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Written Question
Jobcentres: Pay
Monday 16th January 2023

Asked by: Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party - Inverclyde)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 27 October 2022 to Question 67074 on Jobcentres: Pay, what recent estimate he has made of when holiday pay will be issued to Jobcentre staff.

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

DWP is committed to making statutory holiday payments in respect of overtime and other similar payments to colleagues and continues to work to implement a solution to enable these payments as soon as is practicable. Work is continuing to overcome significant system challenges. As a result, the Department is not yet in a position to provide a definitive estimate of when these payments will be made to colleagues.


Written Question
Pension Credit: Inverclyde
Thursday 1st December 2022

Asked by: Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party - Inverclyde)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many (a) individuals and (b) households in Inverclyde are eligible for claiming pension credits but are not claiming that benefit.

Answered by Laura Trott - Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Estimates for Pension Credit take-up in a financial year are only available at the Great Britain level and are available in the “Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up” publication which can be found on the statistics section of gov.uk. The latest publication relates to the financial year 2019 to 2020.

Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up: financial year 2019 to 2020 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Pension Credit provides vital financial support to our most vulnerable pensioners. In Inverclyde some 2,600 pensioners already receive Pension Credit, but we want all those who are eligible to claim it. That’s why the Department launched a £1.2m nationwide communications campaign in April to raise awareness of Pension Credit and increase take-up. The campaign included:

  • Promotion of Pension Credit on social media, via internet search engines and sponsored advertising on targeted websites that pensioners, their friends and family are likely to visit;
  • Information screens in Post Offices and GP surgeries across GB;
  • Advertising in regional and national newspapers and on national and local broadcast radio;
  • Advertising on the sides of buses, interior bus panels and digital street displays;
  • Leaflets and posters in Jobcentres, as well as digital versions which could be used by stakeholders and partners across local communities;
  • Engagement with Local Authorities nationwide through the Government Communication Service local network and promotional materials to enable them to support the campaign; and
  • In June, we held a second Pension Credit awareness media ‘day of action’ working in close collaboration with broadcasters, newspapers and other partners such as Age UK, Independent Age and the private sector to reach out to pensioners to promote Pension Credit through their channels.
  • An updated digital toolkit with information and resources that any stakeholder can use to help promote Pension Credit.

In December further press and radio advertising and social media activity is planned. We will be focusing on highlighting to pensioners that if they apply for Pension Credit by 18 December, it will not be too late to qualify for a £324 Cost of Living Payment – subject to Pension Credit backdating rules.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Lords) and I have also written to MPs and Peers asking for their support and inviting them to a Pension Credit event on 7 December, where I intend to update them on our communications campaign.

In the new year, DWP will again write to over 11 million pensioners as part of the annual uprating of State Pension. The accompanying leaflet has been updated to include the prominent campaign messaging promoting Pension Credit.


Written Question
Pension Credit: Inverclyde
Thursday 1st December 2022

Asked by: Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party - Inverclyde)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to increase the uptake of pension credits in Inverclyde.

Answered by Laura Trott - Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Estimates for Pension Credit take-up in a financial year are only available at the Great Britain level and are available in the “Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up” publication which can be found on the statistics section of gov.uk. The latest publication relates to the financial year 2019 to 2020.

Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up: financial year 2019 to 2020 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Pension Credit provides vital financial support to our most vulnerable pensioners. In Inverclyde some 2,600 pensioners already receive Pension Credit, but we want all those who are eligible to claim it. That’s why the Department launched a £1.2m nationwide communications campaign in April to raise awareness of Pension Credit and increase take-up. The campaign included:

  • Promotion of Pension Credit on social media, via internet search engines and sponsored advertising on targeted websites that pensioners, their friends and family are likely to visit;
  • Information screens in Post Offices and GP surgeries across GB;
  • Advertising in regional and national newspapers and on national and local broadcast radio;
  • Advertising on the sides of buses, interior bus panels and digital street displays;
  • Leaflets and posters in Jobcentres, as well as digital versions which could be used by stakeholders and partners across local communities;
  • Engagement with Local Authorities nationwide through the Government Communication Service local network and promotional materials to enable them to support the campaign; and
  • In June, we held a second Pension Credit awareness media ‘day of action’ working in close collaboration with broadcasters, newspapers and other partners such as Age UK, Independent Age and the private sector to reach out to pensioners to promote Pension Credit through their channels.
  • An updated digital toolkit with information and resources that any stakeholder can use to help promote Pension Credit.

