Steve McCabe Portrait

Steve McCabe

Labour - Birmingham, Selly Oak

Select Committees
Panel of Chairs (since January 2020)
Work and Pensions Committee (since March 2020)
Work and Pensions Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Panel of Chairs
22nd Jun 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Work and Pensions Committee
26th Oct 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Panel of Chairs
14th Oct 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Shadow Minister (Education)
7th Oct 2013 - 18th Sep 2015
Home Affairs Committee
12th Jul 2010 - 4th Nov 2013
Opposition Whip (Commons)
6th May 2010 - 1st Jul 2010
Lord Commissioner (HM Treasury) (Whip)
2nd Jul 2007 - 6th May 2010
Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)
5th May 2006 - 28th Jun 2007
Home Affairs Committee
12th Jul 2005 - 12th Jun 2006
House of Lords Reform (Joint Committee)
19th Jun 2002 - 5th May 2005
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee
9th Nov 1998 - 20th Oct 2003
Deregulation
29th Jul 1997 - 19th Mar 1999


Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 18th May 2022
09:00
Work and Pensions Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Universal Credit and Managed Migration
18 May 2022, 9 a.m.
At 9.30am: Oral evidence
Dominic Milne - Parliamentary Co-Chair Legal Rights Officer at Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
Rebecca Rennison - Principal Policy Manager for welfare policy at Citizens Advice
Fran Bennett - Associate Fellow, Dept of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford, member of policy advisory group, Women's Budget Group
Sophie Corlett - Director of External Relations at MIND
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Oral Question
Wednesday 18th May 2022
12:00
Cabinet Office
Oral Question No. 2
If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 18 May.
Department Event
Monday 6th June 2022
14:30
Department for Work and Pensions
Oral questions - Main Chamber
6 Jun 2022, 2:30 p.m.
Work and Pensions (including Topical Questions)
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Department Event
Monday 11th July 2022
14:30
Department for Work and Pensions
Oral questions - Main Chamber
11 Jul 2022, 2:30 p.m.
Work and Pensions (including Topical Questions)
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View calendar
Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Division Votes
Tuesday 17th May 2022
Tackling Short-term and Long-term Cost of Living Increases
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 172 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 248 Noes - 310
Speeches
Tuesday 17th May 2022
Oral Answers to Questions
T7. The Chancellor called the reduction in fuel duty in the spring statement “a tax cut…for hard-working families.”—[Official …
Written Answers
Wednesday 18th May 2022
No title given
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of …
Early Day Motions
Tuesday 24th November 2020
Short respite breaks for terminally ill children and their families
That this House recognises that short breaks for respite are a lifeline for terminally ill children and their families; notes …
Bills
Wednesday 18th November 2020
Supported Accommodation Bill 2019-21
A Bill to require developers to disclose for planning purposes an intention to use a building for supported housing or …
MP Financial Interests
Tuesday 19th April 2022
4. Visits outside the UK
Name of donor: (1) Labour Friends of Israel; (2) The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House
Address of donor: …
EDM signed
Wednesday 20th April 2022
Energy from waste
That this House notes the importance of sustainable energy production in tackling rising costs; recognises the adverse effects the rising …
Supported Legislation
Thursday 22nd October 2020
Marriage (Authorised Belief Organisations) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to amend the law on marriage to permit authorised belief organisations to solemnise marriages; and for connected purposes.

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Steve McCabe has voted in 318 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Steve McCabe 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
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(15 debate interactions)
Priti Patel (Conservative)
Home Secretary
(9 debate interactions)
Michael Gove (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
(9 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(34 debate contributions)
Home Office
(22 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Steve McCabe's debates

Birmingham, Selly Oak 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 highest Birmingham, Selly Oak signature proportion
Petitions with most Birmingham, Selly Oak signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

Recognise the state of Palestine to help stop the conflict from Israel. Not recognising the Palestinian state allows Israel to continue their persecution of the Palestinians.

The Government should introduce sanctions against Israel, including blocking all trade, and in particular arms.


Latest EDMs signed by Steve McCabe

19th April 2022
Steve McCabe signed this EDM on Wednesday 20th April 2022

Energy from waste

Tabled by: Barry Sheerman (Labour (Co-op) - Huddersfield)
That this House notes the importance of sustainable energy production in tackling rising costs; recognises the adverse effects the rising costs of energy will have on household disposable income and the cost of living; acknowledges the need for pathways to sustainable energy production in communities; believes that energy from waste …
17 signatures
(Most recent: 10 May 2022)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 12
Liberal Democrat: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
Independent: 1
12th May 2021
Steve McCabe signed this EDM on Wednesday 20th April 2022

Giving every child the best start in life

Tabled by: Wera Hobhouse (Liberal Democrat - Bath)
That this House notes the work of WAVE Trust and its 70/30 campaign to reduce levels of child abuse, neglect and domestic abuse by 70 per cent by 2030; further notes that over two-thirds of this House have endorsed that campaign, including a majority from all parties; recognises the role …
151 signatures
(Most recent: 26 Apr 2022)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 62
Scottish National Party: 45
Conservative: 15
Liberal Democrat: 12
Democratic Unionist Party: 7
Independent: 4
Plaid Cymru: 3
Alba Party: 2
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Alliance: 1
View All Steve McCabe's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Steve McCabe, 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.


Steve McCabe has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Steve McCabe has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

5 Bills introduced by Steve McCabe


A Bill to make provision about guidance to local authorities on when to take enforcement action for breaches of planning law; to clarify guidance on the scope of permitted development rights; to make provision about rights and entitlements, including of appeal, for people whose homes are affected by such breaches; to make provision for the inspection and regulation of building under the permitted development regime; to establish financial penalties for developers who breach planning law in certain circumstances; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Friday 25th November 2016
(Read Debate)

A Bill to require developers to disclose for planning purposes an intention to use a building for supported housing or other accommodation that is specified for the purposes of Universal Credit and Housing Benefit; to establish a suitability test for accommodation proposed for such use; to make provision about the fitness of persons to be landlords or managers of supported or other specified accommodation; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Wednesday 18th November 2020
(Read Debate)

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to make provision about access to NHS fertility services, including equality of access to such services across England; to make provision about pricing of such services; to provide for a minimum number of fertility treatments to be available to women on the basis of their age; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 18th April 2018
(Read Debate)

A Bill to make provision about guidance to local authorities on when to take enforcement action for breaches of planning law; to clarify guidance on the scope of permitted development rights; to make provision about rights and entitlements, including of appeal, for people whose homes are affected by such breaches; to make provision for the inspection and regulation of building under the permitted development regime; to establish financial penalties for developers who breach planning law in certain circumstances; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 24th November 2015

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to establish a programme to provide training and employment opportunities for unemployed young people between the ages of 16 and 25; to establish a comprehensive careers guidance service for young people seeking to enter the job market; to enable Apprenticeship Training Agencies to assist small businesses in employing apprentices; to provide small businesses with a National Insurance contributions holiday; to make provision for grants towards the wage costs of apprentices employed by small businesses; to make provision for a mechanism through which banks and other providers of financial services are required to allocate part of their bonus payment budget to support these measures; and for connected purposes


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 13th July 2011

478 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
10 Other Department Questions
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, how many applications to the Homes for Ukraine scheme from people in Birmingham her Department has (a) received and (b) approved as of 6 April 2022.

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

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department has taken to ensure appropriate vetting and safeguarding measures are in place during the matching process of the Homes for Ukraine Scheme to protect lone female refugees from exploitation.

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

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
25th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Levelling UP, Housing and Communities, how people who have applied for the Homes for Ukraine scheme can monitor the progress of that process.

I refer the Hon Member to the answers given to PQ UIN 145857 on 28 March 2022 and PQ UIN 144955 on 29 March 2022, which include links to published guidance and information at Gov.uk.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
25th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to ensure Homes for Ukraine Visa applications are not adversely affected by delays in DBS checking.

I refer the Hon Member to the answers given to PQ UIN 145857 on 28 March 2022 and PQ UIN 144955 on 29 March 2022, which include links to published guidance and information at Gov.uk.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
25th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether an enhanced DBS check is required prior to paperwork being issued for a Homes for Ukraine Visa application.

I refer the Hon Member to the answers given to PQ UIN 145857 on 28 March 2022 and PQ UIN 144955 on 29 March 2022, which include links to published guidance and information at Gov.uk.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
16th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what support his Department has made available to local authorities in connection with the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

I refer the Hon Member to the guidance for local authorities available online at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/homes-for-ukraine-guidance-for-councils.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
15th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if his Department will make provisions to enable Homes for Ukraine applications to be made by (a) post or (b) by phone to allow those people to register who do not have access to the internet.

The Department will consider whether to enable sponsors for Homes for Ukraine applications to be made by post or phone for those who do not have access to the internet.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he will take to prevent leasehold homeowners from being overcharged for the maintenance of their property.

The Government believes very strongly that service charges should be transparent and communicated effectively. The law is clear that service charges and any increase in costs must be reasonable and, where costs relate to work or services, the work or services must be of a reasonable standard. The Government believes that there should be a clear route to challenge or redress if things go wrong.

Leaseholders may make an application to the First-tier Tribunal for it to make a determination on the reasonableness of their service charges, and may continue to do so even if the freeholder is in administration. Leaseholders may also apply for an Order to the First-tier Tribunal under Section 24 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 if they consider that there are significant management failures.

We established an independent working group chaired by Lord Best to raise standards across the property sector, which also considered improvements to the transparency of service charges. The working group published its final report to Government (available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulation-of-property-agents-working-group-report and we are considering the report’s recommendations.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, how much of the levelling up fund is specifically earmarked for improving Birmingham’s bus network.

The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund invests in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets.

Successful applicants to the first round of the Levelling Up Fund were announced alongside the 2021 Spending Review. Birmingham City Council was awarded over £52 million in funding across three projects, including £19.94 million for the ‘Dudley Road’ project.

This bid focuses on major highways improvements around Birmingham City Centre to improve transport accessibility into the city. This includes the provision of bus priority measures, which will improve bus journey times into and out of the city.

Further funding opportunities will be available through a second round of the Levelling Up Fund, which will open in spring 2022. More information on this will be available in due course

The West Midlands Combined Authority also received £1 billion in funding from the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement to improve the regions tram, train, bus and cycle networks.

Neil O'Brien
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 8 June 2020 to Question 54003, when he plans to review the restrictions imposed as a result of the covid-19 outbreak on weddings taking place to allow for small weddings to take place with social distancing.

The Government understands the huge significance of weddings. We recognise that because weddings have not been able to take place in recent months this has caused difficulty and distress for many people. As set out in the Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, published in May, the Government has been examining how to enable people to gather in slightly larger groups better to facilitate small weddings. We have worked closely with faith leaders and local government on how best to achieve this. The Prime Minister announced on 23 June that wedding and civil partnership ceremonies will be able to take place in England from 4 July. People should avoid having a large ceremony, and should invite no more than thirty family and friends. Venues should ensure they are COVID-19 secure.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential effect of the absence of an opt-out mechanism for the Energy Bills Rebate scheme on residents in Birmingham, Selly Oak constituency.

The Energy Bills Support Scheme, as announced by my rt. hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer on 3 February, is currently the subject of a Government consultation issued on 11 April.

The implementation of the policy will be reviewed following the conclusion of the consultation. Allowing consumers to opt out of receiving the reduction on their bills would likely increase the administrative costs of the scheme. This applies equally to the constituents of Birmingham, Selly Oak.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a statutory entitlement to paid leave for carers.

The 2019 manifesto committed to introduce one week of leave for unpaid carers. The Government consulted on proposals to deliver this commitment in 2020. The Government response to this consultation confirmed that Carer’s Leave will be a day 1 right, available to all employees who are providing care for a dependant with a long-term care need. Eligible employees will be entitled to 5 days of unpaid leave per year, which will be available to take flexibly in individual or half days.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he has taken to help ensure that rising energy prices will not negatively impact the Government's green energy commitments.

The rise in energy costs has been precipitated by unprecedented conditions in global energy markets. The Government recognises that the best protection from the volatility in global fossil fuel prices is to produce more renewable and low carbon energy.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to help ensure that lower income households are financially supported in the (a) purchase and (b) installation of green home upgrades.

In the Heat and Buildings Strategy, the Government set out comprehensive measures to retrofit the nation’s buildings. More than £3.9 billion of new funding for decarbonising heat and buildings has been announced, bringing the total commitment in this Parliament to £6.6billion.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the impact of lifting the energy price cap on households in Birmingham.

The Energy Price Cap continues to protect households, ensuring they pay a fair price for their energy. We have been clear that the Price Cap will remain in place. The setting of the level of the Energy Price Cap is a matter for Ofgem.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when the Government plans to enable the beauty industry to resume facial treatments as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

As set out in my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s announcement on 17 July, close contact services including treatments to the face are allowed to resume as of 1 August, as long as they operate in a COVID-secure way.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 9 June 2020 to Question 51571 on Industrial Health and Safety: Coronavirus, whether the easing of covid-19 lockdown restrictions will affect the right of clinically vulnerable people to access (a) the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and (b) other support in the event that their employer cannot provide a safe working environment.

As stated in the answer I gave the Hon. Member on 9 June 2020 to Question 51571, employees who are vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, as well as individuals whom they live with, should be supported by their employers as they follow the required social distancing and shielding measures.

Employers have a legal duty to make sure the workplace is safe for their employees and should consider whether a person has a disability or is clinically vulnerable in their risk assessment. Employers must also consider reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities. In the first instance, employers should support clinically vulnerable employees in working from home, including moving them to another role if required. Where it is not possible to work from home, employers should provide the safest onsite roles available to enable them to follow social distancing measures.

If an employer is unable to provide a safe working environment, clinically vulnerable employees can still access a range of government packages including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (for employees who have already been furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June) and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. This support will build on the £1bn announced at Budget to support the financial security of vulnerable people, through a half billion boost to the welfare system, and a half billion-pound Hardship Fund for Local Authorities.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the guidance published by the Government on 11 May 2020 which stated that workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open, whether employees who are clinically vulnerable have the right to request (a) reasonable adjustments to and (b) social distancing measures in their workplace during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has stated that vulnerable people who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) need to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. Members of staff who are vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, as well as individuals whom they live with, should be supported by their employers as they follow the required social distancing and shielding measures.

It is critical that employers offer safe workplaces. The Government has published guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These guides cover a range of working environments and are available at www.gov.uk/workingsafely.

This guidance does not replace health and safety or equalities legislation, it provides information to employers on how best to meet these responsibilities in the context of COVID-19.

Employees have a legal duty to make sure the workplace is safe for their employees; this includes reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities and those who are clinically vulnerable.

If employers cannot provide a safe working environment for clinically vulnerable employees or those with disabilities, and no other options are suitable, they may consider using the Job Retention Scheme.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when the Government plans to bring forward legislative proposals to introduce an entitlement to leave for unpaid carers.

This Government is determined to make Britain the best place in the world to work. As announced in the Queens’ Speech, we will be bringing forward an Employment Rights Bill to deliver the greatest reform of workers’ rights in over 20 years. This will include measures to introduce an entitlement to leave for unpaid carers.

The Government’s proposal is to introduce a week of unpaid Carer’s Leave. This will be in addition to existing employment rights, such as the right to request flexible working, annual leave and the right to time off for family and dependants which help employees balance work with caring responsibilities. In taking this forward, the Department will continue to engage widely to understand how carers’ needs can best be met.

28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 13 June 2019 to Question 262229 on Compassionate Leave, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of introducing statutory long-term leave for unpaid carers alongside the planned introduction of one weeks' additional leave.

This Government is determined to make Britain the best place in the world to work. As announced in the Queens’ Speech, we will be bringing forward an Employment Rights Bill to deliver the greatest reform of workers’ rights in over 20 years. This will include measures to introduce an entitlement to leave for unpaid carers.

The Government’s proposal is to introduce a week of unpaid Carer’s Leave. This will be in addition to existing employment rights, such as the right to request flexible working, annual leave and the right to time off for family and dependants which help employees balance work with caring responsibilities. In taking this forward, the Department will continue to engage widely to understand how carers’ needs can best be met.

28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government’s plans to extend the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers to one week will be in the form of paid leave.

This Government is determined to make Britain the best place in the world to work. As announced in the Queens’ Speech, we will be bringing forward an Employment Rights Bill to deliver the greatest reform of workers’ rights in over 20 years. This will include measures to introduce an entitlement to leave for unpaid carers.

The Government’s proposal is to introduce a week of unpaid Carer’s Leave. This will be in addition to existing employment rights, such as the right to request flexible working, annual leave and the right to time off for family and dependants which help employees balance work with caring responsibilities. In taking this forward, the Department will continue to engage widely to understand how carers’ needs can best be met.

27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 22 January 2020 to Question 4707, when the Office for Product Safety and Standards will publish the findings of its fact-based evidence base on the key issues that have been raised around 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 review new and emerging data and will report in due course.

17th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Answer to Question 119263 of 18 December 2017 on Fireworks: Antisocial Behaviour, to Question 119263, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of strengthening existing regulations on the (a) supply, (b) storage, (c) possession and (d) use of fireworks.

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 any further action is appropriate.

11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans she has to help increase access to ultrafast full fibre broadband in Birmingham.

Thanks to the government's work to promote competition and investment and bust barriers in the UK telecoms market, over 93% premises in Birmingham can now access the fastest gigabit-capable networks.

The commercial rollout is continuing at record pace, and for those premises where private sector deployment is not viable without subsidy, our £5bn Project Gigabit will contribute to nationwide coverage, with Birmingham and the Black Country set to benefit in phase 3 of the programme.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many homes have access to ultrafast full fibre broadband in Birmingham.

Thanks to the government's work to promote competition and investment and bust barriers in the UK telecoms market, over 93% premises in Birmingham can now access the fastest gigabit-capable networks.

The commercial rollout is continuing at record pace, and for those premises where private sector deployment is not viable without subsidy, our £5bn Project Gigabit will contribute to nationwide coverage, with Birmingham and the Black Country set to benefit in phase 3 of the programme.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of household's access to ultrafast full fibre broadband in Birmingham.

Thanks to the government's work to promote competition and investment and bust barriers in the UK telecoms market, over 93% premises in Birmingham can now access the fastest gigabit-capable networks.

The commercial rollout is continuing at record pace, and for those premises where private sector deployment is not viable without subsidy, our £5bn Project Gigabit will contribute to nationwide coverage, with Birmingham and the Black Country set to benefit in phase 3 of the programme.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the ability of Channel 4 to compete with Netflix and Amazon following the privatisation of that station.

The arrival in the UK of global media and streaming groups means that Channel 4, as with other public service broadcasters (PSBs), faces growing competition for audiences, programmes and talent from new global groups with greater spending power. Netflix, for example, spent £779m on UK original productions in 2020, over two times more than Channel 4.

Channel 4 and these global streamers are necessarily different, but the markets Channel 4 operates within have been radically changed by the arrival of such competitors, and Channel 4 will need different tools to succeed in the future.

Under its current ownership model, Channel 4 has limited ability to borrow money or raise private sector capital by issuing shares. The current setup also effectively stops Channel 4 from making its own content. This means Channel 4 is heavily reliant on advertising revenues which are cyclical and also moving to digital platforms - linear TV ad revenues fell 31% from 2015 to 2020.

Private ownership could allow Channel 4 to diversify its revenue through greater access to capital and an ability to make and own content. This would drive investment at greater pace into content and technology, allowing it to compete more effectively with the likes of Netflix and Amazon without losing what makes Channel 4 so distinctive. The required investment to do this at scale and pace is best provided under private ownership, rather than leaving taxpayers exposed to the associated risk under public ownership.

The Government will set out the future of Channel 4 in a White Paper shortly.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of the potential impact of the privatisation of Channel 4 on his policies on levelling up in the context of that station’s employment scheme for disadvantaged people living outside London and the relocation of its headquarters to Leeds.

The Government values Channel 4’s work in developing skills and talent pipelines, particularly in the nations and regions, through schemes like 4Skills. The Government would expect any new owner to have a business interest in continuing to support the development of talent and skills across the UK creative industries.

The Government will set out the future plan for Channel 4 in a White Paper shortly.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether she plans to include legislative proposals for the full implementation of the Fan Led Review of Football Governance in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

The Government has endorsed the principle that football requires a strong, independent regulator to secure the future of our national game. We are working at pace to consider the recommendations of the Fan Led Review, and determine the most effective way to deliver an independent regulator. The response to the review, including next steps, will be issued in the coming weeks.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 20 December 2021 to Question 108456, on Football: Accountability, whether the Government has made an assessment of the adequacy of the current ownership and governance of Birmingham City Football Club.

The Government does not assess the ownership or governance arrangements of individual football clubs, but we recognise that they have unique social value and it is vital that they are protected.

The final report of the Fan Led Review of Football Governance is a thorough and detailed examination of the challenges faced by English football now and in the future. The Government welcomes the findings of the review and has endorsed in principle the primary recommendation of the review, that football requires a strong, independent regulator to secure the future of our national game.

The Government is currently considering the detail of all the recommendations, including those made on a new Owners’ and Directors’ test and corporate governance, and is working at pace to determine the most effective way to deliver an independent regulator, and any powers that might be needed.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans ​she has to help ensure greater accountability to football fans in relation to decisions made by the English Football League.

The Government understands the need for fans to have a say in football. That is why we have welcomed the Independent Fan Led Review of Football Governance and have endorsed in principle the primary recommendation of the review, that football requires a strong, independent regulator to secure the future of our national game.

The Government is working at pace to review the report in full, including detailed consideration of the recommendations made on improving fan engagement and accountability across the game.

The Government will continue to engage with stakeholders as we work towards issuing a full response to the report in the Spring.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to provide financial support to (a) smaller and (b) independent media organisations during the covid-19 outbreak.

Small and independent media organisations provide a vital service - supplying information about local public affairs, holding decision-makers to account, and helping to ensure the healthy plurality of our media.

It has been a priority for the government to support such organisations during this crisis, including local newspapers and commercial and community radio. In terms of financial support, the government brought forward the zero-rating of VAT on e-newspapers to May 2020 and we have also brokered significant support from the transmission operator, Arqiva, for small local commercial radio stations. We have also made available a small grant scheme for commercial stations that do not use Arqiva’s networks. In addition to these financial support measures, some media organisations have benefitted from government advertising campaigns, which is designed to deliver important messages to UK citizens on coronavirus. Over 100 independent newspaper titles are included in the partnership, and the majority of expenditure, 60%, is allocated to regional, local and BAME titles. Government messaging has also been delivered through a targeted partnership with small commercial and community radio stations serving BAME communities.

In addition, small and independent media organisations may have been able to receive support from wider government measures, such as the job-retention scheme which the Government has extended until the end of March 2021.

We continue to work closely with stakeholders from across the media landscape regarding the ways in which the Government can support them through the current crisis and beyond.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what measures are in place to ensure that operators are required to remove redundant mobile and telecommunications equipment.

The Electronic Communications Code regulates the installation and maintenance of telecommunications equipment on public and private land. Under the Code, landowners can require the removal of telecoms equipment for a range of reasons - including where the equipment is no longer in use - by giving notice to operators. Where necessary, the court may enforce these rights by ordering operators to remove their equipment and restore the land to its original condition.

In addition, the Ofcom Code of Practice for the Electronic Communications Code requires operators to ensure that sites that are no longer required (i.e. redundant) are decommissioned within a reasonable time period. As it may be preferable to leave some telecoms equipment safely in place, such as underground ducts and cables, operators are advised to discuss decommissioning proposals with landowners.

When a landowner requests that the operator remove redundant equipment, operators should respond within a reasonable time, either by agreeing when the apparatus will be made safe or removed, or by explaining that the equipment will still be needed.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what information his Department holds on the reasons why operators cluster mobile and cellular network equipment at the same locations.

A key factor that explains why mobile network operators cluster mobile and cellular network equipment at the same locations is their need to take advantage of specific locations that provide optimum mobile coverage and capacity to their customers.

A number of other factors also influence mobile network operators’ decision making. Planning considerations are important because where a local planning authority has already granted permission for telecommunications infrastructure to be built at a specific location for one operator, it is much easier for new operators to deploy there too. In doing so it also reduces the environmental impact of numerous sites in an area. In addition, where a wayleave agreement for backhaul transmission and site access has already been granted, or power supply to a site installed, incremental costs and associated barriers for new operators to use this site will likely be reduced.

The Government supports the view that the mobile network operators, wherever viable, should share mobile sites and network infrastructure, such as masts and antennas, as this can make the deployment of mobile networks more cost effective, minimise the number of masts needed and, in doing so, help to minimise any environmental impact.

Industry already has extensive mast sharing arrangements in place that cover many sites. Vodafone and O2 have a mast sharing agreement for which they founded a joint venture called Cornerstone Telecommunications, while EE and Three also have a similar agreement in place through their joint venture, Mobile Broadband Network Limited.

While a site might be the optimum location for multiple mobile network operators to ensure that their radio networks deliver the best service for their customers, it is not, however, always possible to share infrastructure or equipment at a specific site. An operator may need to build a second site at a shared location to handle increased capacity demand for example.

Site sharing will be essential to the delivery of the Shared Rural Network Programme which will deliver 95% 4G coverage across the whole of the UK by the end of 2025.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of a high concentration of 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G equipment, including 20 metre masts on residential areas.

The effects of installation of electronic communications equipment and infrastructure in residential areas are considered by local authority planning processes. DCMS does not have responsibility for undertaking these assessments.

Local planning processes take into account or otherwise reflect relevant domestic and international health and safety standards. They also take into account impacts on the environment and communities.

In the UK, planning is a devolved matter under each of the devolution settlements. Further information about the specific planning regimes applicable in each of the devolved administrations can be obtained from those administrations if required.

There is no credible evidence of any negative health effects from the additional deployment of 5G equipment. Overall exposure levels are expected to remain well within international guidelines.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the average life lifespan is of (a) 2G, 3G and 4G equipment and (b) masts.

The average lifespan for 2G, 3G and 4G equipment is typically eight years, with the lifespan of masts typically at least 20 years. Lifespans can, however, often last far longer as equipment parts are regularly upgraded and expanded depending on coverage and capacity needs, including upgrades to deliver a change from one generation of mobile technology to another, and as masts are inspected each year on health and safety grounds to ensure they continue to be fit for purpose.

27th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to prevent nuisance telephone callers making unwanted calls after a telephone number is registered with the Telephone Preference Service.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) impose strict obligations on organisations that make direct marketing calls to individuals in the UK. Organisations must not call a number that has been registered on the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) list. For calls relating to pensions and personal injury claims, calls must not be made at all unless the consumer has provided his or her consent.

The Information Commissioner is responsible for enforcing PECR and publishes details of the actions it has taken for breaches of the legislation on its website:

https://ico.org.uk/action-weve-taken/nuisance-calls-and-messages/

We are committed to reducing the level of nuisance calls and continue to work with industry and regulators to identify further steps to tackle the problem. For example, we have been working with National Trading Standards to supply call blocking devices to some of the most vulnerable in society.

12th Feb 2020
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he holds information on how much and what proportion of the BBC licence fee was spent in the last year on multiple letters to households suspected of requiring a licence.

The BBC’s Annual Report shows that spent £103m on TV licence collection in 2018/19.

However, the Government does not hold information on the costs of the BBC’s enforcement methods. The BBC and TV Licensing may hold this information.

20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the UCL Institute of Education report, entitled School break and lunch times and young people's social lives: A follow-up national study, published May 2019, what assessment he has made of the possible adverse impact on children’s mental wellbeing of the declining opportunity for play whilst attending school.

The department has not made a specific assessment related to play in schools, but the government is clear about the importance of play to children and young people.

The department recognises the important role lunchtime play and activities have in providing enriching activities which support children’s physical and mental health, as well as the development of skills and attitudes which promote their wellbeing. It can provide children with an opportunity to connect with peers, develop friendships, and be physically active, all of which may contribute to a range of outcomes including enjoyment of school, social development and learning.

The department considers supporting access to play as part of what nurseries, schools and colleges can do to support the mental wellbeing and physical, social and emotional development of children and young people. We work closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department of Health and Social Care counterparts on how that links into wider provision, opportunities and support for children and families.

We think it is right that decisions on how to structure a school day, including ensuring opportunities for children to engage in play, should be made by schools. However, as set out in the department’s recently published Schools White Paper, we have set a minimum expectation on the length of the school week of 32.5 hours for all mainstream state-funded schools. This will provide pupils with increased opportunities for learning, socialisation with peers and enrichment activities including chance to play.

