.

Some decisions which are changed at mandatory reconsideration, and where the claimant continues to appeal for a higher PIP award, are then changed again at tribunal appeal. Therefore the number of people who had a decision changed at mandatory reconsideration and the number of people who had a decision changed at tribunal appeal cannot be added together.

Decisions overturned at appeal may include a number of appeals that have been lapsed (which is where DWP changed the decision after an appeal was lodged but before it was heard at Tribunal).

21st Nov 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her Department's policy is on sanctioning claimants of employment and support allowance for (a) refusing an offer of a zero-hours contract and (b) voluntarily terminating a zero-hours contract.

ESA claimants are not sanctioned if they refuse an offer of a job on a zero hours contract or voluntarily leave a zero hours contract job.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
22nd Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of creating a work allowance for second earners as part of universal credit.

We have not made an assessment.

Universal Credit targets resources towards reducing the number of workless households, by increasing the incentive for at least one member of the household to enter work. Compared to children from working families, children who grow up in workless families are almost twice as likely to not reach the expected attainment level at all stages of their education, and are also more likely to be workless themselves in adult life. Helping at least one person into work could help break the cycle of worklessness in a family.

As announced at Autumn Budget 2018, on 29 October 2018, work allowances will be increased by £1000 a year from April 2019. This increase for working parents and people with disabilities, means 2.4 million households will be up to £630 better off per year, in a package worth £1.7bn by 2023/24.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
22nd Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proportion of claimants used implicit consent to make a benefits claim under the legacy system.

Implicit Consent is usually used when a third party wants to check the progress of a claim or assist a customer with a question about their entitlement. For more vulnerable claimants unable to mange their own affairs, an appointee or corporate acting body will make the claim on their behalf. If implicit consent was used to make a new claim there is no specific area that the details are held on the legacy system.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
22nd Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proportion of universal credit claimants are lone parents under 25.

We can provide an estimate based on households claiming UC by matching the UC household dataset (which contains information about family type), with the people on UC dataset (which contains information about age). The table gives the estimated total number of households on UC and those occupied by single parents under the age of 25 in June 2018. The notes should be read in conjunction with the information provided in the table.

Estimated number of total households on Universal Credit and those occupied by single parents under the age of 25, Great Britain, June 2018

Number of households

Total

883,000

Single parents aged under 25

34,000

Source: Universal Credit household dataset and people on Universal Credit dataset

Notes:

  1. The figures are derived from unpublished information and have not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard.
  2. Figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand. Individual figures may not add up to the total due to rounding.
  3. A count date of the second Thursday of the month is used when calculating the statistics for the people and households on Universal Credit.
  4. The figure for households occupied by single parents has been deduced where the household has a family type of ‘single with child dependent(s)’.
  5. Further information on the background and methodology can be accessed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/739399/universal-credit-statistics-background-methodology.pdf
  6. It has not been possible to determine the age of approximately 8,000 single parent households
Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
22nd Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has received representations from representatives of local authorities on the reimbursement of the additional costs of administering universal credit.

We have invited local authorities to disclose any additional costs that they have encountered associated with Universal Credit, and will consider the evidence under the new burdens funding policy.

One local authority has requested additional funding and we are currently awaiting a completed additional costs claim form from them.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
22nd Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reasons lone parents under 25 years old will no longer be entitled to receive the higher rate of personal allowance under universal credit.

The lower rates for younger claimants who are under the age of 25 years reflects the fact that they are more likely to live in someone else's household and have lower living costs and lower earnings expectations. This also reinforces the stronger work incentives that Universal Credit creates for this age group.

Many claimants will have higher entitlements under Universal Credit but for those who do not, anyone on existing benefits or tax credits whose circumstances remain the same will not lose out in cash terms when claiming Universal Credit, as part of the managed migration process. These claimants will be given transitional protection to avoid cash loss at the point of change.

Universal Credit is more generous in terms of childcare costs with an increased level of support for childcare costs from 70 per cent in legacy benefits, to 85 per cent within Universal Credit. This means that working families claiming Universal Credit can reclaim up to 85 per cent of their eligible childcare costs each month, up to a maximum of £646.35 for one child and £1,108.04 for two or more children. Since February 2018, Universal Credit claimants have been able to upload digital copies of their childcare cost receipts or invoices through their online Universal Credit account, which makes this process easier.

Universal Credit also includes support for housing costs, children and support for disabled people and carers.

__________________________________________________________________________

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
22nd Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of the recommendations in the report, A new measure of poverty for the UK, published by the Social Metrics Commission in September 2018.

We welcome the work that the Social Metrics Commission has done. Measuring poverty is complex, and this report offers further insight into that complexity. From discussions with SMC they acknowledge that further work needs to be done (particularly around data availability and quality). We will carefully consider their recommendations and the detail behind the methodology they have employed when this has been made available.

22nd Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether people in receipt of back-payments for employment support allowance will also be in receipt of back-payments for other legacy benefits.

This exercise is to correct historic errors in Employment and Support Allowance and ensure arrears due are paid in line with primary legislation.

Legacy benefits is the term used for benefits migrating to Universal Credit – these are income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefits, Child and Working Tax Credits.

Where the Department administers these benefits we are ensuring that arrears due, as a result of these historic errors, are made to claimants in line with primary legislation. For benefits administered outside of the Department such as Tax Credits, eligibility is determined by the relevant authority/department.

17th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when her Department plans to lay before Parliament its draft regulations on the managed migration of claimants to universal credit.

Managed migration will begin in 2019, with small-scale testing of up to 10,000 claimants to ensure our process works well before the volume of migration increases. We are engaging closely with stakeholders to build safeguards to ensure that all claimants and particularly the most vulnerable are fully supported through the migration process.

The draft regulations have been out for consultation with the Social Security Advisory Committee and we are currently considering their advice alongside the contributions we have received from other stakeholders. These regulations will come before Parliament this autumn and they will be accompanied by our response to the Social Security Advisory Committee’s Report.

The regulations are essential to ensuring that everyone moving onto Universal Credit, having had no change in their circumstances, receives transitional protection. The regulations also provide additional protection to claimants receiving a Severe Disability Premium, to ensure they are not moved onto Universal Credit ahead of managed migration, and to provide financial protection to those claimants who have already moved over.

Additionally, in the legacy system there are £2.4bn of unclaimed benefits not taken up by people who need them, because they do not know about them. These regulations will ensure that 700,000 more people will get paid their full entitlement under Universal Credit.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the managed migration of claimants to universal credit will (a) include a roll-out schedule and (b) allow for (i) pauses and (ii) reviews to ensure that the system is ready to manage the projected number of claimants.

Managed migration will begin in 2019, with small-scale testing of up to 10,000 claimants to ensure our process works well before the volume of migration increases. We are engaging closely with stakeholders to build safeguards to ensure that all claimants and particularly the most vulnerable are fully supported through the migration process.

The draft regulations have been out for consultation with the Social Security Advisory Committee and we are currently considering their advice alongside the contributions we have received from other stakeholders. These regulations will come before Parliament this autumn and they will be accompanied by our response to the Social Security Advisory Committee’s Report.

The regulations are essential to ensuring that everyone moving onto Universal Credit, having had no change in their circumstances, receives transitional protection. The regulations also provide additional protection to claimants receiving a Severe Disability Premium, to ensure they are not moved onto Universal Credit ahead of managed migration, and to provide financial protection to those claimants who have already moved over.

Additionally, in the legacy system there are £2.4bn of unclaimed benefits not taken up by people who need them, because they do not know about them. These regulations will ensure that 700,000 more people will get paid their full entitlement under Universal Credit.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has made an assessment of the potential effect on vulnerable claimants of moving three million people manually on to universal credit; and if she will make a statement.

We intend to build safeguards into the managed migration process to ensure that people will not have a break in their benefit entitlement and will ensure that claimants are supported. Managed migration will begin with a testing period commencing in 2019, in which up to 10,000 claimants will be migrated, ensuring our process are working effectively before we take on larger volumes from 2020 onwards.

We have already implemented a number of measures this year to assist claimants during the transition to their first Universal Credit payment, including the removal of waiting days, a Universal Credit Transitional Housing Payment (which provides a two week Housing Benefit run-on), 100% advances and a longer repayment period.

The Department is working with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that the managed migration process works for everyone, especially vulnerable claimants. As part of this, earlier this month we held a large scale stakeholder event, engaging with over 70 organisations, including those representing vulnerable claimant groups, seeking their detailed input on the managed migration process.

Over £2.4bn in benefits are currently unclaimed and Universal Credit ensures that vulnerable claimants receive the money they are entitled to. More severely disabled people will receive higher payments under Universal Credit, with around 1 million disabled households gaining on average about £110 more per month.

Transitional protection payments proposed in our managed migration regulation will also ensure there are no cash losers at the point of transition. These include protections for claimants receiving a Severe Disability Premium, to ensure they are not moved onto Universal Credit ahead of managed migration, and to provide financial support for those who have already moved over.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support her Department plans to provide to vulnerable claimants moving to universal credit under managed migration; and what steps she is taking to ensure those claimants do not lose income as a result of that transition.

We intend to build safeguards into the managed migration process to ensure that people will not have a break in their benefit entitlement and will ensure that claimants are supported. Managed migration will begin with a testing period commencing in 2019, in which up to 10,000 claimants will be migrated, ensuring our process are working effectively before we take on larger volumes from 2020 onwards.

We have already implemented a number of measures this year to assist claimants during the transition to their first Universal Credit payment, including the removal of waiting days, a Universal Credit Transitional Housing Payment (which provides a two week Housing Benefit run-on), 100% advances and a longer repayment period.

The Department is working with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that the managed migration process works for everyone, especially vulnerable claimants. As part of this, earlier this month we held a large scale stakeholder event, engaging with over 70 organisations, including those representing vulnerable claimant groups, seeking their detailed input on the managed migration process.

Over £2.4bn in benefits are currently unclaimed and Universal Credit ensures that vulnerable claimants receive the money they are entitled to. More severely disabled people will receive higher payments under Universal Credit, with around 1 million disabled households gaining on average about £110 more per month.

Transitional protection payments proposed in our managed migration regulation will also ensure there are no cash losers at the point of transition. These include protections for claimants receiving a Severe Disability Premium, to ensure they are not moved onto Universal Credit ahead of managed migration, and to provide financial support for those who have already moved over.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect on vulnerable claimants of the roll-out of universal credit under (a) current systems and (b) the managed migration process.

