Olivia Blake Portrait

Olivia Blake

Labour - Sheffield, Hallam

Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

(since May 2021)
Public Accounts Committee
2nd Mar 2020 - 13th Jul 2021


Department Event
Tuesday 21st September 2021
09:25
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Second Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - General Committee
21 Sep 2021, 9:25 a.m.
The draft Organics (Equivalence and Control Bodies Listing) (Amendment) Regulations 2021
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Department Event
Wednesday 22nd September 2021
09:25
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fourth Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - General Committee
22 Sep 2021, 9:25 a.m.
The draft Water and Sewerage Undertakers (Exit from Non-household Retail Market) (Consequential Provision) Regulations 2021
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Oral Question
Wednesday 22nd September 2021
11:30
Oral Question No. 8
What assessment she has made of the potential effect of the Nationality and Borders Bill on (a) equality, (b) personal safety and (c) the process of providing identity evidence in the asylum process for LGBTQ+ people.
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Department Event
Thursday 28th October 2021
09:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Oral questions - Main Chamber
28 Oct 2021, 9:30 a.m.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
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Division Votes
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Protecting the Public and Justice for Victims
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 193 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 223 Noes - 0
Speeches
Wednesday 15th September 2021
Oral Answers to Questions

Q10. Throughout the country, there are children who have not gone back to school because their schools say that they …

Written Answers
Monday 13th September 2021
Special Educational Needs
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has with relevant stakeholders on including in the forthcoming …
Early Day Motions
Thursday 13th May 2021
Mental Health Awareness Week: supporting the social care workforce
That this House notes the findings published by Hft as part of its annual Sector Pulse Check research that 62 …
Bills
Wednesday 15th September 2021
Abuse of Public-facing Workers (Offences) Bill 2021-22
A Bill to make provision for and in connection with offences relating to verbal and physical abuse of public-facing workers …
MP Financial Interests
Monday 6th September 2021
3. Gifts, benefits and hospitality from UK sources
Name of donor: Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming
Address of donor: The Green House, 244-254 Cambridge Heath …
EDM signed
Friday 14th May 2021
Forestry in England and the closure of Wykeham nursery
That this House believes that increasing both biodiversity and the volume of new tree planting is an essential part of …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Olivia Blake has voted in 261 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Olivia Blake Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

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
Rebecca Pow (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
(7 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(6 debate interactions)
Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party)
Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)
(4 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(18 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(8 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(6 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Olivia Blake's debates

Sheffield, Hallam Petitions

e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.

If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.

If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).

Petition Debates Contributed

Now the hedgehog has been listed as vulnerable to extinction in the UK, we are calling on the Government to move hedgehogs to schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 to allow them greater protection.

The Government's manifesto stated “we will make intentional trespass a criminal offence”: an extreme, illiberal & unnecessary attack on ancient freedoms that would threaten walkers, campers, and the wider public. It would further tilt the law in favour of the landowning 1% who own half the country.


Latest EDMs signed by Olivia Blake

17th May 2021
Olivia Blake signed this EDM as a sponsor on Friday 14th May 2021

Forestry in England and the closure of Wykeham nursery

Tabled by: John McDonnell (Labour - Hayes and Harlington)
That this House believes that increasing both biodiversity and the volume of new tree planting is an essential part of any strategy to reach the UK's net zero target in carbon emissions; is concerned to learn that on 17 March 2021 Forestry Commission trade unions and nursery staff were informed …
13 signatures
(Most recent: 6 Sep 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 10
Scottish National Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Liberal Democrat: 1
12th May 2021
Olivia Blake signed this EDM as a sponsor on Thursday 13th May 2021

Radiologist workforce

Tabled by: Grahame Morris (Labour - Easington)
That this House notes that the NHS radiologist workforce is now short-staffed by 33 per cent according to the Royal College of Radiologists recent census and needs at least another 1,939 consultants to meet safe staffing levels and pre-coronavirus levels of demand for imaging; recognises that radiologists are essential to …
11 signatures
(Most recent: 7 Jun 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 7
Scottish National Party: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
View All Olivia Blake's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Olivia Blake, 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.


Olivia Blake has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Olivia Blake has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Olivia Blake


A Bill to make provision for and in connection with offences relating to verbal and physical abuse of public-facing workers in the course of their employment.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Wednesday 15th September 2021
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading (Commons)
Friday 28th January 2022

Olivia Blake has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


273 Written Questions in the current parliament

(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
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to his Department's recent announcement that students will not be permitted to return to their term time address until 17 May 2021, what plans he has to ensure that students register for postal votes at their term time accommodation; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the deadline for students to register for postal votes.

There are three ways to vote at elections in the UK: in person at a polling station; by postal vote; or by proxy vote. These will all be available to voters at the elections in May 2021 and it is for individual electors to decide the appropriate method of voting for themselves, depending on their circumstances.

The Government has no plans to change the deadline for postal vote applications. Moving the deadline closer to polling day would reduce the time for postal ballot papers to be issued to and returned by postal voters, and could lead to the votes of some postal voters not being received in time to be counted.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the effect on holding local elections in May 2021 of the use of community centres as vaccination centres that are usually used as polling stations.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to PQ 147911 on 9 February 2021.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what representations his Department has received from Sage on the safe holding of local elections in May 2021 during the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to PQ 147911 on 9 February 2021.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he has taken to communicate covid-19 support and guidance to people whose first language is not English.

Working to ensure that public information on COVID-19 is accessible and reaches all those who need it is a high priority for the Government.

Important health guidance, for example on social distancing and symptoms, has been translated into a range of languages and formats. Key Covid-19 content in alternative formats is available on the Public Health England's Campaign Resource Centre for health bodies, Local Authorities and voluntary sector organisations to access, share and use.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of making businesses based in (a) non-commercial and (b) non-rateable premises eligible for the covid-19 Restart Grant.

The £5 billion Restart Grant Scheme announced by my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer on 3 March 2021 are one-off grants to businesses in the non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, personal care and accommodation sectors, to support businesses to reopen as Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed.

Strand One of the Restart Grants aims to support non-essential retail with grants of up to £6,000. Strand Two is to support hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses, with grants of up to £18,000.

There are currently no plans to change the eligibility criteria for the Restart Grant scheme.

However, further funding has been made available via the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) to support those businesses that have had their trade adversely affected by the local and national restrictions.

The ARG is a discretionary fund and is also administered by Local Authorities to support businesses in the way they see fit. More than £2 billion of funding has been made available via the ARG, £1.6 billion on Nov 2020 and further £425 million on April 2021.

Businesses should consult their Local Authority to determine whether they might be eligible for ARG support.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a skills framework in consultation with trade unions and professional bodies to develop the skills of construction workers working on green retrofit projects.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) launched a £6.9m skills competition in September to provide training opportunities for energy efficiency and low carbon heating supply chains to deliver works and scale up to meet additional consumer demand. Funding is provided to support training individuals with existing skills and those new to the sector in energy efficiency and clean heat measures, along with support for installation companies to gain the required PAS 2030 standards or Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation, including possible contribution to certification costs.

A number of training providers have now started training, offering free or subsidised courses covering a wide range of skills and certifications across both energy efficiency and clean heat measures. More information regarding the skills competition can be found here, with a webpage with links to training provider websites here.

The Government is investing in the UK workforce to ensure that people have the right skills and qualifications to deliver the low-carbon transition and thrive in the high-value jobs this will create. BEIS and the Department for Education (DfE) are jointly leading work to consider the skills and jobs needed to help deliver net zero, including green retrofit skills. The Green Jobs Taskforce is working with industry, unions and providers to develop solutions and recommendations that will be refined into a shortlist of high impact actions that will make up a final Green Jobs Action Plan (February 2021 to April 2021).

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that construction workers involved in green retrofitting are given adequate on the job training.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) launched a £6.9m skills competition in September to provide training opportunities for energy efficiency and low carbon heating supply chains to deliver works and scale up to meet additional consumer demand. Funding is provided to support training individuals with existing skills and those new to the sector in energy efficiency and clean heat measures, along with support for installation companies to gain the required PAS 2030 standards or Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation, including possible contribution to certification costs.

A number of training providers have now started training, offering free or subsidised courses covering a wide range of skills and certifications across both energy efficiency and clean heat measures. More information regarding the skills competition can be found here, with a webpage with links to training provider websites here.

The Government is investing in the UK workforce to ensure that people have the right skills and qualifications to deliver the low-carbon transition and thrive in the high-value jobs this will create. BEIS and the Department for Education (DfE) are jointly leading work to consider the skills and jobs needed to help deliver net zero, including green retrofit skills. The Green Jobs Taskforce is working with industry, unions and providers to develop solutions and recommendations that will be refined into a shortlist of high impact actions that will make up a final Green Jobs Action Plan (February 2021 to April 2021).

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) increasing the level 2 NVQ qualification required for construction workers working on green retrofit and (b) mandating that a higher level technician be required onsite.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) launched a £6.9m skills competition in September to provide training opportunities for energy efficiency and low carbon heating supply chains to deliver works and scale up to meet additional consumer demand. Funding is provided to support training individuals with existing skills and those new to the sector in energy efficiency and clean heat measures, along with support for installation companies to gain the required PAS 2030 standards or Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation, including possible contribution to certification costs.

A number of training providers have now started training, offering free or subsidised courses covering a wide range of skills and certifications across both energy efficiency and clean heat measures. More information regarding the skills competition can be found here, with a webpage with links to training provider websites here.

The Government is investing in the UK workforce to ensure that people have the right skills and qualifications to deliver the low-carbon transition and thrive in the high-value jobs this will create. BEIS and the Department for Education (DfE) are jointly leading work to consider the skills and jobs needed to help deliver net zero, including green retrofit skills. The Green Jobs Taskforce is working with industry, unions and providers to develop solutions and recommendations that will be refined into a shortlist of high impact actions that will make up a final Green Jobs Action Plan (February 2021 to April 2021).

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what public health guidance informed his decision prior to the national lockdown that pub patrons had to purchase a substantial meal if they wanted to buy an alcoholic beverage.

On 22 February, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister published the Government’s ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’. The roadmap is a step-by-step plan to ease restrictions in England cautiously, starting with education. Across the four steps, the roadmap sets out the sequencing and indicative timing for easing restrictions. This is a cautious and gradual approach.

With regard to the reopening of the hospitality sector, Step 2 will take place no earlier than 12 April, when hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcoholic drinks, and no curfew. The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’) will remain.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that energy suppliers have adequate funding to support his Department’s ambition to install a smart meter in every (a) home and (b) small business.

Since 2013, energy suppliers have been required to take all reasonable steps to install smart meters in homes and small businesses. How they plan for, manage and fund the activity needed to meet this obligation is a matter for individual energy suppliers.

It is Ofgem’s legal duty to determine the methodology for calculating the price cap. In setting the cap Ofgem’s duty is, among other things, to have regard to the need to ensure that suppliers who operate efficiently are able to finance activities authorised by their supply licence, such as smart meter installations.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of any reduction by Ofgem in the smart metering programme allowances under the default tariff cap on the (a) pace of the roll-out and (b) number of workers undertaking that work.

Since 2013, energy suppliers have been required to take all reasonable steps to install smart meters in homes and small businesses. How they plan for, manage and fund the activity needed to meet this obligation is a matter for individual energy suppliers.

It is Ofgem’s legal duty to determine the methodology for calculating the price cap. In setting the cap Ofgem’s duty is, among other things, to have regard to the need to ensure that suppliers who operate efficiently are able to finance activities authorised by their supply licence, such as smart meter installations.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of Ofgem’s consultation entitled, Review of smart metering costs in the default tariff cap: May 2020 statutory consultation on the number of smart meters energy suppliers that can be installed; and how many Engineers would be required to undertake that work.

It is Ofgem’s legal duty to determine the methodology for calculating the price cap. In setting the cap, Ofgem’s duty is, among other things, to have regard to the need to ensure that suppliers who operate efficiently are able to finance activities authorised by their supply licence, such as smart meter installations.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance his Department issued to organisations representing (a) security guards, (b) bus and taxi drivers and (c) chauffeurs on adaptations to their working practices during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government’s approach to producing this guidance has not been split by specific business types, but by the type of work environment instead. The majority of stakeholders that we engaged with praised and backed this approach and most working environments are covered within the sets of guidance that have been published.

The Government has produced guidance for people who work in and from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/vehicles

We will keep the guidance under review and will consider updating it as circumstances change. We are being led by the science and we will make changes to the guidance when they are needed as determined by the science and as we learn best practices from businesses.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many staff in his Department are employed in the (a) Energy Transformation and Clean Growth Group and (b) Energy Security Group.

The staff FTE figure in (a) Energy Transformation and Clean Growth Group and (b) Energy Security Group are:

(a) Energy Transformation and Clean Growth Group is 804.5 FTE

(b) Energy Security Group is 619.1 FTE

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many (a) Senior Executive Officers and (b) Higher Executive Officers of his Department are employed in the (i) Energy Transformation and Clean Growth Group and (ii) Energy Security Group.

The FTE for (a) SEO’s and (b) HEO’s in (i) Energy Transformation and Clean Growth Group and (ii) Energy Security Group are:

HEO

SEO

(i) Energy Transformation and Clean Growth Group

128.7

174.5

(ii) Energy Security Group

124.4

129.3

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many employees of his Department are employed in each of the 12 Directorates which make up the (a) Energy Transformation and Clean Growth Group and (b) Energy Security Group.

The number of staff in the directorates in (a) Energy Transformation and Clean Growth Group and (b) Energy Security Group are:

(a) Energy Transformation and Clean Growth Group

Directorate

Active

Other(s)

Total

Clean Growth

96.5

96.5

Clean Heat

91

91

Climate and Energy – Trade and Europe

32

32

Energy efficiency and Local

86

1

87

ETCG DG Office

3.8

3.8

Heat and Emissions Trading

3

3

Industrial Energy

101

3

104

International (inc Climate Change & Energy and Climate Finance)

212.2

15.5

227.7

Magnox Enquiry

0.8

1

1.8

Science and Innovation

76.8

1

77.8

Smart Metering Implementation Programme

68.9

11

79.9

(b) Energy Security Group

Directorate

Active

Other(s)

Total

DG Office

3

0

3

Clean Power Strategy & Development

90

1

91

Energy Development and Resilience

180

3

183

Energy Security, Networks and Markets

144.1

1

145.1

Nuclear

175

22

197

Active refers to the numbers of BEIS employees. Other(s) refers to non-BEIS employees engaged by the Department: for example secondees in, contractors, temporary agency staff, etc.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many staff of his Department he estimates will be working in the (a) Energy Transformation and Clean Growth Group and (b) Energy Security Group when the UK hosts COP26 in November 2020.

Although a rise is expected, numbers of staff for November 2020 is currently subject to ongoing business and resourcing planning so until this exercise is completed, a number is not available.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of offering free TV licences to people who live at home and receive full time care.

TV Licence concessions are available to people who are registered blind or severely sight impaired, and people living in qualifying residential care who are disabled or over 60 years old. The BBC also has responsibility for the over 75s concession which it has restricted to those on pension credit.

There are no further concessions available for people with disabilities or other health conditions, and we are not considering making changes to the current concessions regime at this time.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of categorising (a) figure skating, (b) ice hockey and (c) other ice-based sports, as sports rather than as leisure activities.

Sports and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health, and are a vital weapon against coronavirus. The Prime Minister announced a national lockdown on Monday 4 January meaning that indoor facilities including ice rinks must close.

Previously, ice rinks were closed in tier 3 and 4 as they are primarily used for the purpose of entertainment. This is consistent with other venues used for entertainment purposes across the economy which were also closed. To allow those who need to access ice rinks, in tier three, exemptions were made for sport for educational purposes, people with disabilities, supervised activity for under-18s and elite athletes.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what public health advice and information led to the decision to designate Body Control Pilates when run by qualified instructors as exercise classes; and what assessment he has made of the effect on public safety of Body Control Pilates classes in tier 3 areas.

The government does not designate individual activities in this way.

Sports and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health, and are a vital weapon against coronavirus.

The Prime Minister announced a national lockdown on Monday 4 January as a response to the rising levels of coronavirus across the country. you can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.You should maintain social distancing. Indoor and outdoor sports facilities, including gyms and exercise class studios, must close. These restrictions are expected to last until the end of March if the situation in hospitals improves.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of natural heritage organisations being ineligible for National Heritage Lottery funding on biodiversity and conservation.

Natural heritage organisations are eligible for funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Since its inception in 1994, the Fund has awarded grants to nearly 4000 land and biodiversity projects, totalling over £1.78 billion.

On 17th July 2020, the Fund announced that grants of £1.19 million have helped to keep Wildlife Trusts in England and Wales open throughout lockdown, providing vital safe spaces for people to get outdoors, exercise and enjoy nature. This includes many grants to projects aimed at biodiversity and conservation, such as a grant of £49,700 to the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.

Natural heritage organisations are also welcome to apply to the Heritage Emergency Fund, a £50million funding support package launched by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to help organisations in stabilising their operations and managing risks to heritage during the Covid-19 crisis.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has with relevant stakeholders on including in the forthcoming SEND green paper the UNCRPD Monitoring Committee’s observations and recommendations for developing an inclusive education system under UNCRPD Article 24 obligations.

The government’s commitment to inclusive education of disabled children and young people and the progressive removal of barriers to learning and participation in mainstream education is at the heart of the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system. This is a key principle that underpins the government’s approach.

We have had, and continue to have, discussions with a wide range of individuals and organisations to inform work on the review. This includes children and young people with SEND, parents, education establishments, local authorities, representatives from health and care services and a wide range of voluntary and community sector organisations and experts.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when his Department plans to publish the findings of the review into support for special educational needs announced on 6 September 2019.

The COVID-19 outbreak has unavoidably delayed the pace of the work of the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) Review and materially altered the context for reform. This is noted by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, in her most recent report on putting children and young people with SEND at the heart of our recovery plans: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-old-issues-new-issues-next-steps.

We only have one chance to get this right and have, after careful reflection, decided we should take more time to ensure our reform plans can deliver the systemic change needed. We will be using this time to make certain our plans complement the wider work being done on recovery and school reform, and that they have the longevity needed to offer stability to the sector. We will work at pace over the coming months, closely with system leaders, SEND organisations, schools, and parents, so that we are in a strong position to publish bold proposals for public consultation.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with Public Health England on determining the appropriate size of a bubble in schools during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will publish the scientific guidance he received ahead of making that decision.

At each stage of the Government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have listened to the latest medical and scientific advice. The Department has provided regularly updated guidance to support schools, with input from education leaders, unions, and sector bodies and in consultation with Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive.

Schools must do everything possible to minimise contacts and mixing, while delivering a broad and balanced curriculum. The overarching principle to apply is reducing the number of contacts between pupils and staff. This can be achieved through keeping groups separate in ‘bubbles’ and through maintaining distance between individuals. Consistent groups reduce the risk of transmission by limiting the number of pupils and staff in contact with each other to only those within the group. Maintaining distinct groups or ‘bubbles’ that do not mix makes it quicker and easier in the event of a positive case to identify those who may need to self-isolate, and to keep that number as small as possible.

Schools should assess their circumstances and try to implement ‘bubbles’ of an appropriate size to achieve the greatest reduction in contact and mixing. They should make sure this will not affect the quality and breadth of teaching, or impact access for support and specialist staff and therapists.

Whatever the size of the group, they should be kept apart from other groups where possible. Pupils should be encouraged to keep their distance within groups. Schools should try to limit interaction, sharing of rooms, and social spaces between groups as much as possible.

When using larger groups, the other measures from the system of controls are even more important to minimise transmission risks and the numbers of pupils and staff who need to self-isolate. Younger pupils and those with complex needs will not be able to maintain social distancing and it is acceptable for them not to distance within their group. Using small groups can restrict the normal operation of education and present educational and logistical challenges.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with Public Health England on determining the appropriate size of a bubble in schools during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will publish the scientific guidance he received ahead of making that decision.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the scientific basis is for students returning to term time accommodation on 17 May 2021 rather than prior to that date.

Whilst we recognise the positive social and economic benefits students bring to the towns and cities they live in whilst at university, the government roadmap is designed to maintain a cautious approach to the easing of restrictions, to reduce public health risks and help ensure that we can maintain progress towards full reopening.

Any return of the remaining students is not considered in isolation but as part of the government’s overall roadmap. All areas included in the roadmap, as well as higher education, are informed by advice from the scientific and medical experts, where data and evidence is considered regularly. This includes the Joint Biosecurity Centre, Public Health England, and the Chief Medical Officers.

It is important that we continue to take a cautious, but irreversible, approach to reopening. Moving too fast, too soon, risks a resurgence in infections, hospitalisations, and deaths. Our careful approach to relaxing restrictions gives time to assess the impact of each step and to reduce the risk of having to reimpose restrictions at a later date.

We have worked extremely closely with scientists and SAGE to understand and model various scenarios to inform our plan that seeks to enable us to re-open the country without putting unsustainable pressure on the NHS. We have also examined economic and social data to get a balanced understanding of the impacts of carefully easing restrictions. The government has also carefully considered data on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown on ethnic minority communities, the vulnerable, the young, and low income groups.

A wealth of data, papers and evidence is being published at the same time as the roadmap to ensure transparency on the information that the government has made available in reaching its decisions. This includes the following information from Public Health England:

  • Information on vaccine effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccination
  • A surveillance report with a more detailed summary of the findings so far from Siren and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI)- Watch
  • A technical paper on the SIREN analysis as a pre-print by the Lancet

Papers from SAGE include:

  • Minutes from the last four SAGE meetings
  • Children and Task force Children’s Task and Finish Group (TFC) paper: COVID-19 in higher education settings, 10 February 2021
  • Three papers from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) with a summary of modelling on scenarios for easing restrictions, together with the supporting papers from modellers at Warwick and Imperial universities
  • A collection of papers from SPI-M on “relaxation of NPIs and the re-opening of schools” and the Independent Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (the behavioural experts’ sub-group of SAGE) on return to campus for the spring term and the risk of increased transmission from student migration
Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the pilot scheme on the use transparent facemasks, what advice based on the findings of that scheme has been shared with his Department on the use of transparent facemasks outside of health and social care systems.

The Department continues to work closely with other Government departments throughout its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector. The Department is continuing to work to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, in order to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’ and to understand the effect of these measures on staff, pupils and parents.

The Department recently published updated guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance from 8 March, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/964351/Schools_coronavirus_operational_guidance.pdf.

As the guidance outlines, where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, the Department recommends that face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

From 8 March, the Department recommends that in schools and colleges where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained. The Department is recommending these additional precautionary measures for a for a time limited period until Easter. As with all measures, they will be under review and guidance will be updated, as necessary.

Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in schools and colleges.

Individuals working with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate are exempt from wearing a face covering in settings where they are normally required.

Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings, but they may be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are exploring the use of transparent type IIR masks within clinical settings. As part of this work, a trusted group of stakeholders within the special educational needs and disability sector, with a clinical need for a transparent type IIR masks, will be asked to provide feedback on a selection of products.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether it is his policy that, in an educational setting, when speaking to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions, wearing face shields or visors may be more effective in preventing the spread of covid-19 than not wearing any face covering.

The Department continues to work closely with other Government departments throughout its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector. The Department is continuing to work to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, in order to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’ and to understand the effect of these measures on staff, pupils and parents.

The Department recently published updated guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance from 8 March, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/964351/Schools_coronavirus_operational_guidance.pdf.

As the guidance outlines, where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, the Department recommends that face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

From 8 March, the Department recommends that in schools and colleges where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained. The Department is recommending these additional precautionary measures for a for a time limited period until Easter. As with all measures, they will be under review and guidance will be updated, as necessary.

Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in schools and colleges.

Individuals working with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate are exempt from wearing a face covering in settings where they are normally required.

Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings, but they may be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are exploring the use of transparent type IIR masks within clinical settings. As part of this work, a trusted group of stakeholders within the special educational needs and disability sector, with a clinical need for a transparent type IIR masks, will be asked to provide feedback on a selection of products.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he will take to monitor the extent to which the exemptions allowing the removal of face coverings when speaking to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions are being utilised in classrooms when schools return on 8 March 2021.

The Department continues to work closely with other Government departments throughout its response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector. The Department is continuing to work to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, in order to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE-endorsed ‘system of controls’ and to understand the effect of these measures on staff, pupils and parents.

The Department recently published updated guidance for schools to support the return to full attendance from 8 March, which includes updated advice on face coverings. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/964351/Schools_coronavirus_operational_guidance.pdf.

As the guidance outlines, where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, the Department recommends that face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

From 8 March, the Department recommends that in schools and colleges where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained. The Department is recommending these additional precautionary measures for a for a time limited period until Easter. As with all measures, they will be under review and guidance will be updated, as necessary.

Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in schools and colleges.

Individuals working with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate are exempt from wearing a face covering in settings where they are normally required.

Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings, but they may be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are exploring the use of transparent type IIR masks within clinical settings. As part of this work, a trusted group of stakeholders within the special educational needs and disability sector, with a clinical need for a transparent type IIR masks, will be asked to provide feedback on a selection of products.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what provisions and guidance have been issued on support for SEND pupils' assessments in the 2020-21 academic year.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Government considers that exams cannot be held in a way which is fair. The Department has announced that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned and that students taking GCSE, AS and A levels regulated by Ofqual should be awarded grades based on an assessment by their teachers. This includes pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

Teachers will be able to draw evidence from across the duration of the pupil’s course, to determine a pupil's GCSE, AS or A level grade. Examination boards have a duty, under the Equality Act 2010, to make reasonable adjustments for pupils with disabilities who, because of their disability, would otherwise be at a substantial disadvantage when demonstrating their skills, knowledge and understanding, and will provide guidance to teachers on reasonable adjustments. The guidance will confirm that teachers should make any reasonable adjustments they normally would. Mitigating circumstances and pupils who are entitled to reasonable adjustments should be taken into account by teachers when deciding which evidence to use, with flexibility to substitute or discount evidence. Where a pupil’s performance in assessments is impaired through sickness or any other reason, which would normally be taken into account in exams through the special consideration process, this should be taken into account by teachers. These adjustments are made to remove or reduce disadvantages that such pupils face compared with pupils who are not disabled.

For assessment at primary, the engagement model is the new assessment replacing Performance scales (P scales) 1 to 4 for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum assessments at Key Stages 1 and 2, and not engaged in subject-specific study.

In recognition of COVID-19 restrictions and impacts, the Standards and Testing Agency confirmed that academic year 2020/21 will be a transitionary year. Schools that were ready to use the engagement model may do so, and schools who needed more time to implement this change may continue to assess against P scales 1 to 4 for one final year.

Following further disruptions, primary assessments were cancelled for the 2020/21 academic year, including statutory assessment of pupils working below the standard of national curriculum assessments at Key Stages 1 and 2, and not engaged in subject-specific study. As such, there will be no formal assessment and reporting requirements for these pupils. We know that schools will continue to use assessment, including the P scales or engagement model where appropriate, during the summer term to inform teaching, to enable them to give information to parents on their child’s attainment in their statutory annual report and to support transition to secondary school.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what his department's timescale is for publishing the finding of the major review into support for special educational needs announced on 6 September 2019.

The review into support for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is a major priority for the government. We all want to see the vision of the 2014 reforms fully delivered, with better outcomes for children and young people, co-produced with them and their families, which prepare them for adulthood.

The COVID-19 outbreak has been extremely challenging for many families of children with SEND. Supporting them continues to be a priority for this government, and their wellbeing has been central to our response throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

The COVID-19 outbreak has unavoidably delayed completion of the review and altered the context in which it will be implemented. Our ambition is to publish proposals for public consultation in the spring of 2021 and we are working to understand how to structure that so that everyone can fully participate in it.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what training will be given to teachers awarding teacher-assessed grades in the context of the covid-19 outbreak.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Government considers that exams cannot be held in a way which is fair. The Department has therefore announced that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned.

The Department and Ofqual launched a two week consultation on how to fairly award all pupils a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives.

The consultation can be accessed here and closed on 29 January 2021: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-how-gcse-as-and-a-level-grades-should-be-awarded-in-summer-2021. We will continue to engage with a range of relevant stakeholders when developing plans for our policy on GCSE, AS and A level assessments in 2021, as will the exams regulator Ofqual.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has confirmed he wishes teachers to assess the standard at which pupils are performing and thus the grade they should receive. The consultation proposes that teachers will be supported in doing so through training, guidance, and papers to inform assessments. Guidance materials will be made available after the consultation has closed and the detail of the approach is agreed. The consultation also proposes and seeks views on approaches to assessment which will allow teachers to assess pupils’ performance on content they have had an opportunity to study, despite the disruption, whilst continuing to ensure they have sufficient breadth of knowledge to enable them to successfully progress.

The Department recognises the challenges faced by schools, teachers, and pupils, and knows that disruption has been felt differently across the country and between schools and colleges in the same area, and between pupils within individual institutions. In order to support schools to make up for lost learning, the Government has provided a £1 billion catch-up programme. This includes a £650 million catch-up premium for all schools in recognition of the fact that all pupils will have been impacted by disruption to their education. Additionally, the £350 million National Tutoring Programme is an ambitious scheme that will provide additional, targeted tuition support for disadvantaged pupils who need the most help to catch up.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to publish his Department's full plans for replacing exams with teacher-assessed grades.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Government considers that exams cannot be held in a way which is fair. The Department has announced that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has asked the interim Chief Regulator at Ofqual to find a clear and accessible route for private candidates, and those not in school this academic year, to be assessed and receive a grade. To ensure our approach is developed with the sector, the Department and Ofqual have now concluded a two week consultation on how to fairly award all pupils a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives.

We are working at pace to provide further clarity to the sector and will publish the results of the consultation by the end of February 2021.

The Department and Ofqual have strongly encouraged all our stakeholders to respond to the consultation. We will continue to engage with a range of relevant stakeholders when developing plans for our policy on GCSE, AS and A level assessments in 2021, as will the exams regulator Ofqual.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with teaching unions about using teacher assessed grades in place of exams this year.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Government considers that exams cannot be held in a way that is fair. The Department has therefore announced that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned. The Department and Ofqual launched a two-week consultation on how to fairly award all pupils a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives.

The Department’s ministers and officials regularly engage with the teacher and headteacher unions, including through holding reference groups and individual meetings, around the topic of alternative arrangements to exams in 2021. Meetings have been held with multiple teacher unions, including, but not limited to, NAHT, NEU, ASCL and NASUWT, during the consultation period. We will ensure that the views of the teacher and headteacher unions, along with the views gathered from teachers as part of the consultation and through reference groups, are considered when finalising plans for alternative arrangements to exams in 2021.

The Department will continue to engage with a range of relevant stakeholders following the consultation period, as will Ofqual.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what software he is providing to help children and families access remote learning.

We are funding schools to get set up on Google or Microsoft digital education platforms. These platforms bring together the school community, pool resources and give pupils the opportunity to work with their peers remotely. As of 5 January 2021, 6900 schools have applied for a digital platform as part of the Get Help With Technology programme.

This is part of over £300 million being invested to support access to remote education and online social care services, which also includes securing over one million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people.

Over 560,000 laptops and tablets have already been delivered to schools, trusts and local authorities in 2020. The devices come with standard software packages included, and this allows schools to make their own choice on how best to provide remote education according to their own local needs. This may include acquiring software of their choice.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the more transmissible strain of covid-19, if he will review the mandatory requirement for parents and guardians to send children to school in the case that someone in the household is extremely clinically vulnerable.

From Wednesday 6 January a new national lockdown came into effect. Schools should only allow vulnerable children and the children of critical workers to attend face to face education. All other pupils will learn remotely.

Parents will not be penalised for not sending their children to school during this period.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the finding by the National Autistic Society’s report of 7 September 2020, Left stranded, that seven in 10 children were unable to complete school work during the covid-19 lockdown; and if he will make a statement.

The government recognises the significant challenges that the COVID-19 outbreak has presented for children and young people and their families. Supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), including those with autism, continues to be a priority for this government, and their wellbeing has been central to our response throughout the outbreak.

As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, made clear in his statement of 31 October 2020, our priority remains keeping all early years settings, schools and colleges open to all children and young people during the lockdown period commencing from 5 November. Schools and colleges should continue to ensure that children and young people with autism receive the education, therapeutic or specialist support and reasonable adjustments required to enable them to successfully engage with school or college.

To support those children who cannot attend school for any reason, we have invested over £195 million to support remote education and access to online social care, delivering over 220,000 laptops and tablets during the summer term for disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have access to a digital device. We are also providing support by making over 340,000 additional laptops and tablets available in the autumn term to support disadvantaged children that might face disruption to their education. Since September, over 100,000 of these have been delivered to schools.

To support the hard work of schools in delivering remote education, Oak National Academy was very quickly brought together by over 40 teachers, their schools and other education organisations. The department has made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy to provide video lessons in a broad range of subjects for reception up to year 11. The department also funds the Autism Education Trust (AET) to deliver training to education professionals and embed good autism practice in schools and colleges across England. AET has developed a hub of guidance and resources for families, teachers and other professionals aimed at supporting children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak, which is available here: https://www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk/?s=covid.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of autistic children (a) with an Education Health and Care Plan and (b) in receipt of SEN support returned to full-time education during the covid-19 outbreak at the start of autumn term 2020.

The government recognises the significant challenges that the COVID-19 outbreak has presented for autistic children and young people and their families. Supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), including those with autism, continues to be a priority for this government, and their wellbeing has been central to our response throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

The department has been closely monitoring the return to school for children with SEND during the COVID-19 outbreak, through monitoring attendance data and engaging with local authorities where there appear to be issues.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the department is collecting daily attendance data. This is broken down by whether a child or young person has an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan, rather than by individual type of need (including Autism Spectrum Disorder), so that we do not lace additional burdens on schools by asking them to provide information on multiple breakdowns of attendance data. Daily attendance of pupils with an EHC plan attending state-funded schools, in the first 2 weeks of the autumn term, is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/permalink/8d8096c1-c771-47fa-a19e-e25f18fc2e76.

As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, made clear in his statement of 31 October 2020, our priority remains keeping all early years settings, schools and colleges open to all children and young people during the lockdown period commencing from 5 November. Schools and colleges should continue to ensure that autistic children and young people receive the education, therapeutic or specialist support and reasonable adjustments required to enable them to successfully engage with school or college. Published guidance on the full opening of schools is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

Also, published guidance for full opening of special schools and other specialist settings provides a framework, approved by Public Health England, that sets out the high-level actions to be taken by schools and colleges. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings.

The department funds the Autism Education Trust (AET) to deliver training to education professionals and embed good autism practice in schools and colleges across England. The AET has developed a hub of guidance and resources for families, teachers and other professionals that is aimed at supporting children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes guidance for schools on making appropriate reasonable adjustments and practical strategies for managing increased anxiety, changes in routine and environment and transitions to new settings. This guidance is available at: https://www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk/?s=covid.

In addition, the whole school SEND consortium, funded by the department, have run training sessions and developed resources for teachers supporting pupils with SEND. Further information about this is available here: https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/whole-school-send/.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he plans to take to ensure that autistic children and young people receive the educational support they need in the event of future school closures during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government recognises the significant challenges that the COVID-19 outbreak has presented for autistic children and young people and their families. Supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), including those with autism, continues to be a priority for this government, and their wellbeing has been central to our response throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

The department has been closely monitoring the return to school for children with SEND during the COVID-19 outbreak, through monitoring attendance data and engaging with local authorities where there appear to be issues.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the department is collecting daily attendance data. This is broken down by whether a child or young person has an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan, rather than by individual type of need (including Autism Spectrum Disorder), so that we do not lace additional burdens on schools by asking them to provide information on multiple breakdowns of attendance data. Daily attendance of pupils with an EHC plan attending state-funded schools, in the first 2 weeks of the autumn term, is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/permalink/8d8096c1-c771-47fa-a19e-e25f18fc2e76.

As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, made clear in his statement of 31 October 2020, our priority remains keeping all early years settings, schools and colleges open to all children and young people during the lockdown period commencing from 5 November. Schools and colleges should continue to ensure that autistic children and young people receive the education, therapeutic or specialist support and reasonable adjustments required to enable them to successfully engage with school or college. Published guidance on the full opening of schools is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

Also, published guidance for full opening of special schools and other specialist settings provides a framework, approved by Public Health England, that sets out the high-level actions to be taken by schools and colleges. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings.

The department funds the Autism Education Trust (AET) to deliver training to education professionals and embed good autism practice in schools and colleges across England. The AET has developed a hub of guidance and resources for families, teachers and other professionals that is aimed at supporting children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes guidance for schools on making appropriate reasonable adjustments and practical strategies for managing increased anxiety, changes in routine and environment and transitions to new settings. This guidance is available at: https://www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk/?s=covid.

In addition, the whole school SEND consortium, funded by the department, have run training sessions and developed resources for teachers supporting pupils with SEND. Further information about this is available here: https://www.sendgateway.org.uk/whole-school-send/.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending maintenance loans to distance learners.

Loans for living costs are not available to students on distance learning courses such as those offered by the Open University, except in cases where a student is undertaking a course by distance learning because they are unable to attend the course in person for a reason relating to their disability.

Loans for living costs were introduced for students attending part-time courses at honours degree or equivalent level from the 2018/19 academic year onwards but not for part-time distance learning courses such as those offered by the Open University.

The government remains committed to tackling the decline in part-time undergraduate higher education. The independent panel’s report on the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding was published in May 2019. We are considering the recommendations of the Augar Report, including those relating to part-time and flexible learning, as part of the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, and plan to respond at the forthcoming Spending Review.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reasons Ofsted's draft Initial Teacher Education Inspection Framework and Handbook, published as part of his Department's consultation on that document, bans the use of competing approaches in early reading teaching; and for what reasons Ofsted changed its position in the Initial Teacher Training Core Content Framework which only mandated the use of systematic synthetic phonics to teach decoding in early reading.

There is sound evidence that systematic phonics is a highly effective method for teaching early reading. The evidence indicates that the teaching of phonics is most effective when combined with a language-rich curriculum to develop children’s positive attitudes towards literacy.

The Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework was published by the Department in November 2019 and is mandatory from September 2020. It makes clear that, in line with the Teachers’ Standards (2011), it is essential for all teachers of early reading to have a clear understanding of systematic synthetic phonics.

Ofsted are responsible for inspecting ITT provision and between 27 January and 4 April they held a public consultation on proposals related to their new Initial Teacher Education Inspection Handbook. The new handbook sets out how ITT provision will be inspected and was published on 24 June 2020 alongside Ofsted’s consultation response. For primary and secondary phases, ITT providers must ensure that their curricula provide the minimum entitlement to training as outlined in the ITT Core Content Framework.

England achieved its highest ever score in reading in 2016, moving from joint 10th to joint 8th in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) rankings. This follows a greater focus on reading in the primary curriculum, and a particular focus on phonics. These are the first international assessment results from a cohort of pupils who have experienced changes in primary curriculum and assessment introduced since the 2010 election.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much of the funding allocated for digital devices, to help support home learning of disadvantaged students, has been spent.

The Government has committed over £100 million to help schools and young people continue their education at home and access online social care services. We have committed over £14 million on technical support to give schools access to cloud-based education platforms, nearly £6 million to support a new EdTech demonstrator school network, and over £85 million to provide laptops, tablets and 4G internet devices, including security and e-safety packages and their distribution, and to top up the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when Government funding will be made available to schools for laptops for remote learning for pupils during the covid-19 lockdown.

The Government has committed over £100 million to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children in England to access remote education, including by providing laptops, tablets and 4G routers.

The Department is providing laptops and tablets to disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examinations in Year 10, receiving support from a social worker or are a care leaver. Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and disadvantaged children in Year 10 do not have internet connections, we are also providing 4G routers.

Local authorities and academy trusts are best place to identify and prioritise children and young people who need devices. The Department is agreeing the number of devices allocated to each local authority and academy trust based on its estimates of the number of eligible children that do not have access to a device.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support he plans to provide to parents who are key workers on irregular or weekend hours and who previously relied on now self-isolating family members to provide childcare during the covid-19 outbreak.

Early years and childcare settings are open for children whose parents are critical workers, and they are encouraged to attend.

We want to make sure that every single critical worker has access to childcare that gives them peace of mind whilst they are carrying out their important work.

Where critical workers are unable to access the childcare they need, they should contact their local authority. The local authority will help them make suitable arrangements. We are working with local authorities to support them to do this.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) extending the 30 hours of free childcare available to parents of pre-schoolers to the parents of older children and (b) extending that provision to parents of pre-school age children who may have already started school but now require childcare during the covid-19 outbreak.

We want parents to have access to a range of affordable childcare, giving them increased flexibility in their working hours and helping children thrive in the crucial early years. The government-funded early years entitlements deliver 15 or 30 hours a week of free, high quality and flexible childcare for eligible 2 year olds, 3 year olds and 4 year olds for 38 weeks a year.

There are currently no plans to extend the 30 hours entitlement to the parents of older children. Vulnerable children and the children of critical workers are able to attend school at the moment.

There is support available for parents with childcare costs outside of the free early education entitlements. Tax-Free Childcare can save parents up to £2,000 per child on their annual childcare bill for children aged under 12 (or for children up to 17 for children with special educational needs or disabilities). Eligible families can also receive help with 85% of their childcare costs through Universal Credit, subject to a monthly limit. For further information, please visit https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of students who are entitled to free school meals are participating in the Government's food voucher scheme in (a) South Yorkshire and (b) the UK.

As my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by Covid-19.

During this period, we are asking schools to support pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children and we encourage this approach where it is possible.

However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why, on 31 March, we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

Voucher codes are being processed and many thousands of families are redeeming them. As of 28 April, our supplier Edenred reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme. As of Monday 4 May, Edenred has reported that over £47 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme.

Schools are able to order a single voucher to the value of £15 each week for every child eligible for benefits-related free school meals who is not attending school. This is more generous than the weekly amount provided to schools for provision of free school meals, recognising that families will not buy in bulk and will therefore not be able to achieve the same economies of scale.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how the value of food vouchers in the covid-19 free school meals voucher scheme was calculated.

As my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by Covid-19.

During this period, we are asking schools to support pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children and we encourage this approach where it is possible.

However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why, on 31 March, we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

Voucher codes are being processed and many thousands of families are redeeming them. As of 28 April, our supplier Edenred reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme. As of Monday 4 May, Edenred has reported that over £47 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme.

Schools are able to order a single voucher to the value of £15 each week for every child eligible for benefits-related free school meals who is not attending school. This is more generous than the weekly amount provided to schools for provision of free school meals, recognising that families will not buy in bulk and will therefore not be able to achieve the same economies of scale.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many and what proportion of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities have been off-rolled in (a) Sheffield, (b) Yorkshire and (c) the UK.

The department has made clear the practice of off-rolling, whereby children are removed from school rolls without formal exclusion in ways that are in the interests of the school rather than the pupil, is unacceptable. Informal or unofficial exclusions are unlawful and we have previously written to schools to remind them of the rules on exclusions.

A pupil’s name can only be deleted from the admission register on the grounds prescribed in Regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended.

All schools must notify the local authority when a pupil’s name is to be deleted from the admission register under any of the grounds prescribed in Regulation 8, as soon as the ground for removal is met and no later than the time at which the pupil’s name is removed from the register. The information requested the reason pupils are removed from the school register is not held centrally.

We are continuing to work with Ofsted to tackle the practice of off-rolling. Since September 2019, Ofsted’s new education inspection framework details that where inspectors find off-rolling, this will always be addressed in the inspection report, and where appropriate, could lead to a school’s leadership being judged inadequate.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding his Department has allocated to children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in (a) Sheffield, (b) Yorkshire and (c) the UK in each of the last five years.

Local authorities are required to provide mainstream schools with sufficient funds to enable them to meet the additional cost of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities, up to the value of £6,000. This funding comes from the schools block of the Dedicated Schools Grant.

When the costs of additional support required for a pupil with SEN exceed £6,000, the local authority should also allocate additional top-up funding to cover the excess costs. This top-up funding, and all funding for special schools comes from the local authority’s high needs budget. We recently announced £780 million additional high needs funding for the next financial year, and every local authority will see an increase in high needs funding, of at least 8% per head of population aged 2 to 18. Sheffield is receiving £66.7 million next year. The schools and high needs allocations for Sheffield since 2013-14 are as follows:

Year

Schools funding amount (£ millions)

High needs funding amount (£ millions)

2015-16

303.7

52.4

2016-17

307.9

52.8

2017-18

317.1

52.5*

2018-19

321.2

55.3

2019-20

332.5

57.2

2020-21

354.7

66.7

For Yorkshire and the Humber:

Year

Schools funding amount (£ millions)

High needs funding amount (£ millions)

2015-16

3,243.3

436.2

2016-17

3,278.5

442.1

2017-18

3,334.7

476.3

2018-19

3,389.8

512.6

2019-20

3,474.6

531.9

2020-21

3,657.0

616.7

For England:

Year

Schools funding amount (£ millions)

High needs funding amount (£ millions)

2015-16

32,168.1

5,246.5

2016-17

32,650.3

5,299.9

2017-18

33,093.6

5,826.8

2018-19

33,684.0

6,114.3

2019-20

34,502.6

6,277.5

2020-21

36,277.8

7,072.6

*In 2017-18, funding was reallocated between schools and high needs, to better reflect individual local authorities’ spending patterns. This led to an increase in school funding, and a decrease in high needs funding, for Sheffield, which had been spending more of its overall funding on schools, and less on high needs, compared to previous years’ funding allocations.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the availability special educational needs and disability services in schools in Sheffield.

Our ambition is for every local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group to deliver a high quality service for every child or young person with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) conduct inspections of SEND services in local areas. Their inspection of Sheffield, published in 2019, required a Written Statement of Action (WSoA) to improve a number of areas of significant concern. Some of these concerns directly relate to SEND provision in schools and weaknesses in commissioning arrangements. Where we have concerns with performance, as there are in Sheffield, the department works with partners, including National Health Service (NHS) England, to support and challenge local areas to improve. This includes regular advice and monitoring from the department and NHS England advisers, as well as access to funded training opportunities and resources. A revisit from Ofsted and CQC then follows, usually around 18 months after publication of a WSoA.

We recently announced £780 million additional high needs funding, for the next financial year, and every local authority will see an increase in high needs funding, of at least 8% per head of population aged 2 to 18. Sheffield will be receiving £66.7 million next year.

We have also invested a total of £365 million through the Special Provision Capital Fund to help local authorities to create new places and improve facilities for pupils with SEND. Sheffield has been allocated a total of £2.5 million from 2018-19 to 2020-21 through this fund.

In September 2019, we announced a cross-Government SEND Review to improve how children and young people with SEND are supported in a way which is consistent, high quality, and integrated across education, health and care.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of (a) primary and (b) secondary school budgets have been spent on tackling mental health problems in (i) Sheffield Hallam constituency, (ii) Yorkshire and (iii) the UK in each of the last five years; and what plans he has to maintain an adequate level of funding for those services in the next five years.

The information requested is not held centrally. The Department for Education does not collect information on the proportion of school budgets which are spent on tackling mental health problems in England. Education policy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a matter for the devolved administrations.

The government is making a significant investment to increase mental health support for everyone including young people. The National Health Service (NHS) Long Term Plan set out that funding for mental health services will grow faster than the overall NHS budget, creating a new ringfenced local investment fund worth at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023-24. This includes a commitment that by 2023-24 at least an additional 345,000 children and young people aged 0-25 will be able to access support via NHS England’s funded mental health services, including through new mental health support teams (MHSTs) that will work with a fifth to a quarter of schools and colleges in England by 2023.

The first MHST trailblazer sites were announced in December 2018. Two MHST sites in Yorkshire will deliver six teams in the first wave of implementation, starting this year. Last year, a further five MHST sites, one of which is an existing 18-19 trailblazer, were announced in Yorkshire to deliver a total of 10 further teams between them. Each team is expected to support up to 20 schools and colleges, or a population of around 8,000 children and young people.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to help resolve the ongoing industrial dispute between the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, Universities UK and the University and College Union.

Universities are independent institutions and are responsible for their own decisions on employment contracts and pay and pension provision. We expect universities, like all employers, to give due consideration to their obligations under the Equality Act (2010) and the way their employment practices affect different sections of their communities and staff at different stages of their careers.

While respecting the independence of the sector, it is important that universities consider the impact of short-term and casual contracts on staff, students and the overall sustainability of teaching and research in this country. We also expect universities to follow best employment practices to ensure all staff, regardless of race and gender, have the opportunity to progress in their careers. Where there are disparities in pay that may be based on race or gender they must be addressed. We encourage universities to make use of tools such as the Race Equality and Athena Swan Charters to help identify and address institutional and cultural barriers that affect ethnic minority staff and students.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education met the General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) in September 2019. This meeting addressed a range of issues affecting both further and higher education, including both the pay and pensions disputes. However, as government has no direct role in the management of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension or agreeing the employment terms and conditions of staff, we have not been involved in the substance of the negotiations in either dispute.

The quality of higher education and the learning and opportunities it offers for students are priorities for this government. The department welcomes the on-going talks that are taking place between UCU and employers on pay, working conditions and equalities as well as those looking at the long-term stability and affordability of the USS pension. We encourage all sides to redouble their efforts to find solutions that will result in a positive outcome for universities, staff and students.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with (a) Universities UK, (b) Universities & Colleges Employers Association and (c) the University and College Union on the employer’s offer and the union’s industrial action prior to the commencement of the ongoing strike.