Under Ofsted’s inspection framework, which took effect in September 2019, inspectors will look at how the curriculum is implemented through teaching and the wider experience of pupils in school. In the early years of education, Ofsted would expect play to be part of this. Inspectors would want to look at how the wide spectrum of play develops children’s communication skills, and demonstrates how behaviour is taught and managed, and how staff identity what a child needs to learn and how to learn it, either through explicit teaching or through play. When staff are clear on what children already know and can do, and what their next steps are, they can decide effectively on the teaching activities, including play, that will help children progress. Play should not, however, be evaluated separately, but as part of the curriculum, underling its role in supporting and embedding learning.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the (a) extent to and (b) method by which the impact of the covid-19 outbreak has been factored in by OFSTED when conducting schools inspections.

These are matters for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman. I have asked her to write to you directly and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many schools in Birmingham inspected between March 2020 and March 2022 were rated as inadequate by OFSTED.

These are matters for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman. I have asked her to write to you directly and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many schools inspected between March 2020 and March 2022 were rated as inadequate by OFTSED.

These are matters for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman. I have asked her to write to you directly and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of mandating that schools increase ringfenced time for pupils to play at school to support their cognitive, physical and emotional development.

The department has not made a specific assessment related to play in schools, but the government is clear about the importance of play to children and young people.

The department recognises the important role lunchtime play and activities have in providing enriching activities which support children’s physical and mental health, as well as the development of skills and attitudes which promote their wellbeing. It can provide children with an opportunity to connect with peers, develop friendships, and be physically active, all of which may contribute to a range of outcomes including enjoyment of school, social development and learning.

The department considers supporting access to play as part of what nurseries, schools and colleges can do to support the mental wellbeing and physical, social and emotional development of children and young people. We work closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department of Health and Social Care counterparts on how that links into wider provision, opportunities and support for children and families.

We think it is right that decisions on how to structure a school day, including ensuring opportunities for children to engage in play, should be made by schools. However, as set out in the department’s recently published Schools White Paper, we have set a minimum expectation on the length of the school week of 32.5 hours for all mainstream state-funded schools. This will provide pupils with increased opportunities for learning, socialisation with peers and enrichment activities including chance to play.

Under Ofsted’s inspection framework, which took effect in September 2019, inspectors will look at how the curriculum is implemented through teaching and the wider experience of pupils in school. In the early years of education, Ofsted would expect play to be part of this. Inspectors would want to look at how the wide spectrum of play develops children’s communication skills, and demonstrates how behaviour is taught and managed, and how staff identity what a child needs to learn and how to learn it, either through explicit teaching or through play. When staff are clear on what children already know and can do, and what their next steps are, they can decide effectively on the teaching activities, including play, that will help children progress. Play should not, however, be evaluated separately, but as part of the curriculum, underling its role in supporting and embedding learning.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's research paper entitled Infographics for GCSEs, 2021, published on 12 August 2021, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the data showing that 63.8 per cent of pupils in the West Midlands achieved grades 4 or C and above in 2019 while 70.6 per cent of pupils in London achieved those grades that year.

Between 2011 and 2019, the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers narrowed 13% at key stage 2 and 9% at key stage 4. However, the department is aware that even before the pandemic there was still further to go. The department recognises the attainment gap that persists between vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils compared to their peers. The Schools White Paper sets out the department’s long-term vision for a school system that helps every child to fulfil their potential by ensuring that they receive the right support, in the right place, at the right time – founded on achieving world-class literacy and numeracy.

The Schools White Paper sets out two ambitions for 2030:

  • 90% of primary school children will achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, and the percentage of children meeting the expected standard in the worst performing areas will have increased by a third.
  • In secondary schools, the national GCSE average grade in both English language and in maths will increase from 4.5 in 2019 to 5 by 2030.


The department aims to build capacity where it is needed most, and the government’s Levelling Up White Paper identified 55 Education Investment Areas (EIAs), where efforts will focus on driving school improvement. This includes building trust capacity, using part of the £86 million the department has committed to investing in trust capacity over the next three years. Additionally, schools in EIAs that have been judged less than Good in two or more successive Ofsted inspections could be moved into strong trusts to help drive up standards. The department is currently consulting on plans to support schools not making necessary improvements. Additionally, the Levelling Up premium, worth up to £3,000 tax-free for eligible teachers working in disadvantaged schools, including in EIAs, will be used to tackle staffing issues. EIAs include one-third of local authorities in England where educational attainment is currently weakest, and there are five EIAs in the West Midlands.

More recently, in the Schools White Paper, the department announced a subset of 24 Priority EIAs, where more intensive investment and support will be provided to address entrenched underperformance. This includes Sandwell, Stoke-on-Trent, and Walsall which were selected due to particularly low attainment and high rates of disadvantage. Priority EIAs will have access to a share of approximately £40 million to address specific local needs with bespoke interventions, a multi academy trust CEO development programme and comprehensive support for digital connectivity through Connect the Classroom. They will also have priority access to other Department for Education programmes, such as bids for new free schools.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department plans to provide to schools in the West Midlands to help close the GCSE attainment gap with London as part of the Government white paper, Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child.

Between 2011 and 2019, the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers narrowed 13% at key stage 2 and 9% at key stage 4. However, the department is aware that even before the pandemic there was still further to go. The department recognises the attainment gap that persists between vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils compared to their peers. The Schools White Paper sets out the department’s long-term vision for a school system that helps every child to fulfil their potential by ensuring that they receive the right support, in the right place, at the right time – founded on achieving world-class literacy and numeracy.

The Schools White Paper sets out two ambitions for 2030:

  • 90% of primary school children will achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, and the percentage of children meeting the expected standard in the worst performing areas will have increased by a third.
  • In secondary schools, the national GCSE average grade in both English language and in maths will increase from 4.5 in 2019 to 5 by 2030.


The department aims to build capacity where it is needed most, and the government’s Levelling Up White Paper identified 55 Education Investment Areas (EIAs), where efforts will focus on driving school improvement. This includes building trust capacity, using part of the £86 million the department has committed to investing in trust capacity over the next three years. Additionally, schools in EIAs that have been judged less than Good in two or more successive Ofsted inspections could be moved into strong trusts to help drive up standards. The department is currently consulting on plans to support schools not making necessary improvements. Additionally, the Levelling Up premium, worth up to £3,000 tax-free for eligible teachers working in disadvantaged schools, including in EIAs, will be used to tackle staffing issues. EIAs include one-third of local authorities in England where educational attainment is currently weakest, and there are five EIAs in the West Midlands.

More recently, in the Schools White Paper, the department announced a subset of 24 Priority EIAs, where more intensive investment and support will be provided to address entrenched underperformance. This includes Sandwell, Stoke-on-Trent, and Walsall which were selected due to particularly low attainment and high rates of disadvantage. Priority EIAs will have access to a share of approximately £40 million to address specific local needs with bespoke interventions, a multi academy trust CEO development programme and comprehensive support for digital connectivity through Connect the Classroom. They will also have priority access to other Department for Education programmes, such as bids for new free schools.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the implications of projected increases in student loan interest rates exceeding that paid by homeowners on mortgages.

The mechanism for setting student loan interest rates is set out in legislation. The interest rate for Plan 2 and Plan 3 loans are set annually with reference to the Retail Price Index (RPI) from the previous March. The rates take effect from 1 September.

The March RPI figure this year is a demonstration of the unusual events currently affecting all aspects of the economy and our society. The government has not yet made a decision on what interest rates will be applied to student loans from September. We will be considering all options over the coming months and will confirm in due course the rates to apply from 1 September.

Student loans remove financial barriers to higher education (HE). Unlike commercial alternatives, student loans are available to all eligible students, regardless of background or financial history. Student loans offer unique protections to borrowers. Monthly repayments are calculated as a fixed percentage of earnings above the relevant repayment threshold and do not change based on interest rates or the amount borrowed. If income is below the relevant repayment threshold, or a borrower is not earning, then they do not have to make repayments at all. Any outstanding debt, including interest accrued, is written off after the loan term ends (or in case of death or disability) at no detriment to the borrower. There are no commercial loans that offer this level of protection.

Interest rates affect lifetime repayments only for those who will repay their loans in full within the loan term (or who come very close to doing so), principally high earners and/or those with small loan balances. Currently, only 23% of borrowers who enter full-time higher education next year are forecast to repay their loans in full.

To further protect borrowers the government, by law, must cap maximum student loan rates to ensure the interest rate charged on the loan is in line with market rates for comparable unsecured personal loans. The government monitors student loan rates against the Bank of England’s data series for the effective interest rates on new and existing unsecured personal loans. It is misleading to compare student loan interest rates to rates for mortgages or other loans secured against assets.

We are determined that the cost of living should not deter those from less advantaged backgrounds from applying to and thriving at university a record number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds were accepted onto HE courses in 2021. Students can also benefit from many of the measures this government has taken to help with the cost of living, including raising the National Minimum Wage, reducing VAT, freezing alcohol and fuel duty, the Energy Rebate Scheme and capping the cost of energy.

We announced in February that we will be reducing interest rates for new borrowers and so from the 2023/24 academic year, new graduates will not, in real terms, repay more than they borrow. Alongside our wider reforms, this will help to make sure that students from all walks of life can continue to receive the highest-quality education from our world-leading HE sector.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of levels of interest on student loans on levels of enrolment at universities.

The mechanism for setting student loan interest rates is set out in legislation. The interest rate for Plan 2 and Plan 3 loans are set annually with reference to the Retail Price Index (RPI) from the previous March. The rates take effect from 1 September.

The March RPI figure this year is a demonstration of the unusual events currently affecting all aspects of the economy and our society. The government has not yet made a decision on what interest rates will be applied to student loans from September. We will be considering all options over the coming months and will confirm in due course the rates to apply from 1 September.

Student loans remove financial barriers to higher education (HE). Unlike commercial alternatives, student loans are available to all eligible students, regardless of background or financial history. Student loans offer unique protections to borrowers. Monthly repayments are calculated as a fixed percentage of earnings above the relevant repayment threshold and do not change based on interest rates or the amount borrowed. If income is below the relevant repayment threshold, or a borrower is not earning, then they do not have to make repayments at all. Any outstanding debt, including interest accrued, is written off after the loan term ends (or in case of death or disability) at no detriment to the borrower. There are no commercial loans that offer this level of protection.

Interest rates affect lifetime repayments only for those who will repay their loans in full within the loan term (or who come very close to doing so), principally high earners and/or those with small loan balances. Currently, only 23% of borrowers who enter full-time higher education next year are forecast to repay their loans in full.

To further protect borrowers the government, by law, must cap maximum student loan rates to ensure the interest rate charged on the loan is in line with market rates for comparable unsecured personal loans. The government monitors student loan rates against the Bank of England’s data series for the effective interest rates on new and existing unsecured personal loans. It is misleading to compare student loan interest rates to rates for mortgages or other loans secured against assets.

We are determined that the cost of living should not deter those from less advantaged backgrounds from applying to and thriving at university a record number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds were accepted onto HE courses in 2021. Students can also benefit from many of the measures this government has taken to help with the cost of living, including raising the National Minimum Wage, reducing VAT, freezing alcohol and fuel duty, the Energy Rebate Scheme and capping the cost of energy.

We announced in February that we will be reducing interest rates for new borrowers and so from the 2023/24 academic year, new graduates will not, in real terms, repay more than they borrow. Alongside our wider reforms, this will help to make sure that students from all walks of life can continue to receive the highest-quality education from our world-leading HE sector.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the mechanism for determining student loan interest in light of the projected volatility of inflation rates.

The mechanism for setting student loan interest rates is set out in legislation. The interest rate for Plan 2 and Plan 3 loans are set annually with reference to the Retail Price Index (RPI) from the previous March. The rates take effect from 1 September.

The March RPI figure this year is a demonstration of the unusual events currently affecting all aspects of the economy and our society. The government has not yet made a decision on what interest rates will be applied to student loans from September. We will be considering all options over the coming months and will confirm in due course the rates to apply from 1 September.

Student loans remove financial barriers to higher education (HE). Unlike commercial alternatives, student loans are available to all eligible students, regardless of background or financial history. Student loans offer unique protections to borrowers. Monthly repayments are calculated as a fixed percentage of earnings above the relevant repayment threshold and do not change based on interest rates or the amount borrowed. If income is below the relevant repayment threshold, or a borrower is not earning, then they do not have to make repayments at all. Any outstanding debt, including interest accrued, is written off after the loan term ends (or in case of death or disability) at no detriment to the borrower. There are no commercial loans that offer this level of protection.

Interest rates affect lifetime repayments only for those who will repay their loans in full within the loan term (or who come very close to doing so), principally high earners and/or those with small loan balances. Currently, only 23% of borrowers who enter full-time higher education next year are forecast to repay their loans in full.

To further protect borrowers the government, by law, must cap maximum student loan rates to ensure the interest rate charged on the loan is in line with market rates for comparable unsecured personal loans. The government monitors student loan rates against the Bank of England’s data series for the effective interest rates on new and existing unsecured personal loans. It is misleading to compare student loan interest rates to rates for mortgages or other loans secured against assets.

We are determined that the cost of living should not deter those from less advantaged backgrounds from applying to and thriving at university a record number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds were accepted onto HE courses in 2021. Students can also benefit from many of the measures this government has taken to help with the cost of living, including raising the National Minimum Wage, reducing VAT, freezing alcohol and fuel duty, the Energy Rebate Scheme and capping the cost of energy.

We announced in February that we will be reducing interest rates for new borrowers and so from the 2023/24 academic year, new graduates will not, in real terms, repay more than they borrow. Alongside our wider reforms, this will help to make sure that students from all walks of life can continue to receive the highest-quality education from our world-leading HE sector.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
17th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department (a) is taking and (b) plans to take to increase access to specialist higher education facilities for people with special educational needs and disabilities.

This government believes it is important that disabled students receive an appropriate level of support wherever and whatever they choose to study and is committed to ensuring that all students with disabilities receive the support they need to enable them to study alongside their fellow students on an equal basis.

The government expects all higher education (HE) providers to fulfil their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 to be making reasonable adjustments for all disabled higher education students.

Wherever possible, disabled students should expect to have their needs met through inclusive learning practices and individual reasonable adjustments made by their HE provider.

The support students need will relate to their impairment or impairments. The attached table shows numbers of disabled students by impairment type in the 2020/21 academic year.

Disabled Students’ Allowance is available in addition to the reasonable adjustments made by HE providers for the provision of more specialist support such as British Sign Language interpretation.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
15th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of efforts to recruit and retain new social workers.

The number of full time equivalent (FTE) child and family social workers employed by local authorities in England is increasing every year. On 30 September 2021, there were 32,500 FTE child and family social workers employed by local authorities in England. This is an increase of 2.0% compared to 2020, and an increase of 14.1% compared to 2017.

While the department recognises this may not be the picture some local authorities are seeing on the ground, we are working closely with local authorities and using central programmes and funding to respond to their needs.

The department is supporting the recruitment and retention of social workers through our investment in fast track initial social worker training programmes, and in professional development programmes to improve leadership. We are also seeing some innovative practices from local authorities that are driving down agency rates and stabilising their workforces.

Our COVID-19 Recovery Action Plan aims to stabilise and strengthen children’s social care as we transition out of the pandemic, so we deliver well for children and young people and provide a strong foundation for longer-term reform, informed by the Care Review.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure there are high levels of staff retention within the social work sector.

The number of full time equivalent (FTE) child and family social workers employed by local authorities in England is increasing every year. On 30 September 2021, there were 32,500 FTE child and family social workers employed by local authorities in England. This is an increase of 2.0% compared to 2020, and an increase of 14.1% compared to 2017.

While the department recognises this may not be the picture some local authorities are seeing on the ground, we are working closely with local authorities and using central programmes and funding to respond to their needs.

The department is supporting the recruitment and retention of social workers through our investment in fast track initial social worker training programmes, and in professional development programmes to improve leadership. We are also seeing some innovative practices from local authorities that are driving down agency rates and stabilising their workforces.

Our COVID-19 Recovery Action Plan aims to stabilise and strengthen children’s social care as we transition out of the pandemic, so we deliver well for children and young people and provide a strong foundation for longer-term reform, informed by the Care Review.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment has been made of the potential merits of a profession-led review of the assessment system used in primary schools.

In 2017, the government carried out a consultation into primary assessment in England, with the aim of creating a settled policy in this area. The consultation received over 4,000 responses from a diverse range of backgrounds and specialisms, providing a broad and informed range of views that informed policy on the current primary assessment system.

The department is now reaching the end of the programme of reform to the current primary assessment system that arose as a result. As such, the department has no current plans to undertake further major reform.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, in the context of the impact of the covid-19 outbreak on primary education, whether his Department has made an assessment of the appropriateness of the (a) phonics screening check in year 1, (b) autumn term phonics screening check in year 2, (c) key stage 1 SATs in year 2, (d) multiplication tables check in year 4 and (e) key stage 2 SATs in year 6 as a form of assessment.

The department is taking forward a full programme of primary assessments to take place in the 2021/22 academic year. The assessments will help parents, schools, and the department to understand more clearly the impact of the pandemic on pupils, and how this varies between particular groups of pupils (for example, disadvantaged pupils), schools, and local authority areas.

At a local level, the data will provide vital information to parents about their child’s attainment, support transition to secondary schools, and identify where additional support is best targeted to individuals. At a national level, the data will help inform policy decisions about support for schools, enable analysis to underpin education recovery initiatives and understand their effectiveness, and to track system progress as we emerge from the pandemic.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much of the £30 million programme of SAFE taskforces will be allocated to be spent on (a) looked after children and (b) all other children.

Support, Attend, Fulfil, Exceed (SAFE) Taskforces will be led by mainstream schools in serious violence hotspots to support those most vulnerable to serious violence to re-engage with their education.

At a national level, 0.7% of pupils in state-funded secondary schools were looked after at any point in academic year 2018/19. We know that children who are looked after are more likely to enter the youth justice system. For example, between 6% and 8% of children aged 10-17 years in care enter the youth justice system, more than double the percentage of children in the general population. Each SAFE Taskforce will undertake quantitative and qualitative assessments of their area’s own specific local needs, to inform which cohorts they will focus on. This assessment will include information such as the social care background of pupils.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much and what proportion of the £15 million from the Treasury’s shared outcomes fund to support a two year programme to keep pupils in alternative provision will be allocated to be spent on (a) looked after children and (b) all other children.

The alternative provision (AP) specialist taskforce programme is working in 22 serious violence hotspots in England and is designed to support pupils in AP settings most at risk of involvement in serious violence. AP specialist taskforce funding will be spent according to the identified needs of pupils in each AP setting. At a national level, of the pupils with sole or main registration in state place-funded AP in academic year 2018/19, 8.1% were looked after by a local authority at some point in the year. This compares to 0.66% of pupils in all state-funded schools.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of progress in improvement to special educational needs and disability provisions in Birmingham since the introduction of a SEND Commissioner in October 2021.

Since his appointment, the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) Commissioner, John Coughlan, has been working closely with Birmingham City Council and its key partners and stakeholders, including schools, to understand the system challenges that contributed to the local area’s failure to make sufficient progress in all previously identified areas of significant weakness, to assess the council’s capacity and capability to improve services at pace.

Ensuring children and young people with SEND in Birmingham receive the right support when they need it is a priority. The SEND Commissioner is preparing his final report, including recommendations, for the improvement of SEND services. I will consider this carefully upon receipt.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will amend the School Admissions Code to ensure that faith schools give priority to (a) looked after and (b) previously looked after children when considering applications.

Schools designated by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, as having a religious character (more commonly known as faith schools) may use faith-based oversubscription criteria and allocate places by reference to faith where the school is oversubscribed. As with all other publicly funded mainstream schools, faith schools must offer every child who applies, whether of the faith, another faith or no faith, a place at the school if there are places available.

The School Admissions Code already requires admission authorities of all mainstream schools to give priority in their oversubscription criteria to looked after children and previously looked after children.

Where a faith school adopts faith-based oversubscription criteria, they must, as a minimum, give priority to all looked after children and previously looked after children of the faith, before giving priority to other children of the faith.

Where any element of priority is given in relation to children not of the faith, they must first give priority to looked after children and previously looked after children not of the faith above other children not of the faith.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the impact of plans to remove funding for BTEC qualifications on students from (a) SEND backgrounds and (b) deprived areas.

The department will continue to fund some BTECs and other qualifications in future where there is a clear need for skills and knowledge that A levels and T Levels cannot provide, and where they meet new quality standards. Qualifications such as BTECs will continue to play an important role for 16 to 19 year olds and adults, as they do now. This includes for students taking mixed programmes of A levels and other qualifications, and those taking qualifications such as BTECs as their full programme of study where there is no A level or T Level.

We have been clear that we expect our reforms to be generally positive as students will have access to higher quality qualifications in the future, including the new T Levels. T Levels have been developed with over 250 leading employers, have significantly longer teaching hours and include a meaningful nine-week industry placement that sets them apart from many current vocational qualifications. This will put students, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and from disadvantaged backgrounds, in a stronger position to progress into skilled employment or further study.

Plans were announced on 15 November allowing an extra year before overlapping qualifications are removed. This extra year will allow the department to continue to work hard to support the growth of T Levels and gives more notice to providers, awarding organisations, employers, students and parents so that they can prepare for the changes.

We are committed to ensuring that T Levels are accessible to all young people and have introduced flexibilities for SEND students. The T Level Transition Programme will support young people who are not yet ready to progress to a T Level but have the potential to succeed on it after some further preparation.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment has been made on the impact of removing BTEC courses.

The department will continue to fund some BTECs and other qualifications in future where there is a clear need for skills and knowledge that A levels and T Levels cannot provide, and where they meet new quality standards. Qualifications such as BTECs will continue to play an important role for 16 to 19 year olds and adults, as they do now. This includes for students taking mixed programmes of A levels and other qualifications, and those taking qualifications such as BTECs as their full programme of study where there is no A level or T Level.

We have been clear that we expect our reforms to be generally positive as students will have access to higher quality qualifications in the future, including the new T Levels. T Levels have been developed with over 250 leading employers, have significantly longer teaching hours and include a meaningful nine-week industry placement that sets them apart from many current vocational qualifications. This will put students, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and from disadvantaged backgrounds, in a stronger position to progress into skilled employment or further study.

Plans were announced on 15 November allowing an extra year before overlapping qualifications are removed. This extra year will allow the department to continue to work hard to support the growth of T Levels and gives more notice to providers, awarding organisations, employers, students and parents so that they can prepare for the changes.

We are committed to ensuring that T Levels are accessible to all young people and have introduced flexibilities for SEND students. The T Level Transition Programme will support young people who are not yet ready to progress to a T Level but have the potential to succeed on it after some further preparation.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of childcare support available to full-time students who undertake paid work.

The government recognises the value of parents continuing in or returning to education and provides support to those enrolled in recognised higher education courses.

Eligible student parents may be able to claim a Childcare Grant, which offers parents support with up to 85% of their childcare costs depending on their household income.

The maximum Childcare Grant for the 2021/22 academic year is:

  • up to £179.62 a week for one child

  • up to £307.95 a week for two or more children.

In further education, the Care to Learn scheme contributes towards childcare and related travel costs while young parents are in education.

All parents aged under 20 who meet Care to Learn residency criteria and engage in directly publicly funded education or training (except higher education) can apply if they are the main carer and in receipt of child benefit for their child.

The maximum amount that can be claimed is £175 per child per week in London and £160 per child per week elsewhere.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress his Department has made on introducing regular rapid covid-19 testing for (a) nursery workers, (b) childminders and (c) other early years professionals.

The Department is continuing to work closely with colleagues across government and local authorities to secure the most effective approach to asymptomatic testing for the whole of the early years sector.

We are rolling out our asymptomatic testing programme to primary schools with deliveries of test kits starting from week commencing 18 January 2021.

The asymptomatic testing programme will offer all primary school, schools based nursery and maintained nursery school staff home Lateral Flow Device test kits for twice weekly testing. This will help to break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 in schools and nurseries by identifying asymptomatic positive cases. Those who test positive will then self-isolate, helping to reduce transmission of the virus.

Community Testing programmes are currently being rolled out across the country. Local authorities will be encouraged to target testing to people who cannot work from home during lockdown. Further information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-testing-explainer/community-testing-a-guide-for-local-delivery.

Early years staff, as critical workers, continue to have priority access to the Department of Health and Social Care led symptomatic PCR testing via the online portal: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department is providing nurseries to ensure they have access to adequate personal protective equipment.

COVID-19-related PPE use will be very limited for staff in education and childcare settings and, as set out in the department’s guidance, relates only to (i) when caring for a child or individual who develops symptoms while attending their setting (and only then if a distance of two metres cannot be maintained), and (ii) when a child or individual already has routine intimate care needs that involve the use of PPE, for example when undertaking aerosol generating procedures (AGPs).

Many education and childcare settings will be able to access PPE for their COVID-19 needs via their local authority or local resilience forum. Further information on local arrangements 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.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether nurseries are able to reclaim the costs of personal protective equipment during the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021.

COVID-19-related PPE use will be very limited for staff in education and childcare settings and, as set out in the department’s guidance, relates only to (i) when caring for a child or individual who develops symptoms while attending their setting (and only then if a distance of two metres cannot be maintained), and (ii) when a child or individual already has routine intimate care needs that involve the use of PPE, for example when undertaking aerosol generating procedures (AGPs).

Many education and childcare settings will be able to access PPE for their COVID-19 needs via their local authority or local resilience forum. Further information on local arrangements 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.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how functional skills qualifications are planned to be (a) graded and (b) assessed in 2021.

The consultation on alternative arrangements for the award of vocational and technical qualifications and other general qualifications in 2021 was published on 15 January. It seeks views on the department’s position that Functional Skills qualification assessments should continue to take place remotely or in line with public health guidelines where possible, and that alternative arrangements should be introduced for those learners who are unable to access assessments. The approach for providing learners with a result through alternative arrangements will be determined in light of the consultation.

Ofqual will revise its regulatory framework to allow awarding organisations to provide learners with a result where assessments do not take place, and to determine what the minimum assessment evidence should be, so that valid and reliable qualifications are awarded.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason (a) nurseries and (b) early years providers have been excluded from the Coronavirus Workforce Fund available to schools.

The Coronavirus Workforce Fund, available last term, was implemented to support schools and colleges with exceptionally high staff absence rates and significant financial pressures to remain open. Instead, the early years sector has benefitted from the continuation of early years entitlement funding during the COVID-19 outbreak. As private nurseries typically rely on private income for a significant proportion of their income - unlike most state-funded schools - they are also able to furlough their staff via the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme, which has also been available for maintained nursery schools. Eligible nurseries have also benefitted from a business rates holiday and access to business loans, as set out by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department has issued to universities on accepting students unable to obtain functional skills qualifications during the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021.

The government is working closely with partners across the education sector, and with higher education (HE) providers, to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and the disruption it has caused to young people’s education, including for those who will be applying to university for the 2021/22 academic year.

The joint consultation between Ofqual and the Department for Education on alternative arrangements for the award of vocational and technical qualifications and other general qualifications in 2021 was published on 15 January. It seeks views on the department’s position that functional skills qualification assessments should continue to take place remotely or in line with public health guidelines where possible, and that alternative arrangements should be introduced for those learners who are unable to access assessments.

We are encouraging universities to be flexible when making offers to individual students whose education has been disproportionally and adversely impacted from the COVID-19 outbreak in order to ensure that these students are able to receive fair offers for 2021.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial support is available to (a) maintained and (b) private nurseries in response to the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021.

The early years sector has benefitted from the continuation of early years entitlement funding during the during the summer and autumn terms in 2020, and providers have been able to furlough their staff via the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme. As long as the staff meet the other criteria for the scheme, schools and early years providers are able to furlough their staff if they have experienced a drop in either their income from parents or government. Eligible nurseries can also benefit from a business rates holiday and can access the business loans as set out by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

On 17 December 2020, the government announced a return to funding early years settings on the basis of attendance, as measured by the January 2021 census.

The early years and schools census are statutory data collections and are combined to produce a national statistics release. The statutory guidance underpinning these censuses has not changed, but the Department for Education issued supportive documentation to help guide local authorities and providers with completing the census during the COVID-19 outbreak. This supporting documentation was issued to all local authorities on 14 January 2021 and has not changed. The 2021 census guidance for early years can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-census-2021-guide.

We will fund local authorities in the 2021 spring term based on their January 2021 census. If attendance rises after the census is taken, we will top-up councils to up to 85% of their January 2020 census level, where a local authority can provide evidence for increased attendance during the spring term. This will give local authorities additional financial confidence to pay providers for increasing attendance later in the spring term.

We stay in regular contact with the early years sector, including on this subject. We will be closely monitoring both parental take-up of places and the capacity and responses of providers.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether it remains his Department’s policy as set out in Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children's social care services that no one has to leave care during this period; what support is being offered to local authorities to cover any additional costs associated with extended placements for people due to leave care; and what recent assessment he has made of the effect of that guidance on placement availability for children in care.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we recognised that care leavers would need extra support, in particular due to their financial vulnerability and their higher risk of loneliness and isolation. That is why we published guidance to local authorities, asking them to review decisions about whether young people who would have been due to move out of care should continue to do so; and to delay moves if the young person did not want to leave their current placement, or it was not in their best interests.

