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Written Question
Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund: Universal Credit
Monday 22nd February 2021

Asked by: Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

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.

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

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.


Written Question
Universal Credit: Maladministration
Monday 1st February 2021

Asked by: Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

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.

Answered by Will Quince - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

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


Written Question
Universal Credit: ICT
Monday 1st February 2021

Asked by: Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

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.

Answered by Will Quince - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

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.


Written Question
Working Hours
Monday 1st February 2021

Asked by: Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a four-day working week.

Answered by Kemi Badenoch - Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (jointly with Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

Enforcing a four-day working week would likely increase business costs at a time where we should be supporting businesses. We need to help businesses by creating and protecting jobs, not adding to their costs. This is why the Government has extended a number of Covid support schemes, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, through the winter.

The UK’s flexible labour market allows employers to independently agree working arrangements with their workers. Enforcing a four-day working week would take that choice away from both workers and employers.


Written Question
Travel: Cross Border Cooperation
Friday 29th January 2021

Asked by: Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts)

Question to the Department for Transport:

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

Answered by Robert Courts - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

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


Written Question
Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit: Coronavirus
Monday 25th January 2021

Asked by: Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

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.

Answered by Will Quince - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

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.


Written Question
Universal Credit: ICT
Wednesday 20th January 2021

Asked by: Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

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.

Answered by Will Quince - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

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.


Written Question
Universal Credit: ICT
Tuesday 19th January 2021

Asked by: Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

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, what steps she is taking to ensure that claimants receive an explanation for each retrospective amendment made to journal entries by a staff member.

Answered by Will Quince - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

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.


Written Question
Universal Credit: Maladministration
Tuesday 19th January 2021

Asked by: Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

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.

Answered by Will Quince - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

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.


Written Question
Universal Credit: ICT
Tuesday 19th January 2021

Asked by: Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

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.

Answered by Will Quince - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

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.