Universities are independent institutions and are responsible for their own decisions on employment contracts and pay and pension provision. We expect universities, like all employers, to give due consideration to their obligations under the Equality Act (2010) and the way their employment practices affect different sections of their communities and staff at different stages of their careers.

While respecting the independence of the sector, it is important that universities consider the impact of short-term and casual contracts on staff, students and the overall sustainability of teaching and research in this country. We also expect universities to follow best employment practices to ensure all staff, regardless of race and gender, have the opportunity to progress in their careers. Where there are disparities in pay that may be based on race or gender they must be addressed. We encourage universities to make use of tools such as the Race Equality and Athena Swan Charters to help identify and address institutional and cultural barriers that affect ethnic minority staff and students.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education met the General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) in September 2019. This meeting addressed a range of issues affecting both further and higher education, including both the pay and pensions disputes. However, as government has no direct role in the management of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension or agreeing the employment terms and conditions of staff, we have not been involved in the substance of the negotiations in either dispute.

The quality of higher education and the learning and opportunities it offers for students are priorities for this government. The department welcomes the on-going talks that are taking place between UCU and employers on pay, working conditions and equalities as well as those looking at the long-term stability and affordability of the USS pension. We encourage all sides to redouble their efforts to find solutions that will result in a positive outcome for universities, staff and students.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with (a) Universities and Colleges Employers Association and (b) Universities UK on (a) changes to the level of university staff pay, (b) the gender and BAME pay gap in higher education, (c) staff workloads in that sector and (d) the use of casual contracts in that sector.

Universities are independent institutions and are responsible for their own decisions on employment contracts and pay and pension provision. We expect universities, like all employers, to give due consideration to their obligations under the Equality Act (2010) and the way their employment practices affect different sections of their communities and staff at different stages of their careers.

While respecting the independence of the sector, it is important that universities consider the impact of short-term and casual contracts on staff, students and the overall sustainability of teaching and research in this country. We also expect universities to follow best employment practices to ensure all staff, regardless of race and gender, have the opportunity to progress in their careers. Where there are disparities in pay that may be based on race or gender they must be addressed. We encourage universities to make use of tools such as the Race Equality and Athena Swan Charters to help identify and address institutional and cultural barriers that affect ethnic minority staff and students.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education met the General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) in September 2019. This meeting addressed a range of issues affecting both further and higher education, including both the pay and pensions disputes. However, as government has no direct role in the management of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension or agreeing the employment terms and conditions of staff, we have not been involved in the substance of the negotiations in either dispute.

The quality of higher education and the learning and opportunities it offers for students are priorities for this government. The department welcomes the on-going talks that are taking place between UCU and employers on pay, working conditions and equalities as well as those looking at the long-term stability and affordability of the USS pension. We encourage all sides to redouble their efforts to find solutions that will result in a positive outcome for universities, staff and students.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
26th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with Universities UK and the Universities Superannuation Scheme on the joint expert panel’s valuation of that scheme.

Universities are independent institutions and are responsible for their own decisions on employment contracts and pay and pension provision. The government has no direct role in relation to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension, beyond regulation as applied to all work-based pension schemes by The Pensions Regulator. As government has no direct role in the management of the USS pension, we have not been involved in the substance of the negotiations in the dispute.

The department welcomes the establishment of the Joint Expert Panel and the contribution they have made in seeking to secure a long term and sustainable resolution to the USS dispute. The issues involved with the valuation of USS are complex and central to the ongoing dispute. We are unable to comment on the actuarial detail of the first report of the Joint Expert Panel (JEP 1), which made an alternative valuation to the USS pension using a different set of assumptions to the previously contested USS valuation. However, we note that after sustained negotiation the recommendations of this report were not adopted in full and that the Pensions Regulator supported this decision.

The Joint Expert Panel published a second report (JEP 2) in December 2019. JEP 2 does not offer a new scheme valuation. JEP 2 makes a series of linked recommendations covering USS governance, the valuation methodology and the way forward. This includes the establishment of a new, jointly agreed purpose statement and shared valuation principles and agreement to a more appropriate valuation methodology.

The department understands that the Pensions Regulator has indicated support for the high-level recommendations of the JEP 2 report. Universities UK, USS and the UCU have all expressed support for the recommendations of the JEP 2 report and the opportunity it presents to resolve the ongoing dispute.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps (a) his Department and (b) Natural England have taken to define an irreplaceable habitat.

A definition for irreplaceable habitat is provided in the National Planning Policy Framework - see link: Annex 2: Glossary - National Planning Policy Framework - Guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

As part of the implementation of biodiversity net gain through the Environment Bill, Defra and Natural England will be preparing guidance on this.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many nature-based flood defence projects have been fully-funded by his Department in the last five years.

Between 2015 and 2021 Defra funded around 130 projects which included nature-based solutions to reduce flood and coastal erosion risk. In addition to Government financial support, many of the projects benefitted from financial and in-kind contributions from project partners and stakeholders.

We will be undertaking an assessment of the benefits of the 2015-21 Capital Investment Programme linked to its intended social, economic and environmental impacts. This will help us understand what was achieved and will provide evidence to improve future programmes and policies. There will be a report in 2021.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will commit to annual reporting of bycatch reduction targets for sensitive species.

The UK Government funds a comprehensive and well-respected bycatch monitoring programme which provides essential observer data on incidents of sensitive species bycatch.

This programme reports annually on estimated rates of sensitive species bycatch in fisheries around the UK. The requirement to report annually will continue and will contribute to our assessment of bycatch reduction across a range of species.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has developed a timeline for ensuring that there are no population level impacts as a result of bycatch for (a) fulmar, (b) harbour porpoise,(c) bottlenose dolphins and (d) other sensitive species.

Within the UK Marine Strategy, there are a wide range of targets, including on cetaceans, seals and seabirds, that contribute to our statutory obligation of achieving Good Environmental Status in our seas. These include targets relating to bycatch mortality, specifically on ensuring that the long-term viability of these populations is not threatened by bycatch. These targets remain valid and we remain committed to achieving them.

The UK Marine Strategy is updated on a 6-yearly cycle including assessing and updating targets, our monitoring programmes and a programme of measures to achieve our targets. We will continue to report on and publish public documents showing our progress.

In addition, part of the Fisheries Act’s ecosystem objective is to minimise and, where possible, eliminate incidental catches of sensitive marine species. We will set out policies that will help to achieve this objective in the Joint Fisheries Statement which will be published in November 2022. In support of this, we are also developing a UK Bycatch Mitigation Initiative which we are aiming to publish later this year.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to publish a strategy on the roll out of fleet-wide remote electronic monitoring of fishing vessels.

Defra ran a call for evidence on the use of REM in English fisheries last autumn and published the responses on 7 May. The call for evidence indicated that there are differing views on the use of REM. Defra will engage with stakeholders further to consider how to take forward a future policy.

The Government has been clear that we see the benefits of expanding the use of remote electronic monitoring (REM), but we must develop the right policy for our industry and the marine environment.

Decisions on timing and coverage will be taken as part of wider policy development, on which we will consult in due course.

Enforcement and scientific monitoring are devolved matters and remote electronic monitoring is therefore a devolved competence. This information relates to England only.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much (a) has already been allocated from the UK Biodiverse Landscapes Fund 2021-26 and (b) he plans to allocate from that fund in each year; and what his timetable is for opening applications for that funding.

Defra’s £100m Biodiverse Landscapes Fund, announced by the Prime Minister at the UN General Assembly in September 2019, is an ambitious programme that will deliver poverty reduction, conservation and climate outcomes across six biologically diverse, transboundary landscapes worldwide. This financial year the level of spend is small as this is a preparatory stage with work continuing on the design and mobilisation of the Fund, including through a programme scoping exercise and the procurement of key contractors to support the management of the Fund. Allocation in the following financial years will be largely determined by the programme scoping exercise and the selection process for funding applications. Bids will be invited from prospective delivery partners through an open, competitive process, which will commence early in 2022.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress he has in phasing out badger culling through the use of (a) field trials of cattle vaccinations, (b) increasing the number of badgers vaccinated against bovine TB and (c) improved testing to intercept bovine TB earlier; and if he will make a statement.

We have awarded funding for a five-year badger vaccination programme in East Sussex. The scheme, which will see vaccination deployed by the farming community, will help refine future delivery models for deploying large scale farmer-led vaccination schemes.

This year we also intend to undertake government-funded badger vaccination in an area where four-year intensive badger culling has ended, with ongoing surveillance of the disease in badgers in the area. We will continue to bolster our capability to deploy even more badger vaccination in post-cull areas from 2022.

By 2025 it is our aim to have significantly expanded badger vaccination across land where four-year intensive badger culling has ended. Through this we will gain a better understanding of the practicalities of deployment in a reduced badger population, as well as the effect of badger vaccination on reducing disease spread to cattle.

The Government has developed a 'Train the Trainer' course to enable experienced cage-trappers and lay vaccinators to qualify as trainers. This scheme is designed to increase the number of certified trainers who can then train new lay-vaccinators and trappers in localised training hubs. This alleviates pressure on the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), who to date have been the sole training provider, enabling more lay people to qualify as badger vaccinators than ever before.

Our world-leading cattle vaccination trials are set to begin this summer in England and Wales, marking the latest milestone in our aim to achieve officially TB free (OTF) status for England by 2038. This has been made possible by a significant scientific breakthrough by APHA in developing a new skin test that can detect infected among vaccinated cattle (a DIVA test) and is a major step forwards in our battle against bovine TB. As wider preventive measures like cattle vaccines are introduced, we will also accelerate other elements of our strategy and start to phase out badger culling in England, as no one wants to continue the cull of a protected species indefinitely.

From 12 July the policy for mandatory interferon gamma (IFN-γ) blood testing of cattle in the High Risk Area and parts of the Edge Area of England will be changing, to focus our efforts on those herds that suffer a new TB breakdown within 18 months of the end of a previous incident. By the end of this year, APHA will also be opening a new IFN-γ testing laboratory in Thirsk to better cope with the projected increasing demand for this supplementary cattle TB test.

Also from July, most cattle herds in the counties of the High Risk Area of the West of England will undergo routine surveillance for TB using the tuberculin skin test every six months instead of annually.

Further information about these two forthcoming cattle TB testing policy changes can be found on the TB Hub:

https://tbhub.co.uk/tb-policy/england/refinements-to-the-interferon-gamma-testing-policy-in-the-high-risk-and-edge-area-of-england/

https://tbhub.co.uk/tb-policy/england/six-monthly-surveillance-testing-of-cattle-herds-in-the-high-risk-area/

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to scale up cattle and badger vaccinations to help eradicate bovine TB.

We have awarded funding for a five-year badger vaccination programme in East Sussex. The scheme, which will see vaccination deployed by the farming community, will help refine future delivery models for deploying large scale farmer-led vaccination schemes.

This year we also intend to undertake government-funded badger vaccination in an area where four-year intensive badger culling has ended, with ongoing surveillance of the disease in badgers in the area. We will continue to bolster our capability to deploy even more badger vaccination in post-cull areas from 2022.

By 2025 it is our aim to have significantly expanded badger vaccination across land where four-year intensive badger culling has ended. Through this we will gain a better understanding of the practicalities of deployment in a reduced badger population, as well as the effect of badger vaccination on reducing disease spread to cattle.

The Government has developed a 'Train the Trainer' course to enable experienced cage-trappers and lay vaccinators to qualify as trainers. This scheme is designed to increase the number of certified trainers who can then train new lay-vaccinators and trappers in localised training hubs. This alleviates pressure on the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), who to date have been the sole training provider, enabling more lay people to qualify as badger vaccinators than ever before.

Our world-leading cattle vaccination trials are set to begin this summer in England and Wales, marking the latest milestone in our aim to achieve officially TB free (OTF) status for England by 2038. This has been made possible by a significant scientific breakthrough by APHA in developing a new skin test that can detect infected among vaccinated cattle (a DIVA test) and is a major step forwards in our battle against bovine TB. As wider preventive measures like cattle vaccines are introduced, we will also accelerate other elements of our strategy and start to phase out badger culling in England, as no one wants to continue the cull of a protected species indefinitely.

From 12 July the policy for mandatory interferon gamma (IFN-γ) blood testing of cattle in the High Risk Area and parts of the Edge Area of England will be changing, to focus our efforts on those herds that suffer a new TB breakdown within 18 months of the end of a previous incident. By the end of this year, APHA will also be opening a new IFN-γ testing laboratory in Thirsk to better cope with the projected increasing demand for this supplementary cattle TB test.

Also from July, most cattle herds in the counties of the High Risk Area of the West of England will undergo routine surveillance for TB using the tuberculin skin test every six months instead of annually.

Further information about these two forthcoming cattle TB testing policy changes can be found on the TB Hub:

https://tbhub.co.uk/tb-policy/england/refinements-to-the-interferon-gamma-testing-policy-in-the-high-risk-and-edge-area-of-england/

https://tbhub.co.uk/tb-policy/england/six-monthly-surveillance-testing-of-cattle-herds-in-the-high-risk-area/

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will publish the scientific data for continuing the badger cull.

Our bTB eradication strategy is founded in science. The cornerstone of our strategy is a policy of regular testing and removal of infected cattle from herds. We have incrementally introduced tougher restrictions on cattle movements from herds at risk of infection and more sensitive tests. We have introduced measures to encourage greater risk management and more information for cattle keepers, deployed wildlife controls in areas where the disease is rife and new biosecurity measures to try to break the cycle of infection between cattle and badgers.

Intensive badger culls were only ever envisaged as a phase of the strategy. Following Professor Sir Charles Godfray’s review, we have set out our intended next steps. The next phase of the strategy focuses on developing a deployable cattle vaccine, wider rollout of badger vaccination and improvements to TB testing. The Government will retain the ability to introduce new cull zones where local epidemiological evidence points to an ongoing role of badgers in the disease.

The main scientific evidence basis for the badger cull is the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) carried out from 1997 to 2005. Using data from the start of the RBCT, it has been estimated through mathematical modelling that infected badgers contributed to some 50% of cattle herd TB breakdowns in high incidence areas, either directly or indirectly.

More recent analysis published by the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) estimates that between 5,000 and 14,000 farms are exposed to infected wildlife and 36% of new TB breakdowns are directly due to wildlife. This study can be found here https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/s12917-018-1595-9.pdf

In October 2019 a study by the APHA demonstrated that the cull has resulted in significant reductions in the spread of the disease to cattle, showing reductions of 66% and 37% in the two areas who had culled for four years, compared to matched comparison areas where culling did not take place. The study can be found at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-49957-6.

The APHA published raw data in October 2020 which shows encouraging trends of reduced incidence and prevalence across the first 32 cull areas compared with the years before culling began. Compared with the average of the four years before culling started, OTFW incidence has dropped by an average of 27% after 2 years, 51% after 4 years and 53% after 6 years in the first twenty-one, three and two areas respectively. The data can be found on gov.uk here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bovine-tb-incidence-of-tb-in-cattle-in-licenced-badger-control-areas-in-2013-to-2019

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many licences for heather burning have been granted by Natural England in each of the last five years, by region.

The Heather and Grass etc Burning (England) Regulations 2007 set out the rules for heather burning. The Regulations allow most burning to be carried out without a licence but in certain specified situations a licence is required from Natural England. In the period 2016 -2020 Natural England issued 27 licences under the Regulations, none of which covered the burning of heathland or heather.

People wishing to burn heather on Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) need a consent from Natural England under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. We do not have a systematic process for collecting information on the habitats that we have consented operations on. We cannot therefore provide figures for the numbers of consents that we have issued for the burning of heathland or heather. We are currently investing to improve our records of consents.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many permissions Natural England have granted for heather burning in environmentally protected areas in each of the last five years, by region.

Figures for the number of permissions granted are not available because of the different ways that consents may be granted. Natural England may permit burning of vegetation in response to Notices of proposal to carry out the activity on Sites of Special Scientific Interest made by land managers under s28e of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Natural England may also have issued consent for burning vegetation as part of the prescriptions of an agreement made under the Environmental Stewardship or Countryside Stewardship schemes administered by the Rural Payments Agency. Consents may not provide detail of the vegetation to be burned and permissions attached to agreements may not detail the individual elements of management. To collect this information Natural England would need to investigate each relevant case where burning has been or may have been permitted to determine whether it allows burning of heather.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the introduction in Scotland from 1 March 2021 of a licensing regime making it illegal to intentionally kill, injure or take mountain hares at any time without a licence, whether his Department is planning to introduce protections for the last surviving population in England of mountain hares in the Peak District National Park.

This Government remains committed to taking action to recover our threatened native species. We continue to consider how we might best do this for mountain hare and the role of protection of the species in law, where there is evidence that this will provide genuine benefits.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his Department's press release dated 29 January 2021 announcing plans to bring forward legislation to prevent the burning of heather and other vegetation on protected blanket bog habitats, what plans the Government has to help restore peat under 40cm in depth.

We are committed to restoring and sustainably managing England’s peatlands. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in March that as part of the Nature for Climate Fund, 35,000ha of peatland restoration would be achieved over the next five years. This represents a significant step forward in our restoration efforts and will require us to work closely with a wide range of stakeholders.

The Government will be setting out further measures to restore, protect and manage England’s peatlands this year as part of a package of measures to protect England’s landscapes and nature-based solutions.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the England Peatland Strategy will provide a strategic approach to restoring and protecting peat resources.

We are committed to restoring and sustainably managing England’s peatlands. The Chancellor announced in March that as part of the Nature for Climate Fund, 35,000ha of peatland restoration would be achieved over the next five years. This represents a significant step forward in our restoration efforts and will require us to work closely with a wide range of stakeholders.

The Government will be setting out further measures to restore, protect and manage England’s peatlands this year as part of a package of measures to protect England’s landscapes and nature-based solutions.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 3 February 2021 to Question 145891 on Peat Bogs: Environment Protection, what steps he is taking to extend statutory protections to the remaining 38 per cent of peatlands not currently protected.

We are committed to restoring and sustainably managing England’s peatlands. The Chancellor announced in March that as part of the Nature for Climate Fund, 35,000ha of peatland restoration would be achieved over the next five years. This represents a significant step forward in our restoration efforts and will require us to work closely with a wide range of stakeholders.

The Government will be setting out further measures to restore, protect and manage England’s peatlands this year as part of a package of measures to protect England’s landscapes and nature-based solutions.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the announcement of 29 January 2021 that the Government will bring forward legislation to prevent the burning of heather and other vegetation on protected blanket bog habitats, what the scientific basis is for continuing to permit the burning of vegetation on (a) peat under 40 cm in depth and (b) outside of protected areas.

Peat over 40cm depth most likely encompasses most of the blanket bog habitat in the uplands where the greatest volumes of peat are found. The legislation we are bringing forward focuses on the protection of that blanket bog habitat. However, the government recognises that all peat is important and is working with stakeholders to promote sustainable management practices on all peat habitats so that all our peatlands are in good condition, under restoration management or more sustainably managed.

The Government will be setting out further measures to restore, protect and manage England’s peatlands this year as part of a package of measures to protect England’s landscapes and nature-based solutions.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent estimate he has made of the total CO2 emissions created by the burning of vegetation on peat under 40 cm in depth.

The Government does not hold sufficient data on the amount of peat that is less than 40cm in depth and is therefore unable to provide an estimation of the CO2 emitted from such activities.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his Department's press release, England’s national rainforests to be protected by new rules, published on 29 January 2021, what assessment he has made of the proportion of peatlands in England that will be covered by the exemptions proposed to those protections.

The proposed legislation, which applies to areas of deep peat in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that are also a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and/or a Special Protection Area (SPA), will provide for an exemption to the need to apply for a licence where that land has steep slopes or in circumstances where more than half of the area is covered by exposed rock and scree.

Deep peat by its very nature is unlikely to have formed on steep slopes. Current data suggests that the majority of protected deep peat is sited on slopes that will not be considered steep under the proposed regulations and would therefore not qualify for such an exemption. Similarly, we consider only a very small amount of protected blanket bog habitat will contain exposed rock or scree. In such cases, any burns will be limited to an area of 0.5 ha, in any single burning season.

In either case, should a landowner seek to use such an exemption, they would still be required to hold an appropriate consent to burn and comply with the requirements of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his Department's press release entitled New rules for burning on protected blanket bog habitats, published on gov.uk on 30 January 2020, in what circumstances a license would be granted for the burning of vegetation on peat over 40 cm in depth.

The Government has always been clear of the need to phase out rotational burning of protected blanket bog to conserve these vulnerable habitats. There is an established scientific consensus that burning of vegetation on such sites is damaging. That is why we are taking action to prevent further damage by bringing forward legislation that will limit burning of vegetation.

The proposed legislation will not apply on land that has steep slopes or in circumstances where more than half of the area is covered by exposed rock and scree. Where these exemptions do not apply landowners will be able to apply to the Secretary of State for a licence to undertake managed burning in strictly limited circumstances. Such as for purposes of wildfire prevention where it is necessary and expedient and there is no practicable alternative, and for the purposes of peatland restoration as part of a cohesive management plan that aims to return that land to a natural wet state and the land is inaccessible to cutting or mowing machinery.

The proposed regulations will be laid before parliament as soon as parliamentary time allows with accompanying guidance being published later this year.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his Department's press release, England’s national rainforests to be protected by new rules, published on 29 January 2021, what assessment he has made of the proportion of UK peatlands that will be covered by those protections.

The proposed regulation announced on 29 January 2021 will protect an estimated 62% of the blanket bog habitat in England representing all blanket bog that is the subject of statutory protection. There are extensive areas of peatland in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and, taken across the UK, the area of peatland protected is estimated at 5%.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential benefits to the wellbeing and financial security of vulnerable people isolating as a result of the covid-19 outbreak from supermarkets (a) suspending charges for people using priority supermarket delivery slots and (b) reducing minimum spends on deliveries for people using priority supermarket delivery slots.

Defra is continuing to hold regular conversations with each of the seven supermarkets participating in the priority access to online deliveries offer: Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. The department uses these meetings as an opportunity to convey any concerns raised by charities or local authorities around topics such as delivery charges and minimum spends. Although Defra cannot legally dictate the delivery costs and minimum spends applied by supermarkets, our regular conversations ensure that supermarkets understand the impact that delivery charges and minimum spends can have in preventing a clinically extremely vulnerable person from being able to access food.

Alongside encouraging supermarkets to seriously consider the impact delivery charges and minimum spends can have on clinically extremely vulnerable people, the department also monitors delivery charges and minimum spends and circulates this information to local authorities to allow them to advise their residents accordingly.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the health risks to forest workers of handling (a) acetamiprid, (b) cypermethrin, (c) glyphosate and other highly hazardous chemicals.

Products containing active substances such as acetamiprid, cypermethrin and glyphosate are regulated as pesticides. This means that they may only be used if the active substances are approved and the products are authorised. Approval is only given if scientific assessment shows that at least one potential use of the substance will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment (including birds and mammals). Authorisation applies the same process to the proposed uses of the product. Conditions may be attached to authorisations to ensure that these safety standards are met (for example, the use of protective equipment by those using the pesticide).

The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) requirements for the control of forestry pests in certified operations include Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to avoid the use of pesticides. Where pesticides are needed as a last resort, the FSC has further measures in place to determine the lowest risk option. The Government is committed, under the 25 Year Environment Plan, to developing and promoting IPM across agriculture and other sectors where pesticides are currently used. This is being taken forward through the National Action Plan for the sustainable use of pesticides. The draft National Action Plan is currently out to pubic consultation and outlines steps to limit the use of pesticides and reduce their impacts.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of continued usage of chemicals that contain active ingredients (a) acetamiprid, (b) cypermethrin, and (c) glyphosate in forestry management in the context of the Forestry Stewardship Council categorising these respectively as being (i) of acute toxicity to mammals and birds, (ii) of extremely or highly hazardous/acute toxicity to mammals and birds; and (iii) carcinogenic.

Products containing active substances such as acetamiprid, cypermethrin and glyphosate are regulated as pesticides. This means that they may only be used if the active substances are approved and the products are authorised. Approval is only given if scientific assessment shows that at least one potential use of the substance will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment (including birds and mammals). Authorisation applies the same process to the proposed uses of the product. Conditions may be attached to authorisations to ensure that these safety standards are met (for example, the use of protective equipment by those using the pesticide).

The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) requirements for the control of forestry pests in certified operations include Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to avoid the use of pesticides. Where pesticides are needed as a last resort, the FSC has further measures in place to determine the lowest risk option. The Government is committed, under the 25 Year Environment Plan, to developing and promoting IPM across agriculture and other sectors where pesticides are currently used. This is being taken forward through the National Action Plan for the sustainable use of pesticides. The draft National Action Plan is currently out to pubic consultation and outlines steps to limit the use of pesticides and reduce their impacts.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of banning the use of (a) acetamiprid, (b) cypermethrin, (c) glyphosate and (b) other chemicals designated as toxic by the Forestry Stewardship Council.