Where young people want to move out of care, the guidance asks local authorities to ensure that the move is in accordance with the young person’s wishes and that they are assured that the setting the young person is moving into is safe in relation to risk factors arising from coronavirus (COVID-19). This guidance is still in force.

We have provided £4.6 billion additional funding to local authorities to meet the extra demands placed on them due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the costs of extending placements for young people who would otherwise have left care earlier.

No formal assessment has been undertaken on the impact of the guidance on placement availability for children in care, although the department is in regular contact with local authorities to understand the support care leavers need during the COVID-19 outbreak. Feedback from local authorities indicates that they are taking account of the guidance in their decision-making, and are supporting many young people to stay in care at this time, having judged this as possible within their local placement provision.

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Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to issue additional guidance for schools on what constitutes a key or critical worker entitling a child to a school place.

During the period of national lockdown, schools should allow only vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers to attend. All other pupils should not attend and should learn remotely until February half term.

On 7 January, the Department published guidance that sets out what all schools will need to do during the national lockdown: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/950510/School_national_restrictions_guidance.pdf. Guidance is also available on the children of critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision.

Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school if required. Schools should speak to parents and carers to identify who needs to go to school. If parents and carers who are critical workers can work from home and look after their children at the same time then they should do so.

Every school will have a different number of children of critical workers who need to attend. It is important that on site provision is provided for these pupils, and there is no limit to numbers of these pupils who may attend, and schools should not limit attendance of these groups. This is because we are reducing overall social contact across areas and the country rather than individually by each institution.

The Department will continue to review the restrictions on schools and will ensure that children and young people return to face to face education as soon as possible.

11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that (a) looked-after children and (b) care leavers can access (i) IT equipment and (ii) internet during the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021.

The government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services, including securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. This includes over 700,000 laptops and tablets that were delivered to schools, academy trusts and local authorities by 11 January. We have published the latest data here:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/laptops-tablets-and-4g-wireless-routers-progress-data

We prioritised the delivery of devices for children receiving support from a social worker and care leavers during the summer term of the 2019/20 academic year. The Department delivered devices to local authorities, so that all children receiving support from a social worker and care leavers would have access to a device. These devices are the property of the local authority and they are responsible for their ongoing maintenance and support.

We have partnered with the UK’s leading mobile operators to provide free data to help disadvantaged children get online as well as delivering 54,000 4G wireless routers for pupils without connection at home. We are grateful to EE, O2, Smarty, Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Mobile, and Vodafone. We continue to invite a range of mobile network providers to support the offer.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when the centrally administered Free School Meal Voucher Scheme will be reopened for schools to access.

The national voucher scheme was reopened from the week commencing 18 January and over 15,000 schools have already registered. Schools are responsible for providing free schools meals support to eligible pupils during term time and should order vouchers on their pupils’ behalf. Before ordering vouchers, parents or guardians can check which pupils are eligible and would be receiving benefits-related free school meals. Further information on this is available here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will issue separate guidance on remote learning for special education schools.

On 8 January 2021, the department published updated guidance regarding the provision of remote education during national lockdown while attendance is restricted: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/950510/School_national_restrictions_guidance.pdf. This includes guidance for pupils with special education needs.

During the period of national lockdown, primary, secondary, alternative provision and special schools will remain open to vulnerable children and young people, including those with an education, health and care plan. For pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), their teachers are best placed to know how the pupil’s needs can be most effectively met to ensure they continue to make progress even if they are not able to be in school due to COVID-19. The requirement for schools to use their best endeavours to secure the special educational provision called for by the pupils’ special educational needs remains in place. Where possible, special schools should follow the age-related guidance for primary schools and secondary schools.

Schools should work collaboratively with families, putting in place reasonable adjustments as necessary, so that pupils with SEND can successfully access remote education alongside their peers. All further education (FE) providers should give particular consideration on how best to support vulnerable and disadvantaged students and students with SEND who may not be able to access remote education without support.

There are a wide range of resources available to support schools and FE providers to meet the expectations we have set. Get Help with Remote Education provides a one-stop-shop for teachers and leaders, signposting the support package available: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-remote-education. This includes information on supporting pupils and students with SEND.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industry on ensuring employers do not put pressure on employees to send their children to school during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, regularly meets cabinet colleagues about a range of issues.

Under the current national restrictions, the Department has made it clear that vulnerable children and children of critical workers can attend school and college in person. However, parents and carers who are critical workers should keep their children at home if they can.

The Department published updated guidance for parents on 8 January 2021, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak?utm_source=back-school-campaign-aug-2020&utm_medium=offline&utm_campaign=backtoschool.

The Department has also published a media blog, which is available at: https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2021/01/08/am-i-a-critical-worker-or-are-they-vulnerable-or-without-internet-access-or-broadband/.

Where vulnerable children and children of critical workers do not attend school, we expect schools to provide them with remote education, as for the majority of their pupils. Pupils who are self-isolating should not attend school. Clinically extremely vulnerable pupils are also advised not to attend school. Where a parent wishes their child to be absent, we expect schools to authorise the absence during this national lockdown period. Absence will not be penalised.

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 and EU transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision. Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school if required. This includes parents who may be working from home.

Early years provision should continue to remain open and should continue to allow all children to attend full time, or their usual timetable hours.

11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether it is his policy that schools remain open to vulnerable and key worker children in the February half-term and Easter holidays.

Ensuring sufficiency of childcare provision for critical worker parents and carers and vulnerable children remains a Government priority. The Department is considering plans for half term and will provide more information shortly.

11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to encourage secondary school pupils to take up lateral flow testing in schools.

Antigen lateral flow tests are designed to detect the level of virus in individuals who do not experience or show any symptoms, but who could still be infectious and pass the virus to others.

As part of the delivery of this new testing capability for pupils in secondary schools and colleges, the Department has strongly encouraged both staff and pupils to take the test as it will help to stop the spread of COVID-19, protect other people, and save lives.

In addition, the Department, in partnership with the Department for Health and Social Care, have produced a range of training and guidance material including webinars to support pupils in feeling able to complete the lateral flow testing. We have also developed extensive guidance for schools and colleges to allow them to communicate to their pupils about how easy and quick it is to undertake the test in order to encourage them to take up the testing offer.

The testing will help to ensure that schools and colleges can avoid unnecessary staff shortages, and vulnerable pupils and students, and those whose parents or carers are key workers, can continue in face to face education.

11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that primary school staff are able to access lateral flow testing.

Rapid, regular testing for people without symptoms of COVID-19 will be made available to primary staff by the end of January with kits being delivered from 18 January. All primary school staff will be offered home test kits for routine testing. These kits contain Lateral Flow Device tests which enable self-swabbing. They are designed for use at home so staff can complete the test before coming in to work.

11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of changes in the level of pressure on placement availability for children in care during the covid-19 lockdown period; and what steps his Department plans to take to ensure there are enough safe and suitable places for children in care to live.

The safety and wellbeing of our most vulnerable children remains a top priority. The department collects fortnightly data from local authorities to help understand the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on vulnerable children and children in care. The most recent survey showed that the total number of children looked after was 7% higher than the same time in 2018 and that the total number of referrals was 12% lower than the usual number at that time of year. The vulnerable children and young people survey summary is published at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vulnerable-children-and-young-people-survey.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that there is sufficient provision for their looked after children, but we recognise that COVID-19 is placing additional burdens across all placement types. This is why the government has provided £4.6 billion of additional funding to local authorities in 2021-22 to address any pressures they are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak, including children’s social care. We are also providing an additional £1.55 billion of grant funding to support local authorities with COVID-19 spending pressures next year. This funding is un-ringfenced, recognising that local authorities are best placed to decide where to allocate resources.

In addition, on 25 November 2020, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced as part of the Spending Review that the government will provide £24 million in the financial year 2021-22 to start a new programme to maintain capacity and expand provision in secure children’s homes. This will provide high quality, safe homes for some of our most vulnerable children and will mean children can live closer to their families and support networks, in settings that meet their needs.

In November 2020 we also announced that there would be a second wave of funding for new projects to increase the availability and quality of placements through recruitment of new foster families, improving how places are commissioned and supporting foster parents to build their resilience and skills.

We continue to work closely with local authorities to ensure there is sufficient provision that meets the needs of children in their care.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many staff have been recruited to date through the Wellbeing in Schools Return Fund.

Wellbeing for Education Return is a new £8 million package of training and support for schools and colleges, to help education staff to promote and support children and young people’s wellbeing and mental health recovery, responding to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It includes:

  • A new, nationally developed training package for education staff.
  • Grant funding for local authorities to appoint local experts to deliver the training into schools and further education providers during this autumn term, and to provide ongoing advice and support until March 2021.

147 of England’s 151 upper tier local authorities (97%) have taken up the offer of training. This will help them to support local schools and colleges, having received funding and materials from the government in September.

Local areas can decide how to engage with the programme and are taking a range of approaches to deliver training and support into schools and colleges in a way that is most appropriate for them and the demands on their time. It is too early to assess how many education settings have received support through the programme. Plans are in place to monitor delivery of this training and support with local authorities, up to 31 March 2021.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the implications for his policies of the (a) recommendation on establishing a transitions support bank to centrally hold all funding available to care leavers and young people with Education, Health and Care plans after they reach 18 years old and (b) other recommendations in the Children’s Services Development Group’s Destination Unknown report; and if he will make a statement.

Local authorities are the primary corporate parents for looked after children and care leavers. They are responsible for making decisions about where children and young people live and what additional support that they need in order to make a successful transition to adulthood. The government believes that these decisions are best taken locally, based on local professionals’ judgements about what is needed for each child or young person, depending on their individual circumstances. We do not think it would be feasible for those decisions to be taken by a central team based in central government.

The government does recognise, however, that local authorities cannot do it all on their own. That is why it has established a cross-government Ministerial Board to consider how the government collectively can ensure that its policies and services recognise and respond to care leavers’ unique circumstances, and to drive improved outcomes for care leavers.

The government is also taking the lead in providing direct employment opportunities to care leavers, particularly through the Civil Service care leaver internship scheme. This year, the scheme is offering over 500 12-month paid internships to care leavers in over 20 government departments and agencies across the UK.

We also recognise that private businesses and other organisations, such as universities, have a role to play too. That is why we launched the Care Leaver Covenant, which provides a way for organisations from the private and voluntary sectors to set out their offer to care leavers. Details of the organisations that have signed the covenant and their published offers are available here:
https://mycovenant.org.uk/.

We are committed to improving the experiences and outcomes of care leavers through the Ministerial Board. It will address many of the concerns that are highlighted in the Children’s Services Development Group’s ‘Destination Unknown’ report. This will happen through the Ministerial Board’s focus on education, employment and training and addressing care leavers’ financial vulnerability.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the implications for his policies of the recommendation in the Children’s Services Development Group’s Destination Unknown report on ensuring that every looked after child and each young person with an Education, Health and Care plan is formally allocated a personal budget to fund all care needs, education needs separate from those covered by the national funding formula for schools and health needs.

Any parent or carer of a child, or a young person, may request a personal budget as part of their education, health and care (EHC) plan as a means of delivering the outcomes specified in the plan. However, the Children and Families Act 2014 is clear that whilst a personal budget for an EHC plan can include funding from education, health and social care, the scope of that budget will vary depending on the needs of the individual, the eligibility criteria for the different components and the mechanism for delivery. This means that decisions need to be taken on an individual basis, and a blanket approach cannot be put in place. Local authorities and their health partners remain responsible for securing the provision specified in an EHC plan, funded where necessary through joint commissioning arrangements.

Some local authorities have provided access to personal budgets for looked after children and care leavers. For example, two of the Staying Close pilots are trialling the use of personal budgets. However, decisions about the provision of personal budgets and other operational matters are for local authorities.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress he has made on his SEND review; on what date he plans to conclude that review; and what progress he has made on the implementation of the SEND system leadership board.

The government remains fully committed to a thorough and fundamental review of the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system.

The issues that the SEND system face are complex, but we are determined to deliver real, lasting improvements, taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The findings of the review will be published as soon as it is practicable to do so.

The SEND System Leadership Board was established in 2019 to improve joint commissioning across education, health and social care services. The board meets on a termly basis and is chaired by Tony McArdle, former Chief Executive of Lincolnshire County Council and the department’s Lead Commissioner in Northamptonshire County Council.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will extend the same examination extension announced for secondary schools and colleges in response to the covid-19 outbreak to primary schools administering SATs and other statutory assessments.

National Curriculum assessments are an essential part of ensuring that all pupils have the basics of reading, writing and mathematics to prepare them for secondary school. They allow parents and schools to understand pupils’ achievements in relation to the age related attainment expectations outlined in the National Curriculum.

The Department recognises that pupils have missed a critical period of their education due to school closures in the 2019/20 academic year. We are planning on the basis that primary assessments will take place in 2020/21 to allow us to understand the remaining impact of COVID-19 and target ongoing support to those that need it most.

Timings for SATs in 2021 will be confirmed shortly.

16th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to amend his Department's policies on school and college accountability, including performance tables and data for the 2020-21 academic year, in response to the disruption to education caused by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has been clear that no school or college will be judged on data based on qualifications achieved in 2020. The Department continues to talk to school and college leaders about possible approaches to the use of 2021 educational performance data and further details on accountability arrangements for the 2020/21 academic year will follow shortly.

5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing an immigration checking service for Student Finance to check student eligibility similar to that of the employer checking service.

Where necessary, the Student Loans Company (SLC) seeks information from the Home Office to establish whether an individual meets the personal eligibility requirements for student support. The information that the SLC requires from the Home Office varies, but often includes the individual’s immigration status (including the date of the grant) and confirmation that they have been ordinarily (lawfully) resident in the UK and Islands during a specified period. In some circumstances, a more extensive immigration history is requested.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional funding is available to support residential colleges during the covid-19 outbreak.

To help manage the pressures of COVID-19, we can confirm that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will continue to pay grant funded providers, including residential adult colleges, their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019/20 funding year. And for 2019/20 only, the ESFA will not carry out the final reconciliation for grant funded providers in receipt of ESFA funded adult education budget (AEB) and the advanced learner loans bursary (ALLB) fund, subject to them meeting certain conditions set out in the further education (FE) Operational Guidance on maintaining education and skills training provision, published on 23 March 2020.

ESFA has issued both AEB and Advanced Learners Loans funding allocations to residential colleges in preparation for 2020/21.

The government appreciates the importance of adult education to improving people’s life chances. We are currently reviewing funding for Residential Specialist Designated Institutions, focusing on the residential support for learners funded via the AEB and the ALLB. We will complete this review in autumn 2020.

As announced last summer, we will next year be increasing investment in education and training of 16 to 19 year olds by £400 million, including an increased base rate, and more funding for high cost and high value subjects, which will help the sector to deliver in the difficult circumstances we are facing during the outbreak. In March this year, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor announced that we are going to transform FE colleges across the country, investing £1.5 billion of new capital by 2025-6.

On 29 June my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced a transformative ten-year construction programme to deliver the world-class education and training needed to get Britain back on its feet. This includes £200 million for urgent repairs and upgrades to FE colleges this year.

We are also looking carefully at all elements of FE funding in preparation for the forthcoming Spending Review.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department is providing to residential colleges during the covid-19 outbreak.

To help manage the pressures of COVID-19, we can confirm that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will continue to pay grant funded providers, including residential adult colleges, their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019/20 funding year. And for 2019/20 only, the ESFA will not carry out the final reconciliation for grant funded providers in receipt of ESFA funded adult education budget (AEB) and the advanced learner loans bursary (ALLB) fund, subject to them meeting certain conditions set out in the further education (FE) Operational Guidance on maintaining education and skills training provision, published on 23 March 2020.

ESFA has issued both AEB and Advanced Learners Loans funding allocations to residential colleges in preparation for 2020/21.

The government appreciates the importance of adult education to improving people’s life chances. We are currently reviewing funding for Residential Specialist Designated Institutions, focusing on the residential support for learners funded via the AEB and the ALLB. We will complete this review in autumn 2020.

As announced last summer, we will next year be increasing investment in education and training of 16 to 19 year olds by £400 million, including an increased base rate, and more funding for high cost and high value subjects, which will help the sector to deliver in the difficult circumstances we are facing during the outbreak. In March this year, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor announced that we are going to transform FE colleges across the country, investing £1.5 billion of new capital by 2025-6.

On 29 June my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced a transformative ten-year construction programme to deliver the world-class education and training needed to get Britain back on its feet. This includes £200 million for urgent repairs and upgrades to FE colleges this year.

We are also looking carefully at all elements of FE funding in preparation for the forthcoming Spending Review.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to support the families of pupils on free school meals in Birmingham Selly Oak constituency during the school summer holidays in 2020.

I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave on 23 June 2020 to Question 54195.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether headteachers will be able to decide which (a) age and (b) year groups are prioritised for return to school as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Department has asked primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups (vulnerable children and children of critical workers), from 1 June. The rationale for identifying these year groups is included in guidance for schools and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June. More details are available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020/actions-for-education-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020.

The three year groups within mainstream primary have been prioritised because they are key transition years. Children in Reception and year 1 are at the very beginning of their school career and are mastering the essential basics, including counting and the fundamentals of reading and writing, and learning to socialise with their peers. Year 6 children are finishing Key Stage 2 and are preparing for the transition to secondary school and will benefit immensely from time with their friends and teachers to ensure they are ready.

The Department is asking that schools only welcome back these eligible year groups from 1 June. Our ambition is to bring all primary year groups back to school before the summer holidays, for a month if feasible, though this will be kept under review. We will only welcome back additional year groups if the most up-to-date assessment of the risk posed by the virus indicates it is appropriate to have larger numbers of children within schools. The safety of children and staff is our utmost priority.

18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to extend financial assistance offered to support Looked After Children during and after the period of school closures due to the covid-19 outbreak to all children who are subject to a Special Guardianship Order.

Schools in England receive £2,345 Pupil Premium Plus funding for each child recorded on their census as having left the care of an English or Welsh local authority on a special guardianship order, which is the same rate as attracted by looked-after children. Since 2018, special guardians have been able to benefit from the expert advice of local authority virtual school heads, and schools are required to appoint a designated teacher to provide support in school. Providers have discretion, working with other partners where appropriate, to continue to offer education provision to children and young people who they deem to be vulnerable. This may include children who have left care because they are the subject of an adoption, special guardianship or child arrangements order.

Local authorities also have a duty to provide for special guardianship support services, including financial support where necessary. Provision of support is discretionary and is based on an assessment of the guardian’s support needs. Where the child was looked after immediately prior to the making of the special guardianship order, funding from the Adoption Support Fund is available to pay for therapeutic services where they need help to recover from their previous experiences and bond with their new family.

We are also providing financial support to schools to meet additional costs arising from COVID-19. In addition, local authorities across England will receive a further £1.6 billion to help them to deal with the immediate impacts of COVID-19. This takes the total funding to support councils to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak to over £3.2 billion. Local authorities are best placed to decide how to meet the major COVID-19 service pressures in their local area, including special educational needs and disabilities and children’s social care.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the explanatory memorandum on the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, what plans he has to undertake that continuous review of the regulations; whom he plans to consult to determine the effect of the regulations on children and young people; and how frequently he plans to undertake that consultation.

We have committed to keeping these regulations under continuous review. We will consider the continued need for and impact of these regulations through regular engagement with a range of stakeholders across the children’s social care sector. As part of this process, we will be monitoring the local need for and use of the flexibilities provided, including through feedback from frontline practitioners and the newly formed Regional Education and Care Teams which consolidate those Department for Education teams that have regular contact with local authorities.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to publish guidance on how (a) functional skills and (b) vocational qualifications will be graded as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The department has been working at pace with Ofqual to take the necessary action to deliver assessments for vocational and technical qualifications as a result of the cancellation of exams and assessments in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

On 9 April, Ofqual published its approach to vocational and technical qualifications – this can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/awarding-vocational-and-technical-qualifications-this-summer.

As the vocational and technical qualifications landscape is complex, different assessment approaches will be appropriate for different types of qualification. The publication set out the approaches that should be taken.

Ofqual launched its consultation on 24 April on the implementation of these measures. The consultation closes on 8 May and can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/exceptional-arrangements-for-assessment-and-grading-in-2020.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ensure that children and young people with (a) speech, language and communication needs and (b) other special educational needs and disabilities continue to receive adequate support during the school closure period.

We are working closely with colleagues across government to ensure that all appropriate arrangements, and support, are in place for all DfE sectors – from the early years and childcare, schools and children’s social care, and for vulnerable groups including children with special educational needs.

We understand that parents will be worried about continued provision for their children with special educational needs now that schools have closed. Local authorities, schools and colleges, together with parents, should assess the risks to children and young people with Education, Health and Care plans (EHC plans) to judge whether they can be safely cared for at home or whether it is safer for them to remain at school or college. Local authorities and education settings have discretion to do a similar risk assessment for any individual children and young people who do not have an EHC plan but who have complex needs that could mean it is safer for them to be at school or college than at home.

The government has published questions and answers about the provisions being made for vulnerable children and young people, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people.

We have also published guidance to support management of children and young people in residential educational settings, including boarding schools, residential special schools and specialist colleges and children’s homes: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings.

Further useful guidance on social distancing can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-social-distancing-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-social-distancing-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

We encourage people to keep up to date by regularly checking the GOV.UK webpages, which is where we will publish reliable updates and guidance.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to issue guidance to (a) speech and language specialists and (b) other specialist staff who work in schools on continued support for children and young people during the school closure period.

We are working closely with colleagues across government to ensure that all appropriate arrangements, and support, are in place for all DfE sectors – from the early years and childcare, schools and children’s social care, and for vulnerable groups including children with special educational needs.

We understand that parents will be worried about continued provision for their children with special educational needs now that schools have closed. Local authorities, schools and colleges, together with parents, should assess the risks to children and young people with Education, Health and Care plans (EHC plans) to judge whether they can be safely cared for at home or whether it is safer for them to remain at school or college. Local authorities and education settings have discretion to do a similar risk assessment for any individual children and young people who do not have an EHC plan but who have complex needs that could mean it is safer for them to be at school or college than at home.

The government has published questions and answers about the provisions being made for vulnerable children and young people, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people.

We have also published guidance to support management of children and young people in residential educational settings, including boarding schools, residential special schools and specialist colleges and children’s homes: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings.

Further useful guidance on social distancing can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-social-distancing-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-social-distancing-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

We encourage people to keep up to date by regularly checking the GOV.UK webpages, which is where we will publish reliable updates and guidance.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to make financial support available to schools that have cancelled international school trips and not been able to issue a refund due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government advises against any overseas trips for children under 18 organised by educational settings. Affected schools should check with their travel providers and credit card companies regarding securing refunds in the first instance. If unable to recoup their full costs, academies signed up to the Risk Protection Arrangement (RPA) for schools should then submit their claims as per the RPA membership pack and other affected schools should contact their individual insurance providers. The Government’s COVID-19 travel guidance for the education sector is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/covid-19-travel-guidance-for-the-education-sector.

9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans the Government has to respond to the findings of Children's Society in its report entitled The Wrong Blazer 2018: Time for action on school uniform costs, published in August 2018, average school uniform costs for (a) secondary and (b) primary school children.

No school uniform should be so expensive as to leave pupils or their families feeling unable to apply to a school of their choice. The Government is pleased to support the Private Members’ Bill to ‘Make provision for guidance about the cost aspects of school uniform policies’ which was introduced to Parliament on 5 February, in order to make our guidance on the cost considerations for school uniform statutory at the earliest opportunity. This demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring that school uniform costs are reasonable and addresses the Children’s Society’s desire for our guidance to be legally binding.

2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many unaccompanied asylum-seeking children were looked after by (a) care placement and (b) legal status as at 31 March 2019.

Figures on the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children by care placement and legal status at 31 March 2019 are shown in the attached table.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, who has parental responsibility for unaccompanied and asylum-seeking children who are in care on a voluntary agreement under section 20 of the Children’s Act 1989.

Under s20 of the Children Act 1989 the local authority has a statutory responsibility to accommodate unaccompanied, asylum seeking children (UASC). Where the child is accommodated for more than 24 hours they become a ‘looked after’ child and the local authority where the child presents has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare in the same way as any other looked after child.

Ofsted, as part of its children’s services inspection framework, monitor and quality assess local authority processes in relation to all looked after children and care leavers. This will include an assessment of pathway planning.

The statutory guidance ‘Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery’ and ‘Children Act 1989: planning transition to adulthood for care leavers’ set out how local authorities should appropriately pathway plan in a way that meets the needs of unaccompanied care leavers. This guidance is available at the following links: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/656429/UASC_Statutory_Guidance_2017.pdf and https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/397649/CA1989_Transitions_guidance.pdf.

The statutory guidance ‘Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery’ also sets out how local authorities should appropriately care plan for UASC in accordance with the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010. The regulations apply to all looked after children, regardless of their immigration status, nationality or documentation.

The statutory guidance makes clear that social workers’ knowledge of the asylum process should include an understanding of the child’s asylum process, the purpose of the asylum case review and the different possible outcomes of a child’s asylum claim and how that impacts on pathway planning. Social workers should also have a broad understanding of the immigration system. In addition, the department is developing bespoke materials for social workers to support their understanding of the asylum process. These materials are currently being tested by a sample of local authorities prior to wider dissemination across England. We have also commissioned the No Recourse to Public Fund Network to produce guidance on pathway planning for unaccompanied adolescents who are care leavers.

As part of the care planning process, local authorities must carry out a health assessment of all their looked after children. The Regulations and Statutory Guidance ‘Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Looked-After Children’ makes clear that an assessment should include the child’s emotional and mental health needs and this must be reviewed regularly. Statutory guidance also makes clear that for unaccompanied children, the health assessment should ascertain any physical, psychological or emotional impact of experiences as an unaccompanied child or child victim of modern slavery. Any past trauma or experiences should be noted, along with any consequential need for psychological or mental health support to help the child deal with them. Mental health provision is provided at a local level.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how his Department (a) monitors and (b) quality assesses local authority pathway planning for unaccompanied and asylum-seeking children in care.

Under s20 of the Children Act 1989 the local authority has a statutory responsibility to accommodate unaccompanied, asylum seeking children (UASC). Where the child is accommodated for more than 24 hours they become a ‘looked after’ child and the local authority where the child presents has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare in the same way as any other looked after child.

Ofsted, as part of its children’s services inspection framework, monitor and quality assess local authority processes in relation to all looked after children and care leavers. This will include an assessment of pathway planning.

The statutory guidance ‘Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery’ and ‘Children Act 1989: planning transition to adulthood for care leavers’ set out how local authorities should appropriately pathway plan in a way that meets the needs of unaccompanied care leavers. This guidance is available at the following links: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/656429/UASC_Statutory_Guidance_2017.pdf and https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/397649/CA1989_Transitions_guidance.pdf.

The statutory guidance ‘Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery’ also sets out how local authorities should appropriately care plan for UASC in accordance with the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010. The regulations apply to all looked after children, regardless of their immigration status, nationality or documentation.

The statutory guidance makes clear that social workers’ knowledge of the asylum process should include an understanding of the child’s asylum process, the purpose of the asylum case review and the different possible outcomes of a child’s asylum claim and how that impacts on pathway planning. Social workers should also have a broad understanding of the immigration system. In addition, the department is developing bespoke materials for social workers to support their understanding of the asylum process. These materials are currently being tested by a sample of local authorities prior to wider dissemination across England. We have also commissioned the No Recourse to Public Fund Network to produce guidance on pathway planning for unaccompanied adolescents who are care leavers.

As part of the care planning process, local authorities must carry out a health assessment of all their looked after children. The Regulations and Statutory Guidance ‘Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Looked-After Children’ makes clear that an assessment should include the child’s emotional and mental health needs and this must be reviewed regularly. Statutory guidance also makes clear that for unaccompanied children, the health assessment should ascertain any physical, psychological or emotional impact of experiences as an unaccompanied child or child victim of modern slavery. Any past trauma or experiences should be noted, along with any consequential need for psychological or mental health support to help the child deal with them. Mental health provision is provided at a local level.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department has published for children’s social care on how to support unaccompanied and asylum-seeking children through the asylum and immigration system.

Under s20 of the Children Act 1989 the local authority has a statutory responsibility to accommodate unaccompanied, asylum seeking children (UASC). Where the child is accommodated for more than 24 hours they become a ‘looked after’ child and the local authority where the child presents has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare in the same way as any other looked after child.

Ofsted, as part of its children’s services inspection framework, monitor and quality assess local authority processes in relation to all looked after children and care leavers. This will include an assessment of pathway planning.