In December further press and radio advertising and social media activity is planned. We will be focusing on highlighting to pensioners that if they apply for Pension Credit by 18 December, it will not be too late to qualify for a £324 Cost of Living Payment – subject to Pension Credit backdating rules.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Lords) and I have also written to MPs and Peers asking for their support and inviting them to a Pension Credit event on 7 December, where I intend to update them on our communications campaign.

In the new year, DWP will again write to over 11 million pensioners as part of the annual uprating of State Pension. The accompanying leaflet has been updated to include the prominent campaign messaging promoting Pension Credit.


Written Question
Jobcentres: Pay
Thursday 27th October 2022

Asked by: Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party - Inverclyde)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his Department's timescale is for issuing holiday pay to Jobcentre staff.

Answered by Claire Coutinho - Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero

There have been unforeseeable challenges that have prevented DWP from introducing a holiday pay solution in respect of overtime and other similar payments. Work is continuing in earnest to enable DWP to implement a solution as soon as is practicable. As a result, we are not yet in a position to confirm when DWP will be making statutory holiday pay payments in respect of overtime and other similar payments.


Written Question
Jobcentres: Pay
Tuesday 18th October 2022

Asked by: Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party - Inverclyde)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many Jobcentre Plus employees are waiting to be paid their entitled Enhanced Holiday Pay.

Answered by Victoria Prentis - Attorney General

Where voluntary overtime is worked with sufficient frequency and regularity, this normal remuneration should be reflected in pay in respect of the statutory annual leave. However, current legislation provides no definition of regularity. As DWP is still determining the elements that will form the basis of enhanced holiday payments and how regularity and frequency will be defined within DWP, it is not possible at this time to confirm exactly how many employees based in Job Centres are awaiting payment.


Written Question
Cold Weather Payments: Inverclyde
Friday 10th December 2021

Asked by: Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party - Inverclyde)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many Cold Weather Payments have been issued by her Department to households in Inverclyde in each of the last five years.

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

The Cold Weather Payment scheme is administered at weather station level rather than at a constituency or regional level. The coverage area for each weather station is determined by the Met Office, which assesses the most appropriate weather station for each postcode area. Cold weather payments are triggered when the average temperature recorded at the weather station has been recorded as, or is forecast to be, 0oC or below over seven consecutive days, during the Cold Weather season (November to March)

The constituency of Inverclyde covers all or part of the following postcode areas: PA11, PA13, PA14, PA15, PA16, PA17, PA18 and PA19.

These postcode areas are covered by the weather station Bishopton, which also include constituencies other than Inverclyde.

Table 1 Postcode districts mapped to Weather Stations

Weather station

Postcode Districts Covered

Bishopton

G1-5, G11-15, G20-23, G31-34, G40-46, G51-53, G60-62, G64, G66, G69, G71-78, G81-84, ML4-5, PA1-19, PA21-27, PA32.

Table 2 summarises the number of triggers in the Bishopton weather station over the last 5 complete Cold Weather Payment seasons and the estimated number of payments in the Bishopton weather station area.

Table 2 Estimated number of Cold Weather recipients linked to the Bishopton weather station

Year

Triggers for Bishopton weather station

Estimated number of payments for Bishopton weather station

20/21

1

139,000

19/20

0

0

18/19

1

137,000

17/18

2

276,000

16/17

0

0

Where there have been no cold weather triggers in the Bishopton weather station area, no payments were made to eligible recipients.

Notes

  1. The number of eligible claimants given here is an estimate as information on the exact number is not readily available. These figures are produced by determining the volume of eligible recipients in each weather station area at the start of the winter season. These figures are then used throughout the winter to estimate payments and expenditure based on the actual triggers recorded.