Products containing active substances such as acetamiprid, cypermethrin and glyphosate are regulated as pesticides. This means that they may only be used if the active substances are approved and the products are authorised. Approval is only given if scientific assessment shows that at least one potential use of the substance will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment (including birds and mammals). Authorisation applies the same process to the proposed uses of the product. Conditions may be attached to authorisations to ensure that these safety standards are met (for example, the use of protective equipment by those using the pesticide).

The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) requirements for the control of forestry pests in certified operations include Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to avoid the use of pesticides. Where pesticides are needed as a last resort, the FSC has further measures in place to determine the lowest risk option. The Government is committed, under the 25 Year Environment Plan, to developing and promoting IPM across agriculture and other sectors where pesticides are currently used. This is being taken forward through the National Action Plan for the sustainable use of pesticides. The draft National Action Plan is currently out to pubic consultation and outlines steps to limit the use of pesticides and reduce their impacts.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the risk of bladder cancer from working with (a) acetamiprid, (b) cypermethrin and (c) glyphosate.

Products containing active substances such as acetamiprid, cypermethrin and glyphosate are regulated as pesticides. This means that they may only be used if the active substances are approved and the products are authorised. Approval is only given if scientific assessment shows that at least one potential use of the substance will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment (including birds and mammals). Authorisation applies the same process to the proposed uses of the product. Conditions may be attached to authorisations to ensure that these safety standards are met (for example, the use of protective equipment by those using the pesticide).

The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) requirements for the control of forestry pests in certified operations include Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to avoid the use of pesticides. Where pesticides are needed as a last resort, the FSC has further measures in place to determine the lowest risk option. The Government is committed, under the 25 Year Environment Plan, to developing and promoting IPM across agriculture and other sectors where pesticides are currently used. This is being taken forward through the National Action Plan for the sustainable use of pesticides. The draft National Action Plan is currently out to pubic consultation and outlines steps to limit the use of pesticides and reduce their impacts.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward additional legislation to regulate wood-burning stoves and bonfires as a result of the health and environmental risks that they pose.

As indicated in the Clean Air Strategy, new emission standards for solid fuel appliances will be introduced from 2022, ensuring only the cleanest new stoves are available for sale. On 7 October 2020, legislation was made that will restrict the sale of the most polluting fuels: bituminous coal, wet wood and high sulphur manufactured solid fuels, from 1 May 2021.

At this time, we have not announced any new measures restricting outdoor burning or to ban bonfires.

We continually work to improve our evidence base and incorporate new & emerging evidence as it becomes available and will consider this as we develop our policy approach moving forward to control emissions of harmful pollutants.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to ban trail hunting following alleged comments on the use of multiple trails made in a Hunting Office webinar.

The Hunting Act 2004 makes it an offence to hunt a wild mammal with dogs except where it is carried out in accordance with the exemptions in the Act, and completely bans hare coursing. The full details of the Hunting Act 2004 exemptions are available online at: www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/37/schedule/1.

Those found guilty under the Act are subject to the full force of the law.

This Government will not amend the Hunting Act.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will set a date for publication of the England Peat Strategy.

In the 25 Year Environment Plan, we committed to publishing an England Peat Strategy to create and deliver a new ambitious framework for peat restoration in England. We intend to publish the strategy later this year.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what data his Department holds on the condition of moorlands.

Defra and its arm’s length bodies hold a range of data which provides information on the condition of moorland.

Information from site specific surveys and monitoring of agri-environment agreements is available on the Government data website[1], or the Defra science site.[2]

Over half of the moorland in England is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its biological or geological value. Information on the condition of these SSSIs, which cover a range of habitat types, is held and published by Natural England and can be accessed at the link below.

https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/NEInterimReports/ConditionByHabitat.aspx

[1] https://data.gov.uk/

[2] http://randd.defra.gov.uk/

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has set a date for publication of the England Peat Strategy.

In the 25 Year Environment Plan, we committed to publishing an England Peat Strategy to create and deliver a new ambitious framework for peat restoration in England. We intend to publish the strategy later this year.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 24 September 2020 to Question 92945 on heather burning, how many site visits (a) his Department and (b) Natural England made to assess the environmental effect of moorland burning per year in each of the last five years.

The information requested is not held centrally.

Reports of visits are held by Natural England in Site of Special Scientific Interest files. Most visits to assess sites are to carry out routine site condition assessments and not specifically related to moorland burning. Therefore, to obtain the requested data would require extensive records analysis and this would incur disproportionate costs.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps (a) his Department and (b) Natural England take to monitor moorland burning; and whether staff from (i) his Department and (ii) Natural England make regular site visits to assess the environmental effect of that burning.

Moorland burning is a legitimate land management practice where it is carried out in accordance with the Heather and Grass Burning (England) Regulations (2007) and in accordance with any requirement for consent from Natural England where the land is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Natural England monitors the condition of SSSIs, which may be affected by burning, through its programme of SSSI condition monitoring. This includes site visits where it is necessary and appropriate.

Reports of burning made to Natural England are followed up to ensure that the activity is being carried out with the appropriate SSSI consent where that is required.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of Lucy's Law on banning third-party puppy sales since that Law was introduced in April 2020.

The ban on commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens in England, also known as Lucy’s Law, came into force in April 2020. My department has not been informed of any cases of action being taken against third party sellers breaking the law since its introduction. However, we would expect reports of any such cases to be reported to the relevant local authorities, as enforcers of the legislation.

Defra recognises that raising awareness of deceitful sellers is another integral step towards tackling low-welfare and illegal supply of puppies. That is why we launched the communications campaign “Petfished” in March 2020 to raise the public’s awareness of the consequences of buying from a low-welfare seller and challenging the assumption that it is easy to spot bad practice. The campaign also signposts to resources available to help them make a good decision and source from responsible breeders or rehoming centres in the UK. We have increased and tailored campaign activity over recent months to further encourage responsible buying during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, under what circumstances he would use the powers set out in Clause 81 of the Environment Bill to weaken existing targets for the chemical status of water in the UK.

Clause 81 is a narrow power which will enable updates to the list of priority substances and their environmental quality standards for surface and ground waters after the end of the transition period. This will ensure that the list of substances used to assess the chemical status of water bodies does not become “frozen” when section 2(2) European Communities Act 1972 powers are no longer available.

Updates to the list of priority substances will be informed by the latest scientific and technical knowledge. Any proposed changes will be subject to statutory consultation requirements which include the Environment Agency and any persons or bodies likely to be affected by the regulations, as well as parliamentary and public scrutiny during the secondary legislation process.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he will take to integrate areas that are designated as special areas of conservation into the regulatory framework set out in the Environment Bill 2020.

Special areas of conservation (SACs), along with special protection areas (SPAs), are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. These sites are included within the definition of ‘national conservation sites’ as set out in the Environment Bill. National conservation sites are to be included within ‘habitat maps’, which will be part of local nature recovery strategies.

More generally, the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), established under the Environment Bill, will have a broad environmental remit. It includes environmental law which is defined as including all domestic legislation (other than devolved provisions, or those concerned with a specifically excluded matter), to the extent that they are concerned with one or more of a set of environmental protections.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reduce the use of chemical pesticides.

All pesticides are subject to strict regulation and are only authorised for use if a scientific assessment finds that this will not harm people or have unacceptable impacts on the environment. In our 25 Year Environment Plan, the Government has outlined its approach to reducing further the impacts of pesticide use while protecting crops. At the centre of this will be encouraging the development and uptake of Integrated Pest Management, which is about designing farming systems to minimise the need for pesticides and to make use of alternative approaches wherever possible. We will expand on these ideas when we publish for consultation the updated National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides later this year.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to allocate funding to cover additional costs incurred by local authorities from 2023 as a result of the requirement to recycle additional materials.

The Government has committed to ensuring that the costs of any additional burdens that local authorities face as a result of new statutory duties for them to collect a core set of materials for recycling, will be funded. This is in keeping with the New Burdens Doctrine which requires new burdens on local authorities to be properly assessed by the relevant department

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of strengthening protections for special areas of conservation in the UK.

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

The Government has made no recent assessment of the potential merits of strengthening protections for special areas of conservation in England. The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and The Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 provide legal protection for special areas of conservation in England and the offshore marine area respectively.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to increase the number of free flowing rivers.

The 25 Year Environment Plan and Abstraction Plan 2017 set out the Government’s commitment and actions to protect our water environment. In the Abstraction Plan we set a target to address unsustainable abstraction and move 90% of surface water bodies and 77% of groundwater bodies to the required standards by 2021. Latest data indicates that about 84% of surface water bodies and 72% of groundwater bodies now support the required flow standards.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to increase the amount of land which is organically farmed.

The Government believes farmers are best placed to determine the best method of farming for their land and specific circumstances. While this is a private business decision, we encourage environmentally friendly farming through numerous routes which includes organics.

Our Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme is the cornerstone of our new agricultural policy. Founded on the principle of "public money for public goods", ELM is intended to provide a powerful vehicle for achieving the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, while supporting our rural economy. The ELM scheme is being designed collaboratively with stakeholders. We are considering how more environmentally sustainable farming approaches, including organic farming, may fit within ELM where these contribute towards the delivery of environmental public goods.

We will offer financial assistance to enable farmers, foresters, and growers to invest in the equipment, technology, and infrastructure that they need to improve their productivity, manage the environment sustainably, and deliver other public goods.

Until 2024, farmers may apply for Countryside Stewardship grants to support them whilst converting to organic production. The Defra Organics Farming Statistics United Kingdom 2019 stated that nearly half a million hectares were farmed organically in the UK. This is an increase of 2.4% since 2018.

www.gov.uk/government/statistics/organic-farming-statistics-2019

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the level of additional resources required to ensure that local authorities are able to make arrangements for recycling additional materials from 2023.

In 2019, the Government published its consultation ‘Consistency in Household and Business Recycling Collection in England’ and associated impact assessment. These included assessments of the additional costs arising from measures for greater consistency in recycling collections including the collection of a core set of materials of plastic, glass, paper and card, metal, food and garden waste from households.

The Government will be publishing a second consultation in 2021 which will seek views on further details of consistency in recycling. A further impact assessment will be published alongside it and will include updated assessments of costs for these measures.

In line with guidance on new burdens, the Government has committed to covering the costs of any additional burdens that local authorities face as a result of new statutory duties that require them to implement consistency and will apply that guidance in assessing these costs.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that the UK complies with its obligations on urban waste water standards; and what funding he has allocated to ensure urban waste water standards are maintained.

Water quality is a devolved matter. In England, urban waste water standards are set by the Urban Waste Water Treatment (England and Wales) Regulations 1994. These regulations set standards for the collection, treatment and discharge of waste water and impose duties on water and sewerage companies to meet these standards. Compliance with the standards is regulated by the Environment Agency and any non-compliance is subject to enforcement action. The environmental programme that the water companies will be implementing over the next five years includes around £800 million of investment specifically in relation to urban waste water, as part of a wider package of £4 billion of investment to reduce pollution from waste water.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to increase the quality of the 21 bathing waters in the UK that have been classified to be of poor quality.

In 2019, the Environment Agency sampled 420 bathing waters in England and seven were classified as “Poor”. 98.3% of bathing waters met the minimum standard of “Sufficient” set by the Bathing Water Regulations 2013 (“the Regulations”) and 71.4% met the highest “Excellent” standard.

Hundreds of projects have been completed to address poor bathing water quality and successfully drive up standards. Water companies have invested £2.5 billion to reduce pollution, councils and charities have run campaigns to keep beaches clean and advice has been provided to farmers on how to reduce pollution into rivers.

The remaining “Poor” bathing waters all have complex problems that require partnership working with stakeholders to rectify issues. Sources of pollution identified include sewer misconnections, sea birds, dogs, run-off from urban and agricultural land, as well as sewage from combined sewer overflows and septic tanks. The Environment Agency is working with partners to look for solutions to these problems.

Pollution risk forecasting provides advice against bathing when conditions such as rain or tide or wind increase the risk of reduced water quality.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to establish a statutory target to meet World Health Organisation standards for fine particle air pollution by 2030.

The Environment Bill establishes a legally binding duty to set a target for PM2.5, in addition to a long-term air quality target. As part of that work we have explored progress that will be made towards WHO PM2.5 guidelines on a national level under a range of scenarios, and a report on this was published in July 2019. We are committed to setting challenging targets and following an evidence-based process, seeking advice from a range of experts, in addition to giving consideration to the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines.

The targets will be set in secondary legislation at the end of this process. It would not be an effective approach to policy making to commit in primary legislation to achieving a target, without giving due consideration to its achievability and the measures required to meet that target. Stakeholders, Parliament and the public will have the opportunity to comment on, and input into, the process of developing this target.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what statutory powers require local authorities to implement the recommendations in nature recovery strategies.

Local Nature Recovery Strategies are a new system of spatial strategies for nature introduced by the Environment Bill. All public authorities will be required to have regard to relevant strategies, as part of a stronger duty on public authorities to conserve and enhance biodiversity also included in the Bill.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will implement a ban on the exportation of (a) plastic waste and (b) other types of UK waste.

Recognising the difficulties experienced by some countries in managing imports of plastic waste, the Queen’s Speech on 19 December 2019 included a commitment to ban the export of plastic waste to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Environment Bill includes a power which will enable us to deliver on this commitment and we will consult on the date by when the ban should be in place. The Bill also includes a power to introduce electronic tracking of waste to help tackle waste crime here in the UK and prevent illegal waste from being shipped abroad.

The export of UK waste for disposal is generally prohibited. The Government has no plans to ban the export of other wastes. We are keen to promote UK-based recycling and export less waste to be processed abroad. Where the UK cannot currently recycle materials economically, exports can help ensure those materials are recycled in recipient countries. While there is a legitimate global market for secondary materials, it must be and is subject to strict regulatory requirements.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to increase the number of special areas of conservation in the UK.

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

There are no plans to increase the number of special areas of conservation in England.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of increased shale gas exploitation on UK groundwater.

Operators proposing to explore for shale gas using hydraulic fracturing in England require environmental permits from the Environment Agency. The permits, which are subject to a detailed site-specific assessment, set legally binding conditions on how activities are carried out so that the local environment is protected. Groundwater must be monitored before, during and after operations and the results submitted regularly to the Environment Agency. On 4 November 2019 the Government confirmed in a written Ministerial statement that, based on the current scientific evidence, it will take a presumption against issuing any further Hydraulic Fracturing Consents in England, which are required before hydraulic fracturing operations can take place. This position, in effect a moratorium, will be maintained unless compelling new evidence is provided which addresses the concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity. The full statement can be found at:

www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-11-04/HCWS68.

In 2018, onshore oil and gas licensing powers in Scotland and Wales were devolved to Scottish and Welsh Ministers respectively. The Devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales have adopted policy positions opposed to shale gas exploration. Further, the licensing and regulation of shale gas development is fully devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive. Any decision on whether shale developments can occur in Northern Ireland is a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that policies designed to stimulate economic activity do not undermine the environmental aims of (a) the 25 Year Environment Plan, (b) the Environment Bill, (c) the Agriculture Bill, and (d) net zero legislation.

The Government has no current plans to amend regulations and environmental protections in order to stimulate economic activity.

However, as we rebuild our economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we are working to deliver a fairer, greener and more resilient future. We will ramp up our world-leading work on our ambitious legislative agenda through our landmark Environment and Agricultural Bills. These bills will work hand in hand to protect and recover our precious natural environment and diverse ecosystems in line with our 25 Year Environment Plan to leave the environment in a better place than we have inherited it.

The 25 Year Environment Plan will be adopted as the first statutory Environmental Improvement Plan under the Bill. The Environment Bill also creates a power to set long-term, legally-binding environmental targets. It requires Government to set, and achieve, at least one long-term target in four priority areas: air quality, biodiversity, water, and resource efficiency and waste reduction. We want them to be ambitious, credible, and supported by society. As a first step we expect to publish a Target Policy Paper over the coming months which will include further details about the target-setting process that we will be implementing.

The net zero challenge remains and we need to transform our economy over the next three decades to end our contribution to climate change. In the UK we’ve already shown how to grow the economy while cutting emissions and we will continue to lead the world as we respond to the economic impacts of COVID-19 and develop our net zero strategy in advance of COP26.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Government plans to change environmental (a) regulations and (b) protections in order to stimulate economic activity.

The Government has no current plans to change environmental regulations and protections in order to stimulate economic activity.

However, as we rebuild our economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we are working to deliver a fairer, greener and more resilient future. We will ramp up our world-leading work on our ambitious legislative agenda through our landmark Environment and Agricultural Bills. These bills will work hand in hand to protect and recover our precious natural environment and diverse ecosystems in line with our 25 Year Environment Plan to leave the environment in a better place than we have inherited it.

The net zero challenge remains and we need to transform our economy over the next three decades to end our contribution to climate change. In the UK we have already shown how to grow the economy while cutting emissions and we will continue to lead the world as we respond to the economic impacts of COVID-19 and develop our net zero strategy in advance of COP26.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps is he taking to ensure that all those who have registered with the Government as extremely vulnerable are contacted by supermarkets for priority deliveries.

The shielding programme was put in place to protect clinically extremely vulnerable people – those who have been advised by the NHS not to leave their homes, because they are at a high risk of developing complications from coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Anyone who believes they meet the criteria of extremely clinically vulnerable but who has not received a letter from the NHS should contact their GP.

We have now delivered over 1 million parcels to those in this group who advised that they were unable to access food and continue to support these people. We have also shared the details of individuals who register to receive food parcels with supermarkets so that they can be prioritised for home delivery slots.

The Government is working with a partnership of the food industry, local government, local resilience forums and emergency partners, and voluntary groups, to ensure that essential items can be delivered as quickly as possible to those who need it. For example, just under 600,000 people are now registered as verified NHS Volunteer Responders to help support people who are struggling to access food

Defra is working closely with charities to estimate the supply of food to charities and demand for food from users of those charities. On 3 April Defra launched a £3.25 million grant opportunity to help surplus food redistributors with infrastructure and associated support to help get more food to charities working on the front line in supporting vulnerable people in need. Additionally, the Government has announced up to £16 million to provide millions of meals over the next 12 weeks. These will be delivered through charities including FareShare and WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme).

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the timeframe is for establishing the new independent Office for Environmental Protection; and what consultation process will be used to define strict new laws on air quality.

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) is to be operational from 1 January 2021. Subject to the passage of the Environment Bill, the OEP will therefore take on its full statutory functions from this date, including being able to receive and investigate complaints, take enforcement action, and provide scrutiny and advice including in relation to the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Our Clean Air Strategy (CAS) was published in 2019 following a thorough consultation exercise and included new and ambitious goals, legislation, investment and policies to clean up our air faster and more effectively. The Environment Bill delivers key parts of this CAS including outlining how new air quality targets will be set through an open and transparent, evidence-based process, which will include seeking independent expert advice and holding a public consultation. The targets and associated technical detail will be set in a statutory instrument via the affirmative procedure, and both Houses of Parliament will have the opportunity to scrutinise and debate the details and ambition of the targets before they are finalised.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2020
Whether she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ban the (a) import and (b) sale of real fur products.

EU law currently prohibits imports of cat and dog fur and certain other animal products. Under the Withdrawal Act, these prohibitions will carry across after the end of the transition period. The Government is considering what further steps it could take in relation to fur sales, consistent with our international obligations.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to implement covid-19 test and isolate measures for incoming passengers at airports and ports.

International arrivals from countries, territories or regions not on the Travel Corridor list (“non-exempt” places) are required to self-isolate in the UK for 10 days after leaving the non-exempt place. The Government implemented the “Test to Release for International Travel” (TTR) scheme on 15 December. Arrivals from non-exempt places can book, pay for, and take a privately provided test on the fifth day after leaving the non-exempt place, and if the result is negative, cease self-isolating.

TTR provides much stronger public health protection than a test upon arrival at a port or airport, as the long incubation period of COVID-19 would mean many cases would be missed if travellers were tested earlier than 5 days after leaving the non-exempt place.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much has been spent on improving railways in the (a) Sheffield, (b) Leeds and (c) Manchester city regions in each of the last 30 years; and how much his Department plans to spend on railways in each region over the next 10 years.

Figures on public sector expenditure at national and regional levels are part of the Government’s Country and Regional Analysis (CRA) statistics. These provide statistical allocations of public spending according to where the benefits of that spend are accrued. Unfortunately, spend at city specific level is not available.

The CRA statistics include spend on transport by all public sector organisations including the Department for Transport, Local Authorities, Public Corporations (in the case of transport, this is mainly spend by London Underground) and other government departments including devolved administrations.

Table 1: Public expenditure on the railway in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, by all public sector bodies (£ million)

North West

Yorkshire and the Humber

2015-16

1,499

885

2016-17

1,289

677

2017-18

1,593

668

2018-19

1,859

770

2019-20

1,784

716

These expenditure values are in nominal terms and have not been adjusted for inflation. In 2014, Network Rail was classified as a Central Government Body and thus spending on the railways before and after Network Rail’s reclassification are not comparable.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/country-and-regional-analysis-2020

The Spending Review confirmed that the Government will continue to support the railway, investing in ambitious improvements to modernise our railway, committing over £40bn. This includes over £2 billion of funding confirmed in 2021-22 for rail services, building on the estimated £12.8 billion of support for transport services that the government has already committed to provide in 2020-21.

We continue to deliver ambitious enhancements to the rail network, investing in key priorities including the Transpennine Route Upgrade, restoring lines and stations closed during the Beeching cuts and in HS2, with an unrelenting focus on levelling up our country and ensuring all communities have the connections they need to support growth and prosperity.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference his Written Statement of 12 March on Strategic roads update: smart motorways evidence stocktake, what progress has been made on implementing a national targeted communications campaign to further increase awareness and understanding of smart motorways, how they work and how to use them confidently.

Highways England is developing a nationally-targeted campaign to increase road user confidence on All Lane Running (ALR) motorways, including what to do in the event of a breakdown in a live lane. The campaign concept has been tested on a number of audiences. Stakeholders in the recovery and insurance industries have been engaged throughout the process and have helped to shape the campaign.

Highways England is now in the production phase of the campaign, which will launch in January 2021. The campaign will be seen widely across the country including on TV, social media and national radio to ensure maximum reach amongst the target audience.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will introduce the same public health requirement to sign-in on (a) intercity trains and (b) local public transport networks as already exists for pubs, bars and restaurants during the covid-19 crisis.

Contact tracing is already happening across all modes of public transport through the Bluetooth functionality of the NHS Contact Tracing app, which alerts the user if they have had exposure to someone who later tests positive. Checking in via QR codes is more complex to achieve on transport where passengers and vehicles are constantly on the move. ?However, we are working with operators to encourage people to download the app in transport hubs and working closely with the NHS Contact Tracing app team to understand how a check-in feature could be implemented in transport settings whilst avoiding disruption.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the timescale is for establishing Active Travel England; what powers that inspectorate will have; what the appointment process is for the National Cycling and Walking Commissioner; and what parliamentary oversight there will be of that appointment process.

The Department is committed to making rapid progress in establishing Active Travel England, and also to ensuring that proper consideration is given to these and other important matters. It is essential, for example, that the correct processes are followed in line with Cabinet Office Guidance on the creation of new Arm’s-Length Bodies.

The Government’s Cycling and Walking Plan, published in July, sets out some of the roles and functions that the new body is likely to have. These include holding the budget for, as well as approving and inspecting, cycling and walking schemes; disseminating training and good practice; and reviewing major planning applications to help improve the provision of cycling and walking facilities.

Further details on the role of, and appointment process for, the new National Cycling and Walking Commissioner will be made available in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to publish the Government's cycling and walking investment strategy.

The Government remains committed to delivering the aims and ambitions set out in the existing Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, which was published in April 2017. On the 9th May the Government announced a £2bn package of funding for cycling and walking over the next five years. The Government will say more later this year about plans to update the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy to build on the new opportunities that this funding provides.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much of the £2 billion in funding announced for cycling will be allocated to (a) South Yorkshire and (b) Sheffield.

The first part of the £2 billion to be released will be a £225 million Emergency Active Travel Fund in the current financial year. The first tranche of this will be released as soon as possible provided local authorities submit suitably ambitious plans to the Department, and the second tranche will be released later in the summer. Indicative allocations to local authorities have been published on gov.uk. Sheffield City Region Combined Authority has been indicatively allocated £1,437,000 for tranche one and £5,749,000 for tranche two: its final allocations will depend on the quality of the plans it submits to the Department. Decisions on the remainder of the £2 billion will be a matter for the next Spending Review.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what process the Government will use to decide which rail routes and stations closed after the Beeching report are re-opened; what the Government's timeframe is for that process; and if he will consider reopening (a) the Woodhead line, (b) the direct Derby to Manchester line (via Bakewell), and (c) Millhouses station in Sheffield, Hallam constituency.