We intend to build safeguards into the managed migration process to ensure that people will not have a break in their benefit entitlement and will ensure that claimants are supported. Managed migration will begin with a testing period commencing in 2019, in which up to 10,000 claimants will be migrated, ensuring our process are working effectively before we take on larger volumes from 2020 onwards.

We have already implemented a number of measures this year to assist claimants during the transition to their first Universal Credit payment, including the removal of waiting days, a Universal Credit Transitional Housing Payment (which provides a two week Housing Benefit run-on), 100% advances and a longer repayment period.

The Department is working with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that the managed migration process works for everyone, especially vulnerable claimants. As part of this, earlier this month we held a large scale stakeholder event, engaging with over 70 organisations, including those representing vulnerable claimant groups, seeking their detailed input on the managed migration process.

Over £2.4bn in benefits are currently unclaimed and Universal Credit ensures that vulnerable claimants receive the money they are entitled to. More severely disabled people will receive higher payments under Universal Credit, with around 1 million disabled households gaining on average about £110 more per month.

Transitional protection payments proposed in our managed migration regulation will also ensure there are no cash losers at the point of transition. These include protections for claimants receiving a Severe Disability Premium, to ensure they are not moved onto Universal Credit ahead of managed migration, and to provide financial support for those who have already moved over.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to identify vulnerable claimants on legacy benefits who require additional support for managed migration to universal credit.

We intend to build safeguards into the managed migration process to ensure that people will not have a break in their benefit entitlement and will ensure that claimants are supported. Managed migration will begin with a testing period commencing in 2019, in which up to 10,000 claimants will be migrated, ensuring our process are working effectively before we take on larger volumes from 2020 onwards.

We have already implemented a number of measures this year to assist claimants during the transition to their first Universal Credit payment, including the removal of waiting days, a Universal Credit Transitional Housing Payment (which provides a two week Housing Benefit run-on), 100% advances and a longer repayment period.

The Department is working with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that the managed migration process works for everyone, especially vulnerable claimants. As part of this, earlier this month we held a large scale stakeholder event, engaging with over 70 organisations, including those representing vulnerable claimant groups, seeking their detailed input on the managed migration process.

Over £2.4bn in benefits are currently unclaimed and Universal Credit ensures that vulnerable claimants receive the money they are entitled to. More severely disabled people will receive higher payments under Universal Credit, with around 1 million disabled households gaining on average about £110 more per month.

Transitional protection payments proposed in our managed migration regulation will also ensure there are no cash losers at the point of transition. These include protections for claimants receiving a Severe Disability Premium, to ensure they are not moved onto Universal Credit ahead of managed migration, and to provide financial support for those who have already moved over.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to increase (a) universal and (b) other transitional support to help the transition to universal credit under managed migration.

We will identify those who, during the transition to Universal Credit under managed migration, will require additional support and, equally importantly, what that support should be. As we start to migrate claimants, we will do this in a gradual way, to learn from our approach and adapt it further to ensure it meets the needs of our vulnerable claimants.

The Universal Credit (Managed Migration) 2018 regulations which have been laid before Parliament ensure that those living in temporary and supported accommodation will have access to transitional protection if they are managed migrated. These claimants will remain in receipt of their existing Housing Benefit while they continue to live in this form of accommodation and, therefore, no support paid for housing will be taken into account when considering if transitional protection should be awarded. This transitional protection is dependent on the Managed Migration regulations receiving Parliamentary approval.

As announced in the 2018 Autumn Budget, the income related elements of Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker’s Allowance, and Income Support will continue for two weeks after a claim for Universal Credit has been made from July 2020. Claimants will therefore receive one two week run-on payment when being migrated to Universal Credit. Both of these measures are subject to parliamentary approval. These payments are in addition to the 2 week run-on of Housing Benefit to support claimants when they transition to Universal Credit, which we introduced in April 2018.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to reduce payment times for universal credit applicants.

We continue to make changes to improve payment timeliness: since February 2018, Universal Credit claimants have been able to upload digital copies of their childcare cost receipts or invoices through their online Universal Credit account; in 2017 we started rolling out a ‘landlord portal’ to social landlords to make it easier and quicker to verify people’s housing costs. We have also listened to feedback and built processes into the system to improve verification for tenants in the private rented sector. All of this makes it easier for claimants to apply for Universal Credit and ensure they receive their entitlement on time and in full.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that vulnerable claimants do not lose income when moving to universal credit through managed migration.

We intend to build safeguards into the managed migration process to ensure that people will not have a break in their benefit entitlement and will ensure that claimants are supported. Managed migration will begin with a testing period commencing in 2019, in which up to 10,000 claimants will be migrated, ensuring our process are working effectively before we take on larger volumes from 2020 onwards.

We have already implemented a number of measures this year to assist claimants during the transition to their first Universal Credit payment, including the removal of waiting days, a Universal Credit Transitional Housing Payment (which provides a two week Housing Benefit run-on), 100% advances and a longer repayment period.

The Department is working with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that the managed migration process works for everyone, especially vulnerable claimants. As part of this, earlier this month we held a large scale stakeholder event, engaging with over 70 organisations, including those representing vulnerable claimant groups, seeking their detailed input on the managed migration process.

Over £2.4bn in benefits are currently unclaimed and Universal Credit ensures that vulnerable claimants receive the money they are entitled to. More severely disabled people will receive higher payments under Universal Credit, with around 1 million disabled households gaining on average about £110 more per month.

Transitional protection payments proposed in our managed migration regulation will also ensure there are no cash losers at the point of transition. These include protections for claimants receiving a Severe Disability Premium, to ensure they are not moved onto Universal Credit ahead of managed migration, and to provide financial support for those who have already moved over.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of automatically moving claimants that would otherwise undergo managed migration to universal credit from 2019.

There are a number of issues with attempting to move claimants automatically from legacy benefits onto Universal Credit. Claimant data must be accurate and up-to-date to avoid transferring errors from legacy to Universal Credit. Claimants are not currently getting all the entitlements they are eligible for on legacy benefits, and making a new Universal Credit claim will ensure that the £2.4bn of currently unclaimed benefits will be paid to those who are entitled to them, an average of £285 per month for 700,000 households.

Universal Credit also requires some data, which is currently not held under the legacy system. For example, the Tax Credit system does not hold information on capital which is needed for a Universal Credit claim. The best way to ensure that we have the right data to process a claim is by requesting the claimant provide full and updated data.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
8th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to increase the amount carers in receipt of carers allowance are allowed to earn.

The Government keeps the Carer’s Allowance (CA) earnings limit under regular review. In April 2018, the CA earnings limit increased from £116 to £120 a week. This 3.4% increase was higher than average earnings growth (Sep 17). In the Economic and fiscal outlook (March 2017) the OBR forecast that average earnings would increase by around 7.5% between 2015 and 2018, whereas we will have increased the CA earnings limit by around 9%.

The earnings limit for CA, is a net figure which is the figure once income tax, National Insurance contributions and half of any contributions to an occupational or personal pension are deducted from earnings. In addition, up to half the net earnings figure calculated can be allowed towards the cost of alternative care for the disabled person, or for a child aged under 16, while the carer is at work. CA rules also allow for further deductions from the net earnings figure to be made, including expenses wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the performance of the duties of any employment; e.g. equipment, special clothing and travel between workplaces, though not between home and work. These rules mean that people can earn significantly more than £120 per week and still be eligible for CA.

8th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many prosecutions of carers for overpayments due to earning restrictions has his Department sought in each year since 2008.

The Counter Fraud & Compliance Directorate (CFCD), part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for the prevention, detection and, where appropriate, investigation of fraud and error against all benefits administered by and on behalf of DWP.

DWP does not routinely publish prosecution statistics and the specific information requested is not available at a granular level. This could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

8th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much resource has been allocated to data matching between the DWP and HMRC to ensure those in receipt of Carers Allowance do not exceed the earning limit for that allowance, in each year since 2008.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recognises and appreciates the vital contribution made by informal carers who provide invaluable support for relatives, partners, friends and neighbours who may be ill, frail or disabled. DWP works to ensure claimants are aware of their responsibility to provide the correct information when making a benefit claim and to report any changes of circumstance which may affect their claim.

Real Time Earnings Bulk Data Matching was first introduced in 2014. This gives DWP the ability to retrospectively cross reference actual earnings and pensions information with benefit awards (including Carers Allowance) to identify potential discrepancies for further investigation.

In September 2018 DWP introduced the Verify Earnings and Pensions (VEP) system for use in Carers Allowance. The VEP service presents earnings and employment data to users, with an automated alerts service generating notifications of earnings or pensions related changes. This allows benefit awards to be updated far more quickly.

The table below details the total number of staff employed by DWP from 2014-2018 working within fraud and error across all benefits administered by DWP. Some data matches may identify fraud/error impacting more than one benefit on a claim.

Year

Total number of Investigators and Compliance Officers (FTE)

2014

2402.2

2015

2557.7

2016

2443.8

2017

1886.4

2018

2041.7

8th Oct 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, by what data matching process the Government ensures that people in receipt of carers allowance do not exceed earning restrictions.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recognises and appreciates the vital contribution made by informal carers who provide invaluable support for relatives, partners, friends and neighbours who may be ill, frail or disabled. DWP works to ensure claimants are aware of their responsibility to provide the correct information when making a benefit claim and to report any changes of circumstance which may affect their claim.

Real Time Earnings Bulk Data Matching was first introduced in 2014. This gives DWP the ability to retrospectively cross reference actual earnings and pensions information with benefit awards (including Carers Allowance) to identify potential discrepancies for further investigation.

In September 2018 DWP introduced the Verify Earnings and Pensions (VEP) system for use in Carers Allowance. The VEP service presents earnings and employment data to users, with an automated alerts service generating notifications of earnings or pensions related changes. This allows benefit awards to be updated far more quickly.

The table below details the total number of staff employed by DWP from 2014-2018 working within fraud and error across all benefits administered by DWP. Some data matches may identify fraud/error impacting more than one benefit on a claim.

Year

Total number of Investigators and Compliance Officers (FTE)

2014

2402.2

2015

2557.7

2016

2443.8

2017

1886.4

2018

2041.7

13th Jul 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will publish the guidance her Department provides to work coaches.

Comprehensive guidance outlining the support we provide to claimants is readily accessible to all Work Coaches across the Jobcentre network.

