Stephen Morgan Portrait

Stephen Morgan

Labour - Portsmouth South

Shadow Minister (Defence)

(since January 2020)
Armed Forces Bill Select Committee
22nd Feb 2021 - 22nd Feb 2021
Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill
22nd Feb 2021 - 22nd Feb 2021
Shadow Minister for Local Government (Communities)
17th Jul 2019 - 10th Apr 2020
Public Accounts Committee
20th Nov 2017 - 6th Nov 2019


There are no upcoming events identified
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
Thursday 10th June 2021
Oral Answers to Questions

What her Department’s trade priorities are for the upcoming G7 summit. (900760)

Written Answers
Tuesday 22nd June 2021
Armed Forces: LGBT People
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many applications have been (a) received and (b) granted under the …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 12th April 2021
1. Employment and earnings
From 1 April 2019 until 19 September 2020, I received an annual allowance of £14,528. Hours: 25-40 hrs per month …
EDM signed
Monday 18th January 2021
Godfrey Colin Cameron
That this House is deeply saddened by news of the death of Godfrey Colin Cameron, a hardworking member of Parliamentary …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Stephen Morgan has voted in 266 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Stephen Morgan 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
Johnny Mercer (Conservative)
(24 debate interactions)
Kevan Jones (Labour)
(10 debate interactions)
James Heappey (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
(7 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(71 debate contributions)
Ministry of Defence
(11 debate contributions)
Department for International Trade
(6 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Stephen Morgan's debates

Portsmouth South 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).

Petitions with most Portsmouth South signatures
Stephen Morgan has not participated in any petition debates

Latest EDMs signed by Stephen Morgan

14th January 2021
Stephen Morgan signed this EDM on Monday 18th January 2021

Godfrey Colin Cameron

Tabled by: Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West)
That this House is deeply saddened by news of the death of Godfrey Colin Cameron, a hardworking member of Parliamentary security staff and member of the PCS trade union who passed away aged just 55 after contracting covid-19; extends our sincere condolences to his devoted wife Hyacinth, children Leon and …
139 signatures
(Most recent: 8 Feb 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 117
Scottish National Party: 15
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Alba Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
4th June 2020
Stephen Morgan signed this EDM on Wednesday 24th June 2020

Legal Aid and Advice

Tabled by: David Lammy (Labour - Tottenham)
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (S.I., 2020, No. 515), dated 15 May 2020, a copy of which was laid before this House on 18 May 2020, be annulled.
138 signatures
(Most recent: 11 Feb 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 115
Liberal Democrat: 9
Scottish National Party: 5
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Green Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Alliance: 1
View All Stephen Morgan's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Stephen Morgan, 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.


Stephen Morgan has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Stephen Morgan has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Stephen Morgan has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Stephen Morgan has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


718 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
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the UK leaving the EU on SMEs and their ability to export internationally outside of the EU.

On 13 April, the Office for National Statistics released the latest statistics on EU-UK trade which show a welcome growth in the value of trade with the EU, with goods exports close to the average 2020 level.

The vast majority of traders and hauliers have adapted well, and our focus now is on making sure that any business that is still facing challenges gets the support they need. We are continuing to monitor and assess the situation, including any potential change in trade patterns.

We have made an additional £20m available to support SMEs with new requirements when trading with the EU. More info can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-20-million-sme-brexit-support-fund

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
30th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the closure of the Help for Heroes recovery centres in (a) Yorkshire, (b) Devon and (c) Essex on the adequacy of support available to veterans; and what steps his Department is taking to maintain services for veterans during a period of falling charity income.

The MoD is continuing to work closely with Help for Heroes to transfer management responsibilities for the Personnel Recovery Centres whilst Help for Heroes’ introduce a new community based support model. Remote services will continue to be offered to veterans and the Government is continuing to monitor the situation, to ensure veterans can continue to access the support they need, whether via the NHS or the charitable sector.

This Government has provided unprecedented support to the service charity sector throughout the pandemic. As well as being able to access broader charity sector support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the sector has benefitted from a £6million COVID Impact Fund. In addition to the £10million per annum that the Government provides to the sector through the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, in this year’s budget, the Trust has been allocated a further £10million to deliver charitable projects supporting veterans mental health needs.

23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the number of veterans that have developed lung cancer as a result of their exposure to asbestos.

As I stated in my answer given to the hon. Member on 11 January 2021, the MOD’s Health Safety and Environmental Protection directorate, alongside the Defence People function will work with the Office for Veterans’ Affairs to explore potential health issues related to exposure to asbestos during service, and to continue to coordinate MOD's asbestos management approach. Claims for compensation in respect of injuries or illnesses arising as a result of service can be made by veterans through the Ministry of Defence.

3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if his Department will take steps to clarify that weddings with six guests can take place from 8 March 2021 in public-facing communications.

Guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships was published on 22 March and can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships#wedding-and-civil-partnership-ceremony-venues

We recognise that any restrictions on wedding venues may be disappointing for those planning such events, but we have to take necessary steps to limit transmission of COVID-19. This includes the closure of some settings and restrictions on social contact, including wedding and civil partnership ceremonies. By their very nature, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are events that bring families and friends together, making them particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. We appreciate the sacrifices people have had to make across the COVID-19 pandemic and we do not wish to keep any restrictions in place longer than we need to.

In the COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021, the Government has set out the gradual and cautious approach to reopening in England, guided by science and the data, including the staged return of weddings and civil partnerships, as well as sporting events.

In order to inform the pace and sequencing of the roadmap, the Government commissioned advice and modelling from SAGE and its sub-groups. Scientific evidence supporting the government response to coronavirus is regularly published here - https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/scientific-evidence-supporting-the-government-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much funding the Government allocated to veteran’s mental health in 2020-21; and how much it plans to allocate in 2021-22.

The Government is committed to providing the necessary support for our Veterans. The vast majority of veterans currently access mental health services available to the general population. For veteran specific mental health services, in 2020-2021 NHS England provided £16.5m, which will be increased to £17.8m for 2021-2022, alongside the launch of the new High Intensity Service across England and Op Courage pathway for accessing all veterans’ mental health services within NHS England.

Service charities are supported by the Government through the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, which benefits from £10m annually, and in both years an additional £10m has been allocated to support veterans’ mental health needs. During 2020, the COVID-19 Impact Fund has provided nearly £6m in grants to over 100 Armed Forces charities across the United Kingdom. Of the charities awarded funding, 68% of grants sampled supported members of the Armed Forces and veterans’ community for mental health and crisis support, and 77% for easing isolation and loneliness.

17th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what discussions his Department had with (a) Hutchinson Port Holdings, (b) the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell prior to the award of funding from the Port Infrastructure Fund on 15 December 2020.

In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions within Government are not normally disclosed. Cabinet Office officials are in regular contact with ports across the UK as part of their regular engagement. This includes all ports which applied to the fund. This contact is ongoing. There were no discussions between Cabinet Office officials or ministers and the Rt Hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell regarding the Port Infrastructure Fund.

The Port Infrastructure Fund (PIF) team worked with an independent eligibility and assessment team, with specialist experience and technical expertise in rail, air and maritime port infrastructure design and build to assess the funding applications. The Fund Allocation Authority (FAA), which is made up of representatives from across the relevant government departments such as HMRC, Defra and Border Force, subsequently made decisions about allocations based on the recommendations of the PIF Team.

The Fund received 53 applications from a range of sea ports, rail facilities and airports. Of the 53 ports that applied to the fund, 41 were successful in their application and a total of £200M has been provisionally allocated. 12 ports were not considered eligible or were unsuccessful at assessment phase.

It is a commercial decision for ports as to whether to provide these facilities. In normal circumstances, ports would be expected to fund such facilities themselves. However - in recognition of the unique circumstances of EU Exit, and the tight timescales for putting infrastructure in place - Government has made £470m of funding available to support border readiness.

Ports will need to fund the remaining 34% themselves. As the maximum amount of funding available was £200 million, a 66% award was applied across all applications ensuring all successful bids received a fair and proportionate level of taxpayer funded support.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what discussions he had with Hutchison Port Holdings prior to the award of funds to that company through the Port Infrastructure Fund on 15 December 2020.

In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions within Government are not normally disclosed. Cabinet Office officials are in regular contact with ports across the UK as part of their regular engagement. This includes all ports which applied to the fund. This contact is ongoing. There were no discussions between Cabinet Office officials or ministers and the Rt Hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell regarding the Port Infrastructure Fund.

The Port Infrastructure Fund (PIF) team worked with an independent eligibility and assessment team, with specialist experience and technical expertise in rail, air and maritime port infrastructure design and build to assess the funding applications. The Fund Allocation Authority (FAA), which is made up of representatives from across the relevant government departments such as HMRC, Defra and Border Force, subsequently made decisions about allocations based on the recommendations of the PIF Team.

The Fund received 53 applications from a range of sea ports, rail facilities and airports. Of the 53 ports that applied to the fund, 41 were successful in their application and a total of £200M has been provisionally allocated. 12 ports were not considered eligible or were unsuccessful at assessment phase.

It is a commercial decision for ports as to whether to provide these facilities. In normal circumstances, ports would be expected to fund such facilities themselves. However - in recognition of the unique circumstances of EU Exit, and the tight timescales for putting infrastructure in place - Government has made £470m of funding available to support border readiness.

Ports will need to fund the remaining 34% themselves. As the maximum amount of funding available was £200 million, a 66% award was applied across all applications ensuring all successful bids received a fair and proportionate level of taxpayer funded support.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what discussions he had with the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell prior to the award of funds through the Port Infrastructure Fund on 15 December 2020.

In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions within Government are not normally disclosed. Cabinet Office officials are in regular contact with ports across the UK as part of their regular engagement. This includes all ports which applied to the fund. This contact is ongoing. There were no discussions between Cabinet Office officials or ministers and the Rt Hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell regarding the Port Infrastructure Fund.

The Port Infrastructure Fund (PIF) team worked with an independent eligibility and assessment team, with specialist experience and technical expertise in rail, air and maritime port infrastructure design and build to assess the funding applications. The Fund Allocation Authority (FAA), which is made up of representatives from across the relevant government departments such as HMRC, Defra and Border Force, subsequently made decisions about allocations based on the recommendations of the PIF Team.

The Fund received 53 applications from a range of sea ports, rail facilities and airports. Of the 53 ports that applied to the fund, 41 were successful in their application and a total of £200M has been provisionally allocated. 12 ports were not considered eligible or were unsuccessful at assessment phase.

It is a commercial decision for ports as to whether to provide these facilities. In normal circumstances, ports would be expected to fund such facilities themselves. However - in recognition of the unique circumstances of EU Exit, and the tight timescales for putting infrastructure in place - Government has made £470m of funding available to support border readiness.

Ports will need to fund the remaining 34% themselves. As the maximum amount of funding available was £200 million, a 66% award was applied across all applications ensuring all successful bids received a fair and proportionate level of taxpayer funded support.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what discussions he had with The Bristol Port Company Limited prior to the award of funds through the Port Infrastructure Fund on 15 December 2020.

In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions within Government are not normally disclosed. Cabinet Office officials are in regular contact with ports across the UK as part of their regular engagement. This includes all ports which applied to the fund. This contact is ongoing. There were no discussions between Cabinet Office officials or ministers and the Rt Hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell regarding the Port Infrastructure Fund.

The Port Infrastructure Fund (PIF) team worked with an independent eligibility and assessment team, with specialist experience and technical expertise in rail, air and maritime port infrastructure design and build to assess the funding applications. The Fund Allocation Authority (FAA), which is made up of representatives from across the relevant government departments such as HMRC, Defra and Border Force, subsequently made decisions about allocations based on the recommendations of the PIF Team.

The Fund received 53 applications from a range of sea ports, rail facilities and airports. Of the 53 ports that applied to the fund, 41 were successful in their application and a total of £200M has been provisionally allocated. 12 ports were not considered eligible or were unsuccessful at assessment phase.

It is a commercial decision for ports as to whether to provide these facilities. In normal circumstances, ports would be expected to fund such facilities themselves. However - in recognition of the unique circumstances of EU Exit, and the tight timescales for putting infrastructure in place - Government has made £470m of funding available to support border readiness.

Ports will need to fund the remaining 34% themselves. As the maximum amount of funding available was £200 million, a 66% award was applied across all applications ensuring all successful bids received a fair and proportionate level of taxpayer funded support.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he plans to meet the funding shortfall faced by Portsmouth International Port following the Port Infrastructure Fund award on 16 December 2020; and if he will make a statement.

In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions within Government are not normally disclosed. Cabinet Office officials are in regular contact with ports across the UK as part of their regular engagement. This includes all ports which applied to the fund. This contact is ongoing. There were no discussions between Cabinet Office officials or ministers and the Rt Hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell regarding the Port Infrastructure Fund.

The Port Infrastructure Fund (PIF) team worked with an independent eligibility and assessment team, with specialist experience and technical expertise in rail, air and maritime port infrastructure design and build to assess the funding applications. The Fund Allocation Authority (FAA), which is made up of representatives from across the relevant government departments such as HMRC, Defra and Border Force, subsequently made decisions about allocations based on the recommendations of the PIF Team.

The Fund received 53 applications from a range of sea ports, rail facilities and airports. Of the 53 ports that applied to the fund, 41 were successful in their application and a total of £200M has been provisionally allocated. 12 ports were not considered eligible or were unsuccessful at assessment phase.

It is a commercial decision for ports as to whether to provide these facilities. In normal circumstances, ports would be expected to fund such facilities themselves. However - in recognition of the unique circumstances of EU Exit, and the tight timescales for putting infrastructure in place - Government has made £470m of funding available to support border readiness.

Ports will need to fund the remaining 34% themselves. As the maximum amount of funding available was £200 million, a 66% award was applied across all applications ensuring all successful bids received a fair and proportionate level of taxpayer funded support.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans his Department has to mark remembrance of those who have lost their lives due to the covid-19 outbreak.

As we have set out previously, the Government's immediate focus is on protecting the lives and livelihoods of the nation, but there is nonetheless the need to mourn those who have died, and to mark and remember this period as one of immense struggle. We will set out the Government’s proposed approach to this important matter in due course.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, on what date the National Space Council last met; when the council plans next to meet; and whether he plans to publish the agendas and minutes of those meetings.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to PQ107708 on 03 November.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking in response to representations from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum on the provision of central Government funding for completion of Operation Transmission; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to PQs 106475 and 106474 on 28 October 2020.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent discussions he has had with the Chief Coroner on the recording of veteran suicide.

Ministers have regular conversations with interdepartmental colleagues on a range of topics, including the Government’s ongoing commitment to make it as easy as possible to access the clinical and welfare support available to veterans and their families. The Chief Coroner has given coroners clearer guidance so that deaths, including suicide, are recorded more consistently.

The Government continues to invest in mental health support and training whilst individuals are serving in the Armed Forces, as well as significant research to understand and tackle the risks and causes of suicide amongst those who have served. This includes a study commissioned by the MOD to investigate causes of death, including suicide, amongst all those who served in the UK Armed Forces between 2001 and 2014, covering combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2019, we extended this study to include all those who served after 2014, now and into the future. This will be complemented by a new Manchester University study, funded jointly by the MOD and NHS (England), looking at risk factors in the year leading up to a veteran taking their own life. Combined, these studies will provide increasingly robust data, in order to better understand ‘at risk’ groups and support better targeted interventions.

9th Jul 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, who will act as National Security Adviser in the interim period between the departure of the previous National Security Adviser and the start date of the new post holder in the Autumn.

I refer the hon. Member to the Urgent Question responded to by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 30 June 2020.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
24th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what criteria the Government uses to determine what work is essential during the covid-19 outbreak.

The position as outlined on gov.uk is that everyone who can work from home should do so.

When that is not possible, people should go into work provided they are not symptomatic, isolating or shielding. Relevant guidance including from Public Health England should be followed.

The Government has placed restrictions on the operations of certain businesses as part of the strategy of enhanced social distancing. Separate guidance has been published on this and is also available on gov.uk.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of national covid-19 lockdown’s on the pub and brewery sector; what plans he has to support the recovery of that sector from those lockdowns; and if he will make a statement.

The Government has brought forward a substantial package of financial support for the hospitality sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the Budget, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £65 billion plan to provide support for jobs and businesses (including the hospitality sector), with extensions to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, self-employed support, business grants, loans and VAT cuts – bringing total fiscal support to over £352 billion.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he plans to publish his decision on the Aquind Interconnector project.

Following the close of the examination in respect of the application for development consent for the Aquind Interconnector project on 8 March 2021, the examining authority is currently writing its report for my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State which will contain its conclusions and recommendation on the project. Once he has received the report, which is expected no later than the 8 June 2021, the Secretary of State will have three months to take his decision to grant or refuse development consent.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the covid-19 outbreak on job losses in the wedding industry in which 80 per cent of workers are women.

I meet regularly with the industry-led Weddings Taskforce, established to represent all parts of the UK Weddings sector, to understand the impact of COVID-19 on wedding businesses and jobs in the sector.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of financial support available to hairdressers during the covid-19 outbreak.

I understand these are extremely challenging circumstances for businesses. That is why we have put in place one of the most generous packages of business support in the world, worth £285 billion. This includes a business rates holiday, various loan schemes and the extended furlough scheme. Closed businesses such as hairdressers can also receive a grant of up to £3,000 per month and a one-off payment of up to a maximum £9,000. Government continues to keep under review all the measures needed to control the virus, as well as the appropriate business support.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that independent bookshops receive the support they need to help them to reopen in areas under tier 3 covid-19 restrictions.

The Government has published clear COVID-Secure guidance which outlines the measures which need to be put in place for shops to open safely in all tiers. We continue to review this guidance as the situation evolves.

Following the introduction of national restrictions, independent book shops must close. All shops can continue to offer click and collect, and delivery services which will help businesses keep trading.

The Government continues to offer a comprehensive support package for small businesses which independent bookshops can access, including  one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring, an extension to the Coronavirus Job retention Scheme to the end of April 2021, extension to the existing Loan Schemes to the end of March 2021, and cash grants of up to £1,500 per 2-week closure period, for businesses which are closed during local or national restrictions.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the contribution of local independent book shops to local knowledge and culture within communities; and what steps he is taking to support that contribution during and after the imposition of tier 3 local covid alert level restrictions.

Independent retailers, including book shops, play a valuable role in our communities.

The Government continues to offer a comprehensive support package for small businesses which independent bookshops can access, including the extension to the Coronavirus Job retention Scheme to the end of April 2021, extension to the existing Loan Schemes to the end of March 2021, and cash grants of up to £3,000 per month for businesses which are closed.

Following the introduction of new national restrictions, independent book shops can continue to offer click and collect, and delivery services which will help businesses keep trading.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to increase the number of suitably qualified and experienced personnel (SQEP) in the UK space sector.

The UK Space Agency is working closely with organisations across the sector to understand their varied requirements for SQEP. We are undertaking a nationwide Space Skills Survey to map the current learning landscape and identify gaps in provision of support. A Space Skills Advisory Panel, including expertise from across government, academia and industry, will then prioritise new training opportunities to ensure we can deliver a skilled and enthusiastic workforce for the space sector.

The UKSA has worked with the Space Engineering Trailblazer group to develop a new apprenticeship standard at level 4, and continues to work with industry to finalise the standards for a level 6 apprenticeship in Space Systems Engineering. Work also continues with other Trailblazer Groups to address other space skills issues such as data applications.

The UKSA also continues to raise awareness in the student body of the career opportunities presented by the space sector. This is delivered through country-wide careers engagements as well as through the Space Placements in Industry (SPIN) scheme. This successful scheme provides small grants to enable SMEs in particular to employ university students for short placements within their business, providing both meaningful work experience and developing skills in the interns to improve their employability. This year we received a record number of applications for the programme which was able to proceed with many projects being offered remotely, a threefold increase over previous years.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, on what date he plans to publish the national space strategy.

We are committed to making the UK a world leader in space and other high-tech industries. The UK’s first comprehensive national space strategy is therefore being developed under the direction of the National Space Council.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what general programmes and themes he plans to include in the national space strategy.

We are committed to making the UK world leader in space, building on our excellence in science to deliver solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges. Our UK Space Strategy will help the UK lead the way in this fast-growing, high-technology sector, levelling up our economy, strengthening our global influence and keeping people safe, including through a dedicated space innovation programme.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of establishing a lead authority to monitor the implementation of the national space strategy.

We are committed to making the UK a world leader in space and will put in place the right structures and governance to ensure our strategy’s success, overseen by the new National Space Council.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the implications for his policy on future UK space capability of the Athena paper entitled A new Approach to Space.

The Government is committed to making the UK a global leader in space. As we develop the UK’s first comprehensive national space strategy, we are working closely with partners across the sector to realise our shared ambition for the UK’s world-class space industry.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of the new customs regulations with Belgium after the end of the transition period on vaccine imports from Pfizer after that company’s relocation of its cold storage facility from Havant to Belgium.

For security reasons, the Government cannot divulge how the vaccine will travel across borders. A number of scenarios have been investigated and we have put in place robust contingency plans to ensure that vaccine freight will continue unimpeded.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the outcome of the US presidential election on the commitments to the Paris Climate Accord of 2015.

The UK welcomes President-elect Biden’s commitment to re-join the Paris Agreement and to put the US on a path to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

As the incoming Presidency of the G7 and COP26, we look forward to working with the new US administration to address the urgent challenge of climate change and to encourage countries across the world to increase their climate ambition.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of China’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

China’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 is welcome and significant as part of wider global efforts to limit climate change. We look forward to hearing more details on how the target will be translated into a long-term strategy and implemented in the short-term through China’s 14th Five Year Plan and NDC. We will continue to work with China on areas of mutual interest as we approach COP26 and CBD COP15, the UN biodiversity conference, which China is hosting next year.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing additional support and guidance to independent book shops during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown period.

Independent retailers,?including book shops, play a valuable role in our communities, acting as hubs for local people and having a positive impact on the communities they serve.

Book shops are able to benefit from additional financial measures announced by my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, including the extension to the Coronavirus Job retention Scheme, extension to the existing Loan Schemes to January 2021 with the ability to top-up Bounce Back Loans, and cash grants of up to £3,000 per month for businesses which are closed.

All shops can continue to offer home delivery and click and collect services to customers during the November lockdown.

The Government have previously published COVID-Secure guidance for retailers and have published guidance on the New National Restrictions. All shops can continue to offer home delivery and click and collect services to customers during the national restrictions in place in November.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of enabling hospitality venues to offer takeaway alcohol during the November 2020 national lockdown to ensure their commercial survival.

During the new national restrictions in place from 5 November, pubs and bars are permitted to sell alcohol through delivery or via click and collect where remote ordering has been utilised.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of interruptions to (a) scrutiny of and (b) consultation on the Aquind Interconnector project as a result of the covid-19 outbreak on public confidence in that project.

The Planning Inspectorate is responsible for the conduct of examinations into applications for development consent for nationally significant infrastructure projects. The examination of the application for the proposed Aquind Interconnector project is being carried out by The Planning Inspectorate in accordance with Government advice for dealing with such matters during the Covid-19 outbreak. The Planning Inspectorate is mindful of the need to ensure fairness and open access to all parties throughout the examination process.

The Planning Inspectorate’s report on the development consent application for the Aquind Interconnector will be carefully considered once it is submitted to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of compulsory purchases in the Portsmouth area by Aquind Interconnector on (a) the wellbeing of local homeowners and (b) public confidence in (i) local democracy and (ii) Portsmouth city council.

The Planning Inspectorate is currently examining the application for development consent for the proposed Aquind Interconnector project. The application seeks authorisation for the compulsory acquisition of land and rights over land in connection with the project and those matters will be considered during the examination of the application.

The Planning Inspectorate’s report on the development consent application for the Aquind Interconnector, including any compulsory acquisition matters that have been raised, will be carefully considered once it is submitted to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with representatives from Aquind Interconnector on running a route for cables through open country west of the A3 road area from Portsdown Hill to Hambledon Road, along the B2150.

The application for development consent for the proposed Aquind Interconnector has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and is currently being examined by them. Neither my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who has recused himself from any part in the decision-making process, nor his Ministers have had any discussions with representatives of Aquind Limited, the developer of the Aquind Interconnector, about route options for the proposed Interconnector.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of the current proposed route of the Aquind Interconnector on the welfare of allotment holders in Portsmouth.

The Planning Inspectorate is currently examining the application for development consent for the proposed Aquind Interconnector. The Examining Authority will examine all relevant issues before submitting its report to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

As the decision to grant or refuse consent to an application for development consent is quasi-judicial, it would not be appropriate for my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who has recused himself from any part in the decision-making process, or his Ministers to comment further on any aspect of this live development consent application or to meet with any interested party to discuss it.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will meet the South Downs National Park Authority to discuss the environmental implications of the Aquind Interconnector.

The Planning Inspectorate is currently examining the application for development consent for the proposed Aquind Interconnector. The Examining Authority will examine all relevant issues before submitting its report to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

As the decision to grant or refuse consent to an application for development consent is quasi-judicial, it would not be appropriate for my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who has recused himself from any part in the decision-making process, or his Ministers to comment further on any aspect of this live development consent application or to meet with any interested party to discuss it.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business,Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to provide support to (a) local authorities and (b) Local Resilience Forums for the allocation of undistributed funding to businesses in Hampshire that are facing financial difficulties as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has put forward a package of support for businesses in recognition of the disruption caused by Covid-19. As part of this, as at 21 June, local authorities in Hampshire had paid out over £225 million to over 18,000 business premises under the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund.

On 1 May, the Government announced the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund to support businesses previously out of scope of the existing grant funding schemes. In Hampshire, a further £12 million has been made available to support local businesses through this additional fund.

The Government is working closely with all local authorities to ensure grant funding reaches businesses as quickly and efficiently as possible. As part of this, we have provided detailed guidance and FAQs, regular briefings, and one-to-one support from the Department, as well as a communications toolkit.

Once the schemes have closed, any unallocated funds will be subject to a reconciliation exercise with the Government. We will also provide additional funding to local authorities to meet the administrative costs of delivering this policy.

We are keeping in close contact with local authorities to understand how the schemes are rolling out.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps is he taking to ensure that British Airways does not misuse the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by terminating staff contracts and subsequently rehiring a new workforce with inferior pay and conditions.

During this difficult time, employers should act responsibly and only use the Job Retention Scheme to protect jobs. We would urge employers not to use the Job Retention Scheme to make someone redundant on less favourable terms than they would otherwise have received.

Terms and conditions of employment are for negotiation and agreement between employers and employees (or their representatives). Provided they do not discriminate unlawfully, for example on grounds of race, sex or disability, employers are free to offer the terms and conditions of employment which best suit their business needs.

Once agreed, however, they form a legally binding contract of employment. While it is always open to either party to seek to renegotiate the terms of the contract, if the employer changes any of the terms without the employee’s agreement, the employee may be entitled to seek legal redress.

Any redundancy process should be fair and reasonable, with appropriate equalities considerations. Employees can appeal to their employer if they feel they have been unfairly selected or they may be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment the Government has made of the potential economic effects of employees who have accrued large amounts of holiday while furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme utilising that entitlement immediately on the lifting of covid-19 lockdown measures.

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks annual leave, which should be paid as if workers were still at work and working. Annual leave continues to accrue as long as the worker maintains their employment relationship with their employer, which is the case whilst an employee is on a period of furlough through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Workers on furlough are able to take annual leave, and employers are able to require them to do so. This will prevent large build-ups that would need to be used at the end of the lockdown measures.

The Government has been clear that employment rights remain unchanged under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Therefore, as holiday rights are unaffected by the scheme, no assessment has been made.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that building sites adhere to social distancing regulations during the covid-19 outbreak.

The health and safety of construction workers is a priority for the Government. To help ensure that it is safe for construction workers to operate in their workplace, the Government has worked with Public Health England (PHE) to develop sector-specific guidance on social distancing, and has also worked with the Construction Leadership Council to develop Site Operating Procedures (SOP), which provide practical advice to those seeking to implement the guidance.

The Health and Safety Executive has the powers to take enforcement action if a site is not consistently implementing the measures set out by PHE.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that construction work in urban areas does not increase respiratory risks to shielded people in those areas.

Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Government has emphasised that people’s health is the top priority. We have been clear that construction work can continue in England if it is undertaken in a manner consistent with the guidelines issued by Public Health England. We have also published bespoke guidance to help those who work in outdoor environments, including construction workers, to understand how to work safely at this time.

The Health and Safety Executive has set out that dust from construction work does not usually pose a health risk to members of the public if the exposure is low and the duration is short. If high exposure and longer duration is likely, controls have been adopted to protect the workforce on a construction site; these are also likely to reduce the risk to members of the public. These controls include the use of low-dust products, as well as the use of water suppression or exhaust ventilation.

The Government is not aware of specific instances of brick dust affecting the respiratory functioning of people located near to construction sites during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what reports he has received of brick dust affecting the respiratory functioning of people located near to construction sites during the covid-19 outbreak.

Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Government has emphasised that people’s health is the top priority. We have been clear that construction work can continue in England if it is undertaken in a manner consistent with the guidelines issued by Public Health England. We have also published bespoke guidance to help those who work in outdoor environments, including construction workers, to understand how to work safely at this time.

The Health and Safety Executive has set out that dust from construction work does not usually pose a health risk to members of the public if the exposure is low and the duration is short. If high exposure and longer duration is likely, controls have been adopted to protect the workforce on a construction site; these are also likely to reduce the risk to members of the public. These controls include the use of low-dust products, as well as the use of water suppression or exhaust ventilation.

The Government is not aware of specific instances of brick dust affecting the respiratory functioning of people located near to construction sites during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to engage with the retail sector on the ability of that sector to transition back to business as normal once the covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

We are in regular contact with a wide range of representatives of the retail sector.

I host a weekly call with non-food retailers and business representative organisations covering a range of subjects including operational challenges faced by the sector as we transition to a new normal.

The most recent call took place on 7th May and the next one is scheduled for 14th May.

Government is grateful to retailers and representative organisations who are engaging constructively with Government on how retailers can safely operate as restrictions begin to ease.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions has he had with representatives from the British Retail Consortium on the potential risks of easing of the lockdown.

Ministers and officials have regular engagement with a large number of businesses, representative organisations and trade unions across all sectors including the British Retail Consortium, in advance of easing the lockdown.

As this work is complex and multifaceted, we are working with industry, business representative organisations, unions, Public Health England, and the Health and Safety Executive to consider what might be needed to adapt workplaces to further improve the safety of these places and thereby minimise the risk of transmission as much as possible.

I host a weekly call with non-food retailers and business representative organisations including the British Retail Consortium with the most recent call taking place on 30th April. The next one is scheduled for 7th May.

We welcome the publication of jointly agreed advice by the British Retail Consortium and the Union for Shop Distributive and Allied Workers on the recommended implementation of social distancing practices for non-food retail stores.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that discussions are held with representatives of the retail sector in advance of easing the lockdown.

Ministers and officials have regular engagement with a large number of businesses, representative organisations and trade unions across all sectors including the British Retail Consortium, in advance of easing the lockdown.

As this work is complex and multifaceted, we are working with industry, business representative organisations, unions, Public Health England, and the Health and Safety Executive to consider what might be needed to adapt workplaces to further improve the safety of these places and thereby minimise the risk of transmission as much as possible.

I host a weekly call with non-food retailers and business representative organisations including the British Retail Consortium with the most recent call taking place on 30th April. The next one is scheduled for 7th May.

We welcome the publication of jointly agreed advice by the British Retail Consortium and the Union for Shop Distributive and Allied Workers on the recommended implementation of social distancing practices for non-food retail stores.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of rules on staff who have been furloughed in line with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme prohibiting the use of social media on the ability of those businesses to retain a customer base after the covid-19 outbreak.

The scheme is designed to help employers who are unable to operate or have no work for an employee to do because of coronavirus and those who otherwise would have been made unemployed. There is flexibility in that staff can be rotated and rolled on and off furlough, so long as each period on furlough is for a minimum of 3 weeks.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that businesses uphold workers' rights during the covid-19 outbreak.

This Government is working to minimise any social and economic disruption as a result of Covid-19.

We would urge employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their workforce. Employers and employees should come to a pragmatic agreement about these arrangements.

While most employers act responsibly, a small number fail to respect their workers employment rights. Labour market enforcement bodies continue to respond to complaints from workers either received directly or through the online form on gov.uk.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what processes are in place for the Government to monitor compliance of supermarkets with covid-19 legislation.

Everyone must comply with the rules issued by Government in relation to Coronavirus, in order to protect both themselves and others.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 are the regulations in England that cover enforcement of violations of the Government’s rules on social distancing (Scotland and Wales have their own legislation).

In England, Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with these regulations, with police support provided if appropriate.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the accuracy of reports that supermarkets are not implementing Government policy (a) restricting shopping to essential goods and (b) on social distancing within shops during the covid-19 outbreak.

Government is clear that people should only leave the house for four reasons, which includes shopping for food and other essentials if they have to. Government have not published a list of goods it deems essential nor asked supermarkets to reduce the range of products they sell.

We have set out the general principles and measures for how social distancing can be implemented in the workplace, including staggering processes which would enable staff to continue to operate both effectively and where possible at a safe distance from one another.

We have also set out tailored advice for different scenarios as an example of how social distancing and other measures that might be implemented by employers in England to help protect their workforce and customers from coronavirus while still continuing to trade.

Everyone must comply with the rules issued by the?Government in relation to coronavirus, in order to protect both themselves and others. In England, Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with these regulations with police support if appropriate.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether non-customer facing workers who do not have the facilities to work from home are able to continue to work at their workplace during the covid-19 outbreak.

Government advice is clear. If at all possible, people should work at home and where they cannot, employers should ensure that the work environment is a safe one and follow all relevant public health guidance.