This Government has been clear that our ambition is to level up local economies across the country, improving access to jobs and education and boosting the wider region. Improving connections across the rail network is obviously an integral part of that.

The Secretary of State wrote to all England and Wales MPs outlining the process and inviting them to contact him by 28 February if they wished to bid for the first round of study funding for schemes in their constituencies. Outline proposals needed to be submitted by 16 March for initial assessment.

For those bids already put forward as part of the Beeching Ideas Fund – such as for the Derby to Manchester line – these are currently under consideration by the Panel of ministerial, local authority and rail industry representatives. We have adapted the process so it is consistent with the Government advice on COVID-19 and a virtual panel chaired by the Minister of State is examining bids on paper in the first instance. We are keeping applicants up-to-date on the timetable.

For those who have not yet applied to the Ideas Fund there will be another round in June and another in the autumn. We published a progress update on gov.uk on 27 April and my department has written to all MPs about future rounds.

For proposals for reopening or new stations that are sufficiently advanced the third round of the New Station Fund closes to applications on the 5 June.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) all disabilities are included in the Blue Badge eligibility criteria and (b) the application process is accessible.

Eligibility for the Blue Badge scheme is not condition-based so people with a disability or a condition who meet the eligibility criteria will still be issued a badge. The Department has issued clear non-statutory guidance to local authorities in England on how to administer the scheme.

The Department is currently working on its blue badge business continuity plan to ensure our digital and badge production services are resilient enough to continue to produce badges throughout this unprecedented period. Local authorities are responsible for the day to day administration of the scheme and will therefore be making their own arrangements for business continuity to ensure those in need of a badge can still be issued one. This may include pragmatic measures such as assessing applicants over the telephone, rather than face to face.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what his department's expected timescale is for work to (a) start and (b) be completed on restoration of the second platform at Dore & Totley station through National Rail’s Hope Valley Capacity Scheme.

Network Rail are part way through a procurement process to appoint a supplier to carry out detailed designs and deliver the scheme. They are working with the train operators to assess the best way to deliver the works during Control Period 6 (2019-2024) with the least disruption to customers. I am expecting Network Rail’s Final Business Case for the scheme over the course of the summer after which I will be able to say more about specific delivery dates of the scheme’s components in the Autumn.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans the Government has to allocate funding to City Regions for the improvement of their (a) bus, (b) tram and (c) train services; and what level of funding will be allocated to the Sheffield City Region.

The Government is committed to investing in infrastructure and levelling up across the country and has developed the £2.5 billion Transforming Cities Fund to improve public transport with a focus on trains, trams and buses. The Sheffield City Region Combined Authority has submitted a bid for a share of the £1.22 billion in the second round of the competitive element of the fund. The Department has supported the Combined Authority in developing their plans to ensure they have maximum benefit.

In addition, £4.2bn of funding is planned for improving transport infrastructure in major city regions. More detail on future funding levels for these areas will be announced later this year.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of making the winter fuel payment available to all people in receipt of state pension for winter 2021-2022.

The Department has made no such assessment.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a statutory number of Forestry England site visits to (a) publicly managed and (b) privately managed UK forests to monitor workers’ conditions and ensure sites are PPE-compliant.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has responsibility for the regulation of health and safety law for forestry work in Great Britain (GB). HSE achieves this through a blend of activities, including work with stakeholders, targeted communications, specific guidance and, where appropriate, site visits to maximise impact.

Key to HSE’s influence with forestry stakeholders is work with and support for the Forest Industry Safety Accord (FISA). FISA is an organisation comprised of leading organisations within the forestry industry who have made a commitment to raise the standard of health safety and welfare in the forestry workplace[1]. Forestry England are a member of FISA. The work by FISA and HSE covers the provision and use of the correct equipment for workers, including PPE.

Throughout 2020, HSE continued to work with stakeholders within the forestry industry to ensure health and safety standards were met on site.

HSE is not aware of any assessments about introducing statutory Forestry England visits to forestry worksites to monitor conditions for workers. Forestry England do not have a statutory role to monitor compliance but will visit sites in their control as part of their normal site management arrangements.

[1] https://ukfisa.com

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to Answer of 24 March 2020 to Question 30051 on Pension Credit stating that her Department will carry out a full evaluation of the 12-week Pension Credit awareness campaign that started on 12 February 2020, if she will outline (a) the results of that evaluation including how successful it was in meeting its objectives and (b) her Department’s plans for future awareness raising of Pension Credit following that evaluation.

The purpose of the campaign was to support Pension Credit take-up and test impact.

There was a 20% increase in telephone calls to the Pension Credit claim line (during the course of the campaign the weekly average was 2,493 phone calls compared to a weekly average in 2019 of 2,079 phone calls).

There was also significant engagement with social media and a spike of activity on viewing the Pension Credit website pages with more than 5,000 sessions on the launch day, 10 February (compared to 1,000 on 3 February).

However, it should be stressed that other factors may affect these numbers, including the BBC TV licensing decision and the effect of the Pandemic.

Due to the Pandemic, all pensions campaigns are currently on hold.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing carers' allowance.

The Government recognises and appreciates the vital role played by unpaid carers now more than ever. In November 2019 there were around 510 carers in the Sheffield Hallam constituency that were receiving Carer’s Allowance (CA) and in 2018/19 we spent approximately £1.7 million on CA there.

During the current emergency, we have focussed on ensuring carers do not inadvertently stop receiving CA because of changes to patterns of care. This includes allowing emotional support to count towards the 35 hours of care being provided by the carer as well as relaxing the rules around breaks in care. These changes aim to support carers whose role has, in many cases, become harder due to the need to self-isolate or shield the person they care for.

The rate of CA was also increased in early April as part of the annual uprating process. Since 2010, the rate of Carer’s Allowance has increased from £53.90 to £67.25 a week, meaning nearly an additional £700 a year for carers. We continue to support those carers in most need through additional amounts (premiums) in means-tested benefits and have also announced increases to the standard allowance in Universal Credit. Meaning claimants will be up to £1040 better off this financial year, which some carers receiving Universal Credit will benefit from.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the additional staff time required for administering managed migration from legacy benefits to universal credit.

The impact and pressure that moving existing legacy benefit claimants to Universal Credit (UC) will put on the Department is often overstated. Our Move to UC pilot will help to understand any additional support and resources required to migrate claimants to UC, so that we can tailor support for those who need it.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what methods his Department will use to contact people receiving legacy benefits as part of the managed migration to universal credit.

The initial approach is based on using existing relationships that the Department or our partners have with legacy benefit claimants. We are initially identifying claimants for the pilot from those that currently attend the Jobcentre for meetings, in order for Work Coaches to build on existing relationships to prepare claimants to move and to support them through the process. We will establish whether someone is ready to move and explore how we can move them effectively across to Universal Credit (UC).

Since the introduction of UC, claimants have been supported by a more flexible approach regarding contact, with much greater use of digital and telephone channels. This enables claimants to continue to engage with the Department, receive appropriate support and satisfy the conditions of their personalised Claimant Commitment without having to always attend an appointment in person. This approach provides the ability to change or adapt our plans to make sure it is working, and to support vulnerable claimants and those in unusual circumstances.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that workers who have been quarantined or who have self-quarantined as a result of covid-19 receive the sick leave to which they are entitled.

We will introduce, as part of the Department of Health’s emergency Bill, provisions for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to be made from day 1 in relation to Covid-19.

We will set out full details when the emergency legislation is published.

Employers have been urged to make sure they use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay.

SSP is a legal minimum and we encourage all employers to make these day-1 payments immediately.

We will work with employers and workers to ensure they’re supported to do the right thing, look after their staff and each other, and use their discretion to make the right decisions to protect public health.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on increased investment in the clinical oncology workforce.

Discussions are ongoing between the Department and HM Treasury on the potential for further investment in the National Health Service workforce, including for clinical oncology, as part of the Spending Review process.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many radiotherapy machines currently used by the NHS are over 10 years old.

As at 31 March 2021, approximately 63 Linear Particle Accelerators (LINACs) in routine National Health Service use were aged 10 years or more. Approximately two thirds of these have a locally agreed replacement plan that is due to be implemented in 2021-22.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to ensure consistency in the way chief coroners record deaths where the cause is covid-19 acquired in a hospital.

The circumstances in which a medical practitioner must notify a death to the coroner are set out in the Notification of Death Regulations 2019. It is a judicial decision of the coroner as to whether they have a duty under section 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 to investigate a death referred to them.

Medical practitioners are expected to state the cause of death to the best of their knowledge and belief on the medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD). Revised guidance published by the General Register Office and the Office for National Statistics to medical practitioners completing MCCD during the period of the pandemic confirms that COVID-19 is an acceptable direct or underlying cause of death for the purposes of completing the MCCD. This guidance also confirms that COVID-19 is not a reason of itself to refer a death to a coroner under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-notes-for-completing-a-medical-certificate-of-cause-of-death

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to record instances of covid-19 contracted in hospitals.

NHS England and NHS Improvement collect data as part of a daily SITREP on the time between admission to hospital and first positive swab for COVID-19. Since October 2020, NHS England and NHS Improvement have published relevant data relating to COVID-19 hospital activity which includes the numbers of people diagnosed in hospital with or admitted to hospital with COVID-19. This data covers the period from 1 August 2020. Data relating to the number of patients diagnosed in the community and subsequently admitted to hospital, or admitted to hospital and diagnosed with COVID within eight days after admission is also available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-hospital-activity/

Given the incubation period of the virus and local differences in application of testing protocols, it is not possible to definitively determine the number of people who contracted the virus while in hospital in England to date.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Clinical radiology UK workforce census 2020 report, what assessment he has made of the (a) trends in the number of UK radiologists and (b) need to expand the clinical radiologist workforce for proposed community diagnostic hubs.

NHS Digital publishes Hospital and Community Health Services workforce statistics. These include staff working in hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), but not staff working in social care, primary care, local authorities or private sector providers commissioned by the National Health Service.

The latest data at January 2021 shows there are over 4,800 full-time equivalent clinical radiologists employed in NHS trusts and CCGs in England - an increase of over 200 or 4.6% since January 2020.

The recent one-year spending review settlement has enabled the expansion of clinical radiology training programmes by 110 in 2021/22.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent discussions he has had with representatives from (a) NHS England and Improvement, (b) medical royal colleges and (c) specialist societies on community diagnostic hubs.

There has been regular ongoing engagement between the Department and NHS England and NHS Improvement since the publication of ‘Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal. Report of the Independent Review of Diagnostic Services for NHS England’ in October 2020. As part of the development of this work, NHS England and NHS Improvement have engaged extensively with a wide range of stakeholders including medical royal colleges and specialist societies.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to White Paper, Integration and innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all, what assessment he has made of the number of community diagnostic hubs that will support integrated care systems.

Professor Sir Mike Richards’ review ‘Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal: Report of the Independent Review of Diagnostic Services for NHS England’ proposes three community diagnostic hubs per million population as part of its five-year plan.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will take steps to ensure that NHS Trusts (a) financially support NHS staff who have to take unpaid leave to look after dependents that have to isolate as a result of covid-19 contact tracing; and (b) make retrospective payments to those key workers for time they have to take off unpaid for those purposes during the covid-19 outbreak.

We are working to ensure all National Health Service employees feel supported during the pandemic and have worked with NHS Employers on publishing guidance to help employers adapt to the challenges COVID-19 has presented for their staff. For those who are having to take time away from work due to their child’s requirement to self-isolate, the guidance states that employers should be as supportive and flexible as possible.

The guidance is being regularly updated to ensure it reflects the current situation and is available at the following link:

https://www.nhsemployers.org/covid19/staff-terms-and-conditions/staff-terms-and-conditions-faqs/pay

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to offer antibody testing for people who are immune suppressed to assess whether they have generated a response to covid-19 vaccines.

Routine COVID-19 antibody testing is not available to everyone who is immune suppressed but this cohort is well-represented in research studies. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is funding research on vaccine responses in groups of immune-supressed individuals as part of its support for the OCTAVE study in the National Core Studies Immunity Programme. UKRI is providing initial funding of £1.8 million for up to 12 months towards the OCTAVE study.

The Government has testing capability in place to enact targeted antibody testing regimes for specific groups if clinical evidence from research studies suggest that it is necessary.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 17 March 2021 to Question 157164 on Breast Cancer: Health Services, what data his Department plans to use to make an assessment of the effect of pausing treatment as a result of the covid-19 outbreak on the outcomes of patients suffering from metastatic breast cancer.

The National Health Service Cancer Programme is currently establishing a Task and Finish group to review alterations and/or disruptions to care pathways, including services for those with secondary breast cancer, during the pandemic. A timeline for an assessment will be determined once this group has been established. Once a Task and Finish group has been established the group will consider the most appropriate data sources with which to make this assessment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 17 March 2021 to Question 157164 on Breast Cancer: Health Services, when his Department plans to make that assessment.

The National Health Service Cancer Programme is currently establishing a Task and Finish group to review alterations and/or disruptions to care pathways, including services for those with secondary breast cancer, during the pandemic. A timeline for an assessment will be determined once this group has been established. Once a Task and Finish group has been established the group will consider the most appropriate data sources with which to make this assessment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support pharmacies while covid-19 restrictions are in place.

Discussions are ongoing with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee about additional funding for costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of its ongoing assessment of COVID-19 costs incurred by the sector the Government will take account of the £370 million increased advance payments paid to community pharmacies.

The COVID-19 support package for community pharmacy also included general COVID-19 business support, funding for Bank Holiday openings, social distancing measures and the medicine delivery service to shielded patients, free personal protective equipment and non-monetary support including the removal of some administrative tasks, flexibility in opening hours and the delayed introduction of new services.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to take steps to ensure that pharmacies are not overly burdened in the future by the debts they have incurred during the period of covid-19 restrictions.

Discussions are ongoing with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee about additional funding for costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of its ongoing assessment of COVID-19 costs incurred by the sector the Government will take account of the £370 million increased advance payments paid to community pharmacies.

The COVID-19 support package for community pharmacy also included general COVID-19 business support, funding for Bank Holiday openings, social distancing measures and the medicine delivery service to shielded patients, free personal protective equipment and non-monetary support including the removal of some administrative tasks, flexibility in opening hours and the delayed introduction of new services.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the request for the repayment of the £370 million allocated to community pharmacies during the covid-19 outbreak on the future financial sustainability of that sector.

Discussions are ongoing with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee about additional funding for costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of its ongoing assessment of COVID-19 costs incurred by the sector the Government will take account of the £370 million increased advance payments paid to community pharmacies.

The COVID-19 support package for community pharmacy also included general COVID-19 business support, funding for Bank Holiday openings, social distancing measures and the medicine delivery service to shielded patients, free personal protective equipment and non-monetary support including the removal of some administrative tasks, flexibility in opening hours and the delayed introduction of new services.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure the financial sustainability of pharmacies in the future.

Discussions are ongoing with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee about additional funding for costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of its ongoing assessment of COVID-19 costs incurred by the sector the Government will take account of the £370 million increased advance payments paid to community pharmacies.

The COVID-19 support package for community pharmacy also included general COVID-19 business support, funding for Bank Holiday openings, social distancing measures and the medicine delivery service to shielded patients, free personal protective equipment and non-monetary support including the removal of some administrative tasks, flexibility in opening hours and the delayed introduction of new services.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the finding that there is variation between local authorities on the provision of covid-19 vaccines to special school staff in the School's Week article of 29 January 2021 entitled Councils cease initiative to give Covid-19 vaccine to special school staff, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the variations in provision of that vaccine; and if he will ensure that all special school staff throughout England have priority access to covid-19 vaccines in line with social care workers as set out by the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

The Joint Committee on Immunisation and Vaccination (JCVI) is the independent body of scientists and clinical experts who advise the Government on prioritisation of vaccines at a population level. The JCVI recommended that frontline social care workers were prioritised for vaccination in phase one where they are at increased risk of transmitting that infection to multiple patients who are clinically vulnerable to COVID-19. This is with the underlying aim of ‘the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care systems’.

The JCVI’s assessment of special school staff during phase one was that they were not prioritised as frontline care workers as there are very few cases where children and young people are considered to be clinically vulnerable to COVID-19. Public Health England’s Greenbook states that “children under 16 years of age, even if they are clinically extremely vulnerable, are at low risk of serious morbidity and mortality” from COVID-19. The JCVI advises that only children with severe neurodisabilities that require frequent residential care are considered to be clinically vulnerable to COVID-19. As such, special school staff are not considered to be at increased risk of transmitting that infection to individuals who are clinically vulnerable to COVID-19.

Local authority Directors of Adult Social Services should have ultimate responsibility for identifying social care workers eligible for vaccine prioritisation and some local authorities may have identified specific staff who work closely and regularly with children who are clinically extremely vulnerable and are therefore eligible in phase one of the COVID-19 vaccination programme’s.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that both adults' and under 18s' eating disorders services have adequate resources to respond to the level of urgent referrals that those services are receiving.

For children and young people, we are enhancing capacity in community eating disorder services to ensure appropriate support including crisis care and intensive home treatment. The community team can provide support during an admission to a paediatric ward for medical stabilisation or inpatient mental health bed if required.

For adults, we are increasing our investment in community mental health care year-on-year, up to almost £1 billion extra by 2023/24. Twelve areas in England have transformation funding since 2019/20 to test new integrated models of primary and community mental health care. Eight of these sites have also received specific additional funding to transform the eating disorders pathway, including early intervention for young adults with eating disorders.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 23 July 2020 to Question 70532, on Coronavirus: Research, and evidence that long covid affects patients that were not hospitalised and in some cases had milder symptoms, if he will make it his policy to fund new schemes to focus on patients with long covid and resultant cardiac, endocrine and neurological issues.

On 18 February, this Government announced that through the National Institute for Health Research and UK Research Innovation, we have awarded £18.5 million in funding for four research projects to help understand and address the longer-term health effects of COVID-19 in non-hospitalised patients.

These studies will work with people living with ongoing symptoms and issues for more than four weeks post-COVID-19 infection to improve understanding and treatment of ‘long’ COVID-19. We are at an early stage in developing world-class understanding, treatment and care for those people experiencing ‘long’ COVID-19 and research funders will continue to consider proposals.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the public health justification is for the restriction on pubs selling alcohol to takeaway during the covid-19 lockdown.

Allowing people to take alcohol purchases away from hospitality venues increases the risk that people will consume the alcohol nearby or congregate in public spaces. This potentially results in a higher risk of transmission, as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies’ advice has highlighted that alcohol consumption may increase risk of non-compliance with social distancing. Pubs and business are still able to sell alcohol as part of a delivery service if allowed under their licence conditions. The Government keeps all rules, including the hospitality restrictions under continual review and will make changes as and when the data and science supports it.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason Lighthouse Laboratories are not required to report covid-19 testing cases and data directly to Public Health England.

Individual laboratories do not report to Public Health England as they operate without any personally identifiable information and could not complete the reporting process as they do not have the data required.

Laboratories connect to the National Pathology Exchange (NPEx) as a mechanism to return test outcomes to the Test and Trace programme. NPEx interfaces with the digital platform, NHS Business Service Authority and other systems or platforms as necessary to complete the notification of patients and all statutory reporting processes.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing free state-funded covid-19 testing sites in all major UK airports.

Everyone who arrives into England from outside the Common Travel Area must receive a negative COVID-19 test result within three days of departure. They must also book two further tests on day two and day eight that must be taken during their mandatory 10-day quarantine period following their arrival. People should pay for these tests to ensure the protection of themselves and the public. For those facing significant financial hardship as a result of this charge, there will be an opportunity to apply for a deferred repayment plan when booking.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that people traveling in Europe who require it will continue to be able to access kidney dialysis treatment free of charge, following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Health Insurance Card system.

Following agreeing the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with the European Union, United Kingdom residents travelling to the EU will continue to be covered for necessary healthcare, and this includes kidney dialysis. The new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) covers necessary healthcare for UK residents visiting the UK. UK residents can apply online for the GHIC. Current European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will remain valid until the expiration date.

Holders of current EHICs and the new GHIC are entitled to the same access to emergency and necessary healthcare cover when they travel to the EU, including cover for a pre-existing or chronic condition. In some countries, individuals may have to pay a percentage towards the cost of any state-provided treatment, known as a patient co-payment.

As before, UK residents will need to pre-arrange kidney dialysis with the relevant healthcare provider in the country they are visiting.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to identify and deliver the covid-19 vaccine to people who have been sleeping rough.

Local vaccination services will play a vital role in reaching vulnerable groups such as those who are sleeping rough. These services mobilise general practice, working together in groups of Primary Care Networks plus large and small community pharmacy sites. These services provide the largest number of locations and are well placed to support the highest risk individuals, many of whom already have a trusted relationship with their local health services. They also coordinate and deliver vaccination to people who are unable to attend a vaccination site and to reach vulnerable groups such as those who are experiencing homelessness.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether staff working with people who have been sleeping rough are in the top four priority groups to receive the covid-19 vaccine and included in the category of frontline health and social care workers.

All frontline social care workers directly working with people clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 who need care and support irrespective of where they work have been a priority in phase one of the vaccination programme. Local authorities are encouraged to recognise that workers in homelessness settings who work with people vulnerable to COVID-19 are social care workers and are covered by this advice.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to extend the mobile vaccination model being used to support the vaccination of care home residents and workers in the UK covid-19 vaccines delivery plan to (a) people who have experienced rough sleeping and (b) frontline staff in homelessness services.

The Department recognises that some groups may need tailored plans in place to ensure they can access vaccinations in line with the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations’ advice on prioritisation. For that reason, NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with voluntary, community and social enterprise partners, inclusion health providers and others to develop an accessible model of delivery for people including the homeless.

Currently, NHS England and NHS Improvement are asking partners to support their clients and service users to register with a general practice where they are not already. NHS England and NHS Improvement continue to consider a number of options based on the most appropriate local and logistical requirements and will co-design these with partners.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the priority for children's and adults' social workers is for receipt of the covid-19 vaccine; whether those social workers will be deemed to be under the category of social care workers in respect of the priority accorded to them for that vaccine; and what the timetable is for the receipt of that vaccine by (a) mental health professionals and (b) other such workers with higher-risks of covid-19 infection undertaking house calls to households with covid-19 positive cases.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), advised that the priority for the current COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems.

All frontline social care workers directly working with people clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 who need care and support irrespective of where they work will be a priority for phase one of the vaccine programme.

The Government will set out plans for phase two of vaccination, based on further advice from the JCVI. Phase two of the roll-out may include further reduction in hospitalisation and targeted vaccination of those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of (a) wood burning stoves and (b) bonfires on public health.

In the United Kingdom burning wood and coal in open fires and stoves accounts for 38% of fine particulate matter emissions. Exposure to particulate matter is associated with respiratory conditions, cardiovascular disease, and lung cancer. There is emerging evidence for associations with dementia, low birth weight and type 2 diabetes. Further information is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-air-pollution/health-matters-air-pollution

Public Health England is reviewing the evidence on the association between indoor and outdoor exposure to solid fuel burning within the home and respiratory outcomes in adults. There is currently little evidence linking exposure to indoor or outdoor coal or wood burning with respiratory diseases in children. This does not mean there are not health effects, but that there is currently no strong scientific evidence showing this.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether home carers are planned to receive a covid-19 vaccination at the same time as those they care for who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Unpaid carers are included in the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s priority group six which comprises of all individuals aged 16 to 64 years old with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality. This also includes those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer fall ill.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the evidential basis for his decision not to advise people who are classified as clinically vulnerable during the covid-19 outbreak not to attend work or school.

People who are identified as clinically vulnerable are considered to be at moderate risk from COVID-19 and should follow the same advice as the rest of the population within their tier. This means following the rules on washing hands regularly, wearing a face covering and keeping at least two metres apart and working from home if possible. If unable to work from home, they can go into work, as their employer is required to make the workplace COVID-19 secure.

The guidance from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is clear that the risk from COVID-19 to children, including those who are clinically vulnerable, is very low.

Additional guidance has been issued for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and at a high risk from COVID-19.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the letter dated 22 October 2020 from the hon Member for Sheffield, Hallam on the Justice for Simba campaign, if he will meet with the hon Member for Sheffield, Hallam and members of that campaign to discuss (a) Simba's situation and (b) the effect of hostile environment policies on the NHS.

The Department does not have a record of the hon. Member’s letter of 22 October 2020.

The Department is in the process of completing an internal policy assessment to consider the Charging Regulations in relation to the most vulnerable in society, including migrants and asylum seekers.

While we cannot comment on specific cases, the Department will provide those stakeholders invited to contribute evidence for consideration in this assessment, with an update on the latest position and next steps in due course. Stakeholders include Migrants Organise, the organisation leading the Justice for Simba campaign.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, by what date the initial pilot to give families key worker status in care homes will be evaluated; and what his Department's timetable is for rolling out that pilot to care homes throughout England.