Work Coaches provide personalised back to work support including volunteering opportunities, skills support, work experience and local activity through the Flexible Support Fund.

In addition information on local support services is available to staff via our District Provision Tool. This digital tool lists local and national provision and support delivered by Jobcentre Plus, Skills Funding Agency, Skills Development Scotland, Careers Wales, other providers, local authorities, and independent and volunteer organisations.

Universal Credit guidance is published in the House of Commons Library and the Department is committed to refreshing the information on a regular basis.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
13th Jul 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department issues guidance to work coaches on what support they should provide to claimants.

Comprehensive guidance outlining the support we provide to claimants is readily accessible to all Work Coaches across the Jobcentre network.

Work Coaches provide personalised back to work support including volunteering opportunities, skills support, work experience and local activity through the Flexible Support Fund.

In addition information on local support services is available to staff via our District Provision Tool. This digital tool lists local and national provision and support delivered by Jobcentre Plus, Skills Funding Agency, Skills Development Scotland, Careers Wales, other providers, local authorities, and independent and volunteer organisations.

Universal Credit guidance is published in the House of Commons Library and the Department is committed to refreshing the information on a regular basis.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
5th Jul 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 2 July 2018 to Question 158272 on Work Capability Assessments, for what reason informal observations are included in Work Capability Assessment decisions.

As paragraph 2.7.2 of the WCA handbook makes clear informal observations of the claimant form an important part of the assessment. By evaluating the clinical history, the physical examination and informal observations in the light of the claimant's daily activities, the medical disability analyst is able to provide an accurate and consistent assessment of the functional restrictions.

The personalised summary statement is a statement of facts and findings made by the Healthcare professional (HCP) and is personal to the claimant.

It gives the HCP the opportunity to justify their recommendation on the Limited Capability for Work and Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity activities and descriptors and explain where the recommendation conflicts with the claimant’s view of their condition.

5th Jul 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 4 June 2018 to Question 146881 on Personal Independence Payments, for what reason informal observations is a criterion for a decision-makers in coming to a decision.

Guidance on how a Health Professional should conduct a face-to-face appointment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), including what to record in the assessment, is in Part 1of the PIP Assessment Guide.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/684001/pip-assessment-guide-part-1-assessment-process.pdf

Paragraphs 1.6.31 to 1.6.34 make clear that informal observations are an important part of the suite of evidence a Decision Maker will use to help them determine entitlement to benefit.

In particular para 1.6.31 states:

"Informal observations are of importance to the consultation, as they can reveal abilities and limitations not mentioned in the claimant questionnaire, supporting evidence or during the history taking for the face-to-face consultation. They may also show discrepancies between the reported need and the actual needs of the claimant. However it is important to balance informal observations with evidence from professionals who may have observed the claimant more regularly."

27th Jun 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether a Work Capability Assessment report includes observations of a claimant’s behaviour that is not included in the criteria for the assessment.

Guidance on how a Health Care Professional should conduct a face-to-face appointment for Employment and Support Allowance, including what to record in the assessment can be found in the Work Capability Assessment Handbook: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/work-capability-assessment-handbook-for-healthcare-professionals.

As paragraph 2.7.2 makes clear, informal observations are part of the information used to make Work Capability Assessment decisions.

20th Jun 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what additional (a) resources and (b) funding her Department has been allocated to process back-dated claims for employment support allowance.

The report published by the National Audit Office, published March 2018, clearly sets out what resources and funding we have allocated to this process. The relevant information can be found at paragraphs 2.17 and 2.19:

https://www.nao.org.uk/report/investigation-into-errors-in-employment-and-support-allowance/

20th Jun 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 6 June 2018 to Question 150695 on Personal Independence Payment, where that information is collated.

Information on informal observations and their use in reaching a decision is not collected centrally. To establish an estimate would require a manual examination of each individual assessment report form and decision.

20th Jun 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the answer of 6 June 2018 to Question 150695 on Personal Independence Payment, what information her Department holds on the number of personal independence payment assessment reports that (a) have included consideration of informal observations and (b) used informal observations to come to a decision in each year for which information is available.

Information on informal observations and their use in reaching a decision is not collected centrally. To establish an estimate would require a manual examination of each individual assessment report form and decision.

20th Jun 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what additional (a) resources and (b) funding her Department has been allocated to process back-dated claims for personal independence payments.

As outlined in the Written Statements of 19th January 2018 (HCWS414) and 15th June 2018 (HCWS767), my Department will be carrying out administrative exercises to identify anyone who may be entitled to more as a result of the judgments.

The administrative cost will depend on a number of factors, including the number of cases identified.

20th Jun 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Written Ministerial Statement of 15 June 2018 on Personal Independence Payments HCWS767, if she will publish the terms of reference for the review.

As outlined in the Written Statement of 15th June 2018 (HCWS767), the department will be conducting an administrative exercise to identify claimants who may be affected by the Upper Tribunal judgment in LB.

My Department are now working at pace and taking all steps necessary for this administrative exercise to take place later in the year.

This administrative exercise to identify claimants who may be affected by the judgment will include all those who were in receipt of PIP or received a PIP decision during the period between the date of the LB judgment (28 November 2016) and the date of the March 2017 amendments (16 March 2017). It will include claimants currently assessed as needing support to manage medication or monitor a health condition.

20th Jun 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of people who will receive a back-payment for personal independence payment.

The estimated number of claimants affected by the Personal Independence Payment Upper Tribunal judgments LB and RJ can be found in the following Written Statements, published on 15th June 2018 (HCWS767) and 2nd November 2017 (HCWS218). For the Upper Tribunal judgment in MH, the estimated number of affected claimants can be found in the Economic and Fiscal Outlook, published by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in March 2018, p.136 http://cdn.obr.uk/EFO-MaRch_2018.pdf.

20th Jun 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will undertake a review of the assessment criteria for personal independence payments.

There are no current plans to review the Personal Independence Payment assessment criteria.

6th Jun 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 4 June 2018 to Question 146881 on Personal Independence Payment, how many personal independence payment assessment reports (a) have included consideration of informal observations and (b) used those informal observations to come to a decision in each year for which information is available.

The information requested is not collated centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

6th Jun 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of collecting medical evidence from every applicant at the application stage of (a) personal independence payments and (b) employment support allowance.

The Government is exploring a number of options to improve the provision of medical evidence for Personal Independence Payments and Employment and Support Allowance as set out in its response to recommendation 5 of the Work & Pensions Select Committee.

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmworpen/986/98602.htm

22nd May 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proportion of disability living allowance claimants who have been asked to attend a re-assessment for personal independence payments have requested their assessment take place at home; and how many of those who have made such a request had that request rejected.

The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

22nd May 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether a personal independence payment assessment report includes observations of a claimant’s behaviour that is not included in the criteria for that assessment.

Guidance on how a Health Professional should conduct a face-to-face appointment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), including what to record in the assessment, is in Part 1, Chapter 6 of the PIP Assessment Guide (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/personal-independence-payment-assessment-guide-for-assessment-providers/pip-assessment-guide-part-1-the-assessment-process) . As paragraph 1.6.31 makes clear, informal observations are an important part of the suite of evidence a Decision Maker will use to come to a decision.

25th Apr 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of the buildings managed by (a) her Department and (b) her Department's contractors do not have access to parking within 20 metres; and where those buildings are located.

This information is not held.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
25th Apr 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her Department's policy is on ensuring that people accessing buildings managed by (a) her Department and (b) her Department's contractors have access to parking within twenty metres of those buildings.

The Department does not have a policy on ensuring that people accessing our buildings have access to parking within twenty meters as there is no requirement to provide parking facilities for staff or the public.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
25th Apr 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many buildings managed by contractors of her Department fail to comply with her Department's disabled access policy; and where those buildings are located.

There are no buildings that fail to comply with the Department’s policies on disability access to our services.

The Department takes our responsibility to ensure all our customers have access to our services and facilities without disadvantage very seriously. Every DWP office has been assessed to ensure that we are compliant with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010. Where suitable physical adaptations to buildings are not possible, the Department provides an alternative method of delivering our services where we are made aware that a customer has potential access issues, such as an appointment would be rearranged at a ground floor location or by a home visit.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
25th Apr 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her Department's policy is on disability access to buildings owned or managed by her Department's contractors.

The Department takes our responsibility to ensure all our customers have access to our services without disadvantage very seriously. Every DWP office has been assessed to ensure that we are compliant with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010. Where suitable physical adaptations to buildings are not possible, the Department provides an alternative method of delivering our services where we are made aware that a customer has potential access issues, such as an appointment would be rearranged at a ground floor location or by a home visit.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
25th Apr 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many of her Department's buildings fail to comply with its policies on disability access; and where those buildings are located.

There are no buildings that fail to comply with the Department’s policies on disability access to our services.

The Department takes our responsibility to ensure all our customers have access to our services without disadvantage very seriously. Every DWP office has been assessed to ensure that we are compliant with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010. Where suitable physical adaptations to buildings are not possible, the Department provides an alternative method of delivering our services where we are made aware that a customer has potential access issues, such as an appointment would be rearranged at a ground floor location or by a home visit.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
25th Apr 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what her Department's policy is on disability access to buildings that it (a) owns or (b) manages.

The Department has not owned any buildings since 2003, and leases all of its estate.

The Department takes our responsibility to ensure all our customers have access to our services without disadvantage very seriously. Every DWP office has been assessed to ensure that we are compliant with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010. Where suitable physical adaptations to buildings are not possible, the Department provides an alternative method of delivering our services where we are made aware that a customer has potential access issues, such as an appointment would be rearranged at a ground floor location or by a home visit.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
13th Apr 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people in (a) Airdrie & Shotts constituency, (b) Scotland and (c) the UK received mental health support through (i) the Mental Health Support Service and (ii) an access to work award in each of the last three years.

Breakdowns of the number of people in Great Britain who have had Access to Work provision approved by type of provision by financial year and by recorded primary medical condition by financial year are already published and can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/access-to-work-statistics (tables 2 and 3 respectively).

Information on referrals is not readily available and has not previously been published as official statistics. Information on how many people are in receipt of Access to Work grants by constituency or country is not readily available and has not previously been published as official statistics. We will consider whether it is feasible to produce the statistics requested and, if so, will issue them in an official statistics release in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

13th Apr 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people in (a) Airdrie and Shotts constituency, (b) Scotland and (c) the UK were referred to the Mental Health Support Service through Access to Work in each of the last three years.