The statutory guidance ‘Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery’ and ‘Children Act 1989: planning transition to adulthood for care leavers’ set out how local authorities should appropriately pathway plan in a way that meets the needs of unaccompanied care leavers. This guidance is available at the following links: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/656429/UASC_Statutory_Guidance_2017.pdf and https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/397649/CA1989_Transitions_guidance.pdf.

The statutory guidance ‘Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery’ also sets out how local authorities should appropriately care plan for UASC in accordance with the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010. The regulations apply to all looked after children, regardless of their immigration status, nationality or documentation.

The statutory guidance makes clear that social workers’ knowledge of the asylum process should include an understanding of the child’s asylum process, the purpose of the asylum case review and the different possible outcomes of a child’s asylum claim and how that impacts on pathway planning. Social workers should also have a broad understanding of the immigration system. In addition, the department is developing bespoke materials for social workers to support their understanding of the asylum process. These materials are currently being tested by a sample of local authorities prior to wider dissemination across England. We have also commissioned the No Recourse to Public Fund Network to produce guidance on pathway planning for unaccompanied adolescents who are care leavers.

As part of the care planning process, local authorities must carry out a health assessment of all their looked after children. The Regulations and Statutory Guidance ‘Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Looked-After Children’ makes clear that an assessment should include the child’s emotional and mental health needs and this must be reviewed regularly. Statutory guidance also makes clear that for unaccompanied children, the health assessment should ascertain any physical, psychological or emotional impact of experiences as an unaccompanied child or child victim of modern slavery. Any past trauma or experiences should be noted, along with any consequential need for psychological or mental health support to help the child deal with them. Mental health provision is provided at a local level.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what specialist mental health support is available for unaccompanied and asylum-seeking children in care.

Under s20 of the Children Act 1989 the local authority has a statutory responsibility to accommodate unaccompanied, asylum seeking children (UASC). Where the child is accommodated for more than 24 hours they become a ‘looked after’ child and the local authority where the child presents has a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare in the same way as any other looked after child.

Ofsted, as part of its children’s services inspection framework, monitor and quality assess local authority processes in relation to all looked after children and care leavers. This will include an assessment of pathway planning.

The statutory guidance ‘Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery’ and ‘Children Act 1989: planning transition to adulthood for care leavers’ set out how local authorities should appropriately pathway plan in a way that meets the needs of unaccompanied care leavers. This guidance is available at the following links: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/656429/UASC_Statutory_Guidance_2017.pdf and https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/397649/CA1989_Transitions_guidance.pdf.

The statutory guidance ‘Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery’ also sets out how local authorities should appropriately care plan for UASC in accordance with the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010. The regulations apply to all looked after children, regardless of their immigration status, nationality or documentation.

The statutory guidance makes clear that social workers’ knowledge of the asylum process should include an understanding of the child’s asylum process, the purpose of the asylum case review and the different possible outcomes of a child’s asylum claim and how that impacts on pathway planning. Social workers should also have a broad understanding of the immigration system. In addition, the department is developing bespoke materials for social workers to support their understanding of the asylum process. These materials are currently being tested by a sample of local authorities prior to wider dissemination across England. We have also commissioned the No Recourse to Public Fund Network to produce guidance on pathway planning for unaccompanied adolescents who are care leavers.

As part of the care planning process, local authorities must carry out a health assessment of all their looked after children. The Regulations and Statutory Guidance ‘Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Looked-After Children’ makes clear that an assessment should include the child’s emotional and mental health needs and this must be reviewed regularly. Statutory guidance also makes clear that for unaccompanied children, the health assessment should ascertain any physical, psychological or emotional impact of experiences as an unaccompanied child or child victim of modern slavery. Any past trauma or experiences should be noted, along with any consequential need for psychological or mental health support to help the child deal with them. Mental health provision is provided at a local level.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to map speech and language therapy provision across the UK.

We are committed to supporting children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). This government has increased local authorities’ high needs funding by £780 million in 2020-21, boosting the budget by 12% and bringing the total spent on supporting those with the most complex needs to over £7 billion for 2020-21.

Speech and Language therapists working with children in England are employed by local authorities, the health service or directly by schools, in response to children’s and young people’s needs in each area. For this reason the Department does not map services centrally.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
17th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce the effect of fireworks on the local environment.

The Fireworks Act 2003 and the Fireworks Regulations 2004 govern the use of fireworks, including possession of fireworks and the use of fireworks between certain hours. The enforcement of the Fireworks Regulations is the responsibility of the police, and responsibility for the legislation lies with Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards has been working to develop a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that have been raised around fireworks, which includes environmental impact. The aim of the evidence base is to build a full picture of the data around fireworks in order to identify what action - if any - is appropriate.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to the 2019-20 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between her Department and the Palestinian Authority, what assessment her Department made in 2019-20 of the compliance of the Palestinian Authority with the commitments in that MOU; and what representations her Department has made to the Palestinian Authority on compliance with that MOU.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority (PA) is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and DFID’s ‘partnership principles’. We have an active dialogue with the PA on the issues identified through these channels and we assess that the PA continues to demonstrate a credible commitment to our agreements and the ‘partnership principles’.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to the 2018-19 Memorandum of Understanding between her Department and the Palestinian Authority, what assessment her Department made in 2018-19 of whether there had been any breach by the Palestinian Authority of the commitments set out in the MoU; and what discussions her Department had with the Authority on the importance of transparency and compliance with those commitments.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority (PA) is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and DFID’s ‘partnership principles’. We have an active dialogue with the PA on the issues identified through these channels and we assess that the PA continues to demonstrate a credible commitment to our agreements and the ‘partnership principles’.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to the 2019-20 Memorandum of Understanding between her Department and the Palestinian Authority, what assessment she has made of the Palestinian Authority's progress on curriculum reform.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority (PA) is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding and our ‘partnership principles’. We continue to judge that the PA is demonstrating a credible commitment to this Memorandum and the ‘partnership principles’.

We are pleased the PA is currently revising its textbooks and hopes to update them before the start of the new school year in September. I most recently discussed progress of the PA’s review with the Minister for Education on 4 June.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to the 2019-20 Memorandum of Understanding between her Department and the Palestinian Authority, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the steps taken by the Authority to ensure that funding allocated by her Department was not used to cover payments made to prisoners or their families.

No UK Aid is used for payments to prisoners or their families, or the so called Martyrs’ Fund. Our financial support to the Palestinian Authority health and education sectors goes into a dedicated bank account and is only paid to individual workers who have been carefully vetted through the PEGASE mechanism (Palestinian-European Socio-Economic Management Assistance Mechanism). Each payment is independently audited to ensure it has been received by the intended recipient. This rigorous process means we are confident no UK aid is being diverted.

Our partnership with the PA is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding and our ‘partnership principles’. We continue to judge that the PA is demonstrating a credible commitment to DFID’s partnership principles. Our partnership works to improve the lives of Palestinians and support the UK’s commitment to maintain the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to the 2018-19 Memorandum of Understanding between her Department and the Palestinian Authority what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to ensure that funding from her Department was not used to cover payments made to prisoners or their families as administered by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.

No UK Aid is used for payments to prisoners or their families, or the so called Martyrs’ Fund. Our financial support to the Palestinian Authority health and education sectors goes into a dedicated bank account and is only paid to individual workers who have been carefully vetted through the PEGASE mechanism (Palestinian-European Socio-Economic Management Assistance Mechanism). Each payment is independently audited to ensure it has been received by the intended recipient. This rigorous process means we are confident no UK aid is being diverted.

Our partnership with the PA is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding and our ‘partnership principles’. We continue to judge that the PA is demonstrating a credible commitment to DFID’s partnership principles. Our partnership works to improve the lives of Palestinians and support the UK’s commitment to maintain the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to the Answer of 11 May 2020 to Question 42246 on Palestinians: Textbooks, by what date she expects the internal panel of researchers to complete their analysis.

Our three-year People to People programme aimed to bring together Israelis and Palestinians to cooperate on issues which can have a positive impact on both communities, helping to build understanding between people on both sides of the conflict in support of a peaceful, negotiated resolution.

The research component for this programme seeks to look more broadly at the impact of People to People work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to build the evidence base in this area – something that is presently limited. To ensure a thorough analysis of this programme, an internal panel is reviewing the report. Work on this is currently underway and the panel hopes to complete its review by Autumn this year.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to the Answer of 8 July 2019 to Question 272116 on Palestinians: schools, whether the initial international review covering the first 70 textbooks will be published in Spring 2020; and when that review will be placed in the Library.

The UK government is deeply concerned about allegations of incitement in Palestinian Authority’s school textbooks.

Following UK calls for action, we secured agreement from European partners to commission the Georg Eckert Institute to conduct an independent review, which is currently underway. We expect an interim report by June, with a full report later in the year.

We have regular discussions with our European Partners on the Review and we continue to encourage the EU to publish the report. The issue was most recently raised on 18 February by the UK Consul General Jerusalem with the EU Representative in Jerusalem.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether she plans to renew support for the People for Peaceful Change Project.

Our three-year People to People programme aimed to bring together Israelis and Palestinians to cooperate on issues which can have a positive impact on both communities, helping to build understanding between people on both sides of the conflict in support of a peaceful, negotiated resolution.

The programme includes a research component that is looking more broadly at the impact of People to People work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to build the evidence base in this area, which is presently limited. An internal panel of researchers is in the process of analysing the findings. Once this work is complete, we will use the research to inform decisions on future programming in this area. We will seek to publish the research results in due course.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, if she will place a copy of the People for Peaceful Change research element in the Library.

Our three-year People to People programme aimed to bring together Israelis and Palestinians to cooperate on issues which can have a positive impact on both communities, helping to build understanding between people on both sides of the conflict in support of a peaceful, negotiated resolution.

The programme includes a research component that is looking more broadly at the impact of People to People work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to build the evidence base in this area, which is presently limited. An internal panel of researchers is in the process of analysing the findings. Once this work is complete, we will use the research to inform decisions on future programming in this area. We will seek to publish the research results in due course.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether (a) UK direct or (b) multilateral aid to the Palestinian Authority provides any financial or in-kind support to schools named after terrorists.

UK bilateral support to the Palestinian Authority contributes to the salaries of teachers in the West Bank who have been carefully vetted through the Palestinian-European Socio-Economic Management Assistance (PEGASE) mechanism. We do not monitor where individual teachers are deployed, which is a matter for the Palestinian Authority.

Our multilateral support is channelled through Education Cannot Wait and the British Council, who have strong risk management systems in place to ensure that UK aid best supports the provision of quality education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We have raised our concerns about school naming at senior levels within the Palestinian Authority and will continue to do so.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what plans the Government has to merge the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Prime Minister has set out an ambitious programme to enhance the UK’s global leadership and demonstrate that the UK is open, outward-looking and confident on the world stage.

A key element of this is the UK’s continued commitment to spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on international development.

The Prime Minister is particularly keen to ensure that this money is spent well and is aligned with the UK’s foreign policy priorities. Therefore, he has appointed a fully joint junior DFID – FCO ministerial team.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether the Government has consulted with charities on (a) the potential merits of merging her Department with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and (b) the potential effect of merging those Departments on aid policy.

The Prime Minister has appointed a fully joint junior ministerial team for DFID and the FCO. This builds on the good work DFID is already delivering with the FCO: in 32 bilateral posts, 16 multilateral missions and through the eight FCO-DFID Joint Units in London. The Prime Minister also appointed separate Secretaries of State for the Foreign Office and DFID in the recent reshuffle and is keen to make sure UK aid is both spent well and aligned with the UK’s foreign policy priorities.

The Government Manifesto maintains spending 0.7% of GNI on ODA and pledges to end the preventable deaths of mothers, new-born babies and children by 2030 and lead the way in eradicating Ebola and malaria. We will continue to need the support of our partner charities to deliver on these commitments.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the impact of handling fees by freight companies following the UK's departure from the EU on small businesses.

High consumer demand and sustained disruption caused by Covid-19 has put pressure on global freight capacity, which has resulted in demand for shipping containers outstripping supply. This has caused an increase in the cost of freight transport globally. Higher prices have impacted UK trade causing disruption for businesses and individuals. SMEs have been disproportionately affected by higher costs. However, the increased fees are expected to be short in duration with EU trade and services being marginally affected. DIT will continue to engage with businesses and to monitor the impact of rising shipping prices on international trade.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of (a) trends in the costs of imports from and exports to the EU and (b) the effects on small businesses of those costs.

This information is publicly available and can be accessed here: ONS Business insights and impact on the UK economy survey Wave 42.

On 1 October DIT launched the Export Support Service, which gives businesses across the UK one place to get answers to practical questions about exporting to Europe by using the digital service on GOV.UK or by phoning the helpline.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
26th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with the DVLA on reports that staff have been off work on full pay in the context of an application backlog.

The quickest and easiest way to make an application to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is by using its extensive suite of online services. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their documents within a few days.

The delays in processing paper applications were significantly exacerbated by six months of industrial action by the Public and Commercial Services union, which was targeted at the areas that would have the most impact on the motoring public. Without this industrial action, the backlog at the DVLA would by now have been cleared.

To reduce waiting times for customers, the DVLA has introduced additional online services, recruited more staff, increased overtime working and has opened new customer service centres in Swansea and Birmingham.

These measures are having a positive impact and vehicle paper applications are now being processed within normal timescales as are straightforward vocational driving licence applications and renewals. The DVLA is on track to return to normal turnaround times on all non-medical paper driving licence applications by the end of May.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
26th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the causes for the reported backlogs at the DVLA; and what steps he is taking to resolve these issues.

The quickest and easiest way to make an application to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is by using its extensive suite of online services. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their documents within a few days.

The delays in processing paper applications were significantly exacerbated by six months of industrial action by the Public and Commercial Services union, which was targeted at the areas that would have the most impact on the motoring public. Without this industrial action, the backlog at the DVLA would by now have been cleared.

To reduce waiting times for customers, the DVLA has introduced additional online services, recruited more staff, increased overtime working and has opened new customer service centres in Swansea and Birmingham.

These measures are having a positive impact and vehicle paper applications are now being processed within normal timescales as are straightforward vocational driving licence applications and renewals. The DVLA is on track to return to normal turnaround times on all non-medical paper driving licence applications by the end of May.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
21st Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of a payment plan system for those in financial hardship who have incurred fines for non-compliance with the Clean Air Zone rules.

Local authorities are responsible for the implementation and the enforcement of Clean Air Zones. Therefore, Penalty Charge Notices issued as a result of the non-payment of a Clean Air Zone charge would be an enforcement policy matter for them.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the number of ghost flights departing the UK each month.

Since the start of the pandemic, government policy has reduced the risk that airlines operate unnecessary ‘ghost flights’ just to retain historic rights to slots. Carriers must in normal times operate at least 80% of their slots during the current season to retain them for the next equivalent season, the so called ‘80:20’ rule.

The rules requiring airlines to use slots in order to retain them were fully suspended for the Summer 2020, Winter 2020/21 and Summer 2021 seasons.

For the Winter 2021/22 Season, the usage requirement was set at 50% and airlines were able to hand back slot series that they were not intending to use before the season started, to allow other airlines to use them.

For the Summer 2022 Season, the usage requirement has been set at 70% and ‘Justified Non-Use’ provisions have been expanded to provide further protection and flexibility where there are ongoing COVID-19 related restrictions.

The Government has engaged and consulted with the aviation industry and considered all the available evidence, including the potential impacts of different measures. We are considering whether further alleviation measures will be needed for the Winter 22/23 Season.

During the pandemic some flights may have operated with a low number of passengers for reasons unrelated to government policy on slots, such as carrying vital cargo such as medical supplies and helping people return home when COVID-19 related restrictions were introduced.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
28th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the backlog of applications at the DVLA on drivers with disabilities.

The quickest and easiest way to apply for a driving licence is by using the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online service. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their licence within a few days.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application and the DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day. The DVLA is working hard to process paper applications as quickly as possible for all drivers, including those with health conditions. To help reduce waiting times for paper applications, the DVLA has recruited more staff, increased overtime working and has opened new customer service centres in Swansea and Birmingham. These measures are having a positive impact and customers should continue to see an improving picture in terms of waiting times for paper applications.

The DVLA recognises the impact of delays on drivers who have medical conditions or disabilities which may require them to renew their licence more regularly and is working hard to improve the process. Drivers with diabetes, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, a visual impairment, a sleep condition or a heart condition can renew their licence online.

The DVLA has recently introduced a simplified licence renewal process for drivers with epilepsy and multiple sclerosis and is piloting this for some mental health conditions. This renewal process has significantly reduced the need for the DVLA to seek further information from medical professionals and enabled more licensing decisions to be made based on the information provided by the driver. The DVLA is looking at adding more medical conditions to this new process.

The length of time taken to deal with an application depends on the medical condition(s) involved and whether further information is required from medical professionals. The majority of those renewing their licence will be able to

continue driving while their application is being processed, providing they can meet the criteria outlined here.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Government's approach to advertising and promoting changes that were made to the Highway Code in January 2022.

The changes to The Highway Code will be communicated in two phases:

- A factual awareness raising campaign that ran February to March, alerting road users to the changes as they came into effect.

- A broader behaviour change campaign later in the year, to align with seasonal increases in active travel, to help embed the changes and encourage understanding and uptake of the new guidance.

Across the campaign we will measure effectiveness by collating and monitoring:

- Campaign metrics including reach and engagement.

- Pre and post-campaign surveys to determine campaign awareness, understanding, attitudes and behaviours.

The results from the first phase are in the process of being collated. We have seen high levels of engagement and strong stakeholder support for the changes.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of blocking the future award of manufacturing contracts to CAF in the context of their tram models' recurrent faults in the West Midlands and across Europe.

We are working closely with officials from the region and West Midland Metro to monitor the situation, and fully understand the issues.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure Birmingham’s tram network is not suspended.

The Department was made aware of the West Midland Metro closure on 19 March 2022. Since then we have been engaging with officials from the Combined Authority to understand the evolving operational issues. We have received assurances that ticket acceptance on alternate transport modes is in place for Birmingham residents. We continue to monitor the situation, communicating with officials from the region as well as industry safety experts, to understand its potential impact to the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and to understand when services can be resumed.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that disruption to Birmingham’s tram network does not adversely affect the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.

The Department was made aware of the West Midland Metro closure on 19 March 2022. Since then we have been engaging with officials from the Combined Authority to understand the evolving operational issues. We have received assurances that ticket acceptance on alternate transport modes is in place for Birmingham residents. We continue to monitor the situation, communicating with officials from the region as well as industry safety experts, to understand its potential impact to the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and to understand when services can be resumed.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to help support Birmingham residents’ use of alternative public transport following the recurrent suspension of West Midlands Metro services.

The Department was made aware of the West Midland Metro closure on 19 March 2022. Since then we have been engaging with officials from the Combined Authority to understand the evolving operational issues. We have received assurances that ticket acceptance on alternate transport modes is in place for Birmingham residents. We continue to monitor the situation, communicating with officials from the region as well as industry safety experts, to understand its potential impact to the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and to understand when services can be resumed.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to improve access to electric vehicle charging points for public use in Birmingham.

Building on the £1.9 billion from Spending Review 2020, the Government has committed an additional £620 million to support the transition to electric vehicles to support the rollout of charging infrastructure, with a particular focus on local on-street residential charging, and targeted plug-in vehicle grants. The total funding committed by this Government to both electric vehicle grants and infrastructure is £2.5 billion.

To date, grant funding for both electric vehicles and their supporting charging infrastructure has been demand led so there is no specific amount of funding that has been allocated to Birmingham City Council. We encourage all Local Authorities, electric vehicle drivers and workplaces in Birmingham to apply for grant funding through the On-Street Residential Chargepoint, Electric Vehicle Homecharge and Workplace Charging Schemes to assist with the cost of buying and installing electric vehicle chargepoints on residential streets, at drivers’ homes and at workplaces.

We are considering the design of new schemes to ensure good provision across the country. Our forthcoming EV Infrastructure Strategy will set out how the Government will intervene to address the gaps between the current market status and our vision, and how we will monitor progress going forward to 2030.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the number of electric vehicle charging points available for public use in Birmingham.

As at 1 January 2022, there were 194 public electric vehicle charging devices in the Birmingham local authority area.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the payment system of Birmingham's Clean Air Zone which does not alert drivers when they have entered the zone prompting them to pay.

We have not commissioned an autopay system because the Clean Air Zone payment service is proposed to be decommissioned once compliance and a permanent improvement in air quality has been achieved.

We have had to balance many factors in designing the Clean Air Zone payment service, including the legal imperative to act in the shortest possible time. Autopay would have added to the technical complexity.

The Clean Air Zone Framework makes it clear that “as a minimum requirement, there must be traffic signing strategies in place along major access routes and at entry points to clearly delineate the zone, and alternative routes for those who wish to divert around it.” More than 300 signs have been installed by Birmingham City Council on the road network surrounding the boundary of Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone to inform drivers they are approaching the zone.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will review the requirement for dual British and French citizens to surrender their original French driving licence when applying for a British driving licence.

The law does not allow a driver to hold both a GB and an EU driving licence at the same time. Any driver holding an EU driving licence must surrender it before a GB licence can be issued. This is an important provision which helps prevent the circumvention of the system of driving licence endorsements and disqualification for road traffic offences. There are no plans to amend this provision.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of updating the traffic sign regulations and general directions to authorise the use of side road zebra crossings without the need for beacons or zigzag lines.

The Department is aware of research carried out by Transport for Greater Manchester into the idea of simplified zebra crossings and their request for these to be legalised. The Department is carefully considering the research report and its findings before making any decisions on changing legislation.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure a sufficient number of DVLA staff to process driving licence renewal and HGV applications.

During October the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) was able to focus extra resource on vocational driving licence applications to support the HGV driver shortage. This has been successful with routine vocational applications now back to normal turnaround times.

The DVLA’s online services are the quickest and easiest way to make an application. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their documents within a few days. However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application. The latest information on turnaround times for paper applications can be found here.

The DVLA has introduced additional online services, recruited more staff and has secured extra office space in Swansea and Birmingham to help reduce waiting times while providing future resilience and business continuity.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if his Department will update guidance issued by the DVLA on holding expired licences awaiting renewal.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online services are the quickest and easiest way to renew a driving licence. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their driving licence within a few days. However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application for a driving licence. The latest information on DVLA services and the turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found here.

Holders of driving licences that expired between 1 February and 31 December 2020 were given an 11-month extension from the date of expiry. Drivers do not need to renew their photocard or entitlement to drive until 11 months after the original expiry date.

Most drivers applying to renew their licence can continue driving while their application is being processed. Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 allows drivers who have sent a valid application to the DVLA to continue driving while waiting for their application to be processed. Strict criteria apply and these are outlined online here.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will publish a timetable for publication of the Government's consultation on pavement parking.

The Department plans to publish the outcome to the consultation as soon as possible.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made of Rule 163 of the Highway Code on giving cyclists at least as much room when overtaking a car.

The Department consulted last summer on proposed changes to The Highway Code to improve the safety of vulnerable road users, including cyclists. The proposed changes include new guidance in Rule 163 around safe passing distances and speed limits when overtaking.

The consultation on the proposed changes generated a huge response with nearly 21,000 replies received. The Department has concluded full analysis of the feedback and published the Government response to the consultation on the 30 July 2021.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what advice his Department is providing to recipients of the Indian-manufactured AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine who plan to travel to Italy over concerns that that vaccine has not been authorised by the EU Digital Covid Certificate.

Travel advice is a matter for the FCDO. The government is clear that all AstraZeneca vaccines given in the UK are the same product and appear on the NHS COVID Pass as Vaxzevria. The European Medicines Agency has authorised Vaxzevria and we are confident that travel will not be affected. The government recommend that all passengers check FCDO travel advice before travelling overseas.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on people with epilepsy of flashing lights on pedal cycles.

Published research identifies that flashing lights at certain intensities have the potential to trigger seizures in those who suffer from photosensitive epilepsy. It also reports the likelihood of such effects to be low and the frequency range most likely to cause such a response is 5-30 flashes per second (5-30Hz).

As such, the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 (as amended) permit flashing bicycle lamps only if they have a frequency of no greater than 4 Hz, and not so bright as to cause undue dazzle or discomfort to other road users.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what effect the General Data Protection Regulation has had on the ability of the DVLA to sell data to third parties.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has robust processes in place to ensure compliance with the rules governing the processing of personal data included in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018.

The implementation of the GDPR required no specific changes to the robust controls already operated by the DVLA in relation to the lawful sharing of data with authorised third parties. The law allows vehicle keeper details to be disclosed to third parties, including private parking companies, who can demonstrate that they have a reasonable cause to receive it, and any charges levied are to cover costs of processing requests.

The DVLA’s privacy policy is available online at: www.gov.uk/dvla/privacy-policy and provides data subjects with detailed information on who the DVLA shares information with, rather than contacting individuals whenever information is shared. Relevant information is also included in forms and leaflets and on the DVLA’s online services.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the DVLA is permitted to release data to private parking companies.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has robust processes in place to ensure compliance with the rules governing the processing of personal data included in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018.

The implementation of the GDPR required no specific changes to the robust controls already operated by the DVLA in relation to the lawful sharing of data with authorised third parties. The law allows vehicle keeper details to be disclosed to third parties, including private parking companies, who can demonstrate that they have a reasonable cause to receive it, and any charges levied are to cover costs of processing requests.

The DVLA’s privacy policy is available online at: www.gov.uk/dvla/privacy-policy and provides data subjects with detailed information on who the DVLA shares information with, rather than contacting individuals whenever information is shared. Relevant information is also included in forms and leaflets and on the DVLA’s online services.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether individuals are informed when the DVLA has passed on their data to a third party.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has robust processes in place to ensure compliance with the rules governing the processing of personal data included in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018.

The implementation of the GDPR required no specific changes to the robust controls already operated by the DVLA in relation to the lawful sharing of data with authorised third parties. The law allows vehicle keeper details to be disclosed to third parties, including private parking companies, who can demonstrate that they have a reasonable cause to receive it, and any charges levied are to cover costs of processing requests.

The DVLA’s privacy policy is available online at: www.gov.uk/dvla/privacy-policy and provides data subjects with detailed information on who the DVLA shares information with, rather than contacting individuals whenever information is shared. Relevant information is also included in forms and leaflets and on the DVLA’s online services.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the ability of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to process (a) online and (b) postal applications to renew driving licenses.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online services have continued to operate as normal throughout the pandemic. However, paper applications are taking longer to process as they must be dealt with in person.

This is because the DVLA currently has a reduced number of staff on-site to comply with social distancing requirements and ensure staff safety.

All photocard driving licences expiring between 1 February and 31 August have been extended by seven months. Drivers do not need to take any action as the extension is automatic.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what guidance he has published for vehicle owners whose MOT was due before 30 March 2020 and whose appointment was cancelled due to temporary garage closures during the covid-19 outbreak.

MOT requirements have been temporarily altered due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has published guidance relating to light vehicles which were due for an MOT before 30 March. This is available online at the following web address: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-mots-for-cars-vans-and-motorcycles-due-before-30-march-2020.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what financial support the Government is providing to (a) airports and (b) airport staff during the covid-19 outbreak.

Following the Chancellor’s recent announcement, we are working urgently to develop proposals to support the UK aviation industry - we are committed to ensuring the sector and its employees continue to thrive. Next steps will be announced shortly.

11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure equal access to concessionary bus passes throughout the country.

There are no current plans to change the concessionary bus travel arrangements in England.

Concessionary travel is a devolved policy area. This means that there are separate schemes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the administrative arrangements are entirely separate.

Eligibility for the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) is linked to the state pension age. The ENCTS costs around £1 billion annually, so any changes, such as extending free bus travel to those who are not yet eligible for the ENCTS, need to be carefully considered for their impact on the scheme’s financial sustainability.

19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many applications to her Department's Access to Work Scheme are delayed as at 19 April 2022.

Access to Work are currently receiving an increased level of applications for support and are working through all applications to ensure that they are progressed as soon as possible. During the year April 2021-March 2022, c79,800 applications for support were processed.

For applications where a customer is due to begin a new job with a start date within 4 weeks, their case will be prioritised, and contact made as soon as possible. For renewal applications for on-going support, these are also being prioritised and in the majority of cases, support approved using a new streamlined process. In March 2022, 59% of applications to AtW were treated as a priority and allocated to a case manager for immediate action.

In addition to cases in progress and those which are prioritised, there are currently c14,700 Access to Work applications outstanding where we have not yet made contact with the customer and which are outside of our usual timescale for initial contact. These cases are considered in the date order we received them.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of her Department's Access to Work Scheme.

Research has demonstrated the value Access to Work delivers for people with disabilities and employers: Access to Work: Qualitative research with applicants, employers and delivery staff (publishing.service.gov.uk)

The research found “Nearly everyone felt it offered invaluable support for individuals with health conditions and/or disabilities, and their employers – often transforming difficult situations (e.g. in which employees were struggling to continue in work, or employee-employer relationships were deteriorating).”