We want to bring an end to the pain of separation and help care homes bring families and loved ones together.

Following a successful trial in 20 care homes, we have started the phased rollout of new rapid tests to support visiting. The first 385 care homes are now able to begin testing visitors and we aim to roll this out to care homes across England by Christmas.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of indoor vaping on the transmission of covid-19.

No specific assessment has been made. Being in close proximity to anyone with COVID-19 infection would carry a risk of passing on that infection regardless of whether they are smoking or vaping. Public Health England has published COVID-19 advice for smokers and vapers which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-advice-for-smokers-and-vapers/covid-19-advice-for-smokers-and-vapers

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the £10.2 million announced in June 2020 for mental health charities to support adults and children affected by the covid-19 outbreak, how and to whom that funding was allocated; and what steps he is taking to monitor the effectiveness of the spending of that funding.

We have provided £10.2 million of grant funding to mental health charities to date, consisting of:

- £5 million allocated to the Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund, which has been distributed to the 134 organisations listed at the following link:

www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/campaigns/coronavirus-mental-health-response-fund/coronavirus-mental-health-response-fund-england#collapse8ae81;

- £4.2 million allocated to 10 charities from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s £750 million Coronavirus Voluntary and Community Sector Fund. Of this, the Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund has been allocated an additional £230,000; and

- £1 million, inspired by ITV’s Help Our Helplines campaign, that is still to be distributed through the Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund over the coming weeks.

Funding from the Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund has been distributed to mental health charities by a grant competition led by Mind and the Mental Health Consortia. These grants are monitored by a governance group, which includes Departmental officials.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of Centre for Mental Health's analysis entitled, Covid-19 and the nation's mental health: October 2020, published on 1 October 2020; and what steps he is taking to provide support for those with poor mental health as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The National Health Service has supported people with their mental health throughout the pandemic and continues to do so. On 23 November, we published our Wellbeing and Mental Health Support plan for COVID-19, which sets out the support available for people in the context of a second wave and the winter months. In addition, we have announced that the NHS will receive around an additional £500 million next year to address waiting times for mental health services, give more people the mental health support they need, and invest in the NHS workforce.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the recent trial of training dogs to detect covid-19 was successful.

Officials are working with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on the COVID-19 dogs trial. The trial is approaching the end of Phase 1 which seeks to evaluate the dogs’ ability to detect COVID-19 in humans. The results from Phase 1 will require further validation and officials are working with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to understand where and how Phase 2 trials could be undertaken if evidence proves satisfactory.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the £1.5 billion announced on 30 June 2020 for hospital maintenance was designated for support for mental health facilities.

The £1.5 billion announced in June 2020 included a Critical Infrastructure Fund for hospital maintenance and funding to eradicate mental health dormitories. Of this, £33.5 million has been allocated this year to mental health trusts for maintenance and £250 million has been allocated to remove dormitories, coming to 19% of the announcement.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will reassess the groups of people on the covid-19 vaccine priority list to give higher priority to people who are shielding but for whom the vaccine would not put them at a higher additional risk as determined by a consultant.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who provide advice to the Government on which vaccine(s) the United Kingdom should use and which groups to prioritise.

The Committee, in their interim advice - have advised that the vaccine first be given to care home residents and staff, followed by people over 80 years old and health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors in the initial phase. The prioritisation could change substantially if the first available vaccines were not considered suitable for, or effective in, older adults.

The JCVI and the JCVI sub-committee are currently reviewing evidence on clinical risk factors associated with serious disease and mortality from COVID-19. Following a review of the evidence, the Committee will develop advice on risk groups for any future COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to Answer named day Questions 92946, 99788, 99789, 99790, 99791, 103663 and 103664 asked by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam.

We take parliamentary scrutiny incredibly seriously and it is fundamentally important that hon. Members are provided with accurate and timely information to enable them to hold the Government to account. We are working rapidly to provide all Members with accurate answers to their questions, as well as supporting the Government’s response to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I refer the hon. Member to the answers to Questions 99788, 99789, 99790, 99791.

The hon. Member’s remaining questions will be answered as soon as possible.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the rate of covid-19 transmission amongst (a) employees and (b) customers of fast-food restaurant outlets.

There is potential for higher than average risk due to venues for socialisation such as restaurants having higher than average proximity and occupant density, prolonged duration of exposure and challenges in maintaining adequate ventilation.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of covid-19 transmission rates by sectors of employment.

Estimates of the numbers of COVID-19 cases linked directly to different sectors of employment is not yet available. The Joint Biosecurity Centre, working with the Health and Safety Executive and Public Health England, is currently assessing outbreaks of COVID-19 across employment sectors on an ongoing basis. This will be made publicly available on completion of that assessment.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will increase the level of support available for hospices to respond to the covid-19 outbreak.

Hospices have played an important part in the Covid-19 response, supplementing NHS capacity as well as ensuring their valuable work caring for those towards the end of their lives continues.

The Department regularly assesses the effect of the Covid-19 outbreak on the hospice sector, and through NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I) is in discussions with stakeholders in the sector about the challenges they face. A range of steps have been taken to support hospices.

On 8 April 2020, the Chancellor announced funding of up to £200 million for hospices over three months as part of the wider £750 million funding package for the voluntary and charitable sector.

Alongside this, hospices benefited from the financial support offered by the Treasury to all charities, such as paying no business rates for their shops next year and applying for a Business Interruption Loan. Charities, alongside other sectors, can also access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and charity shops (which are already eligible for 80% charitable rate relief) will benefit from the new enhanced retail rate relief at 100%.

We continue to keep the impact of Covid-19 on hospices under review.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to his speech to the Royal College of Physicians of 30 July 2020, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of remote appointments on medical staff with hearing loss and deafness.

All organisations that provide National Health Service care and/or publicly-funded adult social care are legally required to follow the Accessible Information Standard. The Standard sets out a specific, consistent approach to identifying, recording, flagging, sharing and meeting the information and communication support needs of patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability, impairment or sensory loss. The latest guidance is set out at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/accessibleinfo/

In their letter of 31 July, NHS England and NHS Improvement provided guidance that included a clear expectation that digital services would be developed in an inclusive manner. This inclusive approach needs to take account of the needs of those for whom digital services may not be accessible or present accessibility issues, including for deaf and other disabled people. The letter is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/07/Phase-3-letter-July-31-2020.pdf

Work is being developed with NHSX to specifically assess the needs of digitally excluded groups and how digital services can be adjusted to provide the widest possible access, while acknowledging that a mixed approach is necessary and non-digital channels must also remain available.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will take steps to ensure that people are still offered in-person appointments for (a) NHS services and (b) social care services where it is considered a reasonable adjustment.

All organisations that provide National Health Service care and/or publicly-funded adult social care are legally required to follow the Accessible Information Standard. The Standard sets out a specific, consistent approach to identifying, recording, flagging, sharing and meeting the information and communication support needs of patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability, impairment or sensory loss. The latest guidance is set out at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/accessibleinfo/

In their letter of 31 July, NHS England and NHS Improvement provided guidance that included a clear expectation that digital services would be developed in an inclusive manner. This inclusive approach needs to take account of the needs of those for whom digital services may not be accessible or present accessibility issues, including for deaf and other disabled people. The letter is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/07/Phase-3-letter-July-31-2020.pdf

Work is being developed with NHSX to specifically assess the needs of digitally excluded groups and how digital services can be adjusted to provide the widest possible access, while acknowledging that a mixed approach is necessary and non-digital channels must also remain available.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to his speech to the Royal College of Physicians of 30 July 2020, whether his Department plans to issue guidance to (a) NHS Providers and (b) social care providers on remote appointments and their obligations to meet the communication needs and preferences of people with hearing loss and deafness under the Accessible Information Standard.

All organisations that provide National Health Service care and/or publicly-funded adult social care are legally required to follow the Accessible Information Standard. The Standard sets out a specific, consistent approach to identifying, recording, flagging, sharing and meeting the information and communication support needs of patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability, impairment or sensory loss. The latest guidance is set out at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/accessibleinfo/

In their letter of 31 July, NHS England and NHS Improvement provided guidance that included a clear expectation that digital services would be developed in an inclusive manner. This inclusive approach needs to take account of the needs of those for whom digital services may not be accessible or present accessibility issues, including for deaf and other disabled people. The letter is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/07/Phase-3-letter-July-31-2020.pdf

Work is being developed with NHSX to specifically assess the needs of digitally excluded groups and how digital services can be adjusted to provide the widest possible access, while acknowledging that a mixed approach is necessary and non-digital channels must also remain available.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to his speech to the Royal College of Physicians of 30 July 2020, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of remote medical appointments on people with hearing loss and deafness.

All organisations that provide National Health Service care and/or publicly-funded adult social care are legally required to follow the Accessible Information Standard. The Standard sets out a specific, consistent approach to identifying, recording, flagging, sharing and meeting the information and communication support needs of patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability, impairment or sensory loss. The latest guidance is set out at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/accessibleinfo/

In their letter of 31 July, NHS England and NHS Improvement provided guidance that included a clear expectation that digital services would be developed in an inclusive manner. This inclusive approach needs to take account of the needs of those for whom digital services may not be accessible or present accessibility issues, including for deaf and other disabled people. The letter is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/07/Phase-3-letter-July-31-2020.pdf

Work is being developed with NHSX to specifically assess the needs of digitally excluded groups and how digital services can be adjusted to provide the widest possible access, while acknowledging that a mixed approach is necessary and non-digital channels must also remain available.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many volunteer scientists have been volunteering in covid-19 testing laboratories in each month since June 2020.

Three laboratories – Cambridge, Alderley Park, and the National Biosample Centre at Milton Keynes – have used volunteers since June. The total number of volunteers in June was 196, falling to 65 by July, 40 by August, 17 in September and minimal numbers since.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to covid-19 social distancing measures, whether annual school flu vaccination programmes are planned to proceed in 2020.

The flu vaccination programme delivered to school aged children will continue this season. Advice on this is included in the Annual Flu Letter Update 2020/21 published on 5 August, and available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/907149/Letter_annualflu_2020_to_2021_update.pdf

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to allocate funding to deliver localised contact tracing for covid-19 to local authorities using central systems.

Councils were allocated £300 million in new dedicated funding to support their dedicated Local Outbreak Plans, and will shortly publish further guidance on containing local outbreaks. Each upper tier local authority published the outbreak control management plans by end June 2020, focusing on prevention, identification and management of outbreaks, and working to break the chain of transmission.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason his Department does not collect data on how many migrants have received bills for healthcare treatment in error during the covid-19 exemption period for charges.

Administration and the charging of patients is the responsibility of individual National Health Service trusts. The Department does not routinely seek additional data which was not routinely collected before COVID-19, to enable NHS trusts to focus on the delivery of their services to patients.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many migrants have received bills for healthcare treatment in error during the exemption period for charges due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department does not hold data on the number of migrants who have received bills for healthcare treatment in error.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the findings reported in the July 2020 article entitled, The emerging spectrum of COVID-19 neurology: clinical, radiological and laboratory findings by Ross W Patterson et al, published in the neurological journal Brain, if he will instruct a review of the post-covid 19 infection care guidance that is provided for neurological symptoms to ensure that appropriate (a) referrals are made and (b) treatments are available.

The Government, its departments and arm’s length bodies have published a number of comprehensive guidance documents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance includes information on the general healthcare needs of COVID-19 patients, as well as more specific guidance for areas such as respiratory, urology and neuromuscular problems. The documents are regularly reviewed, and information published by professional bodies and in professional journals is often taken into account when organisations develop their guidance.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what resources he has made available to primary care settings to help patients with long-term covid-19 related symptoms.

Primary care has stepped up to the challenge of managing COVID-19 and local areas have made significant innovations in how they offer care. This is an opportunity to ensure that these innovations can be adapted into a sustainable model for the future, including for those with long-term COVID-19 related symptoms.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are seeking to expand and strengthen community health and care services as part of the next phase of the response to COVID-19. The Seacole Centre in Surrey has recently opened to provide rehabilitative care to those recovering from the virus. On 5 July, NHS England and NHS Improvement also announced a new ‘Your COVID Recovery’ service as part of wider NHS plans to expand access to COVID-19 rehabilitation treatments for those who have survived the virus but still have problems with breathing, mental health problems or other complications.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding he is making available to research projects on the long term health effects of covid-19.

The Department invests £ 1billion per year in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The NIHR continues to play a critical role in prioritising, funding and delivering research into COVID-19. The NIHR Recovery and Learning Call is currently open to researchers to submit proposals on the long-term health effects of COVID-19.

The NIHR Recovery and Learning Call will fund research to better understand and manage the health and social care consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This follows on from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-NIHR Rapid Response Call and the UKRI-NIHR Rapid Rolling Call for research that aims to make a significant contribution to the understanding, prevention and/or management of COVID-19.

The NIHR and UKRI have invested £8.4 million in the Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 study (PHOSP-COVID), led by Christopher Brightling at the University of Leicester. This study is one of the world’s largest comprehensive research studies into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the NICE guidance on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis will be updated to remove graded exercise in response to the increasing numbers of patients with fatigue symptoms after a diagnosis of covid-19.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis is currently being updated. All current recommendations will be subject to review. NICE plans to consult on the updated guidance in autumn this year.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, prior to student nurses taking paid placements in the NHS as part of the recruitment measures to address the covid-19 outbreak what information was provided on the terms and conditions of those placements; and what end date was included in that information.

We are extremely grateful to all student nurses who have supported the COVID-19 response, by opting into a paid placement for their time in practice at the frontline during the pandemic.

NHS England has been funding the support to trusts where the contracts are held and Health Education England (HEE) has been brokering appropriate placements between the university and trust.

HEE published ‘Student Support Guidance during the COVID-19 Outbreak’ for nursing and midwifery students in March 2020. It advised students undertaking a placement that they would agree the exact nature of their role with the organisation in which they would be working and have a contract that incorporated the terms of the NHS Terms and Conditions of Service Handbook, plus any local agreements in place in the organisation to which they were deployed. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.hee.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Student%20support%20guide%20master%20.pdf

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions has he had with (a) his Ministers, (b) trade unions and (c) NHS managers on the termination of student nurses’ paid placements in the NHS on 31 July 2020.

The Government is extremely grateful to all student nurses who have supported the COVID-19 response, by opting into a paid placement for their time in practice at the frontline during the pandemic.

Health Education England (HEE) has worked alongside the Council of Deans of Health, NHS Employers and NHS trade unions to agree a collective approach and provide further clarity for students undertaking paid placements.

Any student, who is in the last six months of their programme and on a paid placement, will be fully paid until the end of their contract, unless otherwise agreed. By the end of July most final year students can qualify as registered nurses and start full time work, increasing their pay. For students in year two or the first part of their final year, employers and universities will work with them to aim to bring paid placements to a close by the 31 August. This will be part of a voluntary learning agreement between student, placement provider and university. HEE has published an agreed Frequently Asked Questions document.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many student nurses in (a) Yorkshire and Humber and (b) the UK were given paid placements in the NHS as part of recruitment measures to address the covid-19 crisis; and what proportion of those placements will end on or before 31 July 2020.

As at 29 May 2020, 26,355 nursing and midwifery students had opted into paid placement as part of the COVID-19 call to arms.

Student placement numbers are not available by region.

Year 3 students will be paid until at least 31 July 2020. Any Year 3 student who still has hours to complete will be paid until September to allow them to do this.

Any year 2 students on placement until 31 July will be paid and after this, normal non-paid placements will be re-introduced along with Year 1 students.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the timeframe is for the reopening of tongue-tie clinics.

The Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer of NHS England wrote on 29 April 2020 to confirm arrangements for phasing back health services where local capacity is available. The letter is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/second-phase-of-nhs-response-to-covid-19-letter-from-simon-stevens-and-amanda-pritchard/

For babies with tongue-tie, advice for parents also remains available from a midwife or health visitor.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what post-natal care procedures he has put in place for people who gave birth during the covid-19 lockdown; and what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the provision of post-natal care.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, maternity services have been facing significant staff shortages with many staff either ill, shielded or self-isolating.

The National Health Service is making arrangements to ensure that women are supported and cared for safely through pregnancy, birth and the period afterwards during this pandemic when there will be extra pressures on healthcare services.

Community health services should continue to provide support during the current pandemic, supported by greater use of digital and remote technologies, and priority given to families in greatest need or who are vulnerable. Antenatal contact and new baby visits should continue.

NHS mental health services have remained open for business throughout this time, including delivering support digitally and over the phone where possible.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what additional (a) counselling and (b) support his Department provided to people who gave birth during the covid-19 lockdown.

Guidance from the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists sets out that postnatal care should be regarded as essential care and women should be encouraged to attend appointments despite the pandemic.

National Health Service mental health services - including specialist perinatal mental health services – remain very much open for business and mental health providers are looking at how they can maximise the use of digital and virtual channels to keep delivering support to existing and new service users. For those with severe needs or in crisis, NHS England has instructed all NHS mental health trusts to establish 24 hours a day, seven days a week mental health crisis lines, clearly accessible from trust websites.

Further, we have made £5 million available to mental health charities in recognition of the vital role they play alongside the NHS in supporting people affected in numerous ways as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will undertake a review of the role of PPE shortages in the deaths of the 760 care workers who died in the period 21 March to 8 May 2020.

The Department remains committed to ensuring that those on the frontline responding to COVID-19 are provided with the critical personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to do their job safely. On 15 April, the Adult Social Care Action Plan set out how the Government will support the adult social care sector specifically. This included guidance on the use and distribution of PPE in social care settings.

The hon. member has quoted a figure from the recent ‘COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes’ report by Public Health England (PHE) published on 2 June 2020. The 760 figure which the hon. member has referred to is the total number of deaths from all causes, not excess deaths, and not COVID-19 deaths. The figure also refers to all those grouped under ‘caring personal services’, which includes care workers, but also includes other occupations such as ambulance staff, dental nurses, and undertakers. By filtering the data to ‘social care workers’ (as defined by the Office for National Statistics in their publication on COVID-19 related deaths by occupation), the PHE analysis of mortality data shows that at least 214 deaths involving COVID-19 among social care workers were registered from 21 March to 8 May 2020 (in England, of those aged 20-64 years).

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the report published by Public Health England on 2 June 2020 entitled Disparities in the risk and outcomes of covid-19, for what reasons there were no excess deaths in hospices compared with in care homes between 20 March 2020 to 7 May 2020.

There were 20,457 excess deaths in care homes between 20 March 2020 and 7 May 2020.

This is stated within the report on page 59 in the text:

“Overall the model suggests that there have been 20,457 excess deaths in care homes between 20 March and 7 May 2020 and 16,016 in hospitals. The care home finding is consistent with the finding reported in section 1, that 75% of excess deaths are in people aged 75 and over. It is not possible to say whether these excess deaths in care homes have been concentrated in a few with outbreaks or distributed among many. There have been no excess deaths in hospices.”

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policy on covid-19 restrictions for care homes of the findings in the Statistical data set COVID-19: number of outbreaks in care homes – management information published on gov.uk on 28 May 2020 that 38 percent of care homes had cases of covid-19 between 20 March and 7 May 2020.

In the face of an unprecedented global pandemic, since the start of this pandemic we have been working closely with the sector and public health experts to put in place guidance and support for adult social care.

We keep our policies under continuous review based on the emerging international and domestic evidence.

In February, the first guidance for the sector was published; in March, we announced £1.6 billion funding for local government and £1.3 billion to go to the National Health Service and social care for discharge support; in April we announced a further £1.6 billion for local government and our detailed Adult Social Care Action Plan.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what tests the test-and-trace system has undergone to ensure it is up to the standard necessary for a public launch; what level of training has been provided to contact tracers; and what oversight there is of the training of contact tracers.

The Government launched its new NHS Test and Trace service on 28 May 2020. This includes enhanced contact tracing which brings together testing, contact tracing and outbreak management into an end-to-end service.

The platform used for contract tracing was subject to assurance through the NHS Test and Trace programme’s Design Authority and Technical Authority. This included review by the National Cyber Security Centre and independent IT health check assurance. We have an established system of online contact tracing – and local public experts who use contact tracing as part of local management of outbreaks – which we have supplemented with 25,000 dedicated contact tracing staff.

Contact tracers have received one day of initial training and then had further training in the week leading up to the launch on 28 May. Training materials have been provided by Public Health England (PHE) and are regularly updated based on discussions between the employers and PHE.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what standardised (a) advice, (b) guidance and (c) support is made available to the family and friends of covid-19 inpatients.

The National Health Service takes all necessary precautions to protect patients and staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Current NHS guidance on ‘Visitor Guidance’ (within inpatient, diagnostic and outpatient areas) is that visiting is suspended with immediate effect and until further notice. NHS organisations will, however, consider visitors on compassionate grounds for seriously ill patients or those receiving end-of-life care only in agreement with each individual ward.

The visitor guidance can be found at the following link: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/visitor-guidance/

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what risk assessment his Department made of the 30 March 2020 amendment to the Abortion Act 1967; and what resources his Department has allocated to mitigate the risks that were identified.

On 30 March, Ministerial powers under the Abortion Act 1967 were used to temporarily approve women’s homes as a class of place where both abortion pills can be taken for early medical abortion up to 10 weeks’ gestation (subject to eligibility following a telephone or e-consultation with a clinician). Doctors’ homes have also been approved as a place from which abortion medication can be prescribed.

In reaching this decision, account was taken of wider advice regarding the need for some groups to isolate, and information from service providers that a number of services were closed due to staff shortages and significant numbers of appointments were being cancelled. Access to abortion is an urgent matter: the procedure’s risk increases at later gestations and there are legal gestational limits for accessing services. Clinical evidence from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence demonstrates that it is safe for both abortion pills to be taken at home for early medical abortion. Departmental officials are engaging regularly with abortion service providers and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to monitor the necessity for these measures and provision of services in accordance with these temporary measures. The temporary approvals will end once the risk from the COVID-19 pandemic recedes.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department are taking to introduce covid-19 testing at airports for passengers on incoming flights.

As the level of infection in the United Kingdom reduces, it will be important to manage the risk of transmissions being reintroduced from abroad. As set out in the COVID-19 recovery strategy, the Government will introduce a series of measures and restrictions at the UK border, including requiring international arrivals to provide contact information and self-isolate. More information is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-uk-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-uk-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy#our-roadmap-to-lift-restrictions-step-by-step

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that people with personal care budgets who are making direct payments are (a) receiving personal protective equipment (PPE) for the care workers they employ, (b) able to commission care workers who have been trained to use PPE and sanitation methods appropriate to the covid-19 outbreak and (c) being provided with support to replace care workers on their care team who are off sick or shielding.

The Department has published detailed guidance for those who hold a personal budget or personal health budget and take this as a direct payment, as well as clinical commissioning groups (CGGs), local authorities and those provide care and support. This is to ensure holders of direct payments are supported to continue receiving the care they need to keep safe and well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Care workers and personal assistants have been specifically listed as eligible for the personal protective equipment (PPE) stock which has been distributed to Local Resilience Forums and through the emergency National Supply Disruption Response line. To help operationalise these, local authorities have been encouraged to contact all individuals using direct payments to offer advice and to ensure they know who to contact if they are unable to access recommended PPE.

Working with care sector representative bodies, Public Health England (PHE) published tailored guidance for care homes on 17 April, as well as a specialised training video demonstrating the donning and doffing of PPE in care home settings. Additional guidance on the use of PPE in domiciliary care was published on 27 April. We will keep under review what other forms of training and support may be required locally to ensure safety and respond to the needs of staff working in the sector.

The support available to direct payment holders to replace care workers who are off sick or shielding is detailed in the published guidance at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-people-receiving-direct-payments


Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to provide adequate supplies of FFP3 face masks to health and dentistry workers.

We are working around the clock to give the National Health Service and social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak.

We recognise the huge demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) stocks, which is why the Government is working to expand supply from overseas and improve domestic manufacturing capability. We published a PPE Plan on 10 April, setting out clear guidance on who needs PPE and in what circumstances they need to use it; and how sufficient supplies will be secured and distributed to the front line. The plan can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe-plan

The Government is working closely with industry, the NHS, social care providers and the army to ensure that PPE is delivered to those who need it.

From Monday 8 June all NHS practices were able to start, at their own pace, seeing patients again once they have appropriate social distancing and other safety measures in place. PPE for dentists is being made available through their business as usual wholesalers. We have also set up new distribution routes for dentistry to ensure continuity of supply for all urgent dental care centres and have placed them on the list of priority areas to receive supplies from Local Resilience Forums. PPE for dental practices will include equipment necessary for aerosol generating procedures.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people in South Yorkshire were awaiting elective surgery before the covid-19 lockdown.