Businesses and employees can get advice on individual employment issues by visiting the Acas website at www.acas.org.uk. Businesses can also ring the BEIS Business Support Line, 0300 456 3565, for further advice on support for business.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of recording whether a women who is making a claim at employment tribunal for the purpose of (a) her Department being able to provide more support and (b) workplace equality is pregnant.

Cases of pregnancy and maternity discrimination are recorded. When submitting an Employment Tribunal Claim Form (ET1), a claimant is required to specify the details of the case. This involves stating whether they have been discriminated against, including on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity.

There are a number of sources of support for pregnant women seeking to take a claim to an employment tribunal.

Acas (Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service) provides free and impartial information and advice to employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. It produces advice and guidance on discrimination, bullying and harassment and has specific content covering pregnancy and maternity.

In addition, anyone who believes that they may have suffered from discrimination or had their human rights infringed can access the EASS helpline, which offers bespoke advice to clients to help them understand their rights and the resolution options that are open to them.

Legal aid is available for legal advice and representation for cases alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation under the Equality Act 2010, or a previous discrimination enactment, which can arise in a variety of contexts – for example, consumer, education or employment matters. Legal aid for cases of this type must usually first be sought through the Civil Legal Advice (CLA) telephone gateway, before being referred onwards for face-to-face advice.

The Government is determined to do more to promote workplace equality. That is why we committed to introduce measures in an Employment Bill to extend redundancy protections to better prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 20 January 2020 to Question 3877 on Fireworks: Animal Welfare, what the time frame is for the Office for Product Safety and Standards' review on the effect on humans and animals of the use of fireworks.

The work that the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is conducting to develop an evidence base is ongoing. It is continuing to assess new and emerging data and will report in due course.

27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps her Department is taking to help safeguard pregnant women from (a) workplace discrimination and (b) unfair dismissal.

The Government recognises the importance of tackling pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

The Government’s manifesto committed to reform the law so that women returning from maternity leave receive additional protection from redundancy.

We will extend the redundancy protection period for six months once a new mother has returned to work and provide similar protections for those parents taking adoption leave and shared parental leave. This will be part of an Employment Rights Bill to deliver the greatest reform of workers’ rights in over 20 years.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment she has made of the effect of fireworks used in public displays on levels of climate change.

The UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory publishes an annual assessment of greenhouse gas emissions by source and removals. Fireworks are listed under the Waste Incineration sector (5C) according to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Common Reporting Format sector classifications.

Greenhouse gas emissions from fireworks used in public displays are not included in the UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory as they have been judged not to be a significant source of greenhouse gases in the UK. It is estimated that 10-20 thousand tonnes of fireworks are typically used in the UK each year. Even assuming the fireworks are entirely made of carbon and entirely oxidised, the greenhouse gas emissions from this level of activity would be less than 100kt CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalents). This is below the threshold of significance for including a source of greenhouse gas emissions in the inventory. The threshold was set by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as being both less than 500kt CO2e and 0.05% of the total national greenhouse gas emissions (which is 236kt CO2e for the UK).

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if she will bring forward legislative proposals to reduce the effect on the environment of fireworks used in public displays.

The Government understands concerns about the potential impact caused by fireworks on individuals, animals and the environment. This is why the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is developing a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that have been raised around fireworks. This includes looking at data on noise and disturbance, anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. This will build a full picture of the data around fireworks in order to identify whether further action is appropriate.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to limit the noise level of fireworks to 90 dB for the welfare of animals.

The Government understands concerns about the potential impact caused by fireworks on individuals, animals and the environment. This is why the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is developing a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that have been raised around fireworks. This includes looking at data on noise and disturbance, anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. This will build a full picture of the data around fireworks in order to identify whether further action is appropriate.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to encourage suppliers to stock fireworks with a noise level of less than 90 dB for public display.

We understand concerns about the potential impact caused by fireworks on individuals, animals and the environment. We also receive representations from a wide range of stakeholders, including members of the public, organisations and charities, with diverse views on what the issues are and what action they would like to see. This is why the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is developing a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that have been raised around fireworks. Officials in OPSS have also been in contact with Government Departments including Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Devolved Administrations as part of this work. Therefore, the review includes looking at data on noise and disturbance, anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. This will build a full picture of the data around fireworks in order to identify whether further action is appropriate.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the effect of the use of fireworks on animal welfare.

We understand concerns about the potential impact caused by fireworks on individuals, animals and the environment. We also receive representations from a wide range of stakeholders, including members of the public, organisations and charities, with diverse views on what the issues are and what action they would like to see. This is why the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is developing a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that have been raised around fireworks. Officials in OPSS have also been in contact with Government Departments including Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Devolved Administrations as part of this work. Therefore, the review includes looking at data on noise and disturbance, anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. This will build a full picture of the data around fireworks in order to identify whether further action is appropriate.

21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the clinical evidence is for the decision to not to allow amateur choral singing groups of more than six people to meet.

I know that the restrictions on singing are frustrating to large numbers of amateur choirs and performance groups across the country and that many people have made sacrifices in order to drive down infections and protect the NHS over the last year. I can assure you that everyone across the Government wants to ease these restrictions as soon as possible.

However, it is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions. We have followed the views of public health experts on singing. We are aware, through the NERVTAG and PERFORM studies that singing can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission through the spread of aerosol droplets. This was backed up by a consensus statement from SAGE, resulting in the suggested principles of safer singing being published.

We will continue to keep guidance and restrictions under review, in line with the changing situation. As set out in the roadmap, we hope to remove all legal limits on social contact at step 4. Further detail on step 4 will be set out as soon as possible.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the clinical evidence was for the decision to lift the covid-19 social distancing restrictions on choral singing groups from 17 May 2021.

I know that the restrictions on singing are frustrating to large numbers of amateur choirs and performance groups across the country and that many people have made sacrifices in order to drive down infections and protect the NHS over the last year. I can assure you that everyone across the Government wants to ease these restrictions as soon as possible.

However, it is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions. We have followed the views of public health experts on singing. We are aware, through the NERVTAG and PERFORM studies that singing can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission through the spread of aerosol droplets. This was backed up by a consensus statement from SAGE, resulting in the suggested principles of safer singing being published.

We will continue to keep guidance and restrictions under review, in line with the changing situation. As set out in the roadmap, we hope to remove all legal limits on social contact at step 4. Further detail on step 4 will be set out as soon as possible.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the provisions in the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement on tariff-free movement of equipment for TV and film production, what plans he has to facilitate the movement of live music and production equipment across the EU.

This Government understands that the cultural and creative sectors rely on the ability to move people across borders quickly, simply, and with minimal cost and administration.

Being outside the European Union does not change this. It does, however, mean practical changes on both sides of the Channel that will require understanding and adaptation. UK professionals are of course still able to tour and work in the EU, and vice versa.

Since 1 January 2021, customs processes apply to all movements of commercial and non-commercials goods between Great Britain and the EU. Both parties’ include similar legislative provisions on the customs procedures governing the temporary admission of goods, which would include musical instruments and professional equipment and reflects practice set out in relevant international conventions, including the ATA and Istanbul Conventions. Where musicians or other professionals move equipment to the EU temporarily, which means they intend to return this equipment to the UK afterwards, there are several options to avoid payment of import duties in the EU and on return to the UK, including via the use of ATA Carnets and the Temporary Admission procedure.

A carnet is not required for musicians with accompanied instruments or equipment (carried or taken with the individual in personal baggage or a vehicle) travelling between Great Britain and The EU.

The management of EU import and export procedures is the responsibility of the customs authorities of the Member States. It is important that businesses and individuals confirm the processes in advance of their journey.

We are working urgently across government and in collaboration with the music and wider creative industries, including through the touring working group, to help address these issues so that touring in Europe can resume with ease as soon as it is safe to do so.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking with local authorities throughout the country to facilitate the reopening of parkrun events in the context of the covid-19 outbreak.

Government has prioritised the safe return of sport including team sports, contact combat sports and organised sports participation events. Organised outdoor sport, such as Parkrun, is exempt from legal gathering limits and can take place with any number of participants, as long as undertaken in line with published COVID-secure guidance. As such, Parkrun has been able to take place since 29 March as part of Step 1 of the government’s response to the Covid-19 Roadmap.

We are aware of issues at local levels around this, which is why I met with ParkRun on the 21 March to discuss the issues regarding their return. I am committed to supporting them to return as soon as possible.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what restrictions he plans to place on third party access to the data infrastructure contained in the proposed AQUIND subsea interconnector; and if he will make a statement.

The AQUIND subsea interconnector project is in the early planning stage. DCMS works with industry to manage the development of the UK’s submarine cable network including assessing and mitigating the physical, personnel, and cyber risks involved.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many registrations his Department has received to the Film & TV Production Restart Scheme to date; how many claims have been made; and how much has been paid out on those claims.

The Government’s Film & TV Production Restart Scheme was launched on 16 October 2020 to provide support for production companies across the UK who would otherwise have been unable to film due to the lack of insurance covering covid-related risks.

There are now over 200 production companies registered to receive support from the scheme in the event of delay or disruption due to coronavirus. This means that the scheme is protecting over 22,000 jobs and over £780 million of production spend in the UK.

So far, over 50 claims have been made and these are being assessed. The scheme has now paid out on the initial claims.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the £10 million grant to National League clubs in steps 4-6 in supporting them through and beyond this lockdown period.

On 27th January 2021, the government confirmed that Steps 3-6 of the National League System will receive up to £10 million of grant support from the Sports Winter Survival Package. This is designed to protect the immediate future of approximately 850 clubs over the winter period. This support is being distributed at pace by the Football Foundation and is available with immediate effect.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect of clubs in steps 4-6 of the National League on (a) mental wellbeing, (b) community projects, (c) economic prosperity and (d) other aspects of the local community.

Football clubs at all levels make a significant contribution to their local communities. National League clubs have demonstrated this more than ever throughout the pandemic, from delivering care packages for the vulnerable through to raising money for front-line charities, they are at the heart of their communities.

The Government therefore confirmed that Steps 3-6 of the National League System will receive up to £10 million of grant support from the Sports Winter Survival Package. This is being distributed at pace by the Football Foundation. This funding is designed to protect the immediate future of approximately 850 clubs over the winter period.

We also understand the importance of spectators to these clubs and have shown our commitment to getting fans back into stadia when infection rates are reduced. The Prime Minister is due to set out a roadmap to recovery in the week commencing 22 February.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what level of restrictions will be lifted for clubs in steps 4-6 in the National League to allow fan attendance after the covid-19 lockdown period.

Football clubs at all levels make a significant contribution to their local communities. National League clubs have demonstrated this more than ever throughout the pandemic, from delivering care packages for the vulnerable through to raising money for front-line charities, they are at the heart of their communities.

The Government therefore confirmed that Steps 3-6 of the National League System will receive up to £10 million of grant support from the Sports Winter Survival Package. This is being distributed at pace by the Football Foundation. This funding is designed to protect the immediate future of approximately 850 clubs over the winter period.

We also understand the importance of spectators to these clubs and have shown our commitment to getting fans back into stadia when infection rates are reduced. The Prime Minister is due to set out a roadmap to recovery in the week commencing 22 February.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when his Department plans to publish its online Media Literacy Strategy.

As set out in the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper Consultation, the Government is developing an Online Media Literacy Strategy which will be published in Spring 2021. The Strategy will explore the existing media literacy landscape and ensure a coordinated and strategic approach to media literacy education for children, young people, and adults.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which groups his Department (a) has consulted and (b) plans to consult to help determine the list of harms which will accompany the Online Safety Bill.

We have engaged with a broad range of stakeholders throughout the policy development process for the new online safety legislation, including with industry, civil society, academia and parliamentarians. This will continue to inform the scope of the regulatory framework, including categorisation of companies and harms they must address. We will continue to engage with a broad range of stakeholders as we develop online safety legislation.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what representations he has received on the use of (a) size and (b) risk as contributing factors in the categorisation of companies in the forthcoming Online Safety Bill; and if he will make a statement.

We have engaged with a broad range of stakeholders throughout the policy development process for the new online safety legislation, including with industry, civil society, academia and parliamentarians. This will continue to inform the scope of the regulatory framework, including categorisation of companies and harms they must address. We will continue to engage with a broad range of stakeholders as we develop online safety legislation.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) effect on transparency and local democracy of the statutory requirement to publicise planning applications in local newspapers and (b) potential effect on local newspaper revenue of discontinuing that requirement.

Local planning authorities are required to publicise certain types of planning applications in local newspapers as set out in Article 15 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.

We are mindful of the potential impact that any changes to the requirements might have on transparency and local democracy, as well as the potential effect on local newspaper revenue. Indeed the independent Cairncross Review into the future of journalism found that statutory notices, including planning notices, provide an important strand of revenue for many local publishers and that their withdrawal would do serious damage to parts of the sector.

Proposals to reform publicity requirements are being considered through the “Planning for the Future” White Paper which aims to make it simpler, quicker and more accessible for local people to engage with the planning system using digital tools. We recognise the importance of local newspapers to communities and the continued need to reach out to people who cannot digitally access information. MHCLG is considering consultation responses and will publish a response in due course, and the impact on transparency and local democracy, as well as on local newspaper revenue will be considered before any decisions are taken.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the perpetuation of negative stereotypes about people with Down syndrome in broadcast media on the qualify of life of those people.

The Government recognises the editorial and operational independence of broadcasters but believes the broadcasting sector should reflect and represent all parts of society.

Ofcom, as the UK’s independent TV and radio regulator, sets rules in its Broadcasting Code to ensure broadcasters provide adequate protection to members of the public from the inclusion of harmful and offensive material in programmes. Ofcom can investigate and determine whether a breach of the Code has occurred, for example if the broadcast of negative stereotypes of people with Down’s syndrome is so severe that there is the potential for harm to be caused to viewers.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the level of (a) structural and (b) institutional racism within professional football.

Racism or any form of discrimination has no place in football or society.

The Government welcomed the launch of the Football Association’s ‘Football Leadership Diversity Code’ to ensure English football better represents our modern and diverse society.

There is still more to do, however, and the Government continues to liaise closely with the football authorities to tackle this issue.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing additional support and guidance to (a) gyms, (b) bowling alleys, (c) dance studios and (d) other sports facilities to ensure that people of all ages are able to have access to the services they need to maintain physical and mental wellbeing during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown period in England.

Sports and physical activity providers and facilities are at the heart of our communities, and play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active.

Government has provided unprecedented support to businesses through tax reliefs, cash grants and employee wage support, which many sport clubs have benefited from. On 22 October, the Government announced a £100m support fund for local authority leisure centres. In addition, Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund has also provided £210 million directly to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through this pandemic.

We are continuing to work with organisations to understand what they need and how we may be able to support them.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a specific job support scheme for the live events supply chain for the duration of the lockdown restrictions affecting that sector.

We appreciate the important role that the events and music industries play in the UK’s economy, and that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to these sectors.

We have not made any assessments around the development of a specific job support scheme for the live events supply chain. As you are aware, the Chancellor has announced the Winter Economy Plan to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months, once the existing Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme come to end. From November, the Jobs Support Scheme will provide further support to returning workers, while the extended Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will aid the self-employed who are currently actively trading but are facing reduced demand.

We are also offering businesses who face a drop in demand for their services and possible cash flow issues generous terms for the repayment of deferred taxes and government-backed loans. We will give all businesses that borrowed under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme the option to repay their loan over a period of up to ten years. This will reduce their average monthly repayments on the loan by almost half. We also intend to allow CBILS lenders to extend the term of a loan up to ten years, providing additional flexibility for UK-based SMEs who may otherwise be unable to repay their loans.

In addition, the Secretary of State announced an unprecedented £1.57 billion support package for the cultural sector which will benefit the live music sector by providing support to music venues and many other cultural organisations to stay open and continue operating.

We continue to engage with the sector to discuss the on-going challenges facing the industry.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of taking account of the outcomes of the fan-led review of governance when making decisions on the provision of financial support to football clubs.

Football clubs are the heart of local communities, they have unique social value and many with a great history. It is vital they are protected.

The Government is focusing its support on those in the sector most in need as a result of the decision not to readmit spectators to stadia from 1 October. We are working through the details and will set that support in due course.

In parallel, we also continue work on the fan-led review of football governance and are currently considering deciding the scope and structure of the review. Whilst any thorough review could not be concluded in advance of consideration of financial need as a result of a delay to the return of fans, I am clear that the governance and financing of football are intrinsically linked, and will have that in mind as both strands progress.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make it his policy to introduce restrictions on financial support for football club owners that have been deemed to be profligate with their funds.

Football clubs form the bedrock of local communities. It is vital they are protected.

We have worked closely with football throughout the pandemic including getting the Premier League and English Football League back behind closed doors but we have been clear that we expect the game - where it can at the top tiers - to support itself. The Government will then focus our support on those in the sector most in need as a result of the October 1 decision.

We are working through the details and will set that support in the coming days.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of enabling the Sports Ground Safety Authority and respective external Safety Advisory Groups for each English Football League and National League club to make health and safety risk assessments in relation to enabling the return of fan-attended fixtures.

On 22 September it was announced that all sports pilot events currently ongoing would be paused with immediate effect, due to the sharp upward trajectory of Covid-19 cases nationally. A?s set out in our Roadmap, sports events pilots, and the full return of fans to stadia would only ever take place when it was safe to do so.

The Government will continue to work closely with the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) and a whole range of sports to understand the latest thinking that might allow spectators to return. This includes the creation of a new Sports Technology Innovation Working Group of sporting bodies and health experts to analyse new technologies which might support this.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to his statement at the daily press conference on 17 June, that all but five countries worldwide broadcast the restart of the Premier League on 17 June 2020, which five countries did not air the restart of the Premier League.

We understand from the Premier League that broadcast rights to their matches have been sold around the world, with only five countries not covered as of 17 June - Afghanistan, Cuba, North Korea, the Philippines and Turkmenistan.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if the Government will classify people working in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors as critical workers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The guidance published on GOV.UK specifies that ‘charity workers delivering key frontline services’ can be classified as critical workers during the covid-19 outbreak. However, the guidance also states that if children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
6th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to prevent library closures.

Local authorities in England have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. It is for individual local authorities to decide how best to provide a public library service that meets local needs within their available resources. The net expenditure on the library service by local authorities in England increased in 2018/19 from 2017/18.

DCMS works across central and local government to encourage investment in libraries to ensure they can continue to support the delivery of local and national priorities and needs. The DCMS funded Libraries Taskforce was established, by DCMS and the Local Government Association, to devise and implement the “Libraries Deliver” strategy which is helping support and reinvigorate the public library service in England. It has worked with sector partners to advocate for libraries and to share and promote good practice to help libraries better serve their communities.

In October 2019 DCMS also announced the £250 million Cultural Investment Fund, of which over £125 million will be invested in regional museums and libraries over five years from 2020/21. The funds will be used to upgrade buildings and technology so public libraries across England are better placed to respond to the changing ways people are using them.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Jun 2021
What assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding for disadvantaged pupils.

All children have had their education disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak, but it is likely that disadvantaged and vulnerable groups will have been hardest hit.

Since 2011 we have spent more than £20 billion to provide Pupil Premium funding for school leaders to use, based on the needs of their disadvantaged pupils. Between 2011 and 2019, the attainment gaps between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils narrowed by 13% at age 11 and 9% at age 16.

On top of this funding, we increased core schools funding by £2.6 billion last year and are increasing core schools funding by £4.8 billion and £7.1 billion in 2021-22 and 2022-23 respectively, compared to 2019-20.

In addition, over the past year we have made three major interventions to support education recovery, totalling over £3 billion additional spend: £1 billion in June 2020, a further £700 million in February 2021 and our latest £1.4 billion package announced in June 2021.

Recovery programmes have been designed to allow early years, school and college leaders the flexibility to support those pupils most in need, including the most disadvantaged. The latest announcement expands our reforms in two areas where the evidence is clear our investment will have a significant impact for disadvantaged children, high quality tutoring and great teaching.

We are providing over £1.5 billion for tutoring programmes, including an expansion of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), an ambitious scheme that supports schools to access targeted tutoring intervention for disadvantaged pupils who have missed out on learning due to school closures. We will also provide greater flexibility to schools to make it easier for them to take on local tutors or use existing staff to supplement those employed through the NTP. This new blended offer ensures that the NTP works for all disadvantaged children, giving schools the flexibility to choose what type of approach best suits their needs and those of individual pupils.

The £302 million Recovery Premium has been weighted so that schools with more disadvantaged pupils receive more funding and includes £22 million to scale up proven approaches to reduce the attainment gap.

We have also invested more than £400 million to provide internet access and over 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of the Resource Account and Budgeting charge his Department estimates to be made up of the interest accrued on student loans rather than the capital borrowed for tuition and maintenance.

In the 2020-21 financial year, the Resource Accounting and Budget (RAB) charge for full-time Plan 2 loans was estimated to be 54% (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/student-loan-forecasts-england-2019-to-2020). This is calculated by forecasting how far future repayments on those loans will fall short of the amount originally lent, when put into present value terms using the HM Treasury discount rate (currently RPI + 0.7%).

The interest charged on student loans adds to the total amount of repayments received. For 2020-21 loans issued, the department estimates that repayments due to interest reduced the RAB charge by 4 percentage points.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of the Resource Account and Budgeting charge his Department estimates to be made up of maintenance loans that are not expected to be repaid.

The Resource Account and Budgeting (RAB) charge is the estimated cost to the government of providing a subsidy for the student finance system. It is the proportion of loan outlay expected to not be repaid when future repayments are valued in present terms. The RAB charge is calculated by taking repayment forecasts for income contingent repayment loans and discounting them back to the period that the loan is issued using the discount rate provided by HM Treasury.

The department publishes forecasts of loan outlay and RAB charges for each loan product. The latest forecasts, published June 2020, are available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/student-loan-forecasts-for-england/2019-20.

The RAB charge in the 2019-20 financial year was forecast to be 53% for full-time higher education loans, and 45% for part-time higher education loans. Tuition fee loans and maintenance loans are both higher education student finance products. Borrowers who have taken out both tuition fee loans and maintenance loans repay these at the same time. Therefore, the department does not calculate separate RAB charges for tuition fee loans and maintenance loans.

In the 2019-20 financial year, the government provided £16,371 million of student loan funding to English funded full-time higher education students, of which £9,503 million was in tuition fee loans and £6,868 million in maintenance loans. The value of the loan outlay that is not expected to be repaid is known as the RAB cost and can be calculated by multiplying loan outlay by the RAB charge. Therefore, the RAB cost of full-time higher education tuition fee loans in the 2019-20 financial year was £5,036 million (£9,503 million × 53%), and the RAB cost of full-time higher education maintenance loans was £3,640 million (£6,868 million × 53%).

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of the Resource Account and Budgeting charge his Department estimates to be made up of tuition fees that are not expected to be repaid.

The Resource Account and Budgeting (RAB) charge is the estimated cost to the government of providing a subsidy for the student finance system. It is the proportion of loan outlay expected to not be repaid when future repayments are valued in present terms. The RAB charge is calculated by taking repayment forecasts for income contingent repayment loans and discounting them back to the period that the loan is issued using the discount rate provided by HM Treasury.

The department publishes forecasts of loan outlay and RAB charges for each loan product. The latest forecasts, published June 2020, are available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/student-loan-forecasts-for-england/2019-20.

The RAB charge in the 2019-20 financial year was forecast to be 53% for full-time higher education loans, and 45% for part-time higher education loans. Tuition fee loans and maintenance loans are both higher education student finance products. Borrowers who have taken out both tuition fee loans and maintenance loans repay these at the same time. Therefore, the department does not calculate separate RAB charges for tuition fee loans and maintenance loans.

In the 2019-20 financial year, the government provided £16,371 million of student loan funding to English funded full-time higher education students, of which £9,503 million was in tuition fee loans and £6,868 million in maintenance loans. The value of the loan outlay that is not expected to be repaid is known as the RAB cost and can be calculated by multiplying loan outlay by the RAB charge. Therefore, the RAB cost of full-time higher education tuition fee loans in the 2019-20 financial year was £5,036 million (£9,503 million × 53%), and the RAB cost of full-time higher education maintenance loans was £3,640 million (£6,868 million × 53%).

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what comparative assessment he has made of the level of achievement at the end of compulsory education in (a) Portsmouth South constituency and (b) the rest of England.

The Department has published a wide range of data on the attainment of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 at both national and local level on 26 November 2020. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/key-stage-4-performance-2020.


The latest published data shows that in the Portsmouth South constituency, the average attainment 8 score was 47.5 compared with an average attainment 8 score of 50.2 across all state funded schools in England.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of university students in Portsmouth returning to face-to-face teaching following the end of the current academic term.

We have always been committed to getting students back onto campus as soon as the public health situation allows. At every stage, we have prioritised students’ education and helping students to meet their learning outcomes, which is why students on creative and practical courses or practice-based courses have been able to return to in-person teaching since March.

We understand that, in some universities, teaching may have concluded by 17 May. However, the wider experience outside the classroom is also important and we know that students are keen to get back to campus and universities are keen to have them back. We want to enable this as soon as the public health situation allows, even if some universities have concluded teaching.

A return in line with step 3 of the roadmap allows time for students to receive some teaching, engage with cocurricular activities, take part in face-to-face careers support and in activities to build employability skills. As students return to campus, there will also be more opportunities for universities to provide mental health support for them.

For many students, teaching does not end in May. For example, postgraduate students, both taught and research, will continue their studies throughout the summer, as will some students on some healthcare courses or who start at different times throughout the year. It is also open to universities, as autonomous institutions, to put on teaching outside of their normal term dates, if they consider this appropriate to fulfil their duties to their students.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of Government financial support available for university students.

We understand that this is a very difficult and uncertain time for students. We are working with universities, higher education (HE) institutions, mission groups, unions and professional sector bodies to make sure that all reasonable efforts are being made to enable all students to continue their studies and to provide the support required for them to do so.

In these exceptional circumstances, we recognise that some students may face financial hardship. On 13 April, we announced that we are making a further £15 million of additional student hardship funding available for the 2020/21 academic year. In total, we have made an additional £85 million of funding available for student hardship since December. HE providers have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students in a way that best prioritises those in greatest need.

To support with this further, we have worked closely with the Office for Students to help clarify that HE providers can draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged and vulnerable students impacted by COVID-19. HE providers are able to use the funding, worth around £256 million for academic year 2020/21, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment

We want to make sure all students receive the right amount of student support to complete their studies. Students who received a loan for living costs at the living away from home rates in the spring term have received a loan at the same rate in the summer term, even though they may be staying at their family home to comply with public health guidance. This change to the funding rules will help cover any accommodation costs students may still be incurring at their term time address in the summer term. The maximum loans for living costs for the 2020/21 academic year have been increased by 2.9%, with a further 3.1% increase for the 2021/22 academic year, to record levels in cash terms.

Students who have applied for a loan for living costs for the current 2020/21 academic year have been awarded a lower amount than the maximum and believe their household income for the 2020-21 tax year will drop by at least 15% compared to the household income they provided when they were initially assessed, can apply for their entitlement to be reassessed.

In addition, students undertaking courses that would normally require attendance on-site, but for which learning has moved either fully or partially online due to COVID-19, will qualify for living cost support in the 2020/21 academic year as they would ordinarily, provided they continue to engage with their HE provider. This also applies when the student is prevented from attending the course physically and is required to study online due to shielding.

The current measures aim to target support for students in greatest need, and we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust sector guidance and support where necessary.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the clinical evidential basis is for his Department’s decision to delay the return of university students to face-to-face teaching.

We are committed to taking a cautious approach to easing restrictions, guided by data instead of dates. Much of the data that has been used to inform decision making has already been published.

It is important that we continue to take a cautious – but irreversible – approach to re-opening. Moving too fast, too soon, risks a resurgence in infections, hospitalisations and deaths. Whilst we are aware that there is limited evidence of transmission in in-person teaching environments, we must not lose sight of the risks the virus poses and must stay vigilant throughout to ensure this roadmap provides a one-way passage to returning to a more normal life.

We have worked extremely closely with scientists and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (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 COVID-19 and lockdown on ethnic minority communities, the vulnerable, the young, and low-income groups.

The government has taken into account all the scientific advice and models that suggest that allowing additional indoor mixing at an earlier stage when prevalence is higher and fewer people have been vaccinated would result in significantly higher numbers of infections and that is why restrictions outdoors have been eased first and restrictions on most indoor activity will remain in place. As the number of people vaccinated increases, we anticipate being able to take steps to ease further as more people are protected.

A wealth of data, papers and evidence is being published at the same time as the Roadmap, to ensure transparency on the information the government has had available to it in reaching its decisions. This includes 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 the SARS-CoV-2 Immunity & REinfection EvaluatioN (SIREN) study and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections Watch
  • A technical paper on the SIREN analysis being published (as a pre-print) by the Lancet

The papers from SAGE include:

  • Minutes from the last 4 SAGE meetings
  • Children’s Task and Finish Group paper: ‘COVID-19 in higher education settings, 10 February 2021’
  • 3 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 non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) and the re-opening of schools”, Independent Pandemic Scientific 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)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 30 September 2020 to Question 97703, on Outdoor Education: Finance, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the report prepared for Ministers by civil servants following that meeting with campaigners.

The government is continuing to prioritise mental health and wellbeing support for children, young people, and staff following the return to education on 8 March. The Department for Education has convened a Mental Health in Education Action Group. The action group will look at the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and staff in nurseries, schools, colleges, and universities. It will consider how to support mental wellbeing as children and young people are returning to education settings, with transitions between education settings in September, and in the longer term. As we consider how best to support the education sector moving forward, we will consider access to outdoor spaces in that context.

In the first instance the group are engaging with health experts to bring together the evidence of impact on children and young people. The group will identify the existing range of support available and will examine how to ensure support is easy to access and has the greatest possible impact. They are also engaging with education stakeholders, including staff and leadership unions, to ensure that we understand the issues that are facing staff in nurseries, schools, colleges, and universities and how they can be supported in the coming months.

This year, we will invest up to £220 million in our Holiday Activities and Food programme. Delivery began at Easter and will run during the summer and Christmas holidays in 2021, supporting disadvantaged pupils and their families with enriching activities, providing them with healthy food, helping them to learn new things and improving socialisation.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure infant school children have the devices and internet connectivity they need for home schooling.

Given the extremely challenging global supply context for devices, the Department has had to make difficult decisions about where provision is needed most. In Autumn 2020, following conversations with school leaders, the decision was taken to allocate devices to children in Key Stage 2 and above on the basis that children in younger years would be unlikely to be working on a laptop or tablet independently.

The Department’s guidance on remote education acknowledges that younger children often require high levels of parental involvement to support their engagement with remote education, which makes digital provision a particular challenge for this age group. We do not expect that solely digital means will be used to teach these pupils remotely.

We continue to review the eligibility criteria for the Get Help with Technology Scheme to ensure we meet the needs of disadvantaged children and young people.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of teacher's pay.

The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) provides independent advice to my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, and my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, on school teachers’ pay and conditions in England.

The STRB’s 30th report analysed the evidence given by the Department and relevant organisations and made recommendations for teachers’ and school leaders’ pay. The Government responded to the report in Parliament and accepted the recommendations in full for the September 2020 pay award. As a result, teachers received an average pay award of 3.1% this year.

We are currently developing our written evidence to support the STRB’s consideration of the 2021 pay award for teachers. Her Majesty’s Treasury has already published evidence that sets out the rationale for the pause on pay for the majority of public sector workers, including teachers.

The Government will reassess the pay policy ahead of issuing the remit for the 2022-23 pay award, once the economic recovery is established and the impact of COVID-19 on the wider labour market is clearer.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many local authority-maintained schools were in receipt of the Service Pupil Premium in each of the last five years.

The number of local authority-maintained schools in receipt of the Service Child element of the Pupil Premium in each of the last five years are shown below. The figures have decreased over the period due to the number of academy conversions in that time. The figures for financial year 2020/21 are also shown but are provisional, as the new and growing schools are due to be incorporated in the final quarterly update later this year.

Financial Year

Number of LA maintained schools in receipt of the Service Pupil Premium

2015-16

7,102

2016-17

6,868

2017-18

6,405

2018-19

6,062

2019-20

5,855

2020-21 (provisional)

5,820

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of using a voucher system for the delivery of free school meals during the covid-19 outbreak.

Schools are free to decide the best approach for their free school meal pupils. They can provide lunch parcels, locally arranged vouchers, or they can use the national voucher scheme which re-opened for schools to order vouchers on Monday 18 January. Any support provided since 4 January 2021 through lunch parcels or locally arranged vouchers can be claimed back from the department.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will take steps to encourage private landlords providing student accommodation to offer a rebate to those unable to access their accommodation due to Government covid-19 guidance.

Universities and private accommodation providers are autonomous and responsible for setting their own rent agreements. The government plays no direct role in the provision of student accommodation.

This has been a very difficult time for students, and we encourage universities and accommodation providers to review their accommodation policies to ensure they are fair, transparent and have the best interests of students at heart.

We recognise that in these exceptional circumstances some students may face financial hardship. The Department for Education has worked with the Office for Students to clarify that providers are able to draw on existing funds, worth around £256 million for academic year 2020/21, towards hardship support. The government is making available up to a further £20 million on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students. As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, said on the 7 January 2021, we are considering what more we can do to provide further support to students.

Maintenance loans are available as a contribution towards a student’s living costs while attending university. The system targets the most living cost support at those from the lowest income families, who need it most.

Students undertaking courses that would normally require attendance on-site, but for which learning has moved either fully or partially online due to the COVID-19 outbreak, will qualify for living costs support in the 2020/21 academic year as they would ordinarily, provided they continue to engage with their higher education provider. This also applies when the student is prevented from attending the course physically and is required to study online due to shielding.