DWP continues to work closely with disability organisations to review, improve and transform the service it provides to ensure it is as effective as possible. This includes developing a new digital service that will deliver an improved customer experience. The effectiveness of the scheme is demonstrated by its growth as indicated in the Access to Work Official Statistics which shows the number of people receiving Access to Work provision has grown considerably since 2015/16. Although there was a slight decline in 2020/21 reflecting reduced use of travel to work and support worker help during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the impact of the covid-19 outbreak on the annual award renewal of the Access to Work Scheme.

The Department has not completed a specific assessment of award renewals during the Covid-19 period. However, the Access to Work Official Statistics provide information on approvals, payments and expenditure by element type, which covers the period up to March 2021: Access to Work statistics: April 2007 to March 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what information (a) her Department and (b) the Health and Safety Executive hold on the number of fatal falls from residential buildings in the last 10 years.

As the regulator for workplace health and safety the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) collects information on fatal injuries resulting from work-related accidents. Data compiled by HSE identifies the number of work-related fatal injuries resulting from falls from height however this data is not held in a way that identifies what the injured person fell from. HSE does not hold information on fatal falls from height that are not work-related.

Statistics for work-related fatal injuries are published by HSE on the HSE website. Published statistics for work-related fatal injuries to workers resulting from falls from height for 2011/12 to 2020/21 (provisional) are as follows:

Number of fatal injuries from falls from height for:

Workers

Of which…

Year

Employees

Self-employed

2011/12

38

14

24

2012/13

49

26

23

2013/14

45

25

20

2014/15

42

28

14

2015/16

37

20

17

2016/17

27

18

9

2017/18

35

20

15

2018/19

43

23

20

2019/20

31

14

17

2020/21 (provisional)

35

19

16


Note: Statistics presented in the table are for workplace fatal injuries in Great Britain reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations (RIDDOR). For more information on RIDDOR see www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/sources.htm.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to her oral contribution of 17 March 2022, Official report 1031, on the closure of DWP processing centres, how many staff are working at the 13 offices that have not been offered an alternative site to which to relocate.

The Department’s strategic ambition for its back of house estate, announced on 17 March, will reshape how and where the Department works, resulting in a smaller, greener and better estate. This is not about reducing headcount. The Department’s priorities while delivering these changes will be to retain, retrain, and redeploy either within DWP or other government departments in order to ensure we maintain the processing and payment of benefits, where necessary, moving work across the wider delivery network to ensure continuity of service to claimants.

Impacted colleagues are currently having one-to-one discussions with local leaders where their individual circumstances, including any potential impact for those with protected characteristics are discussed and potential options considered therefore we do not have figures on the number of staff offered a relocation until these discussions are completed.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
31st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proportion of child maintenance arrangements were unpaid in (a) February 2022 and (b) March 2022.

The Department publishes quarterly Child Maintenance Service (CMS) statistics, with the latest statistics available to the end of December 2021.

Stat-Xplore - Home (dwp.gov.uk)

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential impact of changes in Universal Credit eligibility rules for students in receipt of extra-costs disability benefits brought about by The Universal Credit (Exceptions to the Requirement not to be receiving Education) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 on those students.

The new regulations do not reduce the existing support which is correctly available to disabled students. They ensure this support comes from the appropriate source of funding: the student support system of loans and grants.

These new regulations do not remove entitlement to UC from any existing disabled student who is currently receiving it. They do not remove it from any future claim to UC from a person who is entitled to a qualifying disability benefit, such as Personal Independence Payment, who is subsequently determined to have a limited capability for work and who wishes to start a course of education.

Furthermore, any adult who has reached the 1st September following their 19th birthday, who is undertaking a full-time non-advanced course (i.e. up to Level 3) for which a maintenance grant is not payable, or a part-time course at any level, is entitled to Universal Credit provided their course is compatible with work-related requirements agreed with their work coach. Where the course is work-related and will give the person the best chance of securing work, the work coach may consider it a suitable work preparation activity. In such cases, time spent on the course will be deducted from the amount of time the person needs to spend looking for work.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of extending the Funeral Expenses Payment eligibility criteria to include low-income families, in addition to those receiving means-tested benefits or tax credits.

The Funeral Expenses Payments (FEP) scheme provides an important contribution towards the cost of a simple, respectful funeral arranged by someone who is in receipt of certain income related benefits or tax credits. The financial assistance offered through the FEP scheme is closely targeted at those who need it most.


The Government has no plans to extend the Funeral Expenses Payment eligibility criteria.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of the level of financial support available for families with funeral costs.

The Funeral Expenses Payments (FEP) scheme provides an important contribution towards the cost of a simple, respectful funeral arranged by someone who is in receipt of certain income related benefits or tax credits.


The scheme meets the necessary costs of a burial or cremation in full and offers up to £1000 to meet other funeral expenses such as, the cost of a coffin, church and funeral director fees. In April 2020, we increased the maximum amount families can claim for these additional costs by 43%, from £700 to £1000, providing vital financial support to families grieving the loss of a loved one.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claims for Funeral Expenses Payment were (a) made and (b) successful in each month since February 2021.

The number of Funeral Expenses Payment (FEP) applications received and awards made, since February 2021 up until January 2022, is provided in the table below, for England and Wales.

Month

Applications received

Awards

February 2021

4,853

2,449*

March 2021

4,763

3,790

April 2021

3,392

2,976

May 2021

2,834

1,957

June 2021

3,368

1,912

July 2021

2,873

2,055

August 2021

3,178

1,854

September 2021

3,454

2,515

October 2021

3,124

2,114

November 2021

3,309

2,184

December 2021

2,749

1,801

January 2022

3,098

1,719

FEP data sourced from the DWP Policy, Budget and Management Information System (PBMIS). *The FEP award figure for February 2021 is an estimate using unaudited internal DWP figures on the number of FEP loans, as this could not be sourced from the PBMIS data for February 2021.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average waiting time for applicants to the Funeral Expenses Payment is in the West Midlands since September 2021.

We cannot provide the average waiting time for applicants to the Funeral Expenses Payment on a regional level, as requested.

However, Average Actual Clearance Times (AACT), for Great Britain, is reported annually in Section 4 of the Social Fund Annual Report, up to 2020/21:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/social-fund-annual-report-2020-to-2021

For 2020/21, the AACT in Great Britain was 20.3 days.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what proportion of people in receipt of carers allowance receive the full amount.

Of the 932,028 claimants in receipt of Carer's Allowance, 99.5% received the full amount of £67.60, as of August 2021 according to the latest data. The published data can be access here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/dwp-benefits-statistics-february-2022

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing carers allowance.

I refer the Hon member to the answer I gave on 20 December 2021 to question number 91990.

https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-12-13/91990

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason Student Finance Maintenance Loans are counted as income for universal credit calculations.

Student loans and grants have a £110 disregard in each Universal Credit monthly assessment period. After this threshold is met, they are treated as income and Universal Credit is deducted accordingly. Special Support Elements or Grants are fully disregarded, as these specifically cover the cost of an educational course.

Financial support for students primarily comes from grants and the student loans system, which is specifically designed for their needs, unlike the wider benefits system. It is right that Universal Credit does not duplicate support already being given. In this respect, Universal Credit mirrors other benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, and new-style Jobseekers Allowance.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reason students’ funding received from student finance funded maintenance loans is deducted from their overall universal credit payments.

Student loans and grants have a £110 disregard in each Universal Credit monthly assessment period. After this threshold is met, they are treated as income and Universal Credit is deducted accordingly. Special Support Elements or Grants are fully disregarded, as these specifically cover the cost of an educational course.

Financial support for students primarily comes from grants and the student loans system, which is specifically designed for their needs, unlike the wider benefits system. It is right that Universal Credit does not duplicate support already being given. In this respect, Universal Credit mirrors other benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, and new-style Jobseekers Allowance.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants have been waiting longer than three months for a work capability assessment as of 9 February 2022.

The requested data is not held.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average waiting time is from a claimant making an application to receiving a decision on their work capability assessment for the most recent period available.

The Department publishes Employment Support Allowance (ESA) Work Capability Assessment (WCA) statistics on gov.uk which can be found here. The median ESA WCA customer journey processing times for initial claims can be found in section 10 of the latest statistical bulletin. The statistics include the average time taken for the full end-to-end process.

More details can also be found in Table 1 of the ‘Clearance Times for Initial Claims’ dataset in the ESA Work Capability Assessments section of Stat-Xplore. Guidance for users is available here.

The information for Universal Credit WCA processing times is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment has been made on the impact of taking a partner's income into account for universal credit eligibility, including with regard to disabled claimants.

No assessment has been made.

Universal Credit is a household benefit. A Universal Credit award is calculated on the basis of the set benefit rate based on individual household circumstances, against any other income the household has available, to ensure fairness of treatment for all claimants. This is a long standing principle of means-tested benefits. Income does not include any Personal Independence Payment the disabled person may be receiving, as it is disregarded in the calculation of Universal Credit.

For Universal Credit claimants with health conditions and disabilities which restrict, wholly or partly, their capability for work, additional financial help is available. Those with limited capability for work (LCW) or limited capability for work related activity (LCWRA) have:

  • a work allowance, and
  • in couple claims where one is working, access to help with childcare costs.

Claimants who are determined to have LCWRA are entitled to the award of an additional amount of benefit – the LCWRA addition – which is £343.63 per month (2021-22 rates).

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what guidance her Department has published for employers on offering long-term sick leave to people suffering with long covid.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is payable for up to 28 weeks per period of sickness absence. Sickness absences which are less than 8 weeks apart count as the same period of sickness. In a new period of sickness, employees are eligible for an additional 28 weeks of SSP. As such, where individuals remain sick or incapable of work as a result of coronavirus, including those suffering with long covid, they will be eligible for SSP, subject to the usual qualifying conditions.

The pages on Gov.UK provide extensive information and support to employees regarding the circumstances in which they may be eligible for SSP and what evidence they need to provide to their employer. Additionally, there is specific guidance for employers explaining which employees may be eligible for SSP and when employers should start paying SSP. There is a calculator to support employers to understand how much SSP to pay.

24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if P&J Moore Ltd, who operate Kickstart Portal, are contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions.

P&J Moore Ltd are not contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many young people have been given a placement on the Kickstart Scheme (a) in the UK and (b) by each parliamentary constituency.

I refer the honourable member to PQ 145013. There have been over 2,000 young people who have started a Kickstart job since the scheme began.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have been waiting for a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment for (a) less than and (b) more than six months in the most recent period for which figures are available.

The information requested is not held.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many paper-based work capability assessments were carried out from April 2019 to March 2020.

There were 295,000 paper-based Work Capability Assessments carried out from April 2019 to March 2020.

All volumes have been rounded to the nearest 100.

All of the above data is derived from internal departmental management information.

Please note: the above data is derived from unpublished management information which is collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to Official Statistics Publication standards.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants have been assessed as needing face-to-face work capability assessments since March 2020.

The information requested is not held.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many decisions have been reached based on paper-based work capability assessments since March 2020.

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

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many decisions have been reached based on work capability assessments made by telephone since March 2020.

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

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants have not received a decision on their universal credit claim because they require a face-to-face work capability assessment.

No claimants have not received a decision on their Universal Credit (UC) claim because they require a face to face Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

UC claimants do not have to wait for a WCA before they can be awarded UC. Depending on the outcome of the WCA, some UC claimants may then be entitled to an additional amount.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average cost is of undertaking a paper-based work capability assessment.

The Health and Disability Assessment Services (HDAS) Contract is let on a target cost of service basis alongside performance incentives and remedies rather than on an output cost per assessment or administrative task basis. Therefore, we are unable to provide an average cost per assessment undertaken for paper based, telephone or face to face work capability assessments.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average cost is of undertaking a telephone work capability assessment.

The Health and Disability Assessment Services (HDAS) Contract is let on a target cost of service basis alongside performance incentives and remedies rather than on an output cost per assessment or administrative task basis. Therefore, we are unable to provide an average cost per assessment undertaken for paper based, telephone or face to face work capability assessments.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average cost is of undertaking a face-to-face work capability assessment.

The Health and Disability Assessment Services (HDAS) Contract is let on a target cost of service basis alongside performance incentives and remedies rather than on an output cost per assessment or administrative task basis. Therefore, we are unable to provide an average cost per assessment undertaken for paper based, telephone or face to face work capability assessments.

28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many families with children received the £20 per week uplift in universal credit standard allowance payments, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 20 March 2020, in Birmingham, Selly Oak constituency, in each month since its introduction.

The available information on the number of households with children with Universal Credit in payment, by parliamentary constituency, 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

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many work coaches in Birmingham will be assigned to the Kickstart scheme.

All Work Coaches across the Jobcentre network, including those based in Birmingham, will be able to make referrals to the Kickstart scheme.

DWP are recruiting additional Work Coaches nationally including in Birmingham, the first wave of which are starting to arrive now and will be fully in place by the end of October with further planned recruitment later in the year which will grow capacity even further.

Additional employment support will also be available to young people in Birmingham via the Birmingham Youth Hub, due to open on 30 September 2020. Working in partnership with key local partners, including the Princes Trust and the Local Authority Care Leaver Team, the Hub will provide young people with support to access employment and training opportunities

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many applications to be a representative of a group of employers from (a) the West Midlands and (b) the UK her Department has received for the Kickstart scheme.

The Kickstart Scheme only opened to applications on 2 September, and already thousands of employers have expressed interest in providing Kickstart opportunities for young people. We are pleased to confirm that the department is now processing these applications from across the UK, this is currently a clerical process, so reliable management information, particularly on geographical areas, is not yet available.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many representatives are required from a group of employers to form an application for the Kickstart scheme.

Employers looking to offer roles to fewer than 30 Kickstart applicants over the life of the scheme are able to bid for Kickstart funding via an intermediary, or representative, organisation. Intermediaries can gather employers keen to offer Kickstart jobs to make a collective bid to fund 30 or more vacancies.

Smaller employers will have support from their intermediary to create high quality roles and additional support so that young people get the most out of their placement, this also reduces the administrative burden falling on the small employer.

The department has received significant interest from a wide range of bodies including local authorities, charities and trade/industry bodies looking to help small organisations deliver Kickstart jobs for young people at risk of long term unemployment. There is no limit to the number of employers one intermediary can work with, so long as they are capable of supporting them all through the process.

Intermediaries can also apply to add additional Kickstart jobs and new employers to their portfolio after they have had an initial bid approved to fund 30 or more Kickstart jobs.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government has taken to make public services more accessible to people with hidden disabilities.

The Government is ensuring that disabled people, including people with hidden disabilities have access to public services, such as access to Changing Places toilet facilities, the Blue Badge scheme for parking, and accessible communications. The Government, via the Cabinet Office Disability Unit, is supporting the British Standards Institute in its development of a public information symbol to support disabled people with non-visible disabilities.

We will publish a National Strategy for Disabled People to ensure that all disabled people can play a full role in society. The Strategy will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects and phases of life, including employment, housing, education and transport.

11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many single parents have not received at least one child maintenance payment from the paying parent since the service paused chasing missed payments.

The number of Parents due to pay via Collect and Pay who have paid not any maintenance each month is published quarterly. The latest figures for Child Maintenance Service are up to December 2019 and can be found in Table 9 at the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-maintenance-service-statistics-data-to-december-2019-experimental

The number of Parents due to pay via Collect and Pay who have not paid maintenance since 1 April 2020 will not be available until the publication in September 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many single parents have seen their child maintenance payments reduced as a result of the paying parent making a new claim for universal credit since March 2020.

We do hold summarised information on number of Change of Circumstances requests for Child Maintenance payments.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to resume chasing missed child maintenance payments.

Child Maintenance Service is currently offering a reduced service due to coronavirus pandemic, in agreement with ministers, and will focus on priority work. We will not take action to collect arrears during this current period but we will collect any unpaid amounts including any missed payments at a later date.

The DWP are currently formulating a recovery plan, which details our staged approach to move back to normal service. Based on current planning assumptions, Child Maintenance Service expects to provide further detail on the approach to missed payments in July 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what support the Government is providing to victims of abuse who are waiting for missed child maintenance payments.

Where parents have reported domestic abuse, agents are trained to signpost clients to additional sources of support, including the new gov.uk page which highlights support routes in a crisis, as well as advice services. The Child Maintenance Options (CMO) website provides advice and signposting information to a number of specialist domestic abuse support organisations, as well as advice and information on staying safe.

Paying Parents have a regular schedule of payments to make and are still expected to pay child maintenance throughout this period.

If arrears do accrue during this period due to missed payments, the Service will deal with the debt once the current situation stabilises, to ensure that receiving parents do not lose out in the long run. The Service will update calculations as soon as possible and collect any unpaid amounts that may have accrued. Any parent found to have abused the system will find themselves subject to the full extent of our enforcement powers – including prosecution through the courts.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department plans to postpone (a) employment support allowance and (b) personal independence payment assessments during the covid-19 outbreak.

We announced on Monday 16 March that, as of Tuesday 17 March, face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits will be suspended for the next three months, including those for Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment. Anyone who has a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from Tuesday 17 March onwards does not need to attend and will be contacted to discuss next steps and alternative arrangements, which could involve either telephone or paper-based assessments.

13th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what (a) advice and (b) guidance her Department is providing to claimants of social security benefits on the administration of those (i) claims and (ii) benefits during the covid-19 outbreak; and what such (A) advice and (B) guidance her Department is providing to those claimants at high-risk of developing a severe illness as a result of a covid-19 infection.

On 12 March 2020 regulations (The Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020) were laid to give effect to the measures outlined in the Budget, designed to help delay the spread of COVID-19 and ensure people are not penalised for doing the right thing. This will represent a boost of almost £500 million to the welfare system and ensure work search and work availability requirements within Universal Credit (UC) are switched off. Affected self-employed claimants will also not have a Minimum Income Floor (as assumed level of income) applied for a period of time within UC.

To avoid increasing the burden on health care professionals and the risk of further infection, we are removing the requirement for fit notes in relation to both Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and UC claims relating to COVID-19 only. In line with current NHS guidance; anyone required to self-isolate or having COVID-19 will be treated as having Limited Capability for Work in ESA and UC without the requirement for medical evidence or undergoing a Work Capability Assessment.

In addition, to better support the needs of people (particularly the self-employed and those not eligible for SSP) and/or not entitled to UC, we are removing the seven waiting days that currently apply to ESA. This means that everyone who makes a new claim for ESA; is entitled to the benefit and is infected with Covid-19 or required to self-isolate will be paid from day one of their claim.

Government officials continue to work closely together to understand the potential impacts of COVID-19 on employment and benefits. The Department has introduced new guidance about claiming benefits which can be found at: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 6 February 2020 to Question 10295, on Maternity Allowance, on what date the service level agreement came into force; which parties are bound by that agreement; and whether she plans to revert to clearing claims for maternity allowance within 24 working days.

There is no formal Service Level Agreement in place; that term was used to describe the process by which the department considers a variety of factors to identify the most appropriate balance of resources to deliver a good level of customer service. Currently we work to a planning assumption of a maximum waiting time of 24 days, but our actual processing time is currently eight days.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 27 January 2020 to Question 5322 on Maternity Allowance, what the average working day turnaround was for Maternity Allowance claims from (a) 16 to 31 December 2019 and (b) 1 to 15 January 2020.

The service level agreement for processing a Maternity Allowance claim is 30 working days.

The average working day turn-around for Maternity Allowance claims for the periods quoted are:

a) From 16 to 31 December 2019 – 30 working days

b) From 1 to 15 January 2020 – 30 working days

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Answer of 4 November 2019 to Question 1893 on Maternity Allowance, by what date she plans for her Department to meet its target of clearing Maternity Allowance claims within 24 working days.

As of 23rd January our outstanding work volumes are below the aspirational target of 24 days. We continue to monitor progress on a weekly basis.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Answer of 5 November 2019 to Question 8582 on maternity allowance, what the average working day turn around for Maternity Allowance claims was from (a) 16 to 31 October 2019, (b) 1 to 15 November 2019, (c) 16 to 30 November 2019 and (d) 1 to 15 December 2019.

The average working day turn-around for Maternity Allowance claims for the periods quoted are:

16th-31st October – 10.5 weeks

1st – 15th November – 9 weeks

16th-30th November – 7.5 weeks

1st – 15th December – 6 weeks

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average length of time is for claimants in the (a) support and (b) work-related activity groups to be awarded employment support allowance.

As of May 2019, the latest point at which this information is available, the mean duration of a claim for Employment and Support Allowance claimants currently in the (a) support group is 5.15 years and (b) work-related activity group is 4.60 years.

Alternatively, the median duration of a claim for Employment and Support Allowance claimants currently in the (a) support group is 5.49 years and (b) work-related activity group is 4.76 years.

Source: DWP 100% Employment Support Allowance data source

Notes:

  • Figures are rounded to the nearest 2 decimal places.
10th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average cost to her Department is of undertaking a work capability assessment.

The Health and Disability Assessment Services (HDAS) Contract is let on a target cost of service basis alongside performance incentives and remedies rather than on an output cost per assessment or administrative task basis. Therefore we are unable to provide an average cost per assessment undertaken.

13th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the current sick pay policy for care home staff who are absent due to covid-19.

The majority of staff working in the social care sector are employed by private providers which determine pay and the terms and conditions of employment. All providers should support good health and safety practice and employers should ensure staff stay away from the workplace where there would be a health risk to those in their care.

Statutory Sick Pay is available to those infected by COVID-19 and are unable to work, payable after four days. It is paid at £99.35 per week and is available in all sectors to those who earn more than £123 a week on average.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve incidental diagnosis rate of heart valve disease following the reduction of face-to-face GP appointments.

NHS England and NHS Improvement’s guidance states that general practitioner practices must provide face to face appointments, alongside remote consultations. Patients’ views should be sought and practices should respect preferences for face to face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary. In March 2022, 62% of appointments were face-to-face, excluding COVID-19 vaccinations. At the end of 2021/22, 66 community diagnostic centres were available to support Primary Care Networks to increase diagnostic capacity and improve the detection of conditions such as heart failure and heart valve disease.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the affordability of covid-19 testing for people who are visiting relatives in care homes.

Visitors are no longer asked to test before entering a care home although they are encouraged to take necessary precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, including staying away from the care home if they are symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19. However, free asymptomatic testing is available for visitors providing personal care before entering the care home, up to twice weekly if visiting more than twice. While visitor testing is no longer required, we will continue to ensure that COVID-19 tests are available through the private market for those who wish to purchase them.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department plans to take to ensure adequate supplies of covid-19 (a) PCR and (b) lateral flow tests for care homes.

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

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of support provided to care homes following the publication of the Government's guidance entitled Living with Covid-19 on 21 February 2022.

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

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve staff retention in the care home sector.

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

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the sick pay policy for care home staff who are off sick with covid-19.

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

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support care homes in the context of the rising cost of energy.

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

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support care homes in the context of the rising cost of insurance.

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

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has plans to update guidance on eligibility for home visits from healthcare professionals for a person who is deemed to be housebound.

Under the GP Contract, practices must provide services to a patient outside of practice premises in instances where, in the reasonable opinion of the practice, it is considered that a consultation is required and it would be inappropriate for the patient to attend the practice premises. Practices must provide this service at the patient’s last recorded home address or another place in the contractor’s practice area.

In 2014/15, contract arrangements were updated to introduce a measure allowing general practitioner practices to register patients from outside the practice areas without a duty to provide home visits for such patients, where considered clinically appropriate. Where an individual is registered as an out of area patient without home visits, NHS England and NHS Improvement are responsible for ensuring continued access to primary medical services in cases of an urgent care need when at home and it would be inappropriate for the patient to attend the practice. There are no plans to change the current GP Contract requirements related to home visits.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has issued on the criteria used to determine whether a person is deemed to be housebound and eligible for home visits from healthcare professionals.

Under the GP Contract, practices must provide services to a patient outside of practice premises in instances where, in the reasonable opinion of the practice, it is considered that a consultation is required and it would be inappropriate for the patient to attend the practice premises. Practices must provide this service at the patient’s last recorded home address or another place in the contractor’s practice area.

In 2014/15, contract arrangements were updated to introduce a measure allowing general practitioner practices to register patients from outside the practice areas without a duty to provide home visits for such patients, where considered clinically appropriate. Where an individual is registered as an out of area patient without home visits, NHS England and NHS Improvement are responsible for ensuring continued access to primary medical services in cases of an urgent care need when at home and it would be inappropriate for the patient to attend the practice. There are no plans to change the current GP Contract requirements related to home visits.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that ear microsuction and irrigation services are available on the NHS for pensioners who cannot afford private treatment.

General practitioner practices are increasingly recommending self-care methods as the primary means to support the safe removal of ear wax. However, if a practice considers removal clinically necessary, the procedure should either be undertaken at the practice or the patient should be referred to an appropriate local NHS service.

Decisions about the funding and provision of health services, including ear wax removal, are the responsibility of local clinical commissioning groups. Commissioners plan services to meet the needs of local communities, including continuing to ensure there is appropriate access to ear wax removal services.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to home visits from healthcare professionals, what guidance his Department has issued for people who want to challenge their status as able to leave their house with minimal assistance or support.

Under the GP Contract, practices must establish and operate a complaints procedure to deal with complaints in relation to any matter reasonably connected with the provision of services under the Contract.

Where a patient wishes to challenge the decision of the practice, the patient should follow the local complaints procedure, which includes an escalation process in the event of an unsatisfactory outcome. Practices must include information for patients on how to make a complaint or comment on the provision of services in the practice’s leaflet or website.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
31st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase the awareness of the need to donate (a) blood, (b) plasma and (c) platelets to NHS Blood and Transplant.

NHS Blood and Transplant raises awareness of blood, plasma and platelet donation in England through a range of media, marketing activity, donor and patient case studies, partnerships and engagement with business, charities and faith organisations. This is in addition to donor recruitment campaigns and events such as ‘What’s Your Blood Type’, which are held in the community.

These campaigns aim to increase awareness of donations to ensure that the right blood components are available for all patients, including platelet and plasma components and plasma for medicines for patients with complex needs. In addition, NHS Blood and Transplant continues to invest in the diversification of the blood donor base to support patients and reduce health disparities.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to raise awareness and understanding of pathological demand avoidance among health care professionals.

Pathological demand avoidance (PDA) is a term used to describe complex or extreme behaviours seen in some autistic people and professional consensus on its status is still required. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guideline ‘Autism spectrum disorder in under 19s: recognition, referral and diagnosis’ recommends that during autism assessments, healthcare workers should consider PDA and make any appropriate referrals. The national autism strategy, published on 21 July 2021, aims to raise understanding of autism amongst health care professionals. We are developing and trialling the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in learning disability and autism, to ensure health and social care staff have the skills and knowledge to provide safe, compassionate and informed care.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to support Integrated Care Boards to innovate in the context of the duty in the Health and Care Bill as amended in committee to promote innovation.

In addition to the statutory duties to promote innovation in the Health and Care Bill, the Department continues to work with partners of the National Health Service such as the Accelerated Access Collaborative, to ensure innovation is embedded in integrated care boards (ICBs) and best practice is communicated. The Department also supports Academic Health Science Networks in engaging with ICBs on adoption and innovation.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to ensure that Integrated Care Boards have the (a) accountability and (b) resources necessary to effectively promote innovation in the context of the duty to promote innovation in the Health and Care Bill.

The Government has tabled amendments in the Committee stage of the Bill to ensure appropriate accountability for innovation. This includes amendments requiring a joint forward plan for integrated care boards (ICB) and partners setting out how the board will promote innovation and requiring an annual report. These will be published and reviewed by NHS England. There are also accountability mechanisms for ICB Chief Executives and Chairs to foster a culture of innovation. The Department will continue to work with the National Health Service and the Accelerated Access Collaborative to ensure that best practice in promoting innovation is communicated to ICBs and support Academic Health Science Networks on adoption.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on people with caring responsibilities of his decision to end the free provision of covid-19 lateral flow tests.

The approach to managing COVID-19 in adult social care will continue to evolve but will focus on providing care and supporting those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. We will continue to make symptomatic testing available for a small number of at-risk groups. Further details on the future of asymptomatic lateral flow testing in adult social care and for eligible groups will be provided in due course. We will continue to keep the impact of these policies on people with caring responsibilities under review.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what alternative steps he plans to take to identify and track the progress of new variants of covid-19 in the context of his decision to end free provision of covid-19 lateral flows tests.

We will continue to monitor cases and retain surveillance, in hospital settings in particular, including using genomic sequencing to allow insights into the evolution of the virus. We will prepare and maintain the capabilities to increase testing and other tools such as laboratory infrastructure should this be required against a new variant.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department will take to ensure immunocompromised people are safeguarded following the removal of the requirement to self-isolate upon testing positive for covid-19.