Breakdowns of the number of people in Great Britain who have had Access to Work provision approved by type of provision by financial year and by recorded primary medical condition by financial year are already published and can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/access-to-work-statistics (tables 2 and 3 respectively).

Information on referrals is not readily available and has not previously been published as official statistics. Information on how many people are in receipt of Access to Work grants by constituency or country is not readily available and has not previously been published as official statistics. We will consider whether it is feasible to produce the statistics requested and, if so, will issue them in an official statistics release in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

13th Apr 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people in (a) Airdrie and Shotts constituency, (b) Scotland and (c) the UK received Access to Work grants (a) in total and (b) for a mental health condition in each of the last three years.

Breakdowns of the number of people in Great Britain who have had Access to Work provision approved by type of provision by financial year and by recorded primary medical condition by financial year are already published and can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/access-to-work-statistics (tables 2 and 3 respectively).

Information on referrals is not readily available and has not previously been published as official statistics. Information on how many people are in receipt of Access to Work grants by constituency or country is not readily available and has not previously been published as official statistics. We will consider whether it is feasible to produce the statistics requested and, if so, will issue them in an official statistics release in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

27th Mar 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she or her predecessors met with representatives of the SCL group or Cambridge Analytica; and if she will make a statement.

There have been no such meetings.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
27th Mar 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department or any of it agencies or associated public bodies has had contracts with SCL group or Cambridge Analytica; and if she will make a statement.

The Department’s e-procurement system does not hold any created/active/archived/terminated contracts with SCL Group or Cambridge Analytica.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
27th Mar 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people are in receipt of access to work grants by region.

The information on how many people are in receipt of Access to Work grants by region is not readily available and has not previously been published as official statistics. We will consider whether it is feasible to produce the statistics requested and, if so, will issue them in an official statistics release in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Official experimental statistics are available on the number of people who had Access to Work provision approved from the financial year between 2007/08 and 2016/17, these statistics show the number of people who had Access to Work provision approved by the type of provision, age, gender and primary medical condition. Access to Work provision was approved for 25,020 individuals in 2016/17 – an 8% increase on 2015/16, at a cost of £104m

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/access-to-work-statistics

27th Mar 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the cap on access to work grants on progress in reducing the disability employment gap.

The Written Ministerial Statement of 20 March on Access to Work announced that the Access to Work award limit, currently £42,100 per year, will rise from 1st April 2018 to £57,200 per annum. This will make available an increased level of potential support to those using Access to Work. We have committed to the ongoing monitoring of the impact of the cap and intend to publish an update to the Equality Analysis published in May 2015 as a formal addendum.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/future-of-access-to-work

27th Mar 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to raise awareness of the availability of access to work grants.

We promote Access to Work through engagement with partners and stakeholders such as Remploy, as well as through other government departments and public sector bodies. Access to Work is also promoted to a range of business leaders through the Disability Confident scheme. As part of the ongoing Access to Work scheme, partnership managers will be engaging with local contacts to promote the support available.

6th Mar 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate he has made of how many claimants have lost their entitlement to motability cars during their reassessment from disability living allowance to personal independence payment.

This information is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

6th Mar 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many responsible carers with children have been sanctioned under universal credit provisions in the last two quarters.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

We engage at a personal and individual level with all of our claimants and are committed to tailoring the support that we give, and any conditionality requirements to the specific circumstances of the individuals.

We take a number of steps to make sure our decisions are fair. When considering whether a sanction is appropriate, a Decision Maker will take all the claimant’s individual circumstances, including any childcare responsibilities and any evidence of good cause, into account before deciding whether a sanction is warranted.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
6th Mar 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of administering jobseeker's allowance sanctions in the most recent 12 month period for which data is available.

The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
6th Mar 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of administering employment and support allowance sanctions in the most recent 12 month period for which data is available.

The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
6th Mar 2018
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of administering universal credit sanctions in the most recent 12 month period for which data is available.

The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
20th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many responsible carers with children have been sanctioned under the universal credit provisions in the last four quarters.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
18th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Written Ministerial Statement of 14 December 2017, HCWS356, on employment and support allowance, what the average amount is by which the 75,000 individuals identified have been underpaid.

Arrears of around £400m to be paid in 2018/19 were included in the Autumn Budget 2017. It would be inappropriate to give an average amount as the amount of individual underpayments could vary substantially.

18th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Written Ministerial Statement of 14 December 2017, HCWS356, on employment and support allowance, how many of the 75,000 individuals who were identified as having been underpaid were resident in Scotland at the time of their reassessment for that allowance.

The information requested is not readily available.

18th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Written Ministerial Statement of 14 December 2017, HCWS356, on employment and support allowance, whether the payments in arrears will be up-rated in line with current inflation.

The appropriate arrears will be calculated in the normal way and in accordance with our legal obligations.

12th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many responsible carers by number and age of children have been sanctioned under universal credit in the last four quarters.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
11th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the providers for ESA assessments have met their minimum contractual performance standards at any point since the beginning of their contract.

Work Capability Assessments are delivered through the Health and Disability Assessment Services contract delivered by the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (CHDA). The requirements set out in the contract are demanding and CHDA are expected to deliver to high standards across all areas of the contract, including volumes, quality and customer satisfaction. Contractual targets and provider performance is formally reviewed monthly and actions put in place to improve on any under achievement. Since the beginning of the contract CHDA have consistently met or exceeded some of these measures each month and have never failed to meet all of them at any one point in time.

11th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have both (a) started their claim to and (b) been placed into the Employment Support Allowance work-related activity group since 3 April 2017 inclusive.

The latest information available on initial Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claims to March 2017 and the outcomes following an ESA Work Capability Assessment is published here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/employment-and-support-allowance-outcomes-of-work-capability-assessment

The information for ESA initial claims and outcomes for April 17 onwards is not yet available but will be published in due course.

11th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether he plans to abolish the seven-day waiting period for a new claim of ESA.

The government has no plans to abolish waiting days for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
11th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether he plans to abolish the seven-day waiting period for a new claim of JSA.

The government has no plans to abolish waiting days for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
11th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the providers for personal independence payment assessments have met their minimum contractual performance standards at any point since the beginning of their contracts.

PIP assessments are delivered nationally by two Providers, Capita and Independent Assessment Service (IAS). Both contracts include a number of service levels that both Providers are measured on. The service levels include the speed of clearance of cases, telephony calls and written enquiries, claimant satisfaction, quality of assessments, levels of rework and the speed of clearance for rework requests. Contractual targets and provider performance is formally reviewed monthly and actions put in place to improve on any under achievement.

Provider performance against each service level is formally reviewed each month with actions put in place to improve performance where performance has fallen below expectations. Since the beginning of the contract both Providers have consistently met/exceeded some of these each month and have never failed to meet all of them at any one point in time.

4th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many lone parents who have applied for universal credit have had to wait for more than five weeks to receive their first payment.

The latest available analysis covers claims to UC Full Service that were due a first payment in September 2017. Of the paid claims to lone parents, 89% received a full or partial payment on time.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
4th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many disabled people who have applied for universal credit have had to wait for more than five weeks to receive their first payment.

The latest available analysis covers claims to UC Full Service that were due a first payment in September 2017. Of claims which received support for a disability, 82% received a full or partial payment on time.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
4th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people in the Employment Support Allowance work-related activity group are not eligible for the work-related activity component under the provisions of s15 of the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016.

The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

4th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether universal credit claimants who are in part-time work must in some circumstances continue to look for further work or face a sanction.

In Universal Credit there is a stronger link between people receiving benefit and meeting their responsibilities. This includes clear and sustained work-related obligations. Claimants are expected to take responsibility for meeting the conditionality requirements they have agreed and they will be supported by their Work Coach.

Universal Credit provides us with the opportunity to support people to progress, and we are building the evidence about what works through a series of trials. Our Randomised Control Trial (RCT) looks at whether Work Coach support and mandatory activity agreed with claimants can support progression.

Those on Universal Credit with earnings above the Administrative Earnings Threshold and who are not part of our Randomised Control Trial are not currently expected to undertake mandatory job search activity.

Universal Credit includes some claimants with very low earnings beneath the Administrative Earnings Threshold. Such claimants would be expected to undertake mandatory activity agreed in their Claimant Commitment.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
4th Dec 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many responsible carers by number and age of children have been sanctioned under universal credit.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
10th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to promote Access to Work.

Although our approach has primarily been to work with Remploy and other partners and charities, using their effective networks and channels to reach potential recipients, we have also incurred some expenditure in marketing the scheme and the figures are set out below. We have also worked extensively to promote the Access to Work Scheme via Disability confident with stakeholders and partners such as the impairment specific charities and health practitioners.

Promotion of the Access to Work Scheme

Year

Spend

2014/15

£0

2015/16

£3,960

2016/17

£9,639

The most recent published statistics show that the number of people who had any Access to Work provision approved in 2016/17 increased by nearly 8% from 2015/16.

Access to work remains a demand led programme but the figures relating to the overall Access to Work spend are set out in the additional table below.

Spend on the Access to Work Scheme

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

Total Access to Work programme spend

£97.0m

£96m

£104m

Associated admin costs

£8m

£7.0m

£8m

Grand total

£105m

£103m

£112m

Note: Figures are rounded to the nearest £m.

Our most recent official experimental statistics that providea breakdown of different disabilities and conditions for the number of people who had Access to Work provision approved can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/access-to-work-statistics.

Finally, the information relating to how many applications were made and successful in England, Scotland and Wales in the last five years is not readily available and has not previously been published as official statistics.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
10th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reasons his policy on universal credit payment advances changed on 2 October 2017.

The Secretary of State has made changes to the Universal Credit Advance payments policy to improve awareness of and access to advances, and to ensure support is available to those who need it.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
10th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his Department's target on maximum claimant waiting times for receipt of universal credit payment advances was before 2 October 2017 for (a) new universal credit claims, (b) universal credit benefit transfer claims and (c) change of circumstance claims.

Universal Credit advances are processed at the point at which they are requested. However, information on the time taken between application for and receipt of universal credit payment advances is not routinely recorded. Therefore, results could only be provided at a disproportionate cost.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
10th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average times were between application for and receipt of universal credit payment advances for (a) new universal credit claims, (b) universal credit benefit transfer claims and (c) change of circumstances claims in each of the last six months.