If students have concerns about their accommodation fees, they should first raise their concerns with their accommodation provider. If their concerns remain unresolved, and their higher education provider is involved in the provision of the accommodation, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

If a student thinks their accommodation provider is treating them unfairly, they can raise a complaint under the accommodation codes of practice as long as their provider is a code member. The codes can be found at: https://www.thesac.org.uk/, https://www.unipol.org.uk/the-code/how-to-complain and https://www.rla.org.uk/about/nrla-code-of-practice.shtml.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether recipients of laptops for remote education will incur a financial penalty if those laptops are stolen or damaged.

The Government is investing over £300 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing over one million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This includes over 560,000 laptops and tablets that have already been delivered to schools, trusts and local authorities in 2020.

The laptops and tablets are the property of the school, local authority or academy trust, and they should assume responsibility for their ongoing maintenance and support as part of this. The Department will not apply financial penalties for devices that are lost or stolen and schools – academy trusts and local authorities should manage devices reported as lost or stolen, in line with their organisational policies.

If a device develops a fault that is not caused by a user, the school, local authority or academy trust that owns it can request a free replacement.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the staggered return of students to universities after the Christmas 2020 break on learning for qualifications that require (a) face-to-face contact and (b) practical training; and if he will make a statement.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education (HE) is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks to those working and studying in our HE institutions in this unprecedented situation, whilst mitigating the impact on education.

The government is committed to prioritising education and wants to enable all students who have travelled home for the winter break to return to their universities and resume their studies. On 2 December 2020, we published guidance on students returning to higher education for the spring term, which sets out our plans for staggering the return of students over a 5-week period. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/students-returning-to-higher-education-from-spring-term.

Practical and placement students should return first, in line with their planned start dates, from 4 January to the week commencing 18 January 2021. HE providers will need to make an assessment of the courses and students that should be allowed to return first, based on the requirements of the curriculum and the need for practical face-to-face learning and equipment. Students on all remaining courses should be offered online learning from the beginning of term so they can continue their studies at home, and should be asked to return to their university over a 2-week period from 25 January.

Testing students on return to campus is a key part of the plan for January and all students should be tested in order to protect themselves, others on campus and the wider community. The Department for Education is actively working with the Department for Health and Social Care to ensure that all HE providers can deliver government supported asymptomatic test sites utilising lateral flow devices, which will help to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the staggered return.

Personal protective equipment and kits will be provided to HE providers at no cost, along with access to digital solutions, training and clinical guidance to support testing. A cost recovery model is also in place for providers to recover costs for workforce, site set up and site furnishings.

We recognise that this year has been incredibly difficult for students and that, in these exceptional circumstances, some may face financial hardship. I have announced that we are making available up to £20 million on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department will provide to universities who have been instructed to stagger the return of students following the Christmas 2020 break.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education (HE) is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks to those working and studying in our HE institutions in this unprecedented situation, whilst mitigating the impact on education.

The government is committed to prioritising education and wants to enable all students who have travelled home for the winter break to return to their universities and resume their studies. On 2 December 2020, we published guidance on students returning to higher education for the spring term, which sets out our plans for staggering the return of students over a 5-week period. This guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/students-returning-to-higher-education-from-spring-term.

Practical and placement students should return first, in line with their planned start dates, from 4 January to the week commencing 18 January 2021. HE providers will need to make an assessment of the courses and students that should be allowed to return first, based on the requirements of the curriculum and the need for practical face-to-face learning and equipment. Students on all remaining courses should be offered online learning from the beginning of term so they can continue their studies at home, and should be asked to return to their university over a 2-week period from 25 January.

Testing students on return to campus is a key part of the plan for January and all students should be tested in order to protect themselves, others on campus and the wider community. The Department for Education is actively working with the Department for Health and Social Care to ensure that all HE providers can deliver government supported asymptomatic test sites utilising lateral flow devices, which will help to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the staggered return.

Personal protective equipment and kits will be provided to HE providers at no cost, along with access to digital solutions, training and clinical guidance to support testing. A cost recovery model is also in place for providers to recover costs for workforce, site set up and site furnishings.

We recognise that this year has been incredibly difficult for students and that, in these exceptional circumstances, some may face financial hardship. I have announced that we are making available up to £20 million on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to publish guidance for universities on covid-19 testing at the end of the spring 2021 term.

Guidance regarding testing for universities at the end of the spring term will be published in due course.

Work is ongoing between the Department for Education, Department for Health and Social Care and the higher education sector to ensure that students are able to travel to and from their places of study over the Christmas break and to get tested before departure and upon return.

The results of this work will inform the guidance for the end of spring, which we will publish with sufficient time for higher education institutions to plan.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to stagger the return of university students to campuses following the Christmas period in order to limit exposure to covid-19.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education (HE) is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks to those working and studying in our HE institutions in this unprecedented situation, whilst mitigating the impact on education.

The government is committed to prioritising education and want to enable all students who have travelled home for the winter break to return to their universities and resume blended learning. On 2 December, we published guidance on students returning to HE for the spring term in 2021, which sets out our plans for staggering the return of students over a 5-week period: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/students-returning-to-higher-education-from-spring-term.

Practical and placement students should return first, in line with their planned start dates, from 4 January to week commencing 18 January 2021. Students on all remaining courses should be offered online learning from the beginning of term so they can continue their studies at home, and should be asked to return to their university over a 2-week period from 25 January.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to support university students through covid-19 quarantine periods on their return to campuses following the Christmas holidays.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education (HE) is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks to those working and studying in our HE institutions in this unprecedented situation, whilst mitigating the impact on education.

On 2 December, we published guidance on students returning to HE for the spring term in 2021: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/students-returning-to-higher-education-from-spring-term.

HE providers are autonomous institutions, independent from government, and have a responsibility to students when delivering services, including the provision of pastoral support, and taking steps to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of students. It is vitally important that this support is in place, particularly for self-isolating students.

I have previously written to Vice Chancellors, asking them to ensure that self-isolating students have a range of choices available for access to food and other essential supplies. This includes providing food to those that need it and facilitating deliveries that will not require students to leave the accommodation where they are self-isolating. We expect this support to continue in the spring term.

Many HE providers have already bolstered their existing mental health services and adapted delivery mechanisms, including reaching out to students who may be more vulnerable. Staff at universities and colleges have responded quickly to the need to transform mental health and wellbeing services, showing resourcefulness, and there are many examples of good practice.

To support with this important work, we have worked closely with the Office for Students to help clarify that HE providers can draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. Providers are able to use the funding, worth around £256 million for the academic year 2020-21 starting from August, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment and mental health support. We have also confirmed that Student Space, which bridges any gaps in mental health support for students arising from this unprecedented situation, has been extended to cover the 2020-21 academic year. The Student Space website is available here: https://studentspace.org.uk/.

Furthermore, we will be making available up to £20 million on a one-off basis to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students. Further detail will be set out in due course.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to provide economic support in response to the covid-19 outbreak to childcare settings (a) nationally, (b) in Hampshire and (c) Portsmouth South constituency.

The government recognises the importance of supporting the early years sector financially during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is why we are continuing to fund local authorities for the autumn term 2020 at the same level as before the COVID-19 outbreak, giving all nurseries and childminders another term of secure income, regardless of how many children are attending childcare settings.

Additionally, the government has provided a package of support for individuals and businesses across all local authorities which providers of childcare can benefit from. This includes business rates relief and grants, and the extended Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. As private nurseries typically rely on private income for a significant proportion of their income, unlike most state-funded schools, they are able to access support to furlough their staff via the extended Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS). The CJRS will remain open until March 2021.

Early years settings will continue to benefit from a planned £3.6 billion funding in the 2020/21 financial year to create free early education and childcare places. On 25 November 2020, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a further £44 million investment for the 2021/22 financial year, allowing local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the government’s free childcare entitlement offers. This is inclusive of the Hampshire local authority and the Portsmouth South constituency. Further information on how this will be distributed will be made available as soon as possible.

We continue to work with the early years sector to understand how they can be best supported to ensure that sufficient safe, appropriate and affordable childcare is available for those returning to work now, and for all families who need it in the longer term. Local authorities are best placed to monitor and manage their local childcare market and have responsibility for ensuring sufficient childcare places.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the findings of the Sutton Trust’s report, Covid-19 and Social Mobility Impact Brief #4: Early Years; and if he will make a statement.

Levelling up outcomes for disadvantaged children is a priority for the government, and the Sutton Trust report rightly highlights that the early years of a child’s education are crucial.

That is why the government has prioritised getting children back into nurseries as quickly as possible, where they can be fully supported during this crucial period for their development. Since 1 June 2020, early years settings have been able to welcome back children of all ages.

We are continuing to provide extra security to nurseries and childminders that are open. We will do this by paying local authorities for the autumn term for childcare places at the level we would have funded before the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of how many children are attending.

Children in reception year, who may have missed time in formal early education settings at the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, will benefit from the government’s £650 million catch up premium for schools, to ensure they have the support they need to make up for lost teaching time. Additionally, up to £9 million of the National Tutoring Programme fund will go towards improving the language skills of reception age children who need it most. We are working with the Education Endowment Foundation to make training and resources for the Nuffield Early Language Intervention available at no cost to schools that would particularly benefit.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of removing Government funding for the Union Learning Fund on the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

It is unlikely that removing our funding will have any significant effect on the Lifetime Skills Guarantee. This is because Unionlearn support is focused on supporting people at Level 2 and below where the existing Adult entitlement provides fully funded Government support for adults without English and Maths at Level 2 or Digital Skills (Level 1). Out of the 200,000 people they help each year, only about 3,000 are undertaking learning at Level 3 or above.

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee is part of the significant £2.5 billion investment in the National Skills Fund. It will offer support to all adults lacking a Level 3 qualification, it will provide digital boot camps to support employers in filling vacancies and a Lifelong Loan Entitlement, which will provide individuals with an entitlement to 4 years of loan funding to use over their lifetime.

As such the Lifelong Learning Guarantee and the National Skills Fund has the capacity to take on any individuals who might have undertaken Level 3 learning with the support of the Union Learning Fund.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of provision of financial education at a primary education level; if he will make an assessment of the potential contribution of Talk Money Week to improving that provision; and if he will make a statement on the educational value of talking about money with children and young people.

Education on financial matters ensures that pupils are well prepared to manage their money, make sound financial decisions and know where to seek further information, if required. In 2014, for the first time, financial literacy was made statutory within the National Curriculum as part of the citizenship curriculum for 11 to 16 year olds.

The Department also introduced a rigorous mathematics curriculum, which provides pupils with the knowledge and skills to make important financial decisions. The Government has published statutory programmes of study for mathematics and citizenship that outline what pupils should learn about financial education from key stages one to four.

In the primary mathematics curriculum, there is a strong emphasis on the arithmetic that pupils should have. This knowledge is vital, as a strong understanding of numeracy and numbers will underpin the pupils’ ability to manage budgets and money. There is also some specific content about financial education such as calculations with money.

The Department trusts schools to use their professional judgement and understanding of their pupils to develop the right teaching approach for their particular school, drawing on the expertise of subject associations and organisations such as Young Money.

Schools should have resumed teaching an ambitious and broad curriculum in all subjects from the start of the autumn term. This means that all pupils will be taught a wide range of subjects so they can maintain their choices for further study and employment. The Department’s latest guidance on teaching to support children is set out here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The Department supports wider initiatives that aim to improve financial confidence, such as Talk Money Week, led by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS). Talk Money Week is a platform for all UK citizens that aims to encourage open discussions at home, within families and at school about managing money. More information is available at: https://maps.org.uk/talk-money-week/.

The Department does not plan to make its own assessment of the contribution of Talk Money Week to improving the provision of financial education at primary education level. We will continue to work closely with the MaPS and other stakeholders such as Her Majesty’s Treasury to consider what can be learnt from such initiatives and how to provide further support for the teaching of financial education in schools.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a two week period of self-isolation for university students before they return home during or after the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown in England.

The government is committed to ensuring that students who wish to return home for the winter break are able to do so. It is essential that measures are put in place to ensure this can happen as safely as possible for students, staff and the communities that they return to.

On 11 November, the department published guidance for providers on the plans for the end of the autumn term, available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/student-movement-and-plans-for-the-end-of-autumn-2020-term#specific-support-for-students.

As outlined in the guidance, we expect higher education (HE) providers to support students to return home following the period of national restrictions, whilst mitigating the risk of transmission of the virus. We are asking that students return home once the national restrictions have been lifted, in a “student travel window” lasting from 3-9 December. This should be in line with specific arrangements put in place by their HE provider, which should include a staggered end to face-to-face provision, with learning being moved online by 9 December.

We are also working closely with universities and the Department for Health and Social Care to roll out mass testing for students and we will offer this to as many students as possible before they travel home, targeting this in areas of high prevalence of COVID-19. This will help to provide further confidence that students can leave safely if they test negative. If a student tests positive before their departure, they will need to remain in self-isolation, following the relevant guidance. Moving all learning online by 9 December allows enough time for students to complete the isolation period before returning home for Christmas.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) vulnerable young people and (b) young people with additional needs receive the care and support they require during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown period.

The government recognises the significant challenges that the COVID-19 outbreak has presented for children and young people, and their families, and that the impact is likely to be greater for some groups, including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Supporting children and young people with SEND 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 children and young people during the lockdown period, which commenced on 5 November 2020. Schools and colleges should continue to ensure that children and young people with SEND receive the education, therapeutic or specialist support required to enable them to successfully engage with school or college, and to support their wellbeing, during this period.

Where a child or young person with SEND has provision specified within their Education, Health and Care plan, it remains the duty of the local authority and relevant health bodies to secure or arrange the delivery of this provision. The department will continue to closely monitor the provision of services and support for those with SEND during the COVID-19 outbreak and engage with local authorities where there appear to be issues. For children and young people with SEND who require health services, the new regulations in effect from 5 November 2020 specifically allow access to medical services, whether they are delivered at home, in an educational setting or in the community. Furthermore, we recognise the importance of respite care for disabled children and young people, and their families. That is why parents and carers may continue to access respite care, to support them in caring for their disabled children while the new national restrictions are in force.

Local authorities have also been allocated a further £4.6 billion to help their communities through the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding is un-ringfenced, recognising that local authorities are best placed to decide how to meet the major COVID-19 outbreak service pressures in their local area, including children’s services. This year, we have also committed £37.3 million (including £10 million in response to the COVID-19 outbreak) to the Family Fund, which provides grants to low-income families caring for disabled children or seriously ill children.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential risk to public health of students returning from universities in Tier 3 areas to areas with lower covid-19 restrictions.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks to those working and studying in our higher education institutions, during this unprecedented situation, whilst mitigating the impact on education.

As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced to the House on Tuesday 29 September, the department is working with universities to make sure that all students are supported to return home safely and spend Christmas with their loved ones, if they choose to do so.

We are working through measures to mitigate transmission risks and why we are planning to publish guidance on students returning home safely at Christmas.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assurances his Department has received from universities in (a) tier 3 and (b) tier 2 areas of measures put in place to mitigate (i) covid-19 transmission levels and (ii) related public health risks.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education (HE) and the wider community is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks of COVID-19 transmission in this unprecedented situation.

Our system of HE tiers, as set out in guidance, intends to help universities identify the appropriate restrictions to impose on their educational provision in response to a COVID-19 outbreak. This is particularly important when there is a change to the local COVID alert level. This guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses.

We have worked to ensure that all universities have outbreak plans. These have been shared with local Directors of Public Health and continue to be reviewed and updated based on emerging lessons and local situations, including changes to the local COVID alert level. The plans cover a range of scenarios and will ensure that HE providers are prepared to respond quickly to an outbreak in their educational setting or wider community.

Implementation of these plans is for the universities themselves, working with local public health and local authority colleagues.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing additional (a) resources and (b) funding to universities in (i) tier 3 and (ii) tier 2 areas to mitigate (A) covid-19 transmission levels and (B) related public health risks.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education (HE) and the wider community is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks of transmission in this unprecedented situation.

We are working across the government, and closely with the HE sector, to provide both practical and financial support through the COVID-19 outbreak. On 4 May, we announced the HE stabilisation package which reprofiled public funding and introduced measures to stabilise admissions with a view to mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on HE providers’ finances. This package, along with the government-backed business support schemes, provided substantial support to the HE sector. On 27 June, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced further support to preserve research capacity and capability in the Research Stabilisation Package. On 16 July, we also announced further information about the Higher Education Restructuring Regime, which will review providers’ circumstances and assess the need for restructuring, financial support and come with strict conditions to align with wider government objectives.

Further to this, we have also published reopening guidance to universities informed by advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. We are lifting caps on domestic medicine and dentistry courses for the 2020/21 academic year and providing both additional capital and teaching grant funding. Importantly, we are supporting providers to protect students’ mental health and wellbeing, having clarified that providers can use funding worth £256 million for the academic year 2020/21, starting from August, towards student hardship funds and mental health support. Additionally, the Office for Students has provided up to £3 million to fund the Student Space platform to bridge gaps in mental health support for students.

We will continue to draw upon the expertise of the Higher Education Taskforce to identify COVID-19 related challenges faced by HE providers and students. We will keep policies under review as the situation evolves, based on the latest advice from Public Health England and evidence of the effectiveness of interventions and support for students and providers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of funding the Nature Premium on (a) levels of health inequality, (b) combating mental health issues and (c) levels of learning development among children.

Schools and colleges have an important role to play in supporting the health and well-being of children and young people. We recognise that playing and learning outside is a fundamental part of childhood and supports children’s health and wellbeing. We also know that some children have good access to natural spaces whilst others do not, such as those living in areas of high disadvantage.

We want headteachers to have as much discretion as possible over how they use their funding. It is for schools to decide what teaching approaches and wider pastoral and extra-curricular activity to put in place, as part of a whole school approach, based on the needs of their pupils and drawing on evidence of effective practice. Schools’ core funding in financial years is rising by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20 funding levels.

To support children from disadvantaged backgrounds to have better access to natural environments, the Department for Education is funding the ‘Children and Nature Programme’, working alongside Natural England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The programme is supporting three delivery projects which include delivering greener grounds and pupil visits to green spaces for schools with the highest proportion of disadvantaged pupils.

I have asked departmental officials to meet with representatives of the Nature Premium campaign to discuss the potential merits further.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has had discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential merits of introducing a Nature Premium scheme.

Schools and colleges have an important role to play in supporting the health and well-being of children and young people. We recognise that playing and learning outside is a fundamental part of childhood and supports children’s health and wellbeing. We also know that some children have good access to natural spaces whilst others do not, such as those living in areas of high disadvantage.

We want headteachers to have as much discretion as possible over how they use their funding. It is for schools to decide what teaching approaches and wider pastoral and extra-curricular activity to put in place, as part of a whole school approach, based on the needs of their pupils and drawing on evidence of effective practice. Schools’ core funding in financial years is rising by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20 funding levels.

To support children from disadvantaged backgrounds to have better access to natural environments, the Department for Education is funding the ‘Children and Nature Programme’, working alongside Natural England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The programme is supporting three delivery projects which include delivering greener grounds and pupil visits to green spaces for schools with the highest proportion of disadvantaged pupils.

I have asked departmental officials to meet with representatives of the Nature Premium campaign to discuss the potential merits further.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will meet representatives of the Nature Premium campaign.

Schools and colleges have an important role to play in supporting the health and well-being of children and young people. We recognise that playing and learning outside is a fundamental part of childhood and supports children’s health and wellbeing. We also know that some children have good access to natural spaces whilst others do not, such as those living in areas of high disadvantage.

We want headteachers to have as much discretion as possible over how they use their funding. It is for schools to decide what teaching approaches and wider pastoral and extra-curricular activity to put in place, as part of a whole school approach, based on the needs of their pupils and drawing on evidence of effective practice. Schools’ core funding in financial years is rising by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20 funding levels.

To support children from disadvantaged backgrounds to have better access to natural environments, the Department for Education is funding the ‘Children and Nature Programme’, working alongside Natural England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The programme is supporting three delivery projects which include delivering greener grounds and pupil visits to green spaces for schools with the highest proportion of disadvantaged pupils.

I have asked departmental officials to meet with representatives of the Nature Premium campaign to discuss the potential merits further.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect on the educational outcomes of sixth form students in Portsmouth of recent trends in the number of those students who are self-isolating as a result of having covid-19 symptoms and are unable to return to their sixth form until they receive the results of their covid-19 tests.

In Portsmouth, as set out in national guidance, every further education (FE) provider should ensure they have a strong contingency plan in place for high quality remote education for all students by the end of September, if individuals or groups are asked to isolate, or the setting has to be partially or fully closed. The national guidance can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision/what-fe-colleges-and-providers-will-need-to-do-from-the-start-of-the-2020-autumn-term.

We know that FE providers delivered aspects of provision remotely prior to national lockdown and this has been successfully expanded over recent months, so providers are well placed to respond quickly if the need arises.

Similarly, as set out in the guidance for the full opening of schools, where a pupil is unable to attend a secondary school because they are complying with clinical or public health advice, we expect schools to be able to immediately offer them access to remote education. This guidance can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

This guidance applies equally to sixth form students who may be self-isolating whilst awaiting COVID-19 test results, and seeks to ensure that their education continues until such time as they can return to a school or college setting.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect on the ability of sixth form colleges in Portsmouth to remain open of recent trends in the number of sixth from students in Portsmouth unable to obtain a covid-19 test and unable to return to their sixth form until they receive covid-19 test results.

It is vital that students and college staff only get a test if they develop COVID-19 symptoms. If a positive case is confirmed in a college, swift action is being taken to ask those who have been in close contact to self-isolate, and Public Health England’s local health protection teams continue to support and advise colleges in this situation.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) sent an initial supply of 10 test kits to all colleges including sixth form colleges, for those who develop symptoms on site and face significant personal barriers to accessing a test and so would not otherwise seek to get tested. Further education colleges can now place a monthly order for additional test kits, with order limits proportionate to their number of students. We are making this increase in the number of kits available so that colleges are able to prioritise testing for symptomatic staff who cannot access a test - so that if they test negative they can get back to work as quickly as possible and help keep their setting open.

We will work with DHSC to provide updates to our guidance with advice on how to distribute these kits safely. Relevant guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-home-test-kits-for-schools-and-fe-providers/coronavirus-covid-19-home-test-kits-for-schools-and-fe-providers.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that pupils are able to swiftly access covid-19 tests so that they can return to their education setting.

All pupils are eligible to be tested if they display symptoms of COVID-19 and should get tested in this scenario. A negative test result will enable pupils to get back into childcare or education once they feel well enough.

Testing capacity is the highest it has ever been and hundreds of thousands of people are being tested every day, but there is currently a significant demand for tests. It is vital that pupils and school staff only get a test if they develop symptoms of COVID-19. The NHS Test and Trace system is fully up and running, but it must stay focused on testing those with true symptoms of COVID-19.

The Government are upscaling testing capacity even further to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October. To support this, the Government has announced the addition of new lighthouse laboratories in Newport and Charnwood to the national lab network, and work is ongoing on plans to expand the UK’s laboratory capacity even further over the coming months.

All schools and colleges have been provided with an initial supply of ten test kits to be used in the exceptional circumstance that an individual becomes symptomatic on site and may have significant personal barriers to accessing testing elsewhere. Schools and colleges can order additional test kits online if they have run out or are running out of test kits.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to allocate additional funding for schools to spend on overtime for staff for the implementation of covid-19 safety measures.

On 2 July, the Government published guidance for the full opening of schools, including a Public Health England endorsed system of controls which, when implemented alongside the school’s own risk assessment, create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. This guidance can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

As stated in the guidance, schools should make use of their existing resources when welcoming all children back for the autumn. Schools may need to alter the way in which they deploy their staff, and use existing staff more flexibly, to welcome back all pupils at the start of the autumn term. It is important that planning builds in the need to avoid unnecessary and unmanageable workload burdens.

We are providing additional funding to schools to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak between March and July that cannot be met from their existing resources. Schools were eligible to claim for: increased premises related costs associated with keeping schools open over the Easter and summer half term holidays; support for free school meals for eligible children who are not in school, where schools are not using the national voucher scheme; and additional cleaning costs required due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases, over and above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements.

Schools have also continued to receive their core funding allocations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Following last year’s Spending Round, school budgets are rising by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of whether additional funding is required for schools to implement deep cleaning of school facilities during the covid-19 outbreak.

On 2 July, the Government published guidance for the full opening of schools, including a Public Health England endorsed system of controls which, when implemented alongside the school’s own risk assessment, create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. This guidance can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

As stated in the guidance, schools should make use of their existing resources when welcoming all children back for the autumn. Schools may need to alter the way in which they deploy their staff, and use existing staff more flexibly, to welcome back all pupils at the start of the autumn term. It is important that planning builds in the need to avoid unnecessary and unmanageable workload burdens.

We are providing additional funding to schools to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak between March and July that cannot be met from their existing resources. Schools were eligible to claim for: increased premises related costs associated with keeping schools open over the Easter and summer half term holidays; support for free school meals for eligible children who are not in school, where schools are not using the national voucher scheme; and additional cleaning costs required due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases, over and above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements.

Schools have also continued to receive their core funding allocations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Following last year’s Spending Round, school budgets are rising by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional support he plans to provide to (a) staff and (b) pupils in response to the reported increase in covid-19 cases.

On 2 July the Department published guidance to help schools prepare for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full time from the beginning of the autumn term. The guidance can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

This includes the public health advice schools must follow to minimise the risks of COVID-19 transmission. The public health advice in the guidance makes up a Public Health England (PHE) endorsed ‘system of controls’, building on the hierarchy of protective measures that have been used throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. When implemented in line with a revised risk assessment, these measures create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. Measures include minimising contact between groups and maintaining distance where possible, encouraging regular handwashing, and enhanced cleaning.

The guidance also includes advice to schools on responding to any suspected cases of COVID-19. All staff and pupils should be tested if they develop COVID-19 symptoms, and every school and college that has been attended by someone who tests positive will receive direct support and advice from their local PHE health protection team.

The Department have asked every school to plan for the possibility of local restrictions and how they will ensure continuity of education in exceptional circumstances where there is some level of restriction applied to education or childcare in a local area. The Department of Health and Social Care has published an overview of the tiers of restriction for education and childcare, to be implemented only where absolutely necessary, in its contain framework. This makes clear that we anticipate that education and childcare will usually remain fully open to all. This can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/containing-and-managing-local-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreaks/covid-19-contain-framework-a-guide-for-local-decision-makers.

Guidance has also been published on how schools can plan for tier 2 local restrictions due to the operational challenges that schools could experience. This can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-schools-can-plan-for-tier-2-local-restrictions/how-schools-can-plan-for-tier-2-local-restrictions.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) pupils and (b) teaching staff have access to appropriate (i) equipment, (ii) sanitiser and (iii) personal protective equipment in response to the reported rise in covid-19 cases.

The Department has worked closely with Public Health England (PHE) to publish comprehensive guidance to all schools and colleges on a system of controls which, when implemented, create an inherently safer system where the risk of transmission of the infection is substantially reduced. The guidance can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The majority of staff in schools and colleges will not require personal protective equipment (PPE) beyond what they would normally need for their work. Additional PPE is only needed when in close contact with those with COVID-19 symptoms. Guidance on the use of PPE in education settings is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care-settings-including-the-use-of-personal-protective-equipment-ppe.

Schools and colleges are responsible for sourcing their own PPE and cleaning products. In addition to existing procurement routes, the Government has launched the Crown Commercial Service safer working supplies website and promoted public sector buying organisations through which schools and colleges can access PPE and cleaning products.

To further build resilience across the education sector to respond to any suspected cases arising in schools and colleges, the Department has worked with the Department of Health and Social Care to deliver a one off distribution of PPE to them. The delivery contained clinical face masks, aprons, gloves and visors, as well as the hand sanitiser needed to put on and take off PPE. This PPE has been provided free of change by the DHSC to be used for COVID-19 related purposes in line with the Department’s guidance.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the availability of covid-19 testing on the requirement of pupils with symptoms to be tested prior to returning to school.

The capacity of the NHS Test and Trace system must be protected for those with symptoms of COVID-19. Booking is essential for drive in and walk in test sites, and under 18s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

In line with our guidance, the home test kits supplied to schools and colleges must be reserved for those who face significant barriers to accessing a test and would not otherwise get tested. The Department of Health and Social Care is emailing all schools and colleges with details of how to access additional test kits. An order may be placed each month for a number of kits proportionate to the number of pupils or students at that school or college. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-home-test-kits-for-schools-and-fe-providers/coronavirus-covid-19-home-test-kits-for-schools-and-fe-providers?utm_source=10%20September%202020%20C19&utm_medium=Daily%20Email%20C19&utm_campaign=DfE%20C19.

No one with symptoms should attend their nursery, school, college or university. In the case of a confirmed positive test for COVID-19, the relevant local health protection team should be contacted immediately. The health protection team will carry out a rapid risk assessment and identify the appropriate next steps.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support teachers in the distribution of home learning packs to pupils who are not returning to school during the covid-19 outbreak.

Shielding advice for all adults and children was paused on 1 August. We now expect all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full time for the autumn term. On 2 July, the Department published guidance to support schools to do this. While our aim is to have all pupils back in the classroom, every school will need to plan for the possibility of local restrictions and how they will ensure continuity of education.

The Department is committed to the continuation of high-quality remote education during this difficult time and is supporting schools to ensure that it is aligned to their normal provision for their pupils. We expect schools to have a strong contingency plan for remote education in place by the end of September. We have asked schools to look to align the quality of their existing provision with the expectations set out in the published guidance on curriculum and remote education provision: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools#section-3-curriculum-behaviour-and-pastoral-support.

We have published a comprehensive range of advice and guidance to support schools. This includes examples of teaching practice during the COVID-19 outbreak, which provides an opportunity for schools to learn from each other’s approaches to remote education. It outlines strategies and techniques that have worked for teachers and school leaders and contains information about effective remote provision. This can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-practice-for-schools-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The guidance also includes examples of how schools can support pupils without internet access by, for example, providing physical work packs, which can be accessed here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-practice-for-schools-during-coronavirus-covid-19

https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/providing-physical-work-packs-for-pupils-with-limited-or-no-internet-connection.

The Government has already invested over £100 million to help schools and young people continue their education at home and access social care services. This includes investment of 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 wireless routers to young people who would not otherwise have access. The Department is now supplementing this support by making an initial 150,000 additional devices available in the event that face to face schooling becomes disrupted as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions. These should be used to enable disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 to continue to access remote education.

The Department has also supported sector-led initiatives, like Oak National Academy, which launched on 20 April. By 12 July, 4.7 million unique users had accessed the Oak National Academy website and 16.1 million lessons had been viewed. The Department has made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy both for the summer term of the academic year 2019-20, and then for the 2020-21 academic year to provide video lessons for reception up to year 11. This will include specialist content for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. Oak will remain a free optional resource for 2020-21.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional funding is being provided to schools to ensure that home learning packs are distributed to pupils who are not returning to school during the covid-19 outbreak.

Shielding advice for all adults and children was paused on 1 August. We now expect all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full time for the autumn term. On 2 July, the Department published guidance to support schools to do this. While our aim is to have all pupils back in the classroom, every school will need to plan for the possibility of local restrictions and how they will ensure continuity of education.

The Department is committed to the continuation of high-quality remote education during this difficult time and is supporting schools to ensure that it is aligned to their normal provision for their pupils. We expect schools to have a strong contingency plan for remote education in place by the end of September. We have asked schools to look to align the quality of their existing provision with the expectations set out in the published guidance on curriculum and remote education provision: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools#section-3-curriculum-behaviour-and-pastoral-support.

We have published a comprehensive range of advice and guidance to support schools. This includes examples of teaching practice during the COVID-19 outbreak, which provides an opportunity for schools to learn from each other’s approaches to remote education. It outlines strategies and techniques that have worked for teachers and school leaders and contains information about effective remote provision. This can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-practice-for-schools-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The guidance also includes examples of how schools can support pupils without internet access by, for example, providing physical work packs, which can be accessed here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-practice-for-schools-during-coronavirus-covid-19

https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/providing-physical-work-packs-for-pupils-with-limited-or-no-internet-connection.

The Government has already invested over £100 million to help schools and young people continue their education at home and access social care services. This includes investment of 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 wireless routers to young people who would not otherwise have access. The Department is now supplementing this support by making an initial 150,000 additional devices available in the event that face to face schooling becomes disrupted as a result of local COVID-19 restrictions. These should be used to enable disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 to continue to access remote education.

The Department has also supported sector-led initiatives, like Oak National Academy, which launched on 20 April. By 12 July, 4.7 million unique users had accessed the Oak National Academy website and 16.1 million lessons had been viewed. The Department has made £4.84 million available for Oak National Academy both for the summer term of the academic year 2019-20, and then for the 2020-21 academic year to provide video lessons for reception up to year 11. This will include specialist content for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. Oak will remain a free optional resource for 2020-21.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the reduced ability of schools to ventilate classrooms during winter months on the safety of (a) teachers and (b) pupils during the covid-19; and if he will make a statement.

On 2 July we published guidance to help schools prepare for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term. The guidance can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The above guidance sets out a system of controls which provide a framework for school leaders to put in place a range of proportionate protective measures for children and staff, which also ensure that all pupils receive a high quality education that enables them to thrive and progress. Measures include minimising contacts between groups and maintaining distance where possible, encouraging regular handwashing, and enhanced cleaning.

This includes advice that once the school is in operation, it is important to ensure good ventilation and maximise this wherever possible, for example, by opening windows and propping open doors, as long as they are not fire doors, where safe to do so (bearing in mind safeguarding in particular). Arrangements for ventilation will vary in each setting based on individual circumstances.