The vaccination programme has weakened the link between infection, hospitalisation and deaths and ensured that those who are most vulnerable are protected from severe outcomes of COVID-19. A cohort of approximately 1.3 million people, many of whom are immunosuppressed, have been identified as being eligible for anti-viral treatments and will continue to have access to symptomatic testing.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether financial support is available for employee's taking time off work to look after their children who have contracted covid-19 and are self-isolating.

The Test and Trace Support Payment scheme will end on 24 February 2022. A parent or guardian of a child who is required to self-isolate due to a positive test for COVID-19 on or before 23 February 2022 will have 42 days from the first day of the self-isolation period to submit a claim. A parent or guardian who meets the eligibility criteria of the main scheme or the discretionary scheme will receive the £500 support payment. A parent or guardian who is unable to work from home if their child tests positive for COVID-19 from 24 February 2022 may be eligible for other Government support.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of ending free of charge covid-19 lateral flow tests on the position of people with long-term health conditions.

We will make free symptomatic testing available for a small number of at-risk groups. Details on the eligible groups will be made available in due course. We will continue to review the impact of these policies on people with long-term health conditions.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure the records of covid-19 booster vaccinations are provided on covid-19 travel passes.

When travelling abroad, records confirming receiving the booster vaccination can be accessed using the NHS COVID Pass via the NHS App and NHS.UK. The booster record can be seen in both the Domestic and Travel COVID Pass sections.

From 10 December 2021, an NHS COVID Pass letter can be ordered via the 119 or NHS.UK, if non-digital proof is required for the booster vaccination for international travel. The letter will show a 2D barcode for each vaccination received, including the booster vaccination.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he plans to take to reduce regional ​disparities in access to IVF treatment for same-sex couples.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Ealing Central and Acton on 31 January 2022 to Question 112645.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the cost of IVF treatment on the NHS for same-sex couples.

No such estimate has been made, as the Department does not collect this data centrally.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent estimate he has made of the number of social care staff in Birmingham who have been dismissed following the introduction of the covid-19 vaccine mandate.

No specific estimate has been made as data on the reasons for staff exit are not collected. Following a public consultation, regulations were laid to revoke vaccination as a condition of deployment, which came into force on 15 March 2022.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of people in Birmingham who have been waiting for over 62 days for cancer treatment.

This information is not collected in the format requested.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people in (a) Birmingham and (b) the West Midlands are awaiting cancer treatment.

This information is not collected in the format requested.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department collects data on the number of PCR test results that are not returned after being sent to laboratories for testing.

All polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results are returned to individuals regardless of positive, negative or void result.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
31st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his timetable is for reviewing the recommendations on changing the qualifying age for free prescriptions in England to 66 years of age.

The consultation on aligning the upper age exemption for free prescriptions with the state pension age closed on 3 September 2021. No decisions on the proposals have yet been made. We will respond to the consultation and announce next steps in due course.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
31st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to monitor the progress of face-to-face appointment availability in GP practices.

The Department regularly engages with NHS England and NHS Improvement to monitor the levels of face to face appointments in general practice. NHS England and NHS Improvement’s guidance states that patients’ input into choices about appointment mode should be sought. Practices should respect preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary. Online tools must always be provided in addition to, rather than as a replacement for, other channels for accessing general practice.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the impact the covid-19 outbreak on research into the (a) cause and (b) treatment of Post SSRI Sexual Dysfunction.

No assessment has been made. However, through the National Institute for Health Research, we have funded studies into sexual dysfunction and use of antipsychotic drugs or antidepressant medication. This includes a review to understand ways to manage sexual dysfunction if participants were taking antidepressant medication or antipsychotic medication.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of designating Post SSRI Sexual Dysfunction as a recognised medical condition.

No assessment has been made.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the (a) size of the cancer treatment backlog in Birmingham and (b) the length of time needed to clear that backlog.

This information is not collected in format requested.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Jan 2022
IVF
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to tackle variation in access to IVF treatment throughout the country.

We expect local National Health Service bodies to commission fertility services in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guidelines to ensure equitable access in England. The Department undertook a policy review about the variation in access to NHS fertility services, which was completed in 2021. The results of this review will inform the Women’s Health Strategy, which is due to be published in spring 2022.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much of the £1.4 billion fund to help local authorities offer a fairer cost of care to providers will go to those providing domiciliary care.

As a condition of receiving funding, we will expect local authorities to conduct cost of care exercises, including for domiciliary care, to set out their plans for driving market sustainability. This will include progress towards a fair cost of care and to report on how funding is being used. How far local authorities will move towards paying a fair cost of care, and the amount of funding that goes towards domiciliary fee rates, will vary according to their starting point, local market circumstances and local pressures.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to provide further support for (a) domiciliary care providers and (b) domiciliary care staff.

To provide further support for domiciliary providers, we have extended the Infection Control and Testing Fund by a further £388.3 million until 31 March 2022. Domiciliary care providers are able to access this funding to put in place effective infection prevention and control measures, including supporting testing and increasing vaccine uptake.

We have made available two rounds of the Workforce Recruitment and Retention fund, totalling £462.5 million to support local authorities and care providers recruit and retain care staff. Home care workers will be eligible for the Health and Care Worker visa for a 12-month period and added to the shortage occupation list, making it quicker, cheaper and easier to recruit eligible workers from overseas to fill vital gaps.

The Government has committed to providing free Personal Protective Equipment for their COVID-19 needs until the end of March 2023. To support staff, a bespoke testing supply channel has been set up to enable asymptomatic home carers to access weekly polymerase chain reaction tests to administer at home. Domiciliary care workers have been prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccine and we have made free flu vaccines available to eligible staff.

We are continuously reviewing our guidance to ensure that staff working in domiciliary care are receiving up to date advice to keep them as safe as possible during this time.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of people who took a covid-19 PCR test received their results within (a) 24, (b) 48, (c) 72 and (d) 96 hours of taking their test in August 2021.

The information is not available in the format requested.

However, weekly statistics for the number of COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test results received in England within 24, 48, 72 hours is available in the Weekly NHS Test and Trace report, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/nhs-test-and-trace-statistics-england-weekly-reports

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of people who took a covid-19 PCR test received their results within (a) 24, (b) 48, (c) 72 and (d) 96 hours of taking their test in December 2021.

The information is not available in the format requested.

However, weekly statistics for the number of COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test results received within 24, 48, 72 hours in England is available on Weekly NHS Test and Trace report, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/nhs-test-and-trace-statistics-england-weekly-reports

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of covid-19 PCR tests were marked as missing in December 2021.

The Department does not hold data in the format requested.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that the supply of covid-19 lateral flow tests is not disrupted for healthcare workers, school teachers and pupils and other key recipients.

The UK Health Security Agency has increased both the supply of tests and distribution capability. We have delivered approximately seven million tests a day through GOV.UK and 90 million tests a week in the United Kingdom through all delivery channels, including to educational settings.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the availability of covid-19 lateral flow tests (a) ordered through the gov.uk website and (b) collected at pharmacies, supermarkets and other venues.

We are working to ensure that people across the country can access lateral flow tests. The UK Health Security Agency has increased both the supply of tests and distribution capability. We have increased home delivery channel capacity to 7 million tests every day and record numbers of test kits are going to pharmacies across the country, over 16 million tests were delivered last week. 90 million lateral flow tests are expected to be distributed each week for the next few weeks.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the process for removing businesses from the list of PCR test providers for travel on the gov.uk website in the event that those providers do not meet the criteria they have set for delivery and process times of PCR tests.

We continuously monitor and assess the adequacy of the process for removing private providers, including delivery and testing services, to ensure a high-quality service to customers.

Since the start of the travel testing programme, we have refined the process for identifying where providers have not met our standards for the delivery and processing of polymerase chain reaction testing.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the cost of PCR tests for people entering the UK from overseas.

No estimate has been made. However, the average price of a day two test is now under £45, with many available for £20.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the guidelines in place to ensure that travel PCR test providers meet the timeframes advertised on their websites in respect of the (a) delivery of and (b) processing of those tests.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) Regulations 2021 and The Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010 provide the legal framework for the minimum standards required from private testing providers. This includes meeting the required timetable for testing. For polymerase chain reaction testing, this states that the maximum time for providers to return the test result to the consumer is 48 hours from receipt of the sample at the laboratory. A provider may be removed from GOV.UK on a precautionary basis pending investigation if it is believed to be risking public safety and not meeting the minimum standards. Local Trading Standards are responsible for formal proceedings.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the progress of the covid-19 booster programme in ensuring that people who are housebound receive their booster vaccination.

Every eligible adult in England aged 18 years old and over has been offered a COVID-19 booster vaccination, including those who are housebound. Local arrangements are in place with general practitioners, community pharmacies and volunteers visiting those who are housebound and eligible for their COVID-19 booster dose.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the difficulties faced by people with disabilities, such as a visual impairment, in using use covid-19 lateral flow testing kits at home.

The Department ensures that lateral flow tests are available for free through a choice of testing routes. People can self-test under guidance from a trained testing operative if needed at asymptomatic test sites. We provide a range of accessible format testing instructions and continue to procure rapid lateral flow tests kits which are progressively easier to use and reflect improvements made following feedback received from users of our testing services. In autumn 2021, a short pilot was conducted with a diverse set of visually impaired volunteers to assess to what extent remote video assistance via the 119 service might support them and others to self-test independently and accurately using a lateral flow test kit. The pilot findings and recommendations are currently being finalised for stakeholder review.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps his Department has taken to help ensure that cancer patients have access to dental services.

National Health Service dentists 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. Patients undergoing treatment for cancer should therefore be prioritised for treatment.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Chancellor’s announcement in September 2019, what progress has been made on introducing a £1,000 personal development budget for existing health professionals in the NHS.

A £1,000 personal development budget has been made available to every nurse, midwife and allied health professional working in the National Health Service to support their personal learning and development needs over three years. The first year of the scheme started 1 April 2020 with the scheme due to end on 31 March 2023. Health Education England is working with NHS employers to review the impact of this investment.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the NHS has to commission transcatheter tricuspid valve leaflet repair routinely.

No specific assessment has been made of the effectiveness of the implementation of NHS England's commissioning policy for percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for primary degenerative mitral regurgitation in adults. NHS England and NHS Improvement continue to provide access to mitral valve leaflet repair by commissioning on an interim basis from the three National Health Service trusts that supported the clinical evaluation of this procedure. All cardiology services in England were made aware they should continue to refer patients to these centres in advance of a formal provider selection taking place.

Data submitted to the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes research (NICOR) registry indicates that 94 patients in 2018 and 175 patients in 2019 had mitral valve leaflet repair. Cardiology activity and completeness of NICOR data submissions were significantly impacted during 2020 due to COVID and therefore data is incomplete for that year. Overall, NHS England and NHS Improvement estimate that 4,000 patients may be considered for the mitral valve leaflet repair procedure and approximately 400 patients would be referred for the procedure per year after five years. NHS England and NHS Improvement have no plans to commission transcatheter tricuspid valve leaflet repair.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of patients who are eligible for percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for primary degenerative mitral regurgitation in any given year; and how many patients have been treated with percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for primary degenerative mitral regurgitation in each year since that treatment was first commissioned by the NHS.

No specific assessment has been made of the effectiveness of the implementation of NHS England's commissioning policy for percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for primary degenerative mitral regurgitation in adults. NHS England and NHS Improvement continue to provide access to mitral valve leaflet repair by commissioning on an interim basis from the three National Health Service trusts that supported the clinical evaluation of this procedure. All cardiology services in England were made aware they should continue to refer patients to these centres in advance of a formal provider selection taking place.

Data submitted to the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes research (NICOR) registry indicates that 94 patients in 2018 and 175 patients in 2019 had mitral valve leaflet repair. Cardiology activity and completeness of NICOR data submissions were significantly impacted during 2020 due to COVID and therefore data is incomplete for that year. Overall, NHS England and NHS Improvement estimate that 4,000 patients may be considered for the mitral valve leaflet repair procedure and approximately 400 patients would be referred for the procedure per year after five years. NHS England and NHS Improvement have no plans to commission transcatheter tricuspid valve leaflet repair.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the implementation of NHS England's commissioning policy for percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for primary degenerative mitral regurgitation in adults, which was published in July 2019.

No specific assessment has been made of the effectiveness of the implementation of NHS England's commissioning policy for percutaneous mitral valve leaflet repair for primary degenerative mitral regurgitation in adults. NHS England and NHS Improvement continue to provide access to mitral valve leaflet repair by commissioning on an interim basis from the three National Health Service trusts that supported the clinical evaluation of this procedure. All cardiology services in England were made aware they should continue to refer patients to these centres in advance of a formal provider selection taking place.

Data submitted to the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes research (NICOR) registry indicates that 94 patients in 2018 and 175 patients in 2019 had mitral valve leaflet repair. Cardiology activity and completeness of NICOR data submissions were significantly impacted during 2020 due to COVID and therefore data is incomplete for that year. Overall, NHS England and NHS Improvement estimate that 4,000 patients may be considered for the mitral valve leaflet repair procedure and approximately 400 patients would be referred for the procedure per year after five years. NHS England and NHS Improvement have no plans to commission transcatheter tricuspid valve leaflet repair.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Prime Minister’s comments of 10 February 2021 on reimbursing community pharmacies for additional costs incurred during the covid-19 outbreak, whether he plans to convert into grants the advanced payments given to community pharmacies to support them with covid-19-related costs.

The Department has no plans to do so. The related issues including higher drug prices, higher prescription volumes and delays in payments have now been resolved. The Department has agreed with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee that pharmacies can claim for specified additional COVID-19 costs incurred between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021 and that the £370 million extra advance payments will be recovered from community pharmacies from October 2021 to March 2022.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many covid-19 vaccinations have been delivered through (a) community pharmacies and (b) each of the top ten community pharmacy contractors which have delivered the highest number of covid-19 vaccinations to date.

As at 14 September 2021, over 11.1 million people have received their COVID-19 vaccination at a community pharmacy. We are unable to provide data on the number of vaccinations delivered by individual community pharmacy contractors to protect the security of those sites.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with (a) trade unions and (b) the NHS on the potential effect of the establishment of wholly-owned subsidiaries by NHS Trusts on pay and conditions of healthcare workers.

As part of the Department’s regular engagement with trade unions and NHS England and NHS Improvement, issues on the potential effect of the establishment of wholly-owned subsidiaries by National Health Service trusts on pay and conditions of healthcare workers have been raised on an ad hoc basis.

Under powers granted under the NHS Act 2006 S46 (5), NHS organisations have been responsible for deciding locally the most appropriate structures they need to deliver services to their patients and to support their operations. Where NHS organisations decide locally to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary, staff who are compulsorily transferred from the NHS to the subsidiary will be protected under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006. This protects pay and terms and conditions at the point of transfer.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent representations his Department has received on the effect on (a) NHS staff and (b) NHS operations of changes implemented by wholly owned subsidiary companies.

There have been no recent representations.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the two-day waiting time for a PCR test on arrival in the UK from green list countries.

The Department continually reviews the value of testing on or before day two following arrival in the United Kingdom.

Testing on or before day two is designed to provide variant surveillance and infection identification, as the closer the test is taken to day two, the larger the proportion of potential infections identified.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the Government will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a helpline to support people who are travelling to the UK and are required to quarantine in a managed hotel, in the event that they have urgent enquiries which are not addressed in the Government guidance.

The Government does not currently plan to introduce a help line for the Managed Quarantine Service.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many NHS fertility clinics have paused services during the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021 as a result of (a) staff redeployment and (b) other covid-19-related issues.

Following the national lockdown in March 2020, all fertility clinics were able to re-open from May 2020, provided that they could demonstrate to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that they could offer a safe service for patients and clinic staff during the ongoing pandemic.

The HFEA has advised that, as of 20 January 2021, a small number of clinics have been affected by staff redeployment and other COVID-19 related issues. This has resulted in less than 10% of clinics either temporarily suspending services, re-prioritising activity, or working with other local clinics to ensure patient treatment is not affected.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure people who are housebound receive a covid-19 vaccination.

Local vaccination services provide the largest number of locations and are well placed to support our highest risk individuals, many of whom already have a trusted relationship with their local health services. They also coordinate and deliver vaccinations to people who are unable to attend a vaccination site, including visiting care homes, the homes of housebound individuals and other settings such as residential facilities for people with learning disabilities or autism and prisons and to reach vulnerable groups such as those who are experiencing homelessness.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
14th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has published on shielding for people who are classified as (a) clinically vulnerable and (b) extremely clinically vulnerable during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown.

Those considered clinically vulnerable should follow the national lockdown rules that are in place for everyone in England, which are available at the following link:


https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home


Guidance for those considered clinically extremely vulnerable during the period of national lockdown was updated on 7 January and is available at the following link:


https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19


We have also written to all 2.24 million people on the shielded patient list to inform them of the latest guidance.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the owner of a venue should take to offer that venue as a covid-19 vaccination centre.

NHS England and NHS Improvement undertake an assessment of all potential sites which may be considered as part of the vaccination programme. This will include size, location, availability, suitability and will include an assessment around accessibility, aligned to the Equality Act 2010. Where there are running costs to be incurred, the site will also be subject to a value for money assessment. Sites will be secured under formal lease or licence.

Should venue owners have sites that they wish to put forward for use by the programme, submissions may be made to the Vaccine Taskforce and in conjunction with regional and local teams, an assessment of the offer will then be made.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the criteria is for a venue to be considered as a covid-19 vaccination centre.

NHS England and NHS Improvement undertake an assessment of all potential sites which may be considered as part of the vaccination programme. This will include size, location, availability, suitability and will include an assessment around accessibility, aligned to the Equality Act 2010. Where there are running costs to be incurred, the site will also be subject to a value for money assessment. Sites will be secured under formal lease or licence.

Should venue owners have sites that they wish to put forward for use by the programme, submissions may be made to the Vaccine Taskforce and in conjunction with regional and local teams, an assessment of the offer will then be made.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance has been issued to hospitals on discharging covid-19 patients back home when they require care and support with daily living from another member of their household.

National Health Service providers are expected to begin planning for discharge at the point of admission, which should include practical arrangements, care requirements and the nature of home environment the person is being discharged to. This is particularly important for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. The Hospital Discharge Service Requirements last published August 2020 provides further guidance on the discharge process, including to support conversations with patients, relatives and carers during their hospital stay. The Requirements are available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/912199/Hospital_Discharge_Policy_1.pdf

Public Health England have provided additional guidance on stepdown of infection control precautions when discharging COVID-19 patients.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance has been issued to hospitals on discharging covid-19 positive patients back home who live with another vulnerable person.

National Health Service providers are expected to begin planning for discharge at the point of admission, which should include practical arrangements, care requirements and the nature of home environment the person is being discharged to. This is particularly important for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. The Hospital Discharge Service Requirements last published August 2020 provides further guidance on the discharge process, including to support conversations with patients, relatives and carers during their hospital stay. The Requirements are available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/912199/Hospital_Discharge_Policy_1.pdf

Public Health England have provided additional guidance on stepdown of infection control precautions when discharging COVID-19 patients.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is planning to take to improve support for older people with heart conditions who are vulnerable to severe covid-19 complications.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are developing plans to trial an NHS@Home scheme. This is a self-management scheme to enable patients with heart conditions to look after themselves in their own homes. Working with a specialist clinician, patients will be supported to ensure they understand their medications, reduce their salt intake, monitor and record daily weights and blood pressure, and recognise symptoms if they deteriorate. NHS England and NHS Improvement have advised that this will improve support for all patients with heart conditions, including older people, and will enable patients to manage their condition at home where possible and clinically appropriate.

To tackle COVID-19 complications following infection, the National Health Service has recently announced an additional investment of £10 million to support the establishment of post-COVID-19 clinics in each part of the country. These clinics will support people of all ages by offering appropriate diagnostics and referrals, including support for older people with cardiac complications related to post-COVID-19 syndrome.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to make an assessment of the adequacy of funding for community pharmacies.

Plans for additional funding, for costs incurred during the peak of the pandemic, are being actively discussed with the sector. We will also carefully consider other representations on how we can further support community pharmacy so they can continue to deliver.

The Government has put in place an unprecedented financial package during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing support to all businesses, including community pharmacies. We have also made £370 million in advance payments to alleviate cash flow pressures and have provided extra funding to cover the costs of Bank Holiday opening, a new medicine delivery service for shielded patients, and measures taken by community pharmacy to support social distancing. For June to September 2020, there has also been an increase of £15 million per month, a total of £60 million, to reimbursement prices of the most commonly prescribed generic medicines.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that people who no longer meet the (a) age or (b) other eligibility requirements for NHS-funded fertility treatment because of treatment delays during the covid-19 outbreak can still access that treatment.

The level of provision of local health services available to patients, including fertility treatment, is, and has been since the 1990s, a matter for local healthcare commissioners. Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have a statutory responsibility to commission healthcare services including fertility services that meet the needs of their whole population. In respect of National Health Service fertility services, the Government has been consistently clear that we expect CCGs to commission fertility services in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines, so that there is equal access across England.

The Government expects CCGs to give fair consideration to all patients who have had fertility treatment delayed so that no one misses out on treatment due to COVID-19.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether people eligible for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment are able to claim the payment on more than one occasion in the event that they have to self-isolate more than once.

A person can claim a Test and Trace Support Payment for each period of self-isolation required by National Health Service Test and Trace, provided they meet the eligibility criteria for each individual claim and their periods of self-isolation do not overlap.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many (a) GP surgeries and (b) community pharmacies in Birmingham have reported a shortage of the 2020 flu vaccine.

NHS England and NHS Improvement – Midlands has not received any direct report on flu vaccine shortages from general practitioner (GP) practices and community pharmacies in the Birmingham and Solihull Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.

GPs and pharmacists are directly responsible for ordering flu vaccine from suppliers which are used to deliver the national flu programme to adults. In addition, the Department has procured additional flu vaccine that will be available from November in addition to the supplies already ordered by providers.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support (a) GP surgeries and (b) community pharmacies to meet increased demand for the winter flu vaccine.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with local areas to ensure that local providers have the support to meet increased demand for the flu vaccination this winter. New models of delivery have been shared with regional commissioning teams to encourage innovative thinking such as mobile, and mass vaccination models to allow for increases in uptake safely whilst observing social distancing and personal protective equipment requirements.

Alongside this, additional trained workforce is being made available to local providers to help them vaccinate more eligible people.

Additional flu vaccine has been purchased by the Department to ensure more flu vaccines are available this winter.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support he is giving to GPs and community pharmacies to ensure they have adequate stocks of the 2020 flu vaccine.

General practitioners (GPs) and pharmacists are directly responsible for ordering flu vaccine from suppliers which are used to deliver the national flu programme to adults. In addition, the Department has procured additional flu vaccine that will be available from November in addition to the supplies already ordered by providers.

Guidance on how GPs and community pharmacies can access the additional flu vaccine will be published shortly.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the availability of the 2020 flu vaccine.

We have sufficient vaccine for up to 30 million people to be vaccinated in England this winter.

General practitioners and pharmacists are directly responsible for ordering flu vaccine from suppliers which are used to deliver the national flu programme to adults. In addition, the Department has procured additional doses of seasonal flu vaccine to ensure more flu vaccines are available this winter.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether people attending the Regional Testing Site at Birmingham International Airport are required to present a QR code in order to be tested for covid-19; and how those QR codes are provided.

At all regional testing sites, including Birmingham Airport, people who have booked a valid appointment at a testing site will receive a test. QR codes are provided at the end of the booking journey and by email. Sites can use other key information to confirm an appointment if a QR code cannot be provided by the attendee.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when the Coronavirus Members' Hotline will reopen.

Public Health England’s (PHE’s) COVID-19 Email Helpline for Parliamentarians continue to operate five days a week from 9.00am to 5.00pm.

Any Parliamentarian who requires a conversation with PHE officials can request it via the email helpline.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the length of time symptoms of covid-19 persist in people who have contracted that virus.

The time to recovery for somebody with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 depends on the severity of illness and varies from relatively quickly through to extremely prolonged. Typically, time to recovery is within 10-14 days for mild and moderate cases. If a person feels unwell for longer than this, they should contact their general practitioner.

It is clear that for some of those who have survived, the virus and the treatment they have received to combat it will have a lasting impact on their health.

Research into the long-term health symptoms and impacts of COVID-19 is ongoing. On 4 July the Government announced a research study into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19, which is being led by UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research.

On 5 July, NHS England and NHS Improvement announced the launch of an online, on-demand, rehabilitation service called ‘My COVID Recovery’. The service forms part of National Health Service plans to expand access to COVID-19 rehabilitation treatments for those who have survived the virus but still have problems with breathing, mental health problems or other complications.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) effectiveness and (b) safety of using alternatives to Hormone Therapy Replacement patches.

We have been working closely with all suppliers of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) preparations to maintain overall supply to patients. Supplies of alternative HRT products continue to remain available and the situation has been improving steadily since the end of February 2020.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has made an assessment of the clinical and cost effectiveness of HRT, including transdermal patches, and has made recommendations on their use in its guideline on menopause: diagnosis and management [NG23].

The safety and efficacy of individual products that are authorised for the relief of oestrogen deficiency symptoms associated with the menopause are assessed at the time each product is licensed and safety is continuously monitored once it is on the market.

Most post-marketing studies examine the safety of HRT products as a group and the safety of HRT products as a class has been kept under continuous review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in conjunction with its independent scientific advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) and its Expert Advisory Group on Medicines for Women’s Health. Likewise, the safety of licensed medicines and herbal products that are used as alternatives to HRT are continuously monitored by the MHRA and advice sought from the CHM, as needed, when new safety issues arise.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress his Department has made on tackling the shortage of Hormone Therapy Replacement patches.

We have been working closely with all suppliers of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) preparations to maintain overall supply to patients. Supplies of alternative HRT products continue to remain available and the situation has been improving steadily since the end of February 2020.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has made an assessment of the clinical and cost effectiveness of HRT, including transdermal patches, and has made recommendations on their use in its guideline on menopause: diagnosis and management [NG23].

The safety and efficacy of individual products that are authorised for the relief of oestrogen deficiency symptoms associated with the menopause are assessed at the time each product is licensed and safety is continuously monitored once it is on the market.

Most post-marketing studies examine the safety of HRT products as a group and the safety of HRT products as a class has been kept under continuous review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in conjunction with its independent scientific advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) and its Expert Advisory Group on Medicines for Women’s Health. Likewise, the safety of licensed medicines and herbal products that are used as alternatives to HRT are continuously monitored by the MHRA and advice sought from the CHM, as needed, when new safety issues arise.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the Government will endorse a covid-19 symptom study app similar to those endorsed by the Scottish and Welsh governments.

Project OASIS is a combined effort between NHSX and the jHub to create a much clearer picture of the public’s experience with COVID-19 by incorporating data from multiple third party symptom tracker apps commonly used by the public with the National Health Service’s own internal data. The data will be used by the NHS to understand the spread of COVID-19 at a national and local level.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to commission research into the long terms effects of covid-19 on people whose symptoms last longer than three weeks.

The Department invests over £1 billion a year in health and care research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The following calls are currently open to researchers to submit proposals on the long-term effects of COVID-19.

The NIHR Recovery and Learning Call will fund research to better understand and manage the health and social care consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic beyond the acute phase. The research will focus specifically on health outcomes, public health, social care and health service delivery and to mitigate the impact of subsequent phases and aftermath.

This follows on from the UK Research and Innovation-NIHR Rapid Response Rolling Call for COVID-19 research (closing at the end of June), which funds projects that could make a significant contribution to the understanding, prevention and/or management of the COVID-19 outbreak within 12 months.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average length of time is for the results of covid-19 tests taken in care homes to be passed from (a) Public Health England to the local authority and (b) the local authority to the care home.

The vast majority of people who have a test through the National Testing Programme get their result the next day. Public Health England receives a data feed of these results after they have been processed by the labs and uploaded to the National Pathology Exchange, which occurs every 30 minutes.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to ensure people (a) who have difficulty with and (b) without access to (i) smart phones and (ii) other necessary technology can access covid-19 testing.

Those unable to access the internet can book a test by calling 119 in England and Wales or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland. An email address or phone number is currently required to book a test, but individuals who are not online can use a trusted proxy such as a family member to receive their results.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether it is a requirement for local authorities to deliver the results of care home covid-19 tests.

Local authorities are not the primary recipient of test result when testing takes place in a care home. If the test subject is staff member, the test results will either go directly to the individual or the care home manager if consent is provided by the staff member. For residents the care homes are the primary recipients. The test results also flow into general practitioner records, if a National Health Service number or other identifying information has been provided.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has asked for feedback from local authorities on the effectiveness of Public Health England's communication of covid-19 test results; and what steps have been taken to improve those communications as a result of feedback received.