Universal Credit advances are processed at the point at which they are requested. However, information on the time taken between application for and receipt of universal credit payment advances is not routinely recorded. Therefore, results could only be provided at a disproportionate cost.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
10th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much his Department has spent on (a) the Access to Work scheme and (b) promoting that scheme in each of the last three years.

Although our approach has primarily been to work with Remploy and other partners and charities, using their effective networks and channels to reach potential recipients, we have also incurred some expenditure in marketing the scheme and the figures are set out below. We have also worked extensively to promote the Access to Work Scheme via Disability confident with stakeholders and partners such as the impairment specific charities and health practitioners.

Promotion of the Access to Work Scheme

Year

Spend

2014/15

£0

2015/16

£3,960

2016/17

£9,639

The most recent published statistics show that the number of people who had any Access to Work provision approved in 2016/17 increased by nearly 8% from 2015/16.

Access to work remains a demand led programme but the figures relating to the overall Access to Work spend are set out in the additional table below.

Spend on the Access to Work Scheme

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

Total Access to Work programme spend

£97.0m

£96m

£104m

Associated admin costs

£8m

£7.0m

£8m

Grand total

£105m

£103m

£112m

Note: Figures are rounded to the nearest £m.

Our most recent official experimental statistics that providea breakdown of different disabilities and conditions for the number of people who had Access to Work provision approved can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/access-to-work-statistics.

Finally, the information relating to how many applications were made and successful in England, Scotland and Wales in the last five years is not readily available and has not previously been published as official statistics.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
10th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many applications were (a) made to the Access to Work scheme and (b) how many of those applications were successful in (i) England, (ii) Scotland and (iii) Wales in each of the last five years.

Although our approach has primarily been to work with Remploy and other partners and charities, using their effective networks and channels to reach potential recipients, we have also incurred some expenditure in marketing the scheme and the figures are set out below. We have also worked extensively to promote the Access to Work Scheme via Disability confident with stakeholders and partners such as the impairment specific charities and health practitioners.

Promotion of the Access to Work Scheme

Year

Spend

2014/15

£0

2015/16

£3,960

2016/17

£9,639

The most recent published statistics show that the number of people who had any Access to Work provision approved in 2016/17 increased by nearly 8% from 2015/16.

Access to work remains a demand led programme but the figures relating to the overall Access to Work spend are set out in the additional table below.

Spend on the Access to Work Scheme

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

Total Access to Work programme spend

£97.0m

£96m

£104m

Associated admin costs

£8m

£7.0m

£8m

Grand total

£105m

£103m

£112m

Note: Figures are rounded to the nearest £m.

Our most recent official experimental statistics that providea breakdown of different disabilities and conditions for the number of people who had Access to Work provision approved can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/access-to-work-statistics.

Finally, the information relating to how many applications were made and successful in England, Scotland and Wales in the last five years is not readily available and has not previously been published as official statistics.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
10th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his Department's policy is on waiting times for universal credit payment advances for (a) new universal credit claims, (b) universal credit benefit transfer claims and (c) change of circumstances claims.

Universal Credit advances are processed at the point at which they are requested. However, information on the time taken between application for and receipt of universal credit payment advances is not routinely recorded. Therefore, results could only be provided at a disproportionate cost.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
10th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the most recent breakdown is of different disabilities and conditions for those who receive Access to Work assistance.

Although our approach has primarily been to work with Remploy and other partners and charities, using their effective networks and channels to reach potential recipients, we have also incurred some expenditure in marketing the scheme and the figures are set out below. We have also worked extensively to promote the Access to Work Scheme via Disability confident with stakeholders and partners such as the impairment specific charities and health practitioners.

Promotion of the Access to Work Scheme

Year

Spend

2014/15

£0

2015/16

£3,960

2016/17

£9,639

The most recent published statistics show that the number of people who had any Access to Work provision approved in 2016/17 increased by nearly 8% from 2015/16.

Access to work remains a demand led programme but the figures relating to the overall Access to Work spend are set out in the additional table below.

Spend on the Access to Work Scheme

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

Total Access to Work programme spend

£97.0m

£96m

£104m

Associated admin costs

£8m

£7.0m

£8m

Grand total

£105m

£103m

£112m

Note: Figures are rounded to the nearest £m.

Our most recent official experimental statistics that providea breakdown of different disabilities and conditions for the number of people who had Access to Work provision approved can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/access-to-work-statistics.

Finally, the information relating to how many applications were made and successful in England, Scotland and Wales in the last five years is not readily available and has not previously been published as official statistics.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
10th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of disabled people in work; and whether his Department is planning to set targets.

The Government is committed to improving employment outcomes for disabled people. The manifesto commitment underpins this with a clear and time-bound goal to see 1 million more disabled people into work over the next 10 years.

Since quarter 1 2016, the number of working aged disabled people in employment has increased by over 170,000 to 3.5 million in quarter 1 2017. The disability employment rate has increased by over 2 percentage points and now stands at 49 per cent.

We know that there is much more that needs to be done, so that everyone who can work is given the right support and opportunities to do so. This Autumn we intend to set out our next steps following last year’s Improving Lives: Work, Health and Disability Green Paper and the consultation that followed this.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
6th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what impact assessment his Department carried out before raising the pension age to 68 for prison officers.

HM Treasury published an Impact Assessment in September 2012 on the Public Service Pensions Bill, which later became the Public Service Pensions Act 2013. This Act links the Normal Pension Age for public sector workers (including prison officers) to the State Pension Age. Under current legislation, the State Pension Age will rise to 68 for those born 6 April 1978 onwards. The justification for linking the two ages is to keep the Normal Pension Age for public service schemes in line with developments in longevity, ensuring the sustainability of the schemes and managing the risk to the taxpayer. The UK Government had extensive engagement with the Scottish Government and with trade unions before the reformed public service schemes, as outlined in the Act, were introduced in 2015.

Regular consideration of State Pension age is necessary to ensure that the pensions system remains sustainable as life expectancy grows. The first Government review of State Pension age was published earlier this year, in line with the framework introduced by the 2014 Pensions Act for regular and structured reviews of State Pension age to be held at least once every six years. The review can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630065/state-pension-age-review-final-report.pdf

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions his Department had with trade unions in (a) Scotland and (b) the rest of the UK before raising the pension age to 68 for prison officers.

HM Treasury published an Impact Assessment in September 2012 on the Public Service Pensions Bill, which later became the Public Service Pensions Act 2013. This Act links the Normal Pension Age for public sector workers (including prison officers) to the State Pension Age. Under current legislation, the State Pension Age will rise to 68 for those born 6 April 1978 onwards. The justification for linking the two ages is to keep the Normal Pension Age for public service schemes in line with developments in longevity, ensuring the sustainability of the schemes and managing the risk to the taxpayer. The UK Government had extensive engagement with the Scottish Government and with trade unions before the reformed public service schemes, as outlined in the Act, were introduced in 2015.

Regular consideration of State Pension age is necessary to ensure that the pensions system remains sustainable as life expectancy grows. The first Government review of State Pension age was published earlier this year, in line with the framework introduced by the 2014 Pensions Act for regular and structured reviews of State Pension age to be held at least once every six years. The review can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630065/state-pension-age-review-final-report.pdf

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Oct 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions his Department had with the Scottish Government before raising the pension age to 68 for prison officers.

HM Treasury published an Impact Assessment in September 2012 on the Public Service Pensions Bill, which later became the Public Service Pensions Act 2013. This Act links the Normal Pension Age for public sector workers (including prison officers) to the State Pension Age. Under current legislation, the State Pension Age will rise to 68 for those born 6 April 1978 onwards. The justification for linking the two ages is to keep the Normal Pension Age for public service schemes in line with developments in longevity, ensuring the sustainability of the schemes and managing the risk to the taxpayer. The UK Government had extensive engagement with the Scottish Government and with trade unions before the reformed public service schemes, as outlined in the Act, were introduced in 2015.

Regular consideration of State Pension age is necessary to ensure that the pensions system remains sustainable as life expectancy grows. The first Government review of State Pension age was published earlier this year, in line with the framework introduced by the 2014 Pensions Act for regular and structured reviews of State Pension age to be held at least once every six years. The review can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630065/state-pension-age-review-final-report.pdf

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jul 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his policy is on universal credit claimant sanctioning for (a) refusing an offer of a zero-hours contract and (b) leaving a zero-hours contract voluntarily.

Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants are not required to apply for zero-hours contract jobs. They cannot be sanctioned for refusing an offer of a zero-hours contract job or for leaving such employment voluntarily.

Universal Credit payments adjust automatically depending on the amount a claimant earns, so that a claimant whose hours may change are financially supported and do not need to switch their benefit claim. Therefore, a Universal Credit claimant can be expected to apply for a zero-hours contract job if it considered suitable for their individual circumstances. If there is no good reason that a Universal Credit claimant cannot take a zero-hours contract job they may be sanctioned for not doing so.

A Universal Credit claimant may still be sanctioned if they do not have good reason for leaving a zero-hours contract job voluntarily.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
18th Jul 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his policy is on jobseeker's allowance claimant sanctioning for (a) refusing an offer of a zero-hours contract and (b) leaving a zero-hours contract voluntarily.

Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants are not required to apply for zero-hours contract jobs. They cannot be sanctioned for refusing an offer of a zero-hours contract job or for leaving such employment voluntarily.

Universal Credit payments adjust automatically depending on the amount a claimant earns, so that a claimant whose hours may change are financially supported and do not need to switch their benefit claim. Therefore, a Universal Credit claimant can be expected to apply for a zero-hours contract job if it considered suitable for their individual circumstances. If there is no good reason that a Universal Credit claimant cannot take a zero-hours contract job they may be sanctioned for not doing so.

A Universal Credit claimant may still be sanctioned if they do not have good reason for leaving a zero-hours contract job voluntarily.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
12th Jul 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what definition his Department uses of (a) flexible worker and (b) flexible working.

DWP does not have its own definitions of (a) flexible worker and (b) flexible working.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
7th Jul 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the findings of the Trussell Trust report on financial and food insecurity, published in June 2017, on the number of employment and support allowance claimants using food banks in the UK.

It is widely acknowledged that the reasons why people use food banks are complex and overlapping, and therefore it would be misleading to link this to any particular cause. We are helping people with health conditions into employment and working to change attitudes. Since June 2016 over 750,000 people who were receiving incapacity benefits are now either preparing for or looking for work. As a safeguard for people needing more support, we have a well-established system of hardship payments, benefit advances and budgeting loans.