Advice on this can be found in Health and Safety Executive guidance on air conditioning and ventilation during the COVID-19 outbreak available at https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/equipment-and-machinery/air-conditioning-and-ventilation.htm.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that schools can properly ventilate classrooms in the winter months during the covid-19 outbreak.

On 2 July we published guidance to help schools prepare for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term. The guidance can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The above guidance sets out a system of controls which provide a framework for school leaders to put in place a range of proportionate protective measures for children and staff, which also ensure that all pupils receive a high quality education that enables them to thrive and progress. Measures include minimising contacts between groups and maintaining distance where possible, encouraging regular handwashing, and enhanced cleaning.

This includes advice that once the school is in operation, it is important to ensure good ventilation and maximise this wherever possible, for example, by opening windows and propping open doors, as long as they are not fire doors, where safe to do so (bearing in mind safeguarding in particular). Arrangements for ventilation will vary in each setting based on individual circumstances.

Advice on this can be found in Health and Safety Executive guidance on air conditioning and ventilation during the COVID-19 outbreak available at https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/equipment-and-machinery/air-conditioning-and-ventilation.htm.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the additional teacher timetable planning required as a result of the covid-19 on the workloads of teachers.

The Government is grateful for the continued hard work of head teachers, teachers and support staff in their efforts to ensure that all pupils, in all year groups, have been able to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term.

Our guidance for the full opening of schools recognises that schools may need to alter the way in which they deploy their staff and use existing staff more flexibly. Managers should discuss and agree any changes to staff roles with individuals. It is important that planning builds in the need to avoid increases in unnecessary and unmanageable workload burdens. The Department has published a range of resources, including case studies to support remote education, that help address staff workload: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/case-studies-remote-education-practice-for-schools-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Over the next few months, we will continue to work closely with school leaders, teachers and their representatives to continue to address workload issues and provide support for schools.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment has he made of the effect on the mental well-being of home-schooled children of those children being unable to receive predicted grades for GCSE’s.

We appreciate that many private candidates will be concerned about their GCSE results. We know that the COVID-19 outbreak is likely to affect the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, including in the longer term.

We have been working with health partners such as Public Health England and Health Education England to provide resources and guidance to support and promote the mental health of children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak. We have signposted resources on supporting and promoting mental wellbeing in the list of resources to help children who are learning at home. The government has also provided additional funding to mental health charities to adapt, expand and reach out to those children who are most vulnerable. The list of resources is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources#mental-wellbeing.

The Ofqual guidance for teachers, students, parents and carers explains the options available for private candidates to be awarded grades this year. Ofqual has asked organisations that represent further education providers to consider steps that they could take when making admissions decisions this summer for any private candidates who do not receive a grade. We understand that institutions will consider a range of other evidence and information for these students to allow them to progress wherever possible. The Ofqual guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/awarding-qualifications-in-summer-2020.

There will be an opportunity for students to sit exams in the autumn term, if they feel their calculated grade does not reflect their ability.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to safeguard cover staff teaching pupils outside of their pupil pods from the risk of contracting covid-19.

The Government's plan is for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term, and on 2 July we published guidance to help schools prepare for this. The guidance can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

As part of this guidance, we are asking all school leaders to put measures in place to minimise the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in their school. This includes implementing a Public Health England (PHE) endorsed ‘system of controls’ that includes: ensuring that people who have symptoms do not attend school, robust hand and respiratory hygiene, enhanced cleaning arrangements, active engagement with NHS Test and Trace, and minimising contact and maintaining distance between individuals wherever possible.

Alongside this, schools have a legal obligation to protect their employees, and others, from harm and should continue to assess health and safety risks. We are asking schools to thoroughly review their health and safety risk assessments and draw up plans for the autumn term that address the risks identified using the system of controls described above.

If schools follow the guidance we have set out they will effectively reduce risks and create an inherently safer environment for pupils and staff. On that basis, schools are advised that all teachers and other staff can operate across different classes and year groups in order to facilitate the delivery of the school timetable. Our guidance makes clear that where staff need to move between classes and year groups, they should try to keep their distance from pupils and other staff as much as they can, ideally 2 metres from other adults. Schools should ensure they have explained to all staff the measures they are proposing to put in place and involve all staff in that process.

The guidance also sets out that supply staff and other temporary workers can move between schools. Where it is necessary to use supply staff or other temporary teachers, those individuals will be expected to comply with the school’s arrangements for managing and minimising risk, including taking particular care to maintain distance from other staff and pupils. To minimise the numbers of temporary staff entering the school premises, and secure best value, we have suggested that schools may wish to use longer assignments with supply teachers and agree a minimum number of hours across the academic year.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that class rooms will be kept at sufficiently warm levels in winter months while simultaneously being effectively ventilated to prevent the spread of covid-19.

The Government has been clear that our plan is for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term and on 2 July we published guidance to help schools prepare for this. The guidance can be viewed at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

This guidance advises schools to ensure there is good ventilation in classrooms and directs them to the Health and Safety Executive’s guidance on air conditioning and ventilation during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Arrangements for ventilation will vary in each setting based on individual circumstances. As normal, schools will need to continue to ensure good ventilation during the winter heating period.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect on the health of cover teaching staff working at schools outside of their pupil pods of face-to-face contact with pupils at other schools.

The Government's plan is for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term, and on 2 July we published guidance to help schools prepare for this. The guidance can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

As part of this guidance, we are asking all school leaders to put measures in place to minimise the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in their school. This includes implementing a Public Health England (PHE) endorsed ‘system of controls’ that includes: ensuring that people who have symptoms do not attend school, robust hand and respiratory hygiene, enhanced cleaning arrangements, active engagement with NHS Test and Trace, and minimising contact and maintaining distance between individuals wherever possible.

Alongside this, schools have a legal obligation to protect their employees, and others, from harm and should continue to assess health and safety risks. We are asking schools to thoroughly review their health and safety risk assessments and draw up plans for the autumn term that address the risks identified using the system of controls described above.

If schools follow the guidance we have set out they will effectively reduce risks and create an inherently safer environment for pupils and staff. On that basis, schools are advised that all teachers and other staff can operate across different classes and year groups in order to facilitate the delivery of the school timetable. Our guidance makes clear that where staff need to move between classes and year groups, they should try to keep their distance from pupils and other staff as much as they can, ideally 2 metres from other adults. Schools should ensure they have explained to all staff the measures they are proposing to put in place and involve all staff in that process.

The guidance also sets out that supply staff and other temporary workers can move between schools. Where it is necessary to use supply staff or other temporary teachers, those individuals will be expected to comply with the school’s arrangements for managing and minimising risk, including taking particular care to maintain distance from other staff and pupils. To minimise the numbers of temporary staff entering the school premises, and secure best value, we have suggested that schools may wish to use longer assignments with supply teachers and agree a minimum number of hours across the academic year.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of Government guidance that cover teachers will be expected to teach multiple year groups on the ability of those cover staff to remain within allocated pupil pods.

The Government's plan is for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term, and on 2 July we published guidance to help schools prepare for this. The guidance can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

As part of this guidance, we are asking all school leaders to put measures in place to minimise the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in their school. This includes implementing a Public Health England (PHE) endorsed ‘system of controls’ that includes: ensuring that people who have symptoms do not attend school, robust hand and respiratory hygiene, enhanced cleaning arrangements, active engagement with NHS Test and Trace, and minimising contact and maintaining distance between individuals wherever possible.

Alongside this, schools have a legal obligation to protect their employees, and others, from harm and should continue to assess health and safety risks. We are asking schools to thoroughly review their health and safety risk assessments and draw up plans for the autumn term that address the risks identified using the system of controls described above.

If schools follow the guidance we have set out they will effectively reduce risks and create an inherently safer environment for pupils and staff. On that basis, schools are advised that all teachers and other staff can operate across different classes and year groups in order to facilitate the delivery of the school timetable. Our guidance makes clear that where staff need to move between classes and year groups, they should try to keep their distance from pupils and other staff as much as they can, ideally 2 metres from other adults. Schools should ensure they have explained to all staff the measures they are proposing to put in place and involve all staff in that process.

The guidance also sets out that supply staff and other temporary workers can move between schools. Where it is necessary to use supply staff or other temporary teachers, those individuals will be expected to comply with the school’s arrangements for managing and minimising risk, including taking particular care to maintain distance from other staff and pupils. To minimise the numbers of temporary staff entering the school premises, and secure best value, we have suggested that schools may wish to use longer assignments with supply teachers and agree a minimum number of hours across the academic year.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reforming area guidelines for schools that prevent lessons being taught in settings other than classrooms.

The design and construction standards for new school buildings are under regular review to reflect any changes in regulations or best practice nationally. There are no plans at present to review Building Bulletin 103.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of trades unions on his Department's area guidelines for mainstream schools, building bulletin 103, in relation to where lessons can be taught.

The design and construction standards for new school buildings are under regular review to reflect any changes in regulations or best practice nationally. There are no plans at present to review Building Bulletin 103.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of his Department's area guidelines for mainstream schools, building bulletin 103 on where lessons can be taught to pupils on the educational wellbeing of pupils following the outbreak of covid-19.

The design and construction standards for new school buildings are under regular review to reflect any changes in regulations or best practice nationally. There are no plans at present to review Building Bulletin 103.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the Government plans to instruct schools to open during the 2020 summer holidays.

We have no plans to instruct schools to operate throughout summer.

We understand that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused disruption to young people’s education as teachers and parents have had to adapt to remote education. We are doing everything possible to make sure every child, whatever their background, has the support they need to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on their education and wellbeing and are working with partners to consider the best ways to deliver this ongoing support.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if the Government will review (a) pay and (b) conditions for school staff who have had to work through Easter and half term as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) covers the pay and conditions for teachers in maintained schools in England, and requires that teachers must be available to teach for 190 days each year. There are no plans to review this.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, we know that many schools have implemented a rota system so that any staff who are asked to work during a holiday period will have time off during normal term time. Teachers and other school staff will continue to be paid during this period as normal, and we expect schools to continue to fulfill their contractual duties to their staff.

Responsibility for the pay and conditions of support staff lies at a local level with headteachers and school employers; they are best placed to use their professional judgement to set terms and conditions to suit local circumstances.

Non-maintained schools, including academies and free schools, are responsible for determining the pay and conditions of their staff themselves; such schools are not obliged to follow the statutory arrangements set out in the STPCD, although they may still choose to do so if they wish.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that young people receive mental health support (a) as they return to school and (b) in the event that they are not able to return to school at the same time as their peers.

The government remains committed to promoting and supporting the mental health of children and young people. Access to mental health support is more important than ever during the COVID-19 outbreak. NHS services remain open and leading mental health charities are being supported to deliver additional services through the £5 million Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund. The NHS is also setting up 24/7 open access telephone lines for urgent mental health support for people of all ages.

The return to school will in itself be part of supporting the mental health and wellbeing of pupils as attendance enables social interaction with peers, carers and teachers. Pupil wellbeing is an important consideration within our guidance on actions for educational and childcare settings as they prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020, which is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020.

It is also included as a specific theme in the planning framework the department has issued, which is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020/opening-schools-for-more-children-and-young-people-initial-planning-framework-for-schools-in-england.

We are working with the Department of Health and Social Care to put in place further specific support. This includes training for teachers, such as a new module developed with clinical experts on how to teach about mental health in health education https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-about-mental-wellbeing

as well advice seminars, £750k of funding to three organisations extend support and advice to schools on tackling bullying, and grants to the Education Support Partnership and Timewise to support teachers’ mental health and flexible working.

Where children do not return, schools can continue to support their mental wellbeing.

Public Health England and Health Education England have developed advice and guidance for parents and professionals on supporting children and young people's mental health and wellbeing, which is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing.

The department has signposted resources on supporting and promoting mental wellbeing among the list of resources to help children to learn at home. BBC Bitesize have worked with the department to provide content with substantial focus on mental health, wellbeing and pastoral care, which is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources.

The department is also working across government to consider what further resources and support including bereavement support might be appropriate to support children and young people during this outbreak.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the guidance published by his Department entitled Supporting vulnerable children and young people during the covid-19 outbreak, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that vulnerable children and young people, including those with mental health conditions, are able to access the support set out in that guidance.

We are committed to ensuring the safety and protection of vulnerable children and young people, particularly during the current period. This is why education settings remained open for these children and local authorities are maintaining contact with them.

Vulnerable children and young people across all year groups continue to be expected to attend educational provision where it is appropriate for them to do so. This should remain a priority for educational providers and local authorities, including as some year groups begin to return to on-site provision.

Where vulnerable children are not attending an educational setting, we have asked local authorities, schools and colleges to continue to keep in touch with them. Our new regional education care teams, comprising education and social care staff from the department and Ofsted, are working with local authorities directly to ensure their systems and processes for maintaining contact with vulnerable children are robust.

To ensure children and young people can maintain contact with a social worker, we are providing laptops and tablets to children with a social worker who do not have access to a device otherwise, either privately or through school. We are also providing 4G wireless routers to children with a social worker at secondary school in order to support them to maintain contact with their social worker and access remote education independently at home.

Access to mental health support is more important than ever during COVID-19. NHS services remain open and leading mental health charities are being supported to deliver additional services through the £5 million Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund. The NHS is setting up 24/7 open access telephone lines for urgent mental health support for people of all ages. The department and Public Health England have provided guidance and resources to families and schools to help promote and support good mental health and wellbeing for children and young people. The guidance can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the spread of covid-19 in school hubs for vulnerable children.

Whilst plans for wider opening of schools have been announced from 1 June at the earliest, in the meantime schools continue to be open to priority groups: vulnerable children and children of critical workers.

With significantly reduced pupil numbers, the Department understands that shared provision through multi-school cluster or hub arrangements may be considered. The Department has published guidance on cluster and hub provision which makes it clear that public health should be a priority and that provision through individual schools and settings, where possible, entails fewer people in a single setting and less social contact, and therefore a reduced risk of spreading the virus. The guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/using-clusters-and-hubs-to-maintain-educational-provision/cluster-and-hub-provision-coronavirus-covid-19.

Where schools have no alternative but to close and cannot ‘pair up’ with a neighbouring school, larger hubs may be the only practical alternative. If this is the case, public health should remain a priority and any arrangement should follow the latest guidance on implementing protective measures in education settings, which is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment has he made of the potential merits of respite care for families with vulnerable children on the educational development of those children.

Short breaks for carers of disabled children (or ‘respite care’) are funded opportunities, ranging from a few hours to a few days, that allow for disabled children to be cared for away from the family home. Short breaks provide a wide variety of experiences which support children and young people in developing social interaction and communication skills and also promote physical and mental health and develop independence.

Since 2011, local authorities have been under a duty to provide a range of short breaks which must be provided regularly and reliably to meet families’ needs. It is up to local authorities to determine how to deliver these services and it is right that they have the freedom to make decisions based on the needs of their local area.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, local authorities will work with their local providers of short breaks to offer as much flexibility as possible whilst adhering to the government’s guidance to keep children and staff safe. The government has provided £3.2 billion of additional to support local authorities to address pressures they are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak, including in children’s social care and for special educational needs and disabilities services. The government has also announced £750 million of funding to support frontline charities during the outbreak, including those supporting vulnerable children.

On 19 May 2020, we announced £37 million for the Family Fund in 2020-21, who will provide grants to families on low incomes with disabled and critically ill children. £10 million of that funding has been committed specifically due to the unique difficulties presented by the COVID-19 outbreak, helping parents to educate and look after children who are staying at home more than usual. Details of the announcement are at this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/37-million-to-support-children-with-complex-needs.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that communication protocols for regular contact between vulnerable children and their schools during the covid-19 outbreak are monitored.

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

Our latest guidance on safeguarding in schools and protecting vulnerable children is set out below:

Being at school can be an important lifeline for children who need or have needed a social worker, which is why schools have remained open to them throughout the period of partial closures. Where these children are not attending school, the school should notify the child’s social worker. They should then work together with the local authority/social worker to follow up the reasons for absence, strongly encourage attendance where the social worker agrees this is appropriate, and consider how to keep in touch with the child, including through the provision of remote education, particularly where the social worker agrees that attendance would not be appropriate.

Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) is statutory safeguarding guidance that schools should continue to have regard to as per their legislative duty. To help schools do this we have published safeguarding guidance.

This guidance supports governing bodies, proprietors, senior leadership teams and designated safeguarding leads (DSLs) so they can continue to have appropriate regard to KCSIE and keep their children safe. It suggests where schools might consider safeguarding policy and process differently when compared to business as usual. The guidance is clear that revised child protection policies should, amongst other things, reflect the arrangements in place to keep children not physically attending the school safe, especially online and how concerns about these children should be progressed. The guidance also reflects the continued importance for school staff to work with and support children’s social workers and have access to a trained DSL or deputy.

Designated safeguarding leads, working with social workers are best placed, on a case by case basis, to put support mechanisms in place for individual vulnerable children not attending school, including who will be best placed (from the school) to keep in regular contact with the child.

The department are providing laptops, tablets and routers, as required, for children with social workers and care leavers to help them keep in touch with the services they need.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) designated safeguarding leads, (b) headteachers, (c) SENCO’s and (d) pastoral leads maintain regular telephone communication directly with vulnerable children rather than teachers.

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

Our latest guidance on safeguarding in schools and protecting vulnerable children is set out below:

Being at school can be an important lifeline for children who need or have needed a social worker, which is why schools have remained open to them throughout the period of partial closures. Where these children are not attending school, the school should notify the child’s social worker. They should then work together with the local authority/social worker to follow up the reasons for absence, strongly encourage attendance where the social worker agrees this is appropriate, and consider how to keep in touch with the child, including through the provision of remote education, particularly where the social worker agrees that attendance would not be appropriate.

Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) is statutory safeguarding guidance that schools should continue to have regard to as per their legislative duty. To help schools do this we have published safeguarding guidance.

This guidance supports governing bodies, proprietors, senior leadership teams and designated safeguarding leads (DSLs) so they can continue to have appropriate regard to KCSIE and keep their children safe. It suggests where schools might consider safeguarding policy and process differently when compared to business as usual. The guidance is clear that revised child protection policies should, amongst other things, reflect the arrangements in place to keep children not physically attending the school safe, especially online and how concerns about these children should be progressed. The guidance also reflects the continued importance for school staff to work with and support children’s social workers and have access to a trained DSL or deputy.

Designated safeguarding leads, working with social workers are best placed, on a case by case basis, to put support mechanisms in place for individual vulnerable children not attending school, including who will be best placed (from the school) to keep in regular contact with the child.

The department are providing laptops, tablets and routers, as required, for children with social workers and care leavers to help them keep in touch with the services they need.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities place unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in regulated care homes.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that they meet the needs of their looked-after children, including unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) and they must ensure that care placements facilitate this.

Each care placement must consider the individual needs of the child and local authorities must have flexibility meeting those needs.

The department recognises the benefits of placing UASC in family-based environments whenever possible. The Safeguarding Strategy for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking and Refugee Children commits us to developing resources to support recruitment of supported lodging hosts as a form of semi-independent accommodation.

While there is a place for independent and semi-independent provision in the care system, it is clear that reform is needed to ensure it is being used appropriately and meets the needs of the young people placed there. The department is moving to take action on these issues and has launched a consultation on reforms to the use of independent and semi-independent provision. The consultation covers proposals including banning the placement of children under-16 in this provision and introducing new mandatory quality standards for provision.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many unaccompanied asylum seeking children there are (a) in the care of Portsmouth City Council and (b) in the UK.

The latest figures relate to the 31 March 2019. The department holds information for England, but information for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland is a matter for the devolved administrations.

There were 5,070 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children looked after by local authorities in England, of which 101 were looked after by Portsmouth local authority. 990 of the unaccompanied asylum-seeking children looked after by local authorities in England were placed in semi-independent living accommodation, a further 1,460 were living independently.

24 children (aged under 18 years) were looked after by Portsmouth local authority and were accommodated in semi-independent living accommodation, a further 37 were living independently.

Information on the numbers of children looked after in England, including information on the numbers who are unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and placements, is available in the annual statistical release ‘Children looked after in England (including adoption) which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2018-to-2019.

While most children in care are placed in children’s homes or foster care, independent and semi-independent settings can be the right choice for some older children, acting as a stepping stone towards independence and adult life. Given that the majority of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) are aged 16 and over, UASC are more likely to benefit from high quality placements in these settings than the wider cohort of looked-after-children. We have launched a consultation on new measures to improve the quality of this provision, including introducing new national standards.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many unaccompanied asylum seeking children are being housed in unregulated care homes.

The latest figures relate to the 31 March 2019. The department holds information for England, but information for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland is a matter for the devolved administrations.

There were 5,070 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children looked after by local authorities in England, of which 101 were looked after by Portsmouth local authority. 990 of the unaccompanied asylum-seeking children looked after by local authorities in England were placed in semi-independent living accommodation, a further 1,460 were living independently.

24 children (aged under 18 years) were looked after by Portsmouth local authority and were accommodated in semi-independent living accommodation, a further 37 were living independently.

Information on the numbers of children looked after in England, including information on the numbers who are unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and placements, is available in the annual statistical release ‘Children looked after in England (including adoption) which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2018-to-2019.

While most children in care are placed in children’s homes or foster care, independent and semi-independent settings can be the right choice for some older children, acting as a stepping stone towards independence and adult life. Given that the majority of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) are aged 16 and over, UASC are more likely to benefit from high quality placements in these settings than the wider cohort of looked-after-children. We have launched a consultation on new measures to improve the quality of this provision, including introducing new national standards.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of recent trends in the number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children under the care of Portsmouth City Council being housed in unregulated care homes on the (a) well-being, (b) integration and (c) safety of those children.

Every child growing up in care should have a safe and secure environment where they feel supported. Local authorities are required by the law to ensure that they meet the needs of their looked-after children, and they must ensure that care placements facilitate this.

Independent and semi-independent (unregulated) settings can play an important role in the care system in meeting the needs of older children, acting as a stepping stone towards independence and adult life.

Such placements have benefited young people in Portsmouth, where one of the 8 Staying Close pilots is in place. The department has issued £1.6 million in the last two years to the 8 existing pilots, and has agreed a further £6 million for the next year to begin a national rollout. The Staying Close pilot in Portsmouth is supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) care leavers to move towards independence by providing additional support in semi-independent living arrangements.

Through the safeguarding strategy for UASC, we are also committed to developing resources to support the recruitment of supported lodging hosts as a form of semi-independent accommodation. This will ensure that we continue to support local authorities to find the most appropriate placements to meet the needs of UASC.

While independent and semi-independent settings do form an important part of the care landscape, in meeting the needs of older children who are ready for this, we have made clear that we are concerned that the quality is not always good enough. We are particularly concerned about the number of children under the age of 16 being placed in this provision. It is unacceptable for any child to be placed in a setting that does not meet their needs for any amount of time.

We are moving quickly to take action on these issues, and have launched a consultation on reforms to the use of independent and semi-independent provision. The consultation covers proposals including banning the placement of children under 16 in this provision and introducing new mandatory quality standards.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many people under the age of 18 under the care of Portsmouth City Council are being housed in unregulated care homes.

The latest figures relate to the 31 March 2019. The department holds information for England, but information for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland is a matter for the devolved administrations.

There were 5,070 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children looked after by local authorities in England, of which 101 were looked after by Portsmouth local authority. 990 of the unaccompanied asylum-seeking children looked after by local authorities in England were placed in semi-independent living accommodation, a further 1,460 were living independently.

24 children (aged under 18 years) were looked after by Portsmouth local authority and were accommodated in semi-independent living accommodation, a further 37 were living independently.

Information on the numbers of children looked after in England, including information on the numbers who are unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and placements, is available in the annual statistical release ‘Children looked after in England (including adoption) which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2018-to-2019.

While most children in care are placed in children’s homes or foster care, independent and semi-independent settings can be the right choice for some older children, acting as a stepping stone towards independence and adult life. Given that the majority of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) are aged 16 and over, UASC are more likely to benefit from high quality placements in these settings than the wider cohort of looked-after-children. We have launched a consultation on new measures to improve the quality of this provision, including introducing new national standards.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of recent trends in the number of people under the age of 18 under Portsmouth City Council’s care being housed in unregulated care homes on the safety of those people.

Every child growing up in care should have a safe and secure environment where they feel supported. Local authorities are required by the law to ensure that they meet the needs of their looked-after children, and they must ensure that care placements facilitate this.

Independent and semi-independent (unregulated) settings can play an important role in the care system in meeting the needs of older children, acting as a stepping stone towards independence and adult life.

Such placements have benefited young people in Portsmouth, where one of the 8 Staying Close pilots is in place. The department has issued £1.6 million in the last two years to the 8 existing pilots, and has agreed a further £6 million for the next year to begin a national rollout. The Staying Close pilot in Portsmouth is supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) care leavers to move towards independence by providing additional support in semi-independent living arrangements.

Through the safeguarding strategy for UASC, we are also committed to developing resources to support the recruitment of supported lodging hosts as a form of semi-independent accommodation. This will ensure that we continue to support local authorities to find the most appropriate placements to meet the needs of UASC.

While independent and semi-independent settings do form an important part of the care landscape, in meeting the needs of older children who are ready for this, we have made clear that we are concerned that the quality is not always good enough. We are particularly concerned about the number of children under the age of 16 being placed in this provision. It is unacceptable for any child to be placed in a setting that does not meet their needs for any amount of time.

We are moving quickly to take action on these issues, and have launched a consultation on reforms to the use of independent and semi-independent provision. The consultation covers proposals including banning the placement of children under 16 in this provision and introducing new mandatory quality standards.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to reduce the use of unregulated care homes for the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking minors.

Every child growing up in care should have a safe and secure environment where they feel supported. Local authorities are required by the law to ensure that they meet the needs of their looked-after children, and they must ensure that care placements facilitate this.

Independent and semi-independent (unregulated) settings can play an important role in the care system in meeting the needs of older children, acting as a stepping stone towards independence and adult life.

Such placements have benefited young people in Portsmouth, where one of the 8 Staying Close pilots is in place. The department has issued £1.6 million in the last two years to the 8 existing pilots, and has agreed a further £6 million for the next year to begin a national rollout. The Staying Close pilot in Portsmouth is supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) care leavers to move towards independence by providing additional support in semi-independent living arrangements.

Through the safeguarding strategy for UASC, we are also committed to developing resources to support the recruitment of supported lodging hosts as a form of semi-independent accommodation. This will ensure that we continue to support local authorities to find the most appropriate placements to meet the needs of UASC.

While independent and semi-independent settings do form an important part of the care landscape, in meeting the needs of older children who are ready for this, we have made clear that we are concerned that the quality is not always good enough. We are particularly concerned about the number of children under the age of 16 being placed in this provision. It is unacceptable for any child to be placed in a setting that does not meet their needs for any amount of time.

We are moving quickly to take action on these issues, and have launched a consultation on reforms to the use of independent and semi-independent provision. The consultation covers proposals including banning the placement of children under 16 in this provision and introducing new mandatory quality standards.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of trends in the number of people with fluency in braille on the ability of (a) visually impaired and (b) blind people to communicate.

We do not collect data on levels of braille fluency. However, we recognise the importance of children and young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND), including those with vision impairment, receiving a world class education that sets them up for life, no matter what challenges they face.

Local authorities are responsible for developing a ‘Local Offer’ of support services and provision for children and young people with SEND in their area, including those with vision impairment. This should be co-produced with children and young people and their parents and carers, to provide a genuine sense of co-ownership.

The Department for Education provides local authorities with funding to enable them to fulfil their statutory duties towards children and young people with SEND, including those with vision impairment. We recently announced £780 million of additional high needs funding for the next financial year, bringing the total high needs funding to over £7 billion. Local authorities are responsible for determining how they allocate their high needs funding to support children and young people with SEND in their area.

Schools also have an important role to play in supporting pupils with SEND. Every school is required to identify and address the special educational needs of their pupils. Schools also have duties under the Equality Act 2010 towards individual disabled children and young people. They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services, to ensure that disabled children are not at a substantial disadvantage compared with their peers. The specific type of support provided to individual pupils will vary, depending on their needs.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of people that are fluent in braille.

We do not collect data on levels of braille fluency. However, we recognise the importance of children and young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND), including those with vision impairment, receiving a world class education that sets them up for life, no matter what challenges they face.

Local authorities are responsible for developing a ‘Local Offer’ of support services and provision for children and young people with SEND in their area, including those with vision impairment. This should be co-produced with children and young people and their parents and carers, to provide a genuine sense of co-ownership.

The Department for Education provides local authorities with funding to enable them to fulfil their statutory duties towards children and young people with SEND, including those with vision impairment. We recently announced £780 million of additional high needs funding for the next financial year, bringing the total high needs funding to over £7 billion. Local authorities are responsible for determining how they allocate their high needs funding to support children and young people with SEND in their area.

Schools also have an important role to play in supporting pupils with SEND. Every school is required to identify and address the special educational needs of their pupils. Schools also have duties under the Equality Act 2010 towards individual disabled children and young people. They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services, to ensure that disabled children are not at a substantial disadvantage compared with their peers. The specific type of support provided to individual pupils will vary, depending on their needs.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the literacy rate is amongst people aged eight to 15 in (a) Portsmouth and (b) the UK.

The Department for Education assesses pupils in England via end of Key Stage 1 assessments when pupils are typically age 7, end of Key Stage 2 assessments when pupils are typically age 11, and end of Key Stage 4 (GCSE) exams when pupils are typically age 16.

The Department publishes attainment, in headline measures for state-funded schools, at the end of Key Stage 2 by local authority, region and all of England. An extract from the latest figures for 2018-19 are in the table below, relating to attainment in reading and writing. At Key Stage 2 English reading is assessed via tests and writing via teacher assessments.

Table 1 - Key Stage 2 English results in 2019 for Portsmouth local authority and state funded schools in England

Students meeting English reading expected standard

Students meeting English reading higher standard

Students meeting English writing expected standard

Students meeting English writing greater depth

Portsmouth

67%

22%

76%

11%

England (state-funded schools)

74%

27%

79%

20%

Key Stage 2 local authority data, including for previous years[1], is available at the following link[2]:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-key-stage-2.

For students at the end of Key Stage 4, there is no assessment of literacy skills, nor reading and writing separately. As a proxy, Table 2 provides the percentage of students entering the English element of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), and the percentage attaining a standard pass (grade 9-4).

Table 2 - EBacc English results in 2019 for Portsmouth local authority and state funded schools in England

% of students entering EBacc English[3]

% of students achieving a grade 4 or above in EBacc English

Portsmouth

93.4%

67.5%

England (state-funded schools)

95.8%

75.6%

Local authority data, including for previous years, is available at the following link[4]:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-gcses-key-stage-4.

[1] Due to change in methodology and headline measures at Key Stage 2, figures are only comparable between 2009-10 to 2014-15 and 2015-16 to 2016-17. Changes made within the 2017-18 writing teaching assistant frameworks mean that judgements in 2018 are not directly comparable to those made using the previous interim frameworks in 2016 and 2017.

[2] For each year, select the ‘revised’ publication and then open the ‘Local authority and regional tables’. For 2015-16 to 2016-17 the headline measures are the percentage of students reaching the expected standard and can be found in tables L1, L2 and L3. For 2009-10 to 2014-15 the headline measures are the percentage achieving L4 or above and can be found in tables 12-16 (2013-14 to 2014-15); tables 12-15 (2012-13); tables 13-15 (2011-12); table 11 (2010-11); table 18 (2009-10 – in the ‘national and local authority tables’).

[3] Pupils must achieve at least a grade 4 in English at the end of Key Stage 4 or are required to resit in post-16 education. Therefore, entry and achievement at grade 4 in EBacc English has been used as a proxy for 'literacy' for pupils at the end of Key Stage 4. For more information about EBacc, go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/progress-8-school-performance-measure.

[4] For each year, select the ‘revised’ publication and then open the ‘local authority tables’.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
6th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of recent trends in book ownership amongst pupils aged nine to 18 on (a) literacy rates and (b) pupil development in the UK.

National Literacy Trust research published in November 2019 showed that the gap in book ownership between disadvantaged children and their peers has almost halved in the past six years (from 6.1% in 2013 to 3.3% in 2019).

The Department wants all children to be able to read well, with fluency and understanding. In 2018 we launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme. The English Hubs are focused on improving educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils in Reception and Year 1. We have appointed 34 primary schools across England as English Hubs. The English Hubs Programme is supporting nearly 3000 schools across England to improve their teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, early language development, and reading for pleasure. Springhill Primary School is an English Hub which aims to support 170 schools in its local area, which includes Portsmouth.

The Department recognises that disadvantaged pupils may face greater challenges to succeed at school. Since 2011 we have provided schools with more than £15 billion in extra funding through the pupil premium so that disadvantaged pupils can receive the support they need. School leaders are free to use the pupil premium as they choose; drawing on eight years of research the Education Endowment Foundation recommends focusing the grant on meeting basic needs, that can include providing books, as well as teaching quality and targeted academic programmes.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
6th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase book ownership amongst children in Portsmouth.

National Literacy Trust research published in November 2019 showed that the gap in book ownership between disadvantaged children and their peers has almost halved in the past six years (from 6.1% in 2013 to 3.3% in 2019).

The Department wants all children to be able to read well, with fluency and understanding. In 2018 we launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme. The English Hubs are focused on improving educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils in Reception and Year 1. We have appointed 34 primary schools across England as English Hubs. The English Hubs Programme is supporting nearly 3000 schools across England to improve their teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, early language development, and reading for pleasure. Springhill Primary School is an English Hub which aims to support 170 schools in its local area, which includes Portsmouth.