We aim to move towards a testing model which has greater local ownership with local delivery models tailored to local need. This means a relentless focus on quality, access and speed across the programme;?and?building the capacity to enable more?frequent, targeted?testing of?priority groups where this will improve infection control.

We are in daily discussions about how best to deliver data on COVID-19 to local authorities and options to integrate this data into their current health response systems. We are also working on producing a toolkit that will support local authorities in data management. This will be complemented by the recently established Joint Biosecurity Centre. This operates as an independent analytical function that will work with local areas to provide real time analysis and assessment of infection outbreaks at a community level, to enable rapid intervention before outbreaks grow.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason Public Health England will not assist in the testing of symptomatic care home residents until a (a) case or (b) outbreak of covid-19 is suspected.

Every care home in England can access whole home testing, regardless of whether residents have symptoms. This testing can be arranged through the Department’s online testing portal at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-care-home

Responsibility for whole home testing lies with the Department.

Public Health England (PHE) is responsible for the testing of symptomatic residents at the point a case or an outbreak is first suspected in a care home. When a PHE local Health Protection Team is notified of a suspected resident case or outbreak of COVID-19 in a care home, they will undertake a risk assessment, offer public health advice (including infection prevention and control advice) and, where appropriate, arrange for testing to be done for all symptomatic residents at the time of reporting. The risk assessment is undertaken to ensure that the symptoms being reported are consistent with COVID-19 infection.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average waiting time is for a care home that has (a) over and (b) under 50 beds with no suspected covid-19 outbreak to receive covid-19 home testing kits.

The data is not held in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will publish the guidance provided to local authorities on prioritising care home referrals for covid-19 testing.

On 5 June Ros Roughton, Director General, Adult Social Care, wrote to Directors of Public Health and Directors of Adult Social Services. The criteria of prioritisation were:

  1. Care homes referred to the Department by Public Health England because they have had a new outbreak;
  2. Care homes that have over 50 beds;
  3. Care homes with 25-50 beds;
  4. And then all other care homes.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average waiting time is for a care home that has (a) over and (b) under 50 beds with no suspected covid-19 outbreak to receive the results of covid-19 home testing from the date of that test taking place.

Between 30 July and 5 August 2020, 43.3% of test results for satellite testing, which includes care home testing, were received within 48 hours of the test being taken. Care homes predominantly use satellite test kits as they need greater control and flexibility over when tests are collected. For example, tests may be conducted over multiple days with a collection scheduled a few days later.

We are encouraging care homes to conduct testing over the weekend (Friday to Sunday) where possible to make better use of available lab capacity which should support faster turn-around times.

Turnaround times for tests conducted under Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 are published weekly on gov.uk as part of the Weekly NHS Test and Trace Bulletin.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the criteria are on care home prioritisation for covid-19 home testing kits.

In June, the following criteria were assessed in order to prioritise sending test kits:

- care homes referred to us by Public Health England because they have had a new outbreak;

- care homes for older people and those with Dementia that have over 50 beds, then those with 25-50 beds; and

- all other care homes.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 13 March 2020 to Question 27500 and with reference to the Answer of 6 June 2019 to Question 259019 on Gender Recognition: Clinics, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on NHS England’s pilot of new gender dysphoria services for adults.

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, have been awarded the contracts for two new adult gender dysphoria services in London which are now in mobilisation phase.

A separate tender process for a new service in Greater Manchester will conclude by the end of June 2020.

All services will be evaluated as pilots over a period of up to three years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not significantly delayed the planned commencement of the pilot services.

NHS England and NHS Improvement is still assessing the impact of the NHS responding to the COVID-19 pandemic on the waiting times for a number of clinical services, including gender dysphoria services.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help ensure children's hospices have access to the personal protective equipment for providing palliative care to (a) children and (b) their families in (i) hospices and (ii) other community settings during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department is actively taking steps to ensure that staff operating in the hospice sector, including children’s hospices, can access adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to continue to provide palliative care to children and their families during this challenging period.

To support this, and working with key stakeholders, NHS England and NHS Improvement have developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for palliative care for children and young people in community and hospice settings during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is due to published shortly, and will contain guidance on the appropriate use of PPE for the care and treatment of this vulnerable group of patients.

To address supply concerns, central delivery points provided by children’s hospices to the Department will get weekly drops of PPE until they are added on to the PPE e-commerce ordering portal. Those deliveries are booked in, and the Department will continue to work with the hospice sector to ensure they have the support they need.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent discussions his Department has had with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to help ensure that care homes have adequate food supplies during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department of Health and Social Care, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have worked with the Federation of Wholesale Distributors to provide a new, online platform, Food2Care, to allow social care providers to access food supplies direct from wholesalers operating in their area. More than 90 national and regional wholesalers have signed up to the scheme so far from across the country. The scheme has been welcomed by the Care Provider Alliance.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of enabling (a) hospital specialists and (b) GPs to exercise discretion in the classification of people with pre-existing categories as vulnerable people in relation to covid-19 support.

The Chief Medical Officer has led a thorough clinical review process to identify six categories of underlying clinical conditions which place someone at very high risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19. General practitioners and hospital clinicians have the discretion to add individual patients to the list of those classified as clinically extremely vulnerable based on careful, clinical assessments of each individual’s needs. This requires expert clinical judgement on a patient-by-patient basis.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of including patients that are recovering from major operations in the list of vulnerable people that are eligible for covid-19 support.

The Chief Medical Officer has led a thorough clinical review process to identify six categories of underlying clinical conditions which place someone at very high risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19. Those who are recovering from major operations are not automatically included in the list of extremely clinically vulnerable people, as they will have a wide range of needs. For some, staying at home at all times and avoiding contact with others may slow their recovery. General practitioners and hospital clinicians have the discretion to add individual patients to the list based on careful, clinical assessments of each individual’s needs.

The Government and civil society are providing additional support to people even where they are not clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. This includes providing local authorities with £3.2 billion additional funding for service pressures, strengthening links with supermarkets, and mobilising over 750,000 National Health Service volunteers. The Government has also launched a new set of webpages for those who need additional support due to the pandemic across a range of issues, which are regularly updated at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that information about infection prevention, covid-19 symptoms and treatment and care is accessible to those who have speech, language and communication needs.

Members of the public will see advice in television adverts featuring the Chief Medical Officer as part of the Government’s drive to ensure everyone knows the best way to limit and delay the spread of the COVID-19.

As well as on television, people will see and hear the campaign advice in newspapers and magazines, on drive-time radio, online and through social media and on billboards and large digital displays, including at bus stops. Further information is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/next-stage-of-expanded-coronavirus-covid-19-public-information-campaign-launches

The Government has also produced resources in Braille and British Sign Language. These resources are available via Public Health England’s Campaign Resource Centre at the following link:

https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/101-coronavirus-/resources

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what impact assessment he has undertaken on the Coronavirus Bill for people with speech, language and communication needs.

An impact assessment and Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) assessment was conducted in relation to the provisions contained in the Coronavirus Bill. The PSED requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities, including those with protected characteristics. We will continue to consider the impacts on people with protected characteristics when considering how to implement policies using powers contained in the Act.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 12 March 2020 to Question 26807 on Diabetes: Medical Equipment, what (a) national and (b) regional data NHS England and NHS Improvement hold on the prescription of flash glucose monitors by primary care providers.

The information requested is shown in the following table.

Flash Glucose Monitoring Patient Numbers – Q3 2019/20

Number of Identified Patients with Prescriptions

Q1 Uptake

Q2 Uptake

Q3 Uptake

Region

Estimated # of Type 1 patients in the region

#

%

#

%

#

%

North West

30,630

6,084

20

7,836

26

9,325

30

North East and Yorkshire

40,490

989

2

5,672

14

8,640

21

Midlands

46,455

6,109

13

8,849

19

11,534

25

East

29,635

1,493

5

3,127

11

4,633

16

London

29,565

3,382

11

4,574

15

5,975

20

South West

26,875

4,171

16

5,748

21

6,924

26

South East

39,275

6,231

16

8,530

22

10,751

27

England

242,925

28,459

12

44,336

18

57,782

24

Source: NHS Business Services Authority

Notes:

- These figures represent patient numbers in receipt of flash in primary care.

- Flash Glucose Monitoring uptake has increased markedly in all regions – national uptake is now 24% of all type 1 patients.

- Figures only correspond to individual identified patients with clinical commissioning group prescriptions and may therefore understate full coverage.

Estimated number of type 1 patients sourced from National Diabetes Audit 2017/18

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to his Department's news story entitled National recruitment campaign for paramedics, radiographers and nurses begins published on 3 March 2020, what plans he has to recruit more speech and language therapists.

The NHS People Plan, due to be published by the National Health Service in 2020, will set out a clear framework for growing and sustaining a well-skilled workforce across the whole NHS. As of November 2019 there were 6,284 full time equivalent speech and language therapists in England, this is a 5% increase since 2016.

In December 2019 the Government announced additional maintenance grant funding of at least £5,000 per academic year for students studying most allied health professions, including speech and language therapy. In addition, students with child dependents will benefit from an extra £1,000.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what percentage of people with type 1 diabetes have been prescribed a flash glucose monitoring in each clinical commissioning group since April 2019; and if he will make a statement.

NHS England and NHS Improvement estimates that in primary care, flash glucose monitoring uptake has increased markedly in all regions since April 2019. National uptake is now estimated to be 24% of all type 1 patients which is an increase of 19 percentage points from the start of the programme (1 April 2019).

It should be noted that NHS England and NHS Improvement have activity reporting for the prescribing of flash glucose monitors up to and including the end of Quarter 3 of this financial year. Due to differences in the way activity is reported between secondary and primary care, only primary care activity at clinical commissioning group (CCG) level can be reported. This data is aggregated at a national and regional level. Some flash glucose monitors are prescribed via secondary care, but NHS England and NHS Improvement do not have this activity broken down by individual CCG. Patient population data is based on the National Diabetes Audit 2017/18.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the proposed nursing bursary will affect student loan entitlements.

The non-repayable maintenance grants announced by the Government on 18 December 2019 are available to new and continuing students from September 2020.

Student loans provided by Student Finance England will not be affected by these non-repayable maintenance grants and students can continue to access the student loans system in England.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will provide consistent levels of funding to support hospital radio.

Hospital radio can provide National Health Service patients and visitors with a positive experience at a time when they are feeling vulnerable. NHS trusts work locally with volunteers and organisations to provide this service. Decisions about funding the service are made most appropriately at a local level.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to improve access to cervical cancer screenings for disabled women requiring hoists in GP surgeries.

General practitioner practices are required to ensure that their premises are suitable for the delivery of essential services and that they are sufficient to meet the reasonable needs of its patients, including those with disabilities. This involves making any necessary reasonable adjustments; making alternative arrangements, such as referral to a specialist screening provider; or undertaking the procedures in another setting that is more suitable given any limitations to a patient’s mobility. Where a patient requires specialist equipment, clinical staff will ensure that patients have access to its use in a safe environment.

NHS England is continuously investing in initiatives to help ensure equality of access to screening and, through the Section 7A public health functions agreement, aims to improve public health outcomes and reduce inequalities.

Professor Sir Mike Richards’ review of Adult Screening programmes was published on 16 October 2019 and recognised that people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities or mental health conditions tend to have lower uptake of screening programmes than the general population. Professor Richards’ report included recommendations on improving access to services and sharing good practice on physical and learning disabilities. The Department is considering the report with NHS England and Public Health England and will publish an implementation plan in the spring.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions his Department has had with the (a) Children’s Commissioner’s Office and (b) other partners on options for producing expenditure data on speech, language and communication services.

Departmental officials met with the Children’s Commissioner’s office in October 2019 to discuss the issues raised in her report ‘We need to talk: access to speech and language therapy’. The Department will continue to work with the Children’s Commissioner’s Office, the National Health Service and other stakeholders ahead of the intention to repeat a data gathering exercise within the next two years.

29th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average waiting time was from first outpatient appointment to second outpatient appointment for children receiving speech and language therapy in each of the last two years.

The information is not held in the format requested.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 20 January 2020 to Question 3669, what the average waiting time was from (a) referral to first assessment and (b) first assessment to commencement of treatment for children to receive speech and language therapy by local authority area in each of the last five years.

The information is not held in the format requested.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average waiting time was from assessment appointment for children to receive speech and language therapy in each of the last two years.

The NHS Long Term Plan recognises the importance of speech and language therapy. Local areas will design and implement models of care that are age appropriate, closer to home and bring together physical and mental health services.

In the development of the NHS People Plan, the capacity requirements, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, have been modelled to ensure appropriate capacity for all the allied health professions. This includes speech and language therapy.

‘Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s’, the Prevention Green Paper, confirmed the Government will continue to prioritise improving early speech and language outcomes as a preventative measure.

The following table shows the mean and median waiting time1 for a first outpatient attendance2 for patients aged under 18 with a treatment specialty of Speech and Language Therapy3 in England from 2017-18 to 2018-194.

Year

Total First Outpatient Attendances

Mean Waiting Time (days)

Median Waiting Time (days)

2017-18

11,306

76

48

2018-19

9,740

87

59

Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), NHS Digital

Notes:

Activity in English National Health Service hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector

1. The waiting time is the period in days between the date of the appointment date and either the referral request received date (reqdate) or the Did Not Attend date, if given. The waiting time is not calculated if reqdate is missing or invalid.

2 Attendances at outpatient clinics. Includes first attended and first telephone consultations, excludes did not attends and cancellations.

3. Treatment Speciality: A code that defines the specialty under which the consultant responsible for care of the patient is working, which may be different to the specialty under which the consultant is registered.

4. Assessing growth through time (Outpatients) HES figures are available from 2003-04 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, changes in activity may be due to changes in the provision of care.

NHS Digital have advised that information on waiting times from assessment appointment is not held in the format requested as they are unable to identify in which appointment treatment started.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average waiting time is from referral to first assessment for children's speech and language therapy.

The NHS Long Term Plan recognises the importance of speech and language therapy. Local areas will design and implement models of care that are age appropriate, closer to home and bring together physical and mental health services.

In the development of the NHS People Plan, the capacity requirements, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, have been modelled to ensure appropriate capacity for all the allied health professions. This includes speech and language therapy.

‘Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s’, the Prevention Green Paper, confirmed the Government will continue to prioritise improving early speech and language outcomes as a preventative measure.

The following table shows the mean and median waiting time1 for a first outpatient attendance2 for patients aged under 18 with a treatment specialty of Speech and Language Therapy3 in England from 2017-18 to 2018-194.

Year

Total First Outpatient Attendances

Mean Waiting Time (days)

Median Waiting Time (days)

2017-18

11,306

76

48

2018-19

9,740

87

59

Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), NHS Digital

Notes:

Activity in English National Health Service hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector

1. The waiting time is the period in days between the date of the appointment date and either the referral request received date (reqdate) or the Did Not Attend date, if given. The waiting time is not calculated if reqdate is missing or invalid.

2 Attendances at outpatient clinics. Includes first attended and first telephone consultations, excludes did not attends and cancellations.

3. Treatment Speciality: A code that defines the specialty under which the consultant responsible for care of the patient is working, which may be different to the specialty under which the consultant is registered.

4. Assessing growth through time (Outpatients) HES figures are available from 2003-04 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, changes in activity may be due to changes in the provision of care.

NHS Digital have advised that information on waiting times from assessment appointment is not held in the format requested as they are unable to identify in which appointment treatment started.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce waiting times for children who have met the threshold for speech and language therapy to receive that therapy.

The NHS Long Term Plan recognises the importance of speech and language therapy. Local areas will design and implement models of care that are age appropriate, closer to home and bring together physical and mental health services.

In the development of the NHS People Plan, the capacity requirements, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, have been modelled to ensure appropriate capacity for all the allied health professions. This includes speech and language therapy.

‘Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s’, the Prevention Green Paper, confirmed the Government will continue to prioritise improving early speech and language outcomes as a preventative measure.

The following table shows the mean and median waiting time1 for a first outpatient attendance2 for patients aged under 18 with a treatment specialty of Speech and Language Therapy3 in England from 2017-18 to 2018-194.

Year

Total First Outpatient Attendances

Mean Waiting Time (days)

Median Waiting Time (days)

2017-18

11,306

76

48

2018-19

9,740

87

59

Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), NHS Digital

Notes:

Activity in English National Health Service hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector

1. The waiting time is the period in days between the date of the appointment date and either the referral request received date (reqdate) or the Did Not Attend date, if given. The waiting time is not calculated if reqdate is missing or invalid.

2 Attendances at outpatient clinics. Includes first attended and first telephone consultations, excludes did not attends and cancellations.

3. Treatment Speciality: A code that defines the specialty under which the consultant responsible for care of the patient is working, which may be different to the specialty under which the consultant is registered.

4. Assessing growth through time (Outpatients) HES figures are available from 2003-04 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, changes in activity may be due to changes in the provision of care.

NHS Digital have advised that information on waiting times from assessment appointment is not held in the format requested as they are unable to identify in which appointment treatment started.

15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce waiting times for assessments for children's speech and language therapy.

The NHS Long Term Plan recognises the importance of speech and language therapy. Local areas will design and implement models of care that are age appropriate, closer to home and bring together physical and mental health services.

In the development of the NHS People Plan, the capacity requirements, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, have been modelled to ensure appropriate capacity for all the allied health professions. This includes speech and language therapy.

‘Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s’, the Prevention Green Paper, confirmed the Government will continue to prioritise improving early speech and language outcomes as a preventative measure.

The following table shows the mean and median waiting time1 for a first outpatient attendance2 for patients aged under 18 with a treatment specialty of Speech and Language Therapy3 in England from 2017-18 to 2018-194.

Year

Total First Outpatient Attendances

Mean Waiting Time (days)

Median Waiting Time (days)

2017-18

11,306

76

48

2018-19

9,740

87

59

Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), NHS Digital

Notes:

Activity in English National Health Service hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector

1. The waiting time is the period in days between the date of the appointment date and either the referral request received date (reqdate) or the Did Not Attend date, if given. The waiting time is not calculated if reqdate is missing or invalid.

2 Attendances at outpatient clinics. Includes first attended and first telephone consultations, excludes did not attends and cancellations.

3. Treatment Speciality: A code that defines the specialty under which the consultant responsible for care of the patient is working, which may be different to the specialty under which the consultant is registered.

4. Assessing growth through time (Outpatients) HES figures are available from 2003-04 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, changes in activity may be due to changes in the provision of care.

NHS Digital have advised that information on waiting times from assessment appointment is not held in the format requested as they are unable to identify in which appointment treatment started.

14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she is taking to supply the Ukrainian armed forces with the necessary equipment to de-mine the area surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear plant and allow full safety checks in that area to be completed.

We are working with the Government of Ukraine to assess needs, capacities and risk appetites of partners, in order to ascertain how best to support de-mining efforts in newly liberated areas (including Chernobyl).

Since 2014 we have supported a range of explosive threat management activities in Ukraine through partners including the HALO Trust, UNDP and OSCE, through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF). This support has resulted in 2,552,332 m2 of land being cleared and 130,346 people receiving Explosive Ordnance Risk Education, which has led to a significant reduction in mine-related casualties. FCDO and MOD are actively lobbying Ukraine to expand permissions to broaden the scope of demining activities by partners, thereby creating further capacity to tackle this urgent issue.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she is taking with international counterparts to ensure the documentation of alleged war crimes committed by Russian combatants in Mariupol.

We have led efforts to refer the situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has now secured the support of over 40 other countries. The UK will provide assistance to the ICC to support its Ukraine investigations, including an additional £1 million contribution.  We are also looking to support Ukraine's domestic investigations into war crimes, including through deployments of specialist UK expertise such as the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative Team of Experts. We welcome the publication of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Moscow Mechanism report which found credible evidence of war crimes. The UK also supported the creation of the UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate violations of international law. UK Government departments are working closely together to identify and collate evidence of crimes so that we, alongside international partners, can assist with these investigations.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she is taking with international counterparts to help ensure that the documentation of war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine is not compromised by Russian combatants’ use of mobile crematoriums.

We have led efforts to refer the situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has now secured the support of over 40 other countries. The UK will provide assistance to the ICC to support its Ukraine investigations, including an additional £1 million contribution.  We are also looking to support Ukraine's domestic investigations into war crimes, including through deployments of specialist UK expertise such as the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative Team of Experts. We welcome the publication of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Moscow Mechanism report which found credible evidence of war crimes. The UK also supported the creation of the UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate violations of international law. UK Government departments are working closely together to identify and collate evidence of crimes so that we, alongside international partners, can assist with these investigations.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she is taking with international counterparts to help ensure electricity at the Chernobyl nuclear plant is not cut off so cooling systems within the sarcophagus covering the fourth reactor are not compromised.

We are supporting the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) ongoing efforts to provide technical assistance to Ukrainian authorities. The UK is coordinating with a number of international counterparts and joined a G7 Non Proliferation Directors Group statement (7 April) welcoming IAEA Director General Grossi's efforts and encouraging all countries to support the IAEA in working to restore nuclear security and safety in Ukraine. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
29th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment her Department has made of potential links between Al-Mustafa University and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

We are aware that Al-Mustafa University has been sanctioned by the US as a terrorist entity due to its recruitment of students for the IRGC's Quds Force. This is in addition to a robust set of US, UK and international sanctions that remain in place to address the IRGC's destabilising regional activities.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of the accuracy of reports of discrimination on grounds of race or ethnicity by Eastern European countries against people displaced from Ukraine; and whether she plans to take steps to help ensure the provision of support without discrimination to those people.

The UK is committed to the principle of non-discrimination on any grounds, including on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or race. It is important that all those seeking to leave Ukraine are able to do so. The Foreign Secretary regularly speaks with Polish Foreign Minister Rau where these issues are raised.

Combating violence and discrimination against minorities forms an important part of our wider international human rights work. We have pledged £394 million of aid, which includes £220 million of humanitarian assistance and deployed UK humanitarian experts to support Ukraine's neighbours, who are receiving and supporting refugees fleeing Ukraine, through providing logistics advice and analysis of needs on the ground.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if she will provide an update on the situation for students trapped in Sumy, Ukraine.

The UK condemns Russia's use of indiscriminate force against innocent civilians and its failure to provide for safe passage out of besieged cities across Ukraine, including in Sumy, which is a clear breach of international law. We are concerned by the reports of trapped civilians.

It is vital that humanitarian corridors remain open as well as allow unimpeded humanitarian access and we urge Russia to immediately end its assault on Ukraine.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions she has had with representatives of the Disaster Emergency Committee on ensuring equal access to its support by all people in need of its services.

The Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) is committed to getting the right aid to the right people as quickly as possible, listening to communities on the ground about what they need. All members of the DEC make a commitment to apply humanitarian standards which place communities and people affected by crisis at the centre of the humanitarian response.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, in the context of the latest Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and the Palestinian Authority (PA), whether her Department has made representations to representatives of the PA on an exhibit celebrating convicted terrorists at the Bethlehem: Capital of Arab Culture Week in Bethlehem on 9 October 2021.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to avoid engaging in, or encouraging, any type of action and language that makes it more difficult to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, in the context of the latest Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and the Palestinian Authority (PA), whether her Department has made representations to representatives of the PA on the praising of Thaer Hammad on official PA television on 5 October 2021.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to avoid engaging in, or encouraging, any type of action and language that makes it more difficult to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, in the context of the latest Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and the Palestinian Authority (PA), whether her Department has made representations to representatives of the PA on the airing of footage of children praising Dalal Mughrabi on official PA television on 22 September 2021.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to avoid engaging in, or encouraging, any type of action and language that makes it more difficult to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, in the context of the latest Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and the Palestinian Authority (PA), whether her Department has made representations to representatives of the PA on the building of a monument to Kamal Abu Wa’er in Jenin.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to avoid engaging in, or encouraging, any type of action and language that makes it more difficult to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, in the context of the latest Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and the Palestinian Authority (PA), whether her Department has made representations to representatives of the PA in relation to an article in the official PA newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, on 21 August 2021 reporting that Israel’s goal is to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to avoid engaging in, or encouraging, any type of action and language that makes it more difficult to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of the progress made towards a renewed nuclear deal with Iran during the Vienna talks.

We are in the final stage of talks in Vienna to restore the nuclear deal. This is the decision point. E3 negotiators are ready to return to Vienna and conclude the deal on the table.

We have worked intensively with JCPoA participants and the US to reach this stage.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the Answer of 25 March 2020 to Question 31567 on Palestinians: Schools, what representations the Government made to the Palestinian Authority on concerns over school naming; and what assessment she has made of the impact of those representations on the decision not to rename those schools.

The UK Government is clear that incitement to hatred or violence is unacceptable from all parties and should have no place in education. Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to avoid engaging in, or encouraging, any type of action and language that makes it more difficult to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, in the context of the latest Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and Palestinian Authority (PA), whether her Department has made representations to representatives of the PA on the broadcasting of songs with lyrics inciting violence on official PA TV News on 3, 10, 11 and 13 July 2021.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to avoid engaging in, or encouraging, any type of action and language that makes it more difficult to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the latest Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and the Palestinian Authority (PA), whether her Department has made representations to representatives of the Palestinian Authority on reports in the official PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on 13 June 2021 celebrating the naming of a Palestinian baby after Adolf Eichmann.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to avoid engaging in, or encouraging, any type of action and language that makes it more difficult to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to help support food supply in Afghanistan.

On 28 January, the Foreign Secretary announced £97 million humanitarian assistance, delivering on the UK's promise to double UK aid to Afghanistan to £286 million in 2021-22. Afghanistan is now the world's most severe food security crisis and UK Aid will provide emergency food assistance for 4.47 million people. We are working closely with the World Food Programme to ensure that food insecure adults and children receive the support they need. We have now disbursed over £176 million to Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in the region to address the most urgent humanitarian needs.

The UK also played a key role in pressing for a resolution establishing a humanitarian exception under the UN Afghanistan sanctions regime. On 27 January 2022, the UK government laid legislation to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2615. This will save lives and reduce the impediments faced by humanitarian agencies.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the Answer of 23 July 2019 to Question 277622 on Dalal Mughrabi and Omar Abu Laila, what representations the Government has made to the Palestinian Authority on the naming of youth summer camps after Dalal Moughrabi and Omar Abu Laila; and what assessment she has made of the impact of those representations on the decision not to rename those youth summer camps.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to avoid engaging in, or encouraging, any type of action and language that makes it more difficult to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
25th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the Answer of 11 July 2017 to Question 3584 on Karim and Maher Younes, what representations the Government has made to the Palestinian Authority the naming of town squares in Jenin and Tulkarem after Karim Younes and Maher Younes respectively; and what assessment she has made of the impact of those representations on the decision not to rename those town squares.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to avoid engaging in, or encouraging, any type of action and language that makes it more difficult to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether her Department is taking steps to support the efforts of the Israeli government in respect of building confidence in the Palestinian Authority.

The UK welcomes continued engagement between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), including direct meetings between Israeli Defence Minister Gantz and President Abbas, as well as discussions between the Ministries of Finance aimed at improving economic cooperation. I attended the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) in October 2021 where I held meetings with Prime Minister Shtayyeh, Israeli Regional Minister Frej and the wider international community to urge the parties to accelerate efforts to improve the financial situation of the PA and the economic conditions in the OPTs.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of whether the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran amounts to (a) crime against humanity and (b) genocide.

It is the long-standing policy of the UK Government that any judgment as to whether genocide has occurred is a matter for a competent court. The UK Government takes any allegations of extrajudicial killings seriously, and we have always been clear that Iran must uphold its international legal obligations, including conducting thorough and independent investigations into suspected human rights violations, both past and present. We strongly support the work done by the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran and urge Iran to allow him access to the country, so that he can also conduct research and investigations into human rights concerns reported there, including the events of 1988. We call on President Raisi to set Iran on a different course, which includes committing to improving human rights in Iran.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of an international investigation into the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran.

The UK Government takes any allegations of extrajudicial killings seriously, and we have always been clear that Iran must uphold its international legal obligations, including conducting thorough and independent investigations into suspected human rights violations, both past and present. We strongly support the work done by the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran and urge Iran to allow him access to the country, so that he can also conduct research and investigations into human rights concerns reported there, including the events of 1988. We call on President Raisi to set Iran on a different course, which includes committing to improving human rights in Iran.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the Department for International Development's Research Study into Value for Money Investment in People to People Programming in Israel and Palestine, what steps her Department has taken to implement the recommendation from that study that donors invest in a wide range of programme sectors.