The Department does not have data on the number of people with health conditions or Employment and Support Allowance claimants who use food banks.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
7th Jul 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the findings of the Trussell Trust report on financial and food insecurity, published in June 2017, on the number of people with health conditions who use food banks.

It is widely acknowledged that the reasons why people use food banks are complex and overlapping, and therefore it would be misleading to link this to any particular cause. We are helping people with health conditions into employment and working to change attitudes. Since June 2016 over 750,000 people who were receiving incapacity benefits are now either preparing for or looking for work. As a safeguard for people needing more support, we have a well-established system of hardship payments, benefit advances and budgeting loans.

The Department does not have data on the number of people with health conditions or Employment and Support Allowance claimants who use food banks.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
5th Jul 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants in the employment and support allowance work-related activity group are also affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy.

At end-November 2016 there were 52,000 claimants in Great Britain in the employment and support allowance work-related activity group who had a deduction from their housing benefit due to the removal of the spare room subsidy. Discretionary Housing Payments are available to support vulnerable claimants requiring additional assistance with their housing costs.

5th Jul 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will undertake a review of the effect of the abolition of the employment and support allowance work-related activity component on claimant poverty.

There will be no cash losers among those who are already in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and we have laid regulations to protect existing ESA claimants, including those who temporarily leave the benefit to try out work and then return to ESA.

The Government published its assessment of the impacts of the change to the work-related activity component on 20 July 2015. http://www.parliament.uk/documents/impact-assessments/IA15-006B.pdf

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
5th Jul 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants in the Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity group have dependants under the age of two.

On 31 May 2015, the latest point at which this information is available, there were 10,600 Employment and Support Allowance claimants in the Work Related Activity Group, who were a parent or guardian to a child under the age of 2 years.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
13th Apr 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many parents used the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to make payments in the last year; and how many parents resolved maintenance issues themselves after CMS support.

Information on the number of case groups contributing towards their current liability with the Child Maintenance Service are published on Table 5 of the Child Maintenance Service Experimental Statistics, which contains data up until November 2016.The Publication can be accessed online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/2012-statutory-child-maintenance-scheme-aug-2013-to-nov-2016-experimental

A case group consists of all the cases associated with a paying parent. Note that the figures for casegroups contributing towards current liability are based on the assumption that paying parents on Direct Pay are fully contributing to current liability.

Information on the number of parents, who resolved maintenance issues themselves after CMS support, is planned for release in the next CMS 2012 Scheme publication which will be available at the following link.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-on-the-2012-statutory-child-maintenance-scheme

The release date will be pre-announced in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

13th Apr 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much the Child Maintenance Service received from the 20 per cent handling fee for calculated maintenance in the last year for which figures are available.

The Child Maintenance Service received £5.6m from the 20 per cent handling fee for calculated maintenance in the financial year ended 31st March 2016, the last year for which figures are available.

13th Apr 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much the Child Maintenance Service received from receiving parents contributing a four per cent handling fee of the calculated maintenance in the last year for which figures are available.

The Child Maintenance Service received £1.1m from receiving parents contributing a four per cent handling fee of the calculated maintenance in the financial year ended 31st March 2016, the last year for which figures are available.

13th Apr 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the Child Maintenance Service applies a 20 per cent handling fee to the arrears of paying parents.

A 20 per cent charge applies to on-going maintenance liability where parents use the Collect and Pay service in the Child Maintenance Service. This charge remains payable if arrears are accrued. There are no collection charges for parents who use the Direct Pay service.

24th Jan 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how he plans to replace the financial support for recipients claiming employment support allowance (ESA) in the work-related activity group (WRAG) after the ESA WRAG component has been removed.

We remain committed to ensuring that people have the best support possible to move closer to the labour market and, when they are ready, into work. This is why we are investing in a broad package of tailored support for new claimants in the Employment and Support Allowance Work-Related Activity Group and Universal Credit Limited Capability for Work element.

As part of this, we have allocated a total of £330m for new, voluntary support for people with limited capability for work, over four years starting from April 2017, and an extra £15 million through a top up to the existing Flexible Support Fund in both 2017/18 and 2018/19. In addition, we are beginning to engage with third party providers to investigate possibilities to reduce costs to claimants.

This is a substantial investment in those affected by the Work-Related Activity Component removal, but there are several factors around the nature of this group and the voluntary elements of the support which mean that we cannot demonstrate full compensation for every claimant.

Programme support for people with health conditions and disabilities will be devolved to Scotland from April 2017. The block grant to the Scottish Government will be adjusted to reflect the devolution of welfare, as set out in the Fiscal Framework.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
20th Jan 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much the Government plans to spend on employment support services for disabled people by 2020.

We announced a real terms increase in investment in employment support for disabled people and people with health conditions at Spending Review 2015.

At Summer Budget 2015, the Chancellor announced a support package of £330m over four years to provide support for people with limited capability for work from April 17 which will rise from £60m in 2017/18 to £100m in 2020/21. ‘Improving Lives, The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper’ provides further details of this Personal Support Package for people with health conditions and disabilities, with a range of new interventions and initiatives designed to provide support that is tailored to the individual needs of claimants.

The Package will be delivered through Jobcentre Plus, including following the Work Programme with a smaller, but more focused Work and Health Programme, coupled with significant new investment in a new Health and Work Conversation for all ESA claimants and additional Disability Employment Advisers in Jobcentres.

In addition to the £330m announced at Summer Budget 2015, the 2015 Spending Review announced funding rising to at least £130 million a year by 2019/20 for the new Work and Health Programme.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
20th Jan 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the funding will be for each of the employment support programmes set out in Improving Lives: The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper, Cm9342, published in October 2016; and if he will make a statement.

We announced a real terms increase in investment in employment support for disabled people and people with health conditions at Spending Review 2015.

At Summer Budget 2015, the Chancellor announced a support package of £330m over four years to provide support for people with limited capability for work from April 17 which will rise from £60m in 2017/18 to £100m in 2020/21. ‘Improving Lives, The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper’ provides further details of this Personal Support Package for people with health conditions and disabilities, with a range of new interventions and initiatives designed to provide support that is tailored to the individual needs of claimants.

The Package will be delivered through Jobcentre Plus, including following the Work Programme with a smaller, but more focused Work and Health Programme, coupled with significant new investment in a new Health and Work Conversation for all ESA claimants and additional Disability Employment Advisers in Jobcentres.

In addition to the £330m announced at Summer Budget 2015, the 2015 Spending Review announced funding rising to at least £130 million a year by 2019/20 for the new Work and Health Programme.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
17th Jan 2017
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what evidential basis he took into account in making recent changes to financial support for disabled people new to the employment and support allowance work-related activity group.

It’s our duty to make sure that this group is supported not just financially but also to fulfil their potential. That is why we have put in place a new employment support package of £330m over 4 years which was developed together with stakeholders to help disabled people to move closer to the labour market.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Dec 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, under what (a) criteria and (b) circumstances his Department disregards a judge's recommendations on not pursuing a claimant for benefit overpayments in criminal cases relating to fraud.

An overpayment of benefit is a civil debt owed to the Secretary of State and separate to any criminal proceedings taken against the claimant.

No criminal court, including the Crown Court or the Sheriff’s Court, has the jurisdiction to reduce, change or otherwise alter the Secretary of State’s decision on an overpayment of benefit. The right to recover an overpayment in accordance with Section 71 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 remains, despite any action taken by the Court.

Where a claimant is found not guilty of benefit fraud, and receives no sentence or financial penalty, they would still be liable to repay the overpayment. This is because they received benefit which would not have been paid had the true facts been known.

The Department has a duty to protect public funds and to recover overpaid benefits whenever possible. However, the Secretary of State does have the discretion to waive recovery of any overpayment where there are exceptional circumstances. Where a waiver is requested, each case is decided on its merits, with particular attention being paid to overpayments where recovery would be likely to be detrimental to the health and/or welfare of the claimant.

The Department, in line with Treasury guidance, does not generally waive overpayments that have arisen as a result of fraudulent activity, as good faith is one of the key considerations within the waiver policy.

Any disputes about the amount of the overpayment or the Secretary of State’s right to recover are addressed by mandatory reconsideration under social security legislation or by appeal to an independent tribunal service.

12th Dec 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will make an assessment of the (a) number of people aged under 21 who will be affected by and (b) effect on the level homelessness of the planned removal of the housing benefit element of universal credit.

Current estimates suggest that 10,000 people will be affected by the policy. The Department has worked in collaboration with key stakeholders such as Crisis and Shelter to make sure the policy includes the right exemptions to protect the most vulnerable people, including those at risk of homelessness; we are therefore confident about the robustness of the policy.

12th Dec 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will make an estimate of the number of people aged under 21 who will be affected by the planned removal of the housing benefit element of universal credit who have a mental health issue.

Current estimates suggest that 10,000 people will be affected by the policy in total. The Department does not hold information which estimates how many of those have a mental health issue. Nonetheless, the Department has worked in collaboration with a range of stakeholders to make sure the policy includes the right exemptions to protect the most vulnerable people; including those who have a mental health issue.

24th Nov 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the oral contribution of the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work of 17 November 2016, Official Report, columns 462 to 464, whether the hardship fund, flexible support fund and other third-party deals will compensate new claimants in full for the loss of the work-related activity group payments.

We remain committed to ensuring that people have the best support possible to move closer to the labour market and, when they are ready, into work. The change to the ESA work-related activity component will only apply to new claims. There will be no cash losers among those who are already in receipt of ESA and we aim to protect existing ESA claimants who temporarily leave the benefit to try out work and then return to ESA. We will bring forward draft regulations in due course setting out the detail.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
27th Oct 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many personal independence payment decisions have been amended at the mandatory reconsideration state in each of the last five years.

The information can be found on page 5 of documents found in link below. Data is only available from 1 April 2013.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/552855/pip-statistics-to-july-2016.pdf

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
26th Oct 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average time taken was for a case to be fully investigated by the Independent Case Examiner from initial referral until final outcome in each of the last five years.

Detailed below is the number of cases dealt with by the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) Office in the last five reporting years. The ICE Office only accepts a complaint for examination if it falls within their remit and the complainant has received a final response from the relevant department or its supplier.