The Department recognises that disadvantaged pupils may face greater challenges to succeed at school. Since 2011 we have provided schools with more than £15 billion in extra funding through the pupil premium so that disadvantaged pupils can receive the support they need. School leaders are free to use the pupil premium as they choose; drawing on eight years of research the Education Endowment Foundation recommends focusing the grant on meeting basic needs, that can include providing books, as well as teaching quality and targeted academic programmes.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
6th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of recent trends in child poverty on the number of children in Portsmouth who do not own a book.

National Literacy Trust research published in November 2019 showed that the gap in book ownership between disadvantaged children and their peers has almost halved in the past six years (from 6.1% in 2013 to 3.3% in 2019).

The Department wants all children to be able to read well, with fluency and understanding. In 2018 we launched a £26.3 million English Hubs Programme. The English Hubs are focused on improving educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils in Reception and Year 1. We have appointed 34 primary schools across England as English Hubs. The English Hubs Programme is supporting nearly 3000 schools across England to improve their teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, early language development, and reading for pleasure. Springhill Primary School is an English Hub which aims to support 170 schools in its local area, which includes Portsmouth.

The Department recognises that disadvantaged pupils may face greater challenges to succeed at school. Since 2011 we have provided schools with more than £15 billion in extra funding through the pupil premium so that disadvantaged pupils can receive the support they need. School leaders are free to use the pupil premium as they choose; drawing on eight years of research the Education Endowment Foundation recommends focusing the grant on meeting basic needs, that can include providing books, as well as teaching quality and targeted academic programmes.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that Portsmouth City Council bring forward an Order for a restricted Byway at the Camber.

Public rights of way are a local issue and this matter is the responsibility of the local County Council. We are unable to comment on specific cases, to avoid prejudice should they come before a Government Minister or Planning Inspector for a decision. I can, however, offer some general advice which I hope you will find helpful.

Public rights of way exist in four categories: footpaths for use on foot (or with mobility scooters); bridleways for use on horseback or bicycle as well as on foot; restricted byways for use of carriages in addition to the above; and byways open to all traffic for use of motor vehicles in addition to the other types.

A public right of way is added to the network by either proving the way existed through historic evidence or proving the public has used the route for 20 years. The use needs to be at the appropriate level. For example, a bridleway would not be added if there is no evidence it has been used by horses or bicycles. Whether the route is amenable to local residents is not considered at this stage as it is an evidence-based process only.

Once a route is recognised as part of the network, a public path order may be made to change the status of the route by agreement with the local authority. Here convenience, safety and other such concerns are taken into consideration. In both instances, the public has the right to object to the proposed changes to the network and the local authority advertises the changes in order to give residents the opportunity to give their views.

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) administers rights of way cases on behalf of Defra. They deal with cases where the decision has been challenged.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to incentivise and support investment in the UK’s hop sector; and if he will make a statement.

The UK has a proud hop-growing tradition, with the climate, soils and the entrepreneurial farmers and growers that enable us to produce the highest quality hops, with a wide selection of traditional and new varieties. We want to encourage a thriving and competitive farming sector where all farms, including those growing hops, can be profitable and economically sustainable. There is a huge opportunity for UK agriculture to improve its competitiveness – developing the next generation of food and farming technology, adopting the latest techniques and investing in skills and equipment.

From autumn 2021, we will open the new Farming Investment Fund which will provide grants to farmers, foresters and growers (including contractors to these sectors) so that they can invest in the equipment, technology and infrastructure that will improve their productivity and deliver environmental and other public benefits. This will help businesses to prosper while enhancing the environment. We are also working closely with the British Hops Association on mitigating the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the investment made by Southern Water following funding in Government green grants for key environment programmes on measures to increase capacity at Budds Farm wastewater treatment facility to better protect the surrounding environment.

Tackling the harm caused by sewer overflows is a top priority for this Department.

There are currently no projects planned by Southern Water to improve treatment or increase capacity at Budds Farm wastewater treatment facility within this Asset Management cycle (2020-2025). There have been improvement projects to environmental monitoring systems at Budds Farm wastewater treatment facility. The treatment works is complying with its permit and there are have been no recorded breaches of effluent quality standards for this discharge during 2020.

During periods of significant rainfall untreated sewage diluted by rainwater will discharge through storm overflows to avoid streets, premises and sewage treatment plants from being flooded. Water companies are committed in the 5-year business planning period (2020-2025) to a significant programme of improvements to the monitoring and management of storm overflows at a cost of around £1.1 billion. This investment includes undertaking 800 investigations and 798 improvement schemes to provide environmental improvements by reducing spills from frequently spilling overflows.

I met water company CEOs in September and made clear that the volume of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather must be reduced.

The new Storm Overflows Taskforce - bringing together Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs - has agreed to set a long term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows. The Taskforce is now working on plans to start making progress towards that goal, and they have commissioned research to gather evidence on the costs, benefits and feasibility of different options.

Water companies are currently producing for the first time comprehensive Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans to assess the capacity of their wastewater networks. We are also taking key steps through the Environment Bill to require water companies to produce such Plans on a statutory basis. These plans will be another tool to help address the risks that storm overflows pose to the environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Storm Overflows Taskforce's plans to eliminate harm from (a) Langstone Harbour and (b) other storm overflows.

Tackling the harm caused by sewer overflows is a top priority for Defra.

Nationally water companies have agreed to make real-time data on sewage discharges available at bathing sites all year round and are installing additional monitoring devices by 2023. Southern Water intends to meet this commitment ahead of the deadline.

Locally Environment Agency (EA) teams are assessing the latest data of discharges to Langstone Harbour and identifying any discharges that are not operating as they are intended. For any non-compliance they will take appropriate actions in line with the EA’s enforcement and prosecution policy and will continue to investigate and respond to any reported incidents associated with the operation of storm discharges in the area.

I also understand that the hon. Member met with the EA recently to discuss the reporting arrangements and controls relating to storm discharges into Langstone Harbour.

During periods of significant rainfall untreated sewage diluted by rainwater will discharge through storm overflows to avoid streets, premises and sewage treatment plants being flooded. Water companies are committed in the five-year business planning period (2020-25) to a significant programme of improvements to the monitoring and management of storm overflows at a cost of around £1.1 billion. This investment includes undertaking 800 investigations and 798 improvement schemes to provide environmental improvements by reducing spills from frequently spilling overflows.

The new Storm Overflows Taskforce - bringing together the Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs - has agreed to set a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows. The Taskforce is now working on plans to start making progress towards that goal, and has commissioned research to gather evidence on the costs, benefits and feasibility of different options.

Water companies are currently producing comprehensive Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans to assess the capacity of their wastewater networks. We are also taking steps through the Environment Bill to require water companies to produce such plans on a statutory basis. These plans will be another tool to help address the risks that storm overflows pose to the environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress he has made on reducing the harm caused by sewage spilling into rivers and offshore water bodies; and on how many occasions he has met with the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee to progress that work since 22 January 2021.

Tackling the harm caused by sewer overflows is a top priority for this Department.

Since the privatisation of water companies, around £25 billion has been invested to reduce pollution from sewage, covering improvements in sewage treatment and in sewer overflows.

During periods of significant rainfall untreated sewage diluted by rainwater will discharge through storm overflows to avoid streets, premises and sewage treatment plants from being flooded. Water companies are committed in the 5-year business planning period (2020-2025) to a significant programme of improvements to the monitoring and management of storm overflows at a cost of around £1.1 billion. This investment includes undertaking 800 investigations and 798 improvement schemes to provide environmental improvements by reducing spills from frequently spilling overflows.

There is more to do to manage sewage pollution. To achieve this, we have set up a new Taskforce - bringing together Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs - which has agreed to set a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows. The Taskforce is now working on plans to start making progress towards that goal, and they have commissioned research to gather evidence on the costs, benefits and feasibility of different options.

Water companies are currently producing comprehensive Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans to assess the capacity of their wastewater networks. We are also taking steps through the Environment Bill to require water companies to produce such Plans on a statutory basis. These plans will be another tool to help address the risks that storm overflows pose to the environment.

I met the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee on the date of the latest Storm Overflows Taskforce announcement on 22 January 2021 and have had subsequent conversations with him on this issue. Officials are working with the Chair on how we can accelerate progress in reducing the frequency and harm caused by sewage discharges from storm overflows.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effectiveness of the Environment Bill in protecting offshore public water bodies from Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) and Sanitary Sewage Overflows (SSOs) which are linked to inland rivers and water bodies.

I met water company CEOs last year and made clear that the volume of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather must be reduced. To achieve this, our new Storm Overflows Taskforce has been established, bringing together representatives from the Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to set out clear proposals to address the harm and frequency of sewage discharged into our rivers and other waterways from storm overflows. As announced on 22 January, this Taskforce has agreed a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows.

This Taskforce has commissioned a research project to gather a comprehensive evidence base about the costs, benefits and feasibility of different options. This research project is due to be completed in the spring.

We are also taking key steps through the Environment Bill by requiring sewerage undertakers to produce Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans on a statutory basis. Plans will fully assess network capacity, and set out the measures undertakers plan to take to develop their drainage and sewerage systems. The plans aim to deliver more actions to help sewerage companies better address the risks that some sewerage assets, such as storm overflows, may pose to the environment. Undertakers started developing plans on a non-statutory basis in 2018.

We have introduced the requirement for at least one legally binding, water target in the Environment Bill. This target will complement existing regulations and legislation, moving us closer to achieving our goal of clean and plentiful water set out in Defra’s 25 Year Environmental Plan.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with (a) industry representatives and (b) stakeholders on reducing the frequency and harm of discharges from storm overflows, particularly into offshore public water bodies.

I met water company CEOs last year and made clear that the volume of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather must be reduced. To achieve this, our new Storm Overflows Taskforce has been established, bringing together representatives from the Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to set out clear proposals to address the harm and frequency of sewage discharged into our rivers and other waterways from storm overflows. As announced on 22 January, this Taskforce has agreed a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows.

This Taskforce has commissioned a research project to gather a comprehensive evidence base about the costs, benefits and feasibility of different options. This research project is due to be completed in the spring.

We are also taking key steps through the Environment Bill by requiring sewerage undertakers to produce Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans on a statutory basis. Plans will fully assess network capacity, and set out the measures undertakers plan to take to develop their drainage and sewerage systems. The plans aim to deliver more actions to help sewerage companies better address the risks that some sewerage assets, such as storm overflows, may pose to the environment. Undertakers started developing plans on a non-statutory basis in 2018.

We have introduced the requirement for at least one legally binding, water target in the Environment Bill. This target will complement existing regulations and legislation, moving us closer to achieving our goal of clean and plentiful water set out in Defra’s 25 Year Environmental Plan.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 2 February to Question 141594 on Sewage, what assessment has he made of the implications of going beyond providing more and better information to reduce frequency and harm of discharges from storm overflows, particularly to offshore public water bodies; and what plans are in place to reduce those discharges.

I met water company CEOs last year and made clear that the volume of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather must be reduced. To achieve this, our new Storm Overflows Taskforce has been established, bringing together representatives from the Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to set out clear proposals to address the harm and frequency of sewage discharged into our rivers and other waterways from storm overflows. As announced on 22 January, this Taskforce has agreed a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows.

This Taskforce has commissioned a research project to gather a comprehensive evidence base about the costs, benefits and feasibility of different options. This research project is due to be completed in the spring.

We are also taking key steps through the Environment Bill by requiring sewerage undertakers to produce Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans on a statutory basis. Plans will fully assess network capacity, and set out the measures undertakers plan to take to develop their drainage and sewerage systems. The plans aim to deliver more actions to help sewerage companies better address the risks that some sewerage assets, such as storm overflows, may pose to the environment. Undertakers started developing plans on a non-statutory basis in 2018.

We have introduced the requirement for at least one legally binding, water target in the Environment Bill. This target will complement existing regulations and legislation, moving us closer to achieving our goal of clean and plentiful water set out in Defra’s 25 Year Environmental Plan.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to protect oceans as part of work to tackle the climate emergency.

The work carried out by Surfers Against Sewage on their Ocean & Climate Report provides a timely reminder of the urgent need to reduce emissions and the importance of nature-based solutions in our response to climate change and biodiversity loss.

The most effective thing we can do to reduce the impacts of climate change on the ocean is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The UK government has therefore set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Internationally, 2021 is a critical year for the ocean, climate and nature. We are committed to working closely with our partners to drive a recognition of the linkages between the ocean, climate and biodiversity. We will use our COP26 Presidency to secure ambitious emission reductions and drive action on the Leaders' Pledge for Nature commitments, recognising the role of nature-based solutions in building resilience and adapting to the impacts of climate change, as well as supporting mitigation.

At the recent One Planet Summit, the UK accepted the position as Ocean Co-Chair of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and between this and the UK-led Global Ocean Alliance we now have over 60 countries supporting a target to protect at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030 as part of our aim for an ambitious and transformational post-2020 global biodiversity framework for adoption at the 15th Conference of Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15).

Together with Vanuatu, the UK Government is driving forward ambitious action to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean through the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (CCOA), a growing group of 34 Commonwealth member states. To support the ambitions of CCOA, the UK Government has committed up to £70 million to boost global research and support developing countries to stop plastic waste from entering the ocean in the first place. Through one of our UK Aid programmes, the Global Plastic Action Partnership, the UK is working in partnership with Indonesia, Ghana, Vietnam and Nigeria to stem the tide of plastics entering in the ocean.

The UK has also committed to launch a £500m Blue Planet Fund, financed from official development assistance (ODA), to protect the ocean and reduce poverty in developing countries.

In November 2020 the UK announced its support to start negotiations on a new global agreement at the United Nations Environment Assembly that will create the system change required to tackle increasing levels of marine plastic litter and microplastics.

The UK is also taking action domestically to avoid further irreversible impacts to the ocean from climate change and biodiversity loss.

The protection, restoration and management of the marine environment are central to objectives in the 25 Year Environment Plan and the UK Marine Strategy on clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse seas that are managed sustainably. We already have 38% of UK waters in Marine Protected Areas and our focus is ensuring these are effectively protected.

We have stated our intention to pilot Highly Protected Marine Areas in Secretary of State waters and we look forward to publishing the Government's response to Richard Benyon's review in due course.

The Fisheries Act 2020 protects our marine environment and develops plans to restore our fish stocks back to more sustainable levels.

As part of our commitment to ocean recovery we are supporting coastal and estuarine restoration projects, including blue carbon habitats. The £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund will help environmental organisations start work now on restoration projects across England, including the inshore marine environment.

Our new Storm Overflows Taskforce is bringing together government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs to work urgently on options to tackle sewage pollution issues.

As announced on 22 January, and welcomed by Surfers Against Sewage, this Taskforce has agreed a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows.

Water companies have also agreed to make real-time data on sewage discharges available at bathing sites all year round. This data will be made available to help surfers, swimmers and other recreational water users to check the latest information and make informed choices on where to swim.

We recognise there is more that needs to be done beyond providing more and better information, and so we will continue to work with the industry to reduce frequency and harm of discharges from storm overflows.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the implications for his policies of the January 2021 Surfers Against Sewage, Ocean & Climate Report; and if he will make a statement.

The work carried out by Surfers Against Sewage on their Ocean & Climate Report provides a timely reminder of the urgent need to reduce emissions and the importance of nature-based solutions in our response to climate change and biodiversity loss.

The most effective thing we can do to reduce the impacts of climate change on the ocean is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The UK government has therefore set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Internationally, 2021 is a critical year for the ocean, climate and nature. We are committed to working closely with our partners to drive a recognition of the linkages between the ocean, climate and biodiversity. We will use our COP26 Presidency to secure ambitious emission reductions and drive action on the Leaders' Pledge for Nature commitments, recognising the role of nature-based solutions in building resilience and adapting to the impacts of climate change, as well as supporting mitigation.

At the recent One Planet Summit, the UK accepted the position as Ocean Co-Chair of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and between this and the UK-led Global Ocean Alliance we now have over 60 countries supporting a target to protect at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030 as part of our aim for an ambitious and transformational post-2020 global biodiversity framework for adoption at the 15th Conference of Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15).

Together with Vanuatu, the UK Government is driving forward ambitious action to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean through the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (CCOA), a growing group of 34 Commonwealth member states. To support the ambitions of CCOA, the UK Government has committed up to £70 million to boost global research and support developing countries to stop plastic waste from entering the ocean in the first place. Through one of our UK Aid programmes, the Global Plastic Action Partnership, the UK is working in partnership with Indonesia, Ghana, Vietnam and Nigeria to stem the tide of plastics entering in the ocean.

The UK has also committed to launch a £500m Blue Planet Fund, financed from official development assistance (ODA), to protect the ocean and reduce poverty in developing countries.

In November 2020 the UK announced its support to start negotiations on a new global agreement at the United Nations Environment Assembly that will create the system change required to tackle increasing levels of marine plastic litter and microplastics.

The UK is also taking action domestically to avoid further irreversible impacts to the ocean from climate change and biodiversity loss.

The protection, restoration and management of the marine environment are central to objectives in the 25 Year Environment Plan and the UK Marine Strategy on clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse seas that are managed sustainably. We already have 38% of UK waters in Marine Protected Areas and our focus is ensuring these are effectively protected.

We have stated our intention to pilot Highly Protected Marine Areas in Secretary of State waters and we look forward to publishing the Government's response to Richard Benyon's review in due course.

The Fisheries Act 2020 protects our marine environment and develops plans to restore our fish stocks back to more sustainable levels.

As part of our commitment to ocean recovery we are supporting coastal and estuarine restoration projects, including blue carbon habitats. The £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund will help environmental organisations start work now on restoration projects across England, including the inshore marine environment.

Our new Storm Overflows Taskforce is bringing together government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs to work urgently on options to tackle sewage pollution issues.

As announced on 22 January, and welcomed by Surfers Against Sewage, this Taskforce has agreed a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows.

Water companies have also agreed to make real-time data on sewage discharges available at bathing sites all year round. This data will be made available to help surfers, swimmers and other recreational water users to check the latest information and make informed choices on where to swim.

We recognise there is more that needs to be done beyond providing more and better information, and so we will continue to work with the industry to reduce frequency and harm of discharges from storm overflows.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help restore the UK’s biodiversity; and if he will make a statement.

Domestic biodiversity policy is a devolved matter, and the information provided relates to England only.

The Government's 25 Year Environment Plan marked a step change in ambition for biodiversity and the natural environment in England. This Government is taking a wide range of steps to deliver on this ambition.

Our landmark Environment Bill introduces a powerful package of policies and tools to support nature's recovery. Biodiversity net gain, local nature recovery strategies, conservation covenants and a strengthened biodiversity duty on public authorities will work together to drive local action on the ground that creates or restores wildlife-rich habitats. This action will be supported by a new framework for setting long term legally binding targets, including on biodiversity, to make sure that our ambition is maintained.

We have introduced new funding for nature, such as the Nature for Climate and the Green Recovery Challenge Funds. The first £40 million round of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund has been extremely successful. The fund has received a high-level of interest and we have been able to fund 68 high quality projects across England. For example, The Woodland Trust is being awarded £3,860,200 to restore ancient woodlands and trees across England. Following this success, the Government doubled the Green Recovery Challenge Fund to £80 million, kick-starting a further pipeline of nature-based projects to restore nature, tackle climate change and connect people with the natural environment.

We are developing a new Environmental Land Management scheme that will incentivise farmers and land managers to improve the environment, improve animal health and welfare, and reduce carbon emissions. The Prime Minister recently announced, as part of his 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, that over the next four years we will establish 10 Landscape Recovery projects to help us restore wilder landscapes.

In English waters there are 178 Marine Protected Areas protecting 40% of our seas. We have now essentially completed building our comprehensive network of Marine Protected Areas and are focusing on making sure they are protected properly.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of Government support to recruit veterinary staff to process livestock (a) nationally and (b) at the Portsmouth International Port for after the end of the transition period.

Exports of livestock to the EU will require an Export Health Certificate (EHC), certified by a suitably qualified Official Veterinarian (OV), following the end of the transition period. Checks on EHCs will take place at the Border Control Post (BCP) of arrival in the EU, as opposed to the port of departure in Great Britain (GB). Generally, livestock animals already require a form of veterinary certification to move between GB and the EU. The training required for vets to certify ungulate exports has been made available free of charge by the Government and we expect sufficient resource will be available as a result. There are currently approximately 700 OVs authorised to certify ungulate exports across GB.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) already carry out controls on live animal imports. From 1 January they will continue to carry these out at destination, meaning that there will be no controls on imported live animals at ports, including Portsmouth. The APHA will ensure that the necessary live animal inspection resources are in place in time for July 2021, when all live animals imports will need to enter GB via an established point of entry with an appropriate Border Control Post (BCP).

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress he has made on recruiting staff to support the processing of livestock at the port of Portsmouth following the end of the transition period.

Exports of livestock to the EU will require an Export Health Certificate (EHC), certified by a suitably qualified Official Veterinarian (OV), following the end of the transition period. Checks on EHCs will take place at the Border Control Post (BCP) of arrival in the EU, as opposed to the port of departure in Great Britain (GB). Generally, livestock animals already require a form of veterinary certification to move between GB and the EU. The training required for vets to certify ungulate exports has been made available free of charge by the Government and we expect sufficient resource will be available as a result. There are currently approximately 700 OVs authorised to certify ungulate exports across GB.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) already carry out controls on live animal imports. From 1 January they will continue to carry these out at destination, meaning that there will be no controls on imported live animals at ports, including Portsmouth. The APHA will ensure that the necessary live animal inspection resources are in place in time for July 2021, when all live animals imports will need to enter GB via an established point of entry with an appropriate Border Control Post (BCP).

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment has he made of the effect of untreated sewage being discharged in storm water released into Langstone Harbour on the safety of local swimming in that area.

The Environment Agency (EA) carries out monitoring of specific bathing waters. The nearby designated bathing waters on Hayling Island, Beachlands West, Beachlands Central and Eastoke, and those on Portsea Island, Eastney and Southsea East, all consistently achieve a water quality classification of excellent.

The list of ‘designated’ bathing waters (issued by Defra) is carefully compiled to ensure that samples are taken at the most appropriate geographical locations. Langstone Harbour is not a designated bathing water and therefore does not benefit from the bacteriological monitoring that designated bathing waters receive.

The EA does not have any evidence that storm discharges into Langstone Harbour impact any designated bathing waters.

Storm discharges may impact water quality within the harbour and so there will be an increased risk for swimmers or other recreational water users here. The harbour, as it does not contain designated bathing waters, is monitored for the purpose of protecting fish and wildlife, not people.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment has he made of the effect of stormwater releases into Langstone Harbour on the health of the local environment; and what recent estimate he has made of the frequency of untreated sewage being discharged in storm overflows in that area in the latest period for which figures are available.

Storm overflows allow excess surface water and sewage to be directed away from homes during rainfall events. They are operating more frequently across the country due to housing growth and climate change. In 2019, storm overflows across the country spilled an average of 35 times each and nearly one in ten spilled more than 100 times.

Langstone Harbour is designated as a transitional waterbody under the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The Environment Agency (EA) monitors the harbour for water quality and ecology. Since the 1990s, there has been an improving trend in nutrients within the harbour. This is due in part to the transfer of the Budds Farm discharge from the north of the harbour to a long sea outfall 5 kilometres offshore. The improvement in nutrients has led to the substantial reduction in macroalgae and Langstone Harbour now consistently achieves WFD Good status for nitrogen and macroalgae.

Langstone Harbour is also a designated shellfish water under WFD. It fails the stringent WFD microbial standard in shellfish flesh. Discharges from Combined Surface water Outfalls (CSOs) are likely to be one of the sources of shellfish contamination, as sewage contains bacteria and other material that shellfish feed on which can contaminate the shellfish for a period of time. Upgrades to reduce CSO spills were proposed in Southern Water’s latest Asset Management Plan (AMP). However, this is unlikely to go ahead, as it will not be cost beneficial. The cost of infrastructure upgrades is likely to be far greater than the commercial value of harvested shellfish.

Southern Water provides the EA with a record of its storm water discharges annually, detailing frequency and duration. The most recent data for Langstone Harbour that has been fully assessed and is supplied below. The EA may request specific information at any time.

The data shows that, in 2019, the majority of storm water discharges into Langstone Harbour came from Budds Farm sewage treatment works, with 57 spills that year, totalling 617 hours.

Table 1: Storm water discharges into Langstone Harbour from Southern Water Assets 2019

Site name

Permit reference

Activity reference (if more than one discharge) on permit

Total duration (hours) of all spills prior to processing through 12-24 hour counting method

Counted spills using 12-24hr counting method

Discharge location

Budds Farm Havant WTW

A00751 / 3

Settled storm

617.12

57

Shortfall outfall into harbour

Budds Farm Havant WTW

A00752 / 1

Storm

0.70

1

Outfall to Brockhampton Stream

Budds Farm Havant WTW

A00753 / 1

Storm

0.63

1

Fort Cumberland (harbour mouth)

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what limit on the effect of sewage waste released into Langstone Harbor Southern Water has communicated to his Department.

Southern Water operates several assets with Environmental Permits authorising the discharge of dilute storm sewage into Langstone Harbour or to the Solent during times of heavy and persistent rainfall. These discharges take place via storm overflows.

Storm sewage discharges are necessary because England has a 'combined' sewerage system in many urban centres which convey both rainwater and wastewater from toilets, bathrooms and kitchens within the same pipes to a sewage treatment works. During heavy rainfall the capacity of these pipes can be exceeded many times over. Storm overflows act as relief valves which prevent the system from overloading which would otherwise result in sewage backing up and flooding people's homes, workplaces and neighbourhoods.

Where the Environment Agency (EA) suspects or has evidence that Environmental Permit conditions have been breached, or that a polluting un-permitted discharge has occurred, the EA investigates further, taking enforcement action where appropriate in accordance with its Enforcement and Sanctions Policy.

I recognise that there is more to do with regards to the management of sewage pollution. I met water company CEOs in September and made clear that the volumes of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather must be reduced. To achieve this, I have set up a new Taskforce bringing together Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs. This Taskforce will set out clear proposals to address the volumes of sewage discharged into our rivers. The Taskforce is also exploring further short-term actions water companies can take to accelerate progress on storm overflows.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential environmental merits of increasing fines for littering.

Littering is a criminal offence, with a maximum penalty on conviction of a fine of up to £2,500, although most enforcement is carried out by local authorities using fixed penalties. Following consultation, with effect from April 2018, we increased the maximum fixed penalty for littering from £80 to £150, and from April 2019, the minimum fixed penalty was also raised from £50 to £65. We have also given councils in England (outside London) new civil penalty powers to tackle littering from vehicles. We have no plans to make further changes to the level of fixed penalties or fines for littering and have made no specific assessment of the potential environmental merits of doing so at this stage.

Enforcement action should only be taken when it is in the public interest to do so. Enforcement action should always be proportionate, and penalties should not be issued for trivial offences or accidental littering.

We have recently published improved guidance to councils and others on the use of their fixed penalty powers for littering and related offences. The guidance to enforcement officers is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/code-of-practice-on-litter-and-refuse

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many tonnes of litter were collected by local authorities in (a) March, (b) April and (c) May 2020.

Defra does not hold the data requested.

Data on local authority waste is collected on a quarterly basis and is reported three months in arrears to the end of the period to which it relates. Figures for the period January to March 2020 have not yet been submitted by most local authorities.

Quarterly data relating to street cleansing waste tonnages for 2018/19 and earlier years are available at:

https://data.gov.uk/dataset/0e0c12d8-24f6-461f-b4bc-f6d6a5bf2de5/wastedataflow-local-authority-waste-management

These figures will include waste collected as part of street cleansing operations, including naturally-occurring detritus such as fallen leaves/blossom and other fine material, as well as waste collected from public litter bins and dropped as litter.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to support local authorities in reducing litter in public green spaces during the covid-19 outbreak.

Local councils remain responsible for keeping their land clear of litter and refuse according to standards set out in the statutory Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse. The Code is available at: http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/code-of-practice-on-litter-and-refuse.

We recognise that in the current circumstances, local authorities may have more challenges than usual in collecting all kinds of waste. The Government has announced £3.2 billion of additional funding to support local authorities in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Defra has also published guidance for local authorities on the prioritisation of waste collection services and released advice over social media on appropriate disposal of personal protective equipment.

Defra does not collect data from local authorities on littering rates in public green spaces or elsewhere, and has made no specific assessment of recent trends in littering in public green spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, industry data collected by ADEPT suggests that over 60% of councils are reporting that their street sweeping services are operating normally with 30% reporting minor disruption, and that the amount of litter collected via street sweeping has reduced during the coronavirus outbreak. The data is available at: https://www.adeptnet.org.uk/covid-19-waste-survey-results.

Marine litter is a transboundary issue as it can move with ocean currents, so we cannot yet estimate the effect that COVID-19 will have had on levels in the marine environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of recent trends in littering in public green spaces during the covid-19 outbreak.

Local councils remain responsible for keeping their land clear of litter and refuse according to standards set out in the statutory Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse. The Code is available at: http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/code-of-practice-on-litter-and-refuse.

We recognise that in the current circumstances, local authorities may have more challenges than usual in collecting all kinds of waste. The Government has announced £3.2 billion of additional funding to support local authorities in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Defra has also published guidance for local authorities on the prioritisation of waste collection services and released advice over social media on appropriate disposal of personal protective equipment.

Defra does not collect data from local authorities on littering rates in public green spaces or elsewhere, and has made no specific assessment of recent trends in littering in public green spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, industry data collected by ADEPT suggests that over 60% of councils are reporting that their street sweeping services are operating normally with 30% reporting minor disruption, and that the amount of litter collected via street sweeping has reduced during the coronavirus outbreak. The data is available at: https://www.adeptnet.org.uk/covid-19-waste-survey-results.

Marine litter is a transboundary issue as it can move with ocean currents, so we cannot yet estimate the effect that COVID-19 will have had on levels in the marine environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made on the effect of levels of litter in public green spaces during the covid-19 outbreak on the cleanliness of oceans.

Local councils remain responsible for keeping their land clear of litter and refuse according to standards set out in the statutory Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse. The Code is available at: http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/code-of-practice-on-litter-and-refuse.

We recognise that in the current circumstances, local authorities may have more challenges than usual in collecting all kinds of waste. The Government has announced £3.2 billion of additional funding to support local authorities in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Defra has also published guidance for local authorities on the prioritisation of waste collection services and released advice over social media on appropriate disposal of personal protective equipment.

Defra does not collect data from local authorities on littering rates in public green spaces or elsewhere, and has made no specific assessment of recent trends in littering in public green spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, industry data collected by ADEPT suggests that over 60% of councils are reporting that their street sweeping services are operating normally with 30% reporting minor disruption, and that the amount of litter collected via street sweeping has reduced during the coronavirus outbreak. The data is available at: https://www.adeptnet.org.uk/covid-19-waste-survey-results.

Marine litter is a transboundary issue as it can move with ocean currents, so we cannot yet estimate the effect that COVID-19 will have had on levels in the marine environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the Government’s funding support packages available to (a) aquariums and (b) zoos for the wellbeing of animals in zoos and aquariums during the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend, the Member for North Devon, Selaine Saxby, on 27 April 2020, PQ 37936, and the reply given to the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife, Douglas Chapman, on 11 May 2020, PQ 43675.

A £14 million Zoos Support Fund was launched on 4 May 2020. As of 1 June, Defra has received 80 applications from zoos and aquariums in England and has already awarded grants to zoos and aquariums to the value of almost £1.4 million. We continue to engage with the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums and HM Treasury to monitor progress.

Defra officials have also been engaging with some of the largest zoos to discuss additional concerns about reduced visitor numbers and income over a longer time frame, and active consideration of these is ongoing.

Work is ongoing to understand how and when zoos, including safari parks, and aquariums, may be able to reopen in a safe way to the public whilst maintaining social distancing.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the Government’s performance in disseminating information on covid-19 on levels of stockpiling from supermarkets by the general public.

The Government is in regular contact with the food industry on the response to coronavirus, building on our well-established links with the industry to manage disruption. The industry is adapting quickly to what have been unprecedented changes in consumer demands, and food supply into and within the UK remains resilient.

To help supermarkets, the Government has already introduced new measures to keep food supply flowing. We have temporarily relaxed elements of competition law to enable supermarkets to work more closely together to ensure people can access the products they need. Food retailers will now be able to share data on their stock levels, cooperate to keep stores open and share staff, distribution depots and delivery vehicles. This will help keep shops open and staffed and better able to meet high demand. Guidance has been issued to local authorities to show flexibility to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets to ensure shelves can be replenished more quickly. The Transport Secretary has also announced a temporary and limited relaxation of the drivers’ hours rules so that more goods can be delivered to every store every day.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to help reduce stockpiling from supermarkets by the general public in response to covid-19.

The Government has well-established ways of working with the food industry during disruption to supply situations. Our retailers already have highly resilient supply chains and they are working around the clock to ensure people have the food and products they need. Industry is adapting quickly to any changes in demands, and food supply into and across the UK is resilient.

The Secretary of State is in regular dialogue with industry, including the British Retail Consortium and supermarket chief executives to discuss any additional support the Government can provide. To help supermarkets respond to this unprecedented demand we have already introduced new measures to keep food supply flowing. We have issued guidance to local authorities to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets so that shelves can be filled up quicker, and we have implemented extensions to drivers’ hours.

We fully recognise the additional pressures on our food supply chain as a result of recent events. The UK’s major supermarkets have last weekend issued a statement to encourage everyone to shop as they normally would and pull together to support those staying at home.