We are taking forward relevant recommendations in the research study undertaken by the Department for International Development "Value for Money Investment in People to People Programming in Israel and Palestine". A just and lasting resolution that ends the occupation and delivers peace for both Israelis and Palestinians is long overdue. That is why we support steps to increase understanding and dialogue between the parties that can help create the conditions for meaningful negotiations.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the 2019–20 Memorandum of Understanding between her Department and the Palestinian Authority, whether her Department carried out an assessment to determine whether there had been any breach of the commitments by the Palestinian Authority in 2019-20; and whether her Department raised with the Palestinian Authority any concerns on breaches of the Memorandum of Understanding in that period.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority (PA) includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We have a regular dialogue with the PA in which we reiterate the need for both sides to prepare their populations for peaceful coexistence, including by promoting a more positive portrayal of each other. We continue to assess the PA's commitment to peace in line with our Partnership Principles and we assess that the PA continues to demonstrate a credible commitment to our agreements.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the 2018-19 Memorandum of Understanding between her Department and the Palestinian Authority, whether her Department carried out an assessment to determine whether there had been any breach of commitments by the Palestinian Authority in 2018-19; and whether her Department raised with the Palestinian Authority any concerns on breaches of the Memorandum of Understanding in that period.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority (PA) includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We have a regular dialogue with the PA in which we reiterate the need for both sides to prepare their populations for peaceful coexistence, including by promoting a more positive portrayal of each other. We continue to assess the PA's commitment to peace in line with our Partnership Principles and we assess that the PA continues to demonstrate a credible commitment to our agreements.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the most effective ways to avoid educational materials with hateful content funded by the UK being produced for Palestinian children.

It is essential to have a strong and thriving Palestinian education system to provide opportunities for the next generation. We have been clear that incitement to hatred or violence is unacceptable from all parties and should have no place in education. We will continue to raise concerns about this with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and continue to urge all parties to condemn incitement wherever and whenever it occurs.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 2 July 2021 to Question 22012 on Israel: Palestinians, whether the Constituencies for Peace and Support for Israeli NGOs peacebuilding projects conduct cross-border work between Israelis and Palestinians.

UK peacebuilding project work contains cross-border elements. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv and Consulate-General in Jerusalem work closely with all sectors of society, including ultra-Orthodox communities, the National Religious, Israeli Arabs and Palestinian communities affected by the conflict, to encourage support for and progress towards peace.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 5 July 2021 to Question 22172 on Israel: Palestinians, under what circumstances the UK will collaborate with the United States on the international fund for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The UK government shares the objective of increasing understanding and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. UK officials remain in close contact with the US Government regarding the International Fund. The US is at a very early planning stage, and once more information is available, we will consider options for collaboration.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to his Answer to Question 22172 on 5 July 2021, what plans he has to discuss the merits of potential collaboration on the international fund for Israeli-Palestinian peace with his US counterpart.

The UK government shares the objective of increasing understanding and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. UK officials remain in close contact with the US Government regarding the International Fund. The US is at a very early planning stage, and once more information is available, we will consider options for collaboration.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the Answer of 5 July 2021 to Question 22172, for what reason he has not approached his US counterpart to discuss collaboration on the international fund for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The UK government shares the objective of increasing understanding and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. UK officials remain in close contact with the US Government regarding the International Fund. The US is at a very early planning stage, and once more information is available, we will consider options for collaboration.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what estimate he has made of the total amount of UK funding that has contributed towards the salaries of carefully vetted teachers and education workers in the Palestinian Territories since 2017.

The FCDO's programme spend is publicly available on devtracker. UK funding to the Palestinian Authority since 2017 to support the salaries of carefully vetted teachers and education workers is available here: https://devtracker.fcdo.gov.uk/projects/GB-GOV-1-300050/transactions

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the 2019-20 Memorandum of Understanding between his Department and the Palestinian Authority, what discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of the Palestinian Authority on reports of the glorification of Karim and Maher Younes at schools in the Palestinian Authority.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We have a regular dialogue with the Palestinian Authority in which we reiterate the need for both sides to prepare their populations for peaceful coexistence, including by promoting a more positive portrayal of each other. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to avoid engaging in, or encouraging, any type of action and language that makes it more difficult to achieve a culture of peaceful coexistence and a negotiated solution to the conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the 2019-20 Memorandum of Understanding between his Department and the Palestinian Authority, what discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of the Palestinian Authority on recent reports of official glorification of Dalal Mughrabi, including the naming of a public square in Jenin after her.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority includes a commitment from the Palestinian leadership to adhere to the principle of non-violence and to tackle any language and actions that could incite violence or hatred. We have a regular dialogue with the Palestinian Authority in which we reiterate the need for both sides to prepare their populations for peaceful coexistence, including by promoting a more positive portrayal of each other. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to avoid engaging in, or encouraging, any type of action and language that makes it more difficult to achieve a culture of peaceful coexistence and a negotiated solution to the conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the Palestinian Authority’s compliance with the most recent UK-PA Memorandum of Understanding’s Partnership Principles; and if he will publish that assessment.

We do not publish Partnership Principles Assessments. We have an active dialogue with the PA on the issues identified through these channels and we assess that the PA continues to demonstrate a credible commitment to our agreements and the 'partnership principles'.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department has signed any memoranda of understanding related to the Service, Stability and Reform Programme in the Palestinian Territories since those signed in October 2019.

All programming and funding decisions for Financial Year 21/22 are being considered in the context of a temporary overall reduction in Overseas Development Assistance. Allocation decisions have been taken by Ministers in line with the objectives set out in the Integrated Review. We are working with suppliers and partners on what this means for individual programmes. Full budgets and programmes per country will be published in due course, including in our regular Statistics on International Development website and in the FCDO Annual Report and Accounts.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, for what reason his Department has not published any Memorandums of Understanding related to the Service, Stability and Reform Programme in the Palestinian Territories since October 2019.

All programming and funding decisions for Financial Year 21/22 are being considered in the context of a temporary overall reduction in Overseas Development Assistance. Allocation decisions have been taken by Ministers in line with the objectives set out in the Integrated Review. We are working with suppliers and partners on what this means for individual programmes. Full budgets and programmes per country will be published in due course, including in our regular Statistics on International Development website and in the FCDO Annual Report and Accounts.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether the findings of the report on the Palestinian curriculum by the Georg Eckert Institute have been shared with stakeholders.

The Georg Eckert Institute, who were commissioned by the EU to undertake a review into Palestinian textbooks published the final report on 18 June 2021. The review is publicly accessible on their website: http://www.gei.de/en/departments/knowledge-in-transition/analysis-of-palestinian-textbooks-paltex.html

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department has a copy of the report on the Palestinian curriculum by the Georg Eckert Institute.

The Georg Eckert Institute, who were commissioned by the EU to undertake a review into Palestinian textbooks published the final report on 18 June 2021. The review is publicly accessible on their website: http://www.gei.de/en/departments/knowledge-in-transition/analysis-of-palestinian-textbooks-paltex.html

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether it is the Government's policy to boycott the Durban IV conference in September 2021.

The United Kingdom is committed to combatting all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, both at home and abroad. We believe that one of the most effective ways to tackle injustices and advocate respect among different religious and racial groups is to encourage all states to uphold their human rights obligations. Some of the anti-Semitic actions and speeches in and around the Durban conference and its various follow-up events gave rise to serious concerns. We will consider UK attendance in the light of developments between now and the commemoration event, including the likelihood of any recurrence.

The Foreign Secretary recently reaffirmed the UK's condemnation to anti-Semitism during a debate in the House of Commons on 20 April 2021, and I raised opposition to anti-Semitism during a Westminster Hall Debate on 26 November 2020. We also delivered a statement at the United Nations General Assembly in November expressing concern about the rise of anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination in the wake of Covid-19.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the UK joining the US, Australia and Canada in boycotting the Durban IV conference in September 2021.

The United Kingdom is committed to combatting all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, both at home and abroad. We believe that one of the most effective ways to tackle injustices and advocate respect among different religious and racial groups is to encourage all states to uphold their human rights obligations. Some of the anti-Semitic actions and speeches in and around the Durban conference and its various follow-up events gave rise to serious concerns. We will consider UK attendance in the light of developments between now and the commemoration event, including the likelihood of any recurrence.

The Foreign Secretary recently reaffirmed the UK's condemnation to anti-Semitism during a debate in the House of Commons on 20 April 2021, and I raised my opposition to anti-Semitism during a Westminster Hall Debate on 26 November 2020. We also delivered a statement at the United Nations General Assembly in November expressing concern about the rise of anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination in the wake of Covid-19.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether the Government plans to send representatives to the Durban IV conference in September 2021.

The United Kingdom is committed to combatting all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, both at home and abroad. We believe that one of the most effective ways to tackle injustices and advocate respect among different religious and racial groups is to encourage all states to uphold their human rights obligations. Some of the anti-Semitic actions and speeches in and around the Durban conference and its various follow-up events gave rise to serious concerns. We will consider UK attendance in the light of developments between now and the commemoration event, including the likelihood of any recurrence.

The Foreign Secretary recently reaffirmed the UK's condemnation to anti-Semitism during a debate in the House of Commons on 20 April 2021, and I, raised my opposition to anti-Semitism during a Westminster Hall Debate on 26 November 2020. We also delivered a statement at the United Nations General Assembly in November expressing concern about the rise of anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination in the wake of Covid-19.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Belgian counterpart on the potential role of (a) an Iranian diplomat and (b) Iranian authorities in an alleged plot to target the National Council of Resistance of Iran annual rally in June 2018.

We are aware of the trial of four Iranians in Belgium in relation to the 2018 plot against a conference in Paris. We are deeply concerned by reports that an Iranian diplomat is one of those standing trial in connection with the incident. While the legal process is ongoing, however, it would be inappropriate to comment further and we have not made specific representations to the Iranian Government. The UK strongly condemns the targeting of civilians and welcomes steps taken to hold those responsible to account. We continue to work closely with our European partners on security and counter-terrorism issues. The Foreign Secretary has not had any recent conversations with his Belgian counterpart in relation to this trial. We are not aware at this stage of a link to the UK.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
20th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the veracity of reports by Reuters on 9 October 2020, that an Iranian diplomat charged with terrorism offences in relation to a planned attack on a National Council of Resistance of Iran rally in 2018 has made threats of retaliatory terrorist attacks if his trail proceeds.

We are aware of media reports that an Iranian diplomat, who is charged with involvement in a plot against a conference in Paris in 2018, has threatened "retaliation" should he be convicted. The UK Government does not have access to the court documents on which these reports are based. While the legal process is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of any potential breach of the commitments made by the Palestinian Authority in the 2019-20 Memorandum of Understanding between His Department and the Palestinian Authority.

No UK Aid is used for payments to prisoners or their families. Our financial support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) health and education sectors goes into a dedicated bank account and is only paid to individual workers who have been carefully vetted through the PEGASE mechanism (Palestinian-European Socio-Economic Management Assistance Mechanism). Each payment is independently audited to ensure it has been received by the intended recipient. This rigorous process means we are confident no UK aid is being diverted.

Our partnership with the PA is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding and our 'partnership principles'. We continue to judge that the PA is demonstrating a credible commitment to Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's partnership principles. Our partnership works to improve the lives of Palestinians and support the UK's commitment to maintain the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of any potential breach in the commitments made by the Palestinian Authority in the 2018-19 Memorandum of Understanding between his Department and the Palestinian Authority.

No UK Aid is used for payments to prisoners or their families. Our financial support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) health and education sectors goes into a dedicated bank account and is only paid to individual workers who have been carefully vetted through the PEGASE mechanism (Palestinian-European Socio-Economic Management Assistance Mechanism). Each payment is independently audited to ensure it has been received by the intended recipient. This rigorous process means we are confident no UK aid is being diverted.

Our partnership with the PA is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding and our 'partnership principles'. We continue to judge that the PA is demonstrating a credible commitment to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's partnership principles. Our partnership works to improve the lives of Palestinians and support the UK's commitment to maintain the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the 2019-20 Memorandum of Understanding between the Department for International Development and the Palestinian Authority, what assessment he has made of the Palestinian Authority's progress on curriculum reform.

Our partnership with the Palestinian Authority (PA) is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding and our 'partnership principles'. We continue to judge that the PA is demonstrating a credible commitment to this Memorandum and the 'partnership principles'.

The PA is in the process of revising its textbooks. The PA have informed us that they have updated Grades 1-6 and intends to update the remaining textbooks as soon as possible. In the interim, the UK will continue to raise our concerns about incitement in education, which the Foreign Secretary did most recently with the PA Minister for Education on August 2020.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the 2019-20 Memorandum of Understanding between the Department for International Development and the Palestinian Authority, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to ensure that UK Official Development Assistance funding was not used to cover payments made to prisoners or their families.

No UK Aid is used for payments to prisoners or their families. Our financial support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) health and education sectors goes into a dedicated bank account and is only paid to individual workers who have been carefully vetted through the PEGASE mechanism (Palestinian-European Socio-Economic Management Assistance Mechanism). Each payment is independently audited to ensure it has been received by the intended recipient. This rigorous process means we are confident no UK aid is being diverted.

Our partnership with the PA is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding and our 'partnership principles'. We continue to judge that the PA is demonstrating a credible commitment to Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's partnership principles. Our partnership works to improve the lives of Palestinians and support the UK's commitment to maintain the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government has taken to encourage the EU to publish the interim report of the Georg Eckert Institute on the Palestinian Authority’s school textbooks; and what response the Government has received from the EU.

Following UK calls for action, the EU commissioned the Georg Eckert Institute, a specialist textbook analysis centre, to undertake a robust, impartial review of Palestinian textbooks. We have remained in close dialogue with our European partners throughout the process, including urging them to complete the review as soon as possible. In July an interim report was submitted to the EU for approval. The EU used the report to inform partners, including the UK, about the current status of progress and to receive feedback. Publication of the interim report is not currently foreseen by the EU. The UK has repeatedly lobbied the EU to push for publication, but this is ultimately a decision for the EU.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the 2018-19 Memorandum of Understanding between the Department for International Development and the Palestinian Authority, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to ensure that UK Official Development Assistance funding was not used to cover payments made to prisoners or their families as administered by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.

No UK Aid is used for payments to prisoners or their families. Our financial support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) health and education sectors goes into a dedicated bank account and is only paid to individual workers who have been carefully vetted through the PEGASE mechanism (Palestinian-European Socio-Economic Management Assistance Mechanism). Each payment is independently audited to ensure it has been received by the intended recipient. This rigorous process means we are confident no UK aid is being diverted.

Our partnership with the PA is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding and our 'partnership principles'. We continue to judge that the PA is demonstrating a credible commitment to Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's partnership principles. Our partnership works to improve the lives of Palestinians and support the UK's commitment to maintain the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 20 July 2020 to Question 73751 on Israel: Palestinians, when the research component will be completed; and whether it will be published.

The research component for this programme is very important as it seeks to look more broadly at the impact of People-to-People work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to build the evidence base in this area - something that is presently limited.

Work on this is currently underway by an internal panel who are reviewing the report. The panel hope to complete their review by Autumn this year. Once the full process of analysing the findings is complete, we will then use this research to inform future programming decisions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We will seek to publish the research results in due course.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he plans to allocate funding to the People-to-People Partnership for Peace Fund upon its creation.

The UK remains committed to making progress towards a two-state solution. We welcome efforts towards peace. We also support the growth of civil society in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and efforts to improve the Palestinian economy. We will continue to monitor the People-to-People Partnership for Peace Fund as it progresses through the US legislative system.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the passing of The Middle East Partnership for Peace Act 2020 by the US House Committee on Appropriations on peace in the Middle East.

Peace will only come through negotiations between the parties, but international action has a role in facilitating progress. We welcome all efforts towards peace. The UK remains committed to the objective of to making progress towards a two-state solution. We support a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state; based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if she will place copies of the 2019-20 and 2020-21 Memoranda of Understanding between her Department and the Palestinian Authority in the Library.

Our 2019-20 Memoranda of Understanding with the Palestinian Authority were published on Dev-tracker (https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/projects/GB-GOV-1-300050/documents) and copies were placed in the Library. The 2020-21 Memoranda of Understanding will be published on Dev-tracker in due course.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, who will represent the UK at the fourth session of the UN Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity in March and April 2020.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have been closely involved in the negotiation of a new Implementing Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction - the BBNJ Agreement - as an important step forward in addressing the challenges that the ocean faces. The UK is pressing for an ambitious Agreement to be concluded in 2020. It will be a key mechanism in enabling the designation of at least 30 per cent of the global ocean as Marine Protected Areas by 2030. A joint FCO-DEFRA team of officials will represent the UK in these talks based on positions agreed by ministers. The question of Ministerial participation is being kept under review.

20th Apr 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he plans to take to avert the International Monetary Fund’s recent projection that the UK will have the slowest growing economy in the G7 in 2023.

The UK was the fastest growing economy in the G7 last year and the IMF forecasts show it will be the second fastest this year, behind Canada. Due to uncertainty partly caused by the war in Ukraine, global growth expectations were downgraded for 2022 and 2023. Overall, between 2019 and 2027, the UK is forecast to see the third highest growth in the G7, behind only Canada and the United States.

The Government has already taken important steps to drive growth through the landmark capital uplift at Spending Review 2021, and plans to invest £20 billion per year in R&D by 2024-25. As set out in the Chancellor’s Mais lecture, and re-iterated at the Spring Statement 2022, to lift growth and productivity, the private sector needs to invest more, train more, and innovate more. The Government recognises it can support this aim by providing clarity and certainty over the long-term development of different aspects of the tax system. Accordingly, the Chancellor set out the Government’s Tax Plan at Spring Statement 2022. This sets out the Government’s commitment to boosting productivity and growth by creating the conditions for the private sector to invest more, train more and innovate more – fostering a new culture of enterprise around capital, people and ideas.
John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the International Monetary Fund’s recent projection that the UK will have the slowest growing economy in the G7 in 2023.

The UK was the fastest growing economy in the G7 last year and the IMF forecasts show it will be the second fastest this year, behind Canada. Due to uncertainty partly caused by the war in Ukraine, global growth expectations were downgraded for 2022 and 2023. Overall, between 2019 and 2027, the UK is forecast to see the third highest growth in the G7, behind only Canada and the United States.

The Government has already taken important steps to drive growth through the landmark capital uplift at Spending Review 2021, and plans to invest £20 billion per year in R&D by 2024-25. As set out in the Chancellor’s Mais lecture, and re-iterated at the Spring Statement 2022, to lift growth and productivity, the private sector needs to invest more, train more, and innovate more. The Government recognises it can support this aim by providing clarity and certainty over the long-term development of different aspects of the tax system. Accordingly, the Chancellor set out the Government’s Tax Plan at Spring Statement 2022. This sets out the Government’s commitment to boosting productivity and growth by creating the conditions for the private sector to invest more, train more and innovate more – fostering a new culture of enterprise around capital, people and ideas.
John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of UK banks providing financial support to new oil and gas projects.

Bank’s decisions on commercial lending are matters for them.

The British Energy Security Strategy, published on 7 April 2022, sets out the importance of oil and gas to energy security and the transition to net zero. Nearly all major UK banks are signatories to the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) and are committed to transition their lending to align with Net Zero.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the level of final support provided by UK banks for new oil and gas projects.

Bank’s decisions on commercial lending are matters for them.

The British Energy Security Strategy, published on 7 April 2022, sets out the importance of oil and gas to energy security and the transition to net zero. Nearly all major UK banks are signatories to the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) and are committed to transition their lending to align with Net Zero.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the impact of the rising cost of living on levels of personal debt.

The Government is committed to monitoring and understanding personal debt levels in the UK, including the impact of cost-of-living pressures, and help individuals access appropriate guidance and support if they need help to get their finances back on track. The Government monitors personal debt levels by working closely with the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and by engaging regularly with many other stakeholders on their research and findings.

The FCA conducts a biennial Financial Lives Survey which provides a comprehensive insight into the finances of the UK population. MaPS monitors financial difficulty through an annual survey of 22,000 people. The results of MaPS’ latest Debt Need Survey were published on 23 February 2022.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps the Government is taking to mitigate the effects of bank branch closures in Birmingham.

The Government recognises the importance of appropriate access to banking. However, decisions on opening and closing branches are a commercial issue for banks and building societies.

The largest banks and building societies have been signed up to the Access to Banking Standard since 2017, which commits them to ensure that customers are well informed about branch closures, the bank’s reasons for closure and options for continued access to banking services.

Guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority also sets out its expectation of firms when they are deciding to reduce their physical branches or the number of free-to-use ATMs. Firms are expected to carefully consider the impact of planned branch closures on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs and consider possible alternative access arrangements. This ensures that the implementation of closure decisions is undertaken in a way that treats customers fairly.

Alternative options for access can be via telephone banking, through digital means such as mobile or online banking, and the Post Office. The Post Office Banking Framework allows 99% of personal banking and 95% of business banking customers to deposit cheques, check their balance and withdraw and deposit cash at 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing Mileage Allowance Payments for business travel from 45 pence in the context of the rise in the cost of petrol and diesel.

The Government sets the Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAPs) rates to minimise administrative burdens.

Organisations are not required to use the AMAPs rates. Instead, they can agree to reimburse the actual cost incurred, where individuals can provide evidence of the expenditure, without an Income Tax or National Insurance charge arising.

Alternatively, they can choose to pay a different mileage rate that better reflects their employees’ circumstances. However, if the payment exceeds the amount due under AMAPs, and this results in a profit for the individual, they will be liable to pay Income Tax and National Insurance contributions on the difference.

The Government keeps this policy under review.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of recent changes to customs import and export legislation on the ability of small businesses to import and export products.

Overall, our assessment is that many businesses have adapted well. Our focus is now on ensuring that those still facing challenges get the support they need to trade effectively with the EU.

HMRC are continuing to support traders adjust to changes in their customs obligations following the end of the transition period, with extensive engagement and communication campaigns, guidance, and educational resources, working in collaboration with other Government departments. The Government launched the SME Brexit Support Fund in March 2021 to support Small Medium Enterprises adjust to new importing and exporting processes. The scheme closed for applications on 30 June 2021, and over 4,000 businesses have benefitted from it.

The Department for International Trade launched its Export Support Service on 1 October 2021, which is a dedicated hotline and a ‘one stop shop’ to help more British businesses export to Europe.

We continue to work with industry to ensure that as many traders as possible understand the new rules and where they can access further support.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment she has made of the impact of the length time taken to transfer data in respect of the Postponed VAT Accounting system on small businesses.

Postponed VAT Accounting (PVA) was introduced on 1 January 2021 for goods imported from anywhere in the world. This means UK VAT registered businesses are now able to simultaneously account for and recover import VAT on the same VAT return, subject to the normal rules on input tax deduction, rather than paying import VAT at or soon after the time that the goods arrive at the UK border. This is similar to the way that VAT on goods acquired from the EU was accounted for prior to 1 January 2021.

Businesses that opt to use PVA on their customs declaration will be provided with a monthly import VAT statement no later than the sixth working day of the month following the import. Businesses that use staged customs controls, for which PVA is mandatory, will be provided with an import VAT statement no later than the sixth working day following submission of their supplementary declaration. Businesses access this statement through the financial dashboard of the Customs Declaration Service and will use it to both account for the import VAT in Box 1 of their VAT return and recovery of import VAT in Box 4.

Comprehensive guidance has been published and businesses should find PVA to be a cost effective and straightforward method of accounting for import VAT.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect on local communities of closures of local branch banks.

The Government recognises the continued importance of access to banking. However, decisions on opening and closing branches are a commercial issue for banks and building societies.

In May 2017, the largest banks and building societies signed up to the Access to Banking Standard which commits them to ensure customers are well informed about branch closures, the bank’s reasons for closure and options for continued access to banking services.

Guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority also sets out its expectation of firms when they are deciding to reduce their physical branches or the number of free-to-use ATMs. Firms are expected to carefully consider the impact of planned branch closures on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs and consider possible alternative access arrangements. This ensures the implementation of closure decisions is undertaken in a way that treats customers fairly.

Alternative options for access can be via telephone banking, through digital means such as mobile or online banking and the Post Office. The Post Office Banking Framework allows 95% of business and 99% of personal banking customers to deposit cheques, check their balance and withdraw and deposit cash at 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.

Furthermore, LINK (the scheme that runs the UK's largest ATM network) has commitments to protect the broad geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs and is held to account against these commitments by the Payment Systems Regulator. The financial services industry is also working with retailers to introduce cashback without a purchase to thousands of local shops following changes to the law by the Government through the Financial Services Act 2021.

The Government also remains committed to legislating to protect access to cash and ensuring that the UK's cash infrastructure is sustainable for the long term. The Government’s Access to Cash Consultation closed on 23 September 2021. This set out proposals for new laws to make sure people only need to travel a reasonable distance to pay in or take out cash. The Government’s proposals support the continued use of cash in people’s daily lives and help to enable local businesses to continue accepting cash by ensuring they can access deposit facilities.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Nov 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment she has made of the potential impact of proposed changes to the normal minimum pension age on the Pensions Dashboard which is built around the concept of a single retirement age.

Pensions dashboards are still at an early stage of development and testing. The information that will be presented to consumers via pensions dashboards, and how it is displayed, will continue to evolve. DWP plans to consult in due course on regulations which would set out the requirements for dashboards.

Pensions dashboards will increase overall awareness and understanding of pensions, where individuals will be able to see information about the value of their different pensions, all in one place.

The way in which pension value information is produced and displayed is also under development and will be subject to user testing and consultation.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the impact of ending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on the aviation industry.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was designed as a temporary, economy-wide measure to support businesses while widespread restrictions were in place. The scheme closed at the end of September, striking the right balance between supporting the economy as it opens up, continuing to provide support and protect incomes, and ensuring incentives are in place to get people back to work as demand returns.  This approach has worked; the OBR have estimated that without the short-term fiscal easing announced in the Budget, and in particular the CJRS extension, unemployment would have otherwise been around 300,000 higher in the fourth quarter of this year than the 2.2 million in the central forecast.

Furthermore England has relaxed the rules on international travel, which will support the recovery of the aviation industry. A new system for a safe and sustainable return to travel has been set out, which separates countries into a red list and rest of world. As of Monday 11 October, England’s red list was reduced to just 7 countries, with 47 countries coming off the red list. Passengers fully vaccinated with an authorised vaccine arriving in England from non-red countries or territories will only need to take a day two test and will not need to self-isolate or take a pre-departure or day eight test. From 24 October fully vaccinated passengers arriving in England from countries not on the red list can take a cheaper lateral flow test, instead of a PCR test, on or before Day 2 of their arrival into the UK. Anyone who tests positive will need to take a confirmatory PCR test which can be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.

Eligible travellers vaccinated in over 100 countries and territories including Brazil, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey can avoid self-isolation, pre-departure testing and day eight testing requirements on arrival to the UK from non-red countries and territories, like UK vaccinated adults.

The Government recognises the particular challenges the aviation industry has faced as a result of Covid-19. The aviation and aerospace sectors are being supported with over £12 billion that has been made available through loan guarantees, support for exporters, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) and grants for research and development.

The Government has shown throughout the pandemic that it is prepared to adapt support if the path of the virus changes. We continue to engage closely with sectors across the economy, including the aviation, travel and tourism industries, to understand their recovery horizons as the vaccine is rolled out and restrictions ease.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many children in receipt of child benefit and over 15 years 9 months have not received their National Insurance number ​as of 9 July 2021.

The requested information is not available.

In order for a child to be issued a National Insurance Number (NINo) automatically, the child must be part of a live Child Benefit claim when they are 15 years, 9 months old.

If a child has been part of a claim, but is not part of a claim when they are 15 years, 9 months old, HMRC can be contacted to request a NINo.

If a child has never been part of a Child Benefit claim (or a claim for a childcare service administered by HMRC) HMRC will have no record of them. An application can be made to DWP to obtain a NINo.

HMRC do not collate information on the number of young people who fall out of the automatic process and do not later obtain their NINo.

8th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the current average waiting time in days is for a child of a qualifying age to receive their National Insurance number.

In order for a child to be issued a National Insurance Number (NINo) automatically, the child must be part of a live Child Benefit claim when they are 15 years, 9 months old. They will receive their NINo automatically just before their 16th birthday.

If a child has been part of a claim, but is not part of a claim when they are 15 years, 9 months old, HMRC can be contacted to request a NINo. This process takes approximately 15 working days.

If a child has never been part of a Child Benefit claim (or a claim for a childcare service administered by HMRC) HMRC will have no record of them. An application can be made to DWP to obtain a NINo.

1st Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what representations he has recently received from the West Midlands Combined Authority on the funding of three new train stations to serve the Camp Hill Line in Birmingham; and when the West Midlands Combined Authority is planned to receive the full funding to implement plans for the Camp Hill Line.

The Government is committed to improving local connectivity and supporting economic growth in the West Midlands. Yesterday’s Budget confirmed £59m of funding towards five new rail stations in the region, of which three will serve the Camp Hill Line.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to conduct a review of funding for community pharmacies ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review.