  1. The number of payments made is not necessarily the total number of individuals benefitting from a Cold Weather Payment. Any individuals making a joint claim for one of the qualifying benefits, such as a couple living together, will receive one payment between them rather than one payment each. Furthermore, if a weather station triggers more than once throughout a cold weather season then the recipients will receive more than one payment.

Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Staff
Friday 3rd December 2021

Asked by: Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party - Inverclyde)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to help support departmental staff who have been working from home since the outbreak of covid-19.

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

We take the Health and Safety of DWP staff and customers very seriously. We have robust risk assessments and guidance to ensure all appropriate mitigations are in place to keep our people safe.

As part of regularly reviewing our risk assessments, working with our departmental and local trade union colleagues, we consult the legislation and guidance of the devolved administrations ensuring that any differences are reflected within the risk assessment and communicated to staff based in offices in Scotland and Wales.

Staff based in Scotland should be following the safety measures included in the DWP risk assessments that incorporate any differences in Scottish government guidance.

Since the start of the pandemic, DWP has rigorously followed guidance from the respective governments in the devolved nations, thus allowing people to work safely from the office, or at home. We are committed to continuing this approach as we learn to live with the virus and return more of our people to the workplace in a safe, steady and controlled way.

We are constantly reviewing our position as and when new government guidance is issued. No matter where our people are working now, or in the future, their safety and compliance with government guidance is our number one priority.

If your constituents remain concerned about their own, or their colleagues’ personal safety and / or any of the practices within their specific office, they can raise this with their line manager.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Staff
Friday 3rd December 2021

Asked by: Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party - Inverclyde)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure that departmental staff who have underlying health conditions can continue to work from home and not mandated to return to the office on a hybrid basis.

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

We take the Health and Safety of DWP staff and customers very seriously. We have robust risk assessments and guidance to ensure all appropriate mitigations are in place to keep our people safe.

As part of regularly reviewing our risk assessments, working with our departmental and local trade union colleagues, we consult the legislation and guidance of the devolved administrations ensuring that any differences are reflected within the risk assessment and communicated to staff based in offices in Scotland and Wales.

Staff based in Scotland should be following the safety measures included in the DWP risk assessments that incorporate any differences in Scottish government guidance.

Since the start of the pandemic, DWP has rigorously followed guidance from the respective governments in the devolved nations, thus allowing people to work safely from the office, or at home. We are committed to continuing this approach as we learn to live with the virus and return more of our people to the workplace in a safe, steady and controlled way.

We are constantly reviewing our position as and when new government guidance is issued. No matter where our people are working now, or in the future, their safety and compliance with government guidance is our number one priority.

If your constituents remain concerned about their own, or their colleagues’ personal safety and / or any of the practices within their specific office, they can raise this with their line manager.


Written Question
Post Office Card Account
Thursday 2nd December 2021

Asked by: Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party - Inverclyde)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether his Department plans to allocate funding for the replacement of the Post Office card account.

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

Yes.


Written Question
Post Office Card Account
Thursday 2nd December 2021

Asked by: Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party - Inverclyde)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what (a) information and (b) support his Department plans to provide to people who use the Post Office card account in the context of the pending closure of that account.

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

The Department is writing to all Post Office card account customers to inform them that Post Office card accounts are ending and asking them to update their payment method to a transactional bank, building society, credit union or internet-based account. Those who are unable to access or use a bank account will receive a payment card for the Payment Exception Service along with information which explains how the service works. DWP’s Financial Inclusion Customer Contact Centre are also available to support and answer queries from claimants and pensioners, and arrange a home visit where required.

DWP’s most vulnerable customers have successfully been using the Payment Exception Service since it replaced the Simple Payment Service in 2018. It is a basic cash-in cash-out service and is easy for customers to use. For Post Office card account customers migrating to the Payment Exception Service they will be able to continue to collect their payments using a payment card at their local Post Office.