Number of complaints accepted for examination by the ICE Office in the last five years

2011/12

1,348

2012/13

1,181

2013/14

1,002

2014/15

1,126

2015/16

1,104

First the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) Office considers whether a solution to the complaint can be brokered with the relevant department or its supplier without a detailed examination of the evidence. If not, it may be possible to “settle” the complaint, following a review of the evidence, if the relevant department or its supplier agrees to action that satisfies the complainant. Failing that the ICE will issue a report detailing findings and any recommendation for redress. The table below details those complaints where a report was issued.

ICE Investigation Report Findings

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

2015/16

Upheld - all aspects of the complaints had merit

13%

7%

18%

22%

28%

Partially Upheld - some aspects of the complaint had merit

26%

19%

33%

37%

44%

Not Upheld

61%

74%

49%

41%

28%

Average clearance times, for the last five years, in respect of resolution, settlement and full investigations by the Independent Case Examiner Office are detailed below.

Average Cleared Times (weeks)

Resolution

Settled

ICE Report

2011/12

8

49

51

2012/13

9

39

45

2013/14

9

24

33

2014/15

6

27

29

2015/16

8

38

44

26th Oct 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many employment and support allowance decisions have been amended at the mandatory reconsideration stage in each of the last five years.

The information can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/tribunals-and-gender-recognition-certificate-statistics-quarterly-april-to-june-2016 - go to Main Tables, link SSCS3. This is for all types of ESA decisions.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/esa-outcomes-of-work-capability-assessments-including-mandatory-reconsiderations-and-appeals-september-2016 - go to Data Tables, Table 14. This is data for ESA Work Capability Assessment (WCA) decisions only. Note that MR was only introduced in Oct 2013 for ESA.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
26th Oct 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many employment and support allowance decisions have been amended at the tribunal stage in each of the last five years.

The information can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/tribunals-and-gender-recognition-certificate-statistics-quarterly-april-to-june-2016 - go to Main Tables, link SSCS3. This is for all types of ESA decisions.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/esa-outcomes-of-work-capability-assessments-including-mandatory-reconsiderations-and-appeals-september-2016 - go to Data Tables, Table 14. This is data for ESA Work Capability Assessment (WCA) decisions only. Note that MR was only introduced in Oct 2013 for ESA.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
26th Oct 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proportion of cases dealt with by the Independent Case Examiner have found in the claimant's favour in each of the last five years.

Detailed below is the number of cases dealt with by the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) Office in the last five reporting years. The ICE Office only accepts a complaint for examination if it falls within their remit and the complainant has received a final response from the relevant department or its supplier.

Number of complaints accepted for examination by the ICE Office in the last five years

2011/12

1,348

2012/13

1,181

2013/14

1,002

2014/15

1,126

2015/16

1,104

First the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) Office considers whether a solution to the complaint can be brokered with the relevant department or its supplier without a detailed examination of the evidence. If not, it may be possible to “settle” the complaint, following a review of the evidence, if the relevant department or its supplier agrees to action that satisfies the complainant. Failing that the ICE will issue a report detailing findings and any recommendation for redress. The table below details those complaints where a report was issued.

ICE Investigation Report Findings

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

2015/16

Upheld - all aspects of the complaints had merit

13%

7%

18%

22%

28%

Partially Upheld - some aspects of the complaint had merit

26%

19%

33%

37%

44%

Not Upheld

61%

74%

49%

41%

28%

Average clearance times, for the last five years, in respect of resolution, settlement and full investigations by the Independent Case Examiner Office are detailed below.

Average Cleared Times (weeks)

Resolution

Settled

ICE Report

2011/12

8

49

51

2012/13

9

39

45

2013/14

9

24

33

2014/15

6

27

29

2015/16

8

38

44

26th Oct 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many cases have been dealt with by the Independent Case Examiner in each of the last five years.

Detailed below is the number of cases dealt with by the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) Office in the last five reporting years. The ICE Office only accepts a complaint for examination if it falls within their remit and the complainant has received a final response from the relevant department or its supplier.

Number of complaints accepted for examination by the ICE Office in the last five years

2011/12

1,348

2012/13

1,181

2013/14

1,002

2014/15

1,126

2015/16

1,104

First the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) Office considers whether a solution to the complaint can be brokered with the relevant department or its supplier without a detailed examination of the evidence. If not, it may be possible to “settle” the complaint, following a review of the evidence, if the relevant department or its supplier agrees to action that satisfies the complainant. Failing that the ICE will issue a report detailing findings and any recommendation for redress. The table below details those complaints where a report was issued.

ICE Investigation Report Findings

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

2015/16

Upheld - all aspects of the complaints had merit

13%

7%

18%

22%

28%

Partially Upheld - some aspects of the complaint had merit

26%

19%

33%

37%

44%

Not Upheld

61%

74%

49%

41%

28%

Average clearance times, for the last five years, in respect of resolution, settlement and full investigations by the Independent Case Examiner Office are detailed below.

Average Cleared Times (weeks)

Resolution

Settled

ICE Report

2011/12

8

49

51

2012/13

9

39

45

2013/14

9

24

33

2014/15

6

27

29

2015/16

8

38

44

21st Oct 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what he expects the savings to his Department to be of the proposed changes to the employment and support allowance work-related activity group; and how much funding has been allocated to the proposed work and health programme.

The forecasted savings from the proposed changes to the Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity group from April 2017, can be found in Table 2.2 of the Budget 2016, available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/budget-2016-documents/budget-2016

The 2015 Spending Review announced funding rising to at least £130 million a year by 2019/20 for the new Work and Health programme. The programme is one part of a wider offer of support for disabled people and our Work and Health Green Paper will be looking at how we can go even further.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
20th Oct 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many representations he has received (a) in favour and (b) against reductions in the employment support allowance for people in the work-related activity group.

A number of representations were received regarding removal of the work-related activity component for new employment and support allowance claimants only. We do not hold a central record of this information.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
20th Oct 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many employment support allowance claimants in the work-related activity group have (a) come off that allowance and (b) had periods of reclaiming that allowance and what proportion of those claimants had fluctuating illnesses in the latest period for which figures are available.

Statistics on Employment and Support Allowance off-flows, by phase of claim, are published and available at:

http://tabulation-tool.dwp.gov.uk/flows/flows_off/tabtool.html

Guidance on how to extract the information can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-tabulation-tool-guidance

The information requested on Employment and Support Allowance claimants reclaiming ESA and the proportion of claimants who had fluctuating illnesses is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
20th Oct 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will publish the evidence his Department has received which illustrates that a change in the level of employment and support allowance work-related activity group funding will support claimants into work.

A number of international studies, and a 2005 report[1] by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development argued that “financial incentives to work can be improved by either cutting welfare benefit levels, or introducing in-work benefits while leaving benefit levels unchanged”.

There will be new funding worth £60 million in 2017/18, rising to £100 million in 2020/21, which will support those with limited capability for work to move towards and into suitable employment. We will also soon publish a Green Paper that will explore a range of options for long-term reform across different sectors, targeting the factors which contribute to the Disability Employment Gap.

[1] http://www.oecd.org/employment/emp/36780865.pdf

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
5th Sep 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people in Scotland received support from Access to Work grants (a) in total and (b) for a mental health condition in each of the last three years.

The requested data is as follows:

Financial year

Number of people helped by Access to Work in Scotland

Number of people helped by Access to Work in Scotland with a primary medical condition recorded as “Mental health condition

2013/14

2,840

80

2014/15

2,860

90

2015/16

2,790

110

Note:

The Department does not routinely publish regional breakdowns of Access to Work data. These data were obtained from the Disability Service Client database and are rounded to the nearest 10.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
5th Sep 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average time taken is for a decision to be made for a personal independence payment claim in (a) Airdrie and Shotts constituency, (b) Scotland and (c) England.

The table below shows the average (median) actual clearance times (AACT), in weeks, for normal rules new claims and DLA reassessments to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for Airdie and Shotts, Scotland and England in April 2016.

April 2016

Normal Rules, New Claims AACT (weeks)

Normal Rules, DLA Reassessments AACT (weeks)

Airdie and Shotts parliamentary constituency

11

13

Scotland

10

13

England

9

12

Source – PIP Computer Systems management information.

Notes to table:

1) The figures are for normal rules only, and do not include special rules for the terminally ill, as these claims have a separate and faster route through the claims process.

2) ‘Time take for a decision’ has been interpreted as the average time between the date of referral to the assessment provider and the date of the DWP decision to either award or disallow the claim. It does not include claims that were withdrawn by the claimant or claims that were disallowed by DWP pre-referral to the Assessment Providers (e.g. for failure to meet basic eligibility criteria or failure to return the Part 2 form within the time limit).

3) Figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number of weeks.

Further information on AACTs is published and available at;

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/personal-independence-payment-statistics

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
2nd Sep 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department plans to take to train Jobcentre Plus advisors to support working parents and carers in in-work progression under universal credit.

We have made a significant commitment to supporting people through the welfare system to seek to increase their earnings in work. We are testing a range of approaches.

This includes ongoing trials on how in-work progression can be supported by work coaches. This will help us further develop the work coach role to support in-work claimants, including working parents and Carers.

We have also put in place a substantial programme of learning and ongoing support for work coaches. All coaches receive face-to-face classroom learning which focuses on both the technical delivery steps and importantly the transformational change of delivering in-work progression, as well as consolidation post-completion.

Many of the skills that work coaches develop and utilise when working with out-of-work claimants are equally applicable to in-work claimants, and they will bring these skills to bear in addition to the extra learning.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
2nd Sep 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will estimate how many parents and carers in receipt of universal credit will require childcare after transition to in-work conditionality.

The information requested could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
2nd Sep 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will estimate the number of working parents and carers receiving universal credit who will be required to work increased hours under in-work conditionality that (a) are unable to work full-time hours and (b) will require flexible working arrangements.

The information requested could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
25th May 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if his Department will provide additional financial support to disabled people whose income will be reduced as a result of (a) changes in the employment and support allowance work-related activity group and (b) the universal credit work allowance as a result of provisions in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016.

No existing Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit claimants will be affected by the change to the work-related activity or limited capability for work components. We have committed to providing £60m a year from 2016/17, rising to £100m a year by 2020/21, in new, practical support for claimants with limited capability for work to help them move closer to the labour market and, when they are ready, into work. If a disabled person in work is affected by the recent changes to work allowances, additional help has been made available to help them overcome specific barriers to increasing their earnings.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
24th May 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to his oral evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee of 11 May 2016, when his Department plans to publish its Green Paper on the proposed new Work and Health programme.