The following table shows the number of open elective pathways for each trust in South Yorkshire in February 2020. It should be noted that patients may be on more than one pathway concurrently and therefore the number of pathways shown may not equate directly to the number of patients awaiting treatment.

Name of National Health Service Trust

Number of pathways waiting (February 2020)

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

12,620

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

29,360

Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust

9,332

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

47,500

The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust

15,384

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure covid-19 tests are not double counted when returned.

Each test kit is assigned a unique code which is registered to the test subject, thereby linking the test sample to the individual. This ensures that any test that is damaged or needs to be voided can be removed from the daily reporting figures.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many elective operations have been delayed as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and what the average length is of those delays.

The collection of information on cancelled operations has been suspended to free up capacity within the health system during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of ICU bed availability on the delivery of complex cancer surgery during the covid-19 outbreak.

Critical care / intensive care bed capacity has been increased to ensure the National Health Service can provide effective and appropriate care to all critically ill patients (both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) who need it, including cancer patients. NHS England have issued guidance to trusts and Cancer Alliances advising essential and urgent cancer treatments must continue in a COVID-19 free environment.

Availability of critical care beds in response to COVID-19 is being managed on a national and regional level. Nightingale hospitals are designed specifically to treat patients with COVID-19.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that elective surgical procedures are able to recommence safely and efficiently after the peak of the covid-19 outbreak.

With evidence now suggesting that we have reached the peak of this wave of COVID-19, and with the National Health Service well-placed to provide world-leading care for those who do still have the virus, we have started to reset services, including non-urgent elective care. These services had previously been suspended as part of ensuring sufficient capacity was in place to manage the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The approach to this will be flexed at local level according to capacity and demand in different parts of the country, and will be gradual, over the coming weeks. We will work on the principle that the most urgent treatments, including mental health support, should be brought back first and this will be driven by local demands on the system.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department plans to take to tackle the backlog of elective surgical procedures during the covid-19 outbreak.

With evidence now suggesting that we have reached the peak of this wave of COVID-19, and with the National Health Service well-placed to provide world-leading care for those who do still have the virus, we have started to reset services, including non-urgent elective care. These services had previously been suspended as part of ensuring sufficient capacity was in place to manage the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The approach to this will be flexed at local level according to capacity and demand in different parts of the country, and will be gradual, over the coming weeks. We will work on the principle that the most urgent treatments, including mental health support, should be brought back first and this will be driven by local demands on the system.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) people who are financially responsible for the care of a friend or relative continue to be able to pay in the event of a reduction in their income as a result of the covid-19 outbreak and (b) people in receipt of care do not experience a disruption to the service as a result of a temporary inability to meet the cost of care.

Under the Care Act 2014, charging for care is based on a number of principles including that people should not be charged more than it is reasonably practicable for them to pay.

Local authorities provide means-tested financial help to pay for care and support where a person cannot afford the cost themselves. The financial assessment takes into account what a person can afford from both their income and their assets, for example savings or property. Individuals can ask their local authority for a reassessment following a change in their circumstances.

If top-up payments are being provided by a third party, if the arrangements for a ‘top-up’ were to fail for any reason, the local authority would need to meet the cost or make alternative arrangements, subject to a needs assessment.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what additional resources he is providing to local government for care services during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have set out a comprehensive action plan to support the adult social care sector in England throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, including ramping up testing, overhauling the way personal protective equipment is being delivered to care homes and helping to minimise the spread of the virus to keep people safe.


On 19 March we announced £1.6 billion to help local authorities deal with the immediate impacts of COVID-19, which many councils will have directed towards the adult social care services required to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 18 April we announced an additional £1.6 billion of funding to support councils delivering essential front line services.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what additional support he is providing during the covid-19 outbreak to people who care for a friend or family member.

We recognise the crucial role unpaid carers play, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We have published guidance for unpaid carers, which provides carers with general advice, including advice on infection control, links to other information and support and advice on caring where someone has symptoms. It is available on gov.uk. New guidance for young carers will also be available shortly.

In addition, unpaid carers can continue to claim Carer’s Allowance if they need to self-isolate. During the outbreak emotional support can also count towards the 35 hours a week Carer’s Allowance care threshold.

We have also provided funding to extend Carers UK’s information and advice service during the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to work closely with carers organisations to identify further solutions to support carers.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to ensure that personal protective equipment provided to NHS workers tackling the covid-19 outbreak is compliant with the standards as specified by the World Health Organization.

The United Kingdom Government and devolved administrations published clear guidance on COVID-19 personal protective equipment for health and social care workers. This has been written and reviewed by all four UK public health bodies and informed by National Health Service infection prevention control experts. The guidance can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control/covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

The guidance is consistent with World Health Organization (WHO) guidance for protecting health and social care workers from COVID-19.

More information can be found at this following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-personal-protective-equipment-ppe-guidance-for-nhs-teams

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to test self-isolating healthcare workers for covid-19.

We are purchasing new types of tests including antigen tests to identify those who currently have the virus, and antibody tests to identify those who have had the virus and are now immune. We are working hard to bring additional tests to those that need them as soon as possible. This will ensure that health care and other critical workers can be tested very early on if they are ill – returning to work if possible.

We will prioritise testing to those who have the greatest clinical need. Health workers will be prioritised.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to prioritise covid-19 testing for NHS staff.

We are purchasing new types of tests including antigen tests to identify those who currently have the virus, and antibody tests to identify those who have had the virus and are now immune. We are working hard to bring additional tests to those that need them as soon as possible. This will ensure that health care and other critical workers can be tested very early on if they are ill – returning to work if possible.

We will prioritise testing to those who have the greatest clinical need. Health workers will be prioritised.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the average waiting time for school children seeking to access mental health services in Sheffield in each of the last five years.

We have not yet made such an assessment, as a national access and waiting times standard for children and young people’s health services has not yet been defined.

We are piloting a new four-week waiting time for children and young people’s mental health services in 12 areas and to inform the development of a new national access and waiting times standard.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many specialist hospital beds for the treatment of people with the most severe cases of covid-19 are available in Yorkshire.

It is the Government’s priority that the National Health Service has appropriate equipment to respond to COVID-19, this includes the provision of intensive care beds. The Department is working closely with NHS England and the devolved administrations to ensure this. The Government is monitoring the situation closely and are creating plans with the NHS for an increase in the cases of COVID-19.

The NHS remains prepared to respond to high consequence infectious diseases, including a response to the current outbreak of COVID-19. The NHS has tried and tested procedures to response to infectious disease outbreaks many of which are used each year for seasonal flu.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reasons the UK has withdrawn from the EU's Early Warning and Response System; and what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the UK's withdrawal from that system on efforts to coordinate a response to covid-19.

The United Kingdom uses a range of international information-sharing systems to monitor global health threats including the European Union’s Early Warning and Response System (EWRS). The UK has continued access to EWRS during the transition period, and we continue to share key updates with our European counterparts via this system, including on the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The UK remains committed to working with countries and partners from across the world to protect our citizens from new and emerging cross-border threats to health. As set out in the UK’s approach to the EU negotiations, we are open to exploring cooperation between the UK and EU on matters of health security.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will provide schools where staff and pupils have been advised to wash their hands five times a day as a result of covid-19 with the appropriate sanitation products to do so.

The Government has provided information and advice specifically for educational settings. Under the guidance for preventing spread of infection the following information has been provided on hand washing. This information is available at the following link:

www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Sanitation products would be up to individual schools to provide.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect on the number of hours worked by doctors of changes in the annual allowance tax; and if he will make a statement.

The Department recognises that the annual allowance may contribute to decisions from National Health Service consultants to retire early or limit their NHS commitments, although a precise estimate of the change in the number of hours worked is not available.

The tapered annual allowance calculation takes into account non-pensionable earnings and all taxable income, it is therefore not possible to make an assessment of the number of breaches of the tapered annual allowance.

We are, however, listening carefully to concerns raised by senior doctors and NHS employers about the tapered annual allowance.

The Department has consulted on introducing flexibility within the NHS Pension Scheme from 2019/20 to allow clinicians affected by annual allowance tax charges to reduce their pension accrual in deciles in order to manage any potential annual allowance tax charges.

In September 2019 guidance was issued by NHS Employers informing employers of the short-term approaches that they could take to mitigate the effect of pension tax on their workforce this tax year. The NHS has also implemented an immediate measure to preserve clinical capacity amid the increased pressure on services during the winter period. This will compensate NHS clinicians for the effect on their pensions of annual allowance charges incurred in 2019/20.

As part of a wider drive to ensure the NHS has the staff it needs to meet demand and transform care, the Government is carrying out an urgent review of the pensions annual allowance taper problem that has caused some doctors to turn down extra shifts for fear of high tax bills. Ministers at HM Treasury and the Department for Health and Social Care have met the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the British Medical Association as part of this review to set a long-term solution. The review will report at budget.

The review will also consider the findings from the Department’s consultation on pension flexibility and the Department expects to set out its response to the consultation early in 2020.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the changes in the annual allowance tax on the (a) retention rate and (b) hours worked of doctors on the NHS pension scheme; and if he will make a statement.

The Department recognises that the annual allowance may contribute to decisions from National Health Service consultants to retire early or limit their NHS commitments, although a precise estimate of the change in the number of hours worked is not available.

The tapered annual allowance calculation takes into account non-pensionable earnings and all taxable income, it is therefore not possible to make an assessment of the number of breaches of the tapered annual allowance.

We are, however, listening carefully to concerns raised by senior doctors and NHS employers about the tapered annual allowance.

The Department has consulted on introducing flexibility within the NHS Pension Scheme from 2019/20 to allow clinicians affected by annual allowance tax charges to reduce their pension accrual in deciles in order to manage any potential annual allowance tax charges.

In September 2019 guidance was issued by NHS Employers informing employers of the short-term approaches that they could take to mitigate the effect of pension tax on their workforce this tax year. The NHS has also implemented an immediate measure to preserve clinical capacity amid the increased pressure on services during the winter period. This will compensate NHS clinicians for the effect on their pensions of annual allowance charges incurred in 2019/20.

As part of a wider drive to ensure the NHS has the staff it needs to meet demand and transform care, the Government is carrying out an urgent review of the pensions annual allowance taper problem that has caused some doctors to turn down extra shifts for fear of high tax bills. Ministers at HM Treasury and the Department for Health and Social Care have met the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the British Medical Association as part of this review to set a long-term solution. The review will report at budget.

The review will also consider the findings from the Department’s consultation on pension flexibility and the Department expects to set out its response to the consultation early in 2020.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of doctors affected by the changes in the annual allowance tax; and if he will make a statement.

The Department recognises that the annual allowance may contribute to decisions from National Health Service consultants to retire early or limit their NHS commitments, although a precise estimate of the change in the number of hours worked is not available.

The tapered annual allowance calculation takes into account non-pensionable earnings and all taxable income, it is therefore not possible to make an assessment of the number of breaches of the tapered annual allowance.

We are, however, listening carefully to concerns raised by senior doctors and NHS employers about the tapered annual allowance.

The Department has consulted on introducing flexibility within the NHS Pension Scheme from 2019/20 to allow clinicians affected by annual allowance tax charges to reduce their pension accrual in deciles in order to manage any potential annual allowance tax charges.

In September 2019 guidance was issued by NHS Employers informing employers of the short-term approaches that they could take to mitigate the effect of pension tax on their workforce this tax year. The NHS has also implemented an immediate measure to preserve clinical capacity amid the increased pressure on services during the winter period. This will compensate NHS clinicians for the effect on their pensions of annual allowance charges incurred in 2019/20.

As part of a wider drive to ensure the NHS has the staff it needs to meet demand and transform care, the Government is carrying out an urgent review of the pensions annual allowance taper problem that has caused some doctors to turn down extra shifts for fear of high tax bills. Ministers at HM Treasury and the Department for Health and Social Care have met the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the British Medical Association as part of this review to set a long-term solution. The review will report at budget.

The review will also consider the findings from the Department’s consultation on pension flexibility and the Department expects to set out its response to the consultation early in 2020.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether the US-UK agreement on the leasing of the Diego Garcia in the Chagos Islands in the British Indian Ocean Territories includes permission for the US to (a) build and (b) operate the Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance system as part of outer space communications.

There is no lease with respect to Diego Garcia. US presence and operations in the British Indian Ocean Territory are governed by a series of international agreements, beginning with a 1966 Exchange of Notes between the US and UK, which set out that the whole Territory should be made available for UK and US defence purposes.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what proposals the Government has put forward in the UN conference on Disarmament to control the (a) weaponisation and (b) militarisation of outer space.

HMG is committed to maintaining outer space as a peaceful, safe, and stable environment vital for our social, economic and scientific development. Technological developments in areas such as anti-satellite missiles and jamming of navigational systems increase the threats to space systems both from the ground and in space. The UK therefore proposed a new resolution on 'Reducing Space Threats Through Norms, Rules and Principles of Responsible Behaviours' which was adopted in the UN Disarmament and International Security Committee (First Committee) and then by the General Assembly on 7 December 2020, with the support of 164 countries. This resolution calls on all UN member states to study existing and potential threats and security risks to space systems and share their ideas on norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours to reduce the risks of misunderstanding and miscalculation. The UN Secretary General will produce a report for further discussion by Member States.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to the recommendation on page 26 of the Committee on Climate Change's 2020 Progress Report to Parliament, published in June 2020, what plans he has to develop a plan to address the scale of climate risk that the UK faces from climate change overseas.

Climate change is one of the most urgent and pressing challenges we face today. The UK is committed to tackling climate change, which is why we bid to host COP26 in Glasgow in partnership with Italy. COP 26 must persuade a domestic and global audience that the zero carbon economy is the growth story of the next ten years, that this transition is irreversible and accelerating, and that it will be fair and inclusive. As the first country to legislate to end our contribution to global warming, the UK is leading by example as a global force for good.

COP26 is an international priority for FCO. The FCO is contributing to a strongly coordinated cross-Government approach to ensure ambitious climate action across the world, which protects the most vulnerable, while also addressing the scale of climate risk that the UK faces from climate change overseas. The FCO and Cabinet Office COP Unit are well integrated to ensure a coherent, well-coordinated diplomatic effort. The FCO has also recently appointed four Regional Ambassadors to support global engagement. The UK has c180 diplomats engaged globally on climate issues and FCO Climate and Energy Attaché Network has expanded by 50 local staff in FY19/20 to help deliver COP26.

Through this extensive diplomatic effort, bilateral and multilateral fora, working with governments, businesses, and civil societies, we are calling for all countries to: enhance greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments (known as "Nationally Determined Contributions"); and bring forward long-term climate strategies. We are also seeking to deliver campaigns on Adaptation and Resilience, Nature, Energy Transition, Zero Emissions Vehicles, and Finance.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Iranian counterpart on securing the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The permanent release of all arbitrarily detained dual nationals in Iran and their return to their families in the UK remains our top priority. While the further extension of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's temporary release is a welcome step, we continue to urge the Iranian Government to make it permanent so she can return to her family in the UK and will continue to raise this at the highest levels with Iran. The Foreign Secretary raised this with Foreign Minister Zarif on 16 March and I raised this with the Iranian Ambassador on 26 March. Our Ambassador in Tehran consistently raises all of our dual national detainees with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what diplomatic steps is he taking to ensure that health organisations across the world are providing consistent advice and taking consistent action in relation to covid-19.

The UK continues to support global efforts to combat the outbreak of COVID-19. We have world leading medical expertise, an unparalleled diplomatic network and experience working with countries to overcome public health emergencies. Our overseas missions have prioritised efforts to engage foreign governments on COVID-19 response. The UK is also working closely with our G7 partners, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the EU and other international partners.

The British Government is providing £5m to WHO (~10% of the current appeal) to help counter the spread in developing countries and is deploying UK medical experts to priority countries. Through the WHO, the UK is funding efforts to reduce the risk of the spread of the disease by supporting developing countries most at risk of coronavirus. This includes training rapid response teams and medical staff to identify and respond to symptoms, raising awareness in developing countries of how to avoid coronavirus and predicting the spread of the virus to better target future support.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to allow people to reclaim the additional stamp duty charge where those people have (a) purchased a second home with the intention of selling the first, (b) been unable to sell that home as a result of cladding-related issues and (c) been unable to reclaim the three per cent additional property stamp duty charge paid on the purchase of the second property.

A refund of the higher rate of SDLT paid can be claimed if an old main residence is sold within three years of the purchase of the new main residence. For most people, three years is enough time to sell a previous main residence. However someone who purchases a new main residence on or after 1 January 2017 will still be eligible to apply for a refund if exceptional circumstances meant they were unable to sell their previous main residence in three years and they sold the property as soon as possible after those exceptional circumstances ended.

Where a person is not permitted to sell a previous main residence, such as due to fire safety issues, the circumstances are likely to be considered exceptional. HMRC will consider each case on its own merits.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to (a) reduce beer duty and (b) financially support pubs.

Alcohol duties are kept under review and the merits of a change to beer duty are considered at each fiscal event. The Government will outline the next stages of its plan to support UK businesses at the upcoming Budget.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will include brewers in the retail, hospitality and leisure business rates relief programme; and if he will reopen the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund and include brewers.

The Government has provided Local Authorities with £1.1 billion across England via the Additional Restrictions Grant, for businesses which are not legally closed, but which are nonetheless severely affected by local or national restrictions.

Local Authorities have discretion on how to use this funding to support businesses in their areas, but the Government encourages them to set up discretionary grant schemes to support businesses such as brewers which can remain open, but which are nonetheless severely affected by the enhanced COVID-19 restrictions.

There are currently no plans to change the scope of existing business rates relief. HM Treasury is conducting a fundamental review of the business rates system and will consider any future reliefs through that process.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
25th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will provide support for directors of limited companies who take the majority of their income in dividends.

I refer the Honourable Member to the written answer to Parliamentary Question 54215 given on 9 June 2020: www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-06-03/54215/

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many private schools, who are still charging fees, have accessed the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Applications for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) opened on Monday 20 April. By midnight 31 May 2020, 1.1m employers had submitted claims to HMRC representing 8.7m furloughed employments and £17.5bn.

This is a new scheme and HMRC are currently working through the analysis they will be able to provide based on the data available. HMRC will make the timescales for publication and the types of data available in due course.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending probate for people who have experienced bereavement during the covid-19 lockdown and who therefore cannot meet the six month deadline for inheritance tax submission.

While there is no statutory deadline for making probate applications, the Government is aware of concerns about the six-month deadline for paying inheritance tax and the twelve-month deadline for filing a return. Where a taxpayer is unable to file their return on time because of COVID-19, HMRC will consider that within the scope of a reasonable excuse and as grounds for appeal against late filing penalties. The Government continues to explore all avenues to help those affected.
Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will expand eligibility for small business rate relief during the covid-19 outbreak to small businesses that pay business rates as part of their rent to their landlord.

Small businesses occupying a property with a rateable value below £15,000 are eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR). Businesses in receipt of their own business rates assessment and which meet the criteria may be eligible for SBRR and, for those in receipt of the relief, the £10,000 grant.

A range of further measures to support all businesses, including those not eligible for SBRR, has also been made available.

This includes the Government’s launch of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms continue to keep people in employment, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank, and the deferral of VAT payments for this quarter.

The Government will keep under review any further financial assistance necessary to help businesses.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend small business rates relief during the covid-19 outbreak to include all small and independent businesses.

Small businesses occupying a property with a rateable value below £15,000 are eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR). Businesses in receipt of their own business rates assessment and which meet the criteria may be eligible for SBRR and, for those in receipt of the relief, the £10,000 grant.

A range of further measures to support all businesses, including those not eligible for SBRR, has also been made available.

This includes the Government’s launch of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms continue to keep people in employment, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank, and the deferral of VAT payments for this quarter.

The Government will keep under review any further financial assistance necessary to help businesses.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans her Department has to extend planning permission for the Penally Camp, which is set to expire on 20 March 2021.

As part of our assurance of our accommodation contracts we recently asked a third party, Human Applications, to undertake a series of property inspections and stakeholder interviews specifically focused on compliance with Covid measures. Human Applications completed their visits, which included both the Napier and Penally sites, and they have now submitted a report with their findings and recommendations. Once we have responded to the report, we intend to share a summary of the findings and actions taken with key stakeholders. We have already shared the report with accommodation providers to allow them to action specific findings.

We do not hold information on how long individuals were accommodated in Penally Training Camp prior to it being used to accommodate asylum seekers.

Napier Barracks, which was previously used to house soldiers and army personnel is safe, habitable, fit for purpose and correctly equipped in line with existing asylum accommodation standards contractual requirements. Risk assessments were carried out following a recent fire at the site and a fire-damaged block has been secured and cordoned off to be demolished, other blocks remain in use.

The Ministry of Defence has given permission to use Penally Training Camp for 12 months. The use of contingency initial accommodation is temporary, and we will discontinue it, and Napier Barracks as soon as we are able.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what surveys have been undertaken to assess the quality of the buildings at the Napier barracks site for their use as accommodation and workplaces.

As part of our assurance of our accommodation contracts we recently asked a third party, Human Applications, to undertake a series of property inspections and stakeholder interviews specifically focused on compliance with Covid measures. Human Applications completed their visits, which included both the Napier and Penally sites, and they have now submitted a report with their findings and recommendations. Once we have responded to the report, we intend to share a summary of the findings and actions taken with key stakeholders. We have already shared the report with accommodation providers to allow them to action specific findings.

We do not hold information on how long individuals were accommodated in Penally Training Camp prior to it being used to accommodate asylum seekers.

Napier Barracks, which was previously used to house soldiers and army personnel is safe, habitable, fit for purpose and correctly equipped in line with existing asylum accommodation standards contractual requirements. Risk assessments were carried out following a recent fire at the site and a fire-damaged block has been secured and cordoned off to be demolished, other blocks remain in use.

The Ministry of Defence has given permission to use Penally Training Camp for 12 months. The use of contingency initial accommodation is temporary, and we will discontinue it, and Napier Barracks as soon as we are able.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether Penally barracks had been used to accommodate people for a period of longer than three months prior to be used for accommodating asylum seekers.

As part of our assurance of our accommodation contracts we recently asked a third party, Human Applications, to undertake a series of property inspections and stakeholder interviews specifically focused on compliance with Covid measures. Human Applications completed their visits, which included both the Napier and Penally sites, and they have now submitted a report with their findings and recommendations. Once we have responded to the report, we intend to share a summary of the findings and actions taken with key stakeholders. We have already shared the report with accommodation providers to allow them to action specific findings.

We do not hold information on how long individuals were accommodated in Penally Training Camp prior to it being used to accommodate asylum seekers.

Napier Barracks, which was previously used to house soldiers and army personnel is safe, habitable, fit for purpose and correctly equipped in line with existing asylum accommodation standards contractual requirements. Risk assessments were carried out following a recent fire at the site and a fire-damaged block has been secured and cordoned off to be demolished, other blocks remain in use.

The Ministry of Defence has given permission to use Penally Training Camp for 12 months. The use of contingency initial accommodation is temporary, and we will discontinue it, and Napier Barracks as soon as we are able.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she plans to publish the review of initial accommodation for single adult asylum seekers undertaken by Human Applications.

As part of our assurance of our accommodation contracts we recently asked a third party, Human Applications, to undertake a series of property inspections and stakeholder interviews specifically focused on compliance with Covid measures. Human Applications completed their visits, which included both the Napier and Penally sites, and they have now submitted a report with their findings and recommendations. Once we have responded to the report, we intend to share a summary of the findings and actions taken with key stakeholders. We have already shared the report with accommodation providers to allow them to action specific findings.

We do not hold information on how long individuals were accommodated in Penally Training Camp prior to it being used to accommodate asylum seekers.

Napier Barracks, which was previously used to house soldiers and army personnel is safe, habitable, fit for purpose and correctly equipped in line with existing asylum accommodation standards contractual requirements. Risk assessments were carried out following a recent fire at the site and a fire-damaged block has been secured and cordoned off to be demolished, other blocks remain in use.

The Ministry of Defence has given permission to use Penally Training Camp for 12 months. The use of contingency initial accommodation is temporary, and we will discontinue it, and Napier Barracks as soon as we are able.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will ensure that EU citizens who, through no fault of their own, miss the 30 June 2021 deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme will have no interruption to their rights until they apply for, and are granted, settled status.

In line with the Withdrawal Agreement, the Government has made clear, where a person has reasonable grounds for missing the 30 June 2021 deadline for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme by EU citizens and their family members resident in the UK by the end of the transition period, they will be given a further opportunity to apply.

If they do so and are granted status under the scheme, they will, consistent with the Withdrawal Agreement, enjoy the same rights from the time they are granted status as someone who applied before the deadline.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many times police have used Stop and Scan technology to gather data on individuals for immigration purposes in the last 12 months; and on how many of those occasions the police were operating (a) alone and (b) alongside Home Office immigration enforcement teams.