We will continue to work closely with the industry over the coming days and months.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of stockpiling from supermarkets by the general public on the ability of supermarkets to maintain stocks during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has well-established ways of working with the food industry during disruption to supply situations. Our retailers already have highly resilient supply chains and they are working around the clock to ensure people have the food and products they need. Industry is adapting quickly to any changes in demands, and food supply into and across the UK is resilient.

The Secretary of State is in regular dialogue with industry, including the British Retail Consortium and supermarket chief executives to discuss any additional support the Government can provide. To help supermarkets respond to this unprecedented demand we have already introduced new measures to keep food supply flowing. We have issued guidance to local authorities to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets so that shelves can be filled up quicker, and we have implemented extensions to drivers’ hours.

We fully recognise the additional pressures on our food supply chain as a result of recent events. The UK’s major supermarkets have last weekend issued a statement to encourage everyone to shop as they normally would and pull together to support those staying at home.

We will continue to work closely with the industry over the coming days and months.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what contingency measures he has put in place for potential waste management workforce challenges arising from the spread of covid-19.

Defra is engaging with the waste industry, local authorities, the Environment Agency, and other relevant parties to discuss contingency planning for waste management as a result of potential workforce challenges posed by the spread of covid-19. These discussions include consideration of potential risks and impacts and whether further measures or resources funding might be necessary.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on potential risks arising from workforce challenges caused by covid-19.

Defra is engaging with the waste industry, local authorities, the Environment Agency, and other relevant parties to discuss contingency planning for waste management as a result of potential workforce challenges posed by the spread of covid-19. These discussions include consideration of potential risks and impacts and whether further measures or resources funding might be necessary.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on public health of undisposed waste arising from local authority workforce challenges caused by covid-19.

Defra is engaging with the waste industry, local authorities, the Environment Agency, and other relevant parties to discuss contingency planning for waste management as a result of potential workforce challenges posed by the spread of covid-19. These discussions include consideration of potential risks and impacts and whether further measures or resources funding might be necessary.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what additional funding will be made available to local authorities to deal with potential waste management issues arising from workforce challenges caused by covid-19.

Defra is engaging with the waste industry, local authorities, the Environment Agency, and other relevant parties to discuss contingency planning for waste management as a result of potential workforce challenges posed by the spread of covid-19. These discussions include consideration of potential risks and impacts and whether further measures or resources funding might be necessary.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which (a) Ministers and (b) officials from her Department will attend the UN discussions on a global ocean treaty in New York in June 2020.

Conservation of the ocean is a priority for this Government. We are committed to concluding negotiations on a new legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. Defra plays a key role in the negotiation team and we will be sending four officials from marine policy, in addition to officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the lead Department for the negotiations, to attend the fourth intergovernmental conference from 23 March – 3 April 2020.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what guidance her Department has issued to local authorities on drinking water standards.

Local authorities in England and Wales are the enforcers of the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016 (as amended) (in England) and The Private Water Supplies (Wales) Regulations 2017 (in Wales). These regulations contain the standards that private supplies of drinking water are required to meet. Local authorities are also required to keep themselves advised of the quality of public drinking water supplies in their area and water companies are required to meet standards in the Water Supplies (Water Quality ) Regulations 2016 (as amended).

On public supplies, the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), as enforcers of the regulations relating to public supplies publishes three quarterly reports and an annual report on the quality of public supplies which are available free of charge on its website http://www.dwi.gov.uk/about/annual-report/index.htm.

On private supplies, the DWI has a role in providing support to local authorities in discharging their regulatory duties and reports to Ministers annually on progress with improvements to private supplies. The DWI website (http://www.dwi.gov.uk/private-water-supply/index.htm) contains a section specific to private water supplies and the section for local authorities provides guidance on the regulations, risk assessment (including a tool for local authorities to use), sampling and monitoring, notices (including templates), reporting and case studies covering real life cases. The DWI provides an advice line which, in 2018 handled 309 enquiries from local authorities (http://www.dwi.gov.uk/about/annual-report/2018/PWS-2018-England.pdf). In addition the DWI provides inspectors to regional local authority meetings on request and visits individual local authorities to provide training where required.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much money from the public purse was spent on water safety measures in Portsmouth South constituency in (a) 2010, (b) 2015 and (c) 2019.

Drinking water safety measures are not funded through Exchequer funding in England.

Water companies are responsible for the safety of the public drinking water supplies in their area. Any drinking water safety measures are funded through customers’ bills. This is regulated by Ofwat, the economic regulator. In Portsmouth, the water supplier is Portsmouth Water.

Private water supplies are regulated by local authorities. Although there are no private supplies in the Portsmouth South area (as reported by the local authority in 2019), any necessary safety measures should be paid for by the relevant person. This is usually the owner and occupier of the premises which use the supply.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Government plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ban the use of electronic shock collars.

The Government remains committed to banning the use of certain types of electronic training collars for dogs. We will introduce the necessary legislation to implement the ban as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will make an assessment of the implications for her Department's policy on fracking in the UK of the findings of the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University on the radioactivity of fracking waste water contents (brine).

Radioactive substances are regulated in England and Wales under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016. These implement the relevant aspects of European Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom (Basic Safety Standards Directive 2013) based on standards recommended by the International Commission for Radiological Protection. In England the Environment Agency regulates the management of waste water from hydraulic fracturing sites to ensure these high standards of protection are met.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of regulatory protections for people handling fracking waste water contents (brine) from the effects of radium.

The current regulatory framework covering dangers posed by radioactive substances such as radium includes the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17). The regulatory provisions to protect workers were recently reviewed as part of the process of introducing IRR17, which replaced the previous version of the Ionising Radiations Regulations.

The Health and Safety Executive is therefore satisfied that these arrangements are sufficient and has no current plans to make any further assessment of their adequacy.

More widely, through the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016, the Environment Agency (EA) consider the radiological impact of exposure to the public from radioactive waste as part of its assessment of applications for environmental permits at disposal sites. The EA will not issue a permit unless a company can demonstrate how it will provide a high level of protection to people and the environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, pursuant to the answer of 18 November to Question 91998 on Fossil Fuels: Export Credit Guarantees, whether UK Export Finance is considering support for these projects following the Prime Minister's announcement of 12 December that the UK will end support for fossil fuel sector overseas.

On 12 December 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the British government will no longer provide any new direct financial or promotional support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas. This policy will be implemented as soon as possible following the conclusion of the consultation process that was also launched on 12 December.

During the consultation period and ahead of the implementation of the new policy, the government will continue to apply current policy for all in-scope activities including proposals for high carbon projects, with consideration of relevant factors including climate change.

With regard to the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline, I refer the hon. Member for Portsmouth South to the responses I gave to the Hon. Member for Edmonton on 2 December 2020, UIN:120945, and 8 December 2020, UIN:122815. UK Export Finance (UKEF) has been approached on the project referred to, and no decision has been made. It is not UKEF policy to comment on potential transactions for reasons of commercial sensitivity.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether UK Export Finance is considering providing financial support to the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline.

On 12 December 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the British government will no longer provide any new direct financial or promotional support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas. This policy will be implemented as soon as possible following the conclusion of the consultation process that was also launched on 12 December.

During the consultation period and ahead of the implementation of the new policy, the government will continue to apply current policy for all in-scope activities including proposals for high carbon projects, with consideration of relevant factors including climate change.

With regard to the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline, I refer the hon. Member for Portsmouth South to the responses I gave to the Hon. Member for Edmonton on 2 December 2020, UIN:120945, and 8 December 2020, UIN:122815. UK Export Finance (UKEF) has been approached on the project referred to, and no decision has been made. It is not UKEF policy to comment on potential transactions for reasons of commercial sensitivity.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps he is taking to ensure that the introduction of a new regime for a UK Global Tariff and the Most Favoured Nation schemes does not impose additional (a) costs and (b) administrative burdens on importers of (i) catheters and (ii) other incontinence products; and if he will make a statement.

The UK Global Tariff (UKGT) will enter into force at the end of the transition period. For the first time in almost fifty years, the UK will be able to set its own tariff rates on imported goods. This is an opportunity to create a tariff tailored to our economy, benefiting our consumers and supportive of our industry. To inform the development of this bespoke tariff regime, the Government has launched a public consultation. Once the consultation closes, the Government will carefully consider all available evidence, including consultation responses, and an announcement on the UKGT will follow in due course.

3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what discussions she had with her counterpart in the Bangladeshi Government on increasing trade between the UK and Bangladesh.

The department recognises and promotes the opportunities that Bangladesh presents to UK exporters.

My noble Friend Lord Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth, UN and South Asia, spoke most recently at the reception to mark the launch of the first international Bangladesh Taka-denominated “Bangla” bonds on the London Stock Exchange, highlighting opportunities and benefits of furthering mutual work on UK-Bangladesh trade promotion.

Significant discussions on trade promotion are also held at the annual UK-Bangladesh Strategic Dialogue, most recently led by the Bangladesh Foreign Secretary MD Shahidul Haque and the Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sir Simon McDonald.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of using NHS covid-19 testing centres to support international travel.

The government have helped to establish a network of private testing providers for international travel in order to safeguard the availability of NHS tests and testing centres for those who have COVID-19 symptoms. We maintain a comprehensive list of test providers on gov.uk.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the number of people returning to the UK from red list countries via Turkey to avoid covid-19 hotel quarantine; and what steps his Department is taking in response to that activity.

Turkey was added to the UK’s red list from 4am on Wednesday 12 May.

Passengers who have been in a country or territory on the red list in the 10 days prior to their arrival will only be allowed to enter the UK if they are a British or Irish National, or have residence rights in the UK. Alongside the requirements to take a pre-departure test and complete the Passenger Locator Form, most people who are allowed to enter the England from a country on the red list will be required to quarantine for 10 days in a government-approved managed quarantine hotel with Covid-19 tests on days 2 and 8.

Given the spread of the virus globally, the public should not travel to red list countries or territories.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the prevalence of (a) anti-social behaviour and (b) dangerous incidents committed by jet-skiers; and if he will make a statement.

The riding of personal watercraft for pleasure is, in the majority of cases, conducted both sensibly and safely. Serious incidents involving these vessels are rare. However, the Department recognises that, through their actions, a minority of users can endanger other water users and wildlife.

Local authorities already have powers to respond to instances of dangerous or anti-social behaviour in the waters they manage, and the Department will shortly be consulting on measures to further strengthen enforcement provision.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of Clean Air Zones on wheelchair accessible taxi and private hire vehicles.

Clean Air Zones (CAZ) charge taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) as due to high mileage they can significantly contribute to air pollution, especially in the case of older vehicles. Local Authorities implementing CAZs assess impacts on taxis and PHVs which include wheelchair accessible vehicles. JAQU provides clean air funding (CAF) to mitigate these impacts has paid nearly £400m CAF funding to date. Portsmouth has been awarded £1.8m from this fund and a further award is expected to be made shortly.

Government continues to offer the Plug in Taxi Grant, which provides a grant of up to £7,500 off the cost of eligible ULEV taxis, which must be wheelchair accessible, and has supported over 4,400 vehicles so far. Government has also awarded over £20 million to 27 local authorities to deploy almost 800 rapid and fast chargepoints, dedicated to electric taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs).

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of support in place for the taxi and private hire sector to transition to lower emission vehicles.

Government is directly supporting the taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) sector to transition to zero emissions through the Plug in Taxi Grant (PiTG) and the Plug in Car Grant which provides a grant of up to £7,500 taxis and £3,000 respectively. The PiTG has supported the purchasing of over 4,400 vehicles across the UK.

Support has also been provided to increase the availability of a charging infrastructure to meet driver needs. Government has awarded over £20 million to 27 local authorities to deploy almost 800 rapid and fast chargepoints dedicated to electric taxis and PHVs.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will provide financial support to establish a lateral flow covid-19 testing site at Portsmouth International Port.

Covid-19 testing sites have been located at thirty-five Information and Advice sites (Motorway Service Areas and Truck Stops) across the country, linked to key haulier stopping spots on their journey to ports.

The Department for Transport has set-up three Information and Advice sites near Portsmouth that provide free testing for hauliers. The closest one on the M27, at Rownhams (Northbound) Services, operates 24 hours a day.

The Department for Transport worked closely with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Resilience Forum to identify suitable locations which would minimise local disruption adjacent to ports. Site locations were determined by analysing such criteria as proximity to port, proportion of haulage traffic using the route, and capacity of the parking available. Covid-19 security has also informed the locations and site infrastructure.

The Department for Transport continues to urge hauliers not to leave testing to the last opportunity, and to get tested well before arriving at their port of departure.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to encourage local authorities to improve the approval rate of blue badge applications for people with hidden disabilities.

The Department for Transport is responsible for the legislative and policy framework of the Blue Badge Scheme. It has also has issued clear non-statutory guidance to local authorities in England on how to administer the scheme.

Day to day administration is the responsibility of individual local authorities. Local authorities must determine and implement assessment procedures which they believe are in accordance with the governing legislation.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he has taken to avoid severe congestion at the port of Portsmouth in the event that the UK and EU do not reach an agreement on their future trading relations at the end of the transition period.

The Department for Transport officials have been working closely with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum (LRF) to ensure that the LRF has the necessary traffic analysis and £2.5m resource funding to mitigate against potential congestion at the port of Portsmouth at the end of the transition period.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he has taken to avoid severe disruption at the port of Portsmouth following the end of the transition period.

The Department for Transport officials have been working closely with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum (LRF) to ensure that the LRF has the necessary traffic analysis and £2.5m resource funding to mitigate against potential congestion at the port of Portsmouth at the end of the transition period.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment has he made of the potential contribution of developing increased regular direct rail links between Southampton Airport and Portsmouth stations to the Government’s levelling-up agenda.

Train services in the Solent area were recently examined as part of a Continuous Modular Strategic Plan (CMSP) undertaken by Network Rail with input from key stakeholders including the Department and SWR. The CMSP was published in May 2020 and explored options and constraints to introducing additional services. Analysis has shown that there are considerable railway geography / train path limitations that based on the existing infrastructure severely limit any ability to operate direct service between Portsmouth and Southampton Airport.

https://www.networkrail.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Solent-Connectivity-Continuous-Modular-Strategic-Planning.pdf

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the Government has responded to the letter of 1 October 2020 from the Chairs of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum; and if he will make a statement.

Department for Transport (DfT) officials are in regular contact with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum (LRF) and have been working closely with HM Treasury to consider the funding issues raised by Hampshire and other LRFs. On 21 October HM Treasury approved funding for a small number of LRFs with high volume EU facing Roll-on Roll-off ports within their jurisdiction, including for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight LRF. DfT will write to affected LRFs to confirm details shortly.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the (a) veracity and (b) implications for his policies of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum estimate that 480 lorries will be queuing outside naval bases in Portsmouth in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal included in its response to his correspondence of 23 September 2020.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has made its own estimates of the potential for disruption around key ports at the end of the transition period. In the case of Portsmouth Port the DfT estimates suggest that even under a reasonable worst case scenario queues of HGVs attempting to enter Portsmouth Port would be considerably lower than the 480 referenced in the question. Nevertheless, there remains a risk of disruption at several ports, including Portsmouth, at the end of transition period. The Department for Transport is working closely with Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) across the country, including the Hampshire and Isle of Wight LRF, as they develop locally appropriate plans to manage any potential disruption.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what support the Government is providing to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum to help ensure that Operation Transmission will be in place before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

DfT officials are working closely with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum (LRF) to ensure that the LRF has the required analysis and information to enable it to stand up an effective local traffic management plan (Operation Transmission), in case of traffic disruption post the EU Transition period.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect on the financial security of ports that offer passenger services of the Government’s strategy of using quarantine as a method for tackling the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has worked closely with all parts of the maritime sector, including our ports and their Trade Associations, as they have continued to operate throughout the pandemic and provide vital freight and passenger services. As the economy continues its safe re-opening, we will continue to engage widely across the maritime sector to understand any challenges they face, including the ongoing financial health of maritime companies and our ports.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the ability of ferry companies to resume their services of increasing the number of people being tested for covid-19 on arrival at ports.

The Government has worked closely with all parts of the maritime sector, including Portsmouth International Port, to ensure that ferry services can continue to operate throughout the pandemic. We have provided guidance to both ports and ferry companies on safe operating practices to address the risks of Covid-19.

The Government is actively working on the practicalities of using testing to release people from self-isolation earlier than 14 days. Officials across the Government are working with health experts with the aim of cutting the self-isolation period without adding to infection risk or infringing on our overall NHS test capacity. The Secretary of State for Transport has committed to updating the House on testing of international arrivals in the coming weeks.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the ability of Portsmouth International Port to resume offering passenger services of increasing the number of people being tested for covid-19 on arrival at that port.

The Government has worked closely with all parts of the maritime sector, including Portsmouth International Port, to ensure that ferry services can continue to operate throughout the pandemic. We have provided guidance to both ports and ferry companies on safe operating practices to address the risks of Covid-19.

The Government is actively working on the practicalities of using testing to release people from self-isolation earlier than 14 days. Officials across the Government are working with health experts with the aim of cutting the self-isolation period without adding to infection risk or infringing on our overall NHS test capacity. The Secretary of State for Transport has committed to updating the House on testing of international arrivals in the coming weeks.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that the Government's bicycle repair vouchers are issued to people (a) with the greatest need and (b) who live in areas that most require an increase in uptake of active travel.

The initial release of Fix Your Bike vouchers was a small pilot and there will be more opportunities to secure vouchers in the coming months. The Government will continue to work closely with industry during the pilot to monitor its impact and adapt the scheme as necessary before rolling it out more widely. Future releases of vouchers will also be informed by analysis of data available from the initial release, including on the geographical locations where vouchers were released and on the extent to which those accessing the vouchers were new or regular cyclists.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the accessibility of the Government's bicycle repair voucher scheme to people without access to a computer.

The Government is committed to ensuring that its online services are accessible to all citizens, and that an appropriate alternative channel is available where citizens are not online. Internet access was required to access the initial tranche of Fix Your Bike vouchers, but the Department will consider whether it might be possible to distribute some vouchers in other ways in future tranches. The Department has also provided funding for “pop-up” bike maintenance sessions around the country as part of Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival programme. Members of the public can drop into these sessions and receive basic repairs to their cycles free of charge.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government has taken to encourage (a) Commonwealth and (b) other nations to provide hub services for the embarkation and disembarkation of UK and international seafarers.

The UK has not placed restrictions on the transit and transfer of seafarers. I have previously written to the International Maritime Organization asking for an international solution to this issue, confirming the UK’s position on crew changes, and also urged other countries to allow crew changes to take place. The UK has also exempted seafarers from the quarantine requirements.

The Department and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have always looked to support other maritime nations and to share best practice whatever the topic and we work closely with both domestic and international social partners and the international bodies and other flag states.

The UK will host the first international summit on the impact of Covid-19 on crew changes on Thursday July 9th and will include an audience from the UN, overseas Ministers and international maritime bodies.

3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with representatives of British Airways on the pay and conditions for British Airways staff after the covid-19 outbreak.

We recognise that the recent BA announcement will be distressing news for BA employees and their families and stand ready to support them. However, we do not comment on discussions held with individual companies, as this information is commercially sensitive.

The Department for Transport is in regular contact with airlines, airports and unions to understand the impact that COVID-19 is having on the sector and its workers.

3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with representatives of British Airways on Section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 relating to redundancy.

We recognise that the recent BA announcement will be distressing news for BA employees and their families and stand ready to support them. However, we do not comment on discussions held with individual companies, as this information is commercially sensitive.

The Department for Transport is in regular contact with airlines, airports and unions to understand the impact that COVID-19 is having on the sector and its workers.

3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that British Airways engages with (a) trade unions and (b) its staff on potential redundancies.

We recognise that the recent BA announcement will be distressing news for BA employees and their families and we stand ready to support them.

Employers should always treat employees fairly and in a spirit of partnership. Terms and conditions of employment are for negotiation and agreement between employers and employees (or their representatives).

The Department for Transport is in regular contact with airlines, airports and unions to understand the impact that COVID-19 is having on the sector and its workers.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to protect seafarer employment on lifeline ferry links from southern England to the Channel Islands operated by Condor Ferries.

The government has announced an unprecedented package of financial measures to support businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic, worth £350 billion. This includes supporting both employers and employees via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), by paying furloughed staff 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500. To access the CJRS, a company must have a UK bank account and have started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020. My officials have previously engaged with Condor Ferries and expressed these requirements to them. We have continued to offer our support to them during this difficult time.

My officials and I have also been working closely with businesses across the maritime sector to understand how these measures can be applied and will continue to do so. The Department recognises the important role Condor Ferries provides to the region and local communities and are also working with the Ports to ensure that the areas remain well connected during this period. We recognise the vital contribution that seafarers make to the UK’s economy and remain committed to supporting them.

The Channel Island governments have also launched a similar scheme as well as other financial measures to support local businesses. Those staff members that are employed and paid through the Channel Islands would be subject to the terms and conditions governing those particular schemes and be a matter for the Channel Island governments.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to hold discussions with Columbia Threadneedle Investments and Brittany Ferries on seafarers employed by Condor Ferries on lifeline ferry routes from Portsmouth and Poole to the Channel Islands.

The government has announced an unprecedented package of financial measures to support businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic, worth £350 billion. This includes supporting both employers and employees via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), by paying furloughed staff 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500. To access the CJRS, a company must have a UK bank account and have started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020. My officials have previously engaged with Condor Ferries and expressed these requirements to them. We have continued to offer our support to them during this difficult time.

My officials and I have also been working closely with businesses across the maritime sector to understand how these measures can be applied and will continue to do so. The Department recognises the important role Condor Ferries provides to the region and local communities and are also working with the Ports to ensure that the areas remain well connected during this period. We recognise the vital contribution that seafarers make to the UK’s economy and remain committed to supporting them.

The Channel Island governments have also launched a similar scheme as well as other financial measures to support local businesses. Those staff members that are employed and paid through the Channel Islands would be subject to the terms and conditions governing those particular schemes and be a matter for the Channel Island governments.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to his Department’s announcement on 18 May 2020 of £35m funding for critical maritime freight routes, how many routes operated by Brittany Ferries have been designated as Public Service Obligation routes for the 9-week period; and how much public funding has been allocated to each such route.

Three Public Service Obligation (PSO) Agreements were awarded to Brittany Ferries. The value of the awards will depend on actual revenues and service level requirements during operation. The estimated value of the PSO Agreements at the point of contract award have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union and are as follows:

  • PSO Agreement between Portsmouth and Santander: £1,508,265.00

  • PSO Agreement between Portsmouth and Cherbourg: £1,042,551.00

  • PSO Agreement between Poole and Bilbao: £370,395.00

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with Condor Ferries on access to Government-funded furlough schemes for employers of UK seafarers.

The government has announced an unprecedented package of financial measures to support businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic, worth £350 billion. This includes supporting both employers and employees via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), by paying furloughed staff 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500. To access the CJRS, a company must have a UK bank account and have started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020. My officials have previously engaged with Condor Ferries and expressed these requirements to them. We have continued to offer our support to them during this difficult time. The Department recognises the important contribution that seafarers make to the UK’s economy and remain committed to supporting them.

The Channel Island governments have also launched a similar scheme as well as other financial measures to support local businesses. Those staff members that are employed and paid through the Channel Islands would be subject to the terms and conditions governing those particular schemes and be a matter for the Channel Island governments.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to make financial assistance available to Gosport Ferry.

The Government has announced an unprecedented package of financial measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, worth £350 billion. This includes providing local authorities with a total of £3.2bn to support the COVID-19 response to the pandemic at the local level. These wide-ranging measures are providing support for businesses of all sizes.

The Department for Transport has encouraged Gosport Ferry Company to consider options from the wide range of financial support measures introduced by the Government to support UK businesses, and has also worked closely with Portsmouth, Gosport and Hampshire councils to explore local funding options.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what funding he plans to allocate to Gosport Ferry to support that company during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has announced an unprecedented package of financial measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, worth £350 billion. This includes providing local authorities with a total of £3.2bn to support the COVID-19 response to the pandemic at the local level. These wide-ranging measures are providing support for businesses of all sizes.

The Department for Transport has encouraged Gosport Ferry Company to consider options from the wide range of financial support measures introduced by the Government to support UK businesses, and has also worked closely with Portsmouth, Gosport and Hampshire councils to explore local funding options.

27th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the stress caused to blue badge applicants of the (a) moving around activity test and (b) requirement to provide a list of registered healthcare professionals.

The Department recognises that applicants for a Blue Badge can find some aspects of the process challenging and has therefore recommended, via non-statutory guidance, that local authorities only use mobility assessments where an applicant’s eligibility is uncertain. The requirement to provide details of registered healthcare professionals involved with the applicant’s care provides local authorities with contact details should they require further insight into the applicant’s condition if eligibility remains unclear.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
27th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reducing the evidence required from applicants for Blue Badges that are not in receipt of personal independence payments and disability living allowance.

To help reduce the application process for those not in receipt of personal independence payments and disability living allowance we have provided local authorities with the option in our Blue Badge digital service to mark applicants who are applying through the further assessment route as “not for reassessment”. This choice can be used where it is clear that applicants conditions or disabilities are unlikely to improve and should therefore reduce the amount of evidence required when they reapply.

The Department is constantly looking at ways to make the online application form and application process as straightforward and as intuitive for applicants as possible.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to ensure the safety of cyclists during e-scooter trials.

The Department is expediting and expanding trials of rental e-scooters. We have been working with Solent Transport as part of Future Transport Zone project and we are working with a range of local authorities to design e-scooter trials. The trials will gather evidence about the safety and wider impacts of e-scooters, including their effects on air quality and emissions, and their safety impacts for their users and other road users. This will inform whether e-scooters should be legalised in the future. We have recently consulted on regulatory changes for e-scooter trials, including proposals to allow e-scooters to use cycle lanes and tracks, and engaged with a wide number of stakeholder groups.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions his Department has had with Portsmouth City Council on the trials of e-scooters in Portsmouth.

The Department is expediting and expanding trials of rental e-scooters. We have been working with Solent Transport as part of Future Transport Zone project and we are working with a range of local authorities to design e-scooter trials. The trials will gather evidence about the safety and wider impacts of e-scooters, including their effects on air quality and emissions, and their safety impacts for their users and other road users. This will inform whether e-scooters should be legalised in the future. We have recently consulted on regulatory changes for e-scooter trials, including proposals to allow e-scooters to use cycle lanes and tracks, and engaged with a wide number of stakeholder groups.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he made of the potential effect on air pollution in Portsmouth of trialling e-scooters in that city.

The Department is expediting and expanding trials of rental e-scooters. We have been working with Solent Transport as part of Future Transport Zone project and we are working with a range of local authorities to design e-scooter trials. The trials will gather evidence about the safety and wider impacts of e-scooters, including their effects on air quality and emissions, and their safety impacts for their users and other road users. This will inform whether e-scooters should be legalised in the future. We have recently consulted on regulatory changes for e-scooter trials, including proposals to allow e-scooters to use cycle lanes and tracks, and engaged with a wide number of stakeholder groups.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of (a) topography and (b) air pollution in Portsmouth on the potential merits of trialling an e-scooter scheme in that city.

The Department is expediting and expanding trials of rental e-scooters. We have been working with Solent Transport as part of Future Transport Zone project and we are working with a range of local authorities to design e-scooter trials. The trials will gather evidence about the safety and wider impacts of e-scooters, including their effects on air quality and emissions, and their safety impacts for their users and other road users. This will inform whether e-scooters should be legalised in the future. We have recently consulted on regulatory changes for e-scooter trials, including proposals to allow e-scooters to use cycle lanes and tracks, and engaged with a wide number of stakeholder groups.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of removing VAT from bicycles on trends in the (a) uptake of active travel, (ii) health of the general public and (iii) size of NHS waiting lists.

The Government has made no assessment of the potential effect of removing VAT from bicycles and has no plans to do so.

On the 9th May the Government announced a £2bn package of funding for cycling and walking. This includes £250m which will encourage cycling to work through the provision of pop up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, as well as vouchers for cycle repairs and greater provision for bike fixing facilities.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that road users are informed of how safely to use smart motorways on (a) the M27 between J4 and J11 and (b) part of the M3 between J9 and J14 prior to their opening.

Highways England runs regular national public information campaigns to help improve driver confidence and safety when using the Strategic Road Network (SRN). Detailed advice about safe driving on England’s motorways and major A-roads is available on its website www.highwaysengland.co.uk/motorways.

Since 2016, Highways England has run eight national smart motorways public awareness campaigns. Last Summer and again in February this year, it ran national public awareness campaigns on how to drive safely on its motorways, including messaging on what to do in a breakdown and smart motorway features, including Red X and variable speed limits. Highways England will continue to deliver national public awareness campaigns, with the next one planned for later this year on what to do in the event of a breakdown.

More widely, my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State commissioned a review into smart motorway safety which reported earlier this year, with 18 measures to raise the bar on smart motorway safety, notwithstanding that the evidence shows that in most ways, smart motorways are as safe as, or safer than, the conventional ones. These measures included committing to an additional £5million on national targeted communications campaigns to further increase awareness and understanding of smart motorways, how they work and how to use them confidently.

Highways England is delivering a number of communications activities for the M27 Junction 4 to 11 Smart Motorway Scheme ahead of opening to help customers understand how to safely use a smart motorway. These include local exhibition events at community centres along the length of the scheme, information points at shopping centres, and the creation of scheme specific newsletters as well as information leaflets. Local authorities and other key stakeholders are also encouraged to share information using their own communication channels. Highways England expects to follow a similar communication strategy for the M3 scheme.

The M27 Junction 4 to 11 Smart Motorway Scheme will utilise variable mandatory speed limits (VMSL) which are set automatically in response to the level of congestion or traffic queues. Sensors detect the speed and volume of traffic, and this is used to calculate the optimum speed to keep vehicles moving smoothly, reducing the level of stop-start traffic and congestion.

The M3 Junctions 9 to 14 Smart Motorway Scheme is also planned to operate with VMSLs following a consultation, in which there was no opposition to the specifics of implementing VMSL.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure road users are informed of how safely to act in the event of a breakdown on smart motorways on (a) the M27 between J4 and J11 and (b) part of the M3 between J9 and J14 prior to their opening.

Highways England runs regular national public information campaigns to help improve driver confidence and safety when using the Strategic Road Network (SRN). Detailed advice about safe driving on England’s motorways and major A-roads is available on its website www.highwaysengland.co.uk/motorways.

Since 2016, Highways England has run eight national smart motorways public awareness campaigns. Last Summer and again in February this year, it ran national public awareness campaigns on how to drive safely on its motorways, including messaging on what to do in a breakdown and smart motorway features, including Red X and variable speed limits. Highways England will continue to deliver national public awareness campaigns, with the next one planned for later this year on what to do in the event of a breakdown.

More widely, my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State commissioned a review into smart motorway safety which reported earlier this year, with 18 measures to raise the bar on smart motorway safety, notwithstanding that the evidence shows that in most ways, smart motorways are as safe as, or safer than, the conventional ones. These measures included committing to an additional £5million on national targeted communications campaigns to further increase awareness and understanding of smart motorways, how they work and how to use them confidently.

Highways England is delivering a number of communications activities for the M27 Junction 4 to 11 Smart Motorway Scheme ahead of opening to help customers understand how to safely use a smart motorway. These include local exhibition events at community centres along the length of the scheme, information points at shopping centres, and the creation of scheme specific newsletters as well as information leaflets. Local authorities and other key stakeholders are also encouraged to share information using their own communication channels. Highways England expects to follow a similar communication strategy for the M3 scheme.

The M27 Junction 4 to 11 Smart Motorway Scheme will utilise variable mandatory speed limits (VMSL) which are set automatically in response to the level of congestion or traffic queues. Sensors detect the speed and volume of traffic, and this is used to calculate the optimum speed to keep vehicles moving smoothly, reducing the level of stop-start traffic and congestion.

The M3 Junctions 9 to 14 Smart Motorway Scheme is also planned to operate with VMSLs following a consultation, in which there was no opposition to the specifics of implementing VMSL.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the safety of road users of implementing fixed safe speed restrictions at high-risk points on smart motorways on (a) the M27 between J4 and J11 and (b) part of the M3 between J9 and J14.

Highways England runs regular national public information campaigns to help improve driver confidence and safety when using the Strategic Road Network (SRN). Detailed advice about safe driving on England’s motorways and major A-roads is available on its website www.highwaysengland.co.uk/motorways.

Since 2016, Highways England has run eight national smart motorways public awareness campaigns. Last Summer and again in February this year, it ran national public awareness campaigns on how to drive safely on its motorways, including messaging on what to do in a breakdown and smart motorway features, including Red X and variable speed limits. Highways England will continue to deliver national public awareness campaigns, with the next one planned for later this year on what to do in the event of a breakdown.

More widely, my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State commissioned a review into smart motorway safety which reported earlier this year, with 18 measures to raise the bar on smart motorway safety, notwithstanding that the evidence shows that in most ways, smart motorways are as safe as, or safer than, the conventional ones. These measures included committing to an additional £5million on national targeted communications campaigns to further increase awareness and understanding of smart motorways, how they work and how to use them confidently.

Highways England is delivering a number of communications activities for the M27 Junction 4 to 11 Smart Motorway Scheme ahead of opening to help customers understand how to safely use a smart motorway. These include local exhibition events at community centres along the length of the scheme, information points at shopping centres, and the creation of scheme specific newsletters as well as information leaflets. Local authorities and other key stakeholders are also encouraged to share information using their own communication channels. Highways England expects to follow a similar communication strategy for the M3 scheme.

The M27 Junction 4 to 11 Smart Motorway Scheme will utilise variable mandatory speed limits (VMSL) which are set automatically in response to the level of congestion or traffic queues. Sensors detect the speed and volume of traffic, and this is used to calculate the optimum speed to keep vehicles moving smoothly, reducing the level of stop-start traffic and congestion.