As the Secretary of State has said, we will be publishing a Work and Health Green Paper later in the year. Separately, it was announced in the 2015 Spending Review that the Department for Work and Pensions would introduce a new Work and Health Programme, following the end of referrals to both the current Work Programme and Work Choice. This programme will be implemented in 2017 and will help to achieve the Government’s ambition of halving the disability employment gap.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
24th May 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much funding his Department (a) has allocated since 2011 and (b) plans to allocate by 2020 to the Work Programme.

The Departmental Annual Report for 2014/2015 includes the final outturn numbers for Employment Programmes from 2011/12 to 2014/15 (page 181 of the report). These figures have been audited.

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

Outturn

Outturn

Outturn

Outturn

£m

£m

£m

£m

876

802

1,037

950

The Annual Report also includes separately published values for the Work Programme for the years 2011/2012 (£283m), 2012/2013 (£453m) and 2013/2014 (£636m). Work Programme spend has not been separately published beyond 2013/2014.

Figures for the year 2015/2016 and beyond cannot be provided as they are subject to change and have not been published.

Sources:

2011/12 to 2014/15: DWP Departmental Annual Report 2014/2015: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/445950/dwp-annual-report-and-accounts-2014-to-2015.pdf

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
21st Mar 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when he expects the findings of the review of industrial injuries disablement benefit to be published.

The review is ongoing and we will report our findings in due course.

2nd Feb 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate he has made of the number of people the £7 million fund for Employability in Scotland will assist in 2016-17.

As funding for the new Work and Health Programme will be devolved in Scotland, by definition it will be for the Scottish Government to decide how many people it chooses to support through their devolved programme.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
28th Jan 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the contribution made by the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth on 27 January 2015, Official Report, column 259, what the terms for the one year review of cuts to housing benefit will be.

The evidence review commissioned by the Department will work closely with charities, landlords stakeholders etc. and will look at the shape, scale and cost of the supported housing sector.

28th Jan 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether (a) new or existing Housing Benefit claimants and (b) those in supported accommodation will have their allowance cut to Local Housing Allowance rates from 1 April 2016.

This measure does not apply until April 2018. We value the work of the supported housing sector extremely highly and are working closely with them to ensure they are supported as effectively as possible in advance of the police taking effect.

The Department alongside the Department for Communities and Local Government has jointly commissioned an evidence review of supported housing.

The results of this research will determine our future policy development and any appropriate exemptions.

21st Jan 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many women in Airdrie and Shotts constituency will be affected by changes in the State Pension Age introduced under the (a) Pensions Act 1995 and (b) Pensions 2011 Act.

Women born between 6 April 1950 and 5 April 1953 are affected by State Pension age equalisation under the Pensions Act 1995.


The Pensions Act 2011 accelerated the equalisation of State Pension age, affecting women born between 6 April 1953 and 5 December 1953, whilst women born between 6 Dec 1953 and 5 April 1960 are affected by the bringing forward of the increase in State Pension age from 65 to 66 under the Pensions Act 2011.


Estimates of the number of women affected at constituency level can be made from the relevant population estimates.


Parliamentary Constituency (England and Wales) level population estimates, relating to mid-2014 (the latest available) can be found by selecting “SAPE17DT7 - Parliamentary Constituency Mid-Year Population Estimates (experimental), Mid-2014” at:


http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-395002#tab-2014


For Scotland, mid-2014, at:


http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/population/population-estimates/special-area-population-estimates/spc-population-estimates

4th Jan 2016
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people with multiple sclerosis who were awarded the daily living component of personal independence payment scored all of their points due to aid and appliances.

For Multiple Sclerosis, the number of individuals awarded the Daily Living component of PIP who scored all of their points due to aids and appliances is 2,200.

This data relates to the period April 2013 to 30th September 2015, and includes Normal Rules awards only.

DWP are currently running a consultation to seek views on how support can best be provided to help meet the costs of disability which are faced by people who are currently awarded points due to aids and appliances. The department is keen to hear views from all interested parties, especially disabled people and disability organisations.

17th Dec 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many employment and support allowance claimants in (a) the UK and (b) Scotland who have been sanctioned found work within six months of that sanction being imposed.

The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.


The information that is available, on the number of sanction referrals and adverse sanction decisions, in respect of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), is published and available at:


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


Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started---SuperWEB2.html


Information for Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the Department for Social Development. Northern Ireland statistics can be found at:


http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/stats_and_research/benefit_publications.htm

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
17th Dec 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many jobseeker's allowance claimants in (a) the UK and (b) Scotland who have been sanctioned found work within three months of that sanction being imposed.

The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.


The information that is available, on the number of sanction referrals and adverse sanction decisions, in respect of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), is published and available at:


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


Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started---SuperWEB2.html


Information for Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the Department for Social Development. Northern Ireland statistics can be found at:


http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/stats_and_research/benefit_publications.htm

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
17th Dec 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many employment and support allowance claimants in (a) the UK and (b) Scotland who have been sanctioned found work within three months of that sanction being imposed.

The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.


The information that is available, on the number of sanction referrals and adverse sanction decisions, in respect of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), is published and available at:


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


Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started---SuperWEB2.html


Information for Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the Department for Social Development. Northern Ireland statistics can be found at:


http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/stats_and_research/benefit_publications.htm

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
17th Dec 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many jobseekers allowance claimants in (a) the UK and (b) Scotland who have been sanctioned found work within six months of that sanction being imposed.

The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.


The information that is available, on the number of sanction referrals and adverse sanction decisions, in respect of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), is published and available at:


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


Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started---SuperWEB2.html


Information for Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the Department for Social Development. Northern Ireland statistics can be found at:


http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/stats_and_research/benefit_publications.htm

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
8th Dec 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants were sanctioned in (a) 2015, (b) 2014, (c) 2013, (d) 2012 and (e) 2011; how many such claimants were (i) disabled and (ii) lone parents in each such year; and how many dependents such claimants had in each such year.

The specific information requested, in respect of claimants who are sanctioned and have dependents and lone parents on Employment and Support Allowance, is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The information that is available, on the number of sanction referrals and adverse sanction decisions, in respect of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is published and available at:

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

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started---SuperWEB2.html

Information about Income Support lone parents (ISLP) is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/income-support-lone-parent-regime-figures-on-sanctions-and-work-focused-interviews--2

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
27th Nov 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the effect on claimants of the extension of time for personal independence payment reassessments referred to in the OBR forecasts of November 2015; and what steps he is taking to address the concerns of people on disability living allowance whose reassessments will take longer to process as a result.

The Government is committed to delivering Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in a safe and secure way, ensuring that we continue to roll it out to existing recipients of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) based on capacity, to ensure an effective and efficient service for claimants. Full PIP roll out started in July this year in a controlled way, allowing us to test, learn and improve the service before we ramp up at scale. From October, in line with previously published plans, we began the full rollout of PIP nationally. There are no delays in the claiming system and we are currently working at business as usual capacity. Existing DLA claimants are being kept informed about reassessment activity, including when or under what circumstances they may be invited to claim PIP, through a range of communication measures including information provided in the annual uprating letter or through information available on www.gov.uk.

26th Nov 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reductions in housing benefit announced in the Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015 on claimants who receive housing benefit for housing that has been purpose-built for disabled people.

This policy was introduced because in some areas the increases in social rents have outstripped the increases in private rents.


This policy will cap social sector rents at the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate for the area, but will only apply from April 2018 where a new tenancy is taken out or a tenancy is renewed after April 2016. By only applying the cap when a new tenancy is taken on or an existing tenancy is renewed will mean that claimants will have the opportunity to consider whether they can afford to take on the property before committing to the tenancy.


The Discretionary Housing Payment scheme will be available for those living in accommodation that has been purpose built or significantly adapted to meet the needs of a disabled person, in the same way as it is for those who receive a reduction in their eligible rent for the removal of the spare room subsidy.



1st Sep 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the statistics on people who died after claiming employment and support allowance published by his Department on 27 August 2015; and if he will make a statement.

Whilst any death is extremely distressing for the family no causal link whatsoever can be made between the likelihood of dying and the fact that someone is claiming benefits.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
21st Jul 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether he is planning to appeal against the Information Commissioner's decision on the publication of data on people who have died while waiting for social security claims decisions.

There is no such decision notice from the Information Commissioner.

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
9th Jun 2015
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people in Airdrie and Shotts constituency were given welfare sanctions in each year from 2009 to 2014; and what the average number of such sanctions in all constituencies was in those years.

The latest available information on sanctions, as at December 2014, is published at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/:

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started---SuperWEB2.html

Priti Patel
Home Secretary
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether (a) new or existing Housing Benefit claimants and (b) those in supported accommodation will have their allowance cut to Local Housing Allowance rates from 1 April 2016.

This measure does not apply until April 2018. We value the work of the supported housing sector extremely highly and are working closely with them to ensure they are supported as effectively as possible in advance of the police taking effect.

The Department alongside the Department for Communities and Local Government has jointly commissioned an evidence review of supported housing.

The results of this research will determine our future policy development and any appropriate exemptions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what additional (a) resources and (b) funding her Department has been allocated to process back-dated claims for employment support allowance.

The report published by the National Audit Office, published March 2018, clearly sets out what resources and funding we have allocated to this process. The relevant information can be found at paragraphs 2.17 and 2.19:

https://www.nao.org.uk/report/investigation-into-errors-in-employment-and-support-allowance/

30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) undertaken an assessment of the scientific evidence in relation to the effect of lower levels of vitamin D on susceptibility to infection with covid-19.

Public Health England (PHE) commissioned the Scientific Advisory Commission on Nutrition (SACN) to examine new evidence on whether vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of Acute Respiratory Tract Infections (ARTIs). SACN’s review concluded that evidence currently does not support vitamin D supplementation to prevent ARTIs in the general United Kingdom population. The review reiterates the importance of vitamin D for bone and muscle health. This can be accessed at the following link:

https://app.box.com/s/g0ldpth1upfd7fw763ew3aqa3c0pyvky

PHE supported National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to review emerging evidence on vitamin D and the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. NICE’s review concluded that there is currently no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk or severity of COVID-19. This can be accessed at the following link:

www.nice.org.uk/advice/es28/evidence/evidence-review-pdf-8777674477

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)