A Police Officer is able to use their Strategic Mobile device only when they suspect a person of having committed an offence and their identity is not known or cannot be ascertained, whether or not related to immigration. All data used as part of the Strategic Mobile check, including the results, are deleted and not stored on the phone. It is an operational matter for the police officer whether to contact the Home Office for further immigration details if this might be required as part of their investigation. This information is not recorded as part of the mobile search.

The latest available figures show that there have been 8,940 matches against the Immigration and Asylum Biometric System (IABS), when a police officer has made a Strategic Mobile search. The period covering this figure is March 2018 to May 2020.

There is no data available to identify whether, when making a Strategic Mobile search, a police officer was alone or alongside the Home Office Immigration Enforcement Team

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many visits by immigration enforcement teams have been made to (a) private rented accommodation, (b) owner occupier accommodation, (c) local authority housing, (d) housing association housing, (e) private businesses, (f) places of worship and (g) other locations in Yorkshire and the Humber in the last 12 months.

To maintain the highest standards of accuracy, the Home Office prefers to refer to published data, as this has been subject to rigorous quality assurance under National Statistics protocols prior to publication.

Information about enforcement visits is not available in our published data.

Our published data is available at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-enforcement-data-august-2020

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-june-2020/summary-of-latest-statistics

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many times have police officers have accompanied immigration enforcement teams on visits in the last 12 months.

To maintain the highest standards of accuracy, the Home Office prefers to refer to published data, as this has been subject to rigorous quality assurance under National Statistics protocols prior to publication.

Information about enforcement visits undertaken jointly with police partners is not part of our published data.

Our published data is available at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-enforcement-data-august-2020

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-june-2020/summary-of-latest-statistics

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many visits by Immigration Compliance and Enforcement teams have taken place in Yorkshire and the Humber in the last 12 months, by (a) parliamentary constituency and (b) location of team.

To maintain the highest standards of accuracy, the Home Office prefers to refer to published data, as this has been subject to rigorous quality assurance under National Statistics protocols prior to publication.

Information about enforcement visits is not available in our published data.

Our published data is available at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-enforcement-data-august-2020

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-june-2020/summary-of-latest-statistics

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will suspend evictions for people who have been refused asylum in response to the three-tier covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The Home Office has started cessations of support in a phased way which will reduce demand on the asylum system while prioritising the safety of those within the asylum system. This means moving people out of Home Office accommodation and ending subsistence payments from the Home Office.

For those whose asylum claims have been rejected and appeal rights exhausted, they will be expected to leave the country, assistance is available to those who opt to leave voluntarily. The Voluntary Returns Scheme will pay for travel and provide a cash amount, and this can and should be utilised whenever possible.

People who are awaiting a Covid test result should not be asked to leave their current dwelling until they receive a negative test result and are symptom free and that those self-isolating due to a positive test result should adhere to the full 14-day self-isolation period for close contacts.

These factors, applied to an individual case, might mean that a failed asylum seeker continues to be eligible to receive support because they are unable to leave the UK or take the necessary practical steps to enable them to leave (for example by attending an interview for the purposes of obtaining a necessary travel document).

We continue to consult public health officials in relation to the application of relevant guidance for supported asylum seekers.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
28th Sep 2020
What steps her Department is taking to protect people seeking asylum from homelessness.

The Home Office has a statutory obligation to house asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute, and we have met that obligation during the national crisis.

During lockdown we procured additional accommodation to ensure asylum seekers avoid homelessness despite increases in the asylum population following our decision to allow people who would ordinarily leave the asylum estate to remain.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she plans to respond to Questions 10485 and 10486 asked by the hon Member for Sheffield, Hallam on 30 January 2020; and Question 42218 asked by the hon Member for Sheffield, Hallam on 30 April 2020.

The responses for UIN 10485, 10406 and 42218 were given on 10th June 2020.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if the Government will make an assessment of the potential merits of temporarily extending passports for UK citizens overseas who are unable to return safely to the UK before their passports need to be renewed as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

Since 10 April, foreign governments have been engaged regarding the acceptance of British passports which expired on or after 1 January 2020, or which have less than six months validity remaining, as evidence of the holder’s British nationality until 31 December 2021. The countries where this will apply will be published in due course.

Where a British passport holder living overseas needs to travel and is unable to renew their passport due to Covid-19, they will need to apply for an Emergency Travel Document (ETD) through the existing route.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what her policy is on people who have vignette visas who are unable to travel to the UK due to covid-19 related travel restrictions; and if she will remove extension fees for vignette visas given the limited travel options available.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those affected by the covid-19 outbreak. It has been agreed that if an individual’s 30-day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, a replacement visa with revised validity dates valid for up to 90 days may be requested free of charge until the end of this year (2020). Affected customers will need to contact the UKVI Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. Full details of the Help Centre and how to make a request can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents.

Our Visa Application Centres (VACs) overseas are currently closed due to the impact of covid-19. Customers will be contacted when they reopen in order to arrange for the replacement visa to be endorsed in their passport to enable them to travel.

These are unprecedented times and we may make further adjustments to requirements where necessary and appropriate, to ensure people are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will make it her policy to suspend the detention of migrants in detention centres during the covid-19 outbreak.

The health and safety of those in immigration removal centres is of the utmost importance but we remain committed to removing foreign national offenders or those who violate our immigration rules. Detention plays a key role in securing our borders and maintaining effective immigration control.

There is a general presumption of liberty for all individuals. Detention is used only when necessary, and decisions to detain an individual are made on a case by case basis and are based on all of the information known at the time of the review. As circumstances of the case change, detention is reviewed in light of these changes and release may then become appropriate.

The Home Office is following all Public Health England guidance and have robust contingency plans in place including measures such as protective isolation and shielding to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the immigration detention estate. All detainees are seen by a nurse within two hours of arrival in an immigration removal centre and have the option to see a doctor within 24 hours of arrival.

Additionally, all those who fall into the Public Health England ‘high risk’ cohort receive personal care plans. Further measures including reverse cohorting, single occupancy rooms and the cessation of social visits have been introduced in line with the Government direction on social distancing.

Basic hygiene is a key part of tackling COVID-19. Handwashing facilities are available in all immigration removal centres and we are working closely with suppliers to ensure we have an adequate supply of soap and cleaning materials. In addition, each centre has posters and leaflets to inform staff and detainees about the importance of both personal hygiene and social distancing to minimise the risk from COVID-19. Detainees are also able to speak to staff directly for advice on the protective measures in place.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what her Department's policy is on placing people in detention centres during the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps she is taking to protect detainees in those centres from the spread of covid-19.

The health and safety of those in immigration removal centres is of the utmost importance but we remain committed to removing foreign national offenders or those who violate our immigration rules. Detention plays a key role in securing our borders and maintaining effective immigration control.

There is a general presumption of liberty for all individuals. Detention is used only when necessary, and decisions to detain an individual are made on a case by case basis and are based on all of the information known at the time of the review. As circumstances of the case change, detention is reviewed in light of these changes and release may then become appropriate.

The Home Office is following all Public Health England guidance and have robust contingency plans in place including measures such as protective isolation and shielding to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the immigration detention estate. All detainees are seen by a nurse within two hours of arrival in an immigration removal centre and have the option to see a doctor within 24 hours of arrival.

Additionally, all those who fall into the Public Health England ‘high risk’ cohort receive personal care plans. Further measures including reverse cohorting, single occupancy rooms and the cessation of social visits have been introduced in line with the Government direction on social distancing.

Basic hygiene is a key part of tackling COVID-19. Handwashing facilities are available in all immigration removal centres and we are working closely with suppliers to ensure we have an adequate supply of soap and cleaning materials. In addition, each centre has posters and leaflets to inform staff and detainees about the importance of both personal hygiene and social distancing to minimise the risk from COVID-19. Detainees are also able to speak to staff directly for advice on the protective measures in place.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she plans to respond to Questions 10485 and 10486 asked by the hon Member for Sheffield, Hallam on 30 January 2020.

The responses for UIN 10485 and 10486 were given on 10th June 2020.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many immigration raids took place in Yorkshire and the Humber in the 2019 calendar year.

To maintain the highest standards of accuracy, the Home Office prefers to refer to published data, as this has been subject to rigorous quality assurance under National Statistics protocols prior to publication.

Information about enforcement visits is not available in our published data.

Our published data is available at the following links:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-enforcement-data-august-2019

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-september-2019/summary-of-latest-statistics

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many immigration raids took place in (a) Sheffield, (b) Rotherham, (c) Barnsley and (d) Doncaster in the 2019 calendar year.

To maintain the highest standards of accuracy, the Home Office prefers to refer to published data, as this has been subject to rigorous quality assurance under National Statistics protocols prior to publication.

Information about enforcement visits is not available in our published data.

Our published data is available at the following links:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-enforcement-data-august-2019

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-september-2019/summary-of-latest-statistics

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what discussions he is holding with his NATO counterparts on proposals for the collective development of space-based weaponry for deployment by NATO nations other than the US.

The Ministry of Defence does not comment on specific space capability developments of our Allies. In 2019, NATO Leaders declared space an operational domain, recognising its importance in keeping Allies safe and tackling security challenges, while upholding international law. NATO is in the process of refining their policy to implement space as an operational domain and the UK is actively engaged in the development of NATO Space policy alongside Allies. NATO’s role in space will be to act as a forum to share information, increase interoperability and coordinate action. It is not seeking to develop independent space capabilities and will continue to rely on Allies to provide national products and services to support the Alliance’s space requirements. NATO has no intention to put weapons into space.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to embed sustainable transport provision in the planning process.

The Government is taking a number of steps to embed sustainable transport provisions in the planning process. Last year the Government consulted on the Planning for the Future White Paper which made clear that our planning reforms will seek to reduce our reliance on carbon-intensive modes of transport. Alongside this, the Government intends to publish the Transport Decarbonisation Plan in the Spring and will ensure this aligns with any outcomes from the Planning for the Future White Paper.

The National Planning Policy Framework already actively promotes sustainable transport, and Planning Practice Guidance is also being updated in line with this. In addition, the Government has committed to updating Manual for Streets guidance to ensure the principles of good street design play a key role in creating sustainable communities and are embedded in the planning process, particularly the National Model Design Code.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what additional funding he will make available to businesses affected by unsafe cladding who have a shortfall in funding as a result of the effect of state aid de minimis rules.

In order to operate funds for the remediation of unsafe cladding prior to the end of the United Kingdom and European Union transition period on 1 January 2021 the Government was required to adhere to EU State aid rules. As set out in the answer to the Hon Member’s previous question of 11 March 2021 (UIN 167376), the EU State aid De Minimis rules includes a maximum threshold of €200,000 that a business can receive in funding over a three year period. EU State aid rules no longer apply in the United Kingdom, except for aid in scope of the Northern Ireland Protocol, and so do not apply to applications for Government funding for cladding remediation made after 1 January 2021. The Department has written to applicants detailing the implications of the new subsidy control regime on their applications, and will publish updated guidance shortly. We continue to process applications in adherence with the new subsidy rules.

We are aware of instances where State aid rules have resulted in deductions to the funding provided through the remediation fund for applications before 1 January 2021, and are working closely with applicants to ensure unsafe cladding is remediated as quickly as possible. It is not permitted to provide additional funding to businesses to compensate for deductions which have been made in order to adhere to State aid rules.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what the Government's timeframe is for bringing forward legislative proposals to make it easier for leaseholders to buy their homes, and to extend leases by 990 years.

The Government is committed to promoting fairness and transparency for homeowners and ensuring that consumers are protected from abuse and poor service. We are taking forward a comprehensive programme of reform to end unfair practices in the leasehold market.

Under the current system, too many leaseholders find the process for extending their lease or buying their freehold (a process known as enfranchisement) too complex, lacking transparency and prohibitively expensive.

We will reform the process of enfranchisement valuation that leaseholders must follow to calculate the cost of extending their lease or buying their freehold. The Government will abolish marriage value, cap the treatment of ground rents at 0.1% of the freehold value, prescribe rates for the calculations at market value, and introduce an online calculator.

Through our reforms, the length of a statutory lease extension will increase to 990 years, from 90 years (for flats) and 50 years (for houses). Leaseholders will be able to extend their lease with zero ground rent on payment of a premium. Leaseholders will also be able to voluntarily agree to a restriction on future development of their property to avoid paying ‘development value’.

We will translate these measures into law as soon as possible, starting with legislation to set ground rents on newly created leases to zero in the upcoming session. This will be the first part of major two-part legislation to implement leasehold and commonhold reforms in this Parliament.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what additional funding he will make available to businesses affected by a shortfall in funding as a result of the effect of state aid de minimis rules.

The Covid-19 business grant schemes form part of unprecedented package to assist those business who are mandated to close and are severely impacted by restrictions, supporting businesses to reopen as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in the coming months. From the 4 March, subsidy allowances for the Covid-19 business grant schemes have been increased, so more businesses can access grants during this challenging time.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will extend the section 21 notice period extension beyond 31 March 2021.

We are continuing to require landlords to provide tenants with six months’ notice before eviction in all but the most serious cases until the end of May 2021. This includes Section 21 notices. This means that most renters served notice during April and May will be able to stay in their homes until October and November, except in the most serious cases such as anti-social behaviour and serious rent arrears


The Government will consider the best approach to tapering down notice periods after 1 June, taking into account public health requirements and progress with the roadmap out of lockdown.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he plans to publish the results of the consultation on the Parking Code of Practice; and what the timetable is for publishing that code of practice.

We are working to improve standards in the private parking industry. Last year we launched public consultations on our proposals for the new Parking Code of Practice and Enforcement Framework, designed to crack down on rogue car parking firms. The consultations closed on 12 October and we will publish our response to the Enforcement Framework consultation in due course. The Code itself is being written by British Standards Institution (BSI) in consultation with key stakeholders. The BSI stakeholder group has reconvened and is now considering the consultation feedback before finalising the Code.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will make it his policy to (a) require building owners to cover costs for (i) remedial work related to fire safety and building cladding (ii) fire insurance and (iii) waking watches and (b) increase support for leaseholders to meet those costs.

a) i) It is unacceptable for leaseholders to have to worry about the cost of fixing historic safety defects in their buildings that they did not cause. Government has repeatedly said that building owners should step up and not pass these costs on to leaseholders, where possible.

Where developers or building owners have been unable or unwilling to pay, we have introduced funding schemes providing £1.6 billion to accelerate the pace of work and meet the costs of remediating the highest risk and most expensive defects – ACM cladding and other unsafe cladding systems like High Pressure Laminates.

ii)The Department is aware that obtaining affordable building insurance for some multi storey, multi occupied buildings can be challenging. The Department is working to consider any potential resolutions.

iii) The new £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund will pay for the installation of fire alarm systems in high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding, which will enable costly interim safety measures such as waking watch to be replaced.

b) The Government is accelerating its work to identify financing solutions that help to protect leaseholders whilst also helping to protect the taxpayer.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether his Department plans with HM Treasury to make changes to (a) regulations and (b) environmental protections in order to stimulate economic activity.

The planning system has a vital role to play in enabling the delivery of housing and economic growth that will support the United Kingdom’s economic recovery. In March, the Government signalled its intention to modernise our planning system, ensuring it supports the delivery of homes that local people need and creates more beautiful and greener communities. Since then, we have developed a number of planning regulation easements to support businesses to operate through COVID-19. These include laying SIs to enable restaurants, cafes and pubs to offer a takeaway and delivery service and removing specific publicity requirements for planning application. In addition, on 24 June we laid an SI which allows up to two storeys to be added to an existing purpose-built free standing block of flats, of three storeys or more, to construct new homes. The right is subject to a maximum height limit for the newly extended building of 30 metres. We are continuing to work across government to investigate options for broader regulatory reform to support sustainable economic growth and renewal.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans his Department has to change planning regulations and environment protections in order to stimulate economic activity; and what steps he plans to take to ensure that potential regulatory changes do not undermine environmental aims under (a) the 25 year environment plan, (b) the Environment Bill, (c) the Agriculture Bill and (d) net zero legislation.

The planning system has a vital role to play in enabling the delivery of housing and economic growth that will support the United Kingdom’s economic recovery. In March, the Government signalled its intention to modernise our planning system, ensuring it supports the delivery of homes that local people need and creates more beautiful and greener communities. Since then, we have developed a number of planning regulation easements to support businesses to operate through COVID-19. These include laying SIs to enable restaurants, cafes and pubs to offer a takeaway and delivery service and removing specific publicity requirements for planning application. In addition, on 24 June we laid an SI which allows up to two storeys to be added to an existing purpose-built free standing block of flats, of three storeys or more, to construct new homes. The right is subject to a maximum height limit for the newly extended building of 30 metres. We are continuing to work across government to investigate options for broader regulatory reform to support sustainable economic growth and renewal.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what role his Department has in developing the Government’s Project Speed deregulation proposals.

We are committed to spreading opportunity and levelling up through investing in world class infrastructure. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has a key role to play in delivering this ambition: through our stewardship of the planning system; our work on levelling up across the country; and our work on housing.

We are already taking a number of steps, including:

  • Committing to a new £10 billion Single Housing Infrastructure Fund, to ensure that infrastructure comes before people move into new homes. At Spring Budget, we also announced a further £1 billion funding from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock almost 70,000 new homes.
  • Extending the Affordable Homes Programme, with a new, multi-year settlement of £12 billion.
  • Modernising our planning system to ensure that it supports the delivery of homes that local people need and creates more beautiful and greener communities.
  • Delivering the £3.6 billion Towns Fund to unleash the potential of towns and high streets throughout the country.

On regulation specifically, we have developed a number of regulatory easements to support businesses to operate through COVID-19. These include:

  • laying SIs to enable restaurants, cafes and pubs to offer a takeaway and delivery service;
  • removing specific publicity requirements for planning application;
  • measures to ease pressures and minimise cashflow issues for councils; and
  • announcing that a planned revaluation of business rates will no longer take place in 2021, to help reduce uncertainty for firms affected by the impacts of COVID-19.

We are continuing to work across government to investigate options for broader regulatory reform to support economic growth and renewal, and ensure the investments outlines above deliver the maximum impact.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
16th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to require owners of buildings registered as assets of community value who apply for a demolition order to offer the asset for sale to a local community group before demolition is granted.

The Government has committed to improving the assets of community value scheme to ensure that community groups are given the best opportunity to take into ownership the buildings and land which they have identified as being important to them. As part of work we will look at the effectiveness of the existing regime to ensure that any legislation the Government introduces will meet our objective of supporting communities to protect those assets that are under threat.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will meet representatives from Sheffield Students Union to discuss (a) housing and (b) the number of rented houses in disrepair in the Sheffield Hallam constituency.

Housing is a priority for this Government and local authorities have strong powers to tackle poor property conditions which may impact peoples’ health. A representative of my Department would be delighted to meet the Sheffield Students’ Union to discuss these important issues.

3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 2 November 2020 to Question 107142 on Evictions: Coronavirus, if he will make it his policy to suspend all evictions in the interests of public health during the period of new national covid-19 lockdown from 5 November 2020.

The Lord Chancellor wrote to the High Court Enforcement Officers Association on 5 November to request that they ask their members not to enforce evictions other than in a limited number of the most serious circumstances during the period of time that the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.4) Regulations 2020 are in force.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will suspend evictions in regions with additional covid-19 public health restrictions.

The Government is clear that evictions should not be carried out in areas where gatherings are not permitted in homes. Enforcement agents should not, therefore, carry out evictions in regions that have been classified as Local Alert Level 2 (high) or 3 (very high). This position has been set out in HMCTS’s operational guidance for County Court bailiffs and in guidance from the Lord Chancellor to the High Court Enforcement Officers’ Association. The Government is keeping this approach under review.

Alex Chalk
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, for what reasons people are still being held under imprisonment for public protection sentences; and when he plans to review those sentences.

Prisoners serving IPP sentences are still detained either because they have not yet served the minimum term of imprisonment or, where they have served the minimum term, because the independent Parole Board has determined that their risk remains too high for them to be safely managed in the community. Therefore in order to protect the public form the risk of serious sexual or violent harm, we have no plans to change the law in order to effect the release of IPP prisoners other than by a direction from the Parole Board.

We are committed to providing IPP prisoners with opportunities to progress to the point at which they are safe to release. Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) has in recent years implemented a number of measures to support the progression of serving IPP prisoners.

There is clear evidence that these measures are working. IPP prisoners are being released in large numbers. As of 31 March 2020, the number of unreleased IPP prisoners who have completed their minimum tariff was 1,908. This is down from 2,198 on 31 March 2019.

The End of Custody Temporary Release scheme (ECTR), for low-risk offenders near to the end of their custodial period, excludes those whose sentence is subject to initial Parole Board release, including IPP prisoners.

Public protection is paramount. IPP prisoners are eligible for early release on compassionate grounds, either temporarily (where they are highly vulnerable to Coronavirus) or permanently (where they are suffering from a terminal condition or are physically incapacitated), though every case is subject to a full risk assessment before release is approved.

HMPPS is working closely with public health authorities to ensure that our approach to limit the spread and impact of Covid-19 in the Prison Estate, protect the health of staff and prisoners, maintain safety and order, and minimise the impact of the pandemic on the NHS is based on the best scientific advice. For those who remain in custody, HMPPS has created headroom in prisons, though new temporary buildings and the early release schemes, providing space to shield and isolate vulnerable prisoners and new entrants to custody

Lucy Frazer
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, for what reasons he has not yet reviewed the sentences of people held under imprisonment for public protection sentences.

Prisoners serving IPP sentences are still detained either because they have not yet served the minimum term of imprisonment or, where they have served the minimum term, because the independent Parole Board has determined that their risk remains too high for them to be safely managed in the community. Therefore in order to protect the public form the risk of serious sexual or violent harm, we have no plans to change the law in order to effect the release of IPP prisoners other than by a direction from the Parole Board.

We are committed to providing IPP prisoners with opportunities to progress to the point at which they are safe to release. Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) has in recent years implemented a number of measures to support the progression of serving IPP prisoners.

There is clear evidence that these measures are working. IPP prisoners are being released in large numbers. As of 31 March 2020, the number of unreleased IPP prisoners who have completed their minimum tariff was 1,908. This is down from 2,198 on 31 March 2019.

The End of Custody Temporary Release scheme (ECTR), for low-risk offenders near to the end of their custodial period, excludes those whose sentence is subject to initial Parole Board release, including IPP prisoners.

Public protection is paramount. IPP prisoners are eligible for early release on compassionate grounds, either temporarily (where they are highly vulnerable to Coronavirus) or permanently (where they are suffering from a terminal condition or are physically incapacitated), though every case is subject to a full risk assessment before release is approved.

HMPPS is working closely with public health authorities to ensure that our approach to limit the spread and impact of Covid-19 in the Prison Estate, protect the health of staff and prisoners, maintain safety and order, and minimise the impact of the pandemic on the NHS is based on the best scientific advice. For those who remain in custody, HMPPS has created headroom in prisons, though new temporary buildings and the early release schemes, providing space to shield and isolate vulnerable prisoners and new entrants to custody

Lucy Frazer
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to his Department's Guidance last updated on 4 June 2020, Coronavirus (COVID-19) and prisons, what recent steps he has taken to release prisoners held indefinitely under imprisonment for public protection sentences under the Government’s policy to release risk-assessed offenders from prison as part of the national plan to protect the NHS and save lives.

Prisoners serving IPP sentences are still detained either because they have not yet served the minimum term of imprisonment or, where they have served the minimum term, because the independent Parole Board has determined that their risk remains too high for them to be safely managed in the community. Therefore in order to protect the public form the risk of serious sexual or violent harm, we have no plans to change the law in order to effect the release of IPP prisoners other than by a direction from the Parole Board.

We are committed to providing IPP prisoners with opportunities to progress to the point at which they are safe to release. Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) has in recent years implemented a number of measures to support the progression of serving IPP prisoners.

There is clear evidence that these measures are working. IPP prisoners are being released in large numbers. As of 31 March 2020, the number of unreleased IPP prisoners who have completed their minimum tariff was 1,908. This is down from 2,198 on 31 March 2019.

The End of Custody Temporary Release scheme (ECTR), for low-risk offenders near to the end of their custodial period, excludes those whose sentence is subject to initial Parole Board release, including IPP prisoners.

Public protection is paramount. IPP prisoners are eligible for early release on compassionate grounds, either temporarily (where they are highly vulnerable to Coronavirus) or permanently (where they are suffering from a terminal condition or are physically incapacitated), though every case is subject to a full risk assessment before release is approved.

HMPPS is working closely with public health authorities to ensure that our approach to limit the spread and impact of Covid-19 in the Prison Estate, protect the health of staff and prisoners, maintain safety and order, and minimise the impact of the pandemic on the NHS is based on the best scientific advice. For those who remain in custody, HMPPS has created headroom in prisons, though new temporary buildings and the early release schemes, providing space to shield and isolate vulnerable prisoners and new entrants to custody

Lucy Frazer
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)