The M3 Junctions 9 to 14 Smart Motorway Scheme is also planned to operate with VMSLs following a consultation, in which there was no opposition to the specifics of implementing VMSL.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with representatives from the (a) Civil Aviation Authority and (b) Airlines UK on planning for an increase in international airline traffic once covid-19 lockdown are eased.

The aviation sector is important to the UK economy and the government recognises the challenging times it is facing as a result of COVID-19. Our transport systems are critical to support the restart of the wider economy and we are working closely with the aviation sector, including CAA and Airlines UK, on these restart plans and the longer-term recovery of the sector.

1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions has he had with representatives from the Civil Aviation Authority on pilots maintaining their ratings during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are doing everything possible to support the industry during this difficult period, including being flexible about regulatory requirements where possible without compromising safety. The CAA have issued four General Exemptions which extend the validity period of certain licences, ratings, and certificates which expire before the 31st of October 2020 until the end date of the exemption (22nd of November 2020). The references for these General Exemptions and the associated conditions are ORS4 No.1378, ORS4 No.1383, ORS4 No.1384, and ORS4 No.1385. These are all publicly available on the CAA website at the following link:

https://publicapps.caa.co.uk/modalapplication.aspx?catid=1&pagetype=65&appid=11&mode=list&type=sercat&id=17

The Government and the CAA will continue to monitor the situation in consultation with stakeholders and we expect to issue further exemptions in the near future to support the aviation sector further.

1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions has he had with representatives from managers of UK airports on ensuring airports are ready to return to receiving regular fights after the covid-19 outbreak.

The aviation sector is important to the UK economy and the government recognises the challenging times it is facing as a result of COVID-19. We continue to work closely with the sector to carry on with the repatriation of British Nationals and to maintain critical freight routes for medical supplies, whilst increasingly focusing on restart and recovery. Our transport systems are critical to support the restart of the wider economy and we are working closely with airports and the wider aviation sector on these restart plans.

29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the potential closure of Gosport ferry as a result of the covid-19 outbreak on (a) the economy, (b) jobs and (c) integration of the South East region.

The Government has announced an unprecedented package of financial measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, worth £350 billion. This includes providing local authorities with a total of £3.2bn to support the COVID-19 response to the pandemic at the local level. These wide-ranging measures are providing support for businesses of all sizes.

The Department’s officials and I have been working closely with operators across the maritime sector, including Gosport Ferry Company, to understand how these measures can be applied. The Department recognises the important role the Ferry provides to the region, alongside other transport options that are available to access Portsmouth from Gosport and vice versa, ensuring that the South-East region remains well connected during this period.

29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the financial security of Gosport ferry.

The Government has announced an unprecedented package of financial measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, worth £350 billion. This includes providing local authorities with a total of £3.2bn to support the COVID-19 response to the pandemic at the local level. These wide-ranging measures are providing support for businesses of all sizes.

The Department’s officials and I have been working closely with operators across the maritime sector, including Gosport Ferry Company, to understand how these measures can be applied. The Department recognises the important role the Ferry provides to the region, alongside other transport options that are available to access Portsmouth from Gosport and vice versa, ensuring that the South-East region remains well connected during this period.

29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid19 outbreak on the ability of Gosport Ferry company to continue providing transport services.

The Government has announced an unprecedented package of financial measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, worth £350 billion. This includes providing local authorities with a total of £3.2bn to support the COVID-19 response to the pandemic at the local level. These wide-ranging measures are providing support for businesses of all sizes.

The Department’s officials and I have been working closely with operators across the maritime sector, including Gosport Ferry Company, to understand how these measures can be applied. The Department recognises the important role the Ferry provides to the region, alongside other transport options that are available to access Portsmouth from Gosport and vice versa, ensuring that the South-East region remains well connected during this period.

29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to financially support Gosport ferry during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has announced an unprecedented package of financial measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, worth £350 billion. This includes providing local authorities with a total of £3.2bn to support the COVID-19 response to the pandemic at the local level. These wide-ranging measures are providing support for businesses of all sizes.

My Department’s officials and I have been working closely with operators across the maritime sector, including Gosport Ferry Company, to understand how these Government’s COVID-19 support measures can be applied.

20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of British Airways on the provision of financial support for that company during the covid-19 outbreak.

The department is monitoring and in regular dialogue with aviation businesses, including British Airways, ensuring that firms which provide vital services and infrastructure still exist following the outbreak.

The Chancellor has taken significant action to support businesses throughout the UK economy – including unprecedented steps to support wages and financing. These include Time to Pay, financial support for employees, and the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility.

We do not comment on the commercial or financial matters of private firms. To protect the interests of the taxpayer, the Chancellor has been clear that bespoke Government support will only be considered as a last resort, once all other options have been fully exhausted – including raising further capital from existing investors, approaching other investors, and discussing arrangements with financial stakeholders. Any Government support will only be provided on commercial terms.

11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, on what date will Portsmouth city council receive a decision on its application to the Transforming Cities Fund.

At Budget, on 11 March, the Government announced that 9 of the 12 shortlisted city regions that were invited to bid for Tranche 2 of the Transforming Cities Fund had made successful bids and will each receive a share of the £1.22 billion available from 2019-20 to 2022-23. Portsmouth were one of three cities whose proposals need to be further refined in order to proceed to investment. The Department will continue to work with Portsmouth this year to develop a package of proposals that could secure them a share of the £1.22 billion.

12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether Portsmouth International Port will be required to process an with increased number of border checks after the end of the transition period.

The Government has confirmed that it plans to introduce full import controls on EU goods at the border after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. That will involve the need for customs declarations and will mean that goods are newly subject to checks.

HMG will be engaging with ports, airports and other stakeholders at key border locations to understand local constraints and opportunities and how best to support planning for operational readiness.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of Portsmouth International Port's capacity to respond to an deal with a potentially increased workload after the 31 December 2020 with its current staffing levels.

The Government has confirmed that it plans to introduce full import controls on EU goods at the border after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. That will involve the need for customs declarations and will mean that goods are newly subject to checks.

HMG will be engaging with ports, airports and other stakeholders at key border locations to understand local constraints and opportunities and how best to support planning for operational readiness.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment has he made of adequacy of resources at Portsmouth International Port to respond to the increase in customs regulations after the transition period.

The Government has confirmed that it plans to introduce full import controls on EU goods at the border after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. That will involve the need for customs declarations and will mean that goods are newly subject to checks.

HMG will be engaging with ports, airports and other stakeholders at key border locations to understand local constraints and opportunities and how best to support planning for operational readiness.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential implications for his policies on the South Western Railway franchise of Transport Focus's National Rail Passenger Survey published in February 2020.

The Department uses the results of the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) to monitor the performance of all franchised TOCs, including South Western Railway. The most recent NRPS results published in January 2020 are currently being assessed by officials in relation to the specific NRPS benchmarks for South Western Railway as outlined in Schedule 7.2 of the Franchise Agreement.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to take South Western Railway into public ownership.

As confirmed in the written ministerial statement on 22 January 2020, the Department is preparing contingency plans for South Western Railway (SWR). Options include a new short-term contract with SWR, with tightly defined performance requirements; or transferring the operation to the Operator of Last Resort, a public sector operator wholly owned by the Department. The Department will evaluate both options to determine how best to secure the continuation of passenger services on this part of the network.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to Transport Focus's National Rail Passenger Survey, published in February 2020, what assessment he has made of the value for money of the services provided by South Western Railway.

The Department uses the results of the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) to monitor the performance of all franchised TOCs, including South Western Railway (SWR). The most recent NRPS results published in January 2020 are currently being assessed by officials in relation to the specific NRPS benchmarks for SWR as outlined in Schedule 7.2 of the Franchise Agreement.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to Transport Focus's National Rail Passenger Survey, published in February 2020, what assessment he has made of the environmental sustainability of the services provided by South Western Railway.

South Western Railways’ (SWR) Franchise Agreement contains provisions that incentivise SWR to reduce its environmental impact, reduce waste and improve on recycling. Challenging annual environmental targets have been set and officials frequently monitor SWR’s performance against these targets. Where SWR fail to meet the targets, they must produce an improvement plan which is capable of achieving the targets set out within the Franchise Agreement.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps his Department has taken to improve services on South Western Railway.

South Western Railways’ (SWR) Franchise Agreement contains provisions that incentivises South Western Railway to improve its own performance and to work jointly with Network Rail. Challenging targets for performance have been set and where performance falls below expected levels, SWR is required to invest additional sums of money into initiatives to address the causes of the poor performance. Officials and I continue to closely monitor SWR’s performance and are currently in the process of finalising a Remedial Agreement.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of discounting Widowed Parent’s Allowance as income when calculating universal credit entitlement.

No such assessment has been made. We have no plans to change the treatment of Widowed Parents’ Allowance.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the recently published End Child Poverty data (a) nationally and (b) for Portsmouth South constituency; and if she will make a statement.

No assessment has been made.

In 2019/20, 17% of children were in absolute poverty, before housing costs, a 1 percentage point reduction since 2010. There were also 700,000 fewer people in absolute poverty before housing costs than in 2010, including 100,000 fewer children.

The Department now publishes supplementary official statistics on the number of children in low income families at constituency level. Children in Low Income Families data is published annually. The latest figures on the number of children who are in low income in Portsmouth South, covering 2019/20, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-in-low-income-families-local-area-statistics-2014-to-2020/children-in-low-income-families-local-area-statistics-fye-2015-to-fye-2020.

This Government is wholly committed to supporting those on low incomes, including by increasing the living wage, and by spending an estimated £111 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2020/21. This included around £7.4 billion of Covid-related welfare policy measures.

We also introduced the Covid Winter Grant, now the Covid Local Support Grant, together totalling £269m, administered by local authorities in England to help the most vulnerable children and families stay warm and well fed. For Portsmouth City Council this means funding of £1,211,956.46.

As the economy recovers, our ambition is to help parents move into and progress in work as quickly as possible based on clear evidence around the importance of parental employment, particularly where it is full-time, in substantially reducing the risks of child poverty. We are investing over £30 billion in our ambitious Plan for Jobs which is already delivering for people of all ages right across the country.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants of carers allowance have also been in receipt of universal credit in each of the last four years.

The information requested is published in the working age benefit group of the Benefit Combinations statistics, available on the Department’s Stat-Xplore website:

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

Guidance for users of Stat-Xplore is available at:

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

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to support unpaid carers during the covid-19 pandemic.

This Government recognises and values the vital contribution made by carers each and every day in supporting some of the most vulnerable in society including pensioners and those with disabilities. We will provide them with the help and support they need, including through the benefit system.

The support that carers provide has been even more vital during the Covid-19 pandemic when other support services may have been reduced or even closed and the caring role became even harder due to the need to self-isolate or shield the person they care for.

Unpaid carers may be able to apply for Carer’s Allowance if they meet the qualifying conditions, such as providing 35 hours of care a week. To ensure that carers already in receipt of Carer’s Allowance do not inadvertently stop receiving it because of changes to patterns of care, we have allowed 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 measures recognise that carers need extra flexibility in the way they provide care during the current emergency.

This Government continues to protect the value of benefits paid to carers whilst also spending record amounts in real terms. The level of Carer’s Allowance is protected by uprating it each year in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The purpose of benefit uprating is to ensure that the value of benefits stays in line with the general level of prices. Carer’s Allowance is increased each April in line with inflation as measured by the CPI for the previous September. For the April 2021 increase we use the September 2020 CPI, which was 0.5 per cent. Since 2010, the rate of Carer’s Allowance has increased from £53.90 to £67.25 a week, meaning around an additional £700 a year for carers. Between 2020/21 and 2025/26 real terms expenditure on Carer’s Allowance is forecast to increase by nearly a third (around £1 billion). By 2025/26, the Government is forecast to spend just over £4bn a year on Carer’s Allowance.

As of May 2020, there were 1,674 carers in the Portsmouth South constituency that were claiming Carer’s Allowance, of which 1,302 were in receipt of Carer’s Allowance while 372 had an underlying entitlement to it (which can passport to carer premiums). In 2019/20 we spent approximately £4.7 million on Carer’s Allowance there.

Information on the number of people claiming Carer’s Allowance by Parliamentary constituency is published and available at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

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

The latest information on benefit expenditure by parliamentary constituency including Carer’s Allowance is also published and available at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/920543/benefit-expenditure-by-parliamentary-constituency-2019-20.xlsx

But Carer’s Allowance isn’t the only benefit available to carers. Carers have access to the full range of social security benefits according to their circumstances. Income replacement benefits help people and households on lower incomes, and can include a carer premium, currently £37.50 a week. An equivalent additional amount applies in Pension Credit. Universal Credit also includes a carer element at the rate of £162.92 per monthly assessment period. These amounts recognise the additional contribution and responsibilities associated with caring and mean that lower-income carers can receive more money than others who receive these benefits. Between the existing carer-specific support, and the temporary Covid-19 uplift, 270,000 carer households receiving Universal Credit have benefitted from up to an extra £2,990 this financial year.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the 35p per week increase in carer's allowance in 2021; and if she will make a statement.

This Government recognises and values the vital contribution made by carers each and every day in supporting some of the most vulnerable in society including pensioners and those with disabilities. We will provide them with the help and support they need, including through the benefit system.

The support that carers provide has been even more vital during the Covid-19 pandemic when other support services may have been reduced or even closed and the caring role became even harder due to the need to self-isolate or shield the person they care for.

Unpaid carers may be able to apply for Carer’s Allowance if they meet the qualifying conditions, such as providing 35 hours of care a week. To ensure that carers already in receipt of Carer’s Allowance do not inadvertently stop receiving it because of changes to patterns of care, we have allowed 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 measures recognise that carers need extra flexibility in the way they provide care during the current emergency.

This Government continues to protect the value of benefits paid to carers whilst also spending record amounts in real terms. The level of Carer’s Allowance is protected by uprating it each year in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The purpose of benefit uprating is to ensure that the value of benefits stays in line with the general level of prices. Carer’s Allowance is increased each April in line with inflation as measured by the CPI for the previous September. For the April 2021 increase we use the September 2020 CPI, which was 0.5 per cent. Since 2010, the rate of Carer’s Allowance has increased from £53.90 to £67.25 a week, meaning around an additional £700 a year for carers. Between 2020/21 and 2025/26 real terms expenditure on Carer’s Allowance is forecast to increase by nearly a third (around £1 billion). By 2025/26, the Government is forecast to spend just over £4bn a year on Carer’s Allowance.

As of May 2020, there were 1,674 carers in the Portsmouth South constituency that were claiming Carer’s Allowance, of which 1,302 were in receipt of Carer’s Allowance while 372 had an underlying entitlement to it (which can passport to carer premiums). In 2019/20 we spent approximately £4.7 million on Carer’s Allowance there.

Information on the number of people claiming Carer’s Allowance by Parliamentary constituency is published and available at:

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

Guidance for users is available at:

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

The latest information on benefit expenditure by parliamentary constituency including Carer’s Allowance is also published and available at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/920543/benefit-expenditure-by-parliamentary-constituency-2019-20.xlsx

But Carer’s Allowance isn’t the only benefit available to carers. Carers have access to the full range of social security benefits according to their circumstances. Income replacement benefits help people and households on lower incomes, and can include a carer premium, currently £37.50 a week. An equivalent additional amount applies in Pension Credit. Universal Credit also includes a carer element at the rate of £162.92 per monthly assessment period. These amounts recognise the additional contribution and responsibilities associated with caring and mean that lower-income carers can receive more money than others who receive these benefits. Between the existing carer-specific support, and the temporary Covid-19 uplift, 270,000 carer households receiving Universal Credit have benefitted from up to an extra £2,990 this financial year.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of armed forces veterans who have been subject to universal credit sanctions since the rollout of the scheme.

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

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to speed up the processing of personal independence payment applications.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 11 January 2020 to Question UIN 133744

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate she has made of the number of people eligible for the Severe Disability Premium Gateway that have been unable to claim as their redundancy fell outside of the one month qualification period in (a) the UK (b) Hampshire and (c) Portsmouth South constituency.

The data requested is not available. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to parliamentary question 134540 on 13 January 2020.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to uprate legacy benefits.

The Secretary of State announced her plans for up-rating 2021/22 in a Written Ministerial Statement published on 25 November 2020:

https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2020-11-25/hcws600

The proposed rates are subject to Parliamentary approval and are available on gov.uk:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/benefit-and-pension-rates-2021-to-2022

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will temporarily increase the qualification period for the Severe Disability Premium Gateway to assist qualifying persons who have been made redundant as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

People who are made redundant as a result of Covid-19, or in any other circumstances, are able to make a claim to Universal Credit.

The Severe Disability Premium (SDP) Gateway is currently in place to prevent existing claimants who have been, within the past month, entitled to an award of an existing benefit (Employment and Support Allowance (income related), Jobseekers Allowance (income based), Income Support or Housing Benefit) that includes a SDP, from moving to Universal Credit if they have a relevant change in their circumstances. In cases where the benefit award ended during that month, they must have continued to satisfy the eligibility conditions for a SDP within the relevant benefit.

When the SDP Gateway is removed from 27 January 2021, existing benefit claimants who are entitled to the SDP will need to claim Universal Credit if they have a relevant change of circumstances and they will be considered for a transitional SDP element to be included in their Universal Credit award.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have begun placements under the Kickstart scheme in (a) Portsmouth South constituency, (b) Hampshire and (c) the UK.

As of 15/01/21 there have been 1,868 new starts in the UK. We are working to provide geographical breakdowns of data soon.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of removing the disparity in the level of private pension deductions from universal credit with those made from earned income.

No assessment has been made. There are no plans to align the treatment of pension income with that for earned income when calculating Universal Credit entitlement.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that legacy benefits are increased in line with increases to universal credit.

DWP have no plans to increase Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support. These benefits were increased by 1.7% in April 2020 as part of the annual up-rating exercise.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the five-week wait for the first payment of universal credit on the financial wellbeing of applicants who applied during the covid-19 outbreak.

Claimants in need of support do not have to wait 5 weeks for their first payment. New Claim Advances of up to 100% of a claimant’s indicative award are available if claimants need support during their first assessment period, and budgeting support is available for anyone who needs extra help.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of universal credit on the wellbeing of claimants who are also in receipt of maternity allowance, during the covid-19 outbreak.

No assessment has been made of the effect of Universal Credit on the wellbeing of claimants who are also in receipt of maternity allowance, during the covid-19 outbreak.

Universal Credit is replacing a complex system of six legacy benefits with a single monthly payment and through a simple taper system ensures claimants are better off in work, keeping more of what they earn compared to the legacy benefit system. It is a longstanding principle of the welfare system that benefits are not paid to claimants with income available from other sources to support themselves.

Where claimants have income available to meet their everyday living costs, their entitlement to Universal Credit is adjusted accordingly. This includes other benefits such as new style Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance and Maternity Allowance.

Maternity Allowance is a health and safety measure to enable women to stop work in the later stages of pregnancy and after childbirth in the interest of their own, and their baby’s, health and wellbeing.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has she made of the potential merits of removing the benefits cap for the duration of the covid-19 outbreak.

There are currently no plans to change the Benefit Cap. The Benefit Cap ensures fairness between those receiving out-of-work benefits and taxpayers.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of trends in the number of universal credit applications during the covid-19 outbreak on the ability of her Department to process applications in a timely manner.

In response to unprecedented numbers of new claims, the Department has taken steps to ensure that people get the support they need quickly. The latest payment time statistics show over 90% of new eligible claimants are paid in full and on time. Data on payment timeliness up to April 2020 will be available on Stat-Xplore from 11th August

The latest available information on Universal Credit payment timeliness is published and can be found at:

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

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at

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

Notes:

Payment timeliness is published with a further month between the publication date and the latest period being published for other UC household official statistics. This is because the data is subject to a lot of retrospection. Publishing data earlier would lead to relatively large revisions and to a loss of confidence in the earlier figures. This is the earliest payment timeliness can be published when balancing the needs of quality and timeliness of the statistics.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the effect of the two child limit in universal credit on the financial wellbeing of people affected by that limit.

The Government has committed to annual statistics releases related to the operation of this policy. Statistics for 2018/19 can be found on GOV.UK. Statistics related to 2019/20 will be published in the summer.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what reports he has received on the Child Maintenance Service not contacting parents who miss child maintenance payments during the covid-19 outbreak; and what assessment she has made of the effect on the financial security of the recipients of any such missed payments.

Paying parents are still expected to pay child maintenance throughout this period. Our priority is to maintain the flow of maintenance that is currently being paid, by ensuring that we transfer the payments as quickly as possible to receiving parents.

We know the vast majority of parents take their responsibilities extremely seriously and will do whatever is needed to ensure their children are supported.

Where payments have been missed we have asked parents to report the changes via the self-service portal.

In order to ensure that receiving parents do not lose out in the long run, we will update cases with notified changes as soon as possible. Where payments have been missed the Service will take action to re-establish compliance and collect any unpaid amounts that may have accrued. There is insufficient data to estimate the precise economic impact of missed payments on different groups.

The Government has been clear in its commitment to support those, including both paying and receiving parents, whose income drops as a result of the public health emergency and we have made a number changes to the welfare system to ensure people are receiving the support they need. Taken together, these measures represent an injection of over £6.5 billion into the welfare system and, along with the other job and business support programmes announced by the Chancellor, represent one of the most comprehensive packages of support introduced by an advanced economy in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that parents paying towards child maintenance comply with payment timelines during the covid-19 outbreak.

Paying Parents have a regular schedule of payments to make and all parents are expected to make payments according to the schedule during their claim. Child Maintenance payments are routinely made via an automated method direct from the Paying Parents bank account or wages.

Paying parents are still expected to pay child maintenance throughout this period. Our priority is to maintain the flow of maintenance by easing the financial pressure on parents and ensuring that we transfer the payments as quickly as possible to receiving parents, and resources are focussed on ensuring payments are made where Child Maintenance Service has received them.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made for people who require assistance in (a) question comprehension and (b) support from a nominated adult or carer in the assessment of people for personal independence payment during the covid-19 outbreak.

The department is committed to providing a quality, sensitive and respectful service to everyone. Individuals are encouraged to alert their assessment provider of any additional requirements they may have and providers will endeavour to meet any such reasonable requests.

Individuals can access additional support at any point in the claim or assessment process, for example help filling in the form or questionnaire. Companions are also able to join the telephony assessment, as they would have done for the face-to-face assessment. This is confirmed to the individual in the initial invitation to assessment letter for all phone assessments. If choosing to request a companion, they will be added to the call by the Health Professional at the start of the assessment.

To further enhance the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) telephony service, PIP providers have begun implementing a video relay service for deaf / British Sign Language-user claimants with an interpreter to allow these individuals to participate in the assessment process.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the appropriateness of the Vaccine Damage Payment’s severe disablement eligibility criteria in the context of the very rare blood clots reported in association with the AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine.

No specific assessment has been made.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of Healthwatch's Dentistry during covid-19 insight briefing; and if he will make a statement.

During the pandemic, capacity has been restricted to protect both dental teams and patients, resulting in a reduction in access to National Health Service dentistry, as demonstrated by recent findings from Healthwatch.

NHS dentists throughout the country have been asked to maximise safe throughput to meet as many prioritised needs as possible, focussing first on urgent care and vulnerable groups followed by overdue appointments. This has been underpinned, taking into account current infection prevention and control guidelines, by the requirement for dental providers to deliver 60% of normal activity volumes for the first six months of 2021/22 for full payment of the NHS contractual value.

For the longer term, the Department has asked NHS England and NHS Improvement to work with the BDA, to build on the learning from the dental contract reform programme to bring forward implementable proposals, that address the key challenges facing the delivery of NHS dentistry and improve patient access.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when his Department plans to bring forward proposals to reform social care.

The Government is committed to sustainable improvement of the adult social care system and will bring forward proposals by the end of the year. We are working closely with local and national partners to ensure our approach to reform is informed by diverse perspectives, including of those with lived experience of the care sector.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding allocated to the (a) mental health and (b) social care budgets in each of the last three years.

We have made no such assessment. However, funding for National Health Service mental health services has increased every year since 2018-19 in line with the commitments in the NHS Long Term Plan to invest at least £2.3 billion of extra funding a year in mental health services by 2023-24.

Public spending on adult social care services has increased in real terms in every year since 2015-16, reaching £18.8 billion in 2019-20. We are providing councils with access to over £1 billion of additional funding for social care in 2021-22. This includes £300 million of new grant funding for social care, on top of the £1 billion social care grant announced in 2019.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when his Department plans to publish its response to the Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisory Group’s recommendations on progress and learning from the first phase of the covid-19 pandemic published in September 2020.

We published the Adult Social Care COVID-19 Winter Plan on 18 September 2020, which was informed by the recommendations of the Social Care Sector COVID-19 Support Taskforce. The Taskforce was informed by a number of advisory groups, including the Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisory Group. We have no plans to publish additional responses to the recommendations of the advisory groups.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to respond to Question 143891 on Coronavirus: Vaccination, tabled on 26 January 2021 by the hon. Member for Portsmouth South.

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.

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

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support he is providing to people who need to return to the UK from a country on the travel ban list and who cannot afford the £1750 quarantine package.

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. This is available if they are already receiving income-related benefits and they will be required to pay back the charge in 12 monthly instalments.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the prevalence of falsified NHS covid-19 test certificates; and what steps his Department is taking to tackle that matter.

NHS Test and Trace does not issue certificates for test results. All results are notified either by email or by a text message. People who require a negative test certificate, such as for travel purposes where allowed, can purchase a swab test from a private provider. The Department does not hold information on the prevalence of falsified test certificates. The Department is considering how to raise awareness that NHS Test and Trace test results are not designed to be used as a form of certification.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of NHS activity targets for dentistry on (a) reducing the backlog of urgent care and (b) the financial viability of dental practices.

The Department has no current plans to assess the contractual arrangements for 2021/22. Contractual arrangements for the first six months of the 2021/22 financial year have been introduced by NHS England and NHS Improvement. The revised unit of dental activity threshold set at 60% is based on data that indicates practices may now have capacity to safely achieve more dental activity. Arrangements will be monitored on a monthly basis and are expected to be in place for six months in order to provide increased stability for dental practices. National Health Service commissioners have the discretion to make exceptions, for instance in cases where a dental practice has been impacted by staff being required to self-isolate.

The Department will work with the British Dental Association and NHS England and NHS Improvement who will lead the next stage of dental contract reform. This will involve designing implementable proposals that address the key challenges facing the delivery of NHS dentistry and will encourage a more preventative approach to dentistry.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the proportion of patients accessing NHS dental services in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight area.

The proportion of patients seen by a National Health Service dentist to 31 December 2020, in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is shown in the following table:

Local authority

Adults

Children

Hampshire County Council

478,602(43.6%)

89,171 (31.4%)

Isle of Wight Council

52,276 (44.7%)

6,399 (25.9%)

The Department is working closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Chief Dental Officer for England to increase levels of service, as fast as is safely possible. In circumstances where patients are unable to access an urgent dental appointment directly through a NHS dental practice, they should contact NHS 111 for assistance. Over 600 urgent dental care centres remain open to help patients access care.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve access to NHS dentistry (a) nationally and (b) in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Dentists have been asked to prioritise urgent treatment, with provision of over 600 urgent dental care centres across the country, 13 of which are operating across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. NHS England and NHS Improvement have also commissioned additional clinical sessions in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, including in Basingstoke, Alton, Farnborough, Gosport, Southampton, Ventnor and Bembridge.

From April 2021 two new dental practices will be opening in Portsmouth and a new practice is expected to open in Tadley in July. This is in addition to a new practice that was established in Alton in December 2020. The Department is working closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Chief Dental Officer for England to increase levels of service, as fast as is safely possible.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will provide an estimate of the staffing levels at each of the Nightingale hospitals.

We have made no such estimate. Staffing of the Nightingale hospitals is managed by host trusts, and is based on safe staffing levels according to the number of patients requiring care and the type of care provided. This has meant that throughout the pandemic, staffing levels have fluctuated to ensure an appropriate number of staff are available at all times.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of prioritising people with learning disabilities for the covid-19 vaccine.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccines the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation of a COVID-19 vaccine at a population level.  For the first phase, the JCVI has advised that the vaccine be given to care home residents and staff, as well as frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population aged 50 years old or over in order of age and clinical risk factors which includes people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and/or have underlying health conditions.

On 24 February the JCVI published a clarification of their advice on vaccinating people with a learning disability. They confirmed their view that priority should be given to those with a severe and profound learning disability, but recognised the issues regarding coding of learning disability on general practitioner (GP) systems and supported a practical approach of inviting everyone who is on the GP Learning Disability Register for vaccination in cohort six.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when the St James’ vaccine centre in the Portsmouth South constituency is planned to receive the equipment and doses it needs to become operational.

As of 1 February 2021, the St James’ vaccine centre has been operational.

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 assessment he has made of the potential merits of prescribing cannabis-based medicinal products through the NHS to treat (a) autism spectrum disorder and (b) attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The Department has made no such assessment.

Decisions relating to the prescribing of cannabis-based medicines are made on a case-by-case basis and whether to treat remains a clinical decision. The Department has been clear that where a cannabis-based medicinal product is appropriately prescribed, the patient must be able to access it.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the newly identified strain of covid-19 on the capacity of healthcare settings (a) nationally, (b) in Hampshire and (c) in Portsmouth South constituency; and if he will make a statement.

As a result of the rapid spread of the new variant and rapidly rising incidence rates in the South East, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) now consider that the new strain of SARS-CoV-2 to be more transmissible. This is a dynamic situation and additional investigation is being undertaken by United Kingdom (UK) experts to understand the potential impact of the new variant.

On 19 December 2020, the Prime Minister introduced tougher restrictions for large parts of South East England with a Tier 4: ‘Stay at Home’ alert level. Throughout the pandemic, the evidence has shown that rising rates of infection will lead to increased hospital admissions risking intolerable pressure on the National Health Service (NHS) in the toughest winter months. The introduction of Tier 4 will protect the NHS and save lives.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department is planning to undertake a testing programme to identify cases of the newly identified strain of covid-19 (a) nationally, (b) in Hampshire and (c) in Portsmouth South constituency; and if he will make a statement.

We have found evidence that the new variant of COVID-19 first identified in South Africa has been identified in a small number of localities across England.

Working in partnership with local authorities we are targeting areas within specific postcodes where the variant has been found, including Hampshire County Council. At present Portsmouth is not included in surge testing. We are asking as many people as possible aged 16 years old and over within the target postcodes to get tested even if they are asymptomatic.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the prevalence of the newly identified strain of covid-19 (a) nationally, (b) in Hampshire and (c) in Portsmouth South constituency; and if he will make a statement.

The increase in cases linked to the new variant first came to light in late November when Public Health England (PHE) was investigating why infection rates in Kent were not falling despite national restrictions, discovering a cluster linked to this variant spreading rapidly into London and Essex. 144 lower tier local authorities have identified at least one case genomically, although the vast majority of cases identified are in London, the South East and the East of England.

PHE is working with partners, such as Imperial College, Wellcome Sanger Institute, University of Edinburgh and the University of Birmingham, to investigate this variant. There is currently no evidence that the variant is more likely to cause severe disease or mortality, but investigations are continuing to understand this better.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities and hospitals have the resources they need to effectively support covid-19 vaccine rollout programme.

We have recruited and mobilised an 80,000 strong vaccination workforce and establishedthree delivery models for the programme: community teams, vaccination sites and hospital hubs.


We have ensured that we have the logistical expertise, transportation, workforce guidance and equipment in place, as well as the supporting infrastructure required, including warehousing to deploy the vaccine according to clinical priority.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to help reduce the rate of suicide among people with autism.

The fourth progress report of the cross-Government suicide prevention strategy recognises addressing highest risk groups, including autistic people, as a priority area.

From 2019/20, we are investing £57 million in suicide prevention through the NHS Long Term Plan. This will see investment in all areas of the country by 2023/24 to support local suicide prevention plans and establish suicide bereavement support services.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to support the (a) recruitment and (b) retention of dentists (i) nationally, (ii) in Hampshire and (iii) in Portsmouth South constituency; and if he will make a statement.

The latest headcount data published by NHS Digital show that the total number of dentists actively delivering National Health Service services increased by 1,885 (8%) from 22,799 to 24,684 during the period 2010/11 to 2019/20.

NHS England and NHS Improvement and Health Education England (HEE) have initiatives in place to tackle recruitment and retention issues of dentists across England. As part of this work, HEE is reviewing the opportunities for flexible dental training pathways that can better serve patients as well as improving retention nationally in the long-term.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are responsible for commissioning primary care dentistry to meet local need and are aware of geographic shortfalls that may lead to limited service provision, including in Portsmouth South. NHS England’s Interim NHS People Plan commits to addressing shortages within the dental workforce. Action to deliver this will be set out in due course.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will ask the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to revise their recommendations and include unpaid carers on the priority list for covid-19 vaccination.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) consists of independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccine/s the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level. The JCVI has advised that the vaccine should be given to care home residents and staff, followed by people over 80 years old and health and social care workers.

We recognise the vital role unpaid carers play in caring for vulnerable individuals. JCVI recommends that carers 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 falls ill, should also be offered vaccination alongside people with underlying health conditions.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the closure of Pfizer’s Havant cold storage facility in November 2020 on the delivery of the first wave of vaccinations for covid-19.

The closure of Pfizer’s Havant cold store facility had no effect on the delivery or storage of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to the United Kingdom. The vaccine is supplied to Public Health England (PHE) directly from Pfizer’s manufacturing facility in Belgium. PHE manages the storage and distribution of this vaccine and has developed significant capability to store around five million doses of this vaccine at ultra-low temperature onward distribution to the National Health Service.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for the Government's strategy on tackling the covid-19 outbreak of recent trends in the number of care home residents testing positive for covid-19.

Testing in care homes is a crucial part of our strategy to help prevent and control outbreaks. We are continuing to prioritise Care Home Testing, and we are issuing more than 100,000 tests a day to care homes across the country prioritising high priority outbreak areas.

We have met our 7 September target of providing testing kits to all care homes for older people and people with dementia who have registered for regular retesting kits. In addition, all other care homes have been able to place orders for test kits from 31 August. Since they were eligible to apply for regular repeat testing on 31 August, 4,576 specialist homes in England have applied for tests.

Where an outbreak has been identified, we test all staff and residents as a priority, with all those who test negative being tested again four to seven days later. Any home with a current outbreak can continue regular testing of staff and residents who have previously tested negative.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure continued access to covid-19 tests for Portsmouth residents when the testing site at Tipner in Portsmouth ceases to operate.

Residents of Portsmouth have continued access to Covid- 19 tests at Eldon Car Park, PO12DJ and Unit 9 North Harbour Road, Cosham, PO63TL.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the timetable is for the closure of the covid-19 testing site at Tipner in Portsmouth.

The drive through site at Tipner Lorry Park in Portsmouth closed on 23 September 2020.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many covid-19 test results for care home residents in Portsmouth were deemed to be inconclusive for each month since February 2020.

We do not hold data in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect on the safety and well-being of care home residents in Portsmouth of recent trends in the number of care home residents in Portsmouth unable to obtain a covid-19 test.

There are currently no reported issues with access to care home testing for residents in Portsmouth. In the rare case where a logistical issue has been identified, the Department has a dedicated team who are able to investigate and respond to local issues.

Through the Infection Control Fund, set up in May 2020, the Government has provided £1.146 billion of ring-fenced funding for the care sector to take key steps to improve infection prevention and control. In addition, we will continue to follow the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s advice and vaccinate those most at risk first, and those who work closest with them - care home residents and staff. We have also published guidance on measures care homes can put in place to support the health and wellbeing of their residents and workers.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of covid-19 laboratory processing times in the South East on the ability of people in Portsmouth to access such tests.

There is no connection between processing times for samples taken in the South East and the ability of people to access testing. Laboratory capacity is sufficient such that anyone currently wishing to access a test should be able to do so. Turnaround times have been improving throughout January and published metrics will show the significant and sustained increase in performance across the network in 2021.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people requesting a covid-19 test in Portsmouth have been instructed to visit a test centre in excess of 50 miles away in the latest period for which figures are available.

The Department does not publish data in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average waiting time is for people living in (a) the South East and (bi) Portsmouth to receive their results for a home covid-19 test.

The Government does not publish data in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the number of people unable to access covid-19 tests in Portsmouth on the ability to accurately assess the degree to which the pandemic is affecting Portsmouth.

National Health Service Test and Trace is working and our capacity is the highest it has ever been. As of 21 September, we have processed more than 18.7 million tests across pillars 1 and 2 and have capacity to test over 250,000 people a day. Demand for testing is increasing and as such some test sites will have reductions of testing capacity, so we can keep maximum capacity in highest risk areas.

We have also seen a rise in the number of people not eligible for testing coming forward. This is limiting the opportunity for symptomatic people to book a test. We are introducing improved messaging in all our channels and at sites that testing is for those who have symptoms, or who have been specifically told to get a test to take part in a pilot or elective surgery or have been invited by local councils.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve the laboratory processing times for covid-19 tests in the South East.

Turnaround times have improved since the temporary dip over the holiday period due to focusing resource on increased demand. NHS Test and Trace are increasing staffing levels, the use of robotics and adding more capacity – meaning they can not only provide more tests, but also improve turnaround times. Reducing turnaround times is our absolute priority to make sure we are reaching people as soon as possible. We always need to balance ensuring as many people as possible can get a test alongside ensuring test results are delivered as quickly as possible and as capacity continues to grow at pace, we expect to see improvements.

We continue to use new technology to increase capacity and automate parts of the process, install new machines, hire more permanent staff, open new laboratories and invest further in new technology to process results faster. In December, Health Services Laboratories in partnership with University College London, Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London partner labs joined the nationwide effort to increase testing capacity. The laboratories form part of the Department’s partnership agreement with a London Testing Alliance of four university laboratories, which will increase testing capacity by tens of thousands over the winter months. King’s College London will also join soon. We have built our capacity from 2000 tests a day in March to our current capacity of more than half a million. And we will add an additional new large laboratory in 2021, which will add another 300,000 tests to our daily capacity.

We publish data on individual capacity across all pillars throughout England each week alongside at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/nhs-test-and-trace-statistics-england-weekly-reports

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on mental health; and what the implications are of that assessment for the timetable of proposals to reform the Mental Health Act 1983.

There is broad consensus that there is the potential for an increase in demand for mental health services as a result of COVID-19 and we are working with the National Health Service, Public Health England and others to ensure ongoing assessment of the potential longer-term impacts and to plan for how to support mental health and wellbeing throughout the ‘recovery’ phase.

We have committed to publishing a White Paper which will set out the Government’s response to Sir Simon Wessely’s Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 1983 and pave the way for reform of the Act. We will publish our White Paper as soon as it is possible to do so. We will consult publicly on our proposals and will bring forward a Bill to amend the Act when parliamentary time allows.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support the families of young people who misuse substances.

Health, care and other professionals continue to have vital safeguarding functions to identify and support children and young people at risk from substance misuse. Public Health England (PHE) is working with other Government departments to help prevent young people from developing alcohol and drug problems. This includes supporting investment in programmes which have a positive impact on young people, giving them the confidence, resilience and risk management skills to resist drug and other substance use.

PHE’s FRANK website and helpline provides impartial, reliable and confidential information and advice about drugs and provides resource for young people, parents and concerned others. The FRANK website can be accessed at the following link:

https://www.talktofrank.com/

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the potential effect of recording of veteran suicide on the ability to tailor mental health services to ex-service personnel.

Veteran mental health needs are very often no different to those of the general population. Research shows that suicide amongst former members of the Armed Forces remains extremely rare and is lower than comparative rates in the civilian population. The recording of suicides is a matter for coroners and recording of prior service is unlikely to help in attribution of cause of these tragic events.

The National Health Service in England has set up two tailored veterans’ mental health services: the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service and the Complex Treatment Service. These services benefit from over £10 million per year investment and have collectively received over 10,000 referrals up to the end of 2019. A third tailored service, the forthcoming Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service, will see even more investment and will provide crisis care and therapeutic inpatient support for those veterans who need urgent and emergency care.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of BAME people who have visited their GP during the covid-19 outbreak.

The data requested is not collected or held centrally.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many antibody tests have been provided to care homes (a) nationally, (b) in Hampshire and (c) in Portsmouth South constituency.

As of 24 November this information is not published by the Department.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that BAME communities are able to access GP services during the covid-19 outbreak.

Racial disparities in the health of the nation are unacceptable. Following the publication of the report by Public Health England ‘Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups’ recently, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities (Kemi Badenoch MP) is urgently reviewing the findings.

The way in which people can access general practice services during the COVID-19 has changed; practices are offering more triage and remote consultations (video and online) to see as many patients as possible while protecting staff and patients.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that mental health service provision reaches BAME communities as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.

We want to ensure that all communities, including people from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background, can access services if they need to. National Health Service mental health services have remained open, and our community, talking therapies and children and young people’s services have deployed digital tools to connect with people and provide ongoing support.

The Government has provided £9.2 million of additional funding for mental health charities to support adults and children. This includes charities that offer some support to BAME communities, such as the What? Centre, which supports young people with furthering their understanding of race, culture and identity in relation to mental health.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working closely with BAME experts and others to support rapid knowledge and information sharing to encourage timely access to NHS mental health services.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of whether the length of the notice given to dentists in respect of reopening on 8 June 2020 was sufficient to enable them to procure personal protective equipment in order to prevent the spread of covid-19.

NHS England and NHS Improvement as the commissioner of National Health Service dental services decided the notice period for the gradual resumption of face to face care by dental practices holding an NHS contract. The letter announcing this set out that the resumption should be gradual with practices increasing services only at a pace compatible with maximising safety.

Dentists continue to receive full NHS funding with, during the restart period, no targets for numbers of treatments delivered or patients seen. This is to ensure there is no pressure to restart in a way that could conflict with safety. At the height of the pandemic NHS England and NHS Improvement set up urgent dental care centres (UDCs) to provide clinically necessary urgent treatment to patients. Over 600 UDCs remain open during the restart period to ensure patients can access urgent care and no additional pressure is put on the pace of the practice restart.

Most high street dentists purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) via dental wholesalers which supply a range of equipment needed by dentists including PPE. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Government is working closely with industry, the National Health Service, social care providers and the army to ensure that PPE is delivered to those who need it. Our priority is ensuring the safety of patients and all health care workers, including dentists. This includes supporting dental wholesalers to stock the equipment needed by general dental practice to safely support practices to restart face to face dental care.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government taking to support local authorities in supporting families with a child who is abusing (a) drugs and (b) alcohol during the covid-19 outbreak.

Health, care and other professionals continue to have vital safeguarding functions to identify and support children and young people at risk. It is important that drug and alcohol support services are also maintained. Public Health England and the Department have published ‘COVID-19: Guidance for commissioners and providers of services to people who use drugs and alcohol’ available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-commissioners-and-providers-of-services-for-people-who-use-drugs-or-alcohol

The FRANK website and helpline also continue to provide a service for people concerned about their own or others’ drug and alcohol consumption. Further information is available at the following link:

https://www.talktofrank.com

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect on public health of the number of dental practices that will reopen in June 2020.

The gradual reopening of routine dentistry is in line with the gradual resumption of routine care across the National Health Service and wider healthcare sector as the pandemic passed its peak and overall demands on the NHS eased. Opticians have now also reopened.

No direct assessment is made of the individual risk to public health of restarting routine care. All healthcare organisations, as well as using infection control procedures to minimise risk of direct transmission between clinicians and patients, are required to ensure patients and staff follow standard social distancing requirements in areas such as reception.

For dentistry NHS England and NHS Improvement issued a standard operating procedure earlier this month setting out detailed guidance on how dentists can restart face to face dentistry safely. NHS England and NHS Improvement dental guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/primary-care/dental-practice/

Dentists are responsible for ensuring that they follow safe practice taking into account available official guidance.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the level of personal protective equipment used in dental practices for the safety of (a) dentists and (b) patients.

Most high street dentists purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) via dental wholesalers which supply a range of equipment needed by dentists including PPE. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Government is working closely with industry, the National Health Service, social care providers and the army to ensure that PPE is delivered to those who need it. Our priority is ensuring the safety of patients and all health care workers, including dentists. This includes supporting dental wholesalers to stock the equipment needed by general dental practice to safely support practices to restart face to face dental care.

Public Health England provides guidance on infection prevention and control (IPC) for COVID-19 which covers both the PPE to be used by sector and the enhanced PPE that is needed for particular procedures such as those that are aerosol generating.

The latest IPC guidance can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

NHS England and NHS Improvement issued additionally detailed standard operating procedure earlier this month setting out detailed guidance on how dentists can restart face to face dentistry safely.

NHS England and NHS Improvement dental guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/primary-care/dental-practice/

Dentists are responsible for ensuring that they follow safe clinical practice taking into account available official guidance.

As independent contractors, dentists are currently required to fund PPE and other expenses from their overall contract value. In the short term PPE costs should not be a barrier to restarting NHS dentistry. NHS dentists have been, since practice based face to face care was suspended at the end of March, nevertheless been receiving their usual funding in full and this is continuing during the restart period. NHS England and NHS Improvement are considering with representatives of the profession the approach to overall remuneration for the remainder of 2020/21.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to assist dental practices to procure the personal protective equipment required to safely reopen after 8 June 2020.

Most high street dentists purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) via dental wholesalers which supply a range of equipment needed by dentists including PPE. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Government is working closely with industry, the National Health Service, social care providers and the army to ensure that PPE is delivered to those who need it. Our priority is ensuring the safety of patients and all health care workers, including dentists. This includes supporting dental wholesalers to stock the equipment needed by general dental practice to safely support practices to restart face to face dental care.

Public Health England provides guidance on infection prevention and control (IPC) for COVID-19 which covers both the PPE to be used by sector and the enhanced PPE that is needed for particular procedures such as those that are aerosol generating.

The latest IPC guidance can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

NHS England and NHS Improvement issued additionally detailed standard operating procedure earlier this month setting out detailed guidance on how dentists can restart face to face dentistry safely.

NHS England and NHS Improvement dental guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/primary-care/dental-practice/

Dentists are responsible for ensuring that they follow safe clinical practice taking into account available official guidance.

As independent contractors, dentists are currently required to fund PPE and other expenses from their overall contract value. In the short term PPE costs should not be a barrier to restarting NHS dentistry. NHS dentists have been, since practice based face to face care was suspended at the end of March, nevertheless been receiving their usual funding in full and this is continuing during the restart period. NHS England and NHS Improvement are considering with representatives of the profession the approach to overall remuneration for the remainder of 2020/21.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the cost of personal protective equipment on the ability of dental practices to open during the covid-19 outbreak.

Most high street dentists purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) via dental wholesalers which supply a range of equipment needed by dentists including PPE. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Government is working closely with industry, the National Health Service, social care providers and the army to ensure that PPE is delivered to those who need it. Our priority is ensuring the safety of patients and all health care workers, including dentists. This includes supporting dental wholesalers to stock the equipment needed by general dental practice to safely support practices to restart face to face dental care.

Public Health England provides guidance on infection prevention and control (IPC) for COVID-19 which covers both the PPE to be used by sector and the enhanced PPE that is needed for particular procedures such as those that are aerosol generating.

The latest IPC guidance can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

NHS England and NHS Improvement issued additionally detailed standard operating procedure earlier this month setting out detailed guidance on how dentists can restart face to face dentistry safely.

NHS England and NHS Improvement dental guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/primary-care/dental-practice/

Dentists are responsible for ensuring that they follow safe clinical practice taking into account available official guidance.

As independent contractors, dentists are currently required to fund PPE and other expenses from their overall contract value. In the short term PPE costs should not be a barrier to restarting NHS dentistry. NHS dentists have been, since practice based face to face care was suspended at the end of March, nevertheless been receiving their usual funding in full and this is continuing during the restart period. NHS England and NHS Improvement are considering with representatives of the profession the approach to overall remuneration for the remainder of 2020/21.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to assist dental practices in training staff to comply with covid-19 guidelines.

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced on 28 May that National Health Service dental services can gradually resume from 8 June. Over 600 urgent dental centres remain open to assist with the resumption of routine dentistry, and provide care.

NHS England and NHS Improvement published a series of guidance throughout the pandemic to support dental practices. The latest guidance can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/primary-care/dental-practice/

The guidance includes:

- NHS England and NHS Improvement letter issued to all dental practices, regional dental leads of the resumption of dental services;

- A detailed standard operating procedure was issued setting out guidance on how to restart dentistry safely; and

- Public Health England published guidance to dental practices and other health care professionals on infection control protocols and personal protective equipment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities at risk of an increase in covid-19 cases in their areas are able to procure adequate numbers of body bags; and if he will make a statement.

The Government published “Coronavirus (COVID-19): personal protective equipment (PPE) plan” on 10 April. It incorporates guidance on who needs PPE and when they need it, routes to ensure those who need it can get it at the right time and sets out actions to secure enough PPE to last through the crisis. PPE includes aprons, eye protectors, face masks, gloves, gowns, hand hygiene, clinical waste bags and body bags.

Since publication of the plan, the Government has massively expanded both our supply of PPE from overseas and our domestic manufacturing capability, which will deliver at the scale and pace the United Kingdom requires and ensures that we build and maintain a domestic base for the future.

The Government has also published PPE guidance for those involved in the care and management of the deceased and has authorised the release of millions of PPE items to local resilience forums to help them respond to urgent local spikes in need across the adult social care system and some other frontline services, such as mortuary and funeral services, where providers are unable to access PPE through their usual, or dedicated wholesaler routes.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to engage with local authority leaders on the supply of body bags.

The Government published “Coronavirus (COVID-19): personal protective equipment (PPE) plan” on 10 April. It incorporates guidance on who needs PPE and when they need it, routes to ensure those who need it can get it at the right time and sets out actions to secure enough PPE to last through the crisis. PPE includes aprons, eye protectors, face masks, gloves, gowns, hand hygiene, clinical waste bags and body bags.

Since publication of the plan, the Government has massively expanded both our supply of PPE from overseas and our domestic manufacturing capability, which will deliver at the scale and pace the United Kingdom requires and ensures that we build and maintain a domestic base for the future.

The Government has also published PPE guidance for those involved in the care and management of the deceased and has authorised the release of millions of PPE items to local resilience forums to help them respond to urgent local spikes in need across the adult social care system and some other frontline services, such as mortuary and funeral services, where providers are unable to access PPE through their usual, or dedicated wholesaler routes.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to mitigate the potential effects of a national shortage of body bags in the event of a second spike in covid-19 cases.

The Government published “Coronavirus (COVID-19): personal protective equipment (PPE) plan” on 10 April. It incorporates guidance on who needs PPE and when they need it, routes to ensure those who need it can get it at the right time and sets out actions to secure enough PPE to last through the crisis. PPE includes aprons, eye protectors, face masks, gloves, gowns, hand hygiene, clinical waste bags and body bags.

Since publication of the plan, the Government has massively expanded both our supply of PPE from overseas and our domestic manufacturing capability, which will deliver at the scale and pace the United Kingdom requires and ensures that we build and maintain a domestic base for the future.

The Government has also published PPE guidance for those involved in the care and management of the deceased and has authorised the release of millions of PPE items to local resilience forums to help them respond to urgent local spikes in need across the adult social care system and some other frontline services, such as mortuary and funeral services, where providers are unable to access PPE through their usual, or dedicated wholesaler routes.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that people carrying out domiciliary care for local authorities have access to personal protective equipment during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is doing everything it can to get home carers the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to provide care and support safely. On 11 May, we published guidance to support the health and wellbeing of those in the adult social care workforce. As part of our commitment to ensure that social care receives the PPE it needs, we continue to supply PPE to selected wholesalers to support social care. Additionally, we deliver PPE to all Local Resilience Forums to allow them to respond to urgent local spikes in need across the adult social care system. The National Supply Disruption Response operates a 24-hour helpline that can also respond to emergency PPE requests.

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, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing priority access to personal protective equipment for use in almshouses to ensure the wellbeing of vulnerable people in those settings during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises that securing the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers is of paramount importance, not only for their protection, but to enable them to continue to deliver the first-class level of care that is amongst the best in the world. Where we were in an emergency situation at the start of the pandemic, we have now moved to a stable position, and this month will have a four month stockpile of all COVID-critical PPE in place, with a tremendous contribution from United Kingdom manufacturers.

Amid unprecedented global pressures on supply chains, over 4.6 billion items of PPE have been delivered to frontline workers. This includes over 245 million items of PPE authorised for release to designated wholesalers for onward sale to adult social care providers, as well as over 203 million items to Local Resilience Forums and 21.5 million items to local authorities.

Guidance for commissioners and providers of accommodation services for vulnerable people is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-services-for-people-experiencing-rough-sleeping/covid-19-guidance-for-commissioners-and-providers-of-hostel-services-for-people-experiencing-homelessness-and-rough-sleeping

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, what assessment he has made of (a) recent trends in the level of covid-19 tests being undertaken in almshouse settings and (b) the effectiveness of such testing on improving the well-being of vulnerable people resident in those settings.

The Department recognise the importance of testing and the role a clear result plays in giving individuals assurance and the ability to make informed decisions. The Department is working with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure eligible individuals from vulnerable groups in a range of settings are able to access testing.

Thanks to the continuing increase in testing capacity, all symptomatic individuals in England and Wales and all symptomatic individuals aged five and over across the United Kingdom are eligible for a test for COVID-19.

The Department publishes daily figures including the number of COVID-19 tests undertaken but with the exception of whole care home testing, does not record the residence type of those tested.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the current availability of level 3 PPE in 24-hour mental health wards on the ability of frontline staff to do their job (a) safely and (b) effectively.

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

The NHS Supply Chain and Clipper Logistics supported by the Armed Forces, are working to push personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies to every NHS trust in England, expanding from 226 NHS trusts prior to the pandemic, to now 58,000 different providers.

On 28 April, we delivered over 21 million items of PPE across the health and social care system within England. This figure included 1.4 million masks.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of guidance from Public Health England which outlines that chest compressions and defibrillation are not considered aerosol generating procedures and the guidance from the Resuscitation Council UK to the contrary on the ability of care provider executives to safeguard staff; and if he will make a statement.

The United Kingdom’s Personal Protective Equipment guidance continues to recommend the highest level of protection for health and social care teams treating COVID-19 patients. It is crucial that everyone that needs it has access to the right protective equipment.

The Department’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) has recently reviewed the evidence and has maintained this position, stating that they do “not consider that the evidence supports chest compressions or defibrillation being procedures that are associated with a significantly increased risk of transmission of acute respiratory infections.”. Further information is available at the following link:

https://app.box.com/s/3lkcbxepqixkg4mv640dpvvg978ixjtf/file/657486851975

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (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 frontline staff on mental health wards are trained to use FFP3 masks safely.

Videos and training materials for the use of personal protective equipment, such as FFP3 masks, have been published on the GOV.UK site and can be found at the following link:

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

We are working with nursing, Medical Royal Colleges and the care provider industry bodies to ensure that frontline staff are aware of this guidance.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (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 increase the availability of FFP3 masks in 24-hour mental health wards during the covid-19 outbreak.

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

The NHS Supply Chain and Clipper Logistics supported by the Armed Forces, are working to push personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies to every NHS trust in England, expanding from 226 NHS trusts prior to the pandemic, to now 58,000 different providers.

On 28 April, we delivered over 21 million items of PPE across the health and social care system within England. This figure included 1.4 million masks.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (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 increase the number of FFP3 masks available in the social care sector.

In response to calls from a number of local resilience forums (LRFs), we extended our personal protective equipment (PPE) supply route to LRFs to help local government distribute stock to social care providers and other vital services where they have been unable to obtain PPE through their usual routes and have an urgent need.

On 28 April, we delivered over 21 million items of PPE across the health and social care system within England. This figure included 1.4 million masks; 3.3 million aprons; 27,000 gowns; and 14.5 million gloves.

Unprecedented efforts are being undertaken to replenish and distribute PPE to all service providers, to ensure demand is met and the right equipment reaches our frontline.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that deaths from covid-19 in care homes are accurately recorded.

On 29 April 2020 the Government introduced a new daily death reporting protocol which includes deaths that have occurred in all settings where there has been a positive COVID-19 test such as hospitals, care homes and the wider community. More information can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/daily-death-reporting-now-includes-all-positive-covid-19-deaths

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is also publishing stats from deaths registered in a given week, which include deaths outside hospital such as care homes. From 28 April 2020, the ONS will publish counts of deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes, based on reporting from care home operators to the Care Quality Commission. These figures will put deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes in proper context, alongside the ONS’s more comprehensive figures.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the Government's eligibility criteria are for covid-19 testing.

As we have moved from ‘contain’ and into the ‘delay’ phase of COVID-19, Public Health England, together with NHS England and the Department, has agreed we will need to prioritise testing for those most at risk of severe illness from the virus.

Most adults in good health who develop symptoms will fully recover, and the Chief Medical Officer has advised that we need to prioritise testing to those who have the greatest clinical need.

Tests will primarily be given to:

- all patients in critical care for pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or flu like illness;

- all other patients requiring admission to hospital for pneumonia, ARDS or flu like illness; and

- where an outbreak has occurred in a residential or care setting, for example long-term care facility prisons.

We are also seeking testing capacity to extend to National Health Service staff who are symptomatic.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that people volunteering to help people vulnerable to covid-19 do so safely.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the number of covid-19 testing kits it will require during the next eight weeks.

We plan to increase testing to 10,000 a day (up from 5,000 a day). Within four weeks, Public Health England and the National Health Service expect to be conducting 25,000 tests a day – and we will continue to increase testing capacity.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many covid-19 testing kits his Department currently has in stock.

United Kingdom supplies are adequate for projected domestic needs. The National Health Service will be given all the resources it needs to deal with this outbreak.

We plan to increase testing to 10,000 a day (up from 5,000 a day). Within four weeks, Public Health England and the NHS expect to be conducting 25,000 tests a day – and we will continue to increase testing capacity.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the UK leaving the UK on the (a) ability of and (b) speed with which testing kits for covid-19 can be imported.

We are not aware of any restrictions to the access to or delivery of COVID-19 testing kits relating to the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.

Following the UK’s departure from the EU on 31 January 2020, the UK has entered into a transition period until December 2020. Under this arrangement, the supply of medicines and medical products, including testing kits for COVID-19, should continue to flow as previously.

The Government is in negotiation with the EU regarding our future relationship and will work with companies over the coming months to ensure that they are well prepared for the end of the transition period. Following this process, medicines and medical products should continue to enter and exit the UK with minimal restrictions.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to support local authorities in training adult social care staff on reducing the spread of covid-19.

The Department is working closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, local authorities and providers to make sure the sector is prepared to reduce the risk of harm to people in receipt of adult social care.

The Department will be issuing updated guidance to councils and social care providers this week - which will also include advice on coping with staff sickness and visiting relatives in care homes.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the risk of social care workers who visit multiple social care recipients in one day spreading covid-19; and will he make a statement.

We have published guidance for schools, employers, first responders, social care and the travel industry on how to handle suspected cases of COVID-19, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public

Public Health England has also provided guidance for social care providers giving advice on how to help prevent the spread of illness and what they should do if potential cases do present. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to reduce the risk of harm from covid-19 to people in receipt of adult social care.

The Government has launched a new public information campaign to help the public understand the risks of the virus and how they can protect themselves.

Public Health England has outlined information on signs and symptoms of COVID-19 within the Guidance for social or community care and residential settings which is available to view at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-social-or-community-care-and-residential-settings-on-covid-19/guidance-for-social-or-community-care-and-residential-settings-on-covid-19#signs-and-symptoms-of-covid-19

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to help ensure that people administering adult social care are able to identify early stage symptoms of covid-19.

Public Health England has outlined information on signs and symptoms of COVID-19 within the ‘Guidance for social or community care and residential settings’ which is available to view at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-social-or-community-care-and-residential-settings-on-covid-19/guidance-for-social-or-community-care-and-residential-settings-on-covid-19#signs-and-symptoms-of-covid-19

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that continence products can be transported without interruption after the end of the transition period; and if he will make a statement.

Prior to the United Kingdom leaving the European Union on 31 January 2020, the Department analysed the supply chains of 12,300 medicines, close to half a million product lines of medical devices and clinical consumables, vaccines used in national and local programmes, and essential non-clinical goods on which the health and care system relies.

The Department has continued to work closely with the devolved administrations, suppliers, the National Health Service and other key stakeholders to ensure our supply contingency plans for 31 December 2020 will cover the NHS, social care and the independent sector and covers all medicines, medical devices, supplies for clinical trials, vaccines and countermeasures, organs and tissues for transplants, and clinical consumables - including continence pads.

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, whether the UK will participate in EU-led clinical trials for personalised medicines for the treatment of rare diseases.

The Department funds research into rare diseases through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The NIHR does not limit the type of research taking place in the United Kingdom and welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality.

Whether UK-based researchers participate in any particular clinical trial is a decision made by researchers themselves, depending on the subject matter of the proposed study and the expertise required to undertake the research.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the UK leaving the EU on the future success of clinical trials for personalised medicines for the treatment of rare diseases.

The United Kingdom is one of the best places in the world to undertake clinical trials due to our world-class regulatory environment, universal National Health Service, vibrant universities and our levels of investment in research from the Government, charities and the life sciences industry.

Now we have left the European Union, we will build on our thriving clinical trials ecosystem, including for personalised medicines and rare diseases. The newly introduced Medicines and Medical Devices Bill sets out a package of revolutionary measures to get cutting-edge, personalised treatment to patients as soon as possible, demonstrating the UK’s commitment to remain a world-leader in clinical trials and innovation. More information on the Bill can be found at the following link:

https://services.parliament.uk/Bills/2019-20/medicinesandmedicaldevices.html

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to monitor people returning to the UK from Italy for symptoms of covid-19.

Airports providing flights between Italy and the United Kingdom have displayed posters and provided leaflets on symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if a traveller becomes unwell. These are available in nine different languages.

Public Health England has created a poster about the current risk of travelling to Italy. This has been sent to UK airports, seaports and international train terminals to inform passengers about affected areas in Italy. COVID-19 materials are available at the following link:

https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/101/resources/4992

PHE advice on COVID-19 is updated regularly and can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department is (a) monitoring the temperature of, (b) distributing relevant literature to and (c) carrying out health checks on all those returning to the UK from countries with high numbers of confirmed cases of covid-19.

Public Health England (PHE) is not routinely carrying out health checks or monitoring the temperatures of passengers returning from countries with high numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

PHE is working closely with airlines and airport operators to ensure they have posters and leaflets reflecting the latest advice on COVID-19 to make sure passengers know what the symptoms are and what to do if they get them. As well as English, these materials are being provided in eight additional languages from affected areas to ensure this support and advice can be given to non-English speakers at airports. These materials are available at all international airports, ports and international train stations. The Department for Transport is responsible for ensuring the visibility of these materials.

In addition, enhanced monitoring is currently in place for all direct flights from areas affected outside of Europe which includes China, including Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Republic of South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

COVID-19 posters is available at the following link:

https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/101/resources/4992

General PHE advice on COVID-19 is updated regularly and can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing mandatory pre-school eye tests in England.

In June 2019, the United Kingdom National Screening Committee re-affirmed its recommendation that children should be offered orthoptic-led vision screening between four and five years of age. Vision defects looked for in the school age screening test includes amblyopia and refractive error. More information can be found at the following link:

https://legacyscreening.phe.org.uk/vision-child

Local authorities have responsibility for commissioning this as local screening services. Public Health England has made available guidance to support local authorities in commissioning such services. All children under the age of 16 are also entitled to free National Health Service sight tests from high street practices.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment has he made of the effect of the absence of mandatory pre-school eye tests on health inequality in the UK.

In June 2019, the United Kingdom National Screening Committee re-affirmed its recommendation that children should be offered orthoptic-led vision screening between four and five years of age. Vision defects looked for in the school age screening test includes amblyopia and refractive error. More information can be found at the following link:

https://legacyscreening.phe.org.uk/vision-child

Local authorities have responsibility for commissioning this as local screening services. Public Health England has made available guidance to support local authorities in commissioning such services. All children under the age of 16 are also entitled to free National Health Service sight tests from high street practices.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the (a) names and (b) positions of the members of the Excellence in Continence Care Board; and if he will make a statement on the remit of that Board.

The Chair of the Excellence in Continence Care Programme Board is Sue Doheny, Regional Chief Nurse, NHS England and NHS Improvement (South West). The board comprises representatives from the Royal College of Nursing and the NHS Supply Chain. It also contains patient advocates, relevant charitable organisations, lead nurses in the respective field and consultant urologists. We are unable to name individual board members due to data protection reasons.

The remit of the board is to oversee the development of evidence-based and patient-focussed care pathways and Commissioning Framework, provide leadership and direction, raise the profile of bladder and bowel health nationally, and provide oversight of the National Bowel and Bladder Health Project.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether it remains his policy that clinicians are able to prescribe whichever product on Part IX of the Drug Tariff is considered by the clinician to be most appropriate for a patient’s needs.

Decisions about policy on the provision of medical products available from Part IX of the Drug Tariff are a matter for local clinical commissioning groups and National Health Service trusts, taking account of the needs of their local populations and national guidance, e.g. ‘Items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care: Guidance for CCGs’ which was updated by NHS England and NHS Improvement and NHS Clinical Commissioners in June 2019. Clinicians are expected to prescribe products that meet their patients’ clinical needs taking account of local commissioning policies as appropriate.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that NHS staff are trained to provide adequate support to people with Tourette’s.

Individual National Health Service employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are trained and competent to carry out their roles safely and effectively.

To support NHS employers and their staff, Health Education England’s Programme e-Learning for Healthcare, also offers e-learning sessions which include content on Tourette’s Syndrome.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential effect of issuing NICE guidance on the diagnosis of Tourette’s in children on the adequacy of NHS staff support for those children.

NHS England and NHS Improvement is the lead commissioner of clinical guidelines from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and there are currently no plans to ask NICE to develop a guideline on the diagnosis of Tourette’s in children. As such no assessment has been made to look at the effect of potential NICE guidance on the adequacy of National Health Service staff support for children with Tourette’s syndrome.

Approaches to the management of Tourette’s syndrome in the NHS is well established and best practice guidance is available from the British Medical Journal.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will ensure that NICE issues guidance on the diagnosis of Tourette’s in children.

NHS England and NHS Improvement is the lead commissioner of clinical guidelines from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and there are currently no plans to ask NICE to develop a guideline on the diagnosis of Tourette’s in children. As such no assessment has been made to look at the effect of potential NICE guidance on the adequacy of National Health Service staff support for children with Tourette’s syndrome.

Approaches to the management of Tourette’s syndrome in the NHS is well established and best practice guidance is available from the British Medical Journal.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many times (a) he and (b) his Ministers have met the (i) chief dental officer, (ii) chief medical officer, (iii) chief nursing officer, (iv) chief scientific officer, (v) chief allied health professions officer and (vi) chief pharmaceutical officer in each of the last five years.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and his Ministerial team regularly engage with the Chief Medical Officer as well as the Chief Dental Officer, Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Scientific Officer, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer and Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at NHS England, as part of regular Departmental